Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum
Jonathan13

How should major Objectivists address informed criticism of Objectivism?

Rate this topic

Recommended Posts

On 4/11/2016 at 2:23 PM, Plasmatic said:

Jonathan, that quote reminds me of something important. 

Upon listening to Dr. Peikoff's lectures on induction in physics and philosophy, I was flabbergasted by several points he made. I began to transcribe the entire lecture in order to confront what I considered to be obvious errors. But then I stopped and thought Dr. Peikoff's claim in the lecture that it's not his final word and only his first word on induction. So I decided to email him and respectfully ask him if he had repudiated what I considered to be the most obviously wrong view, the so-called "super-integration". He informed me that he had abandoned that premise and it would not be in his book with Harriman on induction, which it did not. So I waited until the book came out to do any further thinking on the topic so as to not waste my time on something that he doesn't hold anymore as a premise.

That comment from fact and value strikes me as the very same premise. Now, to be fair, it does destroy the "system" qua system but it does not follow that all the elements in that system are invalidated.

What was the "super-integration" view that he abandoned? (For accuracy, please stay as close to his actual statement as possible in your explanation.)

Edited by dream_weaver
fixed broken link

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not sure about what the recent posts have to do with the thread's topic, but I, too, hope that at least some top students of Objectivism are among the posters here. For professional assistance, I think it is still a good idea to tune into the Yaron Brook Show and ask questions, or to post your questions to peikoff.com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
15 hours ago, Reidy said:

What you seem to mean, then, by a serious Objectivist treatment of Kant and of AR's critique of him, is Peikoff's minions' saying just what you want them to say and being open to the possibility of publicly and overtly disagreeing with her. The first condition is unlikely and the second is flatly impossible.

No, I'm not looking for a serious Objectivist treatment of Kant.

I'm looking for serious Objectivist treatments of criticisms of Objectivism.

George Smith's criticism of Objectivist criticism of Kant just happens to be the first of many examples that I hope to post. It's not about Kant. It's about Objectivists addressing criticism of Objectivism.

J

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
16 minutes ago, William O said:

What was the "super-integration" view that he abandoned? (For accuracy, please stay as close to his actual statement as possible in your explanation.)

I'll pull up the lecture and get it for you.

By the way, I have since discovered a comment from David Harriman in one of his lectures where he mentioned Dr. Peikoff rejecting an application he made of the "super-integration" premise, asking Harriman "whats the super integration thing" and Harriman reported that he "got it from him" (paraphrasing both) 

I think the lecture was Ptolemy vs Gallileo.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We probably need a separate thread......

Jonathan said:

Quote

George Smith's criticism of Objectivist criticism of Kant just happens to be the first of many examples that I hope to post. It's not about Kant. It's about Objectivists addressing criticism of Objectivism.

Does Smith address the premise that Kant is "most evil" because his premises are a species of "inherently dishonest" ideas of which Kant originated?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
25 minutes ago, Plasmatic said:

Jonathan, that quote reminds me of something important. 

Upon listening to Dr. Peikoff's lectures on induction in physics and philosophy, I was flabbergasted by several points he made. I began to transcribe the entire lecture in order to confront what I considered to be obvious errors. But then I stopped and thought Dr. Peikoff's claim in the lecture that it's not his final word and only his first word on induction. So I decided to email him and respectfully ask him if he had repudiated what I considered to be the most obviously wrong view, the so-called "super-integration". He informed me that he had abandoned that premise and it would not be in his book with Harriman on induction, which it did not. So I waited until the book came out to do any further thinking on the topic so as to not waste my time on something that he doesn't hold anymore as a premise.

That comment from fact and value strikes me as the very same premise. Now, to be fair, it does destroy the "system" qua system but it does not follow that all the elements in that system are invalidated.

That could be. So, the question then is, how much of what's out there in O-land represents "final answers" versus unfinished theorizing and speculating? Perhaps some philosophical housekeeping is in order? Which views have been abandoned? Which more firmly supported? Binswanger is rumored to have said that Rand abandoned her view on architecture qualifying as a valid art form according to Objectivist criteria. When will that rumor be either confirmed or denied by ARI and associates? The current literature and ARI view remains unchanged. I would think that it would be important to someone there to make a public correction or affirmation and set the record straight. After all, if that aspect of the philosophy has changed, it would be quite unfortunate if Rand's heirs allowed the wrong view to be disseminated for all these years.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I should clarify something.

I said:

Quote

Now, to be fair, it does destroy the "system" qua system but it does not follow that all the elements in that system are invalidated.

By "it" I am referring to the premise from Fact and Value "any change".

I am still waiting for evidence that Ms. Rand held this.

Quote

I'm looking for serious Objectivist treatments of criticisms of Objectivism.

