Betsy Speicher

Why Ancient Greece Is My Favorite Civilization

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Why Ancient Greece Is My Favorite Civilization by Leonard Peikoff.

Lecture suggested for rating by Bert.

Description from the Ayn Rand Institute eStore (link)

In this heartfelt tribute to Greek culture, Dr. Peikoff names its essential virtue as man-worship. Greece, he says, was the only fully secular civilization in history, the "only conceptual-level culture ever."

This talk offers profoundly original identifications, such as: the significance of the Olympic Games; the Greeks' attitude toward male nudity and toward homosexuality, and its parallels with the Founding Fathers' attitude toward slavery; the difference between the Greek and the Enlightenment views about emotions.

(MP3 download; 34 min., no Q & A)

$0.99

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This recording is not an in depth educational lecture in the way other ones reviewed here are. It just gives a brief overview of ancient Greek culture focusing on what Leonard Peikoff sees as its greatest quality - its worship for man.

I was familiar with this idea of man-worship as it is presented in Ayn Rand's novels. One sees it concretely between various relationships of the heroes - in the recording, Peikoff gives Waynand's response to Howard Roark as an example. This view has always been very contrasting with our cultural atmosphere which seems too focused on the failings and falling of heroes instead reverencing them. The atmosphere of ancient Greece presented had almost as severe a contrast. Peikoff presents an entire cultural atmosphere based on this idea of man as a heroic being with amazing potential. Through quotes and cultural practices he shows Greeks as concerned primarily with the heroic man which is shown to be a man of intelligence and physical talent with an ability to act - summed up by Peikoff as a man having 'metaphysical excellence' or a 'mastery of reality.' The contrast was so extreme with today's' culture that it made it hard for me to project what living in this culture would be like.

This recording makes clearer the view of life that is referred to within Objectivism as 'man-worship' and I found this very valuable and refreshing. It also made me much more interested in learning more extensively about the Greek culture as this recording was brief at 34 min. Though short, this recording is well worth the 99 cents.

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