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Who Are The True Objectivists?

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In many other threads, the question of who can and can not be properly called an Objectivist has come up numerous times. Also, it is a subject of heated debate between supporters of ARI and supporters of other "Objectivist" organizations such as TOC, SOLO, and others. Therefore, I'd think it appropriate that we discuss and clarify exactly who deserves to be referred to as an Objectivist, and who not.

In my understanding, an Objectivist is a person who understands and agrees with the entire philosophy of Objectivism (the exact principles of which are dervied from the philosophical writings of Rand and those who now have the legal right to speak for her, such as Peikoff.)

Being in agreement with all of the philosophical principles is different than being in agreement with all of Miss Rand's personal tastes (as GreedyCapitalist pointed out to me).

I think it is wrong for a person to claim agreement with the "fundamentals of Objectivism," throw in some contradictory principles, and still refer to oneself as an Objectivist. For example, in my opinion, a person who claims to be an Objectivist and an anarchist, should not be referred to as an Objectivist because anarchism is clearly in contradiction with Objectivism.

Also, Rand explicity stated,

"If you wonder why I am so particular about protecting the integrity of the term 'Objectivism,' my reason is that 'Objectivism' is the name I have given to my philosophy--therefore, anyone using that name for some philosophical hodgepodge of his own, without my knowledge or consent, is guilty of the fraudulent presumption of trying to put thoughts into my brain (or of trying to pass his thinking off as mine--an attempt which fails, for obvious reasons). I chose the name 'Objectivism' at a time when my philosophy was beginning to be known and some people were starting to call themselves 'Randists.' I am much too conceited to allow such a use of my name. . . .

"What is the proper policy on this issue? If you agree with some tenets of Objectivism, but disagree with others, do not call yourself an Objectivist; give proper authorship credit for the parts you agree with--and then indulge in any flights of fancy you wish, on your own.”

This being said, I do not consider myself at this time to be an Objectivist, but rather a student of Objectivsm. In order to agree with the entire philosophy, I believe that one must have a sufficient knowledge of the entire philosophy. Since I have not reached this stage as of yet, it would be improper to refer to myself as an Objectivist, despite the fact that I agree with everything that I have learned thus far.

What are your thoughts?

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The Rational Egoist

http://rationalegoist.rationalmind.net

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Guest RadCap

I would agree. Furthermore, I would emphasize that this position is ultimately derived from the recognition of the Law of Identity. To be an objectivist is to be a specific thing, apart from other equally specific but different things.

I would also agree with your position as "student of Objectivism". It took me many years before I felt confident in my understanding of the philosophy to validly consider myself an actual Objectivist. Before then, I would say I had objectivist leanings but had not explored the philosophy enough to classify myself AS one yet.

Now, though I may not know or recall EVERY specific principle, those that I do know, I accept as true. In addition, I do not consciously hold premises or principles which contradict those principles of Objectivism. I point this out because one does not have to know every example and every sub sub principle of objectivism to accept the mantle OF objectivism. One must simply accept what one does know and not accept any contradictory concepts.

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I agree. I also refer to myself at this point as a "student of Objectivism." There is the issue of the integrity of the philosophy, to which you have already alluded--it would be false to call myself an Objectivist if I'm in fundamental disagreement with the philosophy in some way. But it is also to protect my own integrity. Many belief systems are not what they claim or appear on the surface to be. If I later find out something about the philosophy with which I disagree, I will not have affiliated with or committed myself to something which I may later regard to be evil.

Of course, from what I know so far, that is not the case--and the more I learn about the philosophy, the more I find it to be a completely and correctly integrated whole, and the more confident I am that I will be able to accept it as a whole (once I know enough about--i.e., once I have learned and completely integrated all of its essentials).

If that didn't happen, I would not identify myself as an Objectivist. I would state that there are aspects of the philosophy with which I agree, and others with which I don't. That would be simply what is required by honesty to identify my position in relation to the philosophy.

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As a minor correction to RE's post, "Objectivism" consists solely of the philosophy AR wrote and approved of during her lifetime, and excludes what her "legal heirs" might say, as Peikoff pointed out in the intro to OPAR.

