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Ilya Startsev

The Objectivist Rhetoric

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This thread is for the purposes of research into and analysis of the rhetoric of Objectivism for the Proposition and the Master’s Thesis in Rhetoric and Professional Writing program at Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL. Most definitions of rhetoric are acceptable, such as Aristotelian rhetoric as discerning the available means of persuasion or the contemporary view by Kenneth Burke that rhetoric is symbolic and active and thus pertains to all human communication. I am interested in your opinions on this topic and in how you were persuaded to follow Objectivism. Some questions can be formulated as follows:

 

1) How and when did you find out about Objectivism and what or who got you interested in it?

2) What specific arguments won you over to Objectivism? (quotes are welcomed)

3) In what circumstances were you persuaded by Objectivism? (e.g., were mad at the government, religion, seeking self-help, excitement, involvement, etc. or provide some contextual evidence, if any).

4) What do you think are the main rhetorical methods used by Objectivism? Do you think it belongs to a genre (e.g., the rhetoric of reason)?

 

I first learned of Ayn Rand on a facebook post by a friend of mine on October 21, 2013. He mentioned that her philosophy was portrayed in the video game Bioshock. Being a gamer and with an interest in philosophy, I decided to explore the question of who is Ayn Rand. What I found was very exciting to say the least. What got my attention and won my decision on the topic of my thesis were three things: 1) Ayn Rand was a Russian who was born in the U.S.S.R. and immigrated to America (like myself); 2) Ayn Rand was a female novelist (I am a feminist and love reading fiction); 3) Ayn Rand was an influential philosopher (being an amateur philosopher myself and interested in learning philosophy with an open-mind, this was the major reason for my decision to stop at Objectivism for my thesis).

 

My further interest in Objectivism was spiked by entering these forums and discussions about integrating it with Marxism. Having considered myself a Marxist and pretty much isolated myself from the American society, I found out many new ideas that helped change and complement my views. Although I still do not consider myself an Objectivist, which I define to be a closed philosophy, it inspired and helped me formulate completely new ideas that I call Neo-objectivist. Having isolated myself so and being overly preoccupied with intellectual activities, I remind myself of Andrei Taganov - also my favorite character from Rand’s books. I am an idea-centered person, and my idealism is open-ended and all-inclusive, which finds much conflict in Rand’s restrictive and intransigent views.

 

I want to get an MA in English and have switched from linguistics to rhetoric to pursue this course of action. I appreciate any suggestions and criticisms. The defense of the thesis is planned for the end of spring semester 2015 (sometime in May or June). The proposition for the thesis needs to be written sometime this summer, preferably finished by August. I will post my further analysis here.

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You completly lost me when you said you were mixing Objectivism with Marxism

That was a failed experiment on this thread. I have learned from my mistakes. Also, this thread is only about the Objectivist Rhetoric. I simply wrote my background for the new viewers, who may be unfamiliar with the kinds of debates I have been leading on this forum. :whistle:

 

So, let me start this again. I was a Marxist, and I was persuaded to learn Objectivism exactly because it is diametrically opposite to what I knew before. Now I am not a Marxist. Yet, I am also not completely persuaded by Objectivism. So, how were you persuaded to follow (or not) Objectivism?

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I read The Fountainhead when I was fifteen in a few hours. Then I read "Philosophy: Who Needs It", "Voice of Reason", "Return of the Primitive", "The Romantic Manifesto", so on, watched many of the interviews Rand made and then I reached the conclusion that Objectivism is the way I want to live my life by.

Edited by Leandro Tomas Cuadra

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I read The Fountainhead when I was fifteen in a few hours. Then I read "Philosophy: Who Needs It", "Voice of Reason", "Return of the Primitive", "The Romantic Manifesto", so on, watched many of the interviews Rand made and then I reached the conclusion that Objectivism is the way I want to live my life by.

Ok, so Rand's fiction grabbed your original interest. The details of exactly how you were persuaded are crucial though. Were there any arguments in Rand's books with which you disagreed? And if so, what arguments by her made you conform to her worldview?

Edited by Ilya Startsev

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I never agree or disagree to something until I evaluate the principle behind it. Therefore, I never disagreed with any of Ayn Rand's points or worldview. I just evaluated wheather her views corresponded with reality or not. 

