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J.M.S.

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I have read the works of Ayn Rand since quite an early age, but until recently have kept that fact pretty well to myself; rather, I had until now never felt any need to find common ground to express my views on her works. Call this my 'coming out' : )

What motivated me to search for others who follow her teachings is the fact that her philosophy ended - with her life - in the early 1980's, and economical and social developments since then have created (and since has been dominated by) a new sort of creature unaccounted for in her works. I wanted to see if others thought the same. I wanted to see if anyone else had used the solidity of her teachings to think progressively about today's world.

The web turned up nothing but a hodgepodge of weak miasma spouted in Ayn Rand's name. The ARI institute: books for sale, fine, join the club for a small fee, fine, speeches and seminars - I then discovered Mr (Dr.) Richard Peikhoff and his Ford hall speech (watched two minutes, turned it off in disgust, went back and watched the whole thing), then his book "the Ominous Parallels."

I could cut into a string of (not very nice) expletives to describe his 'work', but let me just say that Ayn Rand only used comparison to existing or past regimes to explain the basics of her thoughts, to dig out the roots and the motivations of a certain type of man and to provide a reference to that regime as a support for her argument – nothing more. All of her thinking and writing is centred on the motivations of the human mind, and world events only prove her theories. Not the opposite.

As the ‘official’ inheritor of Ayn Rand’s teaching, in my humble opinion, Mr. Peikhoff is a failure. I had hoped for some new thought and enlightenment, but instead found Ayn Rand’s – misinterpreted – thoughts projected directly his biased views on the Iraq conflict. As for his writing – the holocaust is one of humanity’s worst crimes and tragedies, but what does describing it in detail – in the first chapter of his book - do for modern Objectivism?

Mr. Peikhoff seems only to seek sensationalism, as far as I’m concerned Ayn Rand has nothing to do with his *cough* teachings. Ayn Rand would never condone support of a leader (Bush) with unclear ideals and a ‘faith in god’ and ‘The Good of the Nation’ as a banner – Mr. Peikhoff began his speech in saying Bush was right and ended it in berating the American public for being too gutless to back him. That pair of oral brackets pretty well eradicated the point of anything intelligent he may have had to say between them.

The majority of my other web searches brought up nothing but division and squabbling over Ayn Rand’s name and material as well as some denying and claiming the right to the ‘Objectivism’ title. One mustn’t forget that names and value attributions are a human way of defining what’s around us – what is, is, no matter what we call it, so what I’d like to do is find ground away from this rabble to define what is, somewhere where we will not be obliged to use someone else’s name for it. If the name is best suited then it is fine to use it, but it’s the course of the argument that qualifies it.

There is work to be done. America, great nation that it still is, is politically correcting itself to death. As stated by Ayn Rand herself, it has been trained since decades not to not think for itself, but today the type of creature holding the strings has evolved into to a new breed. A breed that prefers darkness to the spotlight. A breed hard to pin down or bring out into the open. Do any of you know what this is? Can we, instead of following those who claim to be Objectivists, get about BEING Objectivists, please?

Thank you for listening, I am open to any thoughts at all.

J.M. Schomburg

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First, some factual corrections:

1.) The man's name is Leonard Peikoff. Not Richard. Not Peikhoff.

2.) Ayn Rand worked with Dr. Peikoff as he was writing The Ominous Parallels. She read and helped him with drafts. She approved of the finished product. So your claim that Ayn Rand would not have approved of the book is false.

3.) Dr. Peikoff, in the speech you refer to, supported the Iraq War, but he is certainly NOT a supporter of Bush. Dr. Peikoff is a harsher critic of today's republicans than he is of the democrats.

----

I highly approve of Dr. Peikoff and his work. The Ominous Parallels is a great work on both Nazism in particular and the philosophy of history in general. Philosophy doesn't exactly "prove" world events, according to Dr. Peikoff. But it does guide them. This follows from Objectivism more or less from Ayn Rand's Philosophy: Who Needs It speech.

You are free to think that Dr. Peikoff has misinterpreted Ayn Rand. But bear in mind that he knew her for decades, that she read and approved of The Ominous Parallels, that she listened to and approved of many of his lectures. You seem to be turned off by his "sensationalist" style. I don't particularly want to debate his style, but I do think you should consider his ideas, not his style. Do you have any actual objections to his ideas?

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About the name, sorry.

Perhaps this is not the right place for me to post my views. I thought I said quite clearly that I want to forget about who approves what or who follows who - I speak of what is presented to me, not the reputation of the person speaking. The former builds the latter and nothing else should be taken into account when arguing about a work.

