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Saturday, May 22, 2004 - 10:36amSanction this postReply
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Great stuff Ed!! I'd never have believed Atlas Shrugged was so widely used in universities.

Out of interest do you have any trouble regarding the atheistic implications of the novel given that you are at a Jesuit university?

MH


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Saturday, May 22, 2004 - 6:39pmSanction this postReply
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Ed,

I heartily agree with Matthew, "great stuff."

What a wonderfully positive article, especially this, Encouragingly, "Atlas Shrugged" is beginning to be taught in colleges and universities, with all the examples you provided.

Ii reminded me of this from my Autonomist article, " Objectivism Characterized:"

In Chris Matthew Sciabarra's excellent article, "The Cultural Ascendancy of Ayn Rand," [The Atlasphere, 12/31/03] he concluded, "When Rand has become so much a part of the vernacular that her ideas are filtered through cartoons and comics, fiction and film, I think it is safe to assume that she has not only survived culturally, but flourished. And for those who are enamored of Rand’s philosophy, the cultural apex will be reached when her ideas are so embedded in both academia and in the American psyche that they will have brought about a veritable intellectual revolution."

You have certaintly added more ammunition to support Dr. Sciabarra's thesis. I hope you are both right. 

Regi




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Post 2

Sunday, May 23, 2004 - 1:49pmSanction this postReply
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Mises scholar, Bill Peterson, sent me the following email and asked me to post it for him:

"Three cheers for John Allison and Ed Younkins, two men joining Ayn Rand who saw that business theory is hardly as exciting as good fiction, that more often than not politics today is perverted on behalf of special interests--far from one remaining dedicated to the Founding Fathers' mission of maintenance of the rule of law and of limited government, of "life, liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness."The greatness of Ayn Rand is her sensing the logic and truth of Acton's Law that power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. The tragedy of modern man lies in state secularization of morality into conscious amorality, of anything goes (recall Columbine) if not into outright immorality as suggested in the photos out of Iraq showing members of the U.S. military inflicting sexually bizarre torture to Iraqi prisoners of war."


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Post 3

Sunday, May 23, 2004 - 5:40pmSanction this postReply
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Wonderful article, Ed. 

Ed is probably too modest to tell all of you that he is editing what promises to be a wonderful anthology to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the publication of Atlas Shrugged, and I'm honored to be among its contributors. 

Ed is also contributing an essay to The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies in next year's fabulous symposium (which will coincide with the Ayn Rand Centenary):  "Ayn Rand Among the Austrians."  Quite a few Austrian theorists will be participating in that forum, the second of our two-issue symposium tributes to honor the centennnial of Rand's birth.


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Sunday, May 23, 2004 - 6:30pmSanction this postReply
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Great article Ed!

Reading it reminded me of something I've always thought - that simply reading "Atlas Shrugged" is enough.

I'm so glad I was introduced to Ayn Rand's ideas via "Atlas" - and not Rand's non-fiction works. The power of her novel is unsurpassed in getting the "stuff" of freedom and individualism under your skin - so to speak.

In many ways, all the subsequent discussion about Rand's ideas is largely superfluous. "Atlas" answers all the essential questions. And more importantly, it provides the life-context and inspiration rarely found in a work of non-fiction - the inspiration to actually live the ideas.

I have always felt that if only more people could actually be exposed to the story - then more lives would be changed.

And I cannot fathom why, after all this time, "Atlas" has still not made it to film.

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Monday, May 24, 2004 - 11:12amSanction this postReply
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Ed, I'm glad you've had such success using Atlas Shrugged in class.  More power to you.  You wanted to know how others had fared -- I haven't used any of Rand's novels in classes, but I have on 3 or 4 occasions used the 1949 movie version of The Fountainhead in ethics classes.  The biggest negative pertaining to that wasn't the "radical" ideals it portrays, but the fact that it's in Black and White!  Not to sound overly curmudgeonly, but it's getting harder and harder to get kids these days to watch a B&W movie, no matter what it's about.  Having said that, though, the film generally gets across the points I intend.  Next semester, I'll be using Anthem in an honors class on social philosophy in utopian and dystopian fiction.  That should be interesting.

