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Eiuol

Objectivism and Political Action

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I think the main thing is just getting the word out about Objectivism to a wider audience. I understand wanting some means other than persuasion to deal with an irrational opponent, but if we are talking about having an impact on the culture, we are talking about mass communication, not about individual rational or irrational people. People have a variety of beliefs and values, so any communication that is heard by a large enough number of people will get some people interested.

For illustration, suppose you had a pro-Objectivist message that was heard by ten million people. Even if only one in a hundred people got interested in Objectivism due to the message, that's 100,000 people, which is equal to the entire current population of Objectivists by Yaron Brook's estimate. That would definitely have an impact on the culture.

So, I don't think we need "radical action," we just need to keep stating our case clearly to the widest possible audience.

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On 7/22/2016 at 5:34 PM, Eiuol said:

Compare that to a person totally wasted and drunk. You don't persuade them, you don't reason with them. You treat them accordingly.

 

Actually, I've composed a large portion of my OO posts while severely drunk and that didn't invalidate my ideas (which, after all, were also my sober ideas); it just made them harder to express. So I wouldn't compare drunkenness (or any other state of mind) to irrationality.

"A is A" means that A=A, regardless of the coherence of its speaker. It's a trivial point, but I suspect it may be a clue to something else.

 

On 7/13/2016 at 7:27 PM, DonAthos said:

It suggests cowardice to me, and an inability to compete with arguments or reason.

 

... Or uncertainty about the rightness of one's own convictions.

 

In "Ethics in Education" Rand observed that, if most adults truly considered childhood Romanticism unrealistic, they'd treat it the way we treat Santa Claus or cootie-outbreaks. When they scold, ridicule or punish a child for it, instead, they reveal their own self-doubt.

 

---

 

By what method would Howard Roark silence dissenting opinions?

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold
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45 minutes ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

In "Ethics in Education"* Rand observed that, if most adults truly considered childhood Romanticism unrealistic, they'd treat it the way we treat Santa Claus or cooties

*Art in Education

 

45 minutes ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

By what method would Howard Roark silence dissenting opinions?

"What do you think of Ellsworth Toohey?"

"Why should anyone ever think of Toohey?"

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"Actually, I've composed a large portion of my OO posts while severely drunk and that didn't invalidate my ideas (which, after all, were also my sober ideas); it just made them harder to express. So I wouldn't compare drunkenness (or any other state of mind) to irrationality. " -Harrison
Drinking severely affects your ability to think. Furthermore it severely impairs ability to reason. At best, you could only assemble what you already know like a parrot. Reasoning with a drunk person is a waste of time. My point isn't about whether the words are right. We're talking about ability to reason rationally, and all that goes with it. Communication goes out the window. My idea is that ignoring these people is best, but if they're going for political action as well, you must respond. Except, reasoning won't work, hence tactics that skip persuasion entirely.

Epist says there is no middle ground between persuasion and force. I don't see how that's the case. Although if being provocative is actually a form of persuasion, then yes, all I'm doing is expanding on persuasion to go past simply a well-formed argument or piece of writing. Whether it's just attention-seeking is a good point, but at least that means it's only a question of specific application. (What do you mean by RATM, Epist?)

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On 7/28/2016 at 6:53 PM, William O said:

I think the main thing is just getting the word out about Objectivism to a wider audience. I understand wanting some means other than persuasion to deal with an irrational opponent, but if we are talking about having an impact on the culture, we are talking about mass communication, not about individual rational or irrational people. People have a variety of beliefs and values, so any communication that is heard by a large enough number of people will get some people interested.

For illustration, suppose you had a pro-Objectivist message that was heard by ten million people. Even if only one in a hundred people got interested in Objectivism due to the message, that's 100,000 people, which is equal to the entire current population of Objectivists by Yaron Brook's estimate. That would definitely have an impact on the culture.

So, I don't think we need "radical action," we just need to keep stating our case clearly to the widest possible audience.