 

That's why I don't understand why do you want to make a Neo-Objectivism. Objectivism is basically the Scientific method applied to everthing, not only science, it is a philosophy based on reason, and the way by which we integrate knowledge is not subject to change. Neither is Objectivism.

 

(That's why I preffer Peikoff better than Kelly)

Edited by Leandro Tomas Cuadra

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I never agree or disagree to something until I evaluate the principle behind it. Therefore, I never disagreed with any of Ayn Rand's points or worldview. I just evaluated wheather her views corresponded with reality or not. 

 

That's why I don't understand why do you want to make a Neo-Objectivism. Objectivism is basically the Scientific method applied to everthing, not only science, it is a philosophy based on reason, and the way by which we integrate knowledge is not subject to change. Neither is Objectivism.

 

(That's why I preffer Peikoff better than Kelly)

For the reasons about how Objectivism and Science conflict, please see this post.

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Rhetoric carries a lot of negative overtones in with it. Merriam Webster cites it as being: language that is intended to influence people and that may not be honest or reasonable.

Older usages leave the dishonesty and unreasonableness out by stating: the art or skill of speaking or writing formally and effectively especially as a way to persuade or influence people.

 

Atlas Shrugged has been cited over the years as the second most influential book in America. Acceptance of this claim as true would easily qualify under the second sense of this term. Miss Rand did not use the term often in her writings. She wrote of one of Mr. Humphrey's biggest campaign problems as undisciplined rhetoric. She also cited Hugo the thinker's (contrasting against Hugo the artist) characters' speeches were "not expressions of ideas, but only rhetoric, metaphors and generalities."

 

A co-worker loaned me Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, which was the first book of hers I read cover to cover. Her thoughts on how concepts were formed harkened back to two conversations I had when I was about 10 years old. Shortly after that, I had read most of her non-fiction works. There was also a talk show radio host in the area that ran a three hour show, Monday through Friday that applied his knowledge of her works to the daily news, in interviews with authors of books, during interviews with politicians (until the politicians discovered the interviews did not help their PR ratings), as well as fielding calls from listeners in the area that would call in to agree as well as disagree with him.

 

I can't really isolate any specific arguments that "won me over". I was looking for explanations that some key individuals provided. Objectivism was a common denominator between them.

 

If you want to know the rhetorical method used by Objectivism, then seek to understand its fundamental concept of method, the one on which all other concepts of method depend: logic, the art of non-contradictory identification.

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I was persuaded to learn more about Objectivism (and eventually became an Objectivist) because when I read the Fountainhead, it matched my sense-of-life. This wasn't done by the usual Aristotelian rhetoric methods; it was done by presenting me with an ideal. It was an ideal that I had always held, but never saw manifested in the form of a man. Roark showed me what I had always wanted. Objectivism explained how to get it. 

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That was a failed experiment on this thread. I have learned from my mistakes. Also, this thread is only about the Objectivist Rhetoric. I simply wrote my background for the new viewers, who may be unfamiliar with the kinds of debates I have been leading on this forum. :whistle:

 

So, let me start this again. I was a Marxist, and I was persuaded to learn Objectivism exactly because it is diametrically opposite to what I knew before. Now I am not a Marxist. Yet, I am also not completely persuaded by Objectivism. So, how were you persuaded to follow (or not) Objectivism?

In a Kantian sense, going from one 'diametric opposite' to another is an example of what he called the 'fallacy of antinomies'.

 

That the mind is pre-rigged to formulate in a manner of 'If A, then non-A' says nothing as to where reality might lie.

 

To this end, formulating contraries as competing conjectures is a sound method IFF one fairly ascribes a 'null hypotheses' value to each.... 

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That was a failed experiment on this thread. I have learned from my mistakes. Also, this thread is only about the Objectivist Rhetoric. I simply wrote my background for the new viewers, who may be unfamiliar with the kinds of debates I have been leading on this forum. :whistle:

 

So, let me start this again. I was a Marxist, and I was persuaded to learn Objectivism exactly because it is diametrically opposite to what I knew before. Now I am not a Marxist. Yet, I am also not completely persuaded by Objectivism. So, how were you persuaded to follow (or not) Objectivism?

Out of curiosity, frank, how were you persuaded to follow (or not) Objectivism?

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Out of curiosity, frank, how were you persuaded to follow (or not) Objectivism?

