The Atlas Society Asks Marsha Familaro Enright

June 15, 2022 01:00:22
The Atlas Society Asks Marsha Familaro Enright
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The Atlas Society Asks Marsha Familaro Enright
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Join our founder Dr. David Kelley and Marsha Familaro Enright on the 108th episode of The Atlas Society Asks where they will discuss Marsha's history with Ayn Rand and Objectivism. Don't miss it as they also discuss Montessori education and Marsha's new educational initiative Reliance College.

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Episode Transcript

Speaker 0 00:00:00 Hi everyone. I'm David Kelly. I'm the founder of the Atlas society. And now one of its senior scholars. Uh, and I wanna welcome you to the 100 and 108th. Believe it 108th episode of our weekly series. The Atlas society asks, uh, the Atlas society is a leading nonprofit organization. Introducing young people to the ideas of iron brandand in creative ways. Uh, before we begin, I'd like to thank our sponsor for this episode, Russell Hassan, who is the author of a new book, the meaning of life, philosophy, logic, science, and law, which you can check out in the description section of this video. Uh, I also wanna remind those of you watching us on zoom, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or YouTube to use the comment section to type in your questions. And we will try to get to as many questions as we can. Speaker 0 00:00:59 It's my pleasure today to talk with Marsha and Wright. Uh, Marsha is an educational entrepreneur, a writer and speaker. Uh, she earned Reese in biology and psychology in 1990. She's founded an award winning, uh, Montessori school, which she ran for 27 years along the way. She has also been a prolific writer and speaker on a wide range of topics in education, psychology and philosophy to mention only a few areas of her expertise in 2005, Marsha founded the reason individualism and freedom Institute R I F I offering the great connections program, which includes great books, conversations, seminars, and overseas scripts. I was privileged to be on one of those overseas scripts, uh, uh, four years ago. And she now has a new book on education coming out soon. We're gonna talk about all of those programs as well as her background in objectiveism, including hang on, uh, a meeting that she had with, uh, I Rand, but for now just say Marsha is a long time friend. She was there at the beginning of, of TAs. It's a real treat for me as well as an honor to have her with us today. Marshall, welcome. Speaker 1 00:02:20 Thank you so much, David. I really appreciate your comments and, and being invited to be interviewed Speaker 0 00:02:26 Well, it's definitely our pleasure. And, uh, so let's get started with some questions. Um, let's start with the recent news about reliance college, which you have, um, uh, started putting together. How did this initiative come together? What are your plans for the college? Speaker 1 00:02:47 Well, I could see what was going on in higher ed 20, 30 years ago. I mean, I've been clued in by E Rand and her writings on education and what was happening in education, whether it was the articles on the new left or the conf Chicos, but, and I was concerned about what was happening. Plus I thought that, uh, people on our side of the philosophical spectrum had no college that really represented their way of approaching life or, um, or learning or anything like that. And I thought it was, it would be good for us to have something like that because if you know the history of colleges in the United States, almost all of them have been founded by groups who had specific points of view that they wanted to educate people about. Speaker 1 00:03:35 So about. So I, I founded, uh, a RFI in 2005 to build a college. And I was working on that when the recession just came crashing down in 2009 and it, and it dried up the capital. And so I, I changed and decided actually, Don Halman suggested that I do a summer program and that became the great connections. Um, and so we've been running week long programs like that for 14 years. I put everything I knew about optimal education into that program. And, um, I have to say I've been surprised at the results still because the students, most of the students come out after the week and they tell me that their life has been transformed by the program because now they, they, the aim of the program is to teach them how to think for themselves and, and be able to think about any subject matter without an authority. And we, we do that in various ways. Um, but they actually do feel like they can do that by the end of the program. And it changes their whole way of interacting with other people and, and, um, being able to discuss ideas. So that's our great connections seminar, and this we're, we're running it this summer, July 23rd to the 30th, if anybody's interested, go to the great connections.org/seminars. Speaker 0 00:04:57 Great. So, um, back to reliance, um, do you have a, um, you, I understand you required some funding get that going colleges are pretty expensive and, um, this is now going to be a residential, um, college. Speaker 1 00:05:14 Yes. Uh, yeah, we, we got a very large donation in December of 2020. That's enabled, enabled us to pursue the funding for a full college. Uh, the way we've set the program up, we're going to start small. We're only looking for 12 and a half million to open the college and wow. Prove the concept. Um, we'll, we'll start in rented space. I mean, we've proved the curriculum because the great connections program is basically a condensed version of the kind of curriculum that we would have. The aim of it, of the program is to help people become autonomous and the entrepreneurs of their own lives, whether it's personal or professional. Uh, and the, one of the ideas behind this is that if we want to change, what's going on today, we want more autonomous people. We want people who are very skilled, knowledgeable, skilled in reasoning knowledgeable about the history of the world philosophy and the important matters that we want. Speaker 1 00:06:13 And a, we want to change and be able to put their thought into action, whatever their career. So the idea is to develop more autonomous people who don't wanna be ruled. So that's one of the ideas and, um, it's gonna be residential. We, we won't have to be in charge of the red residential aspect because there's a private dorm here in Chicago or in Chicago, we'll be in the Chicago area that people can use. And, uh, we'll start out in rented space and, um, develop from there, you