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    The Enlightenment Lyceum

    The most cognitively and temporally efficient way to cut through confusions and obfuscations is to use the Method of Objectivity. More recently dubbed "Rand's Question" by David Saum, this solid method has been employed, to the world's great astonishment and respect, by Aristotle, William of Ockham, Peter Abelard, John Locke, and Sir Isaac Newton. It has a small but increasingly influential core of practictioners today. Yet, even though many Objectivists are aware of this method and its alleged power, fewer are able to apply it skillfully, and even fewer bother (or remember!) to apply it at all.

    The key to any skill development is practice; and one of the best ways to practice and habituate is through the good influence of one's associates. That is why the Enlightenment Lyceum has been conceived. Rather than subjecting participants to days of lectures and turning them loose at night to party, the Lyceum amounts to a good influence through intensive practice at proper thinking while engaged in living.

    Lyceum participants literally live with the instructors for the week, following their good philosophical examples, asking questions, and having their own methods subjected to professional analysis. Debates are arranged impromptu in the midst of the other duties and recreational activities related to maintaining and enjoying camp in the wilds of California. In keeping with a mind-body integrative approach, all these activities themselves serve as stimulus, subject, and motivations for debate, ensuring that all aspects of the whole person are actively engaged and that boredom from sitting the factory-model classroom is simply not possible.

    Reasoning methods are the focus of the week; formal debate coaching is not part of the program. Debate format is observed loosely and only to the extent that it facilitates the use of and instruction in using the Method of Objectivity. The moderator (usually a Lyceum instructor but sometimes a Lyceum participant) has license to step in at any point to prompt debators to give (or demand from opponents) a definition, criticism, responses with "Rand's Question", and--importantly--to point out a fallacy and help participants ferret out the argument's fallacious premise(s) on the spot. Typically, fallacies as well as valid arguments will be the same ones that Lyceum participants will hear from people all their lives; the Lyceum prepares them to deal with these challenges.

    At this time only a summer break Lyceum is scheduled, the first to occur in Summer 2002; a Christmas break Lyceum may be arranged as early as December 2001 or January 2002, depending on enrollment. The Christmas Lyceum will be held in town rather than in the wilderness, due to the winter deer hunting season; but most activities will again occur outdoors.

    The Three-Day Lecture Series

    A three-day series presented by Carolyn Ray, on topics of your choice. The series may be comprised of either one of the complete Mini-Courses, or include lectures on a variety of topics. You may arrange a small gathering of friends or a more public seminar. Price does not include the cost of renting a venue to accommodate larger audiences. For Members purchasing Membership Packages that include the Weekend Lecture Series, the series will be held in the Member's choice of town, where possible; some seasonal restrictions apply. A few topics are suggested here; for additional topics, consult Ray's list of essays on the Enlightenment web site or contact her with topic proposals.

    Lecture Series may be scheduled on the weekend to accommodate the general public, or during the work-week to address employees at a particular company.

    Two-Day Series are also available.


    Three-Day Course in Applied Business Ethics

    Ideal for corporations, this course tackles a range of typical business ethical dilemmas, from day-to-day minor temptations to earth-shattering crises. Depending on the audience, an optional introduction to ethical egoism brings your coworkers and employees up to speed, and fallacious arguments targeted at the business ethical issue are introduced and examined. The informal guided debate format developed by Ray in the course of teaching her Business Ethics and Applied Ethics classes of traditional and continuing-education students at Indiana University is heavily utilized. Time will be alotted at several intervals each day to discuss real or hypothetical problems that participants will begin to recognize as the big picture unfolds. Suggested special topics include but are not limited to perfect honesty; full disclosure; trust and trustworthiness; guarantees, contracts and contractual obligations; public relations communications, image development and reputation; revenge; theft; imposition of sanctions; protests; unions. Dispute resolution assistance and other applications to a corporation's real issues will be provided if desired.

