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"AYN RAND" CHAPTER FROM "THE POWER AND THE GLORY"

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A DEFINITION OF REASON

 

Q1. What was central theme of the book on Epistemology? Whats the significance of this book?

 

A1. The central theme of Rand's book on epistemology was concept formation. The significance of the book was that it undergirded her entire philosophy by explaining and defending her conception of reason.

 

Q2. Why is the central theme mentioned in (A1.) the most central issue of philosophy as a whole?

 

A2. Rand says "since man's knowledge is gained and held in conceptual form, the validity of man's knowledge depends on the validity of concepts." I think one of the things Rand means by this is that if our concepts are not valid, we can dismiss philosophical analysis of our concepts as empty word juggling - and whether or not we can dismiss philosophy as empty word juggling is certainly a central question for philosophy! Another relevant observation here is that some postmodern theories of science seem to use a Kantian approach to concepts as a reason for regarding science as an arbitrary cultural construction, so this is not just a problem for philosophers, it is a problem for anyone who cares about objective truth.

 

Q3. What was the answer offered to the problem of universals?

 

A3. We abstract concepts from particulars by omitting measurements. To apply this back to the example of the three men Rand uses, the three men all have different heights and weights, different hair and skin color, and so on, but these differing characteristics are merely different quantitative values along the same axes of measurement that are within ranges comparable to one another. So, concepts are not things intrinsic in reality independent of our minds, because they are entities we form by a mental process, but they are not arbitrary either, because they correspond to real measurements and causal connections.

 

Q4. Give content and background of the 2nd edition of Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology?

 

A4. Rand conducted workshops with a number of philosophers where she answered questions about her epistemology, and transcripts of parts of these workshops were added to the book as an appendix.

 

SHIFTING GEARS

 

Q5. What was the scope of “The Ayn Rand Letter”?

 

A5. The letter provided Rand's views on contemporary moral and social issues.

 

Q6. Apart from “The Ayn Rand Letter”, what were her other intellectual engagements in the 70s?

 

A6. In the 70s, Rand spoke publicly, oversaw a presentation of her philosophy by Leonard Peikoff, helped oversee the production of books on her philosophy in an editorial role, and helped produce a mini-series on Atlas Shrugged.

 

Q7. How were ideas of Ayn Rand disseminated immediately after her death?

 

A7. By means of the Ayn Rand Institute founded by her followers.

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Thanks William for the post.

Regarding,

By means of the Ayn Rand Institute founded by her followers.

 

I think Objectivists should start using term "students" instead of followers for those who digest and spread Objectivism. 

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A DEFINITION OF REASON

Q1. What was central theme of the book on Epistemology? Whats the significance of this book?

A1. Introduction to Epistemology was about concept formation. The significance in its identification for gaining knowledge about reality by a method of total reliance on reaon.
 

Q2. Why is the central theme mentioned in (A1.) the most central issue of philosophy as a whole?

A2. Miss Rand viewed epistemology as the most central issue of philosophy.
 

Q3. What was the answer offered to the problem of universals?

A3. Ayn Rand's answer to the problem of concepts (universals) is that it is a mental integration of two or more units which are mentally isolated according to a spectific characteristic and united by a specific definition.
 

Q4. Give content and background of the 2nd edition of Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology?

A4. The content of the 2nd edition consisted of the original work with nearly 200 pages of additional pages edited off the transcription from 21 hours of private workshops held between 1969 and 1971.
 

SHIFTING GEARS

Q5. What was the scope of “The Ayn Rand Letter”?

A5. The Ayn Rand Letter presented her analysis of currently political and philosophic events using her philosophy of Objectivism to set the context.
 

Q6. Apart from “The Ayn Rand Letter”, what were her other intellectual engagements in the 70s?

A6. She spoke to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point delivering a speech entitled "Philosophy: Who Needs It?" She also engaged in her favorite form of recreation; discussing ideas among friends. She provided editorial support for Ominous Parallels and the Ayn Rand Lexicon, giving her final public appearance in New Orleans before the National Committee for Monetary Reform.
 

Q7. How were ideas of Ayn Rand disseminated immediately after her death?

A7. The Ayn Rand Institute was established after her death with a mission to disseminate her philosophy of reason.

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Good Morning, today is Saturday, August 1st. I will now answer Monday's questions.

 

A DEFINITION OF REASON

 

Answers

 

Q1. What is integration? What is the relationship between reason and integration?

 

Ans: Integration in its broad meaning refers to the process of connecting one fact with another. And in its narrow meaning it means “finding one in many”. Like creating concept “table” after observing some instances of individual tables.