I said that Ayn Rand would not have approved of Peikoff's backing of the US actions in Iraq, nor the US actions themselves.

I criticized the sensationalism of Peikoff's book - and I doubt severely that Ayn Rand 'helped' him write it. Anyhow, this assertation only helps to sell the book, not the argument. I did not say that Ayn rand disapproved of his book. I can't know that.

Perhaps I should be clearer - all I can find in today's web publications, speeches, and writ - this includes especially those of Mr. Peikoff himself - is (to quote Robert M. Pirsig) a brand or another of 'philosophology', that to say,those who talk of the merits and teachings of certain philosophers. Almost none have continued any line of philosopy as or in itself. Dr. Peikoff seemingly has taken Ayn Rand's words (example: the 'trees and forests' part of his speech cited from Ayn Rand's 1958 introduction to 'We the Living' - but used as one broad generalization against another vague one - Bush's principles) and applied them directly to today's world without giving any perusal or effort to capture the reasoning that brought those words into existence in the first place - her philosophy.

Support of one against the other is very un-Randish. Democrats and Republicans - who cares, why even bother condoning an expression of support for one or the other? Expression of what they do is important - but today it's what they DON'T do for us that is a large part of the world's problems. The fact that 'Dr. Peikoff supports more one than the other' seems to hold validity for you - but why, if you are interested in Ayn Rand's philosophy itself? The question one should be asking is: does it hold with the philosophy? Even 'What is the philosophy?' is acceptable and honest. This is where discussion should be, not about who said what when and why it is right because whoever approves of it. OUR thoughts, please, about what WE see and do. Otherwise it's not philosophy we discuss, it's philosophology.

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Perhaps you should do more than simply watch one lecture online and read one book before you come to a conclusion about Peikoff or his work. (I'm not even entirely convinced that you have read The Ominous Parallels, because if you had, you probably would have noticed the introduction by Ayn Rand--and would therefore not claim ignorance as to whether or not you can know if Ayn Rand disapproved of it.)

As far as criticizing "sensationalism", well, I don't think that Peikoff is any more "sensational" than was Rand.

As far as him simply parroting what Rand said and not contributing anything new, well, for just one example, see the work he is currently doing on the problem of induction.

Also, if you want to have a rational discussion, stop misrepresenting other people's statements. You say, "The fact that 'Dr. Peikoff supports more one than the other' seems to hold validity for you." But Daniel did not in fact make that claim. All he said was that Peikoff was more critical of one than the other--he said nothing about supporting either party--and this was in response to your objection to Peikoff's support (sort of) of one of Bush's decisions.

Now what exactly is it that you wanted to talk about?

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...that's funny, I omitted a phrase where I had said: "Ayn Rand's introduction seemed completely dissociated with Peikoff's work, another line of thought entirely." Are there logs here? Hope so.

and ...

All he said was that Peikoff was more critical of one than the other
about amounts to the same sort of 'product A or B' comparison as:

Dr. Peikoff supports more one than the other

- doesn't it? Product A and B themselves should not have even figured in the discussion. The effect of each product, maybe. You show that you missed my point and that you have no thoughts at all about the rest of what I had to say.

I do really think I have come to the wrong place. Sorry for taking your time.

(added)

As far as him simply parroting what Rand said and not contributing anything new, well, for just one example, see the work he is currently doing on the problem of induction.

I would love to see that, but is that all he's done of worth since 1982? I don't count his "Phiolosophy of Ayn Rand" book because it's not on his own thoughts. His "Fact and Value" essay wans't particularily enlightening either. You shouldn't so offhandedly accuse me of not reading his works before criticizing them - I can't imagine what motive I would have for doing that, I have no 'reputation' to defend. I came looking for people who have carried or who are interested in carrying Ayn Rand's philosophy through to today, not talk about things in 'her words'. That's it.

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What did you mean "interested in carrying on" Ayn Rand's philosophy? Did you mean those who consistently apply her philosophy to their lives? Or those who further develop her philosophy? The former would be out there in the world, living by Objectivism, not in universities where you would find the latter, expounding Objectivism.

I think a lot of Objectivist want to become philosophy professors and spread the "Word of Ayn Rand" to the world. But what I think we need to see more of are Objectivists who pursue and succeed in careers in other fields such as business, sports, fine arts, sciences and maybe even in politics!

But I suppose we won't see such people until Objectivism has been assimilated into the America culture.

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You shouldn't so offhandedly accuse me of not reading his works before criticizing them
You didn't know the name of the man, yet you claim to have read both his books, seen a lecture by him and read at least one article by him.

the holocaust is one of humanity’s worst crimes and tragedies, but what does describing it in detail – in the first chapter of his book - do for modern Objectivism

Another reason to accuse you of not reading the book. Ch 13 is about concentration camps and their horrible details, Ch 1 is called "The Cause of Nazism."