I don't even think this is accurate. This is what Obama thinks his biggest problem is: he just hasn't been able to communicate his message to these Republicans clearly. It's exactly the opposite, Republicans have been clear on what his message is for a long time, and they simply disagree with it. Same goes with Objectivism. I think what we really need is to answer people's reservations and disagreements convincingly, and then the ideas will sell themselves. People's feelings and passions follow from their prior thinking and judgments. On this principle, ask yourself, why did Rand's fiction sell so much better than her non-fiction - i.e. what was it in her thinking, in her philosophy, that was different in one medium vs. the other? I think we ought to be a lot more introspective on what it is we are even trying to sell in the first place. For example, why are there as many different positions on Objectivist metaethics as there are people writing on the subject? If the logic of Objectivist metaphysics/epistemology/ethics/politics has inconsistencies, and there are other philosophies that give more consistent answers, Objectivism is going to lose followers to those systems.

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14 hours ago, Eiuol said:

At best, you could only assemble what you already know like a parrot.

 

Really?

 

That's weird, considering all of the reasoning that I remember doing (analyzing arguments, following implications, drawing analogies, formulating arguments, correcting the mistakes of my drunken fingers, rearranging arguments, finding my cognitive mistakes and discarding the posts that asserted them, forming and integrating conclusions, et cetera). I clearly recall doing all of the work of a normal post while also compensating for my own impairment; simultaneously working on two problems (which is what made it fun).

 

If you can tell that none of that actually happened, from no evidence except the blood content of my alcohol system (without even knowing which of my posts were made thusly), then I must have some serious cognitive deficits.

Maybe I need to quit drinking.

:twisted:

14 hours ago, Eiuol said:

My point isn't about whether the words are right. We're talking about ability to reason rationally, and all that goes with it. Communication goes out the window.

If we're discussing people who truly cannot reason then, yes; communication, cooperation and even rights go out the window, at that point. That puts us right back at political-square-one.

However, what do you mean when you say that someone "cannot reason"? I think we either put such people onto life support or allow them die, depending on the wishes of their loved ones.

 

If what you actually mean are the sort of people who attend Trump rallies (or even neonazis) then it's not as cut and dry as you portray it; not even close.

 

I am not saying that your idea is just wrong. It's complicated, and I'm still trying to untangle it.

I am saying that if we're going to treat human beings like animals in the jungle then we'd better have a damn good reason.

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold
Extension

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On 7/23/2016 at 5:19 AM, Repairman said:

For example, let's take the matter of anti-mysticism as a desirable Objectivist social norm. If you were to shout down your religious opponents, or in anyway deny them their opportunity to speak their piece, you will only alienate and enrage them.

 

And worse:

You only try to silence ideas that you take seriously. Nobody has ever tried to outlaw Santa because, while it's false, it's also harmless. To legally gag an idea draws attention to it and makes it seem mysterious, exciting and very important; it puts that idea into bold italics, in the minds of your victims. Just look at the way Christians (particularly young ones) will insist that the very existence of the Devil is an obscenity before pouring into any movie theatre that's showing it.

For the alleged champions of reason to outlaw mysticism would be the worst thing we could ever do. If we all started blowing up schools and hospitals, by explicitly organized intention, it would do less damage to our cause than that would. It's suicidal.

 

On 7/23/2016 at 5:19 AM, Repairman said:

To the specifics of these ideals, I leave to those future generations.

Why?

 

While I disagree with a number of Eiuol's conclusions, he has one (implicit) premise which I truly cannot stress enough:

If this is our goal then we should try to find a way to achieve it for ourselves, here, on Earth; to Hell with "future generations" - you and I will not be there! 'The universe began when I was born and while I live it's mine to conquer', and all that.

 

Eiuol is absolutely right to look at it that way. I just don't know what we should do about it, concretely (that's the complicated part).

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Here are two of my issues with this fixation on the welfare of "the Objectivist movement":

 

Firstly, I don't believe that the nature of our government is actually the problem we're trying to solve. Sure, it's insufferable, but it's also predictable; the great thing about democracy is that you can see new legislation coming years or decades in advance; all it really means is that we'll have to work a little harder, to compensate for it. I'm taking a wild stab, here (based on nothing more than my own experiences), but I suspect that the real motive behind this thing is loneliness.

