Saturday, July 03, 2010

OCON Update

OCON is off to a roaring start this year!

I’ve got a little time before the next lecture; I’m lounging by the pool as a hot desert wind seeps across the Red Rock resort in Las Vegas. The venue this year is one of the best I’ve seen for an OCON yet.

Yesterday consisted of the opening banquet, and general catching up with old friends. Each year I come, the handshakes and hugs become more numerous, stronger, and the excitement of seeing old friends wells up greater. So many this year… OAC classmates, fellow Obloggers, and friends I’ve made over the years of interaction with Objectivists online; from California to Colorado, NYC to Michigan. OCON is as much about the social as the intellectual.

My first session coruse schedule is a little lighter than in previous years (to make room for, well, lounging at the pool…) Thought not planned, it seems that I’m opening with a focus on the classical period.

John Lewis Ancient’s course this year covers Athens in the 5th century B.C. This is the zenith of Athenian society and saw the establishment of Athenian democracy and of the advent of philosophers such as Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. And of course you can’t ask for a better lecturer than John Lewis, which is energy and dry wit.

The general sessions are dominated by Leonard Peikoff’s second course series on his forthcoming book on the DIM hypothesis, his hypothesis that western society can be viewed in terms of it’s approach to human knowledge, and from this one can even begin to make predictive conclusions for the progression of societies. His focus this week will be on looking at early societies from the Greeks through the Medieval period through this lens.

David Harriman gave a great general session lecture on the inductive method in scientific discovery, looking at science’s inability to characterize and articulate the essence of it’s epistomological method, and it’s suffering as a result of this inability. He then focuses on the effect of Rand’s seminal theory of concepts on the ability to accurately characterize the scientific process, and what this means for the future of scientific education. This is the focus of his recently released book, The Logical Leap: Induction in Physics, which represents collaborative work between him and philosopher Leonard Peikoff. I’m excited to read the book, and will be ordering it soon!

Finally, Eric Daniels, in his usual witty style opened up his course on the Moraltiiy of Trade, examining this fundamental aspect of capitalism, and surveying historical views of trade. Today it was the Ancient’s characterization of trade. His intent is to look at various common objections to trade itself given by both opponents and defenders of capitalism.

Tonight’s lecture is on the state of the Ayn Rand Institute, offering up an enthusiastic look at the progress the Institute has made in changing the culture over the past year. Afterward, a cocktail party with OActivists.

Couple of notes. The Twitter hashtag #OCON is hot. Numerous attendees are tweeting and you can get great updates by the minute. The netbook is working wonderfully, and I’ve almost gone entirely paperless this year.

I also wanted to give a shout out to my friends in Atlanta who have put together a budget version of OCON, called MiniCon, put on by the Atlanta Objectivist Society. As always there are so many Objectivists who I miss seeing each year. Here’s to you. Hope to see you at a future conference, and I hope that the various updates keep you tied in and make you feel like you were here, as much as we wish you actually were.

All for now; onto the next event1

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