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Who Are The True Objectivists?

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The concept is arbitrary as Objectivists typically define it.  I'm not certain that people who actually believe in God define it in the same way.

You're asking us when one could consider themselves an Objectivist but, based on this response, I think it's safe to say that you're not yet. Your statement reaks of subjectivism, the polar opposite of Objectivism. Essentially, what you said boils down to this: you can't ever be certain of anything.

Essentially, it doesn't matter what theists think the definition of god is. God is an anti-concept. God is a conglamaration of what someone interpreted to be the best attributes of humanity lumped together into one and called all powerful. As someone suggested before, you can find a better elaboration of this in Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology.

As for me, it would take god coming down to Earth and talking to me before I'd believe in him again. Of course, I'd also probably question my sanity at that point too and check into a mental health facility.

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Okay, so what are the requirements?  I'm trying to figure out if it's an appropriate title for me.

To call yourself an Objectivist you must understand and agree with the essential principles of the philosophy in epistemology, metaphysics, ethics, esthetics, and politics. You cannot pick and choose among the principles, keeping those you like and discarding those you do not want. Objectivism is a totally integrated philosophical system, and you cannot be consistent with the philosophy unless you grasp and accept the whole. In addition, aside from the intellectual perspective, to actually BE an Objectivist you must live according to Objectivist principles.

All of this -- grasping the philosophy and integrating it into your life -- takes a lot of time, more on the order of many years than not. In the interim, while you are learning the principles of the philosophy and working on personal integration, as long as you do accept what you have learned so far, it is best to refer to yourself as a student of Objectivism. If on the other hand you sympathize with a lot of the philosophy, but disagree with other aspects of it, I personally do not think it fair to yourself and Ayn Rand to even refer to yourself as a student of Objectivism. If you need to mention the term at all, perhaps an Objectivist sympathizer, or something of the like.

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The concept is arbitrary as Objectivists typically define it.  I'm not certain that people who actually believe in God define it in the same way.

Well, that's because Objectivists use facts of reality to define their terms. "People who actually believe" use evidence like this:

"Well just look around at all the pretty flowers, birds, trees, the earth. It had to be created by someone, and that someone has to be God. The Bible (or insert religious tome here) says so."

Now I ask, which position do you think is arbitrary?

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The concept is arbitrary as Objectivists typically define it.  I'm not certain that people who actually believe in God define it in the same way.

Zoso, I add , that, when a minister, delivering a sermon, looks up and says, "O God, have mercy on us...", he is not seeing. If he was, he would see the ceiling. Then he could say, "O ceiling above us, have mercy on us and do not fall in thy wrath upon those of us who are blind and see thee not". At that point those who wanted to be saved could look up and see the ceiling, too. But, he doesn't see;

he merely poses, and assumes that his audience will regard the nature of his_ sight as something going out from his eyes, and not as a taking in--- perception---of reflected light. :D

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I have not yet read ITOE, but it's on my list. I do not currently have reason to state that I know conclusively that there is no God. So, if I can't call myself an Objectivist because of that, then I guess I'm not.
You ought to stop worrying about what to call yourself until you know what it would mean -- what you believe and what Objectivism means. Why would you care about a name identifying you before there is anything coherent to identify and you don't know what it means?

From what little you have written here you have already revealed that there is a lot more at stake for you than belief in 'God', including putting membership in a social group ahead of your own beliefs and integrity, the integrity to tell people both elsewhere and here what you actually believe, knowing what it means to be able to say you believe something at all, and the requirement to define what a concept actually means in reality before addressing whether it even has the potential to be something to believe can exist or is only an arbitrary, invalid concept about which statements are meaningless and are therefore not statements at all.

Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology is relatively technical and advanced and is not the place to start. It will not tell you what to call yourself or many of the basic things you need to know. Ask yourself as you read farther what it is about Ayn Rand's writings that you like, then pursue what that implies, what is required consistently to make it possible, and what you want to be as a person. That would take a long time if you choose to pursue it. Meanwhile, be honest and stop worrying about what "title" or group to associate yourself with.

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Whoa...I'm not gonna respond to all of these individually. I will, however, say that I do not believe in subjectivity. I believe we can be certain about a great many things. I'm just not willing to say that I know for certain that something does not exist, until I have simultaneously seen all of the spatial locations that it might be able to exist. I have read quite a bit of Ayn Rand's writings. I've read Atlas Shrugged, Anthem, We the Living, Philosophy: Who Needs It, and The Virtue of Selfishness. I think I'm ready to read ITOE, if I ever buy it.

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Okay, so what are the requirements?  I'm trying to figure out if it's an appropriate title for me.  I know I said I'm a Deist, but that's mostly b/c I want to join the Masons and you have to believe in God.  I do not believe in any kind of God, but only because I have no evidence to see that he exists.  If someone could provide me with evidence, I could call myself a Deist.

No offense, but you remind of the George Castanza character from Seinfeld! Do you have some need to belong to something? Why do you want to lie to get into the Masons?

I'm going to be a little more flippant about your question