We are social animals; just not in the way that most people think. We're perfectly capable of surviving without each other and we usually work best when working alone (unlike bees or ants) but nobody wants to spend a lifetime in solitary confinement (not even Howard Roark or Ayn Rand, herself).

So I think that this desire to change the culture has less to do with any law than with the quality of the people that we have to deal with on a daily basis. And there's nothing wrong with that! In fact, it simplifies things enormously.

 

If all we're after is a community of our own then that's something we can accomplish here, on Earth, within our own lifetimes. We wouldn't have to change anybody's mind about anything.

 

Secondly, I don't think that changing people's minds is the right approach to this. We're acting like insurance salesmen and people can sense it, which ultimately makes it self-defeating.

There's an old saying: "when the student is ready, the master will appear" (and not before). Philosophy isn't something you can show to anyone who isn't interested; they have to make all the connections for themselves, which means that they have to have a good reason to. So we shouldn't be trying to bring our ideas to the world; we should simply be ready to share them with anyone who's interested.

I know how frustrating that sounds. After all, how many times in any of our lives will one of our acquaintances actually approach us about our own philosophy, and how many times will it "stick"?

 

However, as William O pointed out, there's no reason to limit ourselves to personal acquaintances when we have the internet. A message of "we're here to discuss the meaning of life, whenever you're interested" is a message that we could send pretty rapidly to billions of people, without sounding like salesmen.

 

I'm out of time but I'll post the rest soon.

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Harrison Danneskjold:

On 7/23/2016 at 5:19 AM, Repairman said:

If we are to ever witness an Objectivist victory over irrational mystic, collectivist, and socialist norms, it will be a victory achieved only after the establishment of a base of majority, consisting of people who believe in free-minds and free-markets. To the specifics of these ideals, I leave to those future generations.

 

 

On 8/2/2016 at 3:33 AM, Harrison Danneskjold said:

 

Why?

 

I hope this is merely a rhetorical question. I believe you and I, as well as most of the contributors to this thread would prefer to live in a world that frowns on irrational moral codes, but you'll forgive me for being realistic. We're a long way from that point. My application of Objectivist principles serves my needs, and if I were young enough, I might make a career of broadcasting rational values and promoting the virtue of rational egoism as a matter of self-fulfillment. I enjoy being right. Yet, no matter how hard I'd have worked at it, I wouldn't have changed the present state of politics in the US, and certainly not on the international stage, either. If I am to achieve and sustain my happiness, I must act within the perimeters of reality. At times, I feel like Henry Cameron, although I haven't been driven to drink. I have been driven to various forms of creativity, such as my writings on this forum.

I could make a case for ignoring the anti-individualist, anti-capitalist, anti-rationality voice of the masses so often represented in the politics of our times. But I wouldn't. Neither will I make a case for taking actions that cause needless destruction or fail to convey the right message, even contradict ideals of Objectivism. Under the belief that there is no such thing as a  collective consciousness, I can assume that there are more than a few young and independent minds that "get it," and that they may be the formation of a solid base upon which a rational society might develop. It really is up to that future generation. Until then, one's moral code is a matter for the present-day individual.

On 8/2/2016 at 3:33 AM, Harrison Danneskjold said:

 I just don't know what we should do about it, concretely (that's the complicated part).

No one ever said it was going to be easy.

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On 8/1/2016 at 11:44 AM, Eiuol said:

Drinking severely affects your ability to think. . . At best, you could only assemble what you already know like a parrot.

I am drinking to this. You may judge for yourself whether the results qualify as "reasoning".*

 

11 hours ago, Repairman said:

I believe you and I, as well as most of the contributors to this thread would prefer to live in a world that frowns on irrational moral codes, but you'll forgive me for being realistic. We're a long way from that point.

While we all live amongst irrational people, it doesn't follow that the only way for us to live in that world is to do something about them. "We" aren't far from that point; they are.**

This whole thing assumes that we're essentially shackled to these people and forced to share in whatever fate they bring upon themselves. Although it seems like a safe assumption, it also seems like a Kobayashi Maru (which I consider sufficient grounds to question it).***

And if it's not possible for any of us to live in that world then neither is it really worth thinking or talking about. The unreal is unreal and can be of no value.