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Monday, May 24, 2004 - 6:21pmSanction this postReply
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Ed,

  A wonderful article that conveys a great tool to be used in business schools.  As a current business student working full time, I found that having read "Atlas Shrugged" in class  enlightened me to a great novel about the concepts of capitalism and business I never knew existed.  Ed, you are right when you say that "novels tend to have a greater teaching power".   With a good novel you retain more of what is being said and you find it more interesting reading.  "Atlas Shrugged" should be a required book on the reading list of business students.

Tammy H.


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Wednesday, May 26, 2004 - 5:12amSanction this postReply
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Thanks Matt, Regi, Chris, David, Aeon, and Tammy!!!!!

I appreciate your good words about my essay.

I hope to see some postings from some professors who have used Atlas Shrugged or some other novels in their classes.

Cheers!!!!

Ed


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Thursday, May 27, 2004 - 2:48pmSanction this postReply
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Ed,
Thanks for mentioning my name in connection with teaching Atlas Shrugged as a text in Business Ethics. I am going to speak at length on this topic at the TOC summer seminar in Vancouver, BC in July. So, and just to whet the appetites of those who will be attending, let me briefly say a few things.
1. Atlas is the only text that I have had students name as ‘What they liked best about the course.’ Many students also write “I just loved Dagny” I taught it for four semesters.
2. I found that try as I might, I just couldn’t avoid examining the sex scenes, mainly because of the manner in which they integrate mind and body.
3. And that leads point three. As a business ethics text, the key to Atlas is the whole mind-body problem. The heroes have resolved it and the villains haven’t.
4. And Matt, you asked about the problems of teaching Atlas in a Jesuit school. Well, I was teaching Atlas in a Catholic school; a Franciscian school, and they fired me over Atlas. I thought it was the atheism, but found out from a tenured philosophy professor on the inside that the real reason was that the department chair was a Marxist and well, you can finish the sentence.

Fred Seddon



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Post 9

Friday, May 28, 2004 - 5:21amSanction this postReply
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Mises scholar Bettina Greaves asked me to post this email for her:

Yes, you are right. ATLAS SHRUGGED is a good way to teach entrepreneurship. Also to explain how the refusal of entrepreneurs to cooperate and the interventions of bureaucrats disrupt production and lead to a breakdown of the productive system.

But what ATLAS SHRUGGED doesn't teach is the complexity of interpersonal cooperation, division of labor, specialization, savings and capital required to produce even a simple thing like a pencil. Surely you are familiar with Leonard Read's "I, Pencil." Simplistic, perhaps, but it makes an important point. Rand's portrayal of Galt's Gulch is very naive. If I remember correctly, the entrepreneurs in self-exile in Galt's Gulch enjoyed a very high living standard and many modern technological conveniences. Any such sophisticated society could not exist in isolation. It would have to have the help, support, and cooperation of countless persons outside the Gulch. If I remember correctly--after MANY years--the Gulch residents benefited from a technologically advanced system of communications and of transportation with a miniature railroad. Who built them? And where did the materials come from?

I wish I could recommend a novel to supplement ATLAS...that describes how the economic system of production is built up over long periods of time, thanks to the ingenuity of countless entrepreneurs, with the help of countless persons who cooperated, exchanged, saved and invested, bit I can't. Biographies of businesses, businessmen, and inventors might help. Also, one book that might help--not a novel--is HOW THE WEST GREW RICH by Nathan Rosenberg and L.E. Birdzell, Jr.

Rand shows how free markets can be broken down, but she doesn't show how they are built.

Thanks for sharing with me your exciting teaching plan.

BETTINA GREAVES


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Saturday, May 29, 2004 - 5:59amSanction this postReply
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Fred,

And Matt, you asked about the problems of teaching Atlas in a Jesuit school. Well, I was teaching Atlas in a Catholic school; a Franciscian school, and they fired me over Atlas. I thought it was the atheism, but found out from a tenured philosophy professor on the inside that the real reason was that the department chair was a Marxist and well, you can finish the sentence.

Thanks, that's very interesting, and to me a touch surprising - I would have thought that both you and the Marxist would have been fired for contradicting RC doctrine or some such. Sorry you got fired though :-(

MH


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Post 11

Sunday, May 30, 2004 - 12:25pmSanction this postReply
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Hi Matt:

At Wheeling Jesuit University no one has ever tried to stop me from using Atlas Shrugged. I have had philosophy professors say that Atlas Shrugged is not philosophy and literature professors say that it is not literature. I have had several colleagues say they disagreed with its message but no one has ever said that I did not have the right to use it in class. I would like like to think that WJU's academic administrators and faculty members are true supporters of academic freedom! However, it may be that they just know that I will do what I want to do no matter what they might say!  :)

Cheers!!!