Well, Diana Hsieh has several posts dealing with Branden and Kelly issues. I personally have considered taking Kellyist on myself but its hard to motivate myself to address what strikes me as sophmoric errors that are the problem of the one who holds it and not I.

Every time a moderator here basically recapitulates a Kellyist premise it pushes me a little closer to that pursuit because I value this forum.

Edited by Plasmatic

Share this post


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

We probably need a separate thread......

Jonathan said:

Does Smith address the premise that Kant is "most evil" because his premises are a species of "inherently dishonest" ideas of which Kant originated?

I would answer: Read Smith's comments for yourself to see what he says versus what he does not.

J

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Plasmatic said:

Does Smith address the premise that Kant is "most evil" because his premises are a species of "inherently dishonest" ideas of which Kant originated?

I suppose the answer to that would have to be "no" by the nature of the accusation.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, Jonathan13 said:

I think the point of the criticism is that Objectivism has been more anti-Kant than it should be. Kant, both in method and content, is much friendlier, and similar, to Objectivism than Rand and her admirers mistakenly believed. In the world of philosophy, from an Objectivist perspective there are many people who would qualify as "the most evil man in mankind's history" long before Kant should.

I don't think Kant deserves Rand's hyperbole about him being the most evil man ever, but I'd still argue that his method is not even slightly friendly to the way Objectivism does philosophy. I mean things like essays, novels, short speeches or discussions in public settings. The way Rand did it. Academic discussions and papers have their place, but it's not where growth will happen. When I think Kant, I see a guy who takes entire books to make a point, and taking human cognition and morality as utterly disinterested in its purpose, and fails to engage anybody on a passionate level. But arguing things like I just did should be fairly simple and welcomed by anyone, it's not like I abandoned any principles by saying Rand exaggerated about Kant.

Speaking of criticisms, sometimes I think people will reject a philosopher in their entirety based on one or two quotes that rub them the wrong way. Rand didn't write much about Nietzsche, but I think anytime she did speak about him, she usually misunderstood. And from that, it seems easy to wave away the numerous parallels with Nietzsche - including the way Rand did philosophy. I've heard Peikoff say some negative things about Nietzsche, but no apparent decent criticism. So it looks to me that sometimes people get caught up on Rand's inaccurate criticisms and fail to examine exactly what makes Objectivism a radical philosophy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

William said:

44 minutes ago, William O said:

I suppose the answer to that would have to be "no" by the nature of the accusation.

Not sure of the "accusation" part above but if Smith doesn't answer that premise then he clearly is not making an informed criticism of at least one of the actual reasons for calling Kant evil.

Time will tell.

Edit: by "his premises" I meant Kant's.

Edited by Plasmatic

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Louie said:

Quote

But arguing things like I just did should be fairly simple and welcomed by anyone, it's not like I abandoned any principles by saying Rand exaggerated about Kant.

 

On the contrary. I consider your post (where are the post #'s ?) above where I excerpted from, basically a sense of life driven, vague generality. Your premises about what is needed for "growth" seems to be motivated by this preconceptual, kinda, sorta feeling that "rubs" you the right way, when you read Rand. That is precisely the sort of method Nietzsche uses. (and most of the other vague continental gibberish too) 

What you describe about "one or two quotes that rub them the wrong way." seems to me a application of how you relate to concepts as against "the way Rand did it". I mean the method deployed in isolating and stating essentially defining themes such as Dr. Peikoff does about Nietzsche. 

Just pointing out that I disagree with the premise that you were applying Ms. Rand's method while repudiating her conclusions derived from it. I say you disagree with her conclusions precisely because of differences in method. She repudiated Kant in principle, not because she took how his writing made her feel as a tool of cognition.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
43 minutes ago, Plasmatic said:

On the contrary. I consider your post (where are the post #'s ?) above where I excerpted from, basically a sense of life driven, vague generality. Your premises about what is needed for "growth" seems to be motivated by this preconceptual, kinda, sorta feeling that "rubs" you the right way, when you read Rand. That is precisely the sort of method Nietzsche uses. (and most of the other vague continental gibberish too) 

I don't think that is his -method- of doing philosophy, but he does come to a variety of completely subjectivist conclusions. I don't he just "feels" his way to answers or questions. Rand was far more exact than Nietzsche, but I think that's because Nietzsche more often wrote about ideas he didn't completely reach a conclusion about. The method I'm talking about is a more aesthetic focus, which is why Rand wrote AS - art and style mattered. Also about questioning the "common" viewpoint.

My point about "rubs them the wrong way" is that I think sometimes people judge ideas on a pre-conceptual level before an actual critical evaluation. Some people may use that feeling to somehow justify a hasty conclusion and never investigate further. This would be wrong. Similarly, sometimes Nietzsche does "rub me the right way", but upon a critical evaluation, there are plenty of errors to point out. It would be wrong to start there but never investigate further.

