Frequently Asked Questions
What is The Objectivism Seminar?
The Objectivism Seminar is a weekly online conference call to systematically work through the philosophy of Ayn Rand via the works of prominent Rand scholars. These moderated one-hour sessions will be recorded and podcast to allow review, catch-up, and even disconnected participation.
How much does it cost?
Nothing! (Well, there’s your time, and the cost of whatever we’re reading. :^)
Do I have to be an Objectivist to participate?
No. The purpose of the seminar is to give people a means to critically engage Objectivism and improve their understanding of the philosophy. Anybody who is polite and honest in this effort is welcome; anybody who disrupts others in that endeavor is not. (The process of examining ideas can be challenging enough that we certainly don’t need to have someone being rude or beating us up psychologically while we do it!)
What are the books we’ll be working through?
Please see our archives page to see what we’ve worked through and are currently working on.
How much material will we cover per week? (How heavy is the work load?)
We all have busy lives, so this is designed to be a slow-and-steady project. I hope we can work through a chapter every two weeks, but depending on the material and peoples’ needs and interests, that will vary. In raw numbers, the expected load will be an average of 15 pages of reading and one hour of discussion per week.
When, where, and how do we meet?
Monday evenings 8:00-9:00 Mountain, we’ll meet in an online conference call so people from anywhere can join in. For those who miss a meeting (and those who want to join in halfway through a book), we’ll have podcast recordings of the sessions available. There are also email lists for discussion, announcements, and behind-the-scenes planning.
What tools will I need?
The Objectivism Seminar is conducted using TalkShoe (www.TalkShoe.com). TalkShoe allows us to hold a large conference call for free, with each person connecting by phone, VoIP, Skype, or using TalkShoe’s free VoIP-based ShoePhone – and it gives us the ability to record and automatically podcast our sessions for future reference and catching up. There’s an instant-messaging facility in TalkShoe as well, for typing administrivia and incidental side-comments to each other during the sessions. To set yourself up, just follow these steps:
- Sign up with TalkShoe so you have an account.
- Then after signing in, go to the download page to install the free TalkShoe Live! software.
- After installation, return to the download page to click on the “Done” button, letting TalkShoe know that their software is available for use on your system.
Finally, try it out! Put on a headset and try jumping in on a random live call – you can see TalkShoe’s current live calls on this page.
- When you find a call you would like to join, just click on its “TalkShoe Live! Pro” button to join using the TalkShoe Live! software, which will let you use TalkShoe’s free ShoePhone to talk via VoIP technology rather than a regular phone.
- Or you can just “lurk” by clicking on the big “Join In!” button. This will not use the TalkShoe Live! software, and will instead just pop up a browser window that lets you hear the conversation. It will also allow you to see and participate in the instant-messaging.
- If you want to talk but don’t like using the ShoePhone, you can also call in on a regular phone (toll charges may apply) while using either of the above – just look for the number+ID on the call page and dial in!
- Now you’re ready! When it is time for the meeting, just go to the TOS call page at https://www.talkshoe.com/conf/show/the-objectivism-seminar, and join in.
What will the structure of the sessions be like?
We’ll always be trying to improve how we run things, but let’s begin with this basic plan:
- Up to 5 or 10 minutes of follow-up discussion around any past material (good for raising that issue that hit you in the shower after the previous week’s discussion, as well as a chance for those who participate by only listening to the podcasts to raise their issues for comment via email to the moderator).
- Introduction of the current material with a quick sketch of the highlights (good for reminding people of the scope of the discussion and prompting their observations, questions, etc.).
- Extended discussion.
What’s the fine print?
Here are the details I could think of to keep The Objectivism Seminar sailing as smoothly as possible; other wrinkles will be addressed as they arise.
- GOVERNANCE: To put it simply, this is not a democracy. The Objectivism Seminar is a benevolent dictatorship, and I (Greg) am The Man. :^) But I will work for openness and consensus and eagerly entertain suggestions about how to make this a more fun and productive adventure for all, and when there are difficulties I will do my best to be patient and fair to help us get things straightened out.
- RECORDINGS: Please keep in mind that the session recordings will belong to me and may not be transferred or distributed without my explicit permission.
Please send email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll get right back to you!