 

* Tipsy @ 11:45 PM

** Unable to remain upright & stationary @ 12:10 PM

*** Unable to feel face @ 12:50 PM

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Third point:

 

Was Isaac Newton an Objectivist? How about Robert Heinlein, Elon Musk or Avicii?

Although these people may never have heard of Ayn Rand before, I would argue that they've lived their lives by the very ideals she advocated. To borrow a concept from the Mormons, they are "closet Objectivists"; people who are essentially Objectivist already, in their souls, and only need to learn the words for it.

 

They're the people we should direct these efforts towards.

 

And there are plenty of such people in the world. The only real question is how to efficiently find them.

 

P.S:

 

D.Q. McInerny was another closet-Oist. He's commonly described as a Scholasticist, but if you read his book "Being Logical" it's all there. He even described the Vietnam War as "Operation Pure Altruism", which is a dead giveaway.

 

You can find these people if you're paying attention.

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold
PostScript

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32 minutes ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

You can find these people if you're paying attention.

Speaking of which...

 

Sometimes I like to listen to Republican talk shows and over the course of the past year (as far back as last November) I've heard them using certain terms with steadily increasing frequency. Things like "moral authority" and "psycho-epistemology", which they could only have picked up from one place.

This does not mean that Rush Limbaugh could be a closet-Objectivist. Since he's still making the same arguments he always has (with the addition of some new phrases) that would be the wrong conclusion to draw.

 

What it does tell me is what today's intellectuals are reading and thinking about, behind closed doors (at least since November).

 

It's another small step forward.

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Harrison, I really don't know what you're trying to say. It is quite rambly and now you're talking about who are people that are essentially Objectivist. I'll chalk it up to you "posting while drunk" and not bother to respond to you more.

I hope readers/posters recognize the difference between persuading people of ideas, and political action. They're related, but not identical. It is important to recognize that there are people who are fundamentally irrational that are an imminent threat to your well-being on a political level. Someone rambling on that vaccines cause autism and is totally dead-set against rational thought, but if they to take action, ignoring it will fail. Persuading -those- people will fail. It'd be smart to still persuade the rational anti-vaxxers (those who are mistaken as opposed to evasive), but the irrational ones are still there, actually impacting the world.

But I still find it interesting no one yet responded about reflective equilibrium... If persuasion is always sufficient for effecting political change (I don't classify provocative behavior as persuasion), then it needs to be defended on epistemic grounds.

 

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On 8/1/2016 at 0:57 PM, epistemologue said:

I don't even think this is accurate. This is what Obama thinks his biggest problem is: he just hasn't been able to communicate his message to these Republicans clearly. It's exactly the opposite, Republicans have been clear on what his message is for a long time, and they simply disagree with it.

Which Republicans are you referring to? I doubt that the typical Republican has any real interest in politics or understanding of Obama's worldview. Most people are registered to some political party or other, but that doesn't mean they have a coherent ideology that is consistent with their party's platform.

Quote

Same goes with Objectivism. I think what we really need is to answer people's reservations and disagreements convincingly, and then the ideas will sell themselves. People's feelings and passions follow from their prior thinking and judgments.

I doubt that most people know what Objectivism says, although they may have heard of it or Ayn Rand at some point. The way to settle this would be to do a study on people's knowledge of Objectivism - I wonder if anything like that has been attempted. At any rate, we do have studies showing that mass communication has a significant influence on public opinion. For example, a politician who starts advertising more loudly will start doing better in the polls.

Another issue is that media coverage has a very strong influence on what people will think about. It doesn't force people to draw one conclusion rather than another, but it does cause them to think about one issue rather than another. If Objectivism started getting more coverage in the media, then people would certainly be talking about it more.

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38 minutes ago, William O said:

I doubt that most people know what Objectivism says, although they may have heard of it or Ayn Rand at some point. The way to settle this would be to do a study on people's knowledge of Objectivism - I wonder if anything like that has been attempted.