If you want to discuss Nietzsche's method of doing philosophy, I'd be glad to in the thread I made on it a while back. I think last week I posted on a thread that I started about comparing Rand and Nietzsche. As for Rand getting Nietzsche wrong, I mean that she literally missed the point and criticized ideas he didn't actually hold. But she said so little about him as it is.

I haven't read a great deal of Kant - I couldn't reach Rand's conclusions if I literally know too little. I know enough to say that I don't like him much.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
17 hours ago, Eiuol said:

I don't think Kant deserves Rand's hyperbole about him being the most evil man ever, but I'd still argue that his method is not even slightly friendly to the way Objectivism does philosophy. I mean things like essays, novels, short speeches or discussions in public settings. The way Rand did it. Academic discussions and papers have their place, but it's not where growth will happen. When I think Kant, I see a guy who takes entire books to make a point, and taking human cognition and morality as utterly disinterested in its purpose, and fails to engage anybody on a passionate level. But arguing things like I just did should be fairly simple and welcomed by anyone, it's not like I abandoned any principles by saying Rand exaggerated about Kant.

In the above, you're not really talking about philosophy so much as promotion or proselytizing.  Philosophy is a technical endeavor. Kant was definitely more detailed than most, but philosopher write as if speaking to people who are up to speed on the technicalities and the history of the ideas being discussed. They I often write with a degree of detail which is intended to address objections preemptively. It's very scientific, and objective.

Rand took a different approach to promoting her ideas, and she fleshed them out through art, but she did actual philosophy by following the same method as Kant. She followed the formal, established, rational, established structure, and she made her case, bit by bit. She thought things through, she had the mindset of questioning everything, and she made a lot of headway.

But, being an artist first, and not an academic philosopher, she didn't spend the kind of time and focus that Kant did, and she missed some of the defects in her work that a more precise, academic philosopher would have preemptively fought and corrected.

As for your statement that you don't have to abandon any principles when accepting corrections to the Objectivist view of Kant, are you sure? Have you carefully investigated whether or not the errors are connected to any other aspect of the philosophy, and what consequences a change in the Objectivist view of elements of philosophical history might have throughout the system?

Also, your statement about not having to abandon principles is odd, to me. Is that a concern of yours? Is the prospect of discovering that you were wrong about something in reality, and therefore that you have to alter certain beliefs, something which you see as a burden or inconvenience that you'd prefer to avoid? Am I misunderstanding you?

 

17 hours ago, Eiuol said:

Speaking of criticisms, sometimes I think people will reject a philosopher in their entirety based on one or two quotes that rub them the wrong way. Rand didn't write much about Nietzsche, but I think anytime she did speak about him, she usually misunderstood. And from that, it seems easy to wave away the numerous parallels with Nietzsche - including the way Rand did philosophy. I've heard Peikoff say some negative things about Nietzsche, but no apparent decent criticism. So it looks to me that sometimes people get caught up on Rand's inaccurate criticisms and fail to examine exactly what makes Objectivism a radical philosophy.

I agree! Totally! That's where I'm coming from. People will indeed reject a philosopher based on having read a few bad quotes. It's unfortunate when the quotes have been stripped of their context, and readers are disgusted and miss out on the value of a philosopher (such readers are also at fault, though, for not having the presence of mind to recognize that people can be misquoted or inappropriately stripped of context, and for not having the curiosity to verify for themselves whether or not the philosopher is being represented accurately). But it's especially unfortunate when the philosopher is NOT being misquoted or context-stripped, but actually said and believed the ideas attributed to him or her which are driving people away. The only way to get those readers to reconsider the value that the philosopher can bring to their lives is to correct the philosopher's errors.

J

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 4/10/2016 at 3:32 PM, Plasmatic said:

I'd say that any aspect of Objectivism, the  name that denotes Ayn Rands premises on philosophy, that is wrong needs to be rejected and replaced with whomever does the rejecting's own premises and denoting word....

That seems like the gravest sort of desecration I could inflict on Rand.

This is what I mean by that.

 

I've been opposed to the idea of governance (of any kind) since I was 16. When I first read about Galt's Gulch, it felt like I was seeing exactly the sort of world I'd always wanted to live in. When I read that line from their Judge, about how easy it was for rational men to live together, I sincerely thought it was meant as a nod towards anarchism. I was truly shocked when I learned otherwise.

 

So, I could take your advice; make a philosophy which consists of Objectivist metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, conception of man's "rights" and anarchism on top, and call it something brand-new.

But it wouldn't be new. The epistemology; the contextuality of knowledge; my own life as the standard of morality; I didn't come up with any of that, on my own; I learned about it from Ayn Rand.

