Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum
Sign in to follow this  
Azrael Rand

The Case for Open Objectivism

Rate this topic

Recommended Posts

Hi,

Originally posted this article on my minds page earlier today: https://www.minds.com/AzraelRand

Quote

The Case for Open Objectivism

Before many of us even came to know and appreciate Objectivism, the movement had already been split into two factions: Those who believe that Objectivism should be viewed as a closed system, upholding the view that the philosophy as created and left by Ayn Rand is complete and does not require amending, and the other faction that believes that Objectivism ought to be viewed as an open system that requires amending in order to be considered complete. Both factions agree that Objectivism is the one and only true and moral philosophy required for mankind but they do not agree on whether or not it should be open to changes. This text makes the argument in favor of the Open Objectivist viewpoint and begins the process of examining the resulting logical and moral implications.

Ayn Rand designed Objectivism to be the one and only philosophy required for mankind to live a moral and fulfilling life on earth. How? By acknowledging objective reality as the one and only moral standard required to guide one's life and by creating a philosophy that was aligned with and in harmony with human nature. The idea behind Objectivism is quite brilliant and is likely why many of us have made it our own philosophy. In theory, if one had a perfect understanding of objective reality, they would be able to live the most fulfilling life possible within the constraints of objective reality. Of course practice and theory don't always perfectly overlap with one another as we all have come to experience firsthand. The great arbiter between these two entities is objective reality. Reality decides who is right and who is wrong. As Objectivists we all ought to be in agreement that objective reality is best fit to serve as the judge in this arbitration. But how do we do that? It's not like there's a person or god called objective reality we can simply ask or pray to in order to receive our answer.

The solution I favor is by observing the outcomes reality makes available to us. If Objectivism was correct and complete as-is and was in fact the one and only philosophy required for man to live a virtuous and fulfilling life, the outcomes produced by objective reality ought to support this. What would this look like in real life you might ask? Well for starters Objectivism would be the only state endorsed philosophical framework. There would be a statue, monument, or plaque displayed in every town or city commemorating Ayn Rand's contributions to the world. Every class in school would be taught from an Objectivist framework. Streets, parks, museums, hospitals, landmarks, etc. would be named after Ayn Rand. Regretfully this isn't the world we live in.

On a more individual basis, all other things being equal, it's reasonable to assume that if we have all the objective facts and truths on our side and consistently put forth a strong effort we should be rewarded with our desired outcomes more times than not. If we're not getting the outcomes we desire in this scenario, then the only logical conclusion is that we haven't accounted for one or more objective truths in our belief system and are therefore not truly on the objective path yet. We can't say that Objectivism at any point in its history was lacking talented, committed, and passionate spokespeople that had a solid understanding of the philosophy. We had Ayn Rand herself, Leonard Peikoff, and more recently Yaron Brook and many others. It really doesn't get any better than that in my opinion.

If we can agree on the assertion that Objectivism isn't perfect as-is we need to revisit the philosophy's premise to see if it's valid, and if that's the case, we need to determine which objective truths aren't currently accounted for. Assuming the premise of Objectivism is valid and we can correctly account for potential errors and/or omissions then it stands to reason that we should be able to influence our environment; something we haven't been able to do in a major way thus far.

As previously discussed, Ayn Rand created Objectivism as a philosophy for man on earth. It is a philosophy built around embracing, not rejecting, objective truths and to make informed decisions based upon these truths applicable to both the individual and society as a whole. It was designed to be the one and only philosophy required for man to live a virtuous life in accordance with his nature. This may just be my own personal bias speaking here but I don’t see anything inherently wrong with this premise.

So let's move on to a review of what major objectives truths are and aren't accounted for by Ayn Rand in formulating the specifics of Objectivist doctrine.

Objectivism certainly accounts for the selfish aspect of human nature. It also rightfully states that embracing objective truths is a prerequisite towards achieving desired outcomes. Furthermore she believed reason to be the answer to uncovering these objective truths.

What I discovered while researching Objectivism's shortcomings is that Objectivism does not correctly account for our tribal nature, biological differences between racial groups, and the fact that we are naturally led by emotions and not reason. Although these topics would be considered heresy by the originalist Objectivist doctrine, an objective overview of the subject matter at hand demands that facts be recognized for what they are even if they are emotionally unpleasant.

While I'm still in full agreement with Ayn Rand that discovering and embracing objective truths is a prerequisite towards achieving desired outcomes, I can no longer agree with the assertion that an individual's application of reason is the single best means to uncover objective truths given our subjective nature. I would place the responsibility of uncovering objective truths on a scientific process structured in a way that incentivizes the discoveries of objective truths; more than one person involved in the process, built in checks and balances to account for human biases, etc. I'm not going to go as far as dismissing individual reasoning all together; rather I'm making the case for individual reasoning as validated by constructive criticism & objective research.

In addition, because Ayn Rand outright dismissed the tribal / groupish aspect of human nature, instead of accounting for it together with our selfish nature, and did not account for biological differences between racial groups, I can no longer fully support her body work that deals with how society ought to be organized. Ayn Rand taught us the horrendous consequences of dismissing the selfish aspects of human nature in her essays about socialism and communism. Today reality is informing us of the consequences of ignoring the groupish aspect of human nature. Instead of society embracing both our selfish and groupish aspects in harmony with human nature, we are instead collectively embracing what can only be described as irrational selfishness.

As stated before, I still fully support the original premise of Ayn Rand's philosophy; however, I believe that it's necessary for us Objectivists to explore the avenues that Ayn Rand would not or could not explore and to determine the associated logical implications. Doing so, in my opinion, is the only way forward if he hope to change our environment for the better.

A good starting point for anyone looking to do so is to read, study and internalize Jonathan Haidt's book The Righteous Mind for a detailed analysis of human nature including our selfish and groupish nature, moral foundations, and the nature and limitations of the cognitive process. While I'm not in agreement with Haidt on what he views the implications of his findings ought to be as it relates to organizing society, I do wholeheartedly recommend the book for its detailed analysis of human nature. The revelations regarding human nature presented in his book were as enlightening to me as my first exposure to Ayn Rand.

If you're interested, I also have a rebuttal to Stefan Molyneux's UPB: https://www.minds.com/AzraelRand/blog/an-objective-critique-of-stefan-molyneux-s-universally-prefe-891837573402587136

Share this post


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

Both factions agree that Objectivism is the one and only true and moral philosophy required for mankind

That is in no way, shape or form true. Ayn Rand is not Jesus Christ the Savior, she was just a person, like the rest of us.

Also, she's been dead for 37 years now. Stone cold dead. Not resurrected, not sitting on the right hand side of God, but buried in some dirt, and well on her way to decomposing. There's no Objectivist, in any faction, who would think that we all got done coming up with useful philosophy 37 years ago.

Ayn Rand herself wouldn't have thought that humanity is all done coming up with useful philosophy, after she died. That's not what closed Objectivism means. Closed Objectivism simply tries to preserve her work for posterity, uncorrupted by people who claim to speak for her. She deserves that much.