Rand's literature is about the constitution of The Sunject. So without even having read her pure philsophy, her work would be deemed philosophically important  because, after all, the most important question you can ask in philosophy is 'What accounts for subjectivity?'

 

Galt and Roarke struggle to maintain an identity. As over-achievers, they (rightfully feel that their reward are insufficient. Moreover, both raise the issue as to how deprived the world would be without their services.

 

Then I began reading the 'pure' philosophy. Since I do have a background in philsophy (masters thesis on Kant), I  do have disagreements as to how he's treated. Yet these are minor compared to Rand's major thrust which, most agreeably, is to place philosophy on scientific grounds. hence, 'Objectivism'.

 

Via her epistemology, her theory of language would be considered 'causal-referential', which is a remarkable insight.. Truth is justified (ostensibly the function of epistemology) by the creation of concepts. In this sense, there is nothing to be said of anything outside of the unit of reference--the word itself--which creates meaning.

 

In short, she has squared a circle by standing  both as an exemplary novelist and a philosoper of serious reference.

 

That being said, I reject all -isms because this suffix implies that the particular belief is beyond scrutiny and criticism.

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To update you guys, I have submitted a completely rewritten, second thesis proposal to my thesis director. For my first proposal I thought I would find metaphorical usage of your axiomatic statement EXISTENCE is IDENTITY (and its corollaries), but my reasoning in this post made me change my mind. Besides, my professors could not understand the abstractions anyway.

 

From my second proposal, following is a piece I wrote. I am posting it here, so you can know that I am not trying to hide anything from you. But please remember that this was written for NON-Objectivists and it is NOT a thesis yet, so you can give your comments/feedback, which may still affect what will go on the thesis.

 

----------------------------

 

Ayn Rand and Her Critics

 

            Since the release of her two major novels--The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged--the philosopher-novelist Ayn Rand entered the public scene as a controversial figure--a radical for capitalism, as she called herself (Burns, 2009:Ch.7). She quickly won attention and admiration of the public, but most of the academia did not accept her philosophy of Objectivism. Since then, much criticism has been written, exploring the phenomenon of Objectivism: many biographical accounts exploring her life, both in America and in the Soviet Union, from where she immigrated, and other works related to her philosophy and written by her followers. The literature selected for this project was picked on the basis of balanced and comprehensive coverage of the main topics directly related to Objectivism. The two major critical, professional analyses are: William O'Neill’s With Charity Toward None: An Analysis of Ayn Rand's Philosophy, which was originally published in 1971 and is one of the earliest works dealing with Objectivism; and Scott Ryan’s Objectivism and the Corruption of Rationality: A Critique of Ayn Rand's Epistemology, which is a more recent analysis that compares Objectivism with a wide range of other philosophies. The most recent and intriguing biography of Ms. Rand selected is Jennifer Burns’s Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right. There are also three salient articles written by professionals, two of whom were affiliated with Ms. Rand, and two books by Objectivists with uncommon interpretations of her philosophy.

            William O’Neill’s With Charity Toward None: An Analysis of Ayn Rand's Philosophy was the second book-length criticism of Objectivism written while Ms. Rand was still alive. Its unique stance is a consideration of both logical and scientific entailments of the fundamental principles of Objectivism (O’Neill, 1977:10). The work is written in clear, objective manner with a segmentation of most of the material in numbered parts, and there are many quotes from official Objectivist sources. The analysis is presented as if it was given from a point of view of an Objectivist and does not make ungrounded attacks, although its scientific sources are not exhaustive. The strengths of Ms. Rand’s philosophy, O’Neill writes, are the correctness and relevancy of Ms. Rand’s questions that deal with “alienation, conformity and the deteriorating state of modern philosophy,” her provocative thinking that intellectually stimulated the society, insightful and courageous ideas, her “refreshingly abrasive” view, and her overall formidable accomplishment (ibid., 13ff). These are all strengths of Objectivism that would be otherwise obscured by the negative analysis. “Despite vast and fatal flaws, [Ms. Rand] had succeeded in presenting a philosophy which is simple, original, clearly defined and (at least implicitly) systematic . . . surprisingly comprehensive, coherent and consistent” (16). Nonetheless, although it could have been a masterpiece, Objectivism is judged by O’Neill a failure.