Ed


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Monday, May 31, 2004 - 3:24pmSanction this postReply
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Fred:

Will your TOC course in using Atlas Shrugged to teach Business Ethics be available on tape? It might be a good vehicle to popularize the use of Rand's great novel in such course!

Bettina:

It is too bad that Henry Hazlitt's novel, The Great Idea also called Time Will Run Back is not still in print.

To Anyone Interested:

I received a phone call asking about other novels or plays that I've used in class. I have taught a course called Business Through Literature numerous times and have used a variety of works in addition to Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead  including:

Cameron Hawley's Executive Suite and Cash McCall
 
Jerry Sterner's Other People's Money
 
Sinclair Lewis' Babbitt
 
John Updike's Rabbit is Rich
 
William Dean Howells' The Rise of Silas Lapham
 
Theodore Dreiser's The Financier
 
Stanley Elkin's The Franchiser
 
Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman
 
Ken Kesey's Sometimes a Great Notion
 
David Mamet's Glengary Glen Ross
 
F. Scott Fitzgerald"s The Great Gatsby

Kurt Vonnegut Jr.'s God Bless You Mr. Rosewater

Walker Percy's The Moviegoer
 
Frank Norris' The Pit and The Octopus

Philip Roth's American Pastoral
 
Saul Bellow's Seize the Day
 
Edward Bellamy's Looking Backward
 
and many more.........

I have used between 6 and 8 novels in each one-semester course and have also used occasional films.

Is it no wonder that the students invariably prefer whichever of Ayn Rand's novels I included in that particular course!?!?

Cheers!!!

Ed


 

(Edited by Ed Younkins on 5/31, 3:26pm)


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Post 13

Thursday, June 10, 2004 - 1:21pmSanction this postReply
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Having read "Atlas Shrugged" in one of Ed's classes, I can say that it was a great way to illustrate capitalism. It is certainly the most influential book that I've ever read. It really opened my eyes to the way things should be and showed me all the problems that exist in today's society that I was ignorant of up until that point. I think it's great that this book is starting to see more widespread use. It's imperative that more and more people come to understand the points made in this book. However, using it in college level business classes isn't enough. If you're taking business classes, chances are you already have an understanding of capitalism. I think it also needs to be taught in English classes (definitely college level, maybe even high school) so that more people can be exposed to it and understand how capitalism works and recognize that changes are needed. It's a great book, a great teaching tool, and I hope to see more widespread use of it in the future.

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Wednesday, September 22, 2004 - 7:51pmSanction this postReply
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I've had the pleasure of studying Atlas in a class entitled "Conceptual Foundations of Business" offered by Dr. Younkins.  As a philosophy major, I hadn't much thought about business and such, but when Atlas is coupled with Younkins' own book "Capitalism and Commerce: Conceptual Foundations of Free Enterprise," one can come away with a profound appreciation for the thought behind entrepreneurship and business ethics.  I'm currently in Younkins' course "Ethical Environments of Business" and we are once again using Atlas and the Capitalism and Commerce book.  I got so much out of "Capitalism" that I decided to buy a hardback copy on Amazon so I didn't have to jeopardize my autographed copy.  :)

I can't say enough about Dr. Younkins, his book, his ideas, and his use of Atlas to drive home the core issues of business.  His approach is practical and his message is profound.

Ed, thanks for helping me "flourish" as a human being.  :)

Jake


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Saturday, February 10 - 7:11amSanction this postReply
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I wrote a paper on business ethics for a sociology class in modern problems.  I doubt that I converted my professor, but I did get an A in the class.

(The entire paper is online here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1usbodrlpcimvthhKE_gA_0PeH60SOTTZcXDvzktYJz0/edit?hl=en )

 

Martha Stewart, the savings and loan scandal, junk bond raiders, …  Over the last 20 years, moral failures in capitalism have paralleled the increasing profits to both the corporations and to their chief executive officers.  The gap between rich and poor widens.  For most people, from 1980 to 2008, wages have risen about two or three times (unadjusted for inflation), while executive compensation has increased 600% over the same period. Since 1980 corporate profits increased over 500%, while taxes on them only tripled.  Inequalities in income and wealth represent a grave structural problem in our society for which mere structural solutions may be insufficient.  Or so it is claimed.