If you wish to come up with new philosophy, go right ahead. I'll read it if it's interesting. And if you think your philosophy has been influenced by Objectivism (the philosophy of Ayn Rand), go ahead and cite her as an influence. But that's all the level of familiarity you're allowed, as far as "closed Objectivists" like myself are concerned. You're not allowed to claim any kind of deeper connection than that, because, guess what: you don't have it. Objectivism is HER philosophy, and hers alone. Anyone who contributed only did so with HER direct approval. Anyone else, who claims to be adding to HER philosophy without her approval, is an interloper.

The book on Objectivism closed when Ayn Rand died. The book on rational philosophy is wide open, you just have to earn your paragraph, page or chapter in it on your own, as a philosopher,  without claiming any kind of magical connection to Ayn Rand.

 

Edited by Nicky

Share this post


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

upholding the view that the philosophy as created and left by Ayn Rand is complete and does not require amending

There isn't anyone I know of that thinks this. At least not any writer that I'm aware of. That it's a closed system does not make it a complete system.

Edited by Eiuol

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There are cultural and hormonal influences pushing us toward tribalism.  We must be aware of this.  We must also overcome whatever is irrational in it.

Biological differences among races are minor.  Differences among individuals are far more important.

Any emotion carries with it a temptation to be led by it.  People often do not know better than to follow this temptation.  People who do know better may nevertheless follow it.  We must resist this temptation and be led by reason.

We are still at a very early stage of the spread of Objectivism.  Objectivism still has little influence on how society in general goes.  For most people, the mysticism-altruism-collectivism axis of thought still dominates their philosophy, whether explicit or implicit, and therefore plays a large role in their thinking and thus in their actions.  Two points in particular.  The altruist morality confuses many people as to what is in their self-interest.  Mixed-economy statism has been corrupting both government and business for a long time, resulting in behaviors that are not consistent with reason and self-interest.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Objectivism is a system of philosophy originated by Ayn Rand. When you add to it or change it, keeping the 'objectivism' label will make it tricky for people to know what exactly was part of the original system and what was added by future philosophers. Hence, Objectivism as formulated by Ayn Rand is a closed system.

When Kant's philosophy became popular, another famous philosopher named Fichte created a new system based on Kant's; however, while his approach was quite different (including dropping the 'thing-in-itself'), he claimed that his philosophy merely carries out the full implications of Kant's own ideas and that it maintains the spirit of the original. Kant rightfully repudiated these claims.

In the same vein, the brand of Objectivism proposed by the Atlas Society is not Objectivism, but an offshoot of it. Calling it Objectivism blurs the line between Objectivism, the philosophical system created by Ayn Rand (a historical artifact), and the modified versions. In this respect, the ARI institute is much more respectable because it always makes a point to mention when an idea is derived from Rand's system by another philosopher, but is not part of what Rand actually left in writing or publicly endorsed.

Edited by KyaryPamyu

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
22 hours ago, Nicky said:

If you wish to come up with new philosophy, go right ahead. I'll read it if it's interesting. And if you think your philosophy has been influenced by Objectivism (the philosophy of Ayn Rand), go ahead and cite her as an influence. But that's all the level of familiarity you're allowed, as far as "closed Objectivists" like myself are concerned. You're not allowed to claim any kind of deeper connection than that, because, guess what: you don't have it. Objectivism is HER philosophy, and hers alone. Anyone who contributed only did so with HER direct approval. Anyone else, who claims to be adding to HER philosophy without her approval, is an interloper.

Not allowed? Who gets to decide that?

I understand we both have emotions invested in Ayn Rand and her philosophy. I think this schism goes back to the conflicting views Ayn Rand herself held during her lifetime. She wanted to influence the world with her philosophy but was also unwilling to budge on her views to do so. You and me just picked different sides. I think the same is true for the whole closed vs open debacle. In this way the Jesus Christ scenario you mentioned does have some relevance: We're simply two disciples arguing over how best to honor our teacher's legacy.

21 hours ago, Eiuol said:

There isn't anyone I know of that thinks this. At least not any writer that I'm aware of. That it's a closed system does not make it a complete system.

It was my impression that this is how all the major Objectivist opinion leaders post Rand think. I haven't been keeping up with them more recently, spent more time viewing Stefan Molyneux's content and exploring other authors (Haidt, Adams, Alinksy, etc), but I do know that some things appear to have changed at ARI, for example embracing Dave Rubin and Jordan Peterson who aren't officially Objectivists. Maybe they've changes their thinking on this recently?

11 hours ago, Doug Morris said:

There are cultural and hormonal influences pushing us toward tribalism.  We must be aware of this.  We must also overcome whatever is irrational in it.

That was Ayn Rand's conclusion as well based upon her interpretation of rational self-interest. Let me ask you this question: If humans are both selfish and tribal, why is it rational to suppress one but not the other?

Looking at a real life example of Japan vs the US, which country more closely resembled Ayn Rand's vision of an ideal society. Now ask yourself which country is closest to the brink of civil war in the next 2-3 decades.

11 hours ago, Doug Morris said:

Biological differences among races are minor. 

What makes you say this?

11 hours ago, Doug Morris said:

Differences among individuals are far more important.

 I'm certainly not going to disagree with the assessment that a content of character matters, obviously it does, but how do you know this statement to be true at face value?

11 hours ago, Doug Morris said:

We are still at a very early stage of the spread of Objectivism.  Objectivism still has little influence on how society in general goes.  For most people, the mysticism-altruism-collectivism axis of thought still dominates their philosophy, whether explicit or implicit, and therefore plays a large role in their thinking and thus in their actions.  Two points in particular.  The altruist morality confuses many people as to what is in their self-interest.  Mixed-economy statism has been corrupting both government and business for a long time, resulting in behaviors that are not consistent with reason and self-interest.

Based on this scenario, what is it going to take for Objectivism to become the moral system of one or more countries?

If knowledge is power, and if in theory an Objectivist is a scholar of objective truths, why aren't Objectivists all powerful? My personal conclusion was that we hadn't discovered and accounted for certain truths yet. I'm interested to hear your take on this line of thought.

8 hours ago, KyaryPamyu said:

In the same vein, the brand of Objectivism proposed by the Atlas Society is not Objectivism, but an offshoot of it. Calling it Objectivism blurs the line between Objectivism, the philosophical system created by Ayn Rand (a historical artifact), and the modified versions. In this respect, the ARI institute is much more respectable because it always makes a point to mention when an idea is derived from Rand's system by another philosopher, but is not part of what Rand actually left in writing or publicly endorsed.

Let me ask this question? If Ayn Rand were alive today and was able to keep up with the scientific discoveries of the day as well as current events do you believe she would have amended her philosophy to be consistent with its original premise based on the feedback given to her by reality or do you believe she wold have stayed the course even up until today. I choose to believe in the former which is one of the reasons I believe in the concept of Open Objectivism.

Share this post


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

It was my impression that this is how all the major Objectivist opinion leaders post Rand think. 

You're mistaken, that's all. There's no other way to put it. Quote it if you have an example. Most of the time, I think people read into more than what is actually said. 

