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McGroarty

What's the deal with the Kelley Objectivists?

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I've been to a TOC conference (the most recent one in Vancouver). It was far more financially feasible to stay in Canada instead of going to the ARI coference in the US.

Anyways, I found it rather enlightening. Kelley and Branden were very interesting. I found Branden to be particularly self-critical about what happened with Rand, and not overly critical with regards to her. Fun to drink a beer with! (Though he's certainly getting on in years.). There's nothing like sitting down and learning what happened first hand.

Should TOC really call itself an Objectivst organization? Certainly not.

Is it still valuable as an organization? I'd say so. Most of you disagree.

But that conference stands out as a highlight in my life. Nothing is quite as satisfying as staying up until 3:00am arguing about free will.

Edited by Quantum Mechanic

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I still think that statement by Ayn Rand is problematic. Bear in mind that she evidently made it only two years before she died, and not when she was at the height of her powers.

Do you have any evidence whatsoever for her not being at the height of her "powers" two years before she died?

If by "powers" you mean mental powers, then I don't see any evidence to support your statement.

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But what if your disagreements are honest or even, god forbid, appropriate?    :)

Then why would you call yourself an Objectivist? For instance, I've been heavily influenced by Wittgenstein but I wouldnt call myself a "Wittgensteinian" or anything similar - I'd just say that I've been influenced by him. Likewise I've been influenced by Ayn Rand, but I see no need to label myself as an Objectivist; I agree with her on some things but not on others. Instead, I would say "I have been influenced by Ayn Rand", or "I agree with Objectivism on XYZ". Unless you are actually in agreement with her on most things, including all of what she believed were the fundamentals, I dont think you should call yourself an Objectivist - you're doing yourself a disservice as well as Ayn Rand. If you really do need a label, you could always say you're a Randian or whatever (although she would have hated that). Edited by Hal

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The basic idea is that Ayn didn't contradict herself or change her mind throughout her whole long career as novelist and philosopher. But no one is without internal inconsistencies and failures, and everyone changes and grows as they age (hopefully for the better).

(bold mine)

I think that the bolded statement did not receive a proper consideration. With no immediate connection to the ARI-TOC dispute, in principle, the bolded statement is about as un-Objectivist a statement as could be. When I think of the plot of Atlas Shrugged, I remember all the little philosophical statements people made without really thinking what they mean. Epistemologically speaking, what does the above statement mean?

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That moral perfection is impossible.

Yes, I also think that`s the hidden implication ot that statement. And the tail in AS shows what kind of final conclusions this kind of assertion may bring to.

Just so we’re clear- I have not yet met in my life a person about whom I could safely say that he/she has no contradictions; I myself have had "internal inconsistencies and failures" in my life, and I myself had "changed and growed" as I aged; AND I am not yet sure if Ayn Rand was completely consistent and right throughout her life and throughout the philosophy of Objectivism; I still have to check it and think about it.

But to say that the existence of such a person is impossible- that has to lead to irrationality and collectivism sooner or later.

Edited to rephrase the first sentence.

Edited by A.A

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Back in the good old days, we we told not to call ourselves "Objectivists", but rather "students of Objectivism".

I am not an Objectivist because I disagree with Ayn Rand on some issues. But I find her writings very illuminating in many cases, so I study Objectivism.

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One question. Does being an Objectivist mean that you agree with the philosophy of Objectivism, or does it mean that you agree with everything Ayn Rand ever said, thought, and wrote? If it's the former, I am definitely one, and as best as I can tell, TOC is too. If it's the latter, then, well, is anyone really an Objectivist?

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Objectivism is "The Philosophy of Ayn Rand"- not "the sum of all of the events in Ayn Rand's life."

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What exactly is the difference?  Do you mean that Objectivism is what is described in OPAR, nothing more, and nothing less?

No OPAR is Peikoff's educated discussion of Objectivism. Objectivism is whatever Ayn Rand said it is, i.e., her writings and whatever other sources she explicitly endorsed. OPAR wasn't one of them because she had already passed away, although it was based on a course that LP taught that was explicitly endorsed by her.

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right, but when did Ayn Rand say what Objectivism was? By which I mean, when and where did she lay it all out and say "this- and nothing more- is Objectivism?"