know, start, we're looking for 50 students to start with and grow from there. And the big idea would be to grow to a, a liberal arts college of about a thousand people, because you want a very small educational experience to give people an optimal experience, but we can always grow by having multiple colleges on the same campus, like the Claremont colleges or Oxford and Cambridge, you know, colleges with slightly different flavors. Speaker 1 00:07:14 And we also want to develop, um, pretty soon after we start a continuing education program, because we think there's a lot of people out there who both are looking for what to do with their lives in a second career, once they retire and our program would be able to help them with that. And then, uh, that there are also people who are interested in these kinds of ideas and would, uh, like to be involved in cultural events at, in a location like the college, whether it's a lecturer or music event or something like that, especially in today's culture where you don't always get the most inspirational art that you'd like to. Speaker 0 00:07:54 Yeah, for sure. And, um, in addition to students, you, you will need faculty. So are you recruiting faculty, um, for the college? Speaker 1 00:08:04 Yes. Uh, we, I have several people in mind already because we use a very special methodology and, and we use this methodology because it really increases the student's, um, reasoning ability and their self-confidence, uh, and their autonomy. And so the, whoever would be teaching there has to buy into that and has to work on the skills for that. So it's, um, it's, it won't be departmentalized if, if people know about St. John's college in Annapolis, uh, which it's not the same program as St John's, but the idea is that you are studying classic texts and some important modern works. Of course, we will want to include any modern works. Uh, one of the things missing in so many colleges is looking at the modern works of the freedom movement. Iron Rand is very important in that and nieces, uh, Hayek, the other, the other writers, um, and modern science too. But anyway, at St John's, it's not departmentalized. In fact, uh, to make the methodology work, you want people who are not expert in a subject teach, facilitating the discussion about a subject because the, the, the teacher in, in this kind of seminar is supposed to be, excuse me, the expert learner. And the problem is that, and encouraging the students to ask questions about what you're reading and really guiding the students in that, instead of telling them what's in the text, Speaker 0 00:09:42 Uh, Marsha, that's really interesting. Uh, you're talking your method, uh, you've described as, uh, the Socratic method. Um, although you, I think you have a special, um, version of that, that you've developed over the years. Yes. And, um, including you're currently running a Socratic seminar on, on rent with the living mm-hmm <affirmative> currently, right. Can you tell us more about mm-hmm Speaker 1 00:10:05 <affirmative> I two programs online, so, Speaker 0 00:10:08 Perfect. Um, so how did you get, um, uh, how did you develop the, this cratic method that you use in, uh, that you've been developing over the time that you've had the great connections program? Speaker 1 00:10:23 Well, uh, you know, when I was a kid, I really loved school and I was frustrated by the other kids that were goofing around until I realized that they were goofing around because they were really unhappy in school. And I said to myself, well, I don't want that for my own kids. So I kind of had my eye out for that. Also didn't like the social atmosphere in traditional school. I had my eye out for. Okay. What kind of program would be good? And in when I was about 20, I read, um, Beatrice Heston's articles, the Montessori method in the objectiveist. And I said, oh, this sounds really good. This sounds like what I would like. So I then went and taught myself, read everything that she wrote and taught myself about. Montessori sent my children to a Montessori preschool in the neighborhood. And then, because there was, um, long story short to make sure that they got elementary, as far as possible. Speaker 1 00:11:13 I started the Monte cons of Montessori school, and I became very, uh, learned in the Montessori method, which is a philosophy of education. That's individualized as developmentally oriented. And it's about teaching people how to be autonomous and how to follow their, make their life as good as possible. So, um, I had that philosophy in mind and wanted to bring it up to the college level, which in the Montessori Mo movement they had never done, you know, so I started searching around for what methodologies be good to use and would be in line with Montessori philosophy. And, uh, I discovered, uh, this idea of the Socratic seminar. I don't remember how I did, but, um, I came across the book, the habit of thought by Michael Strong, and then I met him in person and talked to him about it. So that was my first introduction. And then through him, uh, I, this was when I was looking for FAC, uh, facilitators to help me with the, for summer programs. Speaker 1 00:12:25 Um, I, uh, met Albert loan, uh, who now works at the university, Doug Francisco, Marroquin and Guatemala. He's a award-winning teacher in the, um, act and MBA program there. And he helped to start. He started the Michael Pani college, liberal arts college at U FM there, if, for people who don't know, this is the leading univers libertarian university in the world. And, uh, so I learned through him, he wasn't available to work with me. So he recommended this other, uh, a friend of his, uh, Andrew Humphreys. And so Andrew brought, um, some of the extra things that were added to the Socratic seminars, the traditional Socratic seminars, and, um, he and I together developed the specific methodology that we use, uh, in the great connections. Speaker 0 00:13:23 Wow. So this has been a, uh, a, a real research project and inquiry project on your end to oh, yeah. To help this. And so now the, um, let me, let me ask you just more basic question. Um, what, what got you interested in education in the first place? Speaker 1 00:13:46 Well, it's what I said, that I, that I was really loved learning and saw so many kids not loving learning, and that was a perplexity to me. And, you know, I I'm interested in psychology. I mean, I, this was funny, something funny. I hadn't realized until a few years ago that I'd been interested in psychology since I was about nine years old. Um, the, when I, when I wanted to know, I was thinking about in our class, how did we go from