 

[Meaning of faculty :

a.) Inherent mental or physical power.(Mental in this case).

b.) Aptitude for doing something. (Integration in this case).]

 

Relationship between reason and integration : Reason as a faculty of integration was the key point brought by Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology. This integration begins with sense data and continues till most abstract concepts.

 

[ Here I think narrow meaning of the reason is looked at. ]

 

[ Here, and at other places, where there is no reference, it means that the text is by Burgess alone.]

 

Q2. What are the various functions of reason?

 

Ans: Reason performs induction, deduction, reduction, and proof.

 

Induction is forming universals from particulars, starting with percepts. Deduction is classifying new particulars under known universals. Reduction is tracing the induced universal back to its origin in perception. And proof is proving a conclusion step by step using available data. In general, reason includes the whole process of knowing reality.

 

Q3. What aspects of reason were there in Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology?

 

Ans: The book was her most detailed statement of the essential nature of reason and its application to philosophical and other problems.

 

[ Reference : In the 1971 issue of “The Objectivist”, Ayn Rand mentioned that Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology contained the definition of reason.]

 

SHIFTING GEARS

 

Answers

 

Q4. What was the scope of “The Ayn Rand Letter”?

 

Ans: “The Ayn Rand Letter” presented her analysis of current political and philosophical events. The overall context for this analysis was set by the philosophy of Objectivism.

 

Because of her own failing health, and the failing health of her husband, she closed “The Ayn Rand Letter” in 1976.

 

[References : For “The Ayn Rand Letter”, Ayn Rand by Britting, p105.]

 

Q5. Apart from “The Ayn Rand Letter”, what were her other intellectual engagements in the 70s?

 

Ans: She helped advertise her books to increase sales. From the many invitations she received, she accepted only a few. One of the speech was in U.S. Military Academy at West Point titled “Philosophy : Who Needs It”.

 

She oversaw the course on main topics of her philosophy by Leonard Peikoff. This was the only systematic presentation on her philosophy. Even after closing “The Ayn Rand Letter”, she continued to discuss ideas among friends. She also provided editorial to books by Leonard Peikoff and Harry Binswanger. Former writing Ominous Parallels, and latter The Ayn Rand Lexicon. She had also written one-third of the teleplay on Atlas Shrugged by the time she died.

 

[References :

1. For promoting sales, Ayn Rand by Britting.

2. For Ch I of Philosophy : Who Needs It and public speaking at Westpoint, Ayn Rand by Britting, p105, p107.

3. For overseeing the course by Leonard Peikoff, Ayn Rand, Britting, p111.

4. For her last years pages 109, 111, 112 in Ayn Rand by Britting.

5. For private discussions as her favorite forum, p94 in Ayn Rand by Britting.]

 

Q6. How were ideas of Ayn Rand disseminated immediately after her death?

 

Ans: “Ayn Rand Institute” was created by the advocates of her philosophy, after her death. The mission of institute was to disseminate her philosophy. Further, the institute archived her previously unpublished works and published those. It also trained additional advocates for disseminating her ideas, and they applied Objectivism's principles to particular problems.

[References : www.aynrand.org for “The Ayn Rand Institute”.] 

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ERRORS

 

I am sorry but I did one major, and two minor errors.

 

Major Error : I missed questions from section Reason as Integration. So here they are.

 

REASON AS INTEGRATION

 

Questions

 

Q1. What is integration? What is the relationship between reason and integration?

 

Q2. What are various functions of reason?

 

Q3. What aspects of reason were there in Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology?

 

Please post the answers next week along with the conclusion.

 

Minor Error 1 : I misclassified answers from REASON AS INTEGRATION section as being from A DEFINITION OF REASON. 

 

Minor Error 2 : I did not post answers from section A DEFINITION OF REASON. 
So here they are.

 

A DEFINITION OF REASON

 

Q1. What was central theme of the book on Epistemology? Whats the significance of this book?

 

Ans: In her book Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, she published articles presenting her theory of concepts and her solution to the traditional problem of forming them.

 

Significance : This was the single most important important philosophical work of Rand, because her theory of concept-formation was the center of her epistemology. And the epistemology of reason was foundation of her ethics and politics.

 

[References: For the publication of first edition of Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology. Ayn Rand by Britting, pp97-99]

 

Q2. Why is the central theme mentioned in (A1.) the most central issue of philosophy as a whole?

 

Ans: The issue of concepts is known as the “problem of universals” in philosophy. It involves validating concepts, since man's knowledge is held in conceptual form. Specifically, it involves connecting word like man, a concept, to percepts pf various men and also their characteristics. In general, it involves connecting abstractions to concretes, and also to intermediate abstractions in the process of reduction.