If I had to come up with a more exact definition of what makes one an "Objectivist," I’d say that an understanding of all the ideas presented in OPAR and perhaps ITOE is sufficient. By “understanding,” I mean that one has integrated all of the ideas and can validate them inductively from direct experience. This definition is useful for differentiating between Objectivism as such and specific applications of it, on which there is room for rational disagreement. For example, Ayn Rand’s views on a female president would be an application of her philosophy, not Objectivism per se. (I think she said that herself somewhere.) Likewise, Ayn Rand gave her opinion on a large number of other topics which were an application of Objectivism or a reflection of her personal tastes and not part of the philosophy as such.

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I have never understood the fuss over this. I have left many Objectivist boards because of silly infighting and 'I am more Objectivist than thou' thinking. People can call themselves whatever the hell they like. Their thoughts speak for themselves. Like pro-choice Catholics, there is no debate on whether or not someone is an Objectivist or not.

A thing on disagreement- Objectivists can, and should, disagree. It's healthy. It's fun. We make error judgements and errors of knowledge like anyone else. The only way to discover our errors is through critical thought and debate. I disagree with Rand on her views of the nature of women and on homosexuality (for example).

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The Law of Identity: A is A. Objectivism is Objectivism,.

For those of us who take our ideas very seriously, we get a bit annoyed when some idiot calls themselves an Objectivist but explicitly contradicts all or some of the fundamentals of the philosophy. A person can call themselves whatever the hell they want, but they are not free to violate the Law of Identity with impunity.

It is an insult to everything I believe in for a person to label themselves as an Objectivist and simultaneously agree with Freudian theory, or anarchism, or "tolerance," and many other such things which clearly violate the fundamentals of the philosophy.

Rational discourse and disagreement is very important, and no one is claiming that anyone should dogmatically follow the principles of Objectivism. However, what I, and many others (including Rand and Peikoff themselves) say is that the title of Objectivist should not just be thrown around.

For those of us who honestly care about the spread of rational ideas, (in this context, under the title of Objectivism), it is a clear insult to us when people who have irrational and incorrect ideas label themselves as Objectivists.

"If you wonder why I am so particular about protecting the integrity of the term 'Objectivism,' my reason is that 'Objectivism' is the name I have given to my philosophy--therefore, anyone using that name for some philosophical hodgepodge of his own, without my knowledge or consent, is guilty of the fraudulent presumption of trying to put thoughts into my brain (or of trying to pass his thinking off as mine--an attempt which fails, for obvious reasons). I chose the name 'Objectivism' at a time when my philosophy was beginning to be known and some people were starting to call themselves 'Randists.' I am much too conceited to allow such a use of my name. . . .

"What is the proper policy on this issue? If you agree with some tenets of Objectivism, but disagree with others, do not call yourself an Objectivist; give proper authorship credit for the parts you agree with--and then indulge in any flights of fancy you wish, on your own.”

Those of us who take ideas seriously ask that you please not violate the law of identity by calling yourself an Objectivist when you are clearly not.

P.S. Welcome to the blog, I'd like to discuss your views on the nature of women and homosexuality (perhaps you'd like to start a thread on it?)

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Being a pro-choice Catholic is a contradiction. Pro-choice believes in the choice to have babies or not to have babies. Catholics believe in two things that contradict that. They believe an unborn child has a soul and is a human therefore it is wrong to kill it. They also believe that a child is a gift from god and it would be sinful to refuse a gift from god. A pro-choice Catholic does not deserve to be called either pro-choice or Catholic because he/she believes in a contradiction to their identity as pro-choice or Catholic. The identity of Objectivism is important for the same reason.

It is ok to disagree but when someone evades the fact that they’re not an Objectivist or a student of Objectivism is wrong.

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Guest DonGalt

Being an objectivist and opposed to anarchism is a contradiction.

By the definition of objectivism, as presented by Ayn Rand in Atlas Shrugged, all objectivists must support anarchism**. (And libertarianism as well.)

Note that Galts Gulch was a libertarian, anarchist utopia.

Unfortunately, Rand did not chose a wise heir and now we have Piekoff attemtping to form a church (or is it more of a politburo) with pruges and decress and all manner of attempts to change objectivism from a philosophy into a cult.

The idea that "nobody who supports anarchism can be an objectivist" in itself is anti-objectivist because objectivism demands support for individualism-- not communalism.

I don't know why so many "objectivists" are big fans of organized religion, and want to have a pope (Piekoff) who decress who is objectivist and who isnt, and support excommunications (like that of Kelly for the "sin" of telling people about objectivism). But no thinking person who's read Atlas Shrugged should be able to support that kind of crap.

