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Why must "Objectivism" = "Ayn Rand"?

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Does anyone here want to call himself a Binswangerist or a student of Peikoffism (Joking)?

Seriously, many of us want to associate ourselves to the philosophy developed by Ayn Rand, but do not want to commit ourselves to every piece of it without exception.

I suggest that "Objectivism" be defined as the philosophy developed by Ayn Rand to the extent that it is true.

I add the limitation "to the extent that it is true" because it definitely contains at least one major error -- the idea that there is a fallacy of the stolen concept. There is no such fallacy.

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I add the limitation "to the extent that it is true" because it definitely contains at least one major error -- the idea that there is a fallacy of the stolen concept.  There is no such fallacy.

I have started a new thread on this claim, because I am curious to understand your point. I am creating a new topic because it warrants a separate thread, but posting here in case jrs (or any other member) didn't see it.

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In response to Tom Robinson:

Objectivism means a particular thing and nothing else; same for each and every word out there.  This is the primary idea behind the statement 'A IS A'.  To imply that Ayn Rand had to take out a trademark to 'keep' the word Objectivism meaning what it does, is absurd and insulting.  There may not be anything illegal about calling one's self an Objectivist if you aren't one, but there sure is something damned improper about it.

I agree that “Objectivism” as articulated by Ayn Rand “means a particular thing and nothing else.” However, since the word “objectivism” had long been in use before Rand began formally disseminating her philosophy, it is simply not true that the only “objectivism” (capitalized or not) is the Objectivism of Ayn Rand. According to the New Encyclopedia of Philosophy (1958), “In epistemology, the objectivists affirm that truth is objective, i.e. independent of the subject . . . In ethics objectivism teaches the objective character of the values.” Certainly, Rand’s system went far beyond the basics set forth by traditional objectivists to include politics, psychology, art and literary theory. However, this development does not give Rand or her estate special title to “Objectivism” anymore than McDonalds® by virtue of its development as a restaurant giant has a special claim to the word “Hamburger.”

A response in general:

Anyone who calls themself an Objectivist, knowing that they disagree with some point(s) of Ayn Rand's philosophy is trying to mooch off of her reputation for being right and honest.  I agree with much of her philosophy (almost all in fact); but when it comes right down to it, I don't call myself an Objectivist, because of those last few philosophical points that I either disagree with or am uncertain about.

Anyone who would try to change the meaning of a word to suit their arguments is a Subjectivist, by definition!  Disagree with Objectivism and you can still be honest (it's easy to make a mistake), call Objectivism a package-deal concept and you might still be making an honest error (it might be possible from certain erronious views), but to try to change what Objectivism means so that you can have it's honor without it's requirements is sick!  Any person sinking to this level of depravity DOES NOT BELONG HERE!  I know that this is not my private property and so I don't make the rules for it, but the rules I've seen for this website state that this kind of dialog is unwelcome and deserves punishment (in the form of reprimands or even banning).

Agreed, it would be deceitful to represent a set of ideas that were not Ayn Rand’s as “Ayn Rand’s philosophy.” This is a matter of intellectual honesty. Similarly, a welfare-statist should not call himself a “Jeffersonian-Democrat,” because nothing in Thomas Jefferson’s writings could justify the federal government’s current program of wealth redistribution. However, when it comes to terms that are not necessarily associated with a single person’s thoughts, it is both possible and likely that differing interpretations and definitions will arise. Take “capitalism.” In the view of some, “capitalism” means that most of the means of production are privately owned, while in the view of its fiercest advocates (such as Mises and Rand), capitalism means all of the means of production are privately owned. “Democracy” is another word whose meaning has been transformed, especially in the past century. “Capitalism,” “democracy” and “objectivism” are generic terms that are legally unprotected, i.e. not controlled by a single person or institution. To avoid confusion and promote clarity when dealing with such terms, simply make it clear what you mean by the word when you use it.

Edited by Tom Robinson

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I did not begin this thread to find some affirmation of my identity as an Objectivist; I'm not one, considering myself a student of Objectivism instead. I am discussing the characteristics of Objectivism as a whole, not their application to me. Please do not think that I am attempting to 'cheat' the word so I can wear it like a badge of honor; that would be ridiculous to anyone who even remotely understands the philosophy. My problem with the definition of Objectivism as the philosophy of Ayn Rand was poorly explained, though, and I know why. Studying Objectivism has helped me see that I'm still very reliant on ideas at the fringes of what I've rationally integrated -- intuitions and half-formed concepts that I only think I've fully evaluated and confirmed. The objection that began this thread was one such example.

