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theestevearnold

Is Objectivism an Open or Closed System?

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The very idea of "authority" related to the philosophy of Objectivism runs contrary to the philosophy itself, which is based on individual induction and verification as opposed to accepting an authority on faith, unchecked.

Precisely.

Everyone who agrees with Rand's essentials and takes an active interest in philosophy, owes it to themselves to examine ideas critically and accept nothing less than the truth- especially from Objectivism.

Whether they are still an Objectivist, if and when they disagree with something, is the only point of dispute here.

The fact I find most relevant to that is Rand's statement [forgive me for paraphrasing]:

"I am not primarily an advocate of capitalism, but of egoism.

I am not primarily an advocate of egoism, but of reason.

All of the rest of it follows from that."

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postscript: there are some people who have shown up on this forum, attempting to pass off radically self destructive ideas as "Objectivism"; logically their mistakes must stem either from ignorance or evasion.

If ignorance then I would consider them to be objectivists- because a calm discussion should sort out sincere confusion, in short order.

If evasion then they aren't adherents to reason, after all. . .

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I give my philosophy a name, I tell them: Objectivism.

Amen, Brother.

You are a great example of a man who interprets Miss Rand's philosophy in an eloquent manner, & I'm certain you are an Objectivist; so when you clarify Objectivist tenets by "putting it into your own words," the specific denotation of an "open system" doesn't apply. You give it life, & breath, but if you sanction an "open system," you allow O to equal O and non-O at the same time. I understand that you used the "open system denotation as more of a connotation, but here's my (hypothetical) example of an intellectual who could set up straw-men, dilute, or co-opt your philosophy: Objectivism......

John Dough says, on CNN, that he's an Objectivist. (Nobody is aware of the fact that his open system position has altered the "original" Objectivism). He says that, as an Objectivist, his philosophy declares that Capitalism is actually evil after all.

When AR left her estate to Peikoff, I don't know if she entrusted any significant editing or additions to him. Maybe.

But when there become 2 Objectivisms: the Objectivism named by the woman who gave her intellectual property its name, & the Objectivism (non-Objectivism) changed by the open systemers), I say they should avoid a law of identity crisis by giving their version, in which the principles have been altered, a new name.

You, Dearest Repairman, are clearly an Objectivist, and so am I. And when you help me to understand Objectivist philosophy by explaining things in your own words, you don't alter Miss Rand's intent. Open system Objectivists deliberately do so when they get a notion that Objectivism requires correcting. And I'm not talking about errors in syntax.

Edited by theestevearnold

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Well okay. But I mean, do you have an example of a person that does this? Where is an example of this?

I entered a different Objectivist site in which the preamble stated that one of the site's intents was to, while calling their philosophy Objectivism, present corrections to Objectivism.

I'd rather not be any more specific. I assure you, there are open system Objectivists who deliberately integrate things, like mystic faith, into the principles of Objectivism, & continue to call their hybrid offshoots "Objectivism."

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Why not be specific? If someone is misquoting something shouldn't the reasonable, fact based thing to do be just a point it out?

There's nothing wrong insofar as one is presenting corrections to something, I'm all for correcting things, but if one is misquoting or mislabeling something, it shouldn't be difficult to fix it.

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Objectivism is closed to the extent that any system that contains a rigid lexicon is said to be 'closed'.

In other words, the basic definitions that Rand gave (as well as many of her explanations) are not open to general questioning.and discussion.

 

Suffice to say that most of what she has lexicon-ized is precisely what 'academic' philosophy questions as a matter of practice. ThisI find somewaht dissapointing in so far as one of my intellectual projects is to reconcile the two.

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@frank,

You fail to understand the context in which "closed" or "open" is used frank.  It's closed to the extent that co-opting the philosophy by others is discouraged.  This is to avoid schisms or claims such as "What Rand REALLY meant was....".

 

That's the extent of it.  It ain't that complicated.

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@frank,

You fail to understand the context in which "closed" or "open" is used frank.  It's closed to the extent that co-opting the philosophy by others is discouraged.  This is to avoid schisms or claims such as "What Rand REALLY meant was....".

 

That's the extent of it.  It ain't that complicated.

Co-optaation is another word for 'borrowing', or 'synthesizing'. Randism protects itself from these by firewalling itself inside of a lexicon, in which the meaning of words are set, and therefore not open to discussion.

 

Within the firewall, so to speak, truth claims are set as 'axioms', or self-evidents. Indeed, this isn't complicated.

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Co-optaation is another word for 'borrowing', or 'synthesizing'. Randism protects itself from these by firewalling itself inside of a lexicon, in which the meaning of words are set, and therefore not open to discussion.

 

Within the firewall, so to speak, truth claims are set as 'axioms', or self-evidents. Indeed, this isn't complicated.

What could possibly prevent you from "borrowing" or "synthesizing" some aspect of Objectivism to form your own philosophical view?  Are there some Objectivist Cops that I'm un aware of that drive the country arresting people?  And not open to discussion?  Really?  Most people on this web site are bored with the same-old-same-old that they would more than welcome a new and insightful take on some aspect of Objectivism or an outright disagreement with it.