talking about this, to talking about that? And anyway, um, so it kind of went hand in glove with my interests and I wanted, I was very dedicated to wanting to make things wonderful for children. Speaker 0 00:14:31 Right. And, and especially your own children, because you mentioned that, uh, one of, one of your, um, goals or motives for starting Montessori school, which is a hu under, already a huge undertaking, um, was to provide your kids an alternative to public schools. Speaker 1 00:14:51 Yeah. That was my main, my main goal. Speaker 0 00:14:53 Mm-hmm <affirmative>. Yeah. Wow. Um, is there, uh, can I just ask you, uh, about the Montessori movement, I've heard I've, I've known about, you know, since bhes wrote her articles and, um, there were other objectives things on it back in the day, but, um, my understanding, my understanding is that the, the Montessori movement is not always clear about the original philosophy, the goals, and that there are some serious divisions, um, for those, uh, people who have kids and are looking at Montessori schools. Uh, is there anything you would recommend that they look for in particular? Speaker 1 00:15:36 Yes. You want, if, as a parent, you need to educate yourself about what Montessori is. And there's a few books that are very helpful. There's one called, um, the Montessori way by Tim Seldon and it basically outlines for parents, uh, what, you know, what the, what the method is about. Um, there's another one that's very interesting called, uh, Montessori, the science behind the genius. If you wanna get into the, the scientific detail, because Montessori was the first woman doctor in Italy, and she came to her project with a very scientific approach. Um, she was a genius for being able to OB objectively observe what was going on and draw conclusions from it. And, and what's happened is she came up with all kinds of things to do in the program that now, uh, research science has validated are the right way to teach children. So she, this, this is why I say she was so such a genius about being able to objectively observe these things, cuz she did by direct observation mm-hmm <affirmative> and she did kind of experi, she did some kinds of experiments within the classroom, but they were more like clinical experiments. Speaker 1 00:16:50 You know, that wasn't a double blind study or anything. And anyway, uh, a hundred years later, a professor from the university of Virginia named Angeline Willer researched, uh, she knew everything about developmental research and she analyzed the Montessori method from that point of view, when she wrote this book called Montessori, the science behind the genius, and it systematically shows you what modern research recommends as the best ways to teach children and then how the Montessori method fulfills those needs. Speaker 0 00:17:27 Well, thank you. I, and um, I see that the Montessori ways in the chat box now, uh, for those, uh, have access to it and uh, Speaker 1 00:17:38 Oh, so yeah, so Speaker 1 00:17:41 Yeah, unfortunately there's a lot of Montessori Montessori in her time was considered herself a socialist I'm convinced from a whole lot of things that if she were here today, she would realize it now free markets are the way to best flourish. Part of the reason is because she put a big emphasis on children, learning what their career plays in life should be their individual career. And she had younger, uh, younger adolescents work on developing businesses. So the 12 to four 15 year olds, she had them, uh, running a farm, um, growing food, selling it at, uh, uh, a, uh, you know, like at a farm stand mm-hmm <affirmative> of running a bed and breakfast for their parents to come and visit. Uh, so she was very much about doing things in the market. Um, but anyway, the, so there's many montesorians who have taken that, her political position and taken it to be, oh, that's the attitude that you should have in a Montessori school. Oh, and what you, what you wanna look for is a Montessori school. That's not very political, you know, that you don't, you don't see them commenting very much about those kinds of things. And many of them nowadays have gone woke. I mean, some of the things they're doing is just makes my skin crawl. Um, I saw a Montessori school that was having three year olds compare their skin color to construction paper, Speaker 0 00:19:11 You know, oh my Speaker 1 00:19:12 God. Don't pay attention to that stuff. I mean, they know that there's a difference in color, but they don't pay attention that it has anything to do with the person, you know? Yeah. So anyway, uh, yeah, so be careful about that. There is a group that is run by some objective called higher ground education, and they now have a hundred schools around the country, so they have a very good program. Um, and Carrie inandi, one of our advisors works for them actually as, uh, the, a middle school teacher now. And, uh, so they're a good group to look for. Um, otherwise, you know, you wanna go, you wanna know about enough about the program that when you go, you can see whether are they using materials, how is the classroom organized? Are there no worksheets, um, you know, that kind of thing. So Speaker 0 00:20:03 Great. Thank you. That's fabulous advice from an expert. Um, and, um, you know, I know in our circles, Montessori education is still, you know, very valued in principle. Um, mm-hmm, <affirmative>, uh, especially with public schools going, uh, getting worse and worse mm-hmm <affirmative> so Marsha, let, let me, uh, let's shift gears for a minute. Um, you mentioned, uh, you're reading B Hess's material, uh, back in the sixties. Um, how did you get interested in objectiveism in the first place? Speaker 1 00:20:37 Uh, I was a senior in high school in 1969 and my social studies teacher had the, uh, what's now called the Nolan chart. If people are, uh, familiar with this, it's the, it's the chart to, to chart out your political point of view, depending on, uh, person, how much you believe in personal freedom and how much you believe in economic freedom. So at the zero, zero point are totalitarians. And at that time, when I was, when, when I was in high school, I, Rand was the only one in the corn, in the quadrant that had believed in freedom per all, freedom and personal and, and economic realm. And, uh, the teacher had us, uh, he can't, he could, I asked him, where did he get this? Cuz supposedly David Nolan invented it in 1970 and this was 1969. So I Speaker 0 00:21:28 Dunno, <laugh> Speaker 1 00:21:29 He couldn't remember, but he wanted us to read a novel by a per, by a person from two quadrants to represent