    Three-Day Course on Method

    The method of objectivity is a powerful tool of analysis. Used skillfully, it enables one to slash through confusions and make sense of even apparently disparate pieces of information. Opponents may not thank us, but they'll leave the discussion with a better understanding, and a fair impression of the power of objectivist thought. Skills include recognizing and uncovering implicit intrincism and subjectivism; definition analysis and construction; analysis of specific problems such as the effective naming of products and services, analysis of proposals and arguments for them. Special optional topics for certain kinds of businesses or departments may be arranged, including application of the Method of Objectivity to programming and design problems, usability issues, public relations, advertising, financial decisions, etc. Please contact Dr. Ray to discuss the possibility of addressing other special topics.

    Three-Day Course In Theories Of Ethics

    You can't fight what you can't see, and you can't make a rational decision without information. University students take courses in ethics that introduce a wide variety of ethical theories, then pit them against each other in papers, debates, and discussions. This dialectical process enables the student to truly understand the problems with each ethical theory, the daily issues it can and cannot handle, its psychological appeal, and, most importantly for objectivists, how to deal objectively with people who hold ethical views other than egoism. This course, based on courses in logic and in theoretical and applied ethics that Dr. Ray taught at Indiana University, provides intensive, highly interactive, university-level instruction to non-students, and students enrolled in non-humanities programs. Unlike university courses, which do not generally include any mention of egoistic and classical liberal ideas, and unlike the normal Objectivist seminar, which does not take other theories seriously, this course treats all theories with an even hand so that the participant can make an educated, objective, rational decision--even if that decision was made on emotional or less-informed grounds long ago. Study-in-advance of course materials is essential: these lectures are not for entertainment purposes, and the term 'university-level' should be taken seriously.

    Philosophical Writing Seminar

    By far the most-frequently-asked questions that fall into my mailbox concern how to write philosophically. These questions come from students in all disciplines as well as non-students. My students at Indiana University frequently told me that the techniques that they had encountered, for the first time, in my philosophy classes, had proven indispensible in improving their understanding and their work in unrelated courses. Topics covered include how to do genuine scholarly research for a writing project; writing scrupulously correct informal philosophical articles; techniques for developing an essay from scratch without losing your mind; what sorts of arguments the writer must take into account or at least acknowledge in order to produce a respectable piece; techniques for writing dissertations and books; indispensible argument forms such as reductio ad absurdum; the importance of devil's advocacy; developing believable objections to one's position; and what to do if your research fails to support your view (or proves the opposite of your view).

    Lecture Topics

    The following lecture topics stand alone. They may be combined as the client sees fit. Most lectures are amenable to resizing and to include more or less participant interaction as desired. Number of lectures given during any Three-Day Series will be determined by the client and Carolyn Ray and will depend in part on adjustments

    Techniques and Skill Development

    • How To Win Arguments
    • Intensive Series: mini-series on applying the method of objectivity, especially designed for engineers and programmers
    • The Origin of Concepts: Learning to Use the Method of Objectivity
    • Thought Experiments and Science Fiction Examples in Argument
    • (other topics in this area are available; requests are welcome)

    Lifestyle and Life on Earth

    • The Shame of Not Wanting Children: The Social Stigma of Leading a Ward-Free Life
    • Why Have a Pet? Philosophical Reflections on the Benefits of Living with Animals (the flip side of the Shame of Not Wanting Children)
    • Appreciating Nature: The Other Side Of The Anti-Environmentalist Movement
    • (other topics in this area are available; requests are welcome)

    Applied Ethics, Self-Enhancement, and Social Concerns

    • Racism and Sexism: From Political Correctness to Barbarianism
    • Speed Seduction: Pro's and Con's
    • Join The No-Lie Society: How to Think Out of the Box and Learn to be Honest
    • Happiness and the Principled Life
    • Integrity and the Influence of One's Associates: Leading and Being Led by Example
    • (other topics in this area are available; requests are welcome)

    Connections to Mainstream Philosophy and Academia

    • Rand's Predecessors in the History of Philosophy: Aristotle, Abelard, Ockham, Locke
    • Real Philosophers: The University Experience
    • Reclaiming the Word 'Intellectual'.
    • Objectivists Do It In Class: Changing the World Through Professional Scholarship
    • (other topics in this area are available; requests are welcome)


