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MisterSwig

Cato Institute Libertarian To Run TOC

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Actually, I think Mrs. Hsieh realizes this point, since she acknowledged her gratitude to Shawn Klein on her 1/9/2005 blog entry, in spite of his work for TOC.    :P
It is simply beyond belief that Michelle Cohen (aka Sparrow) -- <A HREF="http://www.dianahsieh.com/cgi-bin/blog/comments/view.pl?entry=110662230892985440">of all people</A> -- would attempt to speak for me. For the record, she is perhaps the last person in the world who ought to attempt to do so. That doesn't seem to stop her, however.

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Thank you for the clarification, Andrew.  (And sorry about getting your name wrong!  I saw "A West" and automatically thought "Adam"!)

From what I've seen, TOC has become much more obviously corrupt over time.  People who might not have seen the real-life implications of the philosophic ideas advocated in AQOS and T&T upon first reading many years ago now have the benefit of overwhelming concrete evidence of those implications.  Those who nonetheless continue to actively support TOC morally and financially cannot be said to have been duped by Kelley's fancy arguments.  They are getting precisely the sort of not-even-remotely Objectivist organization they want -- and deserve. 

To put a less fine point on it: If soon-to-be Executive-Director Ed Hudgins' <A HREF="http://www.dianahsieh.com/blog/2005/01/appeasement-center.html">disgustingly altruistic Christmas op-ed</A> wasn't enough to convince someone that the organization ought to be rejected and condemned, then nothing will.

I ws at first skeptical about the criticisms of TOC until I read both Hudgins' essays and your excellent commentary on Hudgins' reproachful essays regarding Christmas.

TOC is indeed an aberration of Objectivism.

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There should be objective standards for evaluating the degree of a person's involvement with an organization and the reason for his support.  My point is that those who supported TOC in the past may want to consider that current supporters are committing the same errors they did,

Curious. Are you the same Michelle Fram Cohen who is presenting a paper at The Objectivist Center's Summer Seminar in July?

http://objectivistcenter.org/events/sem200...m05-tuesday.asp

2005 Summer Seminar

Union College in Schenectady, New York

July 9 - July 16, 2004

Cognitive Poetics and Objectivity

—Michelle Fram Cohen, M.A.

Course Description:

(Advanced Seminar session, advance registration required. See the Advanced Seminar application form.)

Cognitive Poetics is a new academic discipline that relates the structure of literary texts to the mental effect produced by these texts. Until recently, the study of poetry has been confined to the text's intrinsic qualities or to the reader's subjective response. Cognitive Poetics attempts to provide a link between these two approaches. The parallel to the role of objectivity in resolving the intrinsic-subjective dichotomy is intriguing. Objectivism can reinforce the reliability of objectivity in Cognitive Poetics.

Michelle Fram Cohen received her M.A. in Comparative Literature from the State University of New York at Binghamton. She has published essays on literature and art, book and movie reviews, and poetry translations. She has also given talks on philosophy, literature, and translation at Objectivist and scholarly venues.

Schedule: Tuesday, 2:15-3:30 PM

Track: Advanced Seminar

Sparrow, how are we to assess ~your~ current support of TOC by the fact of your giving a paper there? You speak so disparagingly of the very organization that you seek scholarly feedback from. The hypocrisy is stunning.

Edited by eudaemonia

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Curious. Are you the same Michelle Fram Cohen who is presenting a paper at The Objectivist Center's Summer Seminar in July?

http://objectivistcenter.org/events/sem200...m05-tuesday.asp

Sparrow, how are we to assess ~your~ current support of TOC by the fact of your giving a paper there? You speak so disparagingly of the very organization that you seek scholarly feedback from. The hypocrisy is stunning.

Yes, I am the one. My paper on "Cognitive Poetics and Objectivity" quotes from "Fact and Value" to show that objectivity is not a matter of true/false identification, but of evaluation. Hence objecitvity belongs in the realm of ethics as well as epistemology. This, I believe, was the gist of the disagreement between Peikoff and Kelley in 1989.