My own studies have been highly informal -- mainly just "ordinary" conversation -- but I've drawn some conclusions nonetheless:

I think that most people who know something about Rand/Objectivism, beyond that she was the author of The Fountainhead but yet not a great deal (and who usually call her "Anne" and believe her philosophy is "Randism," or similar), believe that she was primarily a political philosopher who advocated financial success above everything else, and as a barometer of virtue. They believe that she advocated for the kind of "selfishness" whereby you screw everyone else over (that this might, in fact, sweeten resultant success for its own sake), and that ideally you live isolated and miserly and miserable. The exemplars for this ideal might be Ebeneezer Scrooge... or our very own Donald Trump.

Objectivists, or "Randists"/"fans of Rand," are considered akin to Scientologists. Unreasonable and zealous, drawn to the "philosophy" (which is held to be unacademic, and not true philosophy) due to their own immature feelings of personal superiority and specialness -- but that this is often a temporary phase, a college-age conceit, to be outgrown in the face of a more complicated reality than the "simple" and "naive" Objectivism is believed to support. Objectivists are held to be narcissistic assholes, exceedingly unpleasant to deal with on any level.

Edited to add: my own life and experiences have kept me mainly in circles frequented by folks on the left end of the political spectrum; I don't know whether the above characterization holds for those coming from the right.

Edited by DonAthos

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2 minutes ago, DonAthos said:

My own studies have been highly informal -- mainly just "ordinary" conversation -- but I've drawn some conclusions nonetheless:

I think that most people who know something about Rand/Objectivism, beyond that she was the author of The Fountainhead but yet not a great deal (and who usually call her "Anne" and believe her philosophy is "Randism," or similar), believe that she was primarily a political philosopher who advocated financial success above everything else, and as a barometer of virtue. They believe that she advocated for the kind of "selfishness" whereby you screw everyone else over (that this might, in fact, sweeten resultant success for its own sake), and that ideally you live isolated and miserly and miserable. The exemplars for this ideal might be Ebeneezer Scrooge... or our very own Donald Trump.

Objectivists, or "Randists"/"fans of Rand," are considered akin to Scientologists. Unreasonable and zealous, drawn to the "philosophy" (which is held to be unacademic, and not true philosophy) due to their own immature feelings of personal superiority and specialness -- but that this is often a temporary phase, a college-age conceit, to be outgrown in the face of a more complicated reality than the "simple" and "naive" Objectivism is believed to support. Objectivists are held to be narcissistic assholes, exceedingly unpleasant to deal with on any level.

That has been my experience as well. Probably it would do a lot of good to simply clear up all of the major misconceptions about Objectivism, even before getting to the substantial philosophical arguments.

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19 minutes ago, William O said:

That has been my experience as well. Probably it would do a lot of good to simply clear up all of the major misconceptions about Objectivism, even before getting to the substantial philosophical arguments.

I couldn't disagree more. The only reason those misconceptions have any life is that nobody is actually sold on the consistency of the substantive philosophy itself.

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6 minutes ago, epistemologue said:

I couldn't disagree more. The only reason those misconceptions have any life is that nobody is actually sold on the consistency of the substantive philosophy itself.

What is your evidence for this?

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43 minutes ago, William O said:

What is your evidence for this?

Why hasn't there already been a mass-marketing of Objectivism by Objectivists? There's a lack of funds, passion, people behind it - ultimately there's a lack of value, which can only be attributed to a lack of conviction. 

This is how people work: their passion is driven by their value judgments and their thinking - ultimately by the consistency of their philosophical premises. To the extent premises are mixed there's going to be a lack of conviction, valuation, passion, and especially an inability to convince others. 

What's worse, people who feel convinced but are unable to rationally defend themselves end up getting defensive, coming across as either pretentious, mean, or what have you. Even if they don't get defensive, when their defense of their ideas is weak, that inherently belittles the movement as well. This weakness and defensiveness, and ultimately the inherent inconsistency in the ideas, is what gives life to superficial misconceptions, negative connotations, mockery, and the like. 