who represented the views of one, one of the quadrants, you know? So I read shoes of the fishermen, which was a representative of kind of, um, democratic liberal at that time. And then I read the fountain head, so that's, I read the fountain head and I'm like, oh, this is what I've always thought, but really well organized <laugh> Speaker 0 00:21:57 Yeah. That's common experience, I think. Yeah. Um, I always believed that. I just didn't know how to say it. Um, exactly. Speaker 1 00:22:07 Right. Speaker 0 00:22:08 And, but no, you know, that's, um, I, I know the reaction intimately from my own experience and from talking to many others, uh, in this movement, but, uh, it's uh, the more I read ran and the more I appreciate, no, I didn't, I didn't believe that all the time. I didn't of course understand the 10th of it. <laugh>. Um, but yes, I, I take the point. So, um, what you've been with, uh, the Atlas society now for, um, since the beginning, uh, even a little before the beginning, um, as I recall, and you and John have been, uh, contributors advisors, uh, uh, just at frequent speakers, writers, um, it, that it's a long time and, you know, we certainly value, I certainly appreciate that, uh, that long, your long involvement. Do you have any favorite moments from your experience of summer seminars? Uh, events, talks, friends you made? Speaker 1 00:23:16 Well, my first, my first one I would recommend is when you gave you first started the, uh, Institute for objective studies and you, you gave that initial talk in, I think it was in New York. Speaker 0 00:23:30 Yes. Uhhuh <affirmative>. Speaker 1 00:23:31 And when, when, uh, George Walsh got up and said, this is a home for homeless objectives, Speaker 0 00:23:39 <laugh> Speaker 1 00:23:41 I always remember that he was so funny. And I remember, uh, one summer, when I think when the summer seminar was at Oberlin college, um, I hung out with him and Murray RO Murray Frank a lot. And he was just George Wal was just hilarious to, to be with, but, you know, generally the summer seminars were just fabulous because you, you know, people called them ran camp, you know that? Speaker 0 00:24:08 No, I didn't. Speaker 1 00:24:09 Yeah. Well, you know how, so there there's the whole meme about band camp from American pie and these other movies, what happened at band camp? Speaker 0 00:24:19 I am blissfully ignorant of popular cultures. <laugh> okay. Speaker 1 00:24:23 So this is a joke on band camp, right? So it's random camp. I see. But, uh, they, it was generally, yeah, it was generally really wonderful because you got a chance to, uh, talk about these ideas, basically 24 7, you had wonderful presentations and, and you had a chance to talk to other people who were interested in the ideas morning, noon and night. I mean, I remember that time we were in Vegas and we were, and we were all in the, um, swimming pool at night. And we would alternate between being silly and talking philosophy. Speaker 0 00:24:57 Yeah. <laugh> yes. Yeah. Yes. Speaker 1 00:25:00 It was just great fun, you know, and I don't know if you know this, but, uh, Mueller wrote a whole little article about the post ran camp depression. Speaker 0 00:25:11 Oh. <laugh> Speaker 1 00:25:13 That people would have that she had, you know, a lot of people felt that, you know, you, you would've stayed up all night. I mean, you, you wouldn't have gotten enough sleep to begin with, but then on top of it, you had a great time and you were just having fun all the time and you did recreational things with people. Um, and so when you went home and you had to go back to your normal life, it was, it was depressing at first, you know? So Speaker 0 00:25:33 Yeah, no, I know I was, it was, uh, uh, a lot of energy, uh, went into it on the part of participants, as well as the organizers and speakers. Um, I remember, uh, Speaker 0 00:25:49 There's something about the kind of intimacy you have with people who are share a common framework. Um, but our, you know, feel free to argue about applications specific points. And that was, that was, I think one of our unique, um, features, uh, but it was also a social gathering, as you say, in fact, uh, for about the first, I don't know, 12 years or so we were averaging one, uh, marriage or, you know, serious relationship. Yeah. That's net of breakups. Those are great memories. Um, how, but let's go, let's go back to the, uh, your origin story as an objective. Um, you did meet he Rand, uh, back in, in, in the, it was in the sixties, seventies. Speaker 1 00:26:41 Uh, it was so I didn't, I, I learned about, uh, I read the fountain in 69, so that was a year after there. She broke up with, with Brandon. And, but in, when I went to graduate school in New York, um, peacock and Blumenthal were giving lecture classes at the Statler Hilton, the same place that NBI had been run. And I attended all of them and she was always there in the audience. And you could basically go up and talk to her. I mean, there was no, there was no, um, barrier or anything like that. Um, so I think the first thing I ever went up and talked to her about, and, and it seemed like not that many people were going up and talking to her, I don't know, maybe they, they were intimidated or something. Uh, and I know, I knew she, you know, had this reputation for getting angry with people, but, uh, my attitude was, eh, my mother yells me at yells at me all the time. So if Ironman does, oh, well, Speaker 0 00:27:40 And <laugh>, that's, that's, that's your Italian background. Maybe Speaker 1 00:27:46 <laugh> maybe I dunno. But anyway, um, so I think the first question I went up and asked her about was there was some later essay and I can't, I'd have to find which one it was. And there was some comment she made in there that, to me, implied that animals had some kind of free will. And so I went up and talked to her and I asked her about that. I said, well, you said this and this essay. And it seemed to imply that they had free will. And so we started a conversation about that and she, she thought they had a kind of, uh, ability, the higher animals, you know, to direct what they were doing. And then over the course of these, I would just go up to her all the time and then just constantly ask her questions, you know? And they were, they were things from philosophy like that all the way to who would you cast for Atlas? Shrugged <laugh>. And she was very cute when, when I, when I asked her that because, um, people would throw out suggestions and then she would bring up her suggestions and in the middle of it, she says, now this is the kind of conversation I like. Speaker 0 00:28:53 And