Rather than simply leave TOC, I decided to put TOC's statement of "tolerance" to the test. If my paper is rejected at the last moment because of the position it takes in favor of "Fact and Value," it will prove the hypocricy of TOC. If my paper is accepted, it will be posted on the TOC web site, to remind anybody who visits this web site of the true meaning of objectivity.

In any case, this will be my farewell to TOC.

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Curious. Are you the same Michelle Fram Cohen who is presenting a paper at The Objectivist Center's Summer Seminar in July?

http://objectivistcenter.org/events/sem200...m05-tuesday.asp

Sparrow, how are we to assess ~your~ current support of TOC by the fact of your giving a paper there? You speak so disparagingly of the very organization that you seek scholarly feedback from. The hypocrisy is stunning.

Yes, I am the one. My paper on "Cognitive Poetics and Objectivity" quotes from "Fact and Value" to show that objectivity is not a matter of true/false identification, but of evaluation. Hence objecitvity belongs in the realm of ethics as well as epistemology. This, I believe, was the gist of the disagreement between Peikoff and Kelley in 1989.

Rather than simply leave TOC, I decided to put TOC's statement of "tolerance" to the test. If my paper is rejected at the last moment because of the position it takes in favor of "Fact and Value," it will prove the hypocricy of TOC. If my paper is accepted, it will be posted on the TOC web site, to remind anybody who visits this web site of the true meaning of objectivity.

In any case, this will be my farewell to TOC.

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Yes, I am the one. My paper on "Cognitive Poetics and Objectivity" quotes from "Fact and Value" to show that objectivity is not a matter of true/false identification, but of evaluation.  Hence objecitvity belongs in the realm of ethics as well as epistemology. This, I believe, was the gist of the disagreement between Peikoff and Kelley in 1989.

Rather than simply leave TOC, I decided to put TOC's statement of "tolerance" to the test. If my paper is rejected at the last moment because of the position it takes in favor of "Fact and Value," it will prove the hypocricy of TOC. If my paper is accepted, it will be posted on the TOC web site, to remind anybody who visits this web site of the true meaning of objectivity.

In any case, this will be my farewell to TOC.

Fair enough.

I guess I don't understand what basis you have for thinking TOC would pull an 11th-hour stunt such as you suggest above. You submitted your paper months ago (December?), and you've been on the schedule since, what, mid February or early March (when I first saw it at their Web site)? Seems the question of TOC's tolerant position towards you as a scholar has been settled for some time. Especially so given the fact that you've been a lecturer at their seminars in the past and have been specifically asked to comment at the Advanced Seminar as well. From where I sit, they've been extremely generous toward your scholarship in the past. So why the guarded stance of "wait and see" now? I don't see the justification.

Something isn't adding up here.

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Fair enough.

I guess I don't understand what basis you have for thinking TOC would pull an 11th-hour stunt such as you suggest above. You submitted your paper months ago (December?), and you've been on the schedule since, what, mid February or early March (when I first saw it at their Web site)? Seems the question of TOC's tolerant position towards you as a scholar has been settled for some time. Especially so given the fact that you've been a lecturer at their seminars in the past and have been specifically asked to comment at the Advanced Seminar as well. From where I sit, they've been extremely generous toward your scholarship in the past. So why the guarded stance of "wait and see" now? I don't see the justification.

Something isn't adding up here.

Eudaemonia,

This is how the schedule for the advanced seminar works:

A proposal for a paper is submitted early in the fall. It is approved or rejected around the end of the year. Then the program for the entire seminar is posted and published. The paper itself is not due until May 31. After the seminar, the papers are posted publicly on the TOC web site.

When I submitted my paper, I still held hope for TOC. My proposal referred to "objectivity" in the Randian (i.e. Objectivist) sense, but not to Peikoff or Kelley. When it was approved, I already lost hope for TOC, but decided to use the opportunity to express my views and speak to attendees and friends (who live too far to see otherwise) about my concerns.