Also, if you have ever listened to a Peikoff lecture course, he often discusses how it took him something like 15 years to write the book, with Rand being deeply involved in all of the writing. I once read a criticism of Peikoff saying that he didn't really write the book because Rand so involved with it. Your assertion that Rand wouldn't have approved of it is completely ignorant.

I think accusing you of not reading his work entirely justified. I will go further: Not only do I still doubt you have read this book, I think you are entirely ignorant of everything the man did, with the possible exception of 'Fact and Value' and an internet lecture.

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AshRyan - I was not aware that Dr. Peikoff is working on something involving the problem of induction. Do you know anything else about it or where I can find some more info. on it?

AC

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Look for the audio file about The One in the Many: How to Create It and Why

SInce that Ford Hall lecture, the thrust of Dr. Peikoff's book has changed enormously. The book is now entirely about the problem of induction (with less emphasis on integration), and will have a lot of physics in it. And it will be co-authored by David Harriman.

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Thanks for the update Daniel.  Where did you find that information about his book?  I'd like to check it out if possible

I found it out during Dr. Peikoff's lectures at the summer conference (IThe Axioms of Induction), so there's no quick way to look up the info. I do recommend the lectures, though, so you might want to pick them up in the fall.

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... Since I left an addendum after so impolitely slamming the door yesterday I thought I'd return to see who answered it.

You didn't know the name of the man, yet you claim to have read both his books, seen a lecture by him and read at least one article by him. ...I think accusing you of not reading his work entirely justified. I will go further: Not only do I still doubt you have read this book, I think you are entirely ignorant of everything the man did, with the possible exception of 'Fact and Value' and an internet lecture.

...and found this.

Again I see only defense of 'claims to the following' of... Peikoff. I cited at least four of his works and, because I typed the wrong name, you accuse of lying about having read them? The net is a wonder for the facility that people can spew gratuitous accusations like that. Richard Peikhoff is a Swiss painter and a friend of mine.

Peikoff writes of a graphic depiction of a gas chamber slaughter, in detail down to the Nazi Youth orchestra and the screams and clawing and blood-spattered hermetically closed door. A comparison of a written Nazi ideology to someone else's description a gas chamber scene. Most German people didn't even KNOW about the gas chambers until after the war. Of course mister Peikoff 'explains' his dipiction, but for me that's not philosophy, that's covering up his attention-getting tactics. Of course there'll be semantics about who knew what when but that's been going on since half a century. (added) I just read a transcript of his radio show and it looks as though his attention-getting tactics haven't changed...

Putting my 'Sensationalism' accusations to the side for the moment, I still ask : What good does this depiction do for Objectivism? What's more, In spending yesterday afternoon (mostly in frustration) looking for others who seek to project or have projected Rand's thoughts through to today, Peikoff's name turned up again and again - and what else did I find? In an article on his own book, on his own site, and a link to an exerpt - to interest a possible future reader thus better sell the book. What did Peikoff choose to show as its foremost thought and highlight? His ideology/gas chamber comparison. I can't remember if I posted here before or after I saw that. Probably after, that's why I mentioned it. I await your "HA!" : )

Have a look at what today's people have retained about that period: A bloody logo. That in itself says a lot about the Nazi regime - and the fact that the US government uses all the same promotional tricks doesn't make them similar to the Nazis; yet another Peikoff's errors. If the base goal of the US and Nazi regimes, as Peikoff states, is moving an entire people, from its roots up to the tip of the scale, behind a 'unique cause and identity' which justifies unrestrained morality and use of force, well, I can compare the US to every regime that exists or ever existed. Peikoff's book is the presentation of a rather lame argument and his fighting like hell to justify and defend it. IMHO.

Now, on Ayn Rand's role in the matter, I follow Ayn Rand's thinking, not Ayn Rand herself. I'm not sure what happened towards the end of her life, nor during her collaboration/help/support of/with Peikoff, that for me doesn't matter, it's the end result that counts. My conclustion is: I do not think that Peikoff's book is a continuation of the thinking of Ayn Rand, I think he parrots it at best. He but applies her writ to the letter to those and today's events. I could just within my little circle of friends and be smug about it all, but I throw my point of view into the open, thus opening myself to fire. I expected this, but I hoped for something constructive, not slanderous.