Speaker 1 00:28:53 I thought that was funny. And I talked to her about jewelry and cats. I brought Speaker 0 00:28:58 Pictures, no of cats. Speaker 1 00:28:59 Yes. I brought pictures of my cats and she looked at them. Yeah. Speaker 1 00:29:04 Uh, so all kinds of things. Uh, I don't know. Um, I was about 25. I don't know if she thought I was a lot younger, but she treated me very well. And, uh, always, I mean, I never got the sense that she was the great iron ran and I was like some kind of minion or anything like that. It was always as if she was talking to you mind to mind, very serious, very carefully to what you had to say and answer it. And, and even sometimes, you know, she would start answering something and I knew it, wasn't what I asked, so I would stop and I'd reframe it. And she was great to talk to. Um, and, uh, and very cute, like, like, like I said, cute about that. I, I remember one time I said to her Victor Hugo wrote, uh, his first novel. He wrote when he was 19 years old is a book called Hans of Iceland. And the hero of the book becomes the first of the counts of Danish gold. Speaker 0 00:30:02 Oh, huh. Speaker 1 00:30:03 So I said to her, oh, I saw that you got that name from that book. Kind of like, I was thinking, it's like a tribute to, to Victor Hugo. And she said, um, she said she got, she seemed to get nervous. And she said, oh yes. But, uh, it wasn't plagiarism cuz there were really counts of Danish, gold Speaker 0 00:30:24 <laugh> and Speaker 1 00:30:25 I felt like her, uh, it was because she didn't want to seem to be riding on Victor Hugo's coattails. Speaker 0 00:30:31 Ah, you Speaker 1 00:30:32 Know, that, that was my sense of why she said that. Um, and another time and I would ask her things like, did you ever notice that the names of the, of the good characters in her books have a lot of hard consonants K's and D's and NS, if you look at Rearden Rourke Dagney so I, I asked her about that. I said, did you do that on purpose? And she said, no, I just like the way they sounded. Speaker 0 00:30:58 So <laugh> shit. Yeah. Um, and they that's right. I've noticed that as well. And um, and the villains all have soft, sloppy names. Um, Speaker 1 00:31:09 Yes. Right. Almost comical a lot of times. Yeah. Speaker 0 00:31:13 Often. Yeah. So, um, did, did you ever cross paths with her? I mean cross, um, currents, you know that Speaker 1 00:31:24 Yes, yes. One time. So her husband Frank, at that point, if you knew anything about, well, anyway, her husband, Frank, I could tell was, um, cognitively impaired. Speaker 0 00:31:39 Yeah. Speaker 1 00:31:39 There, he was having problems and she was being very protective of him. You could tell. And one time I was waiting to talk to her. She was sitting in on chairs and Frank was on the end and then, then it was her. And then she was talking to Blumenthal, I think. And um, as she was talking to, to Blumenthal, I was trying to make conversation with Frank. And he obviously was aphasic. In other words, he understood what I was saying, but he had a hard time talking, which is a very common condition that can happen. And, but I was asking him about his painting and things, things he was interested in, but she kept looking over at me getting mad and matter. Ooh. And then all of a sudden she stops. He says, she says, don't bother him. He's not an objectiveist he's my husband. And Speaker 1 00:32:28 I thought, well, you know, he's I obviously she was being, first of all, she didn't know what we were talking about. She probably thought I was asking him, cuz I had always asked her a lot of philosophical questions that I was trying to talk to him about that. And um, secondly, I thought she was being very protective of him. So I kind of shrugged, you know, I told you my, my attitude and I went off and then during the next break in the lecture, she came over and found me now I don't even know if she knew my name, but she came over and found me and she said, please, darling, forgive me. I didn't know what you were talking about. Speaker 0 00:33:05 Oh really? Wow. Speaker 1 00:33:06 Yeah. And I thought it was very big of her. I mean, you know, she was, this is what I mean, she was just always person to person. It wasn't like she was too important to straighten something out. It was important for her to make things right. You know? Speaker 0 00:33:20 Well, I'm guessing there was an element of, uh, uh, trust that she had about you and uh, it just, you know, which she did not always express, um, toward other people and you know, but often with good reason, um sure. Lots of reasons. I trust others. Speaker 1 00:33:46 Well, I figured Frank straightened her out too. Speaker 0 00:33:49 Oh, Frank older. Speaker 1 00:33:50 No we weren't. She wasn't asking me any philosophical questions, you know? Yeah. So, but, uh, and, and one other thing that was kind of funny was one time I brought a copy of the fountain head for her to autograph and she said, um, to whom should it be autographed? And I said, uh, to John Enright is my husband. And she said, that's a good name. I it, Speaker 0 00:34:15 Yes, of course. Yeah. Uh, so, um, moving on, these are wonderful stories. I, we probably talk forever about that, uh, about those years, but, um, over the, over the years, um, back, you know, from then, till now you've written a lot of things on, you know, an amazing range of topics. I was just reading, uh, something that we published a while back on. Uh, did I Rand influence Ken fallen? Oh Speaker 1 00:34:49 Yeah. Speaker 0 00:34:49 That was a nice one. And, uh, so, uh, so covering philosophy, psychology literature. Um, and what do, what topics are interested, uh, are you interested in now or do you have any time for, for writing and thinking, um, over and above all the educational work you're doing? Speaker 1 00:35:12 Oh yeah. I jam writing it. I mean, lately I've written a couple of articles about higher education, but my, uh, well, one of the things that's happened is, uh, I'm gonna come out with a book of, that's a collection of my articles about education called teaching freedom. Why the, how is as important as the what? And I mean, and so, so it focuses methodology. Um, so that that'll be coming out in the next month or two. And then I managed to jam in during the, um, pandemic work on, on philosophical topics that I've been thinking about for a long, long time for decades and that's philosophy of biology. So I'm going to be coming out with an article in the journal of Iran studies about a naturalistic, um, explanation of the origin of life consciousness, uh, and meaning Speaker 0 00:36:14 Really. Um, can you tell us more about