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Ayn Rand's official public notice

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This is a transcription of Miss Rand from her initial Columbia University radio broadcast from 11:00 to 16:35 minutes into the program.

I am addressing myself to those who are genuinely interested in ideas, and who therefore, have an authentic desire to understand Objectivism. Those who are making an effort to fail to understand me are not a concern of mine.

Please take the following as an official public notice: The only authentic sources of information about Objectivism are: my own works, the Objectivist Newsletter, a monthly journal dealing with the application of Objectivism to current cultural and political problems.

The above public notice is necessitated by the fact that most of such comments on Objectivism that I have seen in print consist of outright misrepresentations and smears. Some of the misrepresentations may be unintentional, some people find it difficult to grasp new ideas, let alone to summarize them correctly. But most of the misrepresentations are deliberate, since an attempt to ascribe to a writer the exact opposite of her ideas can hardly be attributed to an innocent error. There are many such attempts. Those who created them, deserve them.

If you do wish to understand Objectivism, the one helpful suggestion I can give you is this. Remember that the basic premises from which I speak are not the ones most people take uncritically for granted. It is precisely the basic premises of today’s culture that I challenge. Therefore, do not leap to conclusions and equate my viewpoint with somebody else’s, by assuming automatically that you have heard it before. You haven’t. For instance, do not equate my views with Nietzsche, or Herbert Spencer or Senator Goldwater. My views are not theirs and vice versa. So whether you choose to agree with me or disagree, do not set up a straw-woman. It is a futile procedure, which does not fool anyone except that man who attempts it.

If you wish to disagree with me, you have to start by identifying my basic premises, and then refuting them—if you can. You have to take me up on the issues. None of my antagonists have done it so far, and, I venture to say, none ever will. I say it because the whole case of the mystic-altruist-collectivist axis rests on the evasion of basic issues, on never identifying their own base.

Objectivism holds that:

A.) Men must be guided exclusively by reason.
B.) That man has a right to exist for his own sake. And
C.) That no-one has the right to initiate the use of physical force against others.

In order to refute this you would have to admit and maintain that:

A.) Man ought to be irrational.
B.) That man is a sacrificial animal. And
C.) That you seek to impose your own ideas or wishes on others by means of physical force.

This is what you would have to admit, and then attempt to prove that you have a right to. You see all three of these premises dominating our culture and being practiced all over the world today, but you do not hear anyone admitting it openly. Instead, you hear such things as:

A.) Rationality consists of recognizing that reason is impotent, or, an intellectual is one who denies the existence of the intellect.
B.) To enslave men is to act for their own good, or, to slaughter men by the millions is the proof of one’s love for humanity. And
C.) Freedom consists of obedience to the edicts of the government, or, to compel men to obey by means of physical force and violence constitutes a defense of liberty and entitles one to be called a liberal.

Ladies and gentlemen, I could almost rest the entire case for Objectivism on this kind of pronouncements by my antagonists. The fact that they find it necessary to evade in such manner is one of the clearest [and?] least attractive evidences of the fact that the truth is on the side of Objectivism.

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Hmm, she was very upset at being strawmanned and the refusal to engage with her actual ideas. I wonder how much this effected her outlook on the world. Interesting that Nietzsche and Spencer are almost always strawmanned anytime anyone reads anything about them also. I'm sure the same applies to Goldwater.

The second part is an incredibly powerful argument for individualism and challenge. Those three points are so powerful. Interesting that she says she could almost rest the whole case for objectivism on that, or the attempts to deny that.

I wonder though, why did she give her philosophy a name, and proclaim official sources. That just seems like a bad idea. There's what you say/wrote, and what you didn't. Isn't that enough/obvious? Just seems like it would've been much better for her to never have named it a proper noun and just responded to arguments as "here's what I believe/have written."

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26 minutes ago, 2046 said:

Hmm, she was very upset at being strawmanned and the refusal to engage with her actual ideas. I wonder how much this effected her outlook on the world.

I rather liked the straw-womanized attribution.

To delve a bit deeper. Is it that being straw-manned effected her world-view, or is it an identification of another delimited aspect of her world view that she is using to affect this sort of inflection?

41 minutes ago, 2046 said:

I wonder though, why did she give her philosophy a name, and proclaim official sources. That just seems like a bad idea.

Then I would have to wonder why I am thinking that for her to do so is not so much a bad idea as it is an attempt to divert or redirect the thinking toward what she had had to say at the time.