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Wherever she wrote about philosophy in general, what it is and why we need it. Collect Ayn Rand's published works, work out what is part of a philosophy and what isn't, which ideas fit the criteria of being part of a philosophy and which don't, and you have Ayn Rand's philosophy as presented in her published works.

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But what if your disagreements are honest or even, god forbid, appropriate?

I have already illustrated this fact in the discussion of contextual definitions. Here is another kind of example, drawn from the field of scientific induction. Some time ago, medical researchers learned to identify four types of blood: A, B, AB, and O. When blood was transfused from one individual to another, some of these blood types proved to be compatible while others were not (an undesirable reaction, hemolysis, occurred). For example, the blood of an A-type donor was compatible with that of an A-type recipient, but not with that of a B-type. Later, a new discovery was made: in certain cases, an undesirable reaction occurred even when blood of type A was given to an A-type recipient. Further investigation revealed another factor at work, the RH factor, which was found in the blood of some individuals but not others. The initial generalization (for short, "A bloods are compatible") was thus discovered to hold only under a circumstance that had earlier been unidentified. Given this knowledge, the generalization had to be qualified ("A bloods are compatible if their RH factors are matched").

The principle here is evident: since a later discovery rests hierarchically on earlier knowledge, it cannot contradict its own base. The qualified formulation in no way clashes with the initial proposition, viz.: "Within the context of the circumstances so far known, A bloods are compatible." This proposition represented real knowledge when it was first reached, and it still does so; in fact, like all properly formulated truths, this truth is immutable. Within the context initially specified, A bloods are and always will be compatible.

Your "disagreements" would be additional qualifications. What has been identified logically does not get contradcited with new discoveries - it gets expanded upon.

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Slave, that's exactly what it seems to me that TOC is doing. The reason I asked those questions about what is Objectivism was to point out that there's no single body of work that is Objectivism-unless you count OPAR, and I agree with Rational_One that we shouldn't. The way I (and apparently y_feldblum as well) interpret Objectivism is as a philosophy that was described, mentioned, and discussed at great length by Rand, but one which she never made a definitive account of. I think Kelley and TOC are trying to bring new knowledge the table which qualifies, and adds to, what we know of Objectivism, without actually refuting any of it.

Edited by pi-r8

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The reason I asked those questions about what is Objectivism was to point out that there's no single body of work that is Objectivism-unless you count OPAR, and I agree with Rational_One that we shouldn't.
If you assume she made a defintive account to Piekoff who repeated her ideas consistently in OPAR, would they be Piekoff's or Rands ideas? From what I read of the book, Piekoff cited Rand often and hasn't taken credit for anything.

If the book is her thoughts accurately, it is Objectivism. If she is credited with something that is not accurate, they are illogical and not hers or they are logical and additions to her work.

Did Rand say that Piekoff should not pretend to know what Objectivism is or something?

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Don't get me wrong, OPAR is a great book. Peikoff certainly knows his stuff. Sure he cites Rand, but it's still just his interpretation of Objectivism- it's not like she dictated the book to him. I see it as Peikoff's attempt to integrate all of the most important things Rand said about her philosophy, as interpreted by him, into one logically consistant book. I think it does a great job of laying out the basics of Objectivism, but I don't think you can really say that it includes EVERYTHING that is Objectivism.

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The way I (and apparently y_feldblum as well) interpret Objectivism is as a philosophy that was described, mentioned, and discussed at great length by Rand, but one which she never made a definitive account of.
um ITOE anyone?
I think Kelley and TOC are trying to bring new knowledge the table which qualifies, and adds to, what we know of Objectivism, without actually refuting any of it.

And without actually using the *Objectivism Epistemology*. Objectivism states that reality allows no contradictions. TOC allows contradictions, it's as simple as that. Objectivism is a closed system as described in ITOE.

I really think those of you who think TOC does right by Objectivism should check out Diana Hsieh's site (as she has already offered. One of the first things I found on line about Objectivism was her statement when she cut ties with them.

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I've read ITOE. It's far from definitive. The title, I think, says it all- An Introduction to Objectivst Epistemology. There's a lot more to Objectivism than what's in that book.

Now as for TOC, I don't see how you can argue that they don't follow Objectivist Epistemology. I challenge you to find a single instance where they do not follow it. Just because they reach different conclusions on some subjects as ARI, doesn't mean they're not using Objectivist Epistemology- it just means that there is a disagreement, that's all. They certaintly don't allow contradictions.