that? I'm I'm <laugh> yeah. You're wedding my episode. Uh, Speaker 1 00:36:22 Sure, sure. So, uh, I don't know how much, I mean, it depends on how much people are aware of the history of philosophy biology, but since the scientific revolution and especially the successes in, uh, physics and mechanics, those ideas, the approach to biology has been, uh, what's called reductionists. In other words, the, that we have to reduce everything in biology to physics and chemistry to explain it, except the problem is that you can't, and they've been trying to do this for a, a couple of centuries. So what you can't really explain certain aspects of living things mechanically or in a reductive manner. And so what happens is, is then people start proposing, well, there must be some kind, especially the goal directed ability of, of living things, right? The fact that it can pursue goals and it can, it can living things can, um, change the direction of what they're doing depending on what they need, for example. Speaker 1 00:37:29 And this is a written perplexity, especially for non-conscious beings. How do you explain the fact that a non conscious being can pursue goals? Because we tend to, we tend to immediately think, well, you know, you have to think of the goal and go after it. And so in. Uh, and so the problem has been that people say, oh, well, since Meen mechanical reductionism, can't explain that. Then there must be some kind of spirit or Alan vial, uh, life force or something like that. So what I have tried, what I've done with the, what I propose is both explain what's going on in biology and also come up with a naturalistic explanation for how living things non-conscious living. Things can pursue goals mm-hmm <affirmative> and then also relate that to what, what is consciousness in a naturalistic manner? Uh, what exactly, what kind of thing exactly is it and, um, and then relate that to meaning a life. Speaker 0 00:38:33 Well, that's pretty ambitious Marsha, and it's something that I've given a lot of thought to as well, the whole issue of reductionism versus the idea of emergent properties mm-hmm <affirmative> um, in firsthand life and then in the nervous system, the brain consciousness mm-hmm <affirmative> and even, even in society. Um, mm-hmm <affirmative> so, you know, I look forward to the article, um, Speaker 1 00:38:56 I look forward to your criticisms. Speaker 0 00:38:58 All right. <laugh> I will be, I will be, um, I will listen carefully and be rational <laugh> Speaker 1 00:39:07 Okay. Speaker 0 00:39:07 Thanks. Even when we disagree. Um, let's, uh, we're getting, uh, onto a point when, uh, we wanna start taking some questions. I see quite a few, uh, comments in the chat box, but, um, I definitely wanna ask you, um, you have, I mean, I'm, I'm OSR by how much you've accomplished as a teacher. Oh, well, thank you. An organizer administrator, uh, a writer and speaker, and now, you know, founding a college, which is, um, something many, many people have thought about and even tried without too much, uh, uh, success and sounds like you've got a really good shot at it. So here's the question. Um, so a lot of young people who want to be intellectual activists make a difference in the world based on their ideas, um, whether it's in education or other fields, but, um, looking back, what, what, what advice can you give people who really, who wanna pursue a career? Like the one you had? What was it, what was it that made that possible? Speaker 1 00:40:21 Um, well, you know, it's funny because I didn't really know what I wanted to do for a long, long time. At least that's the way, that's the way I thought of it. Uh, and, but opportunities arose that, uh, were involved with, were involved with the, what things I was interested in, or I made opportunities because I was pursuing some value like the Montessori school. I, I, I mean, I think you have to have the attitude that if you're interested in something and you think something needs to be changed, you can't depend on other people to do it. Mm-hmm <affirmative> so you need to, you need to take the initiative to spearhead it and not be daunted by the fact that it's new, it's different. Uh, other people don't necessarily agree, um, become as knowledgeable as you can about what it is you wanna do. So you have self confidence in it. And, um, and then you have to be, of course, the typical alert for opportunities to do it. Um, I had another thought about this too. Well, anyway, maybe it'll come back. Speaker 0 00:41:36 Yeah. Well, what you're describing, it goes back to what you said about the entrepreneurial approach to life that is part of your educational mission to teach people. And that means that's a very individualist standpoint. Mm-hmm <affirmative>, uh, and it means, you know, involves an autonomy and rationality, all of which are about the individual and what's happening inside that individual's mind and, and spirit. Um, but a lot of opportunities arise in from other people mm-hmm <affirmative> and almost every activity at profession and especially education evolves lots of other people. So you clearly know how to make connections, um, and talk to people, um, and draw people to, is there, is there something about the social skills that, um, you recommend Speaker 1 00:42:29 Well, and, and, and I don't know how much this can be taught, but you certainly, but what I'm gonna say, I think is something people can actually work on, which is I, I have a natural tendency to be able to know people and see what they're good at Speaker 1 00:42:49 And see what they're interested in, and then remember them so that when I want to get something done, I say, oh, that person would be good for that. And then I'll contact that person. And, um, if it's a, if it's a, an interesting project, they often will decide to, to become a part of it. Uh, I mean, the fact of the matter is there's a lot of people who wanna do exciting, interesting things, but they're not necessarily good at organizing it themselves. So when somebody comes along and, and proposes something off, there are a lot of people who are interested in working with you. Speaker 0 00:43:28 Okay. Yeah. Um, there's a, a, what I've always thought of as a kind of, um, psychic division of labor, um, differences in skills, Bens, interests, abilities, um, mm-hmm, <affirmative> that make people really good at some jobs and not at others, but finding those people. I mean, I know it, it was a challenge for the ATLA society, you know? Um, it's but I think it's a challenge in any field. Yeah. So, um, this is great. Um, I wanna, um, look at, I, there are a lot of interesting comments