Objectivism requires people to THINK FOR THEMSELVES. Not follow a religion.

**Please note that Anarchism is a capitalist social organization that involves no government. IT is not "chaos" or "Disorder" or any of hte other things that people tend to wrongfully conntate that it means. Anarchism is simply the absense of government. Objectivism, requireing no man to live for another, must be opposed to government. A simple definition of government is an entity that requires all in its geographic domain to live for its rulers.

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Don Galt, please do not post on our forum.

You've presented the same arguments many times, and we have wasted our time attempting to demonstrate to you why they are wrong, which you completely ignore, and then assert the same nonsense.

Believe that we are all dogmatists who don't think and accept Objectivsim religiously, I don't care.

Please leave.

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Guest DonGalt

Actually, you have not responded to my arguments, you have repeatedly called me names and told me to leave.

I have yet to see a counter argument. Hell, in this thread, once again you go off subject and start talking about me, rather than the topic.

Back on topic....

Objectivism requires individual thinking... thus deciding for others who is and isn't an objectivist goes against objectivism.

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Guest DonGalt

I note your reply to the *introduction* of another poster:

http://ObjectivismOnline.com/forum/ind...=findpost&p=363

Since you started this thread, you feel that you should be able to define who is and isn't an objectivist, an you're looking for others to jump in and agree with you (which is why you want those who disagree to not post).

If you weren't a dogmatists, why woud you be saying, in effect "our standards are too low, we can't let those people who don't agree with dogma call themselves objectivists!" which was the point of this thread. And of course, dogmatically, you tell people who disagree to go away so you don't have to address their arguments.

But calling a new person an idiot after their introduction was really special.

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I thought some here may appreciate and benefit from a direct-source on the nature of the Objectivist philosophy system.

RCR

http://www.nathanielbranden.net/ess/ess05.html

Who is an Objectivist?

by Nathaniel Branden, Ph.D.

Copyright © 2000, Nathaniel Branden, All Rights Reserved

For some time there has been dispute over the question of whether Objectivism is a "open system" or a "closed system." More specifically, the debate has been whether Objectivism is a philosophical system that can be refined, expanded on, amplified, and applied in new directions by those who share its basic premises or whether Objectivism is confined exclusively to the positions propounded by Ayn Rand during her lifetime.

Perhaps the following recollections can contribute to this debate.

In the winter and spring of 1958, I gave the first course of lectures entitled "The Basic Principles of Objectivism" which, although I did not fully realize it at the time, was to launch the Objectivist movement. These lectures included a lengthy discussion of the psychology of self-esteem and also my theory of social metaphysics. This was work on psychology done not by Ayn Rand, but by me. Another lecture by me was entitled "Why Human Beings Repress and Drive Underground not the Worst Within them, but the Best." Again, a psychological contribution made by me. Then, in addition, Barbara Branden created and gave a lecture entitled "Efficient Thinking."

But the point is, the entire series of 20 lectures was presented to the world as "Objectivism." This was understood to mean not that Ayn Rand was the originator of every thought propounded, but that all of it, whether developed by her, by me, or by Barbara Branden, had Ayn Rand's complete agreement.

Later, I was to offer through the Nathaniel Branden Institute additional courses on what we then called "Objectivist Psychology." It was called "Objectivist" because it was perceived by Ayn Rand to be entirely compatible with her philosophy, and, in some instances, an application of her philosophy. (Later I would drop the name "Objectivist Psychology" because such a designation made little sense to me and I began calling my work "Biocentric Psychology." Later still I decided I didn't like using any such name and dropped "Biocentric Psychology" too.)

After the break with Ayn Rand, she became suspicious of any intellectual affiliation with anyone and thereafter "Objectivism" meant either work originated by Rand herself or works, such as Leonard Peikoff's, that had Ayn Rand's knowledge and full sanction.

Now, in retrospect, it is clear to me that calling work in psychology "Objectivism" was inappropriate, inasmuch as Objectivism is a philosophy. Just the same, the evidence makes clear, that Ayn Rand herself saw Objectivism as an open system in the sense that it was open to new identifications, new discoveries, new principles, providing, of course, this new material did not stand in contradiction to what had already been established.

