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Free Will and Values

Harry Binswanger

Presented at: IRM 2000

Date: Jul 02, 2000

One of Objectivism's most striking and distinctive tenets is the principle of mind- body integration. Rejecting both materialism and idealism, Ayn Rand showed that man is an indivisible entity, an integrated unit of two attributes: of matter and consciousness, and . .. he may permit no breach between body and mind." But because man has free will, such a breach is possible––and all too common.

The lynchpin of the proper integration of mind and body is values. Value-achievement is the motor and purpose of man's consciousness. How does a volitional being choose values? How does the choice to think or not apply to the choice of what to do in action? What is the relation of cognition to evaluation, and what are common errors in people's approach to values and to morality? In these three lectures, Dr. Binswanger discusses how the Objectivist theory of free will underlies Objectivist value-theory: the ethics of egoism, the politics of individualism, and, briefly, the esthetics of Romanticism. Topics discussed include:

  • how the primary choice to focus relates to "higher-level" choices;
  • the fundamentality of focus in the choice to act;
  • the role of choice in a child's development of values;
  • rationalist and empiricist attitudes toward values;
  • moral values vs. optional values;
  • moral judgment of self and others: judging actions and judging character;
  • emotionalism and defensiveness versus a healthy attitudetoward values;
  • free will as a premise of individualism;
  • free will as the foundation of the Romantic school of art.


Parts: 3

Handout: none


  • e-Store, 2012 (En) - 285 mins
  • CD, 2001 (En) - 270 mins - 6 CD set with Q&A