here. Um, let me just see, uh, if I can get to the things that Lawrence, uh, may have sent, did we get, um, Speaker 1 00:44:22 It's in the chat? Speaker 0 00:44:25 Okay. Um, well, here's the question from, um, Tina Monroe on Twitter? What do you think is the biggest, uh, impediment Liberty in America today? Is it Speaker 1 00:44:42 The ignorance about the ideas that, um, are at the root of it that founded our country and made it possible? And, and of course the, you know, the, the left has done this long March to the institutions and they start very young with people, uh, making it, not helping them learn how to reason. Well, because people who reason well, and pay attention to the facts they're PR it's pretty easy to convince them that, for example, capitalism is obviously the best organization for a society, you know, anything about history and the facts. Speaker 0 00:45:21 Yeah. Um, and I would think, um, everything you said about autonomy. Yeah. Um, I mean, it's, it's partly the ideas. Would you say it's partly the ideas, but partly also the characteristics and the, um, uh, outlook that are drilled into kids. Yes, Speaker 1 00:45:40 Yes, yes. Right. Uh, I recommend everybody go back and read the copper Chicos. Speaker 0 00:45:45 Yeah. Speaker 1 00:45:46 And, and I think it's in the return of the primitive in that book. Um, I highly recommend it because if you go read that she's talking back in 1970, about what progressive education does to children, mm-hmm <affirmative> and everything she's saying there is what's happened today. When you see all these, uh, college kids who are like a mob, and they're all worried about, um, you know, what other people think of them and what, uh, ideas they're supposed to espouse, or what values they're supposed to espouse this is, and they don't seem to have a mind of their own. She explained to what happens. Speaker 0 00:46:26 Yeah. That, no, that's, that's a great, great recommendation. Um, let me ask a question. This is from, uh, Josh, uh, fall on Facebook, um, speaking from a psychological perspective, do you think young people have shorter attention spans today? This is an issue that a lot of us have thought about. Um, Speaker 1 00:46:50 I, I, I CA I don't feel like I can speak, um, generally, I don't know, you know, cuz I've known a lot of young people who seem perfectly capable of sustaining long conversations and um, uh, reading books or listening to long form podcasts. But yeah, I don't know. I, I don't know if I can speak to numbers or anything. I know certainly the, this obsession with their phones and with the, um, these, this, uh, internet interaction is really weird. I think, I mean, I, the, the fact that two people can be walking down the street or they can be at dinner with each other and they don't talk to each other they're but they're just on their phones talking to other people. Yeah. I think that's a very bizarre development. And the question is why do they feel more comfortable doing that more, um, more satisfied or, you know, does or what, rather than talking to the person that they have right in front of them. So I think that's real problem. So I don't know, uh, attention span may be a part of it. I, I'm just not sure. Speaker 0 00:47:57 Yeah. It's interesting. Um, I, you reminded me of, uh, something I, I, I saw at our summer seminar in 2002 at UCLA and I was walking behind two women, both on their cell phones. And I was astounded when I realized I got close enough to hear anything. They were talking to each other Speaker 1 00:48:19 On the phone, Speaker 0 00:48:20 On the phone, they were walking side by <laugh> anyway. Um, what Speaker 1 00:48:25 Is the deal with that? You know, Speaker 0 00:48:28 I don't know. Um, so, um, do you want to, um, let me just see if another question that, uh, okay. And, um, gosh, you're, you're, uh, our conversation about reductionism, uh, elicited a lot of interest, but I'm not, I'm gonna stay away from that because, um, we we'd be here, um, the rest of, uh, today and into the rest of the week. Um, so, um, I wonder if I'll, I'll just, uh, ask you about, um, any, any final thoughts on what the objectiveist movement can do to, uh, progress going back in the way to the question about Liberty. Uh, you're you're clear about, uh, and, and really concentrated on, on, uh, education. Is there anything that would, uh, if you could, you know, wave a magic wand and, um, what would, I think, what else would, would, could people do who are say in different fields? Speaker 1 00:50:04 Yeah, well, you know, I think Rand was absolutely right that we're not going to succeed until we win the moral argument. And so I think we have to have lots of different ways in common parlance. We can't use, we can't just use objective as jargon. We have to find ways to talk in common parlance to people about why individualism, why free societies, why, uh, why capitalism is the best way to live. I mean, there's a big, you know, there's a huge movement interest in human flourishing. Now I'm actually worried about the fact that that phrase is gonna become meaningless because I just see it everywhere now, mm-hmm <affirmative> so there's a big interest in that. And interestingly, you know, in positive psychology, the founder, uh, one of the founders of that Sigman said that he realized after he did all this research and positive psychology, meaning what are the best ways to live? What, how do you become happy that the ways that he discovered were actually all in, in Aristotelian ethics Speaker 0 00:51:11 <laugh>. Speaker 1 00:51:12 And so, you know, Aristotle's ethics is, are, is very closely, uh, related to, to rands. And I think that, um, we have to find ways to talk to people in common parlance about, uh, and call to them. Cuz most Americans are actually individualists, but they don't have the words for it. They don't have, they don't have the concepts of it, you know? And, uh, I personally think that learning how to talk in this very collaborative manner with other people is much more productive than debating. So this is one of the reasons why I'm very, uh, big on this Socratic seminar. It's about collaborative discussion to discover what the truth is. Um, and then the other thing I think that that really needs to be developed is artistic forms to convey the ideas. I mean, one of the reasons why Rand has been so successful in influencing so many millions of people is because she put it in artwork and it's much easier for people to consume that way, you know, people, especially who aren't intellectuals. Um, and, and because her given her own argument about art, it's so hard to keep all those abstract