CBC discussion of corruption and power — audio


In June I participated in a discussion on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s “The Current” radio program, which according to its website is “Canada’s Most Listened-to Radio Program.”

The topic was whether power corrupts. The journalistic context included the recent FIFA scandal, scandals in the Canadian Senate, and the ongoing scandals in politics, business, and so on around the world.

Audio of the discussion can be found here at CBC Radio’s site.

(Relevant to the discussion is my article “Why Power Does Not Corrupt — and It’s Character That Matters Most.”)

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The Next Revolution in Art — my lecture in Hong Kong

[In July 2015 I gave a talk at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University on “The Next Revolution in Art.” The text of my talk follows.]

Why art matters to us

Art is a perennial human desire. We need and hunger for stories, images, and sounds that are unique, beautiful, self-affirming, and/or profound. We love to immerse ourselves in music, movies, books, paintings, and architecture.Art Powerpoint-Screenshot

But art has not always flourished in human history. In many times and places, the amount of art has been minimal while the culture focused on other activities — bare survival, military conquest, or ascetic spiritualism, for example.

Yet in a few times and places art has flourished magnificently. Those of us who love art, as well as professional art historians, find ourselves drawn to the great eras when art was produced in large quantities, enjoyed by many, many people, and was of such high quality that it survived across the generations and still speaks to us today.

Why is that? Art flourished in Renaissance Florence, for example, but not in nearby Milan. Or further back in time, Athens created a magnificent art culture, but nearby Sparta was an artistic desert. Or more recently, Paris in the nineteenth century was a hotbed of innovative art, while nearby Prussia was largely inert artistically.

Today my goal is to speak of what makes great art cities possible. In part I will speak historically, using a few outstanding examples of cities that have achieved greatness in the history of art. Our question will be: What made it possible for those cities, and not others, to build great art cultures? What can we learn from them?

And of course, we are here today in Hong Kong and Kowloon City, and our question is also about the prospects for Hong Kong and Kowloon City to join those cities that have become world centers for great art. Continue reading The Next Revolution in Art — my lecture in Hong Kong

The Fountainhead (Introduction to Philosophy this week)

fountainhead-100x165In my Introduction to Philosophy course this week we are reading and discussing The Fountainhead, a great novel on the themes of independence and integrity.

In Part One, Rand’s primary purpose is to contrast the characters Howard Roark and Peter Keating. Here is a table (click to enlarge) summarizing the main events in each young man’s early career.


Roark’s career goes on a downward trajectory, and his independence and integrity seem to have made it impossible for his career to progress. Meanwhile, Keating’s career goes on an upward trajectory, and his use-and-be-used strategy seems to have made possible his financial and reputational success.

Abstracting: Roark’s character is moral but he is a practical failure, but Keating’s character is immoral and he flourishes practically.

So the question at the end of Part One is: Is there a dichotomy between morality and practicality?

Related: more posts on The Fountainhead
* Roark and Keating: First meetings.
* Toohey’s five strategies of altruism.
* Gail Wynand’s power strategy (Part 1). Part 2 forthcoming.
* Gordon Prescott: Heidegger’s disciple?
* Marcel Duchamp and Lillian Rearden.

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Is Education Really Too Expensive? [new The Good Life column]

The opening of my latest column at EveryJoe:

“Many people complain about how education has become so expensive. Mostly, they are wrong.

Schooling has become more expensive, but consider the cost of the following awesome education resources:

“For almost all of us, the cost of information has declined dramatically. So if one doesn’t know much about history, biology, or the French one took, that’s a choice …” [Read more here.]


Previous column in The Good Life series: Comparing North and Latin American Economic Performance.

“How Do You Explain the Great Enrichment of the Modern World?” — short video from Buenos Aires

I gave a talk in June at a conference sponsored by Fundación para la Responsabilidad Intelectual (FRI), Junior Achievement Argentina, and the John Templeton Foundation. When I was in Buenos Aires, FRI also did three short videos of me addressing questions.

Here is a 12-minute video of my response to “How Do You Explain the Great Enrichment of the Modern World?”:

More information on Fundación para la Responsabilidad Intelectual can be found at their Facebook page.