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One Prime Mover

Why must "Objectivism" = "Ayn Rand"?

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I've heard many people say that Objectivism is the philosophy of Ayn Rand; to be an Objectivist, you must adhere to it in its entirety, as it was set forth by Ayn Rand. I've heard that, by definition, an Objectivist does not disagree with Ayn Rand on any point -- otherwise he is not an Objectivist. If I'm wrong, just stop reading and let me know -- the rest of this post depends on my correct understanding of the above.

Isn't this sort of thing dangerous? Isn't it dogmatic? I see Objectivism as a science; the science of rational philosophy. Dogma and science do not go hand in hand -- dogma restricts the change and growth on which science depends. I strongly doubt that Ayn Rand was infallible, and I think it a reasonable that her philosophy is likewise imperfect.

A rational philosopher, as I see it, does not bind himself to dogma in any way. If Objectivism truly is only the philosophy of Ayn Rand (and no permutation of it), then it is intellectually irresponsible to call yourself an Objectivist -- you are restricting yourself to dogma. If you suddenly find something you disagree with, do you lose your right to refer to yourself as an Objectivist until you 'correct' your error and rejoin the fold? The term 'Objectivism,' then, is antithesis to free thought; it applies a restriction to how you think, in that your first priority is no longer to understand and adhere to reality, but to understand and adhere to Ayn Rand's philosophy of reality.

Perhaps my issue is in how I view Objectivism. I've never seen it as Ayn Rand's creation, but as her discovery. From the three primary axioms to the affirmation of logic to the use of reason to arrive at rational morality, politics and ultimately a society, everything is based on what is real. Ayn Rand didn't create Objectivism any more than Newton created gravity; they were both unparalleled geniuses who discovered objective truth.

Defining Objectivism as this philosophical discovery, then, it strikes me as natural to open Objectivism up to logical analysis and modification -- improving its relation to existence without regard to Ayn Rand's initial interpretation of it. As Einstein permitted himself to expand Newton's theory of gravity without having to call it something else, we should be permitted to expand Rand's philosophy of Objectivism without having to rename it. Restricting the term 'Objectivism' to a dogmatic, unquestioning, absolute reliance on Ayn Rand's specifically described philosophy strikes me as oddly anti-Objectivist. Restricting 'Objectivism' to Ayn Rand's interpretation of existence instead of the reality of existence (subject to our continued analysis and discovery) is akin to espousing Primacy of Consciousness over Primacy of Existence.

I'm not saying that Ayn Rand was wrong at all; I'm far too inexperienced with her philosophy to make such a sweeping claim. For all I know, she may have been perfectly correct -- a Pythagorus instead of a Newton, and her interpretation of existence is the reality of existence. My point, though, is that it would be more responsible to rest 'Objectivism' on the reality of existence than on her interpretation. Doing so would give us the potential to correct any errors that may exist, and this is something we know John Galt would agree with:

"An error made on your own is safer than ten truths accepted on faith, because the first leaves you the means to correct it, but the second destroys your capacity to distinguish truth from error."

Relating independent discovery vs. faith to relying on reality vs. relying on Ayn Rand's words, is the above not equally applicable?

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I would say to hold off on this until you have found an error in her structure. You are misunderstanding the meaning of *closed system*. Closed System means that nothing can be added that contradicts the basic structure. Logically, there is no error in Ayn Rand's system, as she outlined it. This does not mean (as had been said many times before) that we have to all like the same flavor of ice cream. It means that you adhere to her structure, and any claims you make as to what Objectivism is, go back to her structure and also identify your own interpretation as what it is-YOUR interpretation of HER philosophy. It may have been a discovery of the truths of reality, but Ayn Rand *did* create the system of identifying those facts, to ignore this is to ignore reality.

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I've heard that, by definition, an Objectivist does not disagree with Ayn Rand on any point -- otherwise he is not an Objectivist.

False. Objectivism is the philosophy of Ayn Rand, not the random collection of stuff Rand might have said at one point in her life.