For example, look at the ARI's relationship with David Kelley. Or the minarchism vs. anarchism debate. Or their attitude toward conservatives and Christians.

One of the deepest issues originates in Objectivist metaethics. The Objectivist justification of morality tends towards a consequentialist pursuit of happiness, given the outraged rejection of deontology, and the embrace of "flourishing" and "optional values" as exemplified by Tara Smith's Viable Values. But Objectivists are characteristically mixed, denying they are consequentialist, yet holding consequentialist premises inconsistently. 

Given these mixed messages, it's no wonder people are hearing inconsistency, and are trying to figure out where Objectivists "really" come down - and they identify correctly it's with consequentialists. Given the unprincipled nature of that ethical system, and the embrace of egoism, the only logical conclusion is to assume Objectivists are the brutish egotists they deny they really are. And if you look at responses to lifeboat situations, you often find that conclusion is actually true. They are often willing to agree that it's morally necessary to murder, steal, lie, and so on, if the situation requires it for their survival. People can see pretty intuitively the inconsistency, and which side Objectivists will fall on if they are pushed. 
 

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3 hours ago, epistemologue said:

Why hasn't there already been a mass-marketing of Objectivism by Objectivists? There's a lack of funds, passion, people behind it - ultimately there's a lack of value, which can only be attributed to a lack of conviction.

An interesting question, and you've provided an equally interesting answer... though one I'm disinclined to agree with. I don't find "lack of conviction" to be among the chief sins of the Objectivists I meet. Rather, right or wrong on any point, this side or the other of any given argument, Objectivists usually strike me as nearly defined by their unwavering conviction in their own correctness. (Rand's aphorism to "check one's premises" is one of her least heeded, I fear.) I further think that most Objectivists believe that correct philosophy -- the philosophy of Ayn Rand -- is precisely what's needed to cure the world of its ills. (And in this, I agree, though I also agree with you that there are some issues, such as the metaethics you site, which could certainly stand more discussion and elaboration.)

So what alternative solution would I offer to your question? I think it's a host of things which have come together, unfortunately, to rob the "Objectivist movement" of both its vitality and efficacy.

I think that Objectivists are often persuaded that the world is steeped in immorality, and that this robs some of the motivation to attempt to change it. We seem to focus on the negative a lot (in fairness, there is a lot of negative out there, and it seems to be growing of late): bad philosophy, bad culture, etc., while ignoring that most of the world manages to do the things required of our nature to live and succeed. Thus we find, in discussions such as these, regular talk about "irrational people" -- as in those who cannot be reasoned with at all, who have passed the persuasive event horizon -- as though such creatures could do what the vast majority of humans actually do, or even survive. The vast majority of human activity seems to speak towards an idea that people are fundamentally motivated by reason, even when their explicitly held beliefs are in error, and yet we give up on those people very quickly, or our own ability to persuade them.

There seems to be a belief (whether stated directly anywhere or just floating in the aether, I don't know) that the majority of the world's worthy souls will somehow find Ayn Rand and come to Objectivist belief on their own. (For after all, we made it -- and Rand's books are still out there, so what further excuse could there be?) And those who do not adopt Objectivism by some point in their lives have shown themselves to be insensible to it, and have chosen evil or irreason on some fundamental level, crossing a bridge which cannot thereafter be recrossed. And then, outreach is further complicated by the latter-day doctrine of sanction, whereby one's association with certain groups (even in an effort to argue/evangelize) is proof of immorality, and deserving of censure or worse. Instead of taking on the world head-on, then, a lot of our outward-focused passion is devoted to criticizing one another, to schisms and excommunications and shunning, and so forth, much, I believe, to our detriment.

Rand's eschewing of traditional paths for expressing her views, in philosophy and academia, may have had its advantages, but I suspect it may also have come at a price. I know that there have been some efforts over the last few years, but I still think Objectivism is mostly on the outside looking in when it comes to being given serious consideration in those circles... which is quite amazing, really, given Rand's cultural impact through her novels, and the lip service (at least) given her by modern political figures and movements.