 

I think you're confused.

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What could possibly prevent you from "borrowing" or "synthesizing" some aspect of Objectivism to form your own philosophical view?  Are there some Objectivist Cops that I'm un aware of that drive the country arresting people?  And not open to discussion?  Really?  Most people on this web site are bored with the same-old-same-old that they would more than welcome a new and insightful take on some aspect of Objectivism or an outright disagreement with it.

 

I think you're confused.

What's confusing everything is the lexicon issue which somewhat prohibits borrowing. Randin concepts must first be translated into the common philosophical vernacular.

 

A good example of how this is attempted is by Machan and several others at ARI. Machan is content to notice  similarities with, say, Kripke's causal theory of language and Quine's rejection of the analytic/synthetic distinction, etc....while others try to present Rand as a new Aristotelian--things are pretty much as they appear.to be.

 

But agaijn, words and meanings, particularly what is designated by 'epistemology'.

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Objectivism is closed to the extent that any system that contains a rigid lexicon is said to be 'closed'.

In other words, the basic definitions that Rand gave (as well as many of her explanations) are not open to general questioning.and discussion.

And where did you find this rigid definition of "Objectivism"?

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I'm defining 'rigidity' by the use of a lexicon. In this sense, Rand's lexicon of objectivism is available online.

Rand did not create a lexicon of any type, unless you're thinking of Binswanger's book. Even if Objectivism contained a lexicon, I don;t see how that makes it "closed". Clearly "closed" is not defined as "has a lexicon". So, you need to show what you mean by "closed", what you mean by "lexicon" and why one precludes the other. 

 

In common parlance, a lexicon is a dictionary-like text, specifying what one means by certain words. Specifying what one means by the words one uses hardly makes any system closed. A Marxist might say "justice" is "XYZ". How does that have any relevance to whether Marxism is open or closed? 

 

And, what does "closed" mean anyway? 

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I don't know, it seems to me there is an elephant in the room here, and no one has backed into a leg yet.

 

Let me try the 'different words' tack.

 

O'ism is 'closed' in the sense that AR is dead and is no longer adding clarification to her thoughts on philosophy AND no one has the right to 'modify' what she did say, even in light of post Rand scientific discoveries (about the nature of Reality). {I add that last part since some folks seem to think that 'spooky' phenomenon in the scale range smaller than 10 to the -32nd meters justifies questioning the existence of 'reality'. I would suggest to them a career in something other than science or philosophy.}

 

O'ism is 'open' in the sense that it is an incredibly robust framework, ranging from phenomenology, through epistemology, expanding across metaphysics, and more than capable of supporting speculation (hypothesis formation) in a broad range of topics including, but not limited to, philosophy itself. 

Edited by Skylab72

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I don't know, it seems to me there is an elephant in the room here, and no one has backed into a leg yet.

 

Let me try the 'different words' tack.

 

O'ism is 'closed' in the sense that AR is dead and is no longer adding clarification to her thoughts on philosophy AND no one has the right to 'modify' what she did say, even in light of post Rand scientific discoveries (about the nature of Reality). {I add that last part since some folks seem to think that 'spooky' phenomenon in the scale range smaller than 10 to the -32nd meters justifies questioning the existence of 'reality'. I would suggest to them a career in something other than science or philosophy.}

 

O'ism is 'open' in the sense that it is an incredibly robust framework, ranging from phenomenology, through epistemology, expanding across metaphysics, and more than capable of supporting speculation (hypothesis formation) in a broad range of topics including, but not limited to, philosophy itself. 

Yes, an elephant! Thanks, Skylab!

 

Google up 'Rand lexicon, and guess what you'll find?

 

Specification of words in any genre of knowledge means that only these meanings are true. This seems to be acceptable in science, somewhat less in the soft sciences of the humanities.

 

In philosophy, however, most of your problems and issues involve meanings themselves. In this sense, Rand's answers are literally encoded within the text of the lexicon itself.

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Google up 'Rand lexicon, and guess what you'll find?

You'll find that Rand never created a lexicon. On closer inspection you will find that the Binswanger book with "lexicon" in its name is not a list of words and their definitions at all, but rather a set of quote, like an index.

You cannot not have known this obvious fact. So, I suspect you're just trolling.

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You'll find that Rand never created a lexicon.

Technically, since Rand knew and approved of the lexicon's creation, and is said to have reviewed and commented on its contents and which of her views/quotes would be included or not (including cutting the topic of "architecture" due to Rand's recognizing that her views on the subject were problematic and needed to be revised), she did create the lexicon in collaboration with Binswanger.

 

On closer inspection you will find that the Binswanger book with "lexicon" in its name is not a list of words and their definitions at all, but rather a set of quote, like an index.

That's not completely true of all of the entries. Many of them do include definitions along with detailed explanations of the concepts' meanings.

J

 

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I consider my philosophy my own. It has been heavily inspired by Objectivism. It is in essence Objectivist.