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Well I've got a question for you, OnePrimeMover/TrendyCynic:

You say,

I've heard many people say that Objectivism is the philosophy of Ayn Rand; to be an Objectivist, you must adhere to it in its entirety, as it was set forth by Ayn Rand.
Why do you feel like you have to be an Objectivist? I mean what's the big deal for you here? Clearly, unlike most people on this forum, you haven't read her fiction works and thus aren't really emotionally attached neither to AR nor to the reasons why she created her philosophy. What, then, is the big deal for you whether you are considered an Objectivist or not? Edited by Free Capitalist

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Perhaps its only inexperience that makes one see things this way, but I agree with One Prime Mover. Once I read some of Rand's works I immediately said "I am Objectivist.", now after reading this forum I've decided to hold off on that statement because of some helpful advice, and witnessing some words I deem scary coming from people here who I call themeselves Objectivist.

I respect Ayn Rand immensely, but I don't take her word as infallible. Some people seem to quote Ms. Rand as though her mere words make things fact, and discount any opposition as irrational on the sole basis that they disagree with AR. I wish you would see everyone using their own judgment as the basis of their claims and backing them up, rather than starting with what AR said and working to try and prove it.

Before I get flamed: This is my opinion. I will not name names or specific posts simply because I don't want to have an meaningless debate with anyone who I believe isn't being entirely rational, but yet has more Objectivist experience than I. I just wanted to add my verbal support ot One Prime Movers post, and let him know that he isn't the only one.

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False. Objectivism is the philosophy of Ayn Rand, not the random collection of stuff Rand might have said at one point in her life.
Sorry, I was unclear; that's what I meant. I see Objectivism to be more akin to a logical and, thus, scientific discovery than anything else; it is objective truth. How is it a good thing to restrict a scientific discovery to the words of one person, to the exclusion of all growth, modification, refinement and analysis by those who come later? At best, it means that new understanding or discoveries built on Rand's rational philosophy can no longer help Objectivism, only invalidate it.

Why do you feel like you have to be an Objectivist? I mean what's the big deal for you here? Clearly, unlike most people on this forum, you haven't read her fiction works and thus aren't really emotionally attached neither to AR nor to the reasons why she created her philosophy. What, then, is the big deal for you whether you are considered an Objectivist or not?
Whoa, where did all this come from? Did I strike a nerve? I thought we were supposed to engage in rational discussion in this forum.

First, as one of the people most adamantly insisting I change my name from 'The Trendy Cynic,' I find it interesting you're so willing to resurrect it once I'd acquiesced. You've made your point; it was a name chosen out of ignorance of its deeper philosophical meanings, and I've since corrected my misguided error. Do you have anything further to add, or can I move on as 'One Prime Mover?'

I have read Atlas Shrugged, which I understand to be one of the more important fictional works by Ayn Rand. Regarding 'most people on this forum,' it was their advice that I followed in moving onto ITOE and OPAR next. How this applies is completely beyond me; are you implying that, had I read more of her fiction, I'd 'get' how important it is to accept the dogmatic restriction of Objectivism? That emotional attachment to a logical/scientific discovery is in any way relevant to an evaluation of it?

"Read the Bible, then you'll know how much Jesus loves you!"

I don't consider myself an Objectivist (yet), nor do I have any real emotional investment in becoming one until I understand it fully and unless I agree with it completely. It is the latter condition that I'm looking into with this thread; is complete agreement necessary? If so, then I see that as a problem -- such necessary, complete agreement is dogmatic. Why can't Objectivism be opened to refinement and improvement? Even religion allows that much of itself, and science lives for it. I would hope that Objectivism has more in common with science than religion, but if 'Objectivism' dogmatically rejects any and all growth or modification through better understanding, then I fear it has more in common with orthodox Judaism than rational, objective inquiry. Sure, it's more in line with the latter, but it suffers from the exact same inability to correct errors mentioned by John Galt with regard to faith.

To give you a sense of where I'm headed, I expect to agree with Objectivism to a great degree. I wouldn't be surprised if I couldn't find a single thing wrong with it. Even so, I will not term myself an Objectivist if that definition's essential characteristic is 'agreeing with Ayn Rand's philosophy,' as opposed to her definition of Objectivism, which is: "the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute."