My web search turned up quite a few pages about a catfight which is breaking up the ARI - and a lot of not-so-very nice info about Peikoff himself. I understand better the animosity towards my first post if this is a place for the 'supporters of Peikoff' - but I have no part in that, nor do I want any. This is certainly not a continuing of any line of thought at all, so I'll close the door quietly this time. If you care to answer I will, but if this thread bothers anyone and you want to drop or even eliminate it, it's fine by me. I didn't come to create a disruption, I came looking for enlightenment. Oh, and to end all I will read the works you mentioned : )

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...yes, perhaps it is for the better. Objectivism seems to have turned into a mishmash of squabbling, which makes even my first post look naive and pointless. Peikoff doesn't matter, nor to the others who 'lay claim' to Rand's thoughts. It's the clear idea that counts, the public recognition of that idea that comes next, and the 'general enlightenement' the should result from all that. Definitely not a group of squabblers fighting over the meaning of a list of someone else's definitions.

Tom Rexton, yes, the world needs Objectivism practitioners more than parlayers : )

And, mister daniel, I have read elsewhere in this forum that you don't hesitate to censor those who don't agree with you. Getting rid of this thread seems in that light, but trust me, thoughtlessly opting for censorship is counterproductive to any learning, especially to yours. Just because you know someone else's teaching to the letter doesn't mean that you have a mind of your own. The problem with Objectivism is exactly that: applying it to real life. Not to an oasis of your own making.

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Tom Rexton writes:

"I think a lot of Objectivist want to become philosophy professors and spread the "Word of Ayn Rand" to the world. But what I think we need to see more of are Objectivists who pursue and succeed in careers in other fields such as business, sports, fine arts, sciences and maybe even in politics!"

There are Objectivists in many fields and careers (especially business); not all of them are philosophy professors. In fact, at OCON (I wasn't there, but my friend who went told me this) they said that colleges are willing to include Objectivism in philosophy courses, but there aren't enough professors who want to teach it. I think in the next decade or so, we will see many more young Objectivists enter the field of philosophy. Due to the increase in Anthem and The Fountainhead essay contest entries and the establishment of the OAC (Objectivist Academic Center) this seems like a likely prospect.

Furthermore, the philosophical battle for rationality will be won in the universities and not in the political arena. Politics is the last link in the chain. Any serious attempt to change the culture primarily through politics will be absolutely futile because ultimately, if the public (i.e. a majority of the people) doesn't accept or understand the ideas of its government, then it will vote out the elected officials. (However, I do know one Objectivist who is running in the California recall election.)

J.M.S. writes:

"And, mister daniel, I have read elsewhere in this forum that you don't hesitate to censor those who don't agree with you. Getting rid of this thread seems in that light, but trust me, thoughtlessly opting for censorship is counterproductive to any learning, especially to yours."

The term censorship only applies to government actions. Ayn Rand describes censorship as "a government edict that forbids the discussion of some specific subjects or ideas... an edict enforced by the government's scrutiny of all forms of communication prior to their public release." An individual cannot censor another individual. The first amendment gives one the right to free speech, but does not say that one has the right to speak his mind wherever he pleases. Therefore, only the government can take away a person's 1st amendment rights which is censorship.

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Tom Rexton writes:

"I think a lot of Objectivist want to become philosophy professors and spread the "Word of Ayn Rand" to the world. But what I think we need to see more of are Objectivists who pursue and succeed in careers in other fields such as business, sports, fine arts, sciences and maybe even in politics!"

There are Objectivists in many fields and careers (especially business); not all of them are philosophy professors. In fact, at OCON (I wasn't there, but my friend who went told me this) they said that colleges are willing to include Objectivism in philosophy courses, but there aren't enough professors who want to teach it. I think in the next decade or so, we will see many more young Objectivists enter the field of philosophy. Due to the increase in Anthem and The Fountainhead essay contest entries and the establishment of the OAC (Objectivist Academic Center) this seems like a likely prospect.

Furthermore, the philosophical battle for rationality will be won in the universities and not in the political arena. Politics is the last link in the chain. Any serious attempt to change the culture primarily through politics will be absolutely futile because ultimately, if the public (i.e. a majority of the people) doesn't accept or understand the ideas of its government, then it will vote out the elected officials. (However, I do know one Objectivist who is running in the California recall election.)

I never said that there were no Objectivists in other fields--I said we need to see more of them. And I know that a culture can be changed only at its very foundation--its philosophy--and not in the field of politics. I only said that we need to see more Objectivist politicians, not change America by electing an Objectivist president.

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I'm not so sure about your definition of 'Censorship'. Why does it only apply to the government? Anyone impeding on anyone's right or means to speak qualifies as censorship today. True that the word 'Censor' originates in ancient Roman mastigrates who would 'oversee morals' (as well as taxation : ), but few use have that in mind when they hear the word 'censor'. When we speak of Objectivism, we should speak in common definitions and not just Ayn Rand's... But perhaps I misunderstood your propos.