I value Objectivism very highly and, because of this value, I am very anxious to explain or correct any flaw I perceive with it. I like it so much that each perceived flaw is sort of like my turn in a game of Russian Roulette: "Please, please, please, let someone show me why I'm wrong so everything can go back to being perfect :)"

At the moment, it's my turn to pull the trigger again with the perception that the definition of Objectivism is dangerous, cognitively invalid and in need of change.

My Approach (Context)

In mindset I'm a scientist, not a philosopher, so my approach towards anything new is deeply influenced by my affinity with all things scientific. To me, any system of claims, facts or proposed theories gains credibility by possessing characteristics such as:

* Falsifiable: Contradicting evidence could and would exist if the proposed claim were false.

* Logical: The claim is rationally formulated and relies on relevant and reliable evidence.

* Methodical: The claim is presented methodically, in a structured fashion that is easily understood.

* Consistent: The claim is internally consistent and well integrated.

* ... there are more, but it's probably unnecessary to list them all; you get the idea.

Conversely, I have a profound loathing of dogma (religion, specifically). While I consider it a rational emotional response in itself, its intensity can be irrational: It's clear to me that I have to be careful not to lose perspective because of it. A claim stands to lose a great deal of credibility with me if it possesses dogmatic characteristics like:

* Static: The claim resists change independent of evidence.

* Invalid Support: The claim seems to rely on credibility drawn from irrelevant sources, such as emotion or the prestige of its author.

* Blind Followers: Proponents of the claim tend to be 'all or nothing,' or zealous in their support of the claim regardless of the completeness of their understanding of it.

* ... etc.

Evaluation of Objectivism

I have been deeply moved and greatly impressed with the quality of Objectivism as a science. Everything makes sense, everything is rational, everything is consistent and methodical. I suppose I was wrong in saying I do not have an emotional investment in Objectivism: I do, one that is based on a rational evaluation of its characteristics as a scientific formulation (credit to dougclayton for pointing out the discovery/creation false dichotomy).

At the same time, I have a negative emotional reaction to Objectivism that I believe to be equally rational. Wary, maybe even anxious, it's based on my aversion to dogma and parallel characteristics I perceive in Objectivism. It's because I value Objectivism so highly that I'm so critical of its flaws. Objectivism is static; by definition, it is the philosophy of Ayn Rand. Only she can effect changes, and she is no longer with us. If new evidence presented itself, or a new logical inconsistency was discovered by a philosophical Einstein, then Objectivism would not endure -- instead of allowing itself a small tweak, a minor correction, it would have to be thrown out entirely and a completely new philosophical system introduced in its place.

A Threat To Integrity?

The practical seat of my wariness is the fear that, because Objectivism has been afforded such philosophical value, and because it is so resistant to change, a powerful emotional bias against existence is introduced. The bias is to continue supporting Objectivism even in the face of contradictory evidence (should any arise). Obviously such a bias would be irrational, but that doesn't free us of its threat. Human beings are fallible and no one -- not even a forty year veteran of Objectivism -- is immune to occasional lapses into irrationality. When the irrationality in question is being compelled by a powerful bias (the unwillingness to reject Objectivism entirely, motivated by the emotional attachment many of you have already confirmed) and necessitates only a small evasion (we are, after all, only discussing comparatively minor changes to Objectivism), I argue that it would be commonplace even in the most well intentioned. The result of this irrationality would threaten the integrity of what I consider to be a hallmark of intellectual achievement. Thus, I consider it a serious and persistent concern.

Definition By Nonessentials?

Objectivism, as I see it, could be compared to something like Calculus. Calculus is a mathematical formulation originally devised by Newton, as Objectivism is a philosophical formulation devised by Ayn Rand. Ayn Rand has related concept formation to algebra, so this is a parallel that has been drawn before. How is Calculus defined? It is not defined as 'the mathematics of Newton;' there is no such concept as a 'Calculist' defined as 'a person in agreement with the mathematics of Newton.' We can all see how this would be dangerous; you're associating math with people, instead of with numbers. But this is precisely what the concepts of Objectivism and Objectivist do: Associate a valid interpretation of reality with a single person, instead of with reality itself.