Please note that while I spoke at TOC in 2001, it was the only talk I ever gave there. My subsequent proposals for both the regular and the advanced seminars were rejected for odd reasons, while talks by anti-Objectivists were accepted. You can speculate on the reason. I was never asked to comment on Fred Seddon's "Rand on Kant." I requested to comment on it because it distorted Rand and Kant so badly. Overall, I was never a "respected scholar" at TOC. I was not asked to contribute to the anthology "The Literary Art of Ayn Rand." I had to hound Roger Donway for a year and waive my fee to get an essay published in "Navigator" last May.

While working on the advanced seminar paper over the last two months, I did my homework on what Rand, Peikoff and Kelley actually said about objectivity. I realized how Kelley's notion of objectivity is totally different from Rand's and decided to use this in my paper. After I submit it in a couple of weeks I'll find out.

If you have other questions, by all means ask.

Michelle Fram Cohen

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Eudaemonia,

For your information: I decided to withdraw from the TOC seminar on my own. You can verify it with them. I rather find a better venue to present or publish my paper, and making a point about objectivity at TOC appears inconsequential anyway.

-- Michelle Fram Cohen

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Eudaemonia,

For your information: I decided to withdraw from the TOC seminar on my own. You can verify it with them. I rather find a better venue to present or publish my paper, and making a point about objectivity at TOC appears inconsequential anyway.

-- Michelle Fram Cohen

Michelle,

I don't have the desire to verify anything with TOC. That's beside the point.

But I do think it's a shame you've chosen to withdraw your paper, not only because if your criticisms are valid then TOC needs to hear about them, but also because you'll deny yourself the opportunity to receive what could potentially be constructive criticism. On that count, I'm just speculating.

Keep in mind, not everyone attending the Summer Seminars considers themselves Objectivist but are nonetheless very close allies -- Michael Heumer (one of Diana Hsieh's professors) for example. Not only does Michael lecture and attend the summer seminars, he has at times been extremely critical of particular points of Objectivism. Michael is an excellent mind as well as being well-acquainted with current topics in philosophy, some of which Objectivism has failed to address adequately, if at all.

If Objectivism is to spread and gain significant credibility in academia beyond the handful of scholars that include Tara Smith, James Lennox, Lester Hunt and a few others, *I* think it's imperative that scholars seek critical feedback from both Objectivism's supporters as well as its opponents. It's precisely this failure to meet our opponents head-on on their own turf that keeps this movement marginalized.

I don't see how retreating to the insular world of a closed system will further your scholarly thinking, Michelle. But I wish you the best.

Eudaemonia

Edited by eudaemonia

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Keep in mind, not everyone attending the Summer Seminars considers themselves Objectivist but are nonetheless very close allies -- Michael Heumer (one of Diana Hsieh's professors) for example.
Just one objection of many for the record: Mike Huemer is certainly interested in Objectivism -- and I appreciate that, as he has been helpful to me in various ways at Boulder as a result.

However, he's a rationalist, moral intuitionist, anarchist, and animal rights advocate. Even his direct realism in perception is only superficially similar to the Objectivist view. However often he may speak at TOC, he certainly cannot be regarded as anything even remotely like a "very close ally" of Objectivism.

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However, [Michael is] a rationalist, moral intuitionist, anarchist, and animal rights advocate.  Even his direct realism in perception is only superficially similar to the Objectivist view.

Two questions: 1) Do you mean rationalist in the "rationalizing" sense or the Descartes/Spinoza/Leibniz sense, as I'm not really sure of your meaning; and 2) How is Huemer's position on direct realism of perception only a superficial likeness of the Objectivist view?

Not attempting to agitate here, but some clarification about your meaning would be appreciated, either publically or privately.

...E

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Two questions: 1) Do you mean rationalist in the "rationalizing" sense or the Descartes/Spinoza/Leibniz sense, as I'm not really sure of your meaning; and 2) How is Huemer's position on direct realism of perception only a superficial likeness of the Objectivist view?

1. I meant rationalist in the philosophic sense -- of course. (I wasn't attacking Mike, just describing his views.)

2. That's a bigger question than I can answer here, let me at least say that his critical transcendental argument is basically an intuitionist argument for the validity of the senses. Mike is a substantially better philosopher than most, as well as a more clear and engaging writer. So his book does contain a lot of good, compelling, and interesting arguments. Nonetheless, it differs in fundamentals -- of both content and methodology -- from the Objectivist approach to the the validity of the senses.