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8 hours ago, 2046 said:

I wonder though, why did she give her philosophy a name, and proclaim official sources

I've heard some proclaim that the basis of this was egoism, that as a creator she wanted spiritual recognition and ownership.  Of course full on altruists and mixed or sloppy thinkers have a field day with this... twisting it into some kind of childish need for approval or akin to a rotter's lust for fame. A kind of grasping Greed in a realm of academia which should remain pure and untrammelled by it.

In the beginning, unquestioning of the very basic premises Rand refers to, I remained confused... this doesn't sound like Rand.  That because it isn't Rand.

I think it is because of the very possible misrepresentations that she decided in order to both preserve the core philosophy and to defend what she actually thought that giving it a name was necessary and the most effective way to defend the ideas and her connection to them , and only them.

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16 hours ago, 2046 said:

Hmm, she was very upset at being strawmanned and the refusal to engage with her actual ideas. I wonder how much this effected her outlook on the world. Interesting that Nietzsche and Spencer are almost always strawmanned anytime anyone reads anything about them also. I'm sure the same applies to Goldwater.

I doubt it did much to her outlook. People get strawmanned all the time anyway, in all ways. Spencer is a caustic person and essentially a reactionary racist collectivist, but it doesn't warrant treating evil as something it's not. Or Goldwater is essentially good, it's just easier for people to say he had to be racist for opposing the Civil Rights Act. One way to stand against strawmans is to name your ideas and delimit them. Or for Nietzsche, he just said it would happen and that was that. 

The more radical a person's ideas (whether the ideas are right or wrong), the more the person is misunderstood..

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I don't know, I wonder if the reception AS got had a great effect on her. Reading some biographical accounts, they seem to concur that she felt immensely betrayed by how she thought her peers would react versus how they did. And then the misrepresentation, for example, the Whittaker Chambers book review where he egregiously calls her basically a Nazi, this all infuriated her and, and perhaps made her quite jaded in her later years. 

I remember reading some statement from Peikoff I think, where he says he and some of the Rand circle members honestly thought that many Americans would covert to objectivism in the wake of the publication of AS. Now he tempers that by saying he was young and naive about a lot of things, but I wonder if Rand thought this would happen on a wider scale than it did, and that this effected her outlook too. 

In any event, I suppose she also viewed objectivism as her creation and her intellectual property, and didn't like anyone claiming it. At other times she seems to be okay with calling someone who broadly agrees with her an objectivist. For example, in her private letters. Anyways seems unlikely that the misrepresentations had no effect.

Just a personal view here, but the more I read the history of philosophy, the stranger it seems to give your views a proper noun. Of course naming your ideas isn't weird, it's part of classyfing and identifying them, or providing a shorthand for them. But naming your ideas doesn't necessarily imply naming your whole philosophy one word. Delimiting them makes no sense. Words don't delimit them, reality and identity does. 

An interesting quip from Nietzsche, "there was only one Christian, and he died on the cross." (Something like that.)

As for Spencer, I think that's a horrible misreading of him. There is much reason to believe he was a humane and liberal thinker. He was not a eugenicist or racialist as his views on evolution were not norms for social systems but just statements on how biology works. And his "law of equal freedom" smashes any notion that he was a collectivist. Here is an account by libertarian Richard Peters. But I will leave this for another thread. 

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56 minutes ago, 2046 said:

I remember reading some statement from Peikoff I think, where he says he and some of the Rand circle members honestly thought that many Americans would covert to objectivism in the wake of the publication of AS. Now he tempers that by saying he was young and naive about a lot of things, but I wonder if Rand thought this would happen on a wider scale than it did, and that this effected her outlook too. 

From much of what I've gathered over the years, it has shaped a view of Rand as the consummate student of history. In addition to developing an understanding philosophy's role in shaping the courses of history, she had to readily recognize the time frames over which these influences developed. Her affinity for Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274), for instance, a catalyst for the industrial revolution (starting ~1760) or even The Enlightenment (starting ~1650) runs a span of 325-500 years.

I can imagine her thinking "what if", but tempering with "it would be nice, but not likely."

There is more merit in

1 hour ago, 2046 said:

she felt immensely betrayed by how she thought her peers would react versus how they did.

but she had the benefit of the reception of "The Fountainhead", which perhaps fueled her development of the "hatred of the good".

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2 hours ago, 2046 said:

I don't know, I wonder if the reception AS got had a great effect on her.