Even though they may both mean the same thing, I still think it wrong to root an objective understanding of anything on someone else's interpretation, as opposed to a concept that exists independent of the person who originally formulated it (and is open to refinement, improvement, and everything else I expect of rational science/logic).

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Where do people keep getting this stupid domatism question from? Objectivism is by far the most individualistic and therefore undogmatic philosophy known to man. All I can say is if certain people find the philosophy dogmatic they don't at all understand the philosophy. To be an Objectivist one must agree with all that Ayn Rand ever officially labelled Objectivsm. But this in NO WAY implies dogmatism; it implies that the reader and eventually the person calling oneself "Objectivist" has thought through and rationally considered and accepted what was written. He doesn't just read it and take it on "faith", he reads it, considers it carefully, studies its logical structure, its premises, its conclusions, and only AFTER much rational thought decides objectivelyand rationally that is TRUE and GOOD. How and in what way does that process imply dogmatism?

Edited by Rational_One

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The way I see it: Ayn Rand was the inventor of the philosophy; she called it Objectivism, and if I am not mistaken, that name is a trade mark of hers (maybe now its Leonard Peikoff`s, I don’t know); and she asked that only those who completely agree with her philosophy should call themselves Objectivists. Now, that’s good enough for me, NOT because she is AR; had Immanuel Kant asked that only those who agree completely with his philosophy call themselves Kantians, that would be good enough for me as well, since he created "Kantianism"; it’s HIS achievement. The same goes for Ayn Rand and Objectivism.

Once I read some of Rand's works I immediately said "I am Objectivist.", now after reading this forum I've decided to hold off on that statement because of some helpful advice, and witnessing some words I deem scary coming from people here who I call themeselves Objectivist. 

I respect Ayn Rand immensely, but I don't take her word as infallible.  Some people seem to quote Ms. Rand as though her mere words make things fact, and discount any opposition as irrational on the sole basis that they disagree with AR.  I wish you would see everyone using their own judgment as the basis of their claims and backing them up, rather than starting with what AR said and working to try and prove it.

Considering that it is Ayn Rand`s philosophy, you should consider what SHE said, and not anybody else; and just like you, I too was under the clear impression that miss Rand stated explicitly that she is NOT infallible; that NOTHING she said can be “taken on faith”. So, if someone here that calls himself an Objectivist suggests otherwise, you should not infer anything of it regarding you own “entitlement” to the term Objectivist; it is what AR had written (actually, what she had written that is considered "the tenets of Objectivism", and not all she had ever written) that obligates you, and nothing else.

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I just wanted to add that:

A. I am writing these posts from the perspective of someone who has known miss Rand`s fiction and nonfiction for several years now, but has just now started to "get a clue" about all the "who is an Objectivist" subject.

B. Going through the archives, I saw this post from a veteran Objectivist; I think the post says something:

I think the question "Who deserves the title of Objectivist?" is invalid.

"Deserve" is an evaluation.  It means that the title "Objectivist" is something good about the person who holds it, that it is an achievement or a value he has earned.  It isn't.  It is a description.  It simply means someone who advocates the philosophy of Ayn Rand.

In my 40+ years involved with Objectivism, I have seen the people who want to use it as evaluation, try to paste it on themselves as a title of honor, a badge of accomplishment, etc. that none of them has really earned.  It's as if, when  other people call them an "Objectivist," their worth is acknowledged and they are superior to those who are not.  For some people, sorting out the "Objectivists" from the "non-Objectivists" is a major obsession.

Those who see it as a description couldn't care less about putting that label on themselves and others.  Their real concern is whether they and others are in sync with reality and whether they are on track to achieve their values.  That's where a person's real worth comes from.