I've seen Diana's Hseih's site before. I came across it when I was first trying to figure out the difference between ARI and TOC, actually. She gives a lot of reasons for her condemnation of TOC, but I'm not convinced by them. Frankly, I think a lot of her criticisms are just nitpicking of specific articles on the TOC website. The only rather important philosophical difference I saw was the old open vs. closed system, toleration vs. condemnation debate, and on that I simply disagree with her position.

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Just because they reach different conclusions on some subjects as ARI, doesn't mean they're not using Objectivist Epistemology- it just means that there is a disagreement, that's all.  They certaintly don't allow contradictions.
If that conclsuion is a disagreement about reality, there is a contradiciton. Since TOC "certainly" doesn't allow contradcitions, that means ARI does. Since I have never found a contradiction on ARI, I have to reject that TOC contradicts itself.

If the disagreement isn't about reality, what is TOC trying to sell?

I hold that the possibilities for honest error are many, especially in a field as complex as philosophy. It is true, of course, that many people are willfully irrational in their thinking and should be judged accordingly. But we can't know this of a given individual merely from the content of what he believes; we have to know something about how he reached his beliefs before we can pass moral judgment. What I object to is not moral judgment per se but the blanket condemnations that some Objectivists issue without adequate evidence.
Kelley dismissed the "adequate evidence" of irratonal thought. If a person is not irrational by his own will, by whose will is he irrational? Kelley dismisses the fact that people are not forced to think irrationally; he dismisses that people are conscious of their thoughts if they choose to be. He dismisses consciousness.

How does that follw Objectivism?

Edited by slave

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You're right, there is a contradiction between some of what ARI and TOC say, which of course means that on the contradictory issues, they can't both be right. All I meant was that there are no internal contradictions in what TOC says- they would never, for example, teach that toleration both is and isn't a virtue.

Reading at that quote by Kelley, I can't help but say "yes! exactly!" Philosophy is a very complex subject. On my last philosophy test, I got an A, but I didn't get a perfect score. Does that mean that I'm willfully irrational just because I forgot or misinterpreted some small details of Plato's early writings? I tried my best to give perfectly rational answers, but I'm not perfect, so of course I'm going to screw up every once in a while. Everyone does. Don't you?

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Reading at that quote by Kelley, I can't help but say "yes!  exactly!"  Philosophy is a very complex subject.  On my last philosophy test, I got an A, but I didn't get a perfect score.  Does that mean that I'm willfully irrational just because I forgot or misinterpreted some small details of Plato's early writings?  I tried my best to give perfectly rational answers, but I'm not perfect, so of course I'm going to screw up every  once in a while.  Everyone does.  Don't you?

This last paragraph goes right to the heart of why yours and the TOC opinion is immoral and wrong. It explicitly says that perfection and complete and accurate knowledge is impossible which objectivism completely rejects.

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Does that mean that I'm willfully irrational just because I forgot or misinterpreted some small details of Plato's early writings?
I thought about this some more and realized that an "honest mistake" is what Kelley is trying to excuse. But, what is the difference between an honest mistake and a dishonest mistake?

I assume that you will agree a "dishonest mistake" is deception. If an "honest mistake" is not deception, you would correct yourself when discovering the error.

Does the person correct himself upon discovering his error? If not, it is a "dishonest mistake" or deception.

Did you correct yourself on those items that prevented you from getting an A or did you deceive yourself by saying the teacher doesn't like you (or any other excuse)?

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If you assume she made a defintive account to Piekoff who repeated her ideas consistently in OPAR, would they be Piekoff's or Rands ideas? From what I read of the book, Piekoff cited Rand often and hasn't taken credit for anything.

If the book is her thoughts accurately, it is Objectivism. If she is credited with something that is not accurate, they are illogical and not hers or they are logical and additions to her work.

Did Rand say that Piekoff should not pretend to know what Objectivism is or something?

Ayn Rand's philosophy need no "interperating." The idea that a reader might "interpret" her writings was anathema -- so she worked and reworked them slavishly. We reap the reward of the beautiful clarity she has left as her legacy. She always said exactly what she meant in detail and with logical precision.

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