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Political Ideas – Ayn Rand

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About this Course

About the Course

In this course, Dr Neil Cocks (University of Reading) explores the life, works, and core ideas of Ayn Rand. In the first module, we are introduced to the controversial figure of Ayn Rand and consider her influence on contemporary political life. In the second module, we look more closely at her life and works, situating the latter within the former and illuminating, where possible, her political outlook with biographical detail. In the third module we discuss Rand’s core ideas, including her anti-statism, her celebration of ‘selfishness’, and her notion of life as a ‘value’. In the fourth module, we compare Rand to Hayek, putting Rand in context with a broader school of conservative thinkers and focusing in particular on where her ideas converge and deviate from theirs. In the fifth module, we explore Rand’s problematic approach to racism and ask what this can tell us about wider issues with her philosophical approach. Then, in the sixth and final module, we conclude with an introduction to some of the strange alliances and rifts that Randian philosophy produces.

About the Lecturer

Dr Neil Cocks has published numerous articles and book chapters on subjects as diverse as children's literature, art theory, Dickens, queer theory, education theory, Objectivism, and the problematic claims of evolutionary psychology. He is currently researching the work of Lacan, Copjec and Zizek. At Reading University, he has taught and convened IFP, all levels of BA, and offers two modules on the MA in Children's Literature, the oldest course of its type in the world. In 2020 he published 'Questioning Ayn Rand: subjectivity, political economy, and the arts'.

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