Edited by A.A

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The way I see it: Ayn Rand was the inventor of the philosophy; she called it Objectivism, and if I am not mistaken, that name is a trade mark of hers (maybe now its Leonard Peikoff`s, I don’t know);

If Ayn Rand or the Ayn Rand Institute ever trademarked the name "Objectivism," they never made it publicly known via the familiar “®” or “TM” emblem next to the protected mark. It is hardly plausible that Rand or her estate would have trademark protection but keep it a secret. According to IP attorney Richard Stim, “Failure to put the notice on a registered trademark can greatly reduce the possibility of recovering significant damages if it later becomes necessary to file a lawsuit against an infringer.” Even if she had sought one, it is doubtful Rand could have obtained a trademark for “objectivism,” By the late fifties when Rand began the organized promotion of her philosophy, “objectivism” was already in currency within the philosophical community (although not strictly in the sense that Rand used it), and thus was not unique enough to merit trademark protection. Generic terms are not protectable. By contrast, L. Ron Hubbard was able to trademark the name “Scientology” because the word was not in general use at the time he filed for protection.

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I've heard many people say that Objectivism is the philosophy of Ayn Rand
but...

I see Objectivism as a science; the science of rational philosophy.
It is one thing to call Objectivism a "rational philosophy" but it is not acceptable to equate the two, as if Objectivism means "a true philosophy." It does not--it is one particular person's philosophy. If she made any fundamental mistakes it will not change what Objectivism refers to.

A rational philosopher, as I see it, does not bind himself to dogma in any way. If Objectivism truly is only the philosophy of Ayn Rand (and no permutation of it), then it is intellectually irresponsible to call yourself an Objectivist -- you are restricting yourself to dogma. If you suddenly find something you disagree with, do you lose your right to refer to yourself as an Objectivist until you 'correct' your error and rejoin the fold? The term 'Objectivism,' then, is antithesis to free thought; it applies a restriction to how you think, in that your first priority is no longer to understand and adhere to reality, but to understand and adhere to Ayn Rand's philosophy of reality.

This does not follow. For a pre-relativity scientist to call himself "Newtonian" does not mean either that he slavishly agrees with everything that Newton said, nor does it mean that he agrees with Newton's laws of mechanics because Newton said so. It means he has evaluated the Newtonian system and found it to be true, in all of its fundamental principles. If he then discovers facts that contradict it, he either qualifies his position ("Newtonianism is correct under these conditions") or abandons it entirely, depending on how deeply the contradiction runs.

In no case, in the Newtonian situation I outlined, would anyone speak of him "losing his right to call himself a Newtonian" as if some panel of judges handed out titles.

Perhaps my issue is in how I view Objectivism. I've never seen it as Ayn Rand's creation, but as her discovery. From the three primary axioms to the affirmation of logic to the use of reason to arrive at rational morality, politics and ultimately a society, everything is based on what is real. Ayn Rand didn't create Objectivism any more than Newton created gravity; they were both unparalleled geniuses who discovered objective truth.

This is a common misunderstanding stemming from the false dichotomy of "create" vs. "discover" (which in turn comes from the epistemologies of subjectivism and intrincism, respectively). In fact there is a third alternative: "formulate." Aristotle, for instance, didn't create Aristotelianism, but he didn't discover it either: he created a philosophy that was in accordance with what he discovered about reality. Knowledge always includes both the object and the subject.

Of course, the actual truth or falsity doesn't matter: Kant didn't create Kantianism nor did he discover it; he, too, formulated it.

Defining Objectivism as this philosophical discovery, then, it strikes me as natural to open Objectivism up to logical analysis and modification -- improving its relation to existence without regard to Ayn Rand's initial interpretation of it. As Einstein permitted himself to expand Newton's theory of gravity without having to call it something else, we should be permitted to expand Rand's philosophy of Objectivism without having to rename it.
This demonstrates the error you are making most clearly. When Einstein expanded Newton's theory of gravity he did not call it Newton's or Newtonian. In fact, Newtonian has come to mean non-relativistic mechanics, because 1) it is so successful at low speeds, and 2) relativistic effects are the only known contradictions to it (caveat: I am not a scientist). If something similar happened to Objectivism, I expect you'd get exactly the same situation.

