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The DIM Hypothesis - by Leonard Peikoff

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If it gets any mainstream reviews, I can just imagine what they'll do with the title.

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If it gets any mainstream reviews, I can just imagine what they'll do with the title.

Even at the risk of their review being cited as ongoing evidence.

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The DIM Hypothesis

Leonard Peikoff (2012)

The representation of Kant’s philosophy in this book is grossly out of balance, and in this it is like Leonard Peikoff’s earlier representations of Kant and the representations of Kant by Ayn Rand. Some errors in intellectual history may not affect Dr. Peikoff’s DIM hypothesis itself. It is easy to imagine that his incorrect view, in this book, of Aquinas among his contemporaries is an error that does not.

But such a vast blindness as he has towards Kant as formidable and influential philosophic integrator and defender of modern science in his time? (To be sure, that integration and defense is unsound by my lights.) With Kant as one of Peikoff’s big three philosophers, how can Peikoff’s grand lopsidedness on the Kant of Kant’s works not undermine his DIM hypothesis? It need not. The intellectual pole he takes as Kant can be only half the face of Kant and still be a pole, indeed one with real historical influence.

Edited by Boydstun
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The DIM Hypothesis

Leonard Peikoff (2012)

The representation of Kant’s philosophy in this book is grossly out of balance, and in this it is like Leonard Peikoff’s earlier representations of Kant and the representations of Kant by Ayn Rand. Some errors in intellectual history may not affect Dr. Peikoff’s DIM hypothesis itself. It is easy to imagine that his incorrect view, in this book, of Aquinas among his contemporaries is an error that does not.

But such a vast blindness as he has towards Kant as formidable and influential philosophic integrator and defender of modern science in his time? (To be sure, that integration and defense is unsound by my lights.) With Kant as one of Peikoff’s big three philosophers, how can Peikoff’s grand lopsidedness on the Kant of Kant’s works not undermine his DIM hypothesis? It need not. The intellectual pole he takes as Kant can be only half the face of Kant and still be a pole, indeed one with real historical influence.

I tried to understand this post, but I can't. The first sentence makes sense as an assertion that Peikoff misrepresents Kant. Fair enough, since sometimes it's all right just to make your opinion known even if you don't necessarily plan to support it. But then you go on to ask complex questions which have obvious answers for anyone who agrees with your unsupported assertion but will be rejected as fallacious by anyone who rejects your assertion. What is the point? Maybe the last two sentences are supposed to bring things together but I can't make any sense of them. Edited by oso

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Maybe the last two sentences are supposed to bring things together but I can't make any sense of them.

He’s saying that Peikoff ascribes views to Kant that Kant didn’t hold. However, this doesn’t mean that the ideas Peikoff attacks have never been held by anyone, or that they’re not influential. They’re just not Kant’s. You’ll find a few threads on OO where I among others argue about this, and I think you’ll find that it’s typically a matter of those who have read Kant being told off by those who haven’t. Phrases like “may you be damned” have been lobbed my way in that context. He’s also saying that Peikoff’s view of Aquinas is inaccurate, but that that’s a less troublesome error in his view. His overall point is that for DIM to be right, the intellectual history has to be right. And it’s not, though he's granting some extra wiggle room in those last two sentences.

I haven’t gotten the book yet, I guess I’m waiting on the sidelines.

Edited by Ninth Doctor

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OSO,

Get this book. When you have it, let me know. Then we can talk about the book and Kant and the book way seriously, to which I look forward.

Ninth,

No, the main problem is not in views misattributed to Kant, but in the major, influential views Peikoff neglects to attribute to Kant. You are right, however, in noting that any views misattributed to Kant may very well have been held by others, others historically influential.

I certainly did not say that for DIM to be right the intellectual history has to be right. I said the opposite, and that was the lesson of the post. Now to say, as I said, that getting it wrong need not demolish the DIM hypothesis, to see whether it does, we have to read the book. I hope you too get this book right away.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

PS

Some of my writings on Kant are these:

Metaphysics of Kant and Rand

Normativity of Logic – Kant v. Rand

Mysticism – Kant and Rand

Kant from A to Bxxx

Kant and Principia

Space, Rotation, Relativity – Kant

Kant’s Wrestle with Happiness and Life

Part 1 – to 1781

Part 2 – towards 1785

Part 3 – into 1785

Part 4 – Moral Worth, Necessary and Free – A, B

Edited by Boydstun

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I hope you too get this book right away.

We'll see, I haven't read anything yet to get me intrigued enough. There's a review on Amazon that matches my expectations, here's the summing up: "So overall I found the book tedious, crankish, and not altogether intellectually honest." Maybe once they make a sample available, it'll lure me into taking the plunge.