For the record, ARI did not embrace Jordan Peterson. Nor should they, because he's more of a postmodernist thinker (despite his protests against it). He wasn't at OCON because people agreed with him and his views. 

Edited by Eiuol

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
13 hours ago, KyaryPamyu said:

Objectivism is a system of philosophy originated by Ayn Rand. When you add to it or change it, keeping the 'objectivism' label will make it tricky for people to know what exactly was part of the original system and what was added by future philosophers. Hence, Objectivism as formulated by Ayn Rand is a closed system.

I've always thought this was a sort of strange approach. It's not that I disagree entirely with what I take you to be saying here. But it approaches the "closed system" debate as a matter of record keeping, or footnoting. I'm not certain that most "open system" advocates think that's the true matter of the discussion. And though I do not consider myself to be an advocate for either "closed" or "open" systems (because I believe that these do not exhaust the range of fundamental approaches), I don't believe that such record keeping is what truly animates most of this debate, either, on either side.

13 hours ago, KyaryPamyu said:

In the same vein, the brand of Objectivism proposed by the Atlas Society is not Objectivism, but an offshoot of it. Calling it Objectivism blurs the line between Objectivism, the philosophical system created by Ayn Rand (a historical artifact), and the modified versions.

There may be some value in knowing what was specifically endorsed or "created" by Ayn Rand (though I'm tempted to say that philosophy, insofar as it is true, is more a "discovery" than a "creation": Ayn Rand discovered that A = A, she did not make it so; she did not create it), or Leonard Peikoff, or Nathaniel Branden -- but speaking personally, I care much more what is true, rather than who first identified it (or wrote it down, or anthologized it), and in this pursuit I try to be guided by reason, to the best of my ability. That is the sole criterion (aspirationally, if nothing else) for those beliefs which I hold, and which collectively constitute "my philosophy."

For many or most purposes, I don't think there's much call to give a name to the sum total of my philosophical belief. Insofar as I do, and mostly for the sake of communication or community, "Objectivism" makes the most sense for a variety of reasons (which I could discuss further if need be). It's funny to me, the idea that if I should disagree with Rand on some matter (let's say her assessment of modern art), then I need to reject the label altogether, and find some new moniker. Then, imagining a thousand "Objectivists" who each might harbor some similar difference of opinion on a thousand different issues, ought we have a thousand names for what we suppose is a thousand different philosophies? I don't see how that would serve any good purpose.

When I say that I am an "Objectivist," what I mean is that I agree with Ayn Rand, fundamentally, when she wrote:

Quote

1. “Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed” or “Wishing won’t make it so.” 2. “You can’t eat your cake and have it, too.” 3. “Man is an end in himself.” 4. “Give me liberty or give me death.”

She continued, "If you held these concepts with total consistency, as the base of your convictions, you would have a full philosophical system to guide the course of your life." And I concur. If this "full philosophical system" she describes were given a name, I think "Objectivism" is just as good as any other, and more apropos than most since that is the name that Rand supplied to describe it.

And so, as regards anyone else who agrees with me (and by extension, Rand) about these fundamentals, these essentials, and seeks to hold them with total consistency as the base of their convictions, I think that "Objectivist" is the fitting label to describe their philosophy, irrespective of their position on modern art.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, Azrael Rand said:

... things appear to have changed at ARI, for example embracing Dave Rubin and Jordan Peterson who aren't officially Objectivists. Maybe they've changes their thinking on this recently?

There's no doubt that ideas and attitudes about focus (political / non-political) and about whom to cooperate with have changed over the years. There's also no doubt that -- as a whole -- Rand fans/Objectivists have embraced and incorporated many non-Rand ideas not their own personal "philosophies".  That does not really make those new ideas Objectivism though.

Aren't you making two completely different points here:

  1. Philosophy did not stop with Rand's Objectivism. We already know more, and we will continue to learn. Good and true philosophy is a super-set
  2. We should continue to call this super-set "Objectivism"

 

In general everyone here is agreeing with your first point, which is the really substantial one, by miles. Do you see that agreement? Or do you think people in this thread disagree with you on this aspect?

On the surface, the second (ie. what to call it) seems relatively unimportant. Is that your only point of contention?

Share this post


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

I'm not certain that most "open system" advocates think that's the true matter of the discussion.

That's true, but that also shows their misunderstanding of what was always meant by the 'closed system' approach. 

Quote

Philosophy, as Ayn Rand often observed, deals only with the kinds of issues available to men in any era; it does not change with the growth of human knowledge, since it is the base and precondition of that growth. Every philosophy, by the nature of the subject, is immutable. New implications, applications, integrations can always be discovered; but the essence of the system — its fundamental principles and their consequences in every branch — is laid down once and for all by the philosophy’s author.

(L. Peikoff, Fact and Value (my italics) 

So the 'closed' part applies only to the fundamental principles that shape the more specialized content of the system. If a single fundamental contradicts other fundamentals, the whole thing collapses. So if you can show that the theory of rights somehow contradicts the objectivist metaphysics in practice, then either the metaphysics or the theory of rights is wrong. But the theory of rights also depends on ethics, so it's actually possible that the error in the theory of rights was caused not by metaphysics, but by the system becoming corrupted at some later point in the hierarchy due to errors of reasoning. Thus, a destructive domino effect.

Inasmuch as a system of philosophy is truly consistent, it stands as it was formulated by the philosopher. This applies equally to Kant and Rand; the only difference is that Rand's system is an integration of correct principles; Kant's system integrates his errors into an internally consistent totality. 

Rand was working on some new stuff in epistemology before her death (documented in her published journals) and never made the claim that she discovered everything there is to discover in philosophy. She has fully formulated the fundamentals of philosophy (as seen by her).

Quote

I have held the same philosophy I now hold, for as far back as I can remember. I have learned a great deal through the years and expanded my knowledge of details, of specific issues, of definitions, of applications—and I intend to continue expanding it—but I have never had to change any of my fundamentals.

Atlas Shrugged - About the Author

Assuming that her integration was indeed perfect, any additions which contradict the fundamentals she set out will destroy the system because, apart from betraying a poor understanding of the fundamentals, the corrupted parts spawn more corrupted parts and so on. So it's legitimate to say that those who deviate in fundamentals from Rand's approach are not truly Objectivists, even if they do not contradict the fundamentals directly, but indirectly through ideas that actually nullify the base, whether they are consciously aware of this or not. 

I recently listened to a Peikoff Q&A where he claims that Rand said something among these lines: she wished there was somebody to take her ideas and make something truly comprehensive out of them. She was probably talking about specialized stuff, such as the relation between mathematics and concept-formation. The reason most people push for an open system is because they do not understand what they are opposing.

4 hours ago, DonAthos said:

philosophy, insofar as it is true, is more a "discovery" than a "creation":

True, this was also my meaning (setting aside my careless word choice). Given the absolutism of reality, I guess the only optional part is the distinctive names you give to the various principles, although you're not forced to use the 'official' names.