I'm not saying that Ayn Rand was wrong at all; I'm far too inexperienced with her philosophy to make such a sweeping claim.

In that case, it is far too early to worry about whether or not you call yourself an "Objectivist." Until you are experienced enough to know what her system is, and how it integrates or not with reality, it would be premature to announce that your understanding of reality matches hers (which is all being an "Objectivist" means). You could, however, call yourself a student of Objectivism, to indicate both that you are studying it because you have found it to have merit so far, and that you have not reached a full-enough understanding to judge the whole.

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If Ayn Rand or the Ayn Rand Institute ever trademarked the name "Objectivism," they never made it publicly known via the familiar “®” or “TM” emblem next to the protected mark.  It is hardly plausible that Rand or her estate would have trademark protection but keep it a secret.  According to IP attorney Richard Stim, “Failure to put the notice on a registered trademark can greatly reduce the possibility of recovering significant damages if it later becomes necessary to file a lawsuit against an infringer.”  Even if she had sought one, it is doubtful Rand could have obtained a trademark for “objectivism,”  By the late fifties when Rand began the organized promotion of her philosophy, “objectivism” was already in currency within the philosophical community (although not strictly in the sense that Rand used it), and thus was not unique enough to merit trademark protection.  Generic terms are not protectable.  By contrast, L. Ron Hubbard was able to trademark the name “Scientology” because the word was not in general use at the time he filed for protection.

I wrote the above claim based on my memory from the forum guidelines on the "aynrandfans" forum:

d. Spelling Objectivism or Objectivist with a small "o". Objectivism is a proper noun denoting the philosophy of Ayn Rand and Objectivist, in some contexts, is a registered trademark of the Estate of Ayn Rand. With a small "o" it could be one of many philosophies that take different positions from Ayn Rand on philosophical issues. On THE FORUM we always use the capital "O" for accuracy and to show respect for Ayn Rand's philosophy.

[bold mine]

Since I didn’t remember the words "in some contexts", I wrote it as I did. Now that I see them, and I see your argument, I have no idea, and I don’t think it’s extremely important for my claim in the above post; Rand`s intellectual ownership of the term is what’s important here.

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I will not term myself an Objectivist if that definition's essential characteristic is 'agreeing with Ayn Rand's philosophy,' as opposed to her definition of Objectivism, which is: "the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute."

Even though they may both mean the same thing, I still think it wrong to root an objective understanding of anything on someone else's interpretation, as opposed to a concept that exists independent of the person who originally formulated it (and is open to refinement, improvement, and everything else I expect of rational science/logic).

Why would you want to call yourself an Objectivist if you had refined or improved Objectivism? Wouldn't you want to take credit for your own achievement?

Objectivism refers only to the philosophy of Ayn Rand. You may see fit to in the future change some aspect of it. In that case, you would say you had been greatly inspired by Objectivism perhaps, but you would want credit for the advances you had made philosophically would you not? Why would you scoot it under the title of Objectivism (thereby implying Ayn Rand had discovered it)?

Objectivism refers to a specific structure. To alter that structure is to create something new, perhaps a hybrid, a knock off, or a new philosophy. Whatever it is, that's up to you. But if I call a mule a horse-that's misleading-right? Especially if I was trying to sell you a horse, and you never saw it, and then I gave you a mule. You'd think that was wrong right?

Perhaps that's a bad analogy? I'm trying to be as clear as possible.

What it is, is that concepts (like that of Objectivism) have concrete referents (the philosophy of Ayn Rand). That's the definition. It's a title of a philosophy, and the only way it becomes the title of a person or group of people is by reference to that (people who adhere to the philosophy of Ayn Rand). That's all it is. It has no magic powers to make you suddenly moral, or to make you popular. But it does have a specific definition. To decide Objectivism means whatever you want it to mean, or to call yourself Objectivist while ignoring the philosophy of Ayn Rand, is simply dishonest. For no reason but that you are ignoring the definition of the word.