I hope that clarifies.

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Eudaemonia,

I agree with you that Objectivists should seek constructive criticism from non-Objectivists, but the TOC seminar is not the only venue to expose my paper to criticism. There are local Objectivist clubs, as well as scholarly magazines where the paper can get a peer review. My impression at the 2003 advanced seminar was that those who presented papers were not awe-stricken by the criticism they received. I found that giving presentations at local Objectivist clubs can be very beneficial. For example, my paper on Rand and Nietzsche received good constructive criticism at the Arizona Objectivists last year.

There is also a problem with the content of my paper. The meaning of objectivity is such a sensitive issue in the Peikoff/Kelley dispute that I doubt it can be discussed *objectively* at the advanced seminar, with attendees honestly considering the possibility that Peikoff is right and Kelley is wrong. Indeed, it is pointless to use an organization in order to disparage the philosophical foundation of the organization, which is one reason I withdrew.

Regarding the open/close system, I think that the applications and interpretations of Objectivism should be wide open, while the principles must be “closed” – that is, absolute and definite. I don’t hear of anybody redefining the principles of Marxism in order to allow for the tolerance of Capitalists.

-- Michelle

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Thanks to both Diana and Michelle for the edification. I understand your positions better now.

Michelle, I'm sorry you've chosen to withdraw from the Summer Seminar. I would have enjoyed participating in your session precisely for its challenge to thinking about objectivity.

Again, I wish you the best.

-- E

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The meaning of objectivity is such a sensitive issue in the Peikoff/Kelley dispute that I doubt it can be discussed *objectively* at the advanced seminar, with attendees honestly considering the possibility that Peikoff is right and Kelley is wrong. Indeed, it is pointless to use an organization in order to disparage the philosophical foundation of the organization, which is one reason I withdrew.

My last comment on this thread was thrown in the gargage can so I have to be very careful here... :thumbsup:

I respectfully think the above observation is not very benevolent and tolerant--especially of an organization that claims to promote and value these. What if they live up to their billing? I also think justice requires that a person or organization be given the benefit of the doubt and be considered "innocent until proven guilty." The opposite seems anti-American and anti-Objectivist.

Sparrow, I would be willing to bet that if you presented your paper and ideas in even a slightly respectful, honest and fair manner that they would be accepted as such. If not, you would learn a valueable lesson about TOC which you can learn nowhere and no way else. That summer seminar is also the place where you can get the best feedback and help on your specific thesis. The fact that you chose to withdraw, for me, seems tragic. You have, in effect, condemned them without giving them a chance to defend themselves. :) It's hard to not get the impression--as I read all of your comments here--that there are elements of cowardice and dishonesty at play. I hope I'm wrong about this, but there seems to be a sense in which you aren't entirely playing fair. They were your friends for many years, right?

At some point in this painful ARI vs.TOC stuff we all have to remember one thing: the thing to be sought for is objective truth and individual happiness. It isn't Objectivism nor "loyalty" to Ayn Rand. Any given scholarly paper or thesis should concern itself with adherence to--not Objectivist theory--but reality and truth.

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Ariana,

I attended the 2003 advanced seminar, where I also commented on Fred Seddon's paper "Kant on Faith." Based on my experience there, I don't think it's the place where I can get the best feedback and help on my specific thesis. In contrast, I found my presentations to several local clubs to be far more effective and beneficial than my presentation at the 2001 regular seminar. Eudaemonia's attitude demonstrated the stifling atmosphere of "be thankful you are given an opportunity to speak so don't make waves."

Note that I did not condemn anybody, I simply withdrew. I realized that appearing at an organization when I disapprove of its underlying philosophy is indeed unfair to me and to them. I had a conflict about my participation for a while, and finally made the decision to withdraw.

Regarding old friends, not attending the seminar does not mean I would not keep in touch with them. Surely one can have friends who support TOC without supporting the collective "them."

-- Michelle

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Ariana,

I just realized you were born in 1985, which means you are 20, so I wonder:

How many TOC advanced seminars have you attended, and how many philosophical seminars under other auspices, to make the statement that the advanced seminar was where I can get the best feedback and help on my specific thesis? Just curious.