    • You Get What You Pay For: Expanding Your Enjoyment of Works of Art Through Objectivity
    • Analyzing the Lyrics of Contemporary Music
    • Form Following Function: Using The Essential Nature of Plants in Landscape Design
    • The Portrayal of the Heroic in Contemporary Film
    • Television Programs: Ones Worth Watching, and Their Evil Competitors
    • (other topics in this area are available; requests are welcome)

    Philosophical Consulting

    What is it? Examples of services include, but are not limited to:
    • assistance understanding and applying principles in the workplace
    • assistance understanding and applying principles among family and friends
    • speech writing and collaborating
    • public relations statements and communications
    • analysis of written work for logical consistency, philosophical accuracy
    • screenplay and script development, fictional and historical
    • multiple-party dispute resolution
    • analysis of personal ethical dilemmas and roadblocks to decision-making
    • working environment improvement
    (Note well: A philosophical consultant is not a psychologist and is not qualified to (or interested in) helping with purely psychological problems or emotional distress. Some philosophical consultants claim to be able to eliminate the need for professional psychological care. This claim implies that the the fields of psychology and philosophy are identical, which is patently false. Acting on this identification can be dangerous to your health and possibly fatal in cases of potential suicide or organic causes of mental illness. While it is true that philosophical problems can cause or aggravate emotional and psychological ill-health, it is also true that emotional and psychological ill-health can cause an inability to properly think about or deal with philosophical issues. This relationship alone suggests that philosophical and psychological problems can be related, but it also shows that they are not identical. A reputable philosophical consultant will only attempt to deal with philosophical issues without making any claims to be able to cure psychological symptoms, and will recommend psychological evaluation for issues outside of his or her range of expertise.

    Example: Suppose David is constantly anxious about all the secrets he keeps and the lies he tells, and he expresses his anxiety through rage and violent behavior. Yet despite the turmoil that his behavior causes, he insists that deceptions are necessary to peacefully exist with his family and friends. Any person who believes that honesty is a virtue might immediately assume that David's anxiety and rage is merely a result of the chronic dishonesty. This may or may not be true, however. The anxiety may have some additional cause which is preventing the person from thinking clearly about the results of dishonesty. The problem could even be organic.

    What a philosophical consultant can do in such situations is lay out the issues, possible alternatives, possible consequences, and principles consistent with the person's belief system. In doing so, the philosopher naturally helps the client understand the issues better than a psychologist can; but in addition she may help the client see that psychological evaluation is indicated. From there, the philosopher can help sort out which aspects of the problem are truly philosophical, and which aspects require psychological care. The strongest claims that the philosophical consultant should make with regard to recovery from constant anxiety is that chronic deceptive behavior and thinking is apt to cause or worsen anxiety, and that a big step in the right direction is attempting to understand the ethical and causal implications of such thinking and behavior.

    The philosopher is not entitled to claim that the client's anxiety will simply go away once an understanding of principles is achieved and behavior is altered. If this claim were generally true, then everyone who had read and understood ATLAS SHRUGGED would be perfectly virtuous, ecstatic, and worry-free, which is empirically not the case. For one thing, it can be terribly difficult to alter behavior when psychological problems are present, despite the client's philosophical commitments. For another, even if the philosopher can effect sufficiently altered behavior such that anxiety is reduced, the remaining anxiety or its underlying cause, psychological or physical, may continue to express itself in some other way without the philosopher's knowledge. Since psychology is outside the realm of my expertise, I won't attempt to explain how or why this might be the case. Suffice it to say that I consider the claims of some philosophical consultants to be outrageously false and highly dangerous, and that potential clients should be wary of any claims to be able to replace psychologists.

    Rather, psychologists and philosophers have independent roles to fill, though treatment by one can be usefully supplemented by consultation with the other. For people who are more familiar with the traditional role of psychologists, it may be helpful to think of the philosophical consultant as filling in a much-needed gap in the range of presently available consultation and counseling alternatives, from psychiatrists to priests to personnel directors. Not all problems are psychological; your problems making a decision may not be due to a psychological problem but rather due to a confusion over your philosophical principles and how to apply them. Persons in the field of psychology are not trained to deal with such problems, and that means that your alternative is either to seek psychological help that will be inadequate to the task, to seek religious assistance, or to get no help at all.