Finally, of all of the false beliefs people have about Rand, Objectivsm, and Objectivists, the idea that many Objectivists are... somewhat unpleasant... well, I don't think that's a myth, exactly. It has been my own personal education over the last several years, and become something of my mission on this site, to insist that the means by which we argue and persuade, generally, matters. It matters to be polite and kind and diplomatic. (Are there uses for other, less politic modes? Perhaps so, at times. But I believe that persuasive efforts are typically enhanced by a reasonable and friendly demeanor, for understandable and defensible reasons.) What I find interesting is that this idea is often met with dismissal (in that such things do not matter; only the truth of one's assertions matters), suspicion or even outright hostility. Being undiplomatic, or even rude to the point of insult, is perhaps seen as somehow more honest... even if it retards our efforts to spread the ideas which we believe are true.

Consider this site, this forum, and a person who is intrigued by Objectivism, but not yet convinced, and comes to the site with questions which truly conflict him, and possibly even unresolved disagreements (some of which may be half-formed, or poorly understood). In my experience, he is almost bound to find -- not welcome, camaraderie, argument in fellowship, and friendly guidance -- but scorn and abuse and dismissal. His philosophical missteps are apt to be held up as proof of some sort of hidden immorality. His very motivation for coming here, for posing his questions or his arguments, are like to be called into question.

In sum, I believe that Objectivst outreach is poor, not because we are weak in our central convictions regarding the truth of reality, or reason, or rational self-interest, or proscribing the initiation of force, or etc., but because we do not much believe in outreach, and even at those times and places where we try, we're not very good at it, and we don't give much thought to any need for improvement, because the very existence of Atlas Shrugged seems to be -- for many Objectivists, at least -- the only outreach that should ever be necessary.

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6 hours ago, epistemologue said:

Why hasn't there already been a mass-marketing of Objectivism by Objectivists? There's a lack of funds, passion, people behind it - ultimately there's a lack of value, which can only be attributed to a lack of conviction. 

Relative size: By what standard do you say there's a lack of funds, passion and people? By what standard do you say there has not been mass-marketing? Is it a standard of absolute quantity or a standard of quantity per existing Objectivist? 

Conversion required: One cannot compare Objectivism to "causes" that are already accepted by large groups in society. People are born into their religion, or pick up secular altruism or environmentalism from almost everyone around them. When they give to those causes, it does not take conversion. It is more about people seeking a purpose in their donations. Apples-to-apples, one would need to compare Objectivism with a movement that needs a serious conversion first. 

Mass-marketing: With these two as the context, my sense is that Objectivism has had a huge amount of mass-marketing in the form of awareness of Rand, and the sale of her books. Add to this the hundreds of thousands of free books that ARI has given out free, via high-school teachers. Then, there are the essay contests, and college lectures. 

In absolute terms, the money donated to Objectivism-related institutions may not be huge but if you look at it relative to the size of the group donating, I'd assume it has been in the upper-quartile. Among the donors, you have a few extremely rich people, giving large amounts. Some people have written ARI into their wills.

Then vs. Now: I'm not sure how things have changed. I get the sense that many Objectivists who have been around for a while, and who have seen and supported various marketing efforts, have become disillusioned by the prospects of near-term success. One could argue that the funds have been ill spent; but, I don't think this is the reason. I think most Objectivists have thought about what is and also about what could be. I think they're less optimistic than (say)  two decades ago. They don't think  they will see -- within a few more decades -- a significant change in the average philosophy of the average person. 

Anecdotal evidence suggests that Objectivists may have shifted to more of a focus on their own happiness even under the assumption that the world won't change radically. A psychologist once said that people can waste their lives "waiting for Santa Claus". If you know he ain't comin' you might shift to plan B and end up being more productive.

Perhaps the efforts have not really slackened; but, if they have, it has not been from a lack of trying. 

 

Edited by softwareNerd

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All quotes are from Epist.

"ultimately there's a lack of value, which can only be attributed to a lack of conviction.  "
Yes, passions are driven by value judgments and thinking, but it doesn't follow that passions stem from actual consistencies. Passion is more about one's perceived consistencies. There are wildly inconsistent people who are wildly passionate, and wildly unable to convince others. See Alex Jones.