4 hours ago, DonAthos said:

It's funny to me, the idea that if I should disagree with Rand on some matter (let's say her assessment of modern art), then I need to reject the label altogether, and find some new moniker.

Well, as I see it, her assesment of modern art is fully consistent with her ideas. She is merely applying the fundamentals of art to a specific offering of the art world. If art shows a worldview, then the obvious requirement is that you must take the nature of human cognition into account when creating artworks. This is why in painting (for instance), using percepts is not a subjective but an objective requirement. By the nature of the mind, disintegrated sensations and blobs of color cannot be integrated into anything. So the problem per se is not what the artist intended to do, but his faulty technical means.

Edited by KyaryPamyu

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, Azrael Rand said:

Let me ask this question? If Ayn Rand were alive today and was able to keep up with the scientific discoveries of the day as well as current events do you believe she would have amended her philosophy to be consistent with its original premise based on the feedback given to her by reality or do you believe she wold have stayed the course even up until today. I choose to believe in the former which is one of the reasons I believe in the concept of Open Objectivism.

New knowledge does not not contradict old knowledge. This is a basic principle of her epistemology, which springs from her metaphysics: there are no contradictions in reality.

If new scientific discoveries invalidate a single part of her philosophy, the whole system collapses. 'Patching' the philosophy up does not work, for reasons discussed in my previous post. So the question of an open system would not even occur; you would have to renounce the whole system of Objectivism, maybe apart from some ideas that Rand managed to get right by luck, despite her faulty base.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, Azrael Rand said:

Not allowed? Who gets to decide that? 

Everyone gets to decide it, obviously. And we have: everyone who favors closed Objectivism already decided.

Quote

 

I understand we both have emotions invested in Ayn Rand

 

I don't. Never met her, she was never even alive while I was alive. She's just a historical figure to me. If you wanted to speak for other dead philosophers, I would've told you the same exact thing: don't. Speak for yourself.

That goes for what you said about me, too. I'm not Ayn Rand's disciple, I'm an independent thinker. I have drawn a very clear line of separation between my ideas and Objectivism. I suggest you do the same, because you can't be a confident, self respecting thinker and a disciple at the same time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It is rational to do that which will give us the best life.  This is what being selfish means.  Tribalism is incompatible with this.

Our closeness to civil war is due, not to the respects in which we actually match what Ayn Rand would consider an ideal society, but to the respects in which we fail to match it.  Mixed-economy statism leads to pressure-group warfare, which may possibly lead to actual civil war.  Lack of good ideas in people's minds leads them to make all sorts of mistakes, resulting in all sorts of destructive consequences.  To the extent that different people make different mistakes, this is one source of conflict.

For historical reasons, Japan is more homogeneous than the United States; this reduces conflict.  Japan also has a tradition of obedience which is not a good thing, but which tends to reduce conflict.  Japan also has a cultural tendency to avoid confrontation; to what extent this is a good thing and to what extent it is a bad thing may be a complicated issue, but it tends to reduce conflict.

The races are different physiologically in ways that are relatively minor.  One way of putting this is that the physiological differences between the sexes are greater than the physiological differences between the races. 

There are statistical differences between the races that some people point to in an effort to claim that there are biological differences mentally, intellectually, morally, and/or criminally.  But these are due to differences in the history of the races; there is no evidence for a biological difference.  Even with this effect of history, individual variation within each race is much greater than the statistical differences between the races.

For Objectivism to become the moral system of a country, the substantial majority of the people have to understand and accept Objectivism.  Getting there is a slow process.

You glibly say "knowledge is power".  No matter what we know and no matter how much we know, it does not give us power over the minds of others.  To bring other people around we must explain and persuade.  There is a lot of explaining and persuading to do.  People may have a hard time understanding why they should spend much time listening.  People whose thinking is dominated by the mysticism-altruism-collectivism axis of ideas will have a lot of questions and objections that result from this and, even under the best of circumstances, will need time to adjust their thinking.  All this is true even if everyone is fully rational.  Some people will be irrational, making them harder to reach or impossible to reach.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

AzR:

As an individual you are free to adopt your own personal philosophy from any source or sources.  You can also, according to whatever standards and processes attempt to add to and/or modify them as you see fit, in the formulation of what you adopt personally as your philosophy. You can then, live by it.

No one can come between you and your chosen philosophy.  It is your life, live it.

 

IF you are a professional philosopher and you want to build a system which adds 3% (all being your own original philosophic work) to an existing philosophical system, do so.  If you want to write a paper and submit it to philosophy journals for that 3%, then so do.  Only posterity, peer review, and debate over the long stretches of time will decide what THEY will CALL the system you worked on or the additional philosophical issues you worked through,  and how closely associated, related, consistent, or inconsistent, it is with any other existing philosophical system. 

It's your work.  If you want to do it, DO IT.  It is what it is and it matters not what anyone calls it.

 

To you as an individual, what name other people decide to call a philosophy, or what name or label others would or would not ascribe to your personal philosophy or your philosophical work is wholly irrelevant.  Fussing over whether other people define their philosophy or philosophies as "closed" or "open", whether they distinguish between foundational aspects versus derivative aspects or whether they distinguish between philosophy proper and application of philosophy, or whether they define the essentials of any philosophical system based more so on its author or authors or on the character of its principles, all of it is a total waste of time to you as an individual, whether a professional philosopher or just someone who has a personal philosophy.

 

That said, IF you are a professional philosopher:

Academics like to present themselves to others as working on this or that philosophical framework or, within this or that philosophical school etc.  But that is window dressing, puffery, and presentational ceremony... the substance of the work will speak for itself far louder than any sales-pitch or label slapped on it.  It is best not to affix labels if you want your original professional philosophical work not to be misconstrued in view of the baggage normally associated with labels of any kind.

Now, IF you are NOT a professional philosopher:

IF you are not spending 40 hours a week doing serious academic philosophy or have been working decades building a system or modifying one, then I would suggest you focus on what YOU choose as your PERSONAL philosophy and LIVE by it.  In the end THAT is what philosophy is FOR and fundamentally anything else, especially looking over your shoulder for rubber stamp approval and labeling... really IS a waste of time.

 

As a purely rationally selfish individual of highest moral caliber, nothing so trivial as a name or a status of other philosophies as closed or open should deter you from pursuing your personal philosophy... its yours OWN IT.

 

Of course if you are "groupish"... well I guess all the irrelevancies of the labels and the acceptance of others becomes very personally crucial to you...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, KyaryPamyu said:
14 hours ago, DonAthos said:

I'm not certain that most "open system" advocates think that's the true matter of the discussion.

That's true, but that also shows their misunderstanding of what was always meant by the 'closed system' approach. 

I agree to an extent. When I initially looked into these matters, one of the conclusions I drew was that Peikoff seemed often misunderstood/misrepresented... and so did Kelley. I don't mean to try to explicate the opinions of two other men who aren't here to speak for themselves, but what I will say is that I don't think there's only one thing that was "always meant by the 'closed system' approach"; I believe I've seen a variety of opinions and arguments offered under the aegis of both "open system" and "closed system," by various people contributing to the discussion.