Calculus is properly defined as what it is: "The branch of mathematics that deals with limits and the differentiation and integration of functions of one or more variables" (from http://www.dictionary.com). Those people who might otherwise be termed 'Calculists' are, in fact, 'mathematicians,' all of whom readily confirm the validity of calculus without that brand of devotion. Without a term like 'Calculist,' there is no conceptual restriction or descriptive limitation that would discourage the modification, improvement or contribution to the formulation. How could Objectivism not benefit from a similar approach?

The convention of 'Objectivism' and 'Objectivist' does have parallels: Abstract art, destructive philosophies, schools of subjective film-making, oppressive political systems, dogmatic religion. All subjective and irrational; the naming convention strikes me as fundamentally invalid because it associates a concept with the irrelevant. Like defining men as 'primates with thumbs,' defining Objectivism as 'the philosophy of Ayn Rand' is a definition by nonessentials.

I see all of these as serious problems, and I do not believe that a zealous exclamation of 'well, you just can't just change the meaning of a word!' is a good enough reason to evade their importance.

Alternative Solution

How about we do precisely what Ayn Rand should have done so many years ago -- stop associating her philosophy with subjectivity and/or irrationality by adopting a naming convention that is only used with such constructs. Kantian/Kantianism makes perfect sense, because Kant pulled everything he said out of his convoluted behind. Ayn Rand's philosophy is so much more than that; it, unlike any other modern philosophy, is based in reality and not in imagination. It is primacy of existence, not primacy of consciousness. It is calculus, not Buddhism, and it should be treated as such.

Answering the question 'what is Objectivism?' with 'the philosophy of Ayn Rand' is not helpful. It is not cognitively efficient. It does not satisfy the requirements for a valid concept. What is the philosophy of Ayn Rand? The answer to that question should be the definition of Objectivism and of Objectivist, and any philosophy that satisfies that definition would be 'Objectivism.' The philosophy is no longer bound to one (however brilliant) interpretation and, like every other field of existence-based scientific or logical inquiry, now possesses a definition that is properly seated in reality and not in the mind of a single, fallible genius. The specific philosophy of Ayn Rand would be treated like the calculus of Newton -- the first formulation, the one that gets all the credit, but not afforded the inviolable sanctity of Biblical truth. Objectivism should be given the wings it needs to endure for centuries to come, and for that it needs to be untethered from its creator.

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but to try to change what Objectivism means so that you can have it's honor without it's requirements is sick!  Any person sinking to this level of depravity DOES NOT BELONG HERE!  I know that this is not my private property and so I don't make the rules for it, but the rules I've seen for this website state that this kind of dialog is unwelcome and deserves punishment (in the form of reprimands or even banning).

Here's another novel idea: If the topic under discussion is Objectivism, and if a person is genuinely seeking understanding and/or presenting rational points, then don't behave like a moody adolescent simply because you disagree with their approach.

I really hope that this quote was not a sign of general sentiment, but the lack of strongly worded objection from anyone else concerns me. No philosophy that I value would promote irrational censorship motivated by childish emotional ejaculation. Did I skip a page?

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I agree with you. In this thread I tried to argue that Objectivism should not be defined as "the philosophy of Ayn Rand," and got a lot of very angry responses. I think you explained why much better than l did, though.

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Definition By Nonessentials?

Objectivism, as I see it, could be compared to something like Calculus. Calculus is a mathematical formulation originally devised by Newton, as Objectivism is a philosophical formulation devised by Ayn Rand. Ayn Rand has related concept formation to algebra, so this is a parallel that has been drawn before.  How is Calculus defined? It is not defined as 'the mathematics of Newton;' there is no such concept as a 'Calculist' defined as 'a person in agreement with the mathematics of Newton.' We can all see how this would be dangerous; you're associating math with people, instead of with numbers. But this is precisely what the concepts of Objectivism and Objectivist do: Associate a valid interpretation of reality with a single person, instead of with reality itself.

Answering the question 'what is Objectivism?' with 'the philosophy of Ayn Rand' is not helpful. It is not cognitively efficient. It does not satisfy the requirements for a valid concept. What is the philosophy of Ayn Rand? The answer to that question should be the definition of Objectivism and of Objectivist, and any philosophy that satisfies that definition would be 'Objectivism.' The philosophy is no longer bound to one (however brilliant) interpretation and, like every other field of existence-based scientific or logical inquiry, now possesses a definition that is properly seated in reality and not in the mind of a single, fallible genius. The specific philosophy of Ayn Rand would be treated like the calculus of Newton -- the first formulation, the one that gets all the credit, but not afforded the inviolable sanctity of Biblical truth. Objectivism should be given the wings it needs to endure for centuries to come, and for that it needs to be untethered from its creator.