I'm actually a big admirer of Spengler's Decline of the West, though in the end I agree with Popper's critique of it. Say what you want about it, there was real erudition at work. I learn something new every time I go back to it, and the facts presented check out, reliably.

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There's a review on Amazon that matches my expectations, here's the summing up: "So overall I found the book tedious, crankish, and not altogether intellectually honest."

This review is gone, deleted by the author I presume. I have it cached, it was a 3 star review that focused on the physics parts of the book. It was a soundly written review, but was getting down votes, so who knows...

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Peikoff has a shirt that says " I'm a DIM wit" as I recall from a lecture.

Clever.

Maybe once they make a sample available, it'll lure me into taking the plunge.

You can sample it from the Kindle edition. If you don't have a Kindle, you can always get Kindle for PC for free in order to access it:

http://www.amazon.com/The-DIM-Hypothesis-Lights-ebook/dp/B0090UMLLC/ref=dp_kinw_strp_1

I have a few more Kindle edition books I want to read first before I buy this one.

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You can sample it from the Kindle edition. If you don't have a Kindle, you can always get Kindle for PC for free in order to access it:

http://www.amazon.com/The-DIM-Hypothesis-Lights-ebook/dp/B0090UMLLC/ref=dp_kinw_strp_1

Thanks for the link. I checked yesterday, and I didn't see a Kindle sample, so either this is new or I didn't look carefully enough.

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It is unfortunate, perhaps, that Dr. Peikoff has not dealt in this book with philosophy of mathematics. With Plato and with Kant, philosophy of mathematics is a major driver of and original contribution to theoretical philosophy. I say “perhaps” because thinkers before us, including Ayn Rand and Leonard Peikoff, should have a little heart and leave some important problems and discoveries for other philosophers, in our time and beyond.

In DIM Peikoff touches on Aristotle’s conception of mathematics and how it is related to the world. He does the same for Newton. With these views from Aristotle and Newton, though only with a very broad brush, he makes a quick little case for the effectiveness of mathematics in science.

He goes half wrong on each Descartes and Newton when he writes: “Descartes too had regarded mathematics as essential to science, but Newton is no rationalist, and there is nothing pure about his equations. Mathematics, in his [Newton’s] view, is only a tool devised by men to help answer questions about matter” (109). We can dig into what is right and what is wrong about those statements when readers here have gotten DIM and had some time to study it.

My impression so far of this work is that, notwithstanding its errors, it is likely something fine and grand. It looks to be a book whose errors small or large can be instructive by dissection and whose attempts can clear, at least partially, the path to one’s own grand view.

On that same page, Peikoff courts error in saying Newton deduced the Law of Circular Motion using not only geometry, but differential calculus. That’s a bumpy sweep. We should be aware of the distinction between Newton’s first statement and proof of the law and his later deductions of it or others’ deductions of it using his calculus. Not every limit process in geometrical reasoning requires knowledge, even implicit knowledge, of the limit process of differential calculus. Slightly before Newton, and in another way, Huygens also deduced that law. Huygens’ discovery was by kinematical reasoning, and he did not arrive at Newton’s eventual concept of force and so did not arrive at Newton’s eventual view of force and its relation to curvilinear motion. The ways of both Huygens and Newton to the Law of Circular Motion are set out in §II – Huygens* (27–28) and §III – Newton* (53–54) of my “Space, Rotation, Relativity” (1995).

I indicated earlier that Peikoff has partly right, but only half of, what is original, major, and influential in Kant’s philosophy (a, b). To add a little to what I mentioned there concerning theoretical philosophy, I’ll say that in my view, which the reader may contrast with Peikoff’s treatment, the first tier of thinkers who loomed large for Kant, thinkers whom Kant confronted and partly appropriated, were Euclid, Newton, Leibniz, and Hume. Second-tier in Kant’s confrontation and appropriation, in his original construction of theoretical philosophy, would be Plato, Aristotle, Luther, Descartes, Wolff, Berkeley, and Reid. All of these thinkers would figure into my own account of the tributaries to and proportions in Kant’s theoretical philosophy in its mature, profoundly innovative phase known as the Critical philosophy or as Transcendental Idealism.

Perhaps discussion here from readers of DIM will lead me to specify here some of that fuller picture of Kant and his influence. This book has been on my list of prerequisites for another project. I intend to assimilate DIM with Peikoff’s Ominous //’s in completing my study “Dewey and Peikoff on Kant’s Responsibility”.*

Edited by Boydstun

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Peikoff’s new book highlights what is, for me, a profound and glaring difference between him and Ayn Rand: fundamental benevolence (AR) vs. fundamental malevolence (LP) in their perspectives on the universe.

In her PLAYBOY interview, Ayn Rand stated that, throughout history, whenever men were free, the most rational philosophy has always won out. As far as I know, she never changed her view that, whatever setbacks we might encounter along the way, Objectivism would eventually triumph. The purpose of Atlas Shrugged was “to prevent itself from becoming prophetic.”

