In this lecture on the 1968 papal encyclical Humanae Vitae (Of Human Life), Ayn Rand discusses the meaning of the Catholic Church’s admonition against the use of contraception and the view of sex that it implies. She contrasts this religious perspective on sex with the Objectivist view, drawing out the relationships between love, sex, self-esteem and happiness.
Analyzing the split between the “conservatives” and the “liberals” in the church over alleged contradictions between this encyclical and an earlier one, Populorum Progressio (The Development of Peoples), Rand points to the deeper philosophical parallel between the two and argues that they are in fact perfectly consistent in their philosophical premises and intended effects.
This lecture was delivered in Boston on December 8, 1968 at the Ford Hall Forum—which, founded in 1908, is America’s oldest continuously-operating public lecture series. A print version appeared in the September–November 1968 issue of Rand’s magazine The Objectivist and was later anthologized in The Voice of Reason: Essays in Objectivist Thought, edited by Dr. Leonard Peikoff.
In the question period, Rand discusses such diverse topics as: romantic love and monogamy, laws against homosexuality and bigamy, the celibacy of priests in the Catholic Church, the role of government in marriage, the legality of suicide and euthanasia, government control of drugs, and the proper motives for a person entering the medical profession. (1968)
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Of Living Death
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