Edited by Dominique

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I actually remember reading somewhere that Ayn Rand titled her philosophy Objectivism so that it would survive separate of her, and I think this whole mess comes up because of TOC and their ilk misrepresenting the philosophy. I would say it is even more accurate to point at ITOE and say "this is Objectivism" but unfortunately, certain close friends of hers took on a gross misrepresentation of the philosophy, that it had to be furthur delineated. I think that ITOE is a closed epistemological construct, but it's an "introduction", because it is the skelaton, and then Peikoff fleshed it out in "Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand" (see that folks? right there-the philosophy of Ayn Rand ;) ) But ITOE is complete. Ironically-calling it the philosophy of Ayn Rand actually delineates it (to separate it from the TOC ilk) and expands it (to encompass her other works-which is appropriate I think).

Anyway this is just my guess.

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I wrote the above claim based on my memory from the forum guidelines on the "aynrandfans" forum:

[bold mine]

Since I didn’t remember the words "in some contexts", I wrote it as I did. Now that I see them, and I see your argument, I have no idea, and I don’t think it’s extremely important for my claim in the above post; Rand`s intellectual ownership of the term is what’s important here.

If the claim that "Objectivism is a proper noun denoting the philosophy of Ayn Rand and Objectivist, in some contexts, is a registered trademark of the Estate of Ayn Rand," is untrue -- and all indications are such -- then you may wish to re-evaluate your estimation of those posting at "aynrandfans" forum.

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Objectivism refers only to the philosophy of Ayn Rand.

Dominique, that would be true only if Rand had obtained a trademark on "objectivism" that would exclude all others from use of the appellation "Objectivism" in philosophy. In fact, The New Encyclopedia of Philosophy (1958) -- published before Ayn Rand had begun disseminating "Objectivism" as her philosophy -- defined “’objectivism" as

“opposed to ‘subjectivism.’ The conception that the object has its own structure. In epistemology the objectivists affirm that truth is objectivism i.e., independent from the subject.”

I understand that this encyclopedia’s definition is not Rand’s, but at the same time it should be understood that Rand did not invent the term “objectivism” and holds no special rights to that term.

Edited by Tom Robinson

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Dominique, that would be true only if Rand had obtained a trademark on "objectivism" that would exclude all others from use of the appellation "Objectivism" in philosophy.  In fact, The New Encyclopedia of Philosophy (1958) -- published before Ayn Rand had begun disseminating "Objectivism" as her philosophy -- defined “’objectivism" as

“opposed to ‘subjectivism.’  The conception that the object has its own structure. In epistemology the objectivists affirm that truth is objectivism i.e., independent from the subject.”

I understand that this encyclopedia’s definition is not Rand’s, but at the same time it should be understood that Rand did not invent the term “objectivism” and holds no special rights to that term.

But that's precisely the point. "Objectivism" the title refers to the philosophy of Ayn Rand. This is to differentiate it from "objectivism", which has a different connotation all together. This is the same as "God" representing the Judeo-Christian God, as opposed to the gods of other religions. They also have two separate definitions. I doubt "God" (or his disciples here on Earth-hey there you go, another example) trademarked it.

[edited for spelling and grammer]

Edited by Dominique

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Whoa, where did all this come from? Did I strike a nerve?
OnePrimeMover, you haven't struck much of a nerve actually. I was only trying to figure out why you were so concerned with who was concidered an Objectivist and who was not. People who read the fiction works and develop an intense personal attachment to her and her ideas often find it (properly) necessary to find this new group of people they heretofore knew nothing about, and to 'hang around' them. Some of these attempt to call themselves Objectivists (improperly) in order to achieve a certain level of recognition and respect they haven't earned yet.

But either way, clearly you are not part of this group who was deeply emotionally touched by AR and her ideas. So why will it not be enough for you to read about her ideas and think about what they mean? Why do you care what can be called an Objectivist or not, since I am pretty sure you don't intend to qualify for the label?

Edited by Free Capitalist

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But that's precisely the point. "Objectivism" the title refers to the philosophy of Ayn Rand. This is to differentiate it from "objectivism", which has a different connotation all together.

