Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum
Dormin111

Why Objectivism is so unpopular

Rate this topic

Recommended Posts

1 hour ago, Aengus Song said:

Why is Objectivism "unpopular?"... 

...the preponderance of the West's professional intellectuals have both financial and also psychological reasons to dislike Objectivism.

Welcome to Objectivism Online.

What about before they were educators would they have liked Objectivism then? Also, are the teachers in Catholic schools more open to Objectivism? What about teachers in other non-religious private schools?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 minutes ago, softwareNerd said:

Welcome to Objectivism Online.

What about before they were educators would they have liked Objectivism then? Also, are the teachers in Catholic schools more open to Objectivism? What about teachers in other non-religious private schools?

SN. I think we all know there are multiple reasons, cultural, religious, philosophical momentum etc. I do think a large factor in its being a vicious cycle is those on positions passing on those errors... 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, StrictlyLogical said:

SN. I think we all know there are multiple reasons, cultural, religious, philosophical momentum etc. I do think a large factor in its being a vicious cycle is those on positions passing on those errors... 

Yes, there are bound to be multiple factors. Would you speculate that a teacher in a private school (religious or otherwise) is less likely to have a philosophy that is counter to Objectivism?
Fuirther, if one were to do a random sampling of private and public school teachers in Texas, New York, Michigan and California... would you speculate that location has lower or higher correlation with anti-Objectivist views than the private/public factor?

Edited by softwareNerd

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

SN, that's two different ways of breaking down the demographics. I would like to think that the private/public factor would be within an acceptable tolerance range/zone of being "the same" regardless of the geographical location, i.e., 50 states, private/public 20%/80% ranging to, say, 30%/70%, vs., finding the range going from 1%99% to 99%/1% covering 50 equidistance spreads in increments of ~2%, across the continent. (Number spreads picked solely to help contrast different findings in such a speculation.)

This is predicated on a premise that the private sector is generally comprised of parochial and, mostly likely, a Montessori approach, while homeschooling is most likely some sort of mix between these.

Given Aquinas' attempt to integrate Catholicism with Aristotle is a fact of the past—the ability to integrate religion with Objectivism is bound to result in a null set (augmenting SL's point, or so I am inclined to think.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 2017-08-20 at 8:50 PM, softwareNerd said:

Yes, there are bound to be multiple factors. Would you speculate that a teacher in a private school (religious or otherwise) is less likely to have a philosophy that is counter to Objectivism?
Fuirther, if one were to do a random sampling of private and public school teachers in Texas, New York, Michigan and California... would you speculate that location has lower or higher correlation with anti-Objectivist views than the private/public factor?

I think private versus public schools would show a little statistical correlation ... geographical based culture often is a mongrel combination of social regulation /oppression going hand in hand with economic freedom or the converse ..

I don't know enough about public funding of colleges or how tenure works to have any kind of informed opinion but I would guess such things being factors is at least plausible.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 8/16/2015 at 5:08 PM, Eiuol said:

But the main reason I'd say is that it's not really popular at all to advocate for anything fully dedicated to self-improvement and self-mastery. So even the life-promoting things are hard to talk about with people who don't already seek to be their best. I don't think it's hopeless, though, it's not an impossible task to change minds.

Why do you think that Eiuol, isn't the self-improvement market huge?

The problem starts from Rand's combative style. I saw a video where Tibor Machan justified her abrasiveness because of what people had put her through. Nevertheless, she was abrasive. But things have changed it seems, nowadays, I notice both Yaron Brook, (who successfully gave his presentations in a Muslim nation, at Baku) is spreading the information and is now being inclusive of Libertarians. And the Atlas Society is deliberately opening their doors to Christians if I am not wrong. I think the CEO is close friends with Laura Ingram who is religious and maybe that had an impact. 

On 8/17/2015 at 12:23 PM, Nicky said:

Let's put it this way: it wasn't Ayn Rand's slanderers who went on o'Reilly and said that according to Objectivism nuking Tehran should be a tactical option available to the military (or whatever was said exactly). It was Leonard Peikoff. And, in my opinion at least, it was a pretty accurate representation of Objectivism. It was a mistake to say it, because it's not something most Americans are ready to hear, but it's not like it's not true. And I bet that single TV appearance turned off more people to Objectivism than all the slanderous articles put together.

When I try to introduce people to objectivism, the last thing I want to show them is that video. Many of my objectivist circle were disappointed with his delivery and I never saw him do a public TV appearance after that. Just the way he starts with "I am absolutely not concerned with innocents ... etc" is going to freak people out. I assume he had no PR person watching out for him.

But as Nathaniel said after her death, history will prove her right.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

Why do you think that Eiuol, isn't the self-improvement market huge?

The problem starts from Rand's combative style. 