            All the salient points of Objectivism are outlined from the start: 1. Metaphysics: Objective Reality; 2. Epistemology: Reason; 3. Ethics: Self-interest; 4. Politics: Capitalism (18, original emphasis). O’Neill compares Objectivism to the Platonic tradition in contrast to Aristotelianism for two reasons: 1) all truth is discovered by “the perception of essential truth as a process of identification” rather than discovering it by perceptual creation of essential similarities; and 2) “a priori knowledge of ultimate reality exists” (85, original emphasis). Although Ms. Rand was inspired by Aristotle’s laws of logic and his metaphysics of existence, she retained them as the axioms of reality in her implication: Existence is Identity. However, Aristotle conceptualized the law of identity, contradiction, and excluded middle to be used for meaningful and consistent communications, but he did not mean “that a term is a thing--rather that [o]ne thing should stand for just one idea at one time” (126f, original emphasis). Instead, Ms. Rand interpreted Aristotelian implication as an inference and conflated existence and identity through an ambiguity of the verb “is.” This fact makes Objectivist axioms meaningless and impossible to refute.

            Her axiomatic concepts of existence, identity, and consciousness have no “specifiable content . . . [t]hey are merely tautological hyperabstractions (meta-definitions) . . . ultimate [irreducible] abstractions and therefore have no identifiable attributes which allow for further analysis or specification” (116). In contrast to Aristotle, Objectivist axiomatic truths are not only “rooted in metaphysics” but are “determined epistemologically,” making “all additional knowledge . . . essentially secondary and supplementary” (117). Being unable to refute Objectivist truths and having them switch the base of knowledge to metaphysics makes Objectivism into a fundamentally anti-scientific philosophy (12). With a conflation of a posterior rationalizations and a priori truths, “oughtness” and “isness,” fact and meaning, false dichotomies of producers and consumers, egoism and altruism, and self-contradictions on the topic of compromise, O’Neill describes Objectivist philosophy as vacillating between “experiential relativism and mystical intuitionism” (110) and that Rand is oblivious to these facts (186).

            Another major critical analysis of Objectivism is Scott Ryan’s Objectivism and the Corruption of Rationality: A Critique of Ayn Rand's Epistemology. Published in 2003, it is one of the most elaborate philosophical analyses that draws on a list of previous criticisms, the most comprehensive bibliography of Objectivist works, and many other philosophical volumes. Ryan explores Objectivism from the point of view of rationalist philosopher Brand Blanshard, whom Ms. Rand had read and “somewhat approved” of his views on reason (25). However, Ryan states that the philosophies of Blanshard and Objectivism are incompatible and opposite in key points.

            The main issue that Ryan finds in Objectivism is the unresolved problem of the universals. Instead of facing this as a metaphysical problem, Rand put it under her epistemology, ignoring the fact whether her implicit concepts required existence as real universals. By real universals, Ryan means “features of reality that are actually ‘inherent in things’” (36). Because of this issue, there is a major confusion of concepts and referents in Objectivism. In other words, Rand “conflates the question what constitutes knowledge with the question under what conditions knowledge becomes psychologically possible” (33). “[A]xiomatic concepts,” Ryan claims, “are an exception to Rand’s usual rules for concepts: concepts don’t change, but axiomatic concepts do” (190; cf. Rand, 1990:Ch.6). Her axiomatic premise “existence exists” is basically meaningless and cannot be used to infer the existence of matter independent of our minds (250). However, Rand “must presume the existence of real universals in the very process of trying to demonstrate that we do not need them” (91), and, so, “her allegedly ‘epistemological’ account depends on a good deal of implicit metaphysics” (107). Concepts, for Rand, are formed for all time and refer across time and space to all entities, and “this approach affords a handy way to become instantly omniscient” (113). Fundamentally, although Objectivists deny it, Ryan conjunctures that Objectivism was made to avoid theism (23ff, 141). This lack of theism is rationalized by Ryan as “an unbridgeable chasm between mind and reality,” an inconsistency that is ignored (209).

