This lecture analyzes the nature of heroism and its vital role in human life. It defines “hero” and “heroism,” not in accordance with conventional usage or dictionary definitions, but by application of rational philosophic principles—thereby identifying the essential characteristics of these concepts. Then, with no attempt at an exhaustive analysis, this lecture asks and partially answers the question: By rational standards, who are among the greatest heroes of mankind’s history? Further, the talk explains the philosophic fundamentals that make heroism both possible and necessary. Polemically, it identifies the philosophic foundations of contemporary anti-heroism—the tenets of modern philosophy that give rise to the modernist war on heroes, both in real life and in art. Finally, the talk shows how, and why, an attitude of unabashed hero worship—far from being a negative—provides inspiration vital to an individual’s self-actualization.
This lecture was recorded at the 2013 Objectivist Summer Conference in Chicago, IL.