Great. So if the non-trademarked Ayn Rand Estate’s version of “Objectivism” refers to the philosophy of Ayn Rand as interpreted by the Ayn Rand Estate, any other non-trademarked versions of Objectivism which does not stem from the Ayn Rand Estate’s non-trademarked version must necessarily refer to some other non-trademarked version of Objectivism not approved by the Ayn Rand Estate. Yes, this clears things up nicely.

This is the same as "God" representing the Judeo-Christian God, as opposed to the gods of other religions. They also have two separate definitions. I doubt "God" (or his disciples here on Earth-hey there you go, another example) trademarked it.

[edited for spelling and grammer]

I can’t imagine that the atheist Rand could have come up with a better analogy herself.

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Great.  So if the non-trademarked Ayn Rand Estate’s version of “Objectivism” refers to the philosophy of Ayn Rand as interpreted by the Ayn Rand Estate, any other non-trademarked versions of Objectivism which does not stem from the Ayn Rand Estate’s non-trademarked version must necessarily refer to some other non-trademarked version of Objectivism not approved by the Ayn Rand Estate.  Yes, this clears things up nicely.  
No, I have already said it refers only to ITOE. Adding to that the other works of Ayn Rand herself doesn't confuse the issue, she is the legal author of the philosophy. What ARI puts out is the application and study of "Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand' (Not the book, just that, the philosophy of Ayn Rand). ARI isn't pushing Objectivist policy that is different or separate from Ayn Rand's philosophy (that I can tell). They apply it and *take credit for their own interpretations and applications*. They are scrupulous in pointing out what comes directly from the original works of Ayn Rand and what has been edited, expounded upon, or inferred. THAT is honesty. Any rational mind may decide if they are true to their agenda or if they are not. TOC tries the same thing and IS NOT. None of this changes the definition of Objectivism or of Objectivists.
I can’t imagine that the atheist Rand could have come up with a better analogy herself.

Your snide remark elicits no further discussion, however as I already mentioned, substitute Earth and earth, or try English and english, etc.

(hint: it's called a proper noun)

Edited by Dominique

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No, "Objectivism," the capitalized title, does not refer exclusively to the philosophy of Ayn Rand. Louis Zukofsky was writing about "Objectivist" poetics three decades before Ayn Rand began the public promotion of her philosophical system. In 1932 he published An“Objectivists” Anthology. Yes, there is only one “Earth,” but there is more than one Objectivism.

Edited by Tom Robinson

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No, "Objectivism," the capitalized title, does not refer exclusively to the philosophy of Ayn Rand.  Louis Zukofsky was writing about "Objectivist" poetics three decades before Ayn Rand began the public promotion of her philosophical system.  In 1932 he published An“Objectivists” Anthology.  Yes, there is only one “Earth,” but there is more than one Objectivism.

Actually that's quite fascinating. Zukofsky seems to have been a Marxist modernist of the kind Ayn Rand had always opposed. It's quite ironic that he apparently also picked the title "Objectivist" but then Marxists have always claims to be the movement of so-called objectivity and science. Nevertheless, this seems to me to be not unlike the difference between the Romantic school in art and the Romantic philosophy in the 19th century, except in reverse, since Ayn Rand subscribed to the Romantic artistic principles but disagreed sharply with the 19th century philosophic trend. I don't think any of this defeats the arguments of your opponents, it just means that when the context is unclear, more than capitalization is necessary to specify what one is talking about.

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No, "Objectivism," the capitalized title, does not refer exclusively to the philosophy of Ayn Rand.  Louis Zukofsky was writing about "Objectivist" poetics three decades before Ayn Rand began the public promotion of her philosophical system.  In 1932 he published An“Objectivists” Anthology.  Yes, there is only one “Earth,” but there is more than one Objectivism.

Would you feel more comfortable if we clarified "Objectivism-The Philosophy" and opposed to "Objectivist Poetry?"

I still don't think this changes the fact that it is a proper noun. It refers to either a specific type of poetry or a specific philosophy-that of Ayn Rand. I think you are purposefully diluting the point here- Straw Man anyone?