 

For someone to adopt Ayn Rand's entire philosophy wholesale and forever unchanging would be to claim she knew everything ever to be known in philosophy on all topics in all contexts throughout time and space. This would be ridiculous. But to say I reject her entire philosophy because I differ on some minor points or because I wish to adopt ideas that expand on her philosophy (new knowledge) is also ridiculous.

 

Peikoff's own theory of induction is also therefore, according to him, not Objectivism.

 

I really don't care to argue about names.

 

Let's find a word for "rational philosophy based on existence, reason, self interest".

 

Kelley is correct in his goal to expand on and improve Objectivist ideas. Maybe he is wrong to want to call all such expansions or revisions 'Objectivism'. This is truly a linguistic war, and I find it entirely uninteresting.

 

I'm interested in facts. I'm interested in the truth.

Edited by Peter Morris

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Objectivism is closed to the extent that any system that contains a rigid lexicon is said to be 'closed'.

In other words, the basic definitions that Rand gave (as well as many of her explanations) are not open to general questioning.and discussion.

 

Suffice to say that most of what she has lexicon-ized is precisely what 'academic' philosophy questions as a matter of practice. ThisI find somewaht dissapointing in so far as one of my intellectual projects is to reconcile the two.

 

You act as though she simply picked definitions that she subjectively liked the best.  In fact, she developed an entire theory about the best way to form concepts and definitions, and then applied this theory to come to the concepts and definitions that she used in the rest of her philosophy.

 

Co-optaation is another word for 'borrowing', or 'synthesizing'. Randism protects itself from these by firewalling itself inside of a lexicon, in which the meaning of words are set, and therefore not open to discussion.

 

Within the firewall, so to speak, truth claims are set as 'axioms', or self-evidents. Indeed, this isn't complicated.

 

You've gotten this entirely backwards.  The concepts and definitions that Rand used were not set as axioms; as I stated above, she lays out at some length her ideas about how concepts are to be formed.  We are all free to determine for ourselves, and debate with others, the merits of her theory of concept-formation.  In addition, for any one of the concepts that she uses, each one of us can use that theory to 'check her work'; to see if that concept was properly formed according to her theory.  Far from closing off debate about definitions, Rand tackled these questions head on, allowing us to do the same.

 

Specification of words in any genre of knowledge means that only these meanings are true. This seems to be acceptable in science, somewhat less in the soft sciences of the humanities.

 

In philosophy, however, most of your problems and issues involve meanings themselves. In this sense, Rand's answers are literally encoded within the text of the lexicon itself.

 

She and other Objectivists would agree with you 100% that most of the issues in philosophy involve arriving at the correct concepts in the first place.  In fact, her most extensive and in-depth philosophical writing was on her epistemology, her ideas about how to do this properly.

 

You might be right that to declare that there is a right way and a wrong way to form concepts is not as 'acceptable' in philosophy, but would be a problem with philosophy, not with Rand.  And in fact, most philosophers implicitly accept the same view as Rand, by arguing extensively for their own definitions and concepts.  Implicit in this exercise is the idea that there are right and wrong answers when it comes to concepts and definitions, and getting the right answers is essential to getting philosophy right.  Far from sidestepping this debate, Rand engaged in it head-on, and each of us is free to do the same.

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frank

This thread seems the perfect opportunity to discuss the thesis that Rand was making it all up as a marketing ploy, that her philosophic foundations were rooted in Russian rationalism and that her fiction and subsequent nonfiction was basically bs and she only published it in the hopes of it being sold to a gullible public.

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frank

This thread seems the perfect opportunity to discuss the thesis that Rand was making it all up as a marketing ploy, that her philosophic foundations were rooted in Russian rationalism and that her fiction and subsequent nonfiction was basically bs and she only published it in the hopes of it being sold to a gullible public.

LOL, given how far afield some folks seem willing to go to have something to fight over, you may have a point.

 

However, as someone so old as to have actually had a face to face conversation with Ms. Rand, I can assure you she was one of the most sincere people I have ever met. So much so, it frustrated her no end that her attempts at marketing, (both herself and her work), were actually hampered by her devotion to truth. It seemed to her the general public was obtuse, because the LAST thing she wanted to respond to her effort was gullibility.

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LOL, given how far afield some folks seem willing to go to have something to fight over, you may have a point.

 

However, as someone so old as to have actually had a face to face conversation with Ms. Rand, I can assure you she was one of the most sincere people I have ever met. So much so, it frustrated her no end that her attempts at marketing, (both herself and her work), were actually hampered by her devotion to truth. It seemed to her the general public was obtuse, because the LAST thing she wanted to respond to her effort was gullibility.

skylab

It's not my thesis, this poster posited that as a thesis on a different site.

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Although Objectivism is a closed system, it's okay for me (and others) to clarify things and to show how to apply it to concretes; doing so doesn't make it an open system.

And how do you know which concretes Rand would have applied any given idea to?

---

Peter Morris: One of these days I'm simply going to deny any "Objectivist" influences and begin calling myself something entirely different, so that I'll never have to have this argument again.

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold

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