Your error is that "Objectivism" is not a concept. It is a proper name given by Ayn Rand to her philosophy. What is a concept?

"A concept is a mental integration of two or more units which are isolated according to a specific characteristic(s) and united by a specific definition." ITOE, Page 10.

If "Objectivism" is a concept, what are the various 'Objectivisms' that are united by an essential?

Also, 'defining' Objectivism in terms of truth would just make it a synonym for 'true philosophy.' Objectivism is not the end of true philosophy. New philosophic discoveries will not invalidate Objectivism. Knowledge is contextual, and new discoveries do not contradict older discoveries. That is part of the Objectivist theory of knowledge.

Edited by Atlas51184

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Your error is that "Objectivism" is not a concept. It is a proper name given by Ayn Rand to her philosophy.

You're right -- Objectivism is a proper noun, not a concept. However, it is a proper noun that refers to concepts as opposed to percepts like 'New York' or 'Atlas51184'. Thus, it must have more than an ostensive "that, there" definition. Given that, I think definition by essentials would remain a necessary consideration -- the fact that there's only one of them doesn't change the fact that it still must be defined, and anything with a conceptualized definition must pay heed to essential characteristics. After all, by the same logic "Calculus" would be a proper noun, and it still seems risky and incorrect to refer to it exclusively as "the mathematics of Newton."

Rooting any reality-based, objective system of truth-finding in the personality behind it as opposed to the reality it describes strikes me as irresponsible.

Finally, the present definition of Objectivism is not cognitively efficient, for it necessitates the identification of an entirely new cognitive entity every time Objectivism is altered. The only way out of this is to argue that Objectivism will never be altered -- and that is dogmatic.

If "Objectivism" is a concept, what are the various 'Objectivisms' that are united by an essential?

I'm actually about 50-50 on whether Objectivism should be a concept, or if it's alright remaining a proper noun. If it were conceptualized, then its units would consist of any philosophical worldviews that fall under the definition of Objectivism as presented by Ayn Rand -- any philosophy that maintains the essential characteristics of Objectivism, without necessarily maintaining perfect agreement with all of the characteristics espoused by Ayn Rand. This wouldn't open the door to strange fringe philosophies or perversions of Objectivism, because the essential characteristics -- including logic and rationality -- must be maintained. However, it would open the door to different interpretations of the rational consequences of the axiomatic concepts and various other fundamentals -- just like any other system of mathematical or scientific understanding. It would open the door to growth, improvement and development.

Also, 'defining' Objectivism in terms of truth would just make it a synonym for 'true philosophy.' Objectivism is not the end of true philosophy. New philosophic discoveries will not invalidate Objectivism. Knowledge is contextual, and new discoveries do not contradict older discoveries. That is part of the Objectivist theory of knowledge.

Hmm, I disagree with this. First, defining Objectivism in terms of truth is not what I'm doing -- I would suggest Ayn Rand's own words as a starting point for some comprehensive definition of Objectivism:

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

Objectivism is, as was recently pointed out to me, a formulation -- distinct from a discovery. Formulations can be wrong, and new discoveries (or new understanding) can contradict and invalidate previous formulations. But I am not merely saying that Objectivism should be open to new discoveries -- I'm suggesting it be open to error correction. Right now it isn't. As a scientist, I can tell you that's a big problem.

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Finally, the present definition of Objectivism is not cognitively efficient, for it necessitates the identification of an entirely new cognitive entity every time Objectivism is altered. The only way out of this is to argue that Objectivism will never be altered -- and that is dogmatic.

Objectivism will never be altered, if Objectivism is Ayn Rand's philosophy. To alter Objectivism is to create a new philosophy. If you disagree with Objectivism, then you say so and give your philosophy its own name. I don't see what the problem is with this is. This isn't really a matter of debate. Rand named the philosophy that she formulated "Objectivism." Trying to argue that some new discovery in philosophy made after her death is part of Objectivism is trying to put ideas in the head of someone who's been dead for 23 years. Objectivism is not to be altered, because Objectivism is Ayn Rand's philosophy. Philosophy as such, as a science, is always open to improvement and correction.