Had Leonard Peikoff been a more generative figure, more intellectually productive, I dare say that Rand would have regarded his contributions as "Objectivism."

I might mention, in conclusion, that the fact that I wrote my first articles on psychology in an Objectivist publication, and the material was offered to the world as an aspect of "Objectivism" made it possible, years later, when I had become persona non grata, for Leonard Peikoff and his followers to talk about "The Objectivist Theory of Self-Esteem" and to use my theory of social metaphysics as if these ideas had originated in the mind of Ayn Rand. The truth is, there is no Objectivist theory of self-esteem. In her whole life, Ayn Rand wrote maybe no more than 7 or 8 sentences on the subject. I have written volumes. But that is a story for another day.

Here, my purpose is to draw attention to the historical evidence that lends support to the claim of David Kelley and others that Objectivism is and must be "an open system."

Were Ayn Rand alive, obviously she would have the right to say, "Do not describe as 'Objectivism' any viewpoint I disagree with." But when her agreement or disagreement is no longer possible, we are on our own to judge what is or is not compatible with Objectivism... and that could include even challenging some position of Ayn Rand's which we believe to be in conflict with her more fundamental premises.

David Kelley drew to my attention something I wrote in the Objectivist in April, 1965-"A Message to Our Readers." I wrote:

"In the future, when Objectivism has become an intellectual and cultural movement on a wider scale, when a variety of authors have written books dealing with some aspect of the Objectivist philosophy — it could be appropriate for those in agreement to describe themselves as 'Objectivists.' But at present, when the name is so intimately associated with Miss Rand and me, it is not. At present, a person who is in agreement with our philosophy should describe himself, not as an Objectivist, but as a student or supporter of Objectivism."

Today I regret that second sentence as inappropriate and stultifying, but note the implications of the first sentence, which, I assure you, had Ayn Rand's full knowledge and approval. (Everything in our publication was edited by her.) We were clearly projecting a future when "Objectivism" would cover far more than the writings of Ayn Rand.

If, later, Ayn Rand pulled back from that vision it was for reasons more emotional than philosophical, and one can feel compassion for her suffering, but still... she was right the first time and wrong the second.

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I thought some here may appreciate and benefit from a direct-source on the nature of the Objectivist philosophy system...

:rolleyes:

I read that piece by Nathaniel Branden a couple of times, and am having a hard time finding an actual argument in all that hot air. He gives a historical example, then acknowledges that it isn't relevant (since "Objectivist psychology" is not part of Objectivism as a philosophy, but rather an application of the philosophy to a different field entirely), and somehow draws the conclusion from this that Objectivism is and must be an "open system"?

This is truly bizarre.

I'm starting to think that this whole "open system" debate is a package-deal. Nobody is arguing that principles of the philosophy of Objectivism cannot or should not be applied to other fields, so that part of it is entirely a straw man. But then they package-deal that together with the claim that the philosophy itself is subject to question, and even change--which of course it is; but a person can't change it in whatever way they want and still call their beliefs "Objectivist", when they contradict the actual philosophy. But that is exactly the method that this "argument" is trying to legitimize. What would this accomplish in practice? People with no understanding of the philosophy applying its name to their own contradictory beliefs, thereby emptying the term "Objectivism" of all meaning.

Hmm, I wonder what could possibly be the motive for doing this? Why on earth would feminists, anarchists, moral relativists, etc. want to turn "Objectivism" into a non-objective term, so to speak?

I have a hard time seeing how any honest person could fail to grasp this.

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I'm starting to think that this whole "open system" debate is a package-deal.  Nobody is arguing that principles of the philosophy of Objectivism cannot or should not be applied to other fields, so that part of it is entirely a straw man.  But then they package-deal that together with the claim that the philosophy itself is subject to question, and even change--which of course it is; but a person can't change it in whatever way they want and still call their beliefs "Objectivist", when they contradict the actual philosophy.  But that is exactly the method that this "argument" is trying to legitimize.  What would this accomplish in practice?  People with no understanding of the philosophy applying its name to their own contradictory beliefs, thereby emptying the term "Objectivism" of all meaning.

Hmm, I wonder what could possibly be the motive for doing this?  Why on earth would feminists, anarchists, moral relativists, etc. want to turn "Objectivism" into a non-objective term, so to speak?