I assume that the sales of FH and AS was both a vindication and a  disappointment. 

Through introspection, we all know how it feels to grasp a complex subject, and then to explain it to someone in as lucid a way we can, and then feel... what?

If the other person's response shows that they completely get it, it feels really good. It gives us psychological visibility of being understood and a confirmation of our competence in putting our point across. And, we feel a kinsmanship that comes with the feeling that all's well if others can get this too... a bit of a "benevolent universe" affirmation".

OTOH, when people do not get it, despite our thinking that we were lucid, and when we see them evading our key points and arguing against strawmen, it's just the opposite feeling. Personally, I label a huge conceptual disconnect as a "epistemological chasm". It's the feeling that "I will never reach you" (and it can often be felt by both sides, not just one). That in itself, is a dent in the feeling of visibility and the feeling that world is a great place if others can "get it"! Adding obvious misrepresentation into the mix just makes it more depressing.

I expect Rand hoped that many more would see things her way if she really laid it out. After all the focus, integration and effort that went into AS, I expect she would have been disappointed seeing that Objectivism was still somewhat niche even years after publication. Still, she had the affirmation of great sales, and ardent students. So, I assume she would have felt that she'd done things right, and that some people do get it, but fewer than she'd hoped for.

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4 hours ago, 2046 said:

As for Spencer, I think that's a horrible misreading of him. There is much reason to believe he was a humane and liberal thinker. He was not a eugenicist or racialist as his views on evolution were not norms for social systems but just statements on how biology works. And his "law of equal freedom" smashes any notion that he was a collectivist. Here is an account by libertarian Richard Peters. But I will leave this for another thread. 

Lol, ignore that. Wrong Spencer. ^^

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2 hours ago, softwareNerd said:

I expect Rand hoped that many more would see things her way if she really laid it out. After all the focus, integration and effort that went into AS, I expect she would have been disappointed seeing that Objectivism was still somewhat niche even years after publication. Still, she had the affirmation of great sales, and ardent students. So, I assume she would have felt that she'd done things right, and that some people do get it, but fewer than she'd hoped for.

I know I've heard or read Piekoff talk about how Rand's group of close friends and acquaintances were deeply disappointed by the general reception of Atlas Shrugged, and that before its publication they had worked themselves up to believe that it would be something like a cultural silver bullet. I don't remember if he'd grouped Rand into that also, or what he said specifically about her reaction.

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Some of the sentiment about how Rand possibly viewed the reception of her work may be inferred from this take out of For The New Intellectual:

The best among the present intellectuals should consider the tremendous power which they are holding, but have never fully exercised or understood. If any man among them feels that he is the helpless, ineffectual stepson of a "materialistic'' culture that grants him neither wealth nor recognition, let him remember the meaning of his title: his power is his intellect not his feelings, emotions or intuitions.

Easily implied from this is the recognition the she had these feelings, emotions or intuitions, but deferred them to the intellect.

 

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10 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

What is true "for me" is not be what is true "for you",

is to Logic and Reality as

What objectivism is "to me"  is not what objectivism is "to you"

is to Objectivism.

I think there's an extraneous word in the first line, but that is stated more succinctly than how I've been struggling to articulate it.

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Quote

Please take the following as an official public notice: The only authentic sources of information about Objectivism are: my own works, the Objectivist Newsletter, a monthly journal dealing with the application of Objectivism to current cultural and political problems.

It should be noted that there are two fairly obvious edits in this portion of the recording.

In that section, AR was reading from her Los Angeles Times column from August 26, 1962. Here is how the published column read:

Quote

Please take the following as an official "Public Notice." The only authentic sources of information about Objectivism are:

My own works.

"Who Is Ayn Rand?" by Nathaniel Branden, a book recently published by Random House, which presents an analysis of my novels, from the aspects of ethics, psychology and literary method, with a biographical essay contributed by Barbara Branden.

The Objectivist Newsletter, a monthly journal dealing with the application of Objectivism to current cultural and political problems.

The lecture courses on Objectivism given by the Nathaniel Branden Institute in New York and many other cities — and the publications of that institute.

The lecture courses were organized by Mr. Branden in 1958, in response to the requests of my readers for a detailed, systematic presentation of my philosophy and for answers to specific questions.

The fall course on Basic Principles of Objectivism will begin in Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego in the first week of October. Mr. Branden will give the opening night's lecture in person. I suggest to those who wish to ask questions about Objectivism, that he is eminently qualified to answer them.

