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Aaron Smith on Philosophy and the Fate of Nations

What happens when a nation lacks philosophic ideals, or when its professed ideals are hollow?

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ARI philosopher Aaron Smith delivered a talk, “Philosophic Ideals and the Fate of a Nation,” at the Classical Wisdom Symposium 2021, “The End of Empires and the Fall of Nations.”

Here is Smith’s description of the talk:

Many today acknowledge that America is not in a healthy condition. For some, America was once great but is declining and must find a way back to its former greatness. For others, America is founded on pervasive social injustices that must be uprooted if the nation is to become great.

But if America was once great, what made it so — and what ideals must we fight for to restore its greatness? If America is rooted in injustice, what ideals must be enshrined for it to become a just society? This talk explores Ayn Rand’s perspective on the role of philosophic ideals in shaping the fate of a nation, and what happens when a nation lacks ideals, or when its professed ideals are hollow.

“Our mission is to show the importance of ancient history, philosophy and literature in our modern era,” said Anya Leonard, Classical Wisdom’s founder and director. Speakers at the symposium included Classics professor Edith Hall, historians Paul Cartledge and Niall Ferguson, historian and classicist Barry Strauss, and many others.

“I really enjoyed the event.” said Smith. “I spoke at Classical Wisdom’s inaugural symposium last year on the theme of ‘Power and Politics’ and got a lot of good questions from the audience about Rand’s moral and political philosophy. The lineup of speakers helped make this year’s event every bit as interesting.”

Watch the video below.


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Tom Bowden

Tom Bowden, JD and former civil litigator, is a research fellow and publishing manager at the Ayn Rand Institute. He is also a coeditor of Illuminating Ayn Rand (2022) and a contributing editor of New Ideal.

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