If someone is arguing against something they believe to be "the closed system" -- or "the open system," for that matter -- but they misunderstand what Peikoff meant originally, or Kelley, that doesn't mean that they are incorrect with respect to the essentials of the argument(s) that they make or reject; though they may be mistaken in their use of terms, or their understanding of Peikoff, Kelley, etc.

Previously, when discussing these things in depth, and to try to be a bit more careful, I often took pains to refer to "the open system... as it is commonly represented," and etc. Suffice it to say, that portion of Fact and Value you've quoted, I agree with.

Quote

So the 'closed' part applies only to the fundamental principles that shape the more specialized content of the system. If a single fundamental contradicts other fundamentals, the whole thing collapses. So if you can show that the theory of rights somehow contradicts the objectivist metaphysics in practice, then either the metaphysics or the theory of rights is wrong.

Agreed on all counts. And if the Objectivist theory of rights were in conflict with the Objectivist metaphysics, then we could say that Objectivism, as a philosophy, is not correct (though in such a case, perhaps the theory of rights would remain correct, or perhaps the metaphysics, or perhaps neither). A person who reached such a conclusion would be correct to reject Objectivism and adopt or develop some other, more true philosophy to take its place.

Quote

Inasmuch as a system of philosophy is truly consistent, it stands as it was formulated by the philosopher. This applies equally to Kant and Rand; the only difference is that Rand's system is an integration of correct principles; Kant's system integrates his errors into an internally consistent totality. 

I agree, only with the proviso that I don't know enough about Kant to speak to him or his philosophy.

Quote

Rand was working on some new stuff in epistemology before her death (documented in her published journals) and never made the claim that she discovered everything there is to discover in philosophy. She has fully formulated the fundamentals of philosophy (as seen by her).

Yes. I mean, it's always been telling to me that she titled her monograph Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology; it seems to suggest that there remains more epistemology (and perhaps much more) to be discovered and described. Now, it's a question that I believe directly pertains to this discussion as to whether or not someone, post- Rand, could contribute to specifically Objectivist epistemology.

This is where I potentially diverge from the closed system (as is typically represented, etc.), so to present my own view, I'll state that I believe so. I think that someone other than Rand could today, or tomorrow, contribute to Objectivist epistemology. Allow me to try to demonstrate:

It's my understanding that Rand herself did not do much work (that she published, at least) on induction. Or if she did, I'm not greatly aware of it. On Leonard Peikoff's website, he presents "Induction in Physics and Philosophy," which the site describes saying, "These historic lectures present, for the first time, the Objectivist solution to the problem of induction—and thereby complete, in every essential respect, the validation of reason."

I don't know the provenance of these lectures. I don't know if they reflect conversations he might have had with Rand, or work she oversaw at some point, or etc. But let us suppose that Rand did not play any direct role in the salient content of these lectures -- that it represents original work on Peikoff's part. Would it still be appropriate for him to describe it as "the Objectivist solution to the problem of induction"? I think potentially so, yes.

And if I were to imagine some student of Objectivism who reads all of Rand -- and let's say agrees with her to the letter -- and then listens to Peikoff's lectures on induction, and agrees with those, too, and integrates that knowledge with the rest (assuming that Peikoff is correct, and that his ideas on induction integrate seamlessly with Rand's philosophy)... well, what should that student call this resultant philosophy that he holds -- being the fundamentals of Objectivism along with the Objectivist solution to the problem of induction? Is there any title that makes sense apart from Objectivism?

Quote

Assuming that her integration was indeed perfect, any additions which contradict the fundamentals she set out will destroy the system because, apart from betraying a poor understanding of the fundamentals, the corrupted parts spawn more corrupted parts and so on. So it's legitimate to say that those who deviate in fundamentals from Rand's approach are not truly Objectivists, even if they do not contradict the fundamentals directly, but indirectly through ideas that actually nullify the base, whether they are consciously aware of this or not.

Any rejection of Objectivism's fundamentals is not Objectivism. An "addition" that contradicts the fundamentals either must eventually be eliminated, or result in a fundamental change (which would result in a new/different philosophy). However, we may also imagine an addition that does not contradict the fundamentals, but is consonant with them. And it is in this spirit that I allow Peikoff's work on induction may well be Objectivist, even if not personally supervised or endorsed by Ayn Rand.

It's interesting, the idea that "those who deviate indirectly" from the fundamentals are not truly Objectivists, whether they are consciously aware of this or not. I would rather say that they are not correct, and that they have work to do (whether that work results in a reformulation of their "deviation," their fundamentals, or both -- and irrespective of what we title the result). If I imagine a person who agrees with the fundamentals of Objectivism, arrives at some addition (say an approach to induction) that contradicts the fundamentals, but is not aware of it -- I would say that this person should certainly call himself an Objectivist. He has no higher authority to consult on the topic, after all, apart from his own use of reason.

Is he wrong (in some absolute, omniscient sense) to do so? I don't believe so. If he is made aware of the conflict between his fundamental beliefs and this addition, and seeks to rectify this contradiction (as he should, and as I would imagine a self-described Objectivist would), then he will eventually either have to reject his addition... or some fundamental Objectivist belief, or both. In the latter two cases, he is at that point no longer an Objectivist. But beforehand? He is an Objectivist. An Objectivist in error on a particular point, perhaps, but an Objectivist nonetheless.

And this error may speak to a "poor understanding" of some fundamental, as such, but does not necessarily do so, I don't believe; the integration, relationship and application of philosophical fundamentals to other ideas and situations, is a fraught and self-directed process, frequently difficult, and potentially errant -- even if the fundamental itself is well understood. Or to put this another way, understanding some philosophical idea does not necessarily mean understanding that idea's application in every possible context and circumstance, let alone understanding every application effortlessly or without the capacity for error.

One last note to make here: we've been speaking of an "addition" that contradicts the fundamentals, but everything we've said applies equally to some established Objectivist belief, should it contradict the fundamentals. The Objectivist who believes Rand wrong about modern art (more on which below) seeks to prevent the very destruction of the system that you describe; and in such a case -- if this person is correct re: modern art, and Rand wrong -- it is those who defend the established view that spawn more corrupted parts, in the effort to defend their view regarding modern art (a disheartening process I believe I have witnessed with respect to other topics, at least). Some of those who champion what they regard to be an "open system" are looking to thwart, address and correct this very potential for destruction.

Quote

I recently listened to a Peikoff Q&A where he claims that Rand said something among these lines: she wished there was somebody to take her ideas and make something truly comprehensive out of them.

There is a ton of work to be done, both academically and popularly -- not only more than Rand accomplished in her lifetime, but more than any one person could accomplish in a lifetime -- and I am certain that Rand was aware of this, too.

Quote

Well, as I see it, her assesment of modern art is fully consistent with her ideas.

