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The Wright Women: “Loving Frank”, an Architect of Modernity

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The Wright Women: “Loving Frank”, an Architect of Modernity

After spending an afternoon reading many of the articles written by Doug "Uncola" Lynn, this framed his compartmentalized approach.

Most of the article deals with history lessons and facts painted to support what came across as rather disparaging views. It becomes clear when he focus' his microscope directly on Miss Rand.

Rand, on the other hand, was an evangelical atheist and architect behind the Theory of Objectivism:

My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.

An evangelical atheist? It is true, she did not believe in a supernatural. She also indicated that you could not fight against a negative or the non-existent void, rather one need to identify and fight for the positive values that exist.

Couching the philosophy of Objectivism as a theory sets the stage for returning to it a couple of paragraphs later.

To Ayn Rand, philosophy was religion, the “whole” of her life and the foundation of her ideology rested upon the twin pillars of “egoism”, or the morality of self-interest, and “reason” as applied to the productivity, independence, integrity, honesty, justice and pride of mankind.

Even among more secular critics, the desire to whitewash philosophy as religion is not uncommon. This puts all ideas, from Kant to Plato and every other variant on equal footing, the ideas are out there. What is it that you want to believe? Or putting it in the more familiar terms of William James: "You can say of (an idea) either that 'it is useful because it is true' or that 'it is true because it is useful.'  Both of these phrases mean exactly the same thing."

Failing to understand Rand's distinction between the metaphysical and the man-made, the "Uncola" (7-Up?) cuts his small corner of reality in the following:

Rand, in her appreciation of mankind’s achievements, fails to acknowledge the same sort of design as evidenced in the Universe including the seemingly engineered and mechanized configurations of our solar system and the cohesive design of the human body. In her “Objectivist” description of “morality” as “adherence to the values that sustain Man’s life”, Rand fails to recognize the prime mover behind the same morality inherent to the natural world. She embraced the skeleton of mankind’s corporal entity while, at the same time, ignoring the sinew, the muscle and the flesh of that which breathes life into man’s existence.

Those who relate to the small cut slashed off in this obscure corner of reality, may or may not add to it the corner they slashed off which drew them to it. The conspiracy theory offered in Galt's Speech is apt. Only the degree of complexity and the often tortuous circumlocutions serve as a sort of gauze covering the many small wounds.

 

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30 minutes ago, dream_weaver said:

This puts all ideas, from Kant to Plato and every other variant on equal footing, the ideas are out there. What is it that you want to believe? Or putting it in the more familiar terms of William James: "You can say of (an idea) either that 'it is useful because it is true' or that 'it is true because it is useful.'  Both of these phrases mean exactly the same thing."

From p. 191 of ITOE:

AR:  What is the distinction between the practical and the theoretical?  That's a distinction which I do not recognize.  "Practical" means acting in this world, in reality.  If what we do works, how is that possible if it does not correspond to reality?

Truth is the identification of a fact of reality.  How can something be true and not be a fact of reality?  How can something be a fact of reality and not be true?

 

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8 hours ago, New Buddha said:

From p. 191 of ITOE:

AR:  What is the distinction between the practical and the theoretical?  That's a distinction which I do not recognize.  "Practical" means acting in this world, in reality.  If what we do works, how is that possible if it does not correspond to reality?

Truth is the identification of a fact of reality.  How can something be true and not be a fact of reality?  How can something be a fact of reality and not be true?

 

This is correct.

Now we see in full clarity the contrast between Rand and James, it is no less than the stark difference between "fact of reality" (which is absolute, metaphysical, objective) versus "useful" (which is arbitrary and almost always subjective: useful to whom and for what?  by what standard? according to what ethics based on "the good" according to what standard?)

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4 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

This is correct.

Now we see in full clarity the contrast between Rand and James, it is no less than the stark difference between "fact of reality" (which is absolute, metaphysical, objective) versus "useful" (which is arbitrary and almost always subjective: useful to whom and for what?  by what standard? according to what ethics based on "the good" according to what standard?)

 

The term Pragmatism was coined by C.S. Peirce in 1878 from the same Greek word that we get the words "practical" and "practice."  If all you ever do is look up the word "pragmatic" in the dictionary you will get the following type of definition: "Dealing with things sensibly and realistically in a way that is based on practical rather than theoretical considerations."

The term "useful" in James' quote means to "physically put an idea to work in practice, in reality."  For both Rand and James' this is the only purpose of knowledge and it is by putting our ideas to work, whether building bridges or governments, that we validate them.

With regards to what is in bold above, "subjective ideas" do not exist.  Or to be more precise, they only exist as figments in your mind and their flaws become apparent once you try to put them to work in practice.  Subjective ideas are only ever an option so long as you choose to never act on them.

From p. 1 of the ITOE:

"All knowledge is in terms of concepts.  If these concepts correspond to something that is to be found in reality they are real and man's knowledge has a foundation in fact; if they do not correspond to anything in reality they are not real and man's knowledge is of mere figments of his own imagination." (Edward C. Moore, Amercian Pragmatism: Peirce, James, & Dewey, New York: Columbia University Press, 1961, p. 27.)

This also applies to normative concepts.  Think of it this way.

You can say of our idea "Capitalism" that it is moral because it is useful (works) or that it is useful (works) because it is moral.  Both of these phrases mean exactly the same thing. - New Buddha :thumbsup:

Even after it became apparent to the Socialists that Socialism does not "work" it's continued justification by them was changed to something like, "While Socialism doesn't work as well as Capitalism, it is morally superior to Capitalism."  The Rationalism which lies at the root of Socialism allows for such contradictions to exist.  Reality does not.  There is no dichotomy between the moral and the practical.

