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What Might Be and Ought to Be

Tore Boeckmann

Presented at: OCON 2004

Date: Jul 10, 2004

Aristotle says in the Poetics that fiction is of greater philosophical importance than history, because history represents things only as they are, while fiction represents them as they might be and ought to be. Ayn Rand calls this "the most important principle of the esthetics of literature" and, more personally, "the rule of my life work."

In this lecture, Mr. Boeckmann analyzes how the might-be-and-ought-to-be principle relates to Aristotle's central argument in the Poetics. He explains the profundity of this principle and addresses common confusions that arise from viewing it too superficially. He shows how the principle applies to Aristotle's favorite Greek tragedies, and why it is (in Ayn Rand's own words) the "key to the literary method of The Fountainhead."


Parts: 1

Handout: none