Stephen R.C. Hicks, Ph.D. is a Professor of Philosophy at Rockford University and the executive director of the Center for Ethics and Entrepreneurship. He received his honours B.A. and M.A. degrees from the University of Guelph, Canada, and his Ph.D. in philosophy from Indiana University, Bloomington. Hicks is the author of Explaining Postmodernism: Skepticism and Socialism from Rousseau to Foucault (Scholargy, 2004; expanded edition 2011), the documentary Nietzsche and the Nazis (Ockham's Razor, 2010), and the co-editor of The Art of Reasoning: Readings for Logical Analysis (W. W. Norton & Co., 1998). He's also the author of numerous essays and articles, including: "Ayn Rand and Contemporary Business Ethics," "Defending Shylock," and "Business Ethics." To IOS [now known as The Atlas Society] members, Hicks is perhaps best known as a popular and insightful speaker at institute events, most recently speaking at the 2015 Atlas Summit on "The Three Best Arguments against Liberal Capitalism." Hicks also spoke at the 1998 IOS Summer Seminar at which he discussed the phenomenon of postmodernism. [Editor's note: the above biography has been updated from the original article printed in 2000.] Navigator: Why are you interested in postmodernism? Why is it important? Hicks: I'm interested in it for a number of reasons, one of which is the intellectual puzzle. I'm interested in the epistemology, I'm interested in politics,...
In 1963, The Objectivist Newsletter printed a positive review by Edith Efron of what many regard as the founding document of contemporary feminism, Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique. But in 1971, Ayn Rand had this to say about the women's movement: Just as the egalitarians who ride on the historical prestige of those who fought for political equality, and struggle to achieve the opposite—so their special sorority, Women's Lib, rides on the historical prestige of women who fought for individual rights against government power, and struggles to get special privileges by means of government power. (Ayn Rand, The New Left. New York: Signet [1975], 173] The heroine of Atlas Shrugged, Dagny Taggart, is one of the strongest women to appear in world literature—and she made her appearance in 1957, when virtually all Americans expected women to become full-time housewives. But in her 1971 comments, Rand wrote that "It is because men are metaphysically the dominant sex . . . that a thing such as Women's Lib could gain plausibility and sympathy among today's intellectuals" (New Left, 175). When Alvin Toffler interviewed her for Playboy magazine in 1964, Rand said "I would not attempt to prescribe what kind of work a man should do, and I would not attempt it with regard to women. . . . Women can choose their own work according to their own purposes and premises in the same manner as men do." But in her "Answer to Readers" in 1969, Rand...
In 1993, Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen were motivational speakers working out of California. Canfield was president of the Foundation for Self-Esteem. Hansen delivered inspirational talks to business organizations. As a result of their careers, the two men knew well how to find the perfect anecdote and thought that they could package a collection of particularly affecting and inspirational stories as a successful book. They projected that it would take them three months; it took two years. And once they had completed the manuscript, called Chicken Soup for the Soul, it was turned down by thirty-three publishers, sometimes on the grounds that the stories were too "nicey-nice." Today, however, the success of the "Chicken Soup" series is staggering. Over seven million copies of that original book have been sold, and successor titles roll off the assembly line as fast as the authors (now joined by many co-authors) can put the collections together. In addition to repeating their initial success (they are up to a "sixth helping" of chicken soup), they have published books targeting numerous special audiences: mothers, couples, women, singles, kids, teenagers, college students, pet lovers, golfers, and more. In a 1998 interview, Canfield said there were seventeen full-size books in print, four being printed, and four mini-books already out (A Little Sip of Chicken Soup for the Soul). Taking all titles together, thirty million copies had been sold in...
Ayn Rand framed the story of The Fountainhead with the figure of Howard Roark. In the opening sequence, he stands naked atop a granite cliff, and the scene establishes him as an aspiring architect and potential shaper of nature; in the final image, Roark stands atop the nearly completed Wynand Building, and we see him as a realized creator, giving nature its final expression. The Art of Fiction depicts Rand herself as another such creator, one whose will shapes every aspect of her medium. "I can give the reason for every word and every punctuation mark in Atlas Shrugged," she writes. "I was conscious of my purpose throughout the job—the general purpose of the novel and the particular purpose of every chapter, paragraph, and sentence" (4). Both in her art and in her life, then, Rand has given us her standard for artistic creation. Indeed, she has issued a clarion call to would-be artists: to know exactly what they are doing; to know why they are doing it; and to be prepared to explain, if only to themselves, everything that they do. With regard to fiction, this means: to "follow a conscious intention in relation to the novel's theme and to every element involved in that theme" (4). Yet, in saying this, Rand does not deny the role of the subconscious in writing. Far from it. The writer must depend heavily on his subconscious in order to avoid "floating abstractions"—abstractions that do not connect well to concretes. The source of such...
Editor's note: The author of this essay, Robert James Bidinotto, is also the author of numerous articles and several books, including: Freed to Kill, Hunter: A Thriller, and Bad Deeds: A Dylan Hunter Justice Thriller. On March 25, 1997, officials of the Florida Department of Corrections strapped condemned killer Pedro Medina into the electric chair at Florida State Prison. Like thirty-eight other infamous murderers since 1976, including serial killer Ted Bundy, Medina would meet his end in the embrace of "Old Sparky." This time, however, the seventy-four-year-old oak electric chair more than lived up to its grisly nickname. After the black leather mask was lowered over Pedro Medina's face, the first of three surges of two thousand volts of electricity jolted his body. He lurched back in the chair. Suddenly, flames shot up from the mask and burned for perhaps ten seconds. The death chamber filled with smoke. A Killer Becomes a Cause Death penalty opponents immediately cited the gruesome nature of Medina's death to call once again for an end to capital punishment. "It was brutal, terrible," declared witness Michael Minerva. "It was a...