I'd say that it's definitely a package deal. What are they trying to gain? The prestige of a coherent philosophy while undercutting it with their bastardizations. That's the best case, I think. At worst, they're actively trying to subvert it.

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Guest Random_Troll

Hello, I am the former webmaster of The Aggiew Review. I am just dropping by to see what's new ...and I think I found out.

I am truely impressed -- No, not with how much more superior the web site is compared to when I did it (because that was a joke), but I am truely impressed with the chief editor's passive compliance for allowing the "objective" views of the current webmaster to be integrated with the religious views the Aggie Review traditionally supports for the mere sake of filling up emptiness with seemingly parallel content; and for that matter, that the webmaster, who supports a "strict" view of objectivism, would even choose to do this, knowing perfectly well that to support objectivism in its purest form would mean that he must reject all forms of religion as being irrational mysticism! In doing so you are mixing oil and water and the summation of this web site represents the worldview of nothing at all.

You cannot without injustice to yourself and to the people you wish to influence assert any definition of what is a true objectivist without the qualification that by your own deed you do not adhere to it, else neither one of the so called doctrines you support -- either by deliberate intention or by mere association -- condone your actions.

Either Or. Don't play games to uphold your quest in furthering the status of your social and intellectual profile. If you're serious about what you believe then you will drop one or the other, otherwise you are a counterfeit to yourself, to this journal, to your readers and to the opposing doctrines you represent. If A is A, and no contradictions exist, then I suggest checking your premises, I guarantee that you will find errors in your thinking and the representation of it on this web site.

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For everyone who is wondering what the hell this person is talking about, the Aggie Review was a conservative paper that I became webmaster of about two years ago. I made a new website for the paper just in time to see it completely fall apart and be quickly fogotten. Subsequently, a new conservative paper arose in my school, for which I wrote several articles, but which seems to have run out of steam as well. (Meanwhile, the lefist paper at my huge "conservative" state school is thriving.)

In any case, the Review website originally had its own forum, but after the paper collapsed, I pointed a "forum" link here. The two sites have no relation to each other, and as you can see for yourself, neither promotes mysticism in any way. For the record, I don't think there's anything wrong with writing for a conservative paper (my editorials have been published in many), though I'd have qualms about running one, as our guest pointed out. After the Review collapsed, my Objectivist club briefly considered taking it over, but we gave up on the idea after not being able to find enough writers. Guest, if you're looking for someone to blame, I suggest you consider the nihilism and multiculturalism that pervades college campuses today.

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I would certainly agree that an Objectivist is someone who follows Ayn Rand’s philosophy. The problem arises when we discuss areas like homosexuality where Objectivism does not give clear guidance. Just because Rand gave her opinion about some issue, that does not necessarily mean that she applied her own philosophy correctly. I would say that a true Objectivist is someone who follows and rationally applies the fundamental principles of Objectivism, not someone who agrees with every single word Rand said.

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Guest Deleted

"Ir"-Rational Egoist, self re-evaluation time. Must I remind you of this!?

"The virtue of rationality means the recognition and acceptance of reason as one's only source of knowledge, one's only judge of values and one's only guide to action."

-Ayn Rand, "Virtue of Selfishness", p.28

You proclaim to be rational and you assert that you know who deserves the title of "true" objectivist, yet through the obviously religious content on this web site and your unavoidable association to it, you are not rational and therefore you do not deserve the title of "true" objectivist, because you do not adhere to the simplest of Rand's teachings stated above. As long as you realize this -- and everybody else does too -- then there is no issue, but one: You represent confusion and distortion by mixing two fundamentally opposing views, and this is what you offer to others. Where's the value in that?

Ask yourself two things. "What is my purpose?" "What am I producing?"

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You proclaim to be rational and you assert that you know who deserves the title of "true" objectivist, yet through the obviously religious content on this web site and your unavoidable association to it, you are not rational and therefore you do not deserve the title of "true" objectivist, because you do not adhere to the simplest of Rand's teachings stated above.

So being rational means that one can assert that A is not A at the same time, and concepts are determined by whim?

A is A, Objectivism is Objectivism. This is not dogmatism, but rather, the implementation of the Law of Identity.

Your claims are groundless. Your ad-hominem attack of attempting to discredit my ideas by associating them with "religious content on this web site" is also groundless.

Unless you have something to contribute by means of philosophical discussion instead of ad-hominem attacks (which I doubt you do) then please leave.