I think the problem really starts because self-improvement is not the focus.

It starts with someone reading about Objectivism and thinking: "So much that I've been taught is wrong; yet everyone spouts this wrong stuff". It isn't too surprising that this lowers the reader's empathetic-benevolence to the views of others. E.g. you could love Fountainhead and want to be like Roark, but -- in doing so -- you might conclude: "life is going to be one big struggle, and if I don't get lucky with a good jury I'll end in jail; if I don't get a rich guy who loves my work, I'll end up in a garret" 

Also, the majority of readers focus on politics. E.g. you might read Atlas Shrugged and end up thinking: "The world is so screwed up that there's really little hope for change". Perhaps you might try to fight for political change in some way, with little success, and end up dejected, and reduced to ranting to other ranting Objectivists. 

Sure... one can implicate Rand, Peikoff, etc.in this, but in the end Objectivism is about the individual, and the buck stops there. Rand was asked: "How does one live a Rational Life in an irrational World?" and her most fundamental reply was "One must never fail to pronounce moral judgement". At face value, this is flawed at two levels: firstly, the possible premise that the world "is irrational"; and, also in the response.

I say "at face value" because the question is being interpreted narrowly. Objectivists need to ask a variation of this question. Something like: "How do I live a Happy life in an imperfect world?"

And, the answer needs to be mostly inward-facing: take all the good self-help books, and extract the the good philosophical principles from those. Even from religious teachers like Rick Warren and from Prosperity-Gospel folk. Anyone who is giving people "life hack" ideas of how to succeed in something. Remove the specifics, and extract the philosophical principles, and you'll get the nuggets that are consistent with Objectivism.

The primary focus of the individual should be "How to Live a Happy life". The rest is essentially useless if it is does not contribute to that happiness. (Aside: It would be truly ironic if someone agreed and then ended up feeling guilty that he ain't happy enough.)

Movements makes mistakes, learn, and evolve. Looking at the Objectivism's history, one sees three or four pretty distinct periods, and it gets better each time. Over the last few years, the student groups have taken that focus, even re-branding themselves "Strive". Some local community groups have done the same. I think the movement needs an intellectual or two who pursues this into "a thing": where they demonstrate how Objectivism is -- first and foremost -- the route to personal happiness; where he integrates this with the best self-help ideas and life-hacks out there; and, hopefully, where they do this so well that they become popular. Not sure is Alex Epstein is heading in that direction.

 

Edited by softwareNerd

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

Why do you think that Eiuol, isn't the self-improvement market huge?

The problem starts from Rand's combative style.

On a slightly different tact, some are drawn by Rand's combative style.

In martial arts training, a good sensei stresses that the art is more than just learning how to fight. One also needs to become the best that one can become. Not just the best fighter, but to excel at any undertaking that is worth undertaking. Very Francisco-like. Whatever he did, he did superlatively well. Whatever he applied himself to, he did with the intention to succeed. If it is worth doing, it is worth doing as well as can be done withing the capacity of the doer.

Rand puts forth, even if in a combative style at times, effective argumentation. Individuals who read one of her books and get the sense that she has something worthwhile. As human beings, the individual may evaluate others by the conclusions they have drawn about themselves. So if they read Atlas Shrugged and understand part of the essence of her novel, it can be bewildering why it is not as obvious to others as it was to themselves. "After all," they think, "I can understand this, I'm a human being, therefore other human beings should be able to understand this." (And others do, in varying degrees.)

The fight, however, is not primarily with persuading others of the rightness of her ideas. The real struggle is coming to understand what is objectively right—for oneself—and once discovering it, not to relinquish it under any circumstances.

A gauge I've used for years in the preparation of blueprints, is to evaluate the questions that came back regarding the blueprint itself. Was there an omission on my behalf, a missing section, a missing view, a missing dimension, etc.? If so, the section, view, or dimension is added, making the blueprint a clearer reference. Other times, a question raised indicated where the blueprint reader was deficient in that capacity, so the explanation is not about the particular blueprint in question as much as how to read a blueprint in general.

In the light of the thread topic, I'm not convinced that Objectivism is unpopular, rather, like the politics it advocates, Capitalism, it is still an unknown ideal.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, dream_weaver said:

In the light of the thread topic, I'm not convinced that Objectivism is unpopular, rather, like the politics it advocates, Capitalism, it is still an unknown ideal.

Yes it is an unknown ideal, the proof is in the pudding: Obamacare

Isn't an unknown ideal, not that popular?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
14 minutes ago, Easy Truth said:

Isn't an unknown ideal, not that popular?

In a sense, as popular/unpopular is being used here, yes. But unknown carries deeper implications, that make the application of popular/unpopular more difficult. There are yet discoveries that have not been made. Would it be proper to say the undiscovered is popular or unpopular, or would it just be the case that the undiscovered is simply just still unknown?