 

For me, calling myself an "Objectivist" is the highest sort of tribute I can give to her; it's the declaration that I've chosen to live my own life according to her ideas. In light of everything she's given me, she deserves at least that.

 

That's why I believe that calling my own beliefs by some other name would be a desecration. And not the cool kind of desecration, either (the kind that Indiana Jones might participate in), but something low and dirty and shameful.

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold
Conclusion

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You're right, Jonathan, that public speeches or discussions are proselytizing. But the novels and essays are not. Her essays are the closest thing to how the academy usually does philosophy, and novels are pretty untraditional for that. But when I say growth, I mean the growth of a philosophy so that people acknowledge it. I'm quite aware of how the academy does philosophy, engaged with academics to some extent, enough to at least appreciate it. It is fine to use a high degree of detail to do philosophy. But sometimes such a degree of detail makes people get lost in the actual point of what they're after. To be sure, this can be scientific in the sense of exact, and objective in the sense of thinking about what is true regardless of your feeling about it. But if essentially everything you say can only be talked about in a highly academic and detailed way, I don't think it speaks well for treating philosophy as a life furthering endeavor.

No, Rand didn't exactly have the time to philosophize in the academic way, but that isn't to say it's even inferior. Or less objective. Kant didn't even think of the word "objective" in the same way as Rand, so to him, the only way to philosophy is to be academic.  

I only mention not having to abandon principles was just for other readers to see who may be thinking about this. Personally, I'm fine with being wrong, and being wrong doesn't mean fixing it would require abandoning principles that I'm not wrong about. I intend to look at it more carefully though sometime in the future.

On 4/12/2016 at 11:49 AM, Jonathan13 said:

The only way to get those readers to reconsider the value that the philosopher can bring to their lives is to correct the philosopher's errors.

Do you mean the errors of the philosopher being quoted, or the philosopher misunderstanding the quoted philosopher?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On ‎4‎/‎12‎/‎2016 at 10:49 AM, Jonathan13 said:

Rand took a different approach to promoting her ideas, and she fleshed them out through art, but she did actual philosophy by following the same method as Kant.

I understand that this is actually what she claimed she emphatically was not doing with art. She rejected the "didactic" view of art as a vehicle of proselytizing.

Quote

In regard to all its distinctive functions, I must now stress, the role of art is not didactic.

Even when art does project a moral ideal, its goal is not to teach men that ideal. The purpose of art is not education or proselytizing, neither in regard to ethics nor to metaphysics. To teach these subjects is the task of philosophy, for which art is not a substitute; an art work is not a textbook or a propaganda vehicle. "The basic purpose of art," writes Miss Rand, <opar_423> "is not to teach, but to show—to hold up to man a concretized image of his nature and his place in the universe."(17) Since the function of art is to bring man's concepts to the perceptual level, the task of the artist is not to present conceptual information, but to provide man with a definite experience. It is the experience not of thinking, but of seeing, as he contemplates the artistic concrete: "This is what reality is like."

One can learn a great deal about life from a work of art (from its philosophy and theme)—just as, Miss Rand notes, one can learn a great deal about flying by dismantling and studying an airplane. But in both cases the knowledge one gains is a fringe benefit, not a primary. The purpose of a plane, as of an art work, is not to provide material for a classroom, but to do something. The purpose is to make possible to man a certain kind of action.

OPAR

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
29 minutes ago, Plasmatic said:

I understand that this is actually what she claimed she emphatically was not doing with art. She rejected the "didactic" view of art as a vehicle of proselytizing.

 

I'm thinking if you want to find the voice of reason, you need to learn where to go and how to listen for it. When the music is playing, the voice is inseparable without the ability to conceptualize it. Stopping the music to try to listen to it is futile as well without that same ability..

As one song goes "I can't stop the music, I could stop it before"

Edited by dream_weaver
wordsmithed

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On ‎4‎/‎11‎/‎2016 at 1:29 PM, William O said:

What was the "super-integration" view that he abandoned? (For accuracy, please stay as close to his actual statement as possible in your explanation.)

Here is the promised excerpt as an example from the lecture Induction in Physics and Philosophy:

Quote

Human consciousness is inherently an integrating faculty and therefore there is no possibility of selecting from its content a unit to serve as a standard of measurement. The ideas or contents of consciousness are always a part of a single total state. […] a “one in the many” And that state has no counterpart in the world of material objects. You can imagine material objects as merged and blended as you want but in principle the constituents of the table were you put parts together, or a cocktail where you blend liquids together, or a metal alloy ,or even of an atom, the constituents of all those things can be separated out again in principle and can exist without there conception to their form or whole. The parts contain some independent, self contained identity of their own and therefore they have the ability to exist apart from the whole to which they belong. But the constituents or contents of a mind are not like that.

He applies this premise in various ways throughout the lecture.....

Edited by Plasmatic

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.

×