I'm actually about 50-50 on whether Objectivism should be a concept, or if it's alright remaining a proper noun. If it were conceptualized, then its units would consist of any philosophical worldviews that fall under the definition of Objectivism as presented by Ayn Rand -- any philosophy that maintains the essential characteristics of Objectivism, without necessarily maintaining perfect agreement with all of the characteristics espoused by Ayn Rand. This wouldn't open the door to strange fringe philosophies or perversions of Objectivism, because the essential characteristics -- including logic and rationality -- must be maintained. However, it would open the door to different interpretations of the rational consequences of the axiomatic concepts and various other fundamentals -- just like any other system of mathematical or scientific understanding. It would open the door to growth, improvement and development.
This relates to the last point. If you want to argue that there should be a concept to handle both Rand's Objectivism and any new discovery made that is consistent with it, go ahead. But that concept could not be attached to the word "Objectivism," simply because that word is already being used as a proper name to denote Ayn Rand's philosophy.

You say that making Objectivism a concept and not a proper name would "open the door to growth, improvement and development." Are you implying that the closed view leads to stagnation of thought? If so, that is not the way it is. All the closed view implies is that new discoveries entirely consistent with Rand are not to be called Objectivism. The recent new theories of Peikoff and Binswanger (both adherents to a closed view of Objectivism) are examples of how the closed view does nothing to squelch new developments.

Objectivism is, as was recently pointed out to me, a formulation -- distinct from a discovery. Formulations can be wrong, and new discoveries (or new understanding) can contradict and invalidate previous formulations. But I am not merely saying that Objectivism should be open to new discoveries -- I'm suggesting it be open to error correction. Right now it isn't. As a scientist, I can tell you that's a big problem.

A superior formulation of an already established principle does not make the old formulation 'false,' just sloppy. If someone can write a better explanation of how life is the standard of value than Rand's, that's fine. It's the principle that matters, not the exact wording. New discoveries will not contradict old truths if they were true. That follows from the contextual nature of knowledge and the open-endedness of concepts. If you want to toss out alleged falsities in Objectivism and add the replacing truths, then you are just making Objectivism synonymous with 'true philosophy.' If Objectivism is true, and you are arguing that every new discovery consistent with Objectivism should be part of Objectivism, then Objectivism is true philosophy.

You say, "I'm suggesting it be open to error correction. Right now it isn't. As a scientist, I can tell you that's a big problem."

It's not a big problem because philosophy is open to error correction. Let's make a parallel to science. If I discover an error in relativity theory and formulate a new theory that is an improvement on relativity theory, we don't call my discovery 'relativity.' Your calculus example work similarly. If a mathematician refutes calculus we don't call his replacement 'calculus.' An even higher math developed out of calculus is not called calculus. Why isn't calculus simply called 'algebra?' After all, calculus is developed out of algebra. So, to flush out the analogy, if I discover that life is not the standard of value and formulate my own philosophy (still based on Rand's epistemology), what business do I have calling my philosophy 'Objectivism?' We'd be stuck with the following option: either both my philosophy and Rand's are called Objectivism (in which case two contradicting philosophies are given the same name), or Rand's philosophy is no longer Objectivism, despite the fact that she coined the term.

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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." 
You pulled my statement completely out of context. Not just the context of this thread, but also out of the context of this forum. The forum rules clearly state that on this forum we use the capital "O" Objectivism to separate it from and avoid confusion with all other uses of the word objectivism. Your statement is not just a straw man but a non sequitor.
However, this development does not give Rand or her estate special title to “Objectivism” anymore than McDonalds® by virtue of its development as a restaurant giant has a special claim to the word “Hamburger.”

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.

:lol: Ok I get it, it's a game: Go out side the discussion, attack it from behind, and then interject an irrelevant tid bit for distraction, and quickly slide on the appropriate hat. Like musical-fallacies :lol: Or duck, duck, hamburglar :zorro:

To avoid confusion and promote clarity when dealing with such terms, simply make it clear what you mean by the word when you use it.

From now on-when I use the term Objectivism with a capital "O", I'd like it to be clear that I am referring to "Objectivism-The Philosophy of Ayn Rand"

:)

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Necessary_Truths:

You said "... why don't you call yourself a Kantian or Platonist?".