Granted, Objectivism has been discovered, but are its "mysteries" known, or do they still lurk about in the unknown?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, softwareNerd said:
9 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

The problem starts from Rand's combative style.

I think the problem really starts because self-improvement is not the focus.

I think you're both right.

The outward/political focus versus self-improvement or the pursuit of personal happiness, and also the combative style... though not necessarily so much Rand's (though that's part of the issue), as that of Objectivists who try to ape her style. In my experience, most Objectivists have no idea how to talk to people outside of the Objectivist community, and no apparent desire to try to distinguish those who might be fundamentally open to reason, yet mistaken on one or several points.

How to talk to people, to discuss ideas, to persuade -- both within and outside of Objectivism -- is a topic that is not only under-explored, but is regarded with outright suspicion by some. Some people seem content to pass moral judgement and condemn others to hell, rather than the (admittedly more difficult) project of examining their own methods of communication.

I have found that many Objectivists have the reputation of being "assholes"; so much so that it's arguably regarded as characteristic. I don't think it's even undeserved. But it doesn't have to be so. I've known many utterly pleasant and polite Objectivists, and I see no reason why someone cannot be both correct and nice. Even our expressions of anger, where merited, can stand critical examination and improvement. Above all, I think that empathy is a vital characteristic (I would not go so far as to say that it is a "virtue," because I am not prepared for the argument -- but I'm not dismissing it either).

I've used this analogy before, and I think it still serves: Objectivists have the best product on the market. We have truth. We have reason and reality on our side -- and despite what you may have heard (and despite humanity's checkered history), reason and reality are fairly persuasive forces. They keep all of us alive, every day, and have formed the basis for all of humanity's many achievements. So despite everything we're working against (deeply ingrained cultural forces, including academia, the media, and political institutions), I think Objectivism stands poised to remake the world.

What we need -- what any great product needs -- is sales. We need to examine and re-examine (and re-examine again) our means and methods of communicating our ideas to a world which is frankly starving for reason, for peace, for happiness. We must continue to improve upon our approach until we succeed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Much has been made of Rand's personality and intransigence in dealing with challenges to her philosophy, and indeed it sometimes straddles the line between satisfying polemic with moral fire and vigor and a nasty hostility to criticism. Also how much of this is the people Rand mistakenly surrounded herself with, such as the Brandens, who by some accounts, tended to be the source of dogmatism and hostility, at least before their schism. All of this seems to have shot Rand's movement in the foot.

However there is Rand's philosophy one one hand, and the objectivist organizations and institutions on the other. Much of the blame can also be placed at the hands of objectivist institutions, I think. They do a good job of getting Rand's novels into high school curriculums, which is the Lords work for sure, but aside from that, they have been a huge flop, even barrier to Rand scholarship.

What would benefit Objectivism the most is making all of Rand's writings and writings of her students and commentators available online in one easily accessible place. There is no reason to have Rand's books hidden behind paywalls. There are tons of lecture series and other works associated, why are they not online in one place?

Any institute dedicated to Rand scholarship should have an online Academy where professors can organize courses, charge per course, where anyone who wants to can easily sign up and learn about Objectivism, interacting with the teachers and staff via skype. 

There should be a website with daily publications and postings. The articles on ARI sites mostly suck and are pedantic.

There should be scholarly journals publishing papers every few months. Where are the symposiums and calls for papers on all sorts of topics, Rand vs Nietzsche, Rand vs Spinoza, Rand vs analytic philosophy, egoism and rights, theories of freewill, theories of induction, Rand's epistemology and evolutionary psychology, Rand and feminism, etc.

There should be money used to aid scholars in doing research, writing books, or in transcribing the vast archive of taped lecture series and CDs to book format. What about research for a theory of psychological abstractionism in early childhood? What about getting all of that stuff on tape into books, audiobooks, pdfs? What about research on Rand's college transcripts or what happened to her family, or things like that?

There should be organized conferences and classes given a few times a year, where anyone can attend. I know there is OCON but that is mostly a flop. ARI campus has, what, around 20 courses and it's been around how long? That's pathetic!

Luckily there are a lot of Rand scholars out there operating independently and there is the Ayn Rand Society and Atlas Society and other types of organizations, there's the Journal of AR Studies but they shot themselves in the foot too after putting themselves behind a paywall. There's plenty of ways to figure out how to make money while still offering free content. It would be nice if there was an effective organization that did more than fly Yaron Brook around to give talks (god bless him though.)

Edited by 2046

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
14 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

Why do you think that Eiuol, isn't the self-improvement market huge?

Mostly it's feel good emptiness. Nothing like a philosophical serious approach.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now


  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×