I don't mean to argue modern art with you just now. :) Actually, I chose that as my example in part because I'm a touch ambivalent on the subject -- I wanted to avoid being baited into the tangent, lol, and merely wanted to find a placeholder subject to explore the idea of disagreement itself, in this context -- but I know of at least one other Objectivist (by my reckoning, at least, lest I beg the question) who does feel quite strongly that Rand was incorrect about modern art. After arguing with him at length, over time, my own assessment as it stands is that I'm undecided on the point, and wish to investigate the matter further (so you see, I would be happy to argue modern art with you in the future, in a more appropriate thread).

But I think it's fine that you consider her assessment of modern art to be fully consistent with her ideas (or more to the point, her fundamental ideas -- those fundamental, essential ideas that I believe describe Objectivism). With respect to the current discussion, I would make the following observations:

Either it is true that Rand's assessment of modern art is fully consistent with the fundamentals of Objectivism, or it is true that her assessment of modern art is not fully consistent with the fundamentals of Objectivism. If you and I disagreed on this point -- though I don't honestly know whether we do, because I am not yet completely settled in my own views -- I hold that we could still both be Objectivists, with one of us (at minimum) in error. If Rand was mistaken regarding modern art, I would not take this to mean that Objectivism is a flawed philosophy that needs rejection -- because I associate Objectivism with its fundamentals. A would continue to be A, reason would continue to be reason, and it would actually be due to my holding fast to the fundamentals of Objectivism that I would reject the later, errant view regarding modern art, as being contradictory to reason and reality.

If Rand's beliefs on modern art conflicted with her more fundamental philosophical views (whether Rand was consciously aware of this discrepancy or not), I would not say that Rand herself was not really an Objectivist. I'd say, rather, that Rand was an Objectivist who was mistaken on that issue.

Edited by DonAthos

Share this post


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

You're mistaken, that's all. There's no other way to put it. Quote it if you have an example. Most of the time, I think people read into more than what is actually said. 

Does Craig Biddle count? He describes it as a "whole system of integrated, noncontradictory principles, the sole purpose of which is to teach man how to live and enjoy himself."

Link: https://www.theobjectivestandard.com/what-is-objectivism/

Thinking about the premise of your question logically, why would these individuals devote a large part of their life to a philosophy that they consider to be incomplete yet unchangeable. Doesn't really make a lot of sense.

22 hours ago, Eiuol said:

For the record, ARI did not embrace Jordan Peterson. Nor should they, because he's more of a postmodernist thinker (despite his protests against it). He wasn't at OCON because people agreed with him and his views. 

Considering the institute's history on outreach I think my wording is fair. Maybe not perfect but certainly appropriate.

19 hours ago, DonAthos said:

I've always thought this was a sort of strange approach. It's not that I disagree entirely with what I take you to be saying here. But it approaches the "closed system" debate as a matter of record keeping, or footnoting. I'm not certain that most "open system" advocates think that's the true matter of the discussion.

As I stated before, I think the split between the factions is based on our emotional investment in Ayn Rand and her work. We all know how she felt about modifications to her philosophy. In my opinion those of us that chose to uphold and respect this view of hers fall into the closed camp. The other side that, like Ayn Rand, want to use Objectivism to change their environment for the better fall into the open camp.

Something tells me that the same people that would object to the misuse / appropriation of the word Objectivism wouldn't object if the same was being done with Marxism.

As some have suggested those in the open camp could try to create a new philosophy that retains Objectivism's premise but attempts to correct its conclusions but the first thing we'd be accused of is plagiarism. Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

13 hours ago, StrictlyLogical said:

Now, IF you are NOT a professional philosopher:

IF you are not spending 40 hours a week doing serious academic philosophy or have been working decades building a system or modifying one, then I would suggest you focus on what YOU choose as your PERSONAL philosophy and LIVE by it.  In the end THAT is what philosophy is FOR and fundamentally anything else, especially looking over your shoulder for rubber stamp approval and labeling... really IS a waste of time.

I wholeheartedly agree with the general sentiment of your first sentence. I'm personally not in the business of putting Onkar Ghate or Stefan Molyneux out of business. Having said that I do believe people are permitted to have a hobby or two. I do disagree with the latter part where it sounds like you're saying leave the hard questions to the experts and mind your own private affairs instead. Getting it right is everyone's business. There are consequences for all of us if our experts can't cut the mustard. This in my opinion is one of Ayn Rand's oversights: The ability to effectively persuade others is a precondition to a virtuous and happy life within a social environment.

13 hours ago, Nicky said:

I don't. Never met her, she was never even alive while I was alive. She's just a historical figure to me. If you wanted to speak for other dead philosophers, I would've told you the same exact thing: don't. Speak for yourself.

That goes for what you said about me, too. I'm not Ayn Rand's disciple, I'm an independent thinker. I have drawn a very clear line of separation between my ideas and Objectivism. I suggest you do the same, because you can't be a confident, self respecting thinker and a disciple at the same time.

I you aren't emotionally invested in Ayn Rand or her work why are you posting on this board? Also there is no ironclad rule that requires one to draw distinct lines of separation in order to be an independent thinker. Not sure where that's coming from.

13 hours ago, Doug Morris said:

It is rational to do that which will give us the best life.  This is what being selfish means.  Tribalism is incompatible with this.

I would make the case that it is rational to view reality as it exists not as we would like it to be. Human nature contains both a selfish and groupish aspect. Only accounting for one but not the other is asking for trouble.

13 hours ago, Doug Morris said:

Our closeness to civil war is due, not to the respects in which we actually match what Ayn Rand would consider an ideal society, but to the respects in which we fail to match it.  Mixed-economy statism leads to pressure-group warfare, which may possibly lead to actual civil war.  Lack of good ideas in people's minds leads them to make all sorts of mistakes, resulting in all sorts of destructive consequences.  To the extent that different people make different mistakes, this is one source of conflict.

I would use a broader brush and say that an inability to objectively account for human nature as a whole leads to pressure-group warfare, societal breakdown, and civil war. Culturally channeling envy into a self-ownership mindset is important for sure, but the same can be said for a racially and culturally homogeneous population. It's not that race matters but that self-ownership doesn't matter; it's that both matter. Japan is less likely to face a civil war in this scenario because they've done a better job of accounting for human nature as a whole compared to the US or other Western nations. Is it an objectively perfect mix? I can't answer that question, but it's certainly better than what we have. It important to remember that a peaceful society is a precondition for a virtuous and happy life; that's the foundation of the Non-Agression Principle.

13 hours ago, Doug Morris said:

The races are different physiologically in ways that are relatively minor.  One way of putting this is that the physiological differences between the sexes are greater than the physiological differences between the races. 

There are statistical differences between the races that some people point to in an effort to claim that there are biological differences mentally, intellectually, morally, and/or criminally.  But these are due to differences in the history of the races; there is no evidence for a biological difference.  Even with this effect of history, individual variation within each race is much greater than the statistical differences between the races. 

I understand this is a sensitive topic but I would appreciate it if you could answer the following question: Do you hold these beliefs because you have closely studied scientific evidence on the matter or because these beliefs are a part of our society's cultural fabric and you have confirmed this belief with your personal observations first hand.