Removing all the false or meaningless ideas from Kant's philosophy would cut its heart out, leaving only a tiny remainder.

Would it cut the heart out of Ayn Rand's philosophy?

You said "Objectivism was invented by Ayn Rand to mean a particular philosophical view.".

"In the realm of propositions, there is only one basic epistemological distinction: TRUTH VS. FALSEHOOD, and only one fundamental issue: By what method is truth discovered and validated? To plant a dichotomy at the base of human knowledge -- to claim that there are opposite METHODS of validations and opposite TYPES of truth -- is a procedure without grounds or justification."

by Leonard Peikoff, page 101, expanded second edition of ITOE.

He was talking about the analytic-synthetic dichotomy, but it applies just as well to the dichotomy between "objective truth" and "Objectivist 'truth'".

One Prime Mover:

I think that your argument makes a lot of sense.

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This is absolutely the most perplexing argument to me. To those who want Objectivism to be malleable - please think it through to its pragmatic end.

If you find a flaw in Objectivism and believe that you've corrected it, do you dream some utopian dream where all the existing Objectivists say "Oh, yeah, you're right. Ok we'll switch." Of course not, people (most probably) will continue to believe in Rand's original philosophy, called Objectivism.

So, what happens then? You name what you've changed Rand's Objectivism to "Objectivism", and they continue to use the word "Objectivism" to describe what Rand originally created? You've just created a subjective definition of Objectivism - for the love of reason let me implode before that happens!

If you ever get to the point where you believe that you have found a flaw in Rand's philosophy, don't try to convince others that yours is now the real Objectivism while what they still believe to be accurate is not. Just get a new name, IMHO there are plenty funkier ones than "Objectivism."

As a parting demonstration of the insanity of this malleability: Rand found flaws in Kantianism, and she fixed those flaws, how meaninglessly confusing would it be if she called her resulting philosophy "Kantianism"? If it's a new philosophy, then give it a new name, how is this not obvious? Why would you want to name your new philosophy the same as an existing, but contradictory one? You'd constantly be saying to people "No, I'm one of the new Objectivists, the post-Rand ones."

Edited by smathy

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You pulled my statement completely out of context. Not just the context of this thread, but also out of the context of this forum. The forum rules clearly state that on this forum we use the capital "O" Objectivism to separate it from and avoid confusion with all other uses of the word objectivism. Your statement is not just a straw man but a non sequitor.

:lol: Ok I get it, it's a game: Go out side the discussion, attack it from behind, and then interject an irrelevant tid bit for distraction, and quickly slide on the appropriate hat. Like musical-fallacies  :lol:  Or duck, duck, hamburglar :zorro:

From now on-when I use the term Objectivism with a capital "O", I'd like it to be clear that I am referring to "Objectivism-The Philosophy of Ayn Rand"

:)

Did you mean “non sequitur”? If the rules of this forum are that "Objectivism" refers exclusively to the philosophy of Ayn Rand, fine. I was speaking about objectivism (or "Objectivism") in the world at large, which, I believe, is what One Prime Mover and A.A were addressing in their posts. I stand by my remarks that no person or institution has a proprietary claim on the word "Objectivism." However, I did not for one moment suggest that, within the context of a discussion or forum, the participants or moderator could not stipulate what a given term means. Thus, no straw man, no non-sequitur.

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Did you mean “non sequitur”?
Actually I found both spellings in use by searching the web, and could not honestly tell if one was more correct than the other.
If the rules of this forum are that "Objectivism" refers exclusively to the philosophy of Ayn Rand, fine.
An egregious example is failure to capitalize proper names -- for instance, writing "objectivism" when referring to Ayn Rand's philosophy; the correct form is "Objectivism."
I was speaking about objectivism (or "Objectivism") in the world at large, which, I believe, is what One Prime Mover and A.A were addressing in their posts.
What did they say specifically that made you think they were referring to any of the other uses of the word? Unless I'm completely lost, this discussion was about whether or not Ayn Rand's name (and person) should be included in the definition of the philosophy she originated, and whether or not that philosophy could be altered and still called by the same name.
  However, I did not for one moment suggest that, within the context of a discussion or forum, the participants or moderator could not stipulate what a given term means. Thus, no straw man, no non-sequitur.

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.

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Actually I found both spellings in use by searching the web, and could not honestly tell if one was more correct than the other.

