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The Art of Thinking

This is a course on what to do with your mind during an act of thought: when to do it and how to do it. Dr. Peikoff teaches you how to make the principles of Objectivist epistemology the actual guide of your own daily thought processes. These 1992 lectures are part new theory and part exercises.

1. Volition as a Means to Clarity

The problem of clashing contexts; why some students are unable to fully accept what they know to be the truth. The perpetual “clarity-seeker.” Why the only solution in such cases is will (not more arguments).

2. Hierarchy 
Thought as integration. Hierarchy as an indispensable form of integration. Reducing advanced ideas to perceptual data.

3. Thinking in Essentials

Thinking in essentials as a form of unit-reduction. How to decide what is essential in a particular case, such as a movie, book or person. Translating commonplace remarks in terms of essentials.

4. Q&A (1 hour)
Identifying the essence of: a movie version of Atlas Shrugged. Ayn Rand’s personality. Integration and reduction. When to introduce a child to Objectivism.

5. Thinking in Principles
Principles as fundamental integrations reached by induction. Principles and essentials. Are principles inescapable or not?

6. Certainty
Can one be certain about the future? Can one base predictions on statistics? If knowledge is contextual, must one say: “The senses are valid, or Atlas Shrugged is a great novel, in the present context of knowledge”? Can one properly specify one’s context, yet still be guilty of an error?

7. Thinking versus Writing
Pre-writing versus writing problems. Understanding a point versus knowing how to present it — and what is required for each. The grave error of trying to understand through writing for others.

8. Q&A (2 hours)
Dealing with immoral people. Why academic philosophers reject Objectivism. The difference between truth and certainty. The epistemological status of statistics. How Ayn Rand edited Atlas Shrugged.


All of Leonard Peikoff’s lectures may be ordered from the Ayn Rand Bookstore via their website, or by calling them at 1-800-729-6149 (U.S. or Canada), or 1-949-222-6557 (International).