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The Esthetic Vacuum of Our Age

Ayn Rand

Date: Jan 01, 1962

In this 1962 radio lecture, Ayn Rand explains her theory of esthetics (the branch of philosophy concerned with art), discussing the role that art and literature play in human life. “Do not make the mistake of concluding that the purpose of art is education or enlightenment or propaganda, or any kind of narrow didactic message,” Rand observes. “Art is the expression of men’s deepest, most fundamental, most philosophical values.”

Delving into the art form of the novel, Rand discusses the philosophical roots of both the Romanticist and Naturalist schools of literature. Critical of modern literature, she explains why she prefers Romantic heroes and what it means for them to be “larger than life,” and she identifies a few remnants of Romantic literature in contemporary times.

The Q&A that follows the lecture expands on its subject matter and includes the following topics:

• The defining characteristics of the Romanticist school of art
• The relationship between art and “sense of life”
• Free will and determinism in art
• Costume novels and detective stories
• Artists as abstract thinkers
• The plot in literature
• Epic literature and Greek tragedies
• Homer’s heroes
• Oedipus Rex, Macbeth and Othello


Parts: 1

Handout: none

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