The reason I ask is because the latter scenario is subject to human cognitive biases. It does not mean that I'm right and you're wrong but it does mean the possibility exists.

Edited by Azrael Rand

Share this post


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

Thinking about the premise of your question logically, why would these individuals devote a large part of their life to a philosophy that they consider to be incomplete yet unchangeable.

He doesn't say that the philosophy is complete (complete being that it covers everything that can and should be covered by philosophy, and has no gaps at all). It's easy to devote time to something that is incomplete, because you enjoy studying the parts that are discussed thoroughly and well, or discussing implications that people don't often discuss. I don't personally find that very interesting, but it makes sense.

1 hour ago, Azrael Rand said:

Maybe not perfect but certainly appropriate.

"Embrace" is different than bringing to a discussion. Inviting someone doesn't necessarily mean embracing them or even liking their views. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My personal observations first hand constitute very strong evidence that, in at least some cases,  individual variation within each race is much greater than the statistical differences between the races.  If the news I have read and heard over the years is at least partially true, this constitutes additional evidence.  The admittedly limited study I have made of scientific evidence also supports this conclusion.

I have seen no evidence for a biological basis for statistical differences between the races mentally, intellectually, morally, and/or criminally.  The different history of the races is enough to explain such differences, especially when combined with the effects of misguided government interference.

Share this post


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

I think that someone other than Rand could today, or tomorrow, contribute to Objectivist epistemology. [...] It's my understanding that Rand herself did not do much work (that she published, at least) on induction. Or if she did, I'm not greatly aware of it.

Certainly Objectivist epistemology can be expanded, but only if by 'expansion' you mean a fuller and more detailed working out of the fundamentals. The solution to the problem of induction, which to my knowledge was not adressed by Rand in print, is implicit in her writings on epistemology. Peikoff is merely using the basic blocks in order to figure out what the solution might be. If his solution is in perfect alignment with that base, it can be called an Objectivist solution, but not Objectivism per se. Philosophy is not an all-encompasing encyclopedia, but merely the seeds out of which that encyclopedia is grown. The solution to the problem of induction will vary according to which philosopher tackles it, because it depends on the fundamentals they hold: their view of sense perception, of concept-formation, and of course of metaphysics which by its nature is very tightly linked to epistemology. 

As far as the additions are consonant with the fundamentals, you can accept any number of them and still call yourself Objectivist. My point is that the validity of the labels we apply to ourselves is still tied to objective facts. So I'd say that, at a minimum, the precondition of legitimately labeling oneself as 'Objectivist' is a true understanding of the principles, not merely acceptance based on how reasonable they sound. If one does not grasp why those principles are true, he cannot truly apply the philosophy, either to his life, or to new issues. Instead of being guided by Objectivism, he is guided by incorrect assumptions of what Objectivism says.

I believe that a person who has a solid grasp of the fundamentals will have a much easier time spotting contradictions higher up in the chain, and will have an easier time correcting his own errors because the contradictions will quickly become apparent to him. This is why Rand could easily see why a disagreement in something as apparently optional and irrelevant as aesthetics actually reveals a superficial understanding of the method by which she reached the judgement, as well as of the first three branches of philosophy. She and her associates had a party game which involved putting various principles in a hat, picking up two at random and connecting the two principles in a non-rationalistic way, i.e. private roads + the validity of the senses.

For the record, Kelley strikes me as a non-Objectivist, or rather, he's practicing a different kind of philosophical system. I say this because I've skimmed through The Logical Structure of Objectivism and his disagreements with 'official dogma' actually reveal gross misunderstandings of what Rand's actual positions were, a type of carelesness which also points to rationalism.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Some time ago Japan had politically opposed students donning riot gear and fighting pitched battles on university campuses.  The United States has had trouble with physical aggression on university campuses, but not people donning riot gear and fighting pitched battles.  So the question of which country is closer to civil war might be more complicated than first appears.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 hours ago, Azrael Rand said:

it sounds like you're saying leave the hard questions to the experts and mind your own private affairs instead.

Not at all.  The open or closed "debate", the attribution of authorship or credit for any idea, and the names by which we call systems and or improvements to systems, DECIDELY are NOT the "HARD" questions.

11 hours ago, Azrael Rand said:

Getting it right is everyone's business.

THIS is precisely my point. 

The IT is philosophy.

IF you think something with Objectivism is wrong make your case.  If you want to investigate areas in your opinion not fully investigated in or completely ignored by Objectivism, please do so. Do it all... just don't fuss over what anyone calls your work.. its not like you are trying to gain membership in a club or a cult.

Getting your Philosophy right IS what you should be doing... THIS debate... is not doing anything philosophical AT ALL.

Edited by StrictlyLogical

Share this post


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

Certainly Objectivist epistemology can be expanded, but only if by 'expansion' you mean a fuller and more detailed working out of the fundamentals. The solution to the problem of induction, which to my knowledge was not adressed by Rand in print, is implicit in her writings on epistemology. Peikoff is merely using the basic blocks in order to figure out what the solution might be. If his solution is in perfect alignment with that base, it can be called an Objectivist solution, but not Objectivism per se. Philosophy is not an all-encompasing encyclopedia, but merely the seeds out of which that encyclopedia is grown.

If Peikoff is "merely using the basic blocks in order to figure out what the solution might be," that sounds to me like original work in philosophy, and I don't see that there's anything "mere" about it. It further describes the process by which all philosophy happens, the "basic blocks" being the reality that we all use in order to find such solutions as we can. We are all expanding upon A=A, but again, it's not a "mere" act. If Rand did not substantively address induction in print -- and I suppose we are equally in agreement, and perhaps equally in ignorance, holding that she did not -- then this is Peikoff's work, no matter whether he was inspired by Rand or not (just as Rand's work is Rand's work, and not Aristotle's).

Further, I'd guess that Rand would have liked to work out something on induction, had she been able. However "implicit" you might find Peikoff's conclusions in Rand's writing, it seems important to me that she did not herself make these matters explicit, nor to my knowledge make any claim that the solution to induction was hiding somewhere in her extant writings. Perhaps she did not herself understand what you would now say is implicit in her writing, despite the advantage of having written it herself? And where were the people before Peikoff made his own solution available, to find this in Rand's writing? Were they not listening to Rand carefully enough (did she not inspire that level of analysis or attention, in the philosophically minded who were drawn to read her)? Or did they not care to weigh in on an unimportant and trifling matter, like developing a theory of induction, and complete -- as Peikoff's website has it -- the "validation of reason"?

In any event, are you saying that a theory of induction is not philosophy, per se? Surely you agree that this is a philosophical matter, and that philosophers addressing themselves to understanding and describing induction are philosophizing? I would say we call the resultant work of philosophizers philosophizing on a philosophical matter... philosophy.

