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Prophets or Cassandras: Ayn Rand vs Hannah Arendt
April 2, 2022 at 11:00 am - 2:00 pm EDT
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In this salon, Daniel Golliher examines the lessons that these two twentieth century thinkers offer for those of us hurtling through the twenty-first.
This salon is the third of three in a mini-series comparing the thinkers Ayn Rand and Hannah Arendt.
And hurtling we are. This ride is not slowing down—it’s faster and weirder from here on out. But that makes it harder to come to grips with the shifting faces of good and evil, freedom and captivity, power and impotence. Is there anything we can possibly learn from two thinkers who wrote before the advent of modern computers?
Both Arendt and Rand fled from totalitarian regimes that shattered their native countries and fundamentally altered the course of human history, and they wrote their masterworks in the hottest part of the Cold War. They weren’t strangers to a reality that seemingly inverts from one day to the next. And rather than stand helplessly by while the tides of history swept over them, both commanded the heights of the English language (an adopted tongue for both of them!) to sway human events.
The question isn’t whether we, the citizens of the digital era, can learn from these two.
It’s whether we will choose to or not.
- This short thread on the similarity of our current moment to Rand and Arendt’s
- My short note on the value of studying history
- “Lying in Politics: Reflections on The Pentagon Papers” from The New York Review of Books, by Hannah Arendt (1971)
- “Apollo 11” from The Voice of Reason: Essays in Objectivist Thought, by Ayn Rand (1969)
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