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I never said that there were no Objectivists in other fields--I said we need to see more of them. And I know that a culture can be changed only at its very foundation--its philosophy--and not in the field of politics. I only said that we need to see more Objectivist politicians, not change America by electing an Objectivist president.

..again I agree : )

It's a long road to getting people onto the 'right track' of earning their keep by exploiting their own talents and desires when today's message is 'worry about what they think/want'. It has to start with our children; if they are taught in a truthful and logical way what we are and what we can do, the very idea of religion and 'live for others' will seem rediculous to them. Even an Objectivist President won't be able to sway the results of fifty years of what can only qualify as widespread altruist brainwashing. I already see hope in many children today thanks to the separation of Church and state we saw in the beginning of the last century.

(added)

Oh, and perhaps you can tell from the above that I am of the persuasion that Objectivism should become a way of life, not a subject taught in universities. Yet another reason for me to treat Dr. Piekoff's work with disdain - it's isolationist.

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Guest Tom Rexton

I'm still in high school--A junior in 6 days to be exact. And I don't see much hope in the children of today, despite the secularized curriculum, because the traditional education was replaced by an even worse method of education. At least the classical method was taught in a more logical, integrated method (grammar, logic & rhetoric). Now, it's just special subjects that are taught with barely--if at all--any rational, philosophic basis, meaningful integration or concrete application.

Take my typical publich high school for an example. The younger generations are faring worse than ever--with over half of the entire freshman class failing at least one of their classes even in an extremely dumbed down academic curriculum! Many of the teachers in my school are horrible (you can hear these comments from the students themselves). They fail to motivate their students--and worse, they fail to teach their subjects properly, rationally, in an integrated, conceptual method. I've even heard that the school districts in my area are considering to make community service mandatory! :o:)

There are good teachers in my school. However, they are few and they teach only the Advanced or AP classes--which a majority of the students will never take.

I really don't see a very bright future for America, especially with the increasing population in public schools, which will mean more crippled minds than ever, and with the bills Congress and the state legislatures have been proposing and passing, it seems that we are in an ever accelerating vehicle heading straight down the road to a totalitarian, socialist America--or ultimately another Civil War.

This is why I think Americans desperately need to see more successful individuals in the real world (other than just philosophers in ivory towers) who live by Objectivism. Without such people like Dagny, Howard, Hank and Francisco, Objectivism will seem more like an arcane philosophic theory than a practical way of living. And that would only alienate most of the people that we're trying to reach.

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At least the classical method was taught in a more logical, integrated method (grammar, logic & rhetoric). Now, it's just special subjects that are taught with barely--if at all--any rational, philosophic basis, meaningful integration or concrete application.

...you give me flashes of my school days - of the confusion I felt during those years. True, how can one be motivated to learn when the one teaching seems unconvinced or nonchalant about what he's relaying? There were a few teachers who were 'on the ball' - there were two who truely motivated me, the rest have more or less merged into a fog in my memory. And the University profs.... : )

...yes, imagine what students must think if even the teachers have a 'what's the use' attitude. Are things really that bad in the US nowadays?

...I'd love to develop on this but I must leave now. Perhaps tonight - this is going somewhere interesting : )

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...you give me flashes of my school days - of the confusion I felt during those years.  True, how can one be motivated to learn when the one teaching seems unconvinced or nonchalant about what he's relaying? There were a few teachers who were 'on the ball' - there were two who truely motivated me, the rest have more or less merged into a fog in my memory. And the University profs.... : )

...yes, imagine what students must think if even the teachers have a 'what's the use' attitude. Are things really that bad in the US nowadays?

For the majority of students and teachers, it is that bad. Most students fail to see how the academic subjects are relevant to their lives--since the teachers themselves fail to present their subjects properly and motivate their students.

The most common complaint I've heard from students is "What the hell does this have to do with my life?"--an honest, desperate question to which teachers typically blank-out, change the subject or mumble something inaudible.

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Interestingly, at least in regard to philosophy, it doesn't necessarily get better in college. I think in most fields there's an implicit assumption that one goes to college to learn a trade which is to be practiced -- imagine a computer science professor saying "What we're speaking about doesn't really apply to computers." It'd be absurd. And yet, the *best* professor I had last year said something along these lines at one point: "Well, we're philosophers... we don't really deal with reality."

(By the way, when I say best, I mean genuinely GOOD. For her, this was the exception to the rule, the rule being quality pedagogy. For some other professors I've had, this would be something they'd say casually on their best day.)

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