 

[References:

a.) For the problems of concepts, Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, Ayn Rand, pI.

b.) For the example of man, Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, Ayn Rand, p2.]

 

Q3. What was the answer offered to the problem of universals?

 

Ans: The definition of concept she arrived at involved following characteristics.

a.) A concept is a mental integration.

b.) It has two or more units.[Concept man referring to various percepts of man].

c.) Units are mentally isolated according to specific characteristics. [ Various characteristics like two leggedness, speaking, and later rationality. The differentiating characteristics determined by the context in which units are separated.]

d.) The units involved may contain any aspect of reality – Entities[like table or man], attributes [ action like walking, or adverbs like quickly ]. Perceptual concretes[percepts of table], or earlier formed concepts[like speaking].

e.) The isolation involves a process of abstraction, which is selective focus to [mentally] take out certain aspect of reality from all the others.

f.) And uniting involves integration, which is creation of a single, new mental entity[word]. This mental entity refers to concretes that were integrated.

g.) Unity is in the form of definition.

h.) And mental entity thereafter acts like a single unit of thought, for forming later concepts.

i.) The process of forming “concept table” is complete when a word such as “table” labels the concept.

 

[ In the text Burgess added “isolated” and “united” in italics. This was done to emphasize the two functions of reason involved in concept formation. Also, he removed (s) characteristic(s) of original, as it was not necessary for the definition here. The definition given here is taken from p10 of 2nd edition of Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology. The pages that follow describe the process in detail, and it leads to a more complete definition in page 13.]

 

Q4. Give content and background of the 2nd edition of Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology?

 

Ans: The second edition of Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology contained text from the four workshops Ayn Rand had conducted. These were conducted between 1969 and 1971, and were twenty-one hours in total. These consisted of a dozen philosophers, physicists, and mathematicians who had studied Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology. In 1990 the content of this workshop was published by Peikoff and Binswanger in the expanded second edition. The added content of this workshop was two hundred pages of recorded, and edited conversations between Ayn Rand and others in this workshop.

[ “Foreword to second edition” by Leonard Peikoff contains details of these epistemology workshops. ]

 

Again sorry for the inconvinience these errors may have caused.

Edited by RohinGupta

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CONCLUSION
 
Good Morning, today is Monday, 3rd August. This week we conclude the 5 weeks of structured study we were engaged in. I will reflect on this study-group, and idea of study-group in general.
 
This study-group, like all the prior study-groups, has sharpened my thinking, planning, execution,  collaborating, and marketing skills. The reason for improvements I think was the study process and also the content we were studying. In this fast paced world of hi-tech information feed, undivided attention is the most difficult feat to achieve. By mandating focus to particular section, I think we can improve psychological processes that require deep thought, and therefore help participants improve their thinking and execution skills. If I compare this study to the normal readings I did just after buying the book, there are many more positives in structured study. By studying Introduction in detail, I could connect content of chapter to a larger theme of "how ideas are developed and disseminated". I can better appreciate different forms of mediums like recorded lectures, fiction and non-fiction books, and news letters. Also methods like abstraction, induction, deduction, reduction are better appreciated, because now these are explicitly connected to "central purpose of Ayn Rand's life". In short, this study has helped me to develop standards that I think will enable me to direct my intellectual activism more purposefully and cause greater impact.
 
Coming the particulars we studied, I think these were extremely relevant. Having studied Steve Jobs through multiple mediums involving written interviews, presentation videos, interview videos, lecture videos, 2 full biographies, and so on. I think deep study of individuals who deeply impact the world is critical. Every decision they make, and consequence of correctness and falsehood of that decision is so deep, that we need to analyze every aspect of that decision. And as we cannot directly see thought, the way we see product of thought. So its from the product of thought, and from presentation of product by experts, that we infer what it takes to change the world. So insights into Ayn Rand's activities from childhood till the end, in such a short digest, I think can greatly help us improve our thinking and decision making. For e.g. , we need not feel very guilty about slipping on timelines of tasks, if we are convinced that quality of product requires extra time. I think we should be grateful that Ayn Rand didn't just finish Atlas Shrugged in 2 years, or Galt's speech in 3 months, just because that was her initial plan. In the long run, the improved quality has been much more beneficial than the saved time could have been.
 