            A common argumentative trait of Rand is that she “attaches a ‘rider’ to a position, rejects or refutes the ‘rider,’ and seems to think she has thereby rejected or refuted the position itself” (37). This way, Rand can impose her own meaning and misrepresent ideas of others without exposing the flaws or inadequacies of her own philosophy. Just as it was for O’Neill, it is very hard to categorize Objectivism. The kind of oblivious vacillation that O’Neill noticed about Objectivism is also present in the analysis by Ryan, namely, that “Rand repeatedly shifts back and forth between the contents of her own mind and the contents of ‘objective reality’ without ever noticing the difference” (208).[1] But in contrast to O’Neill’s logical and scientific analysis of Objectivism, Ryan uses a deep theistic and philosophical criticism. Ryan identifies Rand’s philosophy as “a sort of nominalistic, materialistic empiricism,” used to criticize everyone else, especially theists, and “rationalistic objective idealism/quasi-Spinozism,” used to protect her from criticism (231, 350f). Overall, Ryan states that Rand’s “commitment to atheism has seriously affected and undermined her philosophical judgment” (231f). Her philosophy is anti-religious, although she borrowed a “flavor” of religion by replacing the term “God” with her reality as “the authoritative absolute” and termed “man” as “the object of worship” (328). Among strengths, Ryan sees Rand’s work on the free market--Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal--to be the best of her non-fiction (305), but her philosophical writings are “a muddle of confusion, misunderstanding, and bad introspection” (316). She also had “an undeniable ability to portray her foils vividly and to make the reader loathe them as much as she did” (346).

            Jennifer Burns’s biography of Ayn Rand, Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right, explores Rand’s strained and virtually nonexistent relationships with her peers in school, her academic prowess and genius in argumentation (e.g., pp.22, 30, 164f), her negative attitude toward her mother and removed admiration of her father, her inclination to cut ties with her family after she moved to the U.S. (e.g., pp.58, 326), and her abandonment of friendships with people who influenced her ideas and whom she met in America. For example, the conflicts she had with Isabel Paterson, a popular journalist who helped Rand in many ways and was one of her teachers, caused their relationship to weaken, end, and never to rejuvenate againt because of Rand’s anti-theistic views, her independence and self-sufficient nature (146, 152). Burns also stresses the influence of Nietzsche’s “transvaluation of values and his call for a new morality” (330, Ch.2) on Rand throughout her career, even though Rand and her followers claimed that she had abandoned Nietzsche’s philosophy in her early thirties (Ryan, 2003:310ff). “Translated by Rand into fiction, Nietzsche’s transvaluation of values changed criminals into heroes and rape into love” (Burns, 2009:37). Burns’s main thesis shows that Rand wanted to create a rational alternative to religion and intended, after Nietzsche, her writings as scripture (ibid., 307). Although Burns’s book is somewhat critical of Objectivism--a religious mood can be found in lines such as: “Objectivism as a philosophy left no room for elaboration, extension, or interpretation, and as a social world it excluded growth, change, or development” (15)--Burns nonetheless argues that Objectivism is historically significant. Rand had inspired a large following, started new movements and greatly influenced other philosophies, such as libertarianism, and her ideas are now selectively applied by conservatives.

            The “cult” that Rand created and maintained in the 60s--called The Nathaniel Branden Institute (NBI)--was at the height of her career. The nature of this “cult” had been criticized in many accounts, two of which were written by former Objectivist members. Murray Rothbard’s The Sociology of the Ayn Rand Cult mainly deals with the negative aspects of Rand’s establishment and how “the grim, robotic, joyless Randian Man emerged.” Rothbard was a libertarian economist who was at first very interested in Objectivism and praised Rand’s genius, as did many others, but whose conflicts with Rand and her right-hand man at the time, Nathaniel Branden, made him despise it (Burns, 2009:198). Rand also broke up with Branden and even consequently closed the institute they both formed. Branden’s The Benefits and Hazards of the Philosophy of Ayn Rand: A Personal Statement was published after Rand had passed away. It deals with the flawed psychology employed by them together at the institute--how they caused their followers to repress emotions, encourage dogmatism and Rand’s “scientific conservatism, a suspicion of novelty”--but nonetheless he defends the positive nature of her philosophy, “a powerful message of hope in her work,” affirmation of existence, and glorification of human potential. After he broke with Rand, Branden created his own, and also quite popular, self-esteem movement. On the other hand, helping some people avoid Objectivism, a review of one of Rand’s philosophical books was written by an anti-communist philosopher Sidney Hook--it was called Each Man For Himself. Hook was one of philosophers to whom Rand previously reached out, but he was disappointed by “Rand’s desire for complete agreement with her ideas and her single-minded focus on consistency” (Burns, 2009:200). Hook wrote the review as a rebuttal of her ideas. His criticism was comprehensive, albeit short. Among some memorable lines, he compared her axiom of “existence exists” to “the law of gravitation is heavy and the formula of sugar sweet.”