In The Ayn Rand Column book published by Second Renaissance Books, this section is omitted entirely, and replaced by a bracketed summary.

 

Edited by KevinD

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51 minutes ago, KevinD said:

It should be noted that there are two fairly obvious edits in this portion of the recording.

Thanks for filling in the blanks. I heard the hard edits in the audio track and thought the resulting sentence looks malformed. That explains it well enough for me.

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There were at least two more of these, one in The Objectivist Newsletter, by Branden, in the spring of 65 and one in The Objectivist, by Rand, at the time of the Great Kibosh, the latter noting that Branden's publications to date were OK but that they had no control over what he might say subsequently.

In the earlier one, Branden anathemized one of those let's-found-an-island groups, which was showing up at LA NBI to troll for recruits. When I moved to the area shortly thereafter I knew some people who had briefly gone along with it.

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I searched on a partial quote from the earlier omission, and they not come up in those sections on the CD. It is interesting to note that even after things have been edited, the historic sequence was able to be brought into light.

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On 9/10/2017 at 6:44 PM, dream_weaver said:

From much of what I've gathered over the years, it has shaped a view of Rand as the consummate student of history. In addition to developing an understanding philosophy's role in shaping the courses of history, she had to readily recognize the time frames over which these influences developed. Her affinity for Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274), for instance, a catalyst for the industrial revolution (starting ~1760) or even The Enlightenment (starting ~1650) runs a span of 325-500 years.

In a letter to Mrs. Chiles on March 31, 1962, Ms. Rand responded to expressed admiration of Atlas Shrugged with the acknowledgement that "[y]ou are the type of reader I hoped it would reach." Countering what I had written earlier, Ms. Rand wrapped up the letter with:

[Atlas Shrugged] will do its part to help counteract the kind of disgusting ideas expressed in the clipping you sent me. It took decades of collectivist philosophy to bring this country to its present state. And it is only the right philosophy that can save us. Ideas take time to spread, but we will not have to wait for decades—because reason and reality are on our side.

[Bold emphasis mine.]

An Automotive Analogy

In a world of minds developed (by education, etc.) to run on "regular fuel", the "premium fuel" Rand had researched and developed over the years doesn't damage such an engine. Automobiles designed to run on regular gasoline, can run just as well on premium. It is the vehicles that are designed to run on premium gasoline that can be damaged by trying to run on anything less than the 91 octane.

In Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, a lead to understanding this is given with children moving much beyond first-level concepts as:

Apart from the fact that the educational methods of most of his elders are such that, instead of helping him, they tend to cripple his further development, a child's own choice and motivation are crucial at this point. There are many different ways in which children proceed to learn new words thereafter. Some (a very small minority) proceed straight on, by the same method as before, i.e., by treating words as concepts, by requiring a clear, first-hand understanding (within the context of their knowledge) of the exact meaning of every word they learn, never allowing a break in the chain linking their concepts to the facts of reality.<ioe2 pgs. 20-21>

[Bold emphasis mine.]

This book was published in 1966. Per the automotive analogy, it is this very small minority that requires the premium octane in life.

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On 9/10/2017 at 7:37 PM, softwareNerd said:

Through introspection, we all know how it feels to grasp a complex subject, and then to explain it to someone in as lucid a way we can, and then feel... what?

If the other person's response shows that they completely get it, it feels really good. It gives us psychological visibility of being understood and a confirmation of our competence in putting our point across. And, we feel a kinsmanship that comes with the feeling that all's well if others can get this too... a bit of a "benevolent universe" affirmation".

"'... People didn't want to leave [afterwards]. They just stood there, talking about it - talking to strangers - smiling. It was so wonderful to feel, for once, that people aren't vicious, that one doesn't have to suspect them, that we have something good in common.'

This is the essence of a genuine feeling of human brotherhood: the brotherhood of values."

-Apollo and Dionysus by Ayn Rand

 

That's what I love about this place. :thumbsup:

 

On 9/10/2017 at 7:03 AM, StrictlyLogical said:

I've heard some proclaim that the basis of this was egoism, that as a creator she wanted spiritual recognition and ownership.

Like that passage when Rearden was walking home from pouring the first heat of his metal, feeling like he wanted to stand naked in front of the first stranger he could find and say "look at me!" 

I know I'd feel that way if I'd only ever done one-tenth of what she did.

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