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obviously religious content on this web site

Please enlighten us on what content you're talking about and why it's "obviously" religious.

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Guest y_feldblum
Being an objectivist and opposed to anarchism is a contradiction.

By the definition of objectivism, as presented by Ayn Rand in Atlas Shrugged, all objectivists must support anarchism**.  (And libertarianism as well.)

Note that Galts Gulch was a libertarian, anarchist utopia. 

Unfortunately, Rand did not chose a wise heir and now we have Piekoff attemtping to form a church (or is it more of a politburo) with pruges and decress and all manner of attempts to change objectivism from a philosophy into a cult.

The idea that "nobody who supports anarchism can be an objectivist" in itself is anti-objectivist because objectivism demands support for individualism-- not communalism.

I don't know why so many "objectivists" are big fans of organized religion, and want to have a pope (Piekoff) who decress who is objectivist and who isnt, and support excommunications (like that of Kelly for the "sin" of telling people about objectivism).  But no thinking person who's read Atlas Shrugged should be able to support that kind of crap.

Objectivism requires people to THINK FOR THEMSELVES.  Not follow a religion.

**Please note that Anarchism is a capitalist social organization that involves no government.  IT is not "chaos" or "Disorder" or any of hte other things that people tend to wrongfully conntate that it means. Anarchism is simply the absense of government.  Objectivism, requireing no man to live for another, must be opposed to government.  A simple definition of government is an entity that requires all in its geographic domain to live for its rulers.

A Capitalist society, one based on individual rights: life, property, choice, etc, does not guarantee that each individual respects rights, as it is usually open to all until one violates rights. Atlantis / Galt's Gulch is not open to all and the criterion of admittance being individual rights, one's own life and everybody else's, non-violation within that society is guaranteed. Objectivism promotes Capitalism as the economic system, not Atlantis; hence the reference proves nothing.

A Capitalist system allows for the possibility of irrational individuals to linger in the shadows and constitute a thread to everybody's rights. Either each individual provides for his own defense against such elements, or a delegated body does it. Anarchism is the less efficient option and is also much more prone to abuse. Furthermore, either each individual provides for his own defense against foreign invasion or oppression, or a delegated body does it. Under Capitalism, a government's only valid purpose and powers are external defense and internal defense / justice and only to protect the rights of each individual. Either government has a monopoly on legal force to counter the initiation of illegal force, or a non-Atlantis / non-guarnateed anarchy might find itself the next day under a thugocracy.

Objectivism is not opposed to government; it is opposed to the violation of man's rights. Just as the rational man cannot live under thugocracy, neither can he live under the potential for it. Anarchy is a dictatorship waiting to happen. A simple definition of Objectivism-endorsed government is an entity fully responsible to its citizens and whose sole purpose and freedom of action is is the protection and preservatio of individual rights.

I am not so up on the schisms, but from what I've read, you haven't. Ayn Rand's name is not a free-for-all and she had the perfect right to protect it in the form of a legal heir, and she also seemed somewhat picky about what ideas she let people attach to her name. I personally don't think she would have allowed tolerationism a moment's consideration.

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Guest infallible
The problem arises when we discuss areas like homosexuality where Objectivism does not give clear guidance.

Actually, I think that Objectivism DOES give us "guidance" on this subject. If a person is attracted to the same sex, and finds a willing partner, then what is the problem?

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I proudly proclaim that I am an Objectivist (without apology) at this time. I am not really a "student of Objectivism" whatever that means. I simply recognize the supremacy of reason and I do not treat philosophy as a word game; philosophy (the study of the nature of existence, of man and consciousness, and of man's relationship to existence) to me is a method of helping me actuate the moral purpose of my life (happiness). As Ayn Rand once stated:

I am not primarily an advocate of capitalism, but of egoism; I am not primarily an advocate of egoism, but of reason. If one recognizes the supremacy of reason and applies it consistently, all the rest follows.
I quite frankly find it silly that most of you all don't think that you are worthy of calling yourselves "Objectivists". Must one have a degree in philosophy to be an Objectivist? I think not! Must one read all the works of Rand to be an Objectivist? I think not! One can read all the works of Rand and not be particularly moved (as hard as this is to believe) because one might not accept the supremacy of reason. But once one has accepted the supremacy of reason then Rand would be a profound influence on one's thoughts and life (yes, I am serious).