            The 90s saw the first schism among Objectivists after Rand had passed away. David Kelley was ex-communicated by the fundamental Objectivists, led by Rand’s intellectual heir--Leonard Peikoff. However, Kelley continued being devoted to Objectivism and even created his own Objectivist institute, but he differentiated himself as an “open” Objectivist versus “closed” ones like Peikoff. Surprisingly, Kelley also found that the “closed” Objectivists showed “tribalist[ic]” tendencies and complete intolerance toward non-Objectivists of similar beliefs, such as libertarians (Kelley, 2000:Ch.5). In his book, The Contested Legacy of Ayn Rand: Truth and Toleration in Objectivism, Kelley puts forward his own interpretation of truth and moral judgment, deeming it not in conflict with Rand’s original views, and differentiates his views as more open to correction by science than the “closed” Objectivism.[2]

            One of the most recent books published on the topic of Objectivism is Marc Gerstein’s Atlas Upgrades: Objectivism 2.0. Gerstein, an Objectivist aficionado, puts forward new arguments and ideas against Objectivism, but instead of abandoning the philosophy altogether, he reinterprets it as politically moderate. There are three stages that Ryan associates with Rand: Rand number One, the novelist, whom he judges to be “an inspirational genius,” Rand number Two, the philosopher, who “had some decent ideas,” but was lacking in terms of conclusions and vulnerability of imprecision, and Rand number Three, the policy maker, who “is the most troublesome . . . shallow at best and disastrous at worst” (Gerstein, 2013:11). In contrast to Scott Ryan, Gerstein claims that Rand’s fiction works are the best and her ideas in the nonfiction book Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal are “hopelessly flawed” compared to her other philosophical works. From the jurisprudential and economic backgrounds, Gerstein disagrees with Rand in implementation of her philosophy without “a strong economic foundation” and criticizes her grey area in politics that she calls “philosophy of law” (224). He opposes the gold standard due to its material limitations on economy and supports mixed economy for its mature growth and interconnectedness. He favors psychological egoism, or altruism, which he believes, similar to O’Neill, she misunderstood. On the basis of The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, Gerstein changes Rand's “four pillars”--“Metaphysics, Epistemology, Ethics, and Politics” to “Process, Ethics, Politics, and Economics” in his own, more balanced vision of Objectivism (65).

 


[1] This vacillation, as these critics see it, is perhaps due to Rand’s way of integrating rationalism and empiricism, similar to what Immanuel Kant had attempted to do. While Objectivism leans more toward rationalism, Kantianism leans more toward empiricism.

[2] Roderick Fitts, with some help of others, countered Kelley's arguments by calling him a skeptic, reinterpreting the closed system as open to applications, and noting Kelley's “frozen abstraction” fallacy of taking religious totalitarianism to be the abstracted closed system ("Closed System vs. Open System: Why the Open System Fails," available at <http://umso.wordpress.com/2008/08/04/closed-system-vs-open-system-why-the-open-system-fails-part-1-of-5>).

Edited by Ilya Startsev

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Objectivism is devoid of rhetoric - the philosophy is about the precision of concepts i.e. of words. It's the scientific basis of the humanities (and the scientific basis of science) - the basis of everything i.e. of everything human. How we think (conceptually) and why we think (survival). We do these things best by constantly adjusting and correcting our concepts to agree with reality i.e. with existence. This is not a rhetorical activity.

In contrast, the philosophies of non-existence are circular by definition and inherently rhetorical i.e. ambiguous.

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Objectivism is devoid of rhetoric - the philosophy is about the precision of concepts i.e. of words. It's the scientific basis of the humanities (and the scientific basis of science) - the basis of everything i.e. of everything human. How we think (conceptually) and why we think (survival). We do these things best by constantly adjusting and correcting our concepts to agree with reality i.e. with existence. This is not a rhetorical activity.

In contrast, the philosophies of non-existence are circular by definition and inherently rhetorical i.e. ambiguous.