Peikoff predicts religious totalitarianism in America within 50 years.

Peikoff wonders what Ayn Rand would have thought of his theory. On that basis alone—his dire, miserably depressing prediction for the future of the world--I think I know.

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Peikoff’s new book highlights what is, for me, a profound and glaring difference between him and Ayn Rand: fundamental benevolence (AR) vs. fundamental malevolence (LP) in their perspectives on the universe.

In her PLAYBOY interview, Ayn Rand stated that, throughout history, whenever men were free, the most rational philosophy has always won out. As far as I know, she never changed her view that, whatever setbacks we might encounter along the way, Objectivism would eventually triumph. The purpose of Atlas Shrugged was “to prevent itself from becoming prophetic.”

As opposed to which book, the DIM Hypothesis? You're implying that Peikoff's goal is to help totalitarianism triumph with this book?

Peikoff predicts religious totalitarianism in America within 50 years.

Peikoff wonders what Ayn Rand would have thought of his theory. On that basis alone—his dire, miserably depressing prediction for the future of the world--I think I know.

Peikoff recognizes that American intellectuals hold the wrong ideas, that those ideas cause them to view the Universe as malevolent, and that these ideas and view inevitably lead to a dark future for those who hold them. He also recognizes the fact that these intellectuals aren't willing to listen to anyone with better ideas.

The Benevolent Universe Premise has nothing to do with what you expect of him: pretend that the statements above are not true. The Benevolent Universe Premise is the reason why an old man put all the effort he has left into finishing a book identifying those facts: it's because he believes it will make a difference, sometime, somewhere. Not here and now, obviously, because here and now, American intellectuals won't even read it (or Atlas Shrugged for that matter, except maybe to jeer at it).

So, you made it clear what you're arguing against here, but what exactly are you arguing for? That any day now, America's leadership is gonna see the light and turn the country around? What are you basing this on (other than the Benevolent Universe Premise, which you are misinterpreting to mean something it doesn't and cannot mean: that evil can turn into good all by itself).

Edited by Nicky
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Peikoff’s new book highlights what is, for me, a profound and glaring difference between him and Ayn Rand: fundamental benevolence (AR) vs. fundamental malevolence (LP) in their perspectives on the universe.

I just began reading the Kindle sample of DIM and I had a very similar thought, at least to what I think you mean. I do believe that Peikoff intends for the book to bring about some change or progress or at least recognition but I also sense a tone of pessimism in his writing. I recall having this same thought when I saw Peikoff share his personal thoughts on why he would

in the 1992 election. His purpose was to improve the political landscape but he was doing so in a negative fashion - passionately, in my view, calling for the president's removal. With that said, I'd like to save my judgement until I read the entirety of the book. This is just an early observation.

His ideas and observations are intriguing to say the least, even if they don't offer a great deal of hope. (Perhaps he does - I'm very early into the book.)

You're implying that Peikoff's goal is to help totalitarianism triumph with this book?

I do think "malevolence" is the wrong word to use. Malevolence does imply a wishing of harm.

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So, you made it clear what you're arguing against here, but what exactly are you arguing for? That any day now, America's leadership is gonna see the light and turn the country around? What are you basing this on (other than the Benevolent Universe Premise, which you are misinterpreting to mean something it doesn't and cannot mean: that evil can turn into good all by itself).

Peikoff: “ [T]he takeover of America by [religious fanatics] is not certain. In my judgment, it is only probable. But it is so highly probable as to border on certainty…Given America’s present condition and the historical factors, it is almost impossible to overestimate the likelihood of its occurrence.” [DIM Hypothesis, p. 341]

For Peikoff to have used the word “certain,” he would have to endorse historical determinism—and that would be directly contradictory to Objectivism. He comes as close to that as is possible for someone who endorses free will.

How long is the book? 347 pages. How many pages does Peikoff devote to the importance of resisting the historical forces he describes? 6.

Someone operating from the benevolent universe premise would have devoted at least half of the book to an explanation of what can be done to stop the “inevitable” from happening. And the book would have been subtitled: “Why the Lights of the West are Going Out—And What You Can Do To Stop it.”

He obviously regards that last part as comparable to pissing into the wind.

I wonder what Ayn Rand would have said about her most prominent spokesman throwing in the towel so easily.

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I do think "malevolence" is the wrong word to use. Malevolence does imply a wishing of harm.

My use of the word malevolent had strictly to do with Peikoff’s dark and overwhelming pessimism, not any intentional destructiveness on his part. He may be a prophet of doom, but I don’t consider him to be on the side of the destoyers.