When one is a "student of Objectivism" does one ever graduate? Objectivism is not an elusive "state" that one tries to reach. eople. Don't feel as if you are unworthy of the name "Objectivist" simply because you might not be omniscient or infallible. I am not claiming to be an Objectivist scholar but I am an Objectivist nonetheless.

Here is an excerpt from Rand's interview with the Play Boy Magazine:

PLAYBOY: If widely accepted, couldn't Objectivism harden into a dogma?

RAND: No. I have found that Objectivism is its own protection against people who might attempt to use it as a dogma. Since Objectivism requires the use of one's mind, those who attempt to take broad principles and apply them unthinkingly and indiscriminately to the concretes of their own existence find that it cannot be done. They are then compelled either to reject Objectivism or to apply it. When I say apply, I mean that they have to use their own mind, their own thinking, in order to know how to apply Objectivist principles to the specific problems of their own lives.

The key element is reason; let it be your guide.

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DonGalt:

The idea that "nobody who supports anarchism can be an objectivist" in itself is anti-objectivist because objectivism demands support for individualism-- not communalism.
Why does Objectivism support individualism? The answer to this question would show the ineptitude of your argument. Anarchism advocates gang rule (i.e., collectivism) and it's manifestation is the exact opposite of objectivity, subjectivism. Who determines what rights are? In the case of anarchism it is the gang that has the most power to initiate the use of force so as to secure compliance.

Being Objectivist doesn't mean that one is free to proclaim any evil (anarchism) and glory in that fact because one has asserted their individualism in making a personal choice to choose evil. You might be an individualist but are you rational? This is the key element you evade in your statement-the fact that one can be irrational and still claim to be an individualist. In your anarchistic land your individual rights can be violated at whim because there are no objective laws or the like. The protection agencies would have different ideas about what rights are and how to secure them. For example, there is the Christian Coalition police service that thinks that your wife's abortion is a violation of a fetus's rights. Then again, there is "Wanna-Be-Objectivist" police service think that it is quite okay for your wife to have an abortion. Whose rights are being violated? Who should I ask? Does the law of supply and demand hold in this case? What if most people demand that you be shot for letting your wife have an abortion?

One's own independent judgment is the means by which one must choose one's actions, but it is not a moral criterion nor a moral validation; only reference to a demonstrable principle can validate one's choices.

-- Ayn Rand

What is your demonstrable principle? Whim worshipping! By the way, you are not an Objectivist (see Kelley or Peikoff) so I must echo an earlier plea: "please leave".

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I could not say exactly what amount of knowledge one should have before calling oneself an Objectivist. Certainly one need not have a degree in philosophy. I would want to know -- is the person familiar with enough of the essentials of the philosophy, and with the alternatives, to make a choice in favor of Objectivism? Does the person live by those essentials, to the extent possible to him?

A person who calls himself an Objectivist "too soon," as a mistake, out of eagerness perhaps, is not at all troublesome. If this person is honest, he will either change his mind later, and acknowledge his mistake, or he will continue to learn about and integrate the philosophy. The person who we will judge as bad is one who calls himself an Objectivist while acting on and/or advocating ideas that he knows are contrary to those that Ayn Rand believed. And, if a person is in academia, we would assume that he has the intelligence necessary to decide whether he agrees with Objectivism, certainly in all its essentials, and probably in a number of details and basic applications. Thus, if we see such a person promoting ideas that are clearly anti-Objectivist, and yet call himself an "Objectivist," then yes, we will judge him as bad, as someone who is trying to ride on Rand's coattails without being "constrained" by agreeing in total with her philosophy.

There is also such a thing as being overly reluctant to call oneself an Objectivist; perhaps this comes from fear of the very constraint of which I speak. So long as one is merely a "student," then he thinks he is free to make more errors. Only the individual can judge whether he knows enough to take the dive and commit -- and it is a huge commitment. To say that one commits to being rationally self-interested to the best of one's ability is tough stuff. However, there is also the danger of becoming an perpetual "agnostic." My analogy (which may not be very good, so forgive me if it isn't) is the couple that lives together for years and years and never commits to get married. There is something about the sheer act of commitment that allows one's knowledge and integration to proceed further. And I'm not talking public declarations or trying to put everyone on the spot -- this is a commitment to oneself, but still a commitment that one makes, explicitly, to oneself.

Am I making sense here?

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