I agree only that Objectivism has a potential basis of a new science. However, the rhetoric to persuade others to think the way you do (and the majority of people do not think so) fills the pages of Atlas Shrugged. If anyone is interested, I have actually started my own blog, in which I will attempt to place Objectivism within the context of our reality and show how it relates to the sciences and other philosophies.

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I am breaking a golden rule of Rand's of never allowing one's tacit approval by ignoring an attack. In this case your rhetorical-accusation of my endorsing a "New Science".

 

Science by definition is a primary, there can never be a "New Science", only additional knowledge incorporated into the existing knowledge according to reality i.e. by repeatable-experiment

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Rhetoric is just style of speaking and persuasion... it isn't necessarily absent of reason.

Thank you, Eiuol. You are indeed correct. In fact, the good and true rhetoric is inseparable from philosophy and ethics. Aristotelian and Ciceronian rhetoric is what I had in mind. However, rhetoric breaks down into two types: primary and secondary. Primary rhetoric is used in arguments, speeches, and texts in order to persuade your audience. Secondary rhetoric is used to teach others of how to be persuasive or how to discern the available means of persuasion (as Aristotle defined it) without necessarily using it (if it's sophistic and ammoral, for example).

 

Cicero, in his De Oratore (p.335) spoke that "wise thinking" and "elegant speaking" should be inseparable. However, during the early Enlightenment, due to efforts of such as people as Rene Descartes and Peter Ramus, we have a generation of politicians and neo-sophists who completely ignore the Ciceronian ideal of rhetoric. So, many people think that rhetoric is always and necessarily always empty and perhaps evil. However, it is not so.

 

Atlas Shrugged very much reminds of Plato's Republic and the Bible. Although all these texts were intended to be objective by their writers, they obviously used various colorful allegories or metaphors to strengthen the persuasive appeal and to emotionally imbue those writings. For example, the view of Atlantis and the visions of future utopias. By the way, John Galt is very much like Jesus Christ. They even have textually similar scenes of the last supper, crucifiction, and resurrection. It is not wrong to use such allegorical tropes for a religious and thus absolute view of one's ideas that you want others to accept absolutely (versus partially, as in politics, for example). We have seen it many times that even scientists (such as Maxwell with his "imaginary fluids", pp. 450-472) used metaphors in order to even create their scientific theories.

 

And by New Science, I meant this, since you are unable to integrate into Objectivism the modern sciences, such as quantum physics and relativity, on which all of our technological world depends. I have studied Electrical engineering and know that we wouldn't have had computers or the Internet without quantum mechanics. But quantum mechanics is inherently Kantian.

Edited by Ilya Startsev

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This is so staggeringly wrong, Objectivist-wise, that we don't share anything in common at all - as this thread shows.
 

Good luck trying to persuade folks with your "primary rhetoric", if the above is anything to go by.

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This is so staggeringly wrong, Objectivist-wise, that we don't share anything in common at all - as this thread shows.

 

Good luck trying to persuade folks with your "primary rhetoric", if the above is anything to go by.

You think that there is nothing "in common at all" because you do not know the purpose of rhetoric. Rhetoric is a way to understand other people's ideas, beliefs, and arguments. Rhetoric is a way to connect with other people. I know your lack of this understanding because of this quote:

 

The answer I am looking for is:-

"Who is John Galt."

It's a sort of brilliant anti-rhetoric that only the best can invent.

"Who is John Galt?" is called a rhetorical question. It persuades you to either: a) accept the common belief in someone you don't know without questioning it (e.g., it's like saying "Jesus Christ!"); or b ) be persuaded or motivated to learn a feature of this question (e.g., as Dagny tried to do).

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(Coming late to the conversation)

 

This may not qualify as rhetoric (techniques of persuasion), but I've noted a pattern in Rand's imagery.  When she wants the reader's approval she uses imagery of hard or bright objects: stone; polished, highly reflective metal; ice; bright light.  Where we are to disapprove: clouds; fog;melting ice cream.

 

Another device is frequent allusion to logic and frequent citation of "A is A".  The residuum is a feeling that disagreeing with Rand is as patently unreasonable as disagreeing with the law of identity or with the rules of deduction - even where she doesn't give anything close to a premise-and-conclusion argument herself.

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