ideas in your mind at once. Yeah. But if you have a, a concrete embodiment of it in a character or in a, an action or something like that, it's much easier to think about it. So, I mean, this is something the left is really good at is putting their ideas, uh, in, into artistic productions and, and, uh, our side hasn't been Speaker 0 00:52:50 Well, it takes, um, that could, I think that could be, uh, possibly a matter of numbers because you know, doing a good art is a huge skill and hard, and, um, I've read too many novels or other, other things that are just sort of invitations of Rand style. Um, there are some, some great exceptions to that, but, but I wanna go back to these, the, what you said about the, the moral, uh, we have to win the moral argument, um, when one of the things that was, that was distinctive about Rand as it. So you not, did not just, um, talk about themes of self development and live going through your goals and, uh, being adventurous and, uh, entrepreneurial in your life. But she said, this is, this is egoism and altruism is wrong. It's bad, it's vicious. And so by, by drawing that explicit, that distinction explicitly, it's something that, you know, at least I've never rarely seen in a lot of work that otherwise seems very, you know, self interesting. Mm-hmm <affirmative>. So, um, in your Socratic seminars, I, I know you've done, uh, you had students reading and, um, applying your method to, uh, the director of ethics and other works, uh, by Rand that where this is explicit, how do your students react? What kind of questions do they ask? Speaker 1 00:54:34 Well, it's interesting over the years, I, I think I've had the students read the objective of ethics almost every year. They love the objectiveist ethics. And one of the things they love about it is that it lays out this rational argument for why you need ethics. And it just, it just opens their mind to, uh, the, what, how you should be thinking about ethics. And they generally love it. And, and many of them feel liberated by reading it, uh, not everybody agrees with it, of course, but, um, I sta I usually start them out with philosophy who needs it. Speaker 0 00:55:11 Mm. Speaker 1 00:55:11 Expect their framework of, you know, why should they be interested in these ideas to begin with in with, so it's, yeah. I, I haven't found people to be very oppositional about it. Um, I'm trying to think of, uh, we, even, whether, whether I've had anybody think they were all that con controversial even Speaker 0 00:55:38 No, Speaker 1 00:55:40 What I don't <laugh> yeah. I, I barely, yeah. Speaker 0 00:55:46 So even the people who do, who were not convinced by the position or the arguments for it, um, did not think, oh, this is vicious. Uh, oh no. Which is what you typically hear in references to Rand in popular media. Speaker 1 00:56:03 Well, but the thing is that, well, first of all, most of those people have read her, but they, they just like skimmed it. And I think what happens is that, uh, the people who are so vicious about it is because something is very threatening in her writing. They find something very threatening in our Socratic seminar class. Everybody reads the article and then we come with our questions about, well, what does that author mean? And we chew over those questions together and the students have to bring up facts. They have to point to different parts of the text and we chew over, well, what does this mean? Or what does that mean? What does, what do the author mean by this word or that word? And how does this all go together and how does it apply to your life? And so when you're doing that, you're, you're taking a very charitable attitude towards the author. Speaker 0 00:56:51 Mm-hmm, Speaker 1 00:56:51 <affirmative> whoever we're reading. And you're, you're saying, you're trying to understand first before you evaluate or criticize. Speaker 0 00:57:00 Right. Speaker 1 00:57:01 So it, it gives you a different mindset, I think, than if you're just reading it kind of yourself and something you've come across something you don't like, you know, you have an opportunity to, if you, if you're confused or you're, or you don't like something that the author said, you have a chance to talk it over. Did I really understand? Speaker 0 00:57:21 Yes. Right. Yeah. Right. Um, if we could, uh, port that perspective into, uh, every school in the country, <laugh> we would, uh, live in a free of country. Absolutely. So I'm sorry. We, we need to, um, uh, start wrapping up. Thank you, Marsha so much. Thanks to all of you who put questions. I'm sorry. We couldn't get to very many of them, but, um, we will, um, I will, I will certainly wanna look at all the comments and I could share them with you Marsha the, um, but for now, um, Speaker 1 00:58:00 Well, may I, may I just say, if people want to contact me, uh, they can email [email protected] Speaker 0 00:58:09 Perfect. Speaker 1 00:58:10 And we can put some information on the chat, right. I mean, in the comments section about, uh, contact information, things like that. Speaker 0 00:58:19 Um, I think so. Yeah. The comment section will stay, um, live only while the session goes. I, I believe, um, our moderate, our behind the scenes, um, guru on this kind of thing, Lawrence, Olivia is, uh, is, uh, can, uh, confirm or, or just confirm that point, but we'll make it available. Yes. And, uh, we can send out a, um, um, the, yeah, yeah. I just heard from, um, from him that yep. I can do that. So, uh, <laugh>, we'll, um, uh, make, that'll certainly be available. And meanwhile, um, thanks for your email address and the, um, we, we, uh, do we have the, um, reliance college website? Speaker 1 00:59:15 It's reliance college.org. Speaker 0 00:59:17 Okay. That's easy. So, um, I think there's a very great achievement, Marsha, very hopeful and, um, best of luck with it. Thank you. And I urge everyone who's interested to, um, follow up, get in touch, and I'm sure you'd be happy to provide people with ways if they wanna support it. Speaker 1 00:59:40 Oh, more than happy. Yes. Yeah. Thank you for the opportunity to talk to you too. I really enjoyed it. Speaker 0 00:59:46 Great. Me too. So thanks. And, uh, thanks to all of you for joining us today. Um, and if you enjoyed this video or, um, that matter any of our other materials, uh, please consider a tax deductible [email protected], and, uh, be sure to tune in next week when the Atlas society asks, uh, we'll have Ian Miller as our guest, uh, information is that about? That will be on our website. So thanks everyone. Thank you again, Marsha. Thank you.

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