Try this trusty web dictionary.

What did they say specifically that made you think they were referring to any of the other uses of the word? Unless I'm completely lost, this discussion was about whether or not Ayn Rand's name (and person) should be included in the definition of the philosophy she originated, and whether or not that philosophy could be altered and still called by the same name.

One Prime Mover wrote, “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.”

A.A wrote, “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) . . .”

My discussion of the generic nature of the word “objectivism,” its history in both philosophy and literature prior to Ayn Rand, and the absence of any proprietary claim on the word by Rand or her estate was therefore entirely appropriate in the context of these posts.

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Two things I missed yesterday:

...the first formulation, the one that gets all the credit, but not afforded the inviolable sanctity of Biblical truth.

You're putting thoughts in people's heads. If you have any evidence that Objectivists (not random trolls in chat rooms and message forums, but experts in the philosophy) hold Objectivism as something approaching Biblical truth, go ahead and present it. Comments like this are why you and pi-r8 are getting such negative emotional responses. You might not have intended it as an insult, but that doesn't change the fact that it is.

If it were conceptualized, then its units would consist of any philosophical worldviews that fall under the definition of Objectivism as presented by Ayn Rand -- any philosophy that maintains the essential characteristics of Objectivism, without necessarily maintaining perfect agreement with all of the characteristics espoused by Ayn Rand.

What existential outcomes of this appraoch? We will end up with, as I said before, numerous contradicting philosophies, such as the hypothetical non-egoistic Objectivism I postulated, being units of the same concept. If you think Objectivism is true and you say, "Objectivism is any philosophy that maintains all the essential characteristics of Rand's philosophy," we are back to 'Objectivism' being synonymous with true philosophy. After all, one of the essentials is the law of identity, i.e. consistency. Any falsity would be rules out for being inconsistent, and any new discovery would automatically be ruled in due to its truth.

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I don't know why people are discussing this. Once an objective definition has been established it is no longer open to debate. A is A, and the referent of the word Objectivism is the referent of the word Objectivism. Any perceived problems you have with this definition you will just have to swallow, because it is what it is. There is no reason to squabble over the name "Objectivism" when you can simply create a new word for whatever definition it is you are fighting for.

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Yes, my fault certainly, I was using a logical fallacies page for reference, not a dictionary.

One Prime Mover wrote, “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.”

A.A wrote, “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) . . .”

My discussion of the generic nature of the word “objectivism,” its history in both philosophy and literature prior to Ayn Rand, and the absence of any proprietary claim on the word by Rand or her estate was therefore entirely appropriate in the context of these posts.

Very Well, we are beating a dead horse at this point. I am not overly concerned with continuing in this way and will simply leave it as is. Both points have been stated and are (I believe) irreconcilable.

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Isn't the creation of a dogma sort of negating Rand's initial point of her works? I mean now its ideas are open to people's alternate interpretations rather than ultimate logic prevailing. When you classify yourself as following a specific dogma or belief that others follow aswell you have ultimatly commited intelectual suicide. Logic will lead to the same end. In stark contrast, a dogma will lead you straight to self(mass) destruction (like the Heavens Gate cult for an extreme and quickly ending example). Your brain is dead... sorry.

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Maybe everyone is trying too hard here.... Ayn Rand famously said "My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute." She also famously explained her basic beliefs "while standing on one foot," and then wrote a short explanatory article.

Anyone who agrees with the above sentence plus her one-foot article should, by my logic, be correctly identified as an "Objectivist." What else would they be? Objectivism is very much in competition (philosophically and linguistically) with ideological alternatives like Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Fulan Gong, Positivism, Existentialism, Post-Modernism, Pragmatism, Subjectivism, Cynicism, Stoicism, Aristotleanism, Platonism, etc. If a given person is massively against all of the above and massively sympathetic to Objectivism--that person is probably best identified as an "Objectivist." The key here is: Do you agree with all the basic principles and main arguments? I know I do.

Edited by Ariana Binetta

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Granted. However, some people do take it too far. Some threads on this message board scare me a little. It makes me laugh when I see people argueing their points basically by saying 'because Ayn Rand said so'. Not laugh in a good way though. When you laugh at someone with a brained damage it is never a good laugh.

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I apologize if all of this has been covered in the posts that follow the one to which I am replying. If it has I assume the moderator will delete it.