"What's worse, people who feel convinced but are unable to rationally defend themselves end up getting defensive, coming across as either pretentious, mean, or what have you."
Citation needed. As far as I see, defensiveness may easily be about perceived social standing among peers. People will get defensive at times to let emotion get the best of them, regardless of a rational defense. It's not only from not wanting to be wrong.

"The Objectivist justification of morality tends towards a consequentialist pursuit of happiness, given the outraged rejection of deontology, and the embrace of "flourishing" and "optional values" as exemplified by Tara Smith's Viable Values. "
1) Sounds like you think moral justifications are ONLY consequentialist or deontologist.

2) Your definition of deontology is atypical and peculiar, I know this from talking with you about it on numerous occasions.

3) Even if you're right, talk of flourishing is as consistent as it gets and follows ancient Greek and Roman philosophy. Hardly philosophies lacking conviction. Rand is more like them than post-Hume philosophers.  

"People can see pretty intuitively the inconsistency, and which side Objectivists will fall on if they are pushed. "
You are missing everything about cognitive biases, resistance to change, and resistance to ideas outside the norm. The truthiness of an idea has no bearing on it's truth. Regarding lifeboat scenarios, the argument would be that "morally necessary" would be wrong - there'd be no way to find any answer. Even if you say this is incorrect, it's still internally consistent for Objectivism. 

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On 8/4/2016 at 2:47 PM, Eiuol said:

Harrison, I really don't know what you're trying to say. It is quite rambly and now you're talking about who are people that are essentially Objectivist. I'll chalk it up to you "posting while drunk" and not bother to respond to you more.

OK. For the record:

 

I am neither comfortable with proselytization nor renunciation. Both smell like church, to me. I don't think either side of this debate is correct (although I've seen substantial progress being made, over the course of this thread).

 

I've explained why we must respect the sanctity of communication and why it cannot simply be impossible, except for the braindead. I've explained why I sympathize with your misguided goal (renunciation isn't in me) and thrown out a few points that I think might yield further progress towards a correct answer.

 

I did ramble, but I hope that clears it up.

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On 8/5/2016 at 0:52 PM, DonAthos said:

[My] own life and experiences have kept me mainly in circles frequented by folks on the left end of the political spectrum; I don't know whether the above characterization holds for those coming from the right.

Yes on the arrogance and immaturity, but not so much the greed. Their fears are non-material.

They see us more like Daleks; soulless monsters who won't rest until they've exterminated all Christians.

 

This is why attempting to convert people will backfire (if we do so in earnest) and why silencing them would be the worst thing we could possibly do.

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold
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On 8/5/2016 at 8:25 PM, softwareNerd said:

With these two as the context, my sense is that Objectivism has had a huge amount of mass-marketing in the form of awareness of Rand, and the sale of her books. Add to this the hundreds of thousands of free books that ARI has given out free, via high-school teachers. Then, there are the essay contests, and college lectures.

Yep.

 

I've been comparing it to the births of Christianity, Buddhism, et cetera. Each of those philosophies spent at least a few centuries with a handful of adherents living in secrecy. Islam is the exception, of course, because it was born with a sword in its hand. 'He who lives by the sword shall die by the sword', though...

Anyway. By that standard, Objectivism has already broken every historical precedent. I mean - Rand died around the same time I was born, and around 300 million people already know her name. Every other moralist combined wouldn't even come remotely close to that.

 

On 8/5/2016 at 0:56 PM, William O said:

Probably it would do a lot of good to simply clear up all of the major misconceptions about Objectivism, even before getting to the substantial philosophical arguments.

Exactly. We need to get people talking about it (not its caricature, but the actual philosophy). That's how all the dominant philosophies of today became dominant.

 

We can't use their methods, though. We can't threaten people with violence or send missionaries to their doorstep; just as new materials require new shapes and forms, so do new philosophies. We have to spread our ideas in our own way.

The Atlas Shrugged movies and the YouTube channel 'Yaron Answers' are exactly the sort of thing we need (to get people initially interested in Rand's literature); we just need more of it.

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