Philosophy is not an all-encompassing encyclopedia, no -- it does not hold to a particular theory of gravity, for instance -- but I would say that a comprehensive philosophy (such as I believe we hold Objectivism to be) would eventually address all those major areas of philosophy that a person needs for the purpose of living on earth, or growing out the encyclopedia such as you address, and by which a person might come to hold a theory of gravity. This seems to me to describe induction. Philosophy is not an all-encompassing encyclopedia, no -- but whatever sort of reference work you might imagine it to be, there is undoubtedly a chapter entitled "Induction." If Rand left those pages blank, it does not mean they must eternally remain so.

The notion that Peikoff's theory of induction (granting for the sake of discussion that it is consonant with Rand's fundamentals; fully in accord with reason and reality) might be "an Objectivist solution" but not Objectivism seems to me to be abstruse at the very, very least, and the sort of thing I imagine Rand tearing down rather than proposing. A philosophical solution to a philosophical problem, made within the framework of a given philosophy, and fully consonant with that philosophy, is part and parcel to that philosophy.

2 hours ago, KyaryPamyu said:

As far as the additions are consonant with the fundamentals, you can accept any number of them and still call yourself Objectivist. My point is that the validity of the labels we apply to ourselves is still tied to objective facts. So I'd say that, at a minimum, the precondition of legitimately labeling oneself as 'Objectivist' is a true understanding of the principles, not merely acceptance based on how reasonable they sound.

But who judges when a person has a "true understanding of the principles" as opposed to "acceptance based on how reasonable they sound"? There is yet no source higher than one's own use of reason -- and I'm not entirely sure that there's some magical moment where one progresses from "accepting" Rand's principles initially to "true understanding" of them.

Rather, that seems to me to describe the journey Rand hints at when she writes, "to hold them with total consistency—to understand, to define, to prove and to apply them—requires volumes of thought." Volumes of thought is a lot of thought. It happens in time and space. It requires energy and will. It is subject to error. I would argue that what we are talking about is no less than the role philosophy plays over the course of an entire lifetime -- that we never reach some point at which our personal work in philosophy, in understanding, defining, proving and applying our principles (and thereby thinking) is complete.

Perhaps we can relate one's "understanding" of a given principle to the facility one has to applying it to various circumstances, and etc., but again, regardless of one's mastery, the work of applying that principle to fresh circumstances is never complete. There remains the possibility of error in every single case (innocent mistakes and evasions alike, if these exhaust the category). And in this way, even a master may find cause to refine his own understanding, even unto the end of his life.

A neophyte Objectivist is bound to get many, many things wrong. While we may view this as some failure in his understanding -- and doubtless that's true -- it is more to the point that this represents the way in which he will grow in his understanding, and move from some more shallow level of acceptance, or even simple curiosity, towards a deeper and truer mastery of the subject. (Or perhaps an ultimate rejection of Objectivism.)

I would agree that, at a minimum, no one should call himself Objectivist if he does not believe himself to understand the fundamentals of Objectivism. And I think most people wouldn't. Most people, I suspect, wouldn't read Rand's "philosophy on one foot" presentation and decide he was an Objectivist on that basis alone, and I would be immediately suspect of the man who claimed otherwise. But if the threshold is believing oneself to understand the fundamentals of Objectivism, and agreeing with these, and setting out to live one's life accordingly ("to understand, to define, to prove and to apply them" and the volumes of thought this necessarily entails), then I think that any person who believes himself to be so doing is entitled to the title Objectivist, up to and until he decides to do differently. Even if I think he errs across several applications, and even if I believe my own understanding of the fundamentals of Objectivism to be better or deeper or more nuanced than his.

2 hours ago, KyaryPamyu said:

I believe that a person who has a solid grasp of the fundamentals will have a much easier time spotting contradictions higher up in the chain, and will have an easier time correcting his own errors because the contradictions will quickly become apparent to him.

No doubt. (Though I'm not certain I've met many people, on this site or elsewhere, who have a particularly easy time either recognizing or correcting their own errors. Addressing oneself to error -- internal error as opposed to external error -- remains to me the crucial work Objectivists need to tackle moving forward.)

2 hours ago, KyaryPamyu said:

This is why Rand could easily see why a disagreement in something as apparently optional and irrelevant as aesthetics actually reveals a superficial understanding of the method by which she reached the judgement, as well as of the first three branches of philosophy.

To clarify, in not wanting to digress to a discussion of modern art, here and now, I don't mean to suggest that aesthetics are either "optional" or "irrelevant." (Though it is interesting to note that Rand's "one foot" presentation does not address itself to the subject at all, or even raise it as a category.) I know that aesthetics are of particular interest to you, and I'm sincere in that I would love to discuss modern art with you in the future -- but again, in a more appropriate thread.

Regardless, I continue to maintain that two Objectivists can disagree about the subject of modern art and yet be two Objectivists.

2 hours ago, KyaryPamyu said:

For the record, Kelley strikes me as a non-Objectivist, or rather, he's practicing a different kind of philosophical system. I say this because I've skimmed through The Logical Structure of Objectivism and his disagreements with 'official dogma' actually reveal gross misunderstandings of what Rand's actual positions were, a type of carelesness which also points to rationalism.

I haven't studied Kelley to the point where I could say whether I consider him to be an Objectivist or not. I looked into him briefly for the purpose of assessing "closed" versus "open systems," and found him generally misunderstood at the time, and I've subsequently looked into select parts of the Logical Structure of Objectivism to suss out questions about ethics which seem to me to continue to bedevil the Objectivist community -- and I certainly and profoundly disagree with him on that score.

But in all events, I would myself hesitate before making too many pronouncements on his beliefs and his character, on the basis of a skim read of some portion of his work, lest I myself be careless.

Share this post


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

I you aren't emotionally invested in Ayn Rand or her work why are you posting on this board?

Precisely because Objectivism is one of the few ideologies rational enough that there's no one at the door checking for emotional investment. All you need to be accepted by its proponents is Reason. Not devotion, not being a disciple, not emotional attachment.

I can just live my life, and pop in once in a while, see if there's something interesting being discussed. Starting to feel like I'm out of luck today...but maybe not, I still haven't checked Gus van Horn's blog feed.

Edited by Nicky

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
44 minutes ago, DonAthos said:

Regardless, I continue to maintain that two Objectivists can disagree about the subject of modern art and yet be two Objectivists.

I think this overcomplicates it. For one, it's not like religion where we have to also include hundreds of years of cultural traditions and the interpretation of prophets. It's not like a political movement either with a directed political goal either. Rand has a specific corpus of work, and that's it. You could debate which inferences count as part of her work, but that's more like doing history than doing philosophy.

It's pretty simple to say you agree with a certain principle about Objectivism, or say "I am an Objectivist" when you talk about ethics. People wouldn't be confused what you mean. But why bother to portray your position on modern art as "Objectivist" when you're not even trying to say your position is like Rand's? 


Or maybe you mean to say that you don't think your position on modern art is Objectivist at all, but you want to be labeled as an Objectivist because of all your other beliefs. But why care about the label? 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The question of what causes the degree of conflict in a country can be complicated.  I recently read something arguing that certain features of the mechanics of U.S.A. politics (an important presidency, districts in which only one member of a legislative body is elected) encourage a two-party system and that a two-party system causes polarization.  

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
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×