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Let's see, DIM is an acronym broken into 5 subdivisions under which the destination of each subdivision was explored. A Totalitarian state lies at the end of one path. The road to freedom lie down another. Observation identifies which path the most people trod. Do most people even know what path they are on? The solution is to illuminate why the destination is so dark, and the same time indicate the power source that resides at the alternative direction that can keep the lights on.

Objectivism, like Aristotelianism has already been discovered.

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My use of the word malevolent had strictly to do with Peikoff’s dark and overwhelming pessimism, not any intentional destructiveness on his part. He may be a prophet of doom, but I don’t consider him to be on the side of the destoyers.

That is what I assumed. Pessimism is the great term for what I sense when I listen to and read his work, though I hate to focus on it. His work is amazing.

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Peikoff: “ [T]he takeover of America by [religious fanatics] is not certain. In my judgment, it is only probable. But it is so highly probable as to border on certainty…Given America’s present condition and the historical factors, it is almost impossible to overestimate the likelihood of its occurrence.” [DIM Hypothesis, p. 341]

For Peikoff to have used the word “certain,” he would have to endorse historical determinism—and that would be directly contradictory to Objectivism. He comes as close to that as is possible for someone who endorses free will.

How long is the book? 347 pages. How many pages does Peikoff devote to the importance of resisting the historical forces he describes? 6.

Someone operating from the benevolent universe premise would have devoted at least half of the book to an explanation of what can be done to stop the “inevitable” from happening. And the book would have been subtitled: “Why the Lights of the West are Going Out—And What You Can Do To Stop it.”

He obviously regards that last part as comparable to pissing into the wind.

I wonder what Ayn Rand would have said about her most prominent spokesman throwing in the towel so easily.

Can't have a conversation if you just ignore all my questions and repeat the same thing over and over again.

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Can't have a conversation if you just ignore all my questions and repeat the same thing over and over again.

Did you bother to read my comment?

You asked what I am arguing for, and I stated very clearly what I am arguing for: Fighting for the future instead of passively resigning oneself to the dialectical progression of the Hegelian “zeitgeist,” as if there’s little or nothing we can do to prevent it from happening.

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Peikoff: “ [T]he takeover of America by [religious fanatics] is not certain. In my judgment, it is only probable. But it is so highly probable as to border on certainty…Given America’s present condition and the historical factors, it is almost impossible to overestimate the likelihood of its occurrence.” [DIM Hypothesis, p. 341]

For Peikoff to have used the word “certain,” he would have to endorse historical determinism—and that would be directly contradictory to Objectivism. He comes as close to that as is possible for someone who endorses free will.

How long is the book? 347 pages. How many pages does Peikoff devote to the importance of resisting the historical forces he describes? 6.

Someone operating from the benevolent universe premise would have devoted at least half of the book to an explanation of what can be done to stop the “inevitable” from happening. And the book would have been subtitled: “Why the Lights of the West are Going Out—And What You Can Do To Stop it.”

He obviously regards that last part as comparable to pissing into the wind.

I wonder what Ayn Rand would have said about her most prominent spokesman throwing in the towel so easily.

Obama or Romney will win the next federal election. It is literally certain. Does this view make me a determinist?

Nicky is right, all you've done is reassert a false view of the corollaries of a benevolent universe premise. Don't just assert that someone who is 78, tortured by the process of writing and spent his entire life until his retirement promoting Objectivism must be operating on a malevolent universe premise because he didn't spend the time to write another 347 pages on another topic before being willing to publish his final book; Tell us why.

Someone not writing a book on a topic does not mean he considers the topic "pissing into the wind".

Edited by oso

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Nicky is right, all you've done is reassert a false view of the corollaries of a benevolent universe premise. Don't just assert that someone who is 78, tortured by the process of writing and spent his entire life until his retirement promoting Objectivism must be operating on a malevolent universe premise because he didn't spend the time to write another 347 pages on another topic before being willing to publish his final book; Tell us why.

I thought you haven't read the book yet? I can't tell if Nicky has read it either. In any case, I was hoping for more substantive discussion on the book itself so I can evaluate if it's worth my time. I would be surprised, too, if Peikoff was showing a malevolent universe premise, but I'd have to read the book to say if he is. Although the quotes mentioned from DIM don't support that idea at all so far.

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I thought you haven't read the book yet? I can't tell if Nicky has read it either. In any case, I was hoping for more substantive discussion on the book itself so I can evaluate if it's worth my time. I would be surprised, too, if Peikoff was showing a malevolent universe premise, but I'd have to read the book to say if he is. Although the quotes mentioned from DIM don't support that idea at all so far.

I don't think that it's necessary for me to read the book in order to ask someone to support a ridiculous assertion. He has said that Peikoff not spending half the book discussing how to save the world indicates a malevolent universe premise. I am asking him why this is the case. Edited by oso

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