Objectivism is static; by definition, it is the philosophy of Ayn Rand. Only she can effect changes, and she is no longer with us. If new evidence presented itself, or a new logical inconsistency was discovered by a philosophical Einstein, then Objectivism would not endure -- instead of allowing itself a small tweak, a minor correction, it would have to be thrown out entirely and a completely new philosophical system introduced in its place.

This is all true. Objectivism is a tightly integrated system. Find an error at any point and it effects the whole, destroys the system and the philosophy would not endure. Perhaps it would be good to describe what sort of mistake -- what kind of 'logical inconsistency' or what sort of 'evidence' -- you believe might do that. In my judgement, when I claim that Objectivism is true, I mean that all of it can be reduced to the facts of reality -- to what exists. That's how abstract philosophy is. And, since a philosophy claims to be true of existance qua existance, it must be static, for reality is static in this context ("matter can neither be created nor destroyed" is one expression of this). So it behooves the person that posits some arbitrary "fact" that "might" destroy it, to be specific. Otherwise the claim is completely arbitrary and should be treated as such.

A Threat To Integrity?

The practical seat of my wariness is the fear that, because Objectivism has been afforded such philosophical value, and because it is so resistant to change, a powerful emotional bias against existence is introduced. The bias is to continue supporting Objectivism even in the face of contradictory evidence (should any arise). Obviously such a bias would be irrational, but that doesn't free us of its threat. Human beings are fallible and no one -- not even a forty year veteran of Objectivism -- is immune to occasional lapses into irrationality. When the irrationality in question is being compelled by a powerful bias (the unwillingness to reject Objectivism entirely, motivated by the emotional attachment many of you have already confirmed) and necessitates only a small evasion (we are, after all, only discussing comparatively minor changes to Objectivism), I argue that it would be commonplace even in the most well intentioned. The result of this irrationality would threaten the integrity of what I consider to be a hallmark of intellectual achievement. Thus, I consider it a serious and persistent concern.

Same applies here. Name your inconsistancy or your evidence and let's talk about it. Otherwise your insinuations are arbitrary. The fact that man is fallible is not a license to assume that any particular claim has failed or that any particular thinker has failed IN THE ABSENCE OF ANY SPECIFIC COMPLAINT OR EVIDENCE.

Definition By Nonessentials?

Objectivism, as I see it, could be compared to something like Calculus. Calculus is a mathematical formulation originally devised by Newton, as Objectivism is a philosophical formulation devised by Ayn Rand. Ayn Rand has related concept formation to algebra, so this is a parallel that has been drawn before. 

But, of course, we do talk about 'Newtonian Physics' to contrast it with the discoveries of 'Quantum Physics'. Saying that concept formation is like algebra is not the same as giving the essense of her philosophy while standing on one foot.

Like defining men as 'primates with thumbs,' defining Objectivism as 'the philosophy of Ayn Rand' is a definition by nonessentials.

"The philosophy of Ayn Rand" is not a definition or an attempt at a definition of "Objectivism". Objectivism is defined by its essential content, which content is contained in and only in the writings of Ayn Rand. "Objectivism is the philosophy of Ayn Rand" is no more a definition than "Kantianism is the philosophy of Kant" is a definition. Both are essentially defined by their essential content, as contained in the writings of each.

Tom Rowland

Edited by softwareNerd

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It seems like much of this agrument stems from the dogmas surrounding ARI and TOC. I do not know nearly enough about either group to make a judgment about which is right and which is wrong. But it does appear that there was a disagreement over whether Objectivsm is a closed system or a open system. And this is what generated the split. While I agree that it would have to be a closed system to be correct, I also think that there is more that can be written on the subjects than what Ayn Rand wrote and Lenord Peikoff writes. At the same I am very concerned with individuals who call themselves neo-objectivist or post-objectivsts. They seem to want to take bits and pieces of Objectivsm and make them fit into other contradictary philosophies. I personally like the information provided by both ARI and TOC, I have no need to argue about who is more of an objectivist or who is not, but it is important to point out fallacies in anyones thinking, Regardless of who they are and what their position is.

Tettra

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It seems like much of this agrument stems from the dogmas surrounding ARI and TOC. I do not know nearly enough about either group to make a judgment about which is right and which is wrong.

But you know enough about ARI to say it is dogmatic? Perhaps you might enlighten us with your proof of dogmas coming out of ARI?

Edited by Felipe

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