Michelle

Edited by Sparrow

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...if your criticisms are valid then TOC needs to hear about them.

I doubt TOC will admit Kelley was wrong about objectivity. Here is the record I know of: in the 1997 advanced seminar, Eyal Mozes presented a paper where he criticized Kelley's position on "the free rider issue" in Unrugged Individualism. Mozes's paper is available on his website at:

http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Delphi/4082/fr.html

Kelley did not mind that his position was criticized by Mozes, but his recent paper "Generosity and Self Interest" indicates that he did not learn anything from Mozes's criticism. Kelleys' article is available at:

http://www.objectivistcenter.org/articles/..._generosity.asp

-- Michelle

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Eudaemonia's attitude  demonstrated the stifling atmosphere of "be thankful you are given an opportunity to speak so don't make waves."

Hang on a minute. My attitude is no where close to what you imply. Not by a long shot. In terms of making waves, line starts behind me.

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Michelle,

I basically accept your arguments in post 41--but I can't help but feel a little sad that you might be losing some friends, as well as closing the door to high quality discussion about your advanced seminar thesis, both needlessly. If you wish to critique the ideas of David Kelley, there's probably no better place to do it than where he and those of like mind can hear and respond directly. Maybe in the detailed and fruitful discussion which would likely follow, you could all come up with a better understanding of the concept of "objectivity." Maybe even one SUPERIOR to that of Peikoff, Kelley and Rand! So you can see why I find this all rather tragic, and genuinely believe you probably made the wrong decision in determining to withdraw your paper.

Ariana,

I just realized you were born in 1985, which means you are 20, so I wonder:

How many TOC advanced seminars have you attended, and how many philosophical seminars under other auspices, to make the statement that the advanced seminar was where I can get the best feedback and help on my specific thesis? Just curious.

Michelle

It's true, of course, that I haven't been to many of these summer seminars--just one in fact. But I've heard speeches by, and briefly spoken to, Yaron Brook, Harry Binswanger, Gary Hull and, yes, David Kelley. I can truly report that the finest gentleman of them all (in my brief exposure) was David. I genuinely believe he would not hamper an honest discussion of your thesis--or even allow it to be hampered by other TOC members. Maybe you wouldn't have won many converts to your views, but with only a modicum of respect and decency in your presentation, I think your fresh challenging viewpoint would have been completely "tolerated" and maybe even welcomed.

--Ariana

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Ariana- "I genuinely believe he would not hamper an honest discussion of your thesis--or even allow it to be hampered by other toc members."

I think that's the point Michelle made in post #43. Kelley doesn't really take ideas

seriously so it will be a waste of her time.

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Arianna:

It is important to pay attention to the ideas a speaker promotes rather than to the manner in which he delivers them. Remember that Ellsworth Toohey was also a gentlemanly speaker who could charm the ladies.

I think that if Ayn Rand was still alive, Kelley would let her present her case against Libertarianism and make sure she is not hampered by other toc members. Then he would have Ed Crane comment on why she was wrong, and proceed with his present course. I, for one, think there's something wrong in this scenario.

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Ariana,

I attended the 2003 advanced seminar, where I also commented on Fred Seddon's paper "Kant on Faith."

Regarding old friends, not attending the seminar does not mean I would not keep in touch with them. Surely one can have friends who support TOC without supporting the collective "them."

-- Michelle

I was a friend of Fred's for 30 years. And a supporter of IOS/TOC (Navigator subscriber) from its inception to the attack on the Twin Towers, which started me on a journey back home. In all those years I maintained a friendship despite disagreements on everything from his views on Kant and Hume to Music to Epistemology. His style of quoting out of context (on both sides of every issue) infuriated me.

It was, finally, his support of TOC in the face of growing evidence that they were corrupt, that finally broke the camel's back of my patience.

What I found was that trying to maintain a friendship was very difficult -- and in the end impossible -- because there was no way to avoid the issues that divided us.

So I wish you good luck. I will be interested to know how well you pull it off.

Tom Rowland

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