Finally, the study has given me greater understanding of Burgess. I understand his suggestions, facebook posts, blogs, and studies much better now. After study I am confident that he will become much more admired now, than he was ever in his lifetime. 
And lastly, despite lots of advertising, the participation in the study-groups(including prior ones in www.studygroupsforobjectivists.com/) has been quite less. I think this is the sign of times we live in, and the nature of intellectual activism as such. While its impact is great, intellectual activism, like activism of people in the book, requires varied mediums rather than persisting with one medium and over engage. So I urge participants to spread Ayn Rand's ideas and ideas of Burgess in various forums, and through different mediums we know of. I for my part have decided to take a major leap, even though I am only part-time intellectual. I will initiate the process of appying to write for a major right wing publication in India. This may give even lesser time for study-groups, but I am confident that now I can organize same or better quality study-groups more quickly. 
Edited by RohinGupta

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And lastly, despite lots of advertising, the participation in the study-groups(.... has been quite less. I think this is the sign of times we live in, and the nature of intellectual activism as such.

We've tried to start study groups in the past without much success. (You can see the history in this sub-forum.) At least within the forum, the total number of active participants is not that large, and when it comes to any specific book only a very small number would be interested in studying it. 

 

I will initiate the process of appying to write for a major right wing publication in India.

All the best with this.

I'm curious: what are some examples of such Indian publications. I know of "Freedom First" and I suppose the "Center for Civil Society" and the "Liberty Institute" have some  publications. I'm interested in knowing what else is going on in India along these lines.

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We've tried to start study groups in the past without much success. (You can see the history in this sub-forum.) At least within the forum, the total number of active participants is not that large, and when it comes to any specific book only a very small number would be interested in studying it. 

 

While initially less number of participants brings some negativity, I think I will persist. Advantages and dissemination, even if I study alone is significant. Team of around 5, and even 1 more persistent student as we had now, should be quite good. Plus nothing to be disheartened about. Just because people do not engage intellectually in one channel, does not mean they are not active intellectually, or that our culture is doomed. But if somebody wants to be good in writing, thinking, and in some particular topic, from personal experience this format is as good as going to an university.

 

All the best with this.

I'm curious: what are some examples of such Indian publications. I know of "Freedom First" and I suppose the "Center for Civil Society" and the "Liberty Institute" have some  publications. I'm interested in knowing what else is going on in India along these lines.

 

Thanks for the good wishes. And thanks also for persevering with this forum to provide people like me such wonderful platform and springboard.

 

Here is the basic description of the magazine I plan to work with.

 

"So what is the new Swarajya or Swarajya 2.0 about?

Swarajya will be an authoritative voice of reason representing the liberal centre-right point of view.

In its second coming, Swarajya remains committed to the ideals of individual liberty unmediated by the State or any other institution, freedom of expression and enterprise, national interest, and India’s vast and ancient cultural heritage.

Swarajya will be a big tent for liberal right of centre discourse that reaches out, engages and caters to the new India in a manner that’s not arcane, abstruse, arrogant or self-referencing."

 

Further details here - http://swarajyamag.com/about-swarajya/

Edited by RohinGupta

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Today I close the study-group from my side. As concluded, this was personally very rewarding and intellectually stimulating. There are still couple of days remaining. Please use this time to conclude.

 

Recalling my first study-group, which was on December, 2011 from chapter on "Definitions" in "Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology". I prepared 3-4 months for it. Reading not just the chapter, but also the preceding ones. Unfortunately due to personal conflicts and some psychological barriers, I could continue only for 2 weeks in a study-group that was around 6 weeks. I persisted nevertheless. Later that year, the second study-group from title essay on "For the New Intellectual" however was extremely successful. I chewed almost the complete essay during the timeline, also connecting it to personal experiences and Objectivist movement in general. Burgess was so impressed with the effort that he offered me to select the subject and title for next study-group. And so my contribution enabled me to collaborate on subject close to my heart, metaphysics and epistemology. Next summer we did study-group on "Reality" chapter from "Objectivism : Philosophy of Ayn Rand". Most rewarding study-group has been the one on "DIM Hypothesis". Almost any cultural event I now relate to DIM, and even my own thoughts and emotions. 

 

To summarize, in past 4 years I have actualized potentialities that I thought would take a lifetime. Study-groups eventually gave me confidence to do great things in life.... Hope others can get that too...!

Edited by RohinGupta

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In conclusion:

 

No matter how many times I read something, answering specific question means going back and finding the specifics to answer them.

One question asked stood out with regard to why a philosopher seldom systematically outlines their entire philosophy into one volume. Rand had often expressed interest and intent to do so, but was constantly drawn into new issues to address and write about. Although not all her works are included on the Objectivism Research CD, this observation by Burgess underscores the importance of such a tool.

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