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One Prime Mover, your mistake is an easy one to spot;

I've heard many people say that Objectivism is the philosophy of Ayn Rand; to be an Objectivist, you must adhere to it in its entirety, as it was set forth by Ayn Rand. I've heard that, by definition, an Objectivist does not disagree with Ayn Rand on any point -- otherwise he is not an Objectivist. If I'm wrong, just stop reading and let me know -- the rest of this post depends on my correct understanding of the above.

Ok, here you've explained the subject of your argument (the Objectivists defining "Objectivism" as such) as well as the definition being used by these people (Objectivism is "the philosophy of Ayn Rand").

Now, since the subject of your argument does not change, let's see if your description of the definition they use also remains constant (as it should)...

Isn't this sort of thing dangerous? Isn't it dogmatic? I see Objectivism as a science; the science of rational philosophy. Dogma and science do not go hand in hand -- dogma restricts the change and growth on which science depends. I strongly doubt that Ayn Rand was infallible, and I think it a reasonable that her philosophy is likewise imperfect.

No, you've now decided to change the definition being used from "the philosophy of Ayn Rand" to "a true, perfect philosophy." You've switched the essential attribute being used to define the word, and you thereby contradict your earlier premise. You cannot substitute your own definition of a word for somebody else's, and then conclude that whenever the person uses the word that they are using it to refer to your definition instead of their own. This is all the more illogical when, only a paragraph ago, you admit that the Objectivists in question define "Objectivism" as "the philosophy of Ayn Rand."

If you admit that Objectivists use the word "Objectivist" to mean "a person in agreement with the philosophy of Ayn Rand," then consider this substitution;

A person in agreement with the philosophy of Ayn Rand does not disagree with the philosophy of Ayn Rand.

If the definition of "Objectivist" is as you first described it, then this sentence should be valid. What is dangerous or dogmatic about that sentence?

A rational philosopher, as I see it, does not bind himself to dogma in any way. If Objectivism truly is only the philosophy of Ayn Rand (and no permutation of it), then it is intellectually irresponsible to call yourself an Objectivist -- you are restricting yourself to dogma. If you suddenly find something you disagree with, do you lose your right to refer to yourself as an Objectivist until you 'correct' your error and rejoin the fold? The term 'Objectivism,' then, is antithesis to free thought; it applies a restriction to how you think, in that your first priority is no longer to understand and adhere to reality, but to understand and adhere to Ayn Rand's philosophy of reality.

No, you're mixing up the definitions again. Calling yourself an Objectivist is in no way "binding" or "restricting". The word refers to a set of ideas that are the same as the ideas that Ayn Rand formulated. If your ideas are not as such, then the category "Objectivist" simply does not apply to you. The description is hardly the "antithesis to free thought"- no more so than the phrase "football player" forces a person to play football.

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Would you feel more comfortable if we clarified "Objectivism-The Philosophy" and opposed to "Objectivist Poetry?"

I still don't think this changes the fact that it is a proper noun. It refers to either a specific type of poetry or a specific philosophy-that of Ayn Rand. I think you are purposefully diluting the point here- Straw Man anyone?

My comfort level is not the issue. I merely sought to correct the error in your statement, "'Objectivism' the title refers to the philosophy of Ayn Rand." Since "Objectivism" is not a trademark of Ayn Rand or her estate, there is nothing illegal or even improper about calling oneself a capital "O" Objectivist -- even if one has significant differences with Rand on a number of positions. Example: if I run a restaurant I cannot trademark the word "Hamburger" because it is already in wide generic use. I can, however, sell a meat patty inside a bun under the sign "Tom Robinson’s Hamburgers" (to distinguish mine from "McDonald’s® Hamburgers") or create my own unique version of a meat patty inside a bun and give it a distinctive, non-generic name, say, “Tombrrgrr®.” Thus, you may refer to Objectivism: the Philosophy of Ayn Rand to distinguish it from other philosophical versions of Objectivism; however, Ayn Rand’s Objectivism, even with a capital letter “O,” is not the only rightful claimant of the appellation.

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