Edited by New Buddha

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Are you claiming the term "useful" is not affected by the different standards in ethics, such as utilitarianism - greatest "good" for the greatest number of people versus rational egoism? 

How would a pragmatic Utilitarian approach a political and/or ethical question versus a so called "pragmatic" Objectivist or rational egoist?  Aren't the approaches radically different?  I would say yes, and one is based on subjective aims, based on a subjective morality.

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11 minutes ago, StrictlyLogical said:

How would a pragmatic Utilitarian approach a political and/or ethical question versus a so called "pragmatic" Objectivist or rational egoist?  Aren't the approaches radically different?  I would say yes, and one is based on subjective aims, based on a subjective morality.

You are using the term "pragmatic" incorrectly (the dictionary definition) as I noted in the above post (and re-quote below).

3 hours ago, New Buddha said:

If all you ever do is look up the word "pragmatic" in the dictionary you will get the following type of definition: "Dealing with things sensibly and realistically in a way that is based on practical rather than theoretical considerations

If a person only looked up the term "objective" in the dictionary would that mean he understands Objectivism?  No, of course not.  So it would be non-sequitur for that person to then ask you to explain, "How would an 'Objectivist Utilitarian' approach such and such.

A strong case can be made that Objectivist Epistemology was very much influenced by James' 1890 monumental work, The Principles of Psychology -- if not so much the finer points of his philosophy, Pragmatism.  It's no accident that the ITOE just happens to contain the above reference.

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Miss Rand considered the word "selfishness" worthwhile to use, even though it tended to antagonize folk.

Is the dictionary definition likely to reclaim the term from the observations that led to the lexicon's entry of pragmatism? Is citing portions of Rand that can be bent to support some points while disregarding portions that tend not to a pragmatic approach?

Edited by dream_weaver

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41 minutes ago, dream_weaver said:

Is the dictionary definition likely to reclaim the term from the observations that led to the lexicon's entry of pragmatism? Is citing portions of Rand that can be bent to support some points while disregarding portions that tend not to a pragmatic approach?

Whether I've presented Pragmatism accurately, or the Lexicon entry has, is something you will have to validate for yourself.

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From ITOE:

23 hours ago, New Buddha said:

AR:  What is the distinction between the practical and the theoretical?  That's a distinction which I do not recognize.

From the dictionary definition:

11 hours ago, New Buddha said:

"Dealing with things sensibly and realistically in a way that is based on practical rather than theoretical considerations."

Why does there exist an expression about 'rolling out the red carpet'? Why not a bluish-green carpet, or some other color? Why does it have to be read[sic?]

2 hours ago, New Buddha said:

Whether I've presented Pragmatism accurately, or the Lexicon entry has, is something you will have to validate for yourself.

There seems to be some difficulty bending the first AR quote into the same shape of the provided dictionary definition. You have presented Pragmatism quite accurately. So has the Lexicon.

Edited by dream_weaver

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In light of having segued down the theory-practice dichotomy, it seemed prudent to go back and reconsider the evidence. From what was quoted, the source and fuller extent was:

As to this last: "In 1934, she wrote a letter to thank an actor she did not know, whose performance onstage "gave me, for a few hours, a spark of what man could be, but isn't .... The word heroic does not quite express what I mean."

You see, I am an atheist and I have only one religion: the sublime in human nature. There is nothing to approach the sanctity of the highest type of man possible and there is nothing that gives me the same reverent feeling, the feeling when one’s spirit wants to kneel, bareheaded. Do not call it hero-worship, because it is more than that. It is a kind of strange and improbable white heat where admiration becomes religion, and religion becomes philosophy, and philosophy — the whole of one’s life.

Admiration is a subset of religion, religion a subset of philosophy, and philosophy the subsumption of one's life.

To Ayn Rand, philosophy was religion, the “whole” of her life ....

This would be an inversion of the relationship between philosophy and religion, and a subsequent insertion of that inversion as the whole of her life. In his next paragraph he compounds his error.

It seems Rand venerated the anima mundi behind the innovators advancing the Industrial Revolution yet she failed to properly attribute the prior and supplemental influence underlying the European Renaissance and Protestant Reformation; as well as the previous contributions of instrumental men of faith, like Isaac Newton, to its outgrowth.

What Miss Rand venerated was the fact that the innovators advanced the Industrial Revolution, not because of faith. Such men were instrumental in spite their faith, paying homage to reason, where reason was due. In the church I attended while growing up, the minister admonished the "Sunday Christians" who would put their "Sunday" face on to attend church, but Monday morning, resumed their swearing, drinking,  and rubbing elbows with their fellow man.

In his exhortation that "Rand fails to recognize the prime mover", the author implicitly counts on his audience's familiarity with Aristotle and knowledge of Rand's familiarity with the same, to undermine a "morality inherent to the natural world." The implication is that morality stems from a creator. The Objective Standard recently published an article entitled Secular, Objective Morality: Look and See. The author, Craig Biddle steps through how morality is inherent in the facts identified by looking out and seeing the natural world at our disposal. And on this note, I still stand by my identification of "those who seek to cut just one small corner of reality and are drawn, by feeling, to all the others who are busy cutting other corners" conclusion.

So in conclusion, it was not the theory-practice dichotomy here, rather it was the gulf that separated faith and reason that the bridge constructed failed to divide.

 

Edited by dream_weaver

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