[...]

There is, indeed, a moral crisis in business: capitalists fail to make their case.  Consequently, those who are drawn to business come in large numbers through corporation management, not free enterprise.  Generally speaking, public education and mass entertainment are both hostile to enterprise.  College education, in particular, is decidedly leftwing, socialist or Marxist.  It is easy to find sociology professors who advocate for government control (or ownership) of major industries (or all businesses).  The equal and opposite case does not obtain:  it is hard to find professors of economics or management who advocate for privatization of police and courts or laissez-faire in banking.  In short, the deck is stacked.  The playing field is not level.  And this is not surprising.

[...]

Ayn Rand’s “philosophical detective novel” Atlas Shrugged has sold six million copies over the last 50 years, a steady trend.  It is seldom assigned reading.  Usually, it is recommended from person to person as in the narrative above.  In the autumn of 1991, the Library of Congress commissioned the Book-of-the-Month Club to poll its members on “Books that Made a Difference in Readers’ Lives.” Atlas Shrugged placed second, behind the Bible.  Random House hosted an online voting that sought the best English-language novels of the twentieth century and Atlas Shrugged placed first. When Modern Library polled its editors and readers separately for the “100 Greatest” novels of all time, none of Rand’s works appeared on the editors’ list, though all of her fiction made the top ten among readers. 

[...]

Seen from the top, Atlas Shrugged is the story of heroic innovators in business and finance who resist the anti-capitalist looters and moochers from Washington D.C., whose State Science Institute has created a weapon of mass destruction to be used against the American people.  On a deeper level, Atlas Shrugged is about the nature of sex, romance, integrity, and your place in the universe.  The heroic action in Atlas Shrugged shows why there is no dichotomy between theory and practice: morality is practical.  The plot of Atlas Shrugged turns on reality, reason, self-interest and financial profit.  Fifty years ago, Atlas Shrugged told the story of a woman who ran a transcontinental railroad.

[...]

An arch-capitalist who taught egoism, Rand identified her worst enemy not as Karl Marx but Immanuel Kant.  She called him the destroyer of Western civilization. To her, Kant’s theory of noumenaand phenomena completely severed the mind from reality.  Objectivism is the unification of rationalism with empiricism.  There is no mind-body dichotomy, no analytic-synthetic dichotomy, no contradiction between fact and value, between is and ought. Facts are necessary truths.  Drilling down into the bedrock of philosophy, Rand organized her novel, Atlas Shrugged, into three parts, each named for one of the axioms of Aristotelian logic: Non-Contradiction, Either-Or, A is A. 

[...]

So, it was when the Academy of Management Review published “Integrity in Organizations: Beyond Honesty and Conscientiousness” by Thomas E. Becker of the University of Delaware.[i]  Becker’s thesis is that integrity is more than a loose synonym for other virtues.  Honesty is a necessary but not sufficient condition for integrity.  Conscientiousness is highly regarded in business – and some businesses administer tests to measure it – but it may not correlate to integrity.

"For example, the stereotypical absent-minded professor might be rather careless (misplacing things) and somewhat disorganized (not writing down ideas or plans) but still have high integrity by acting in accordance with moral values and virtues (e.g., reason, purpose, and independence). In summary, although the morally laden element of conscientiousness may be pertinent to integrity, the morally neutral elements are not.[ii]

Becker offers this definition:

"Integrity is commitment in action to a morally justifiable set of principles and values, where the criterion for moral justification is reality – not merely the acceptance of the values by an individual, group, or society. Because survival and happiness are the ultimate standards of morality, life – not subjective opinion – is the foundation of integrity.[iii]"

[i] Becker, Thomas E., “Integrity in Organizations: Beyond Honesty and Conscientiousness,” The Academy of Management Review, Vol. 23, No. 1. (Jan., 1998), pp. 154-161.

[ii] Ibid, page 158.

[iii] Becker ibid, page 158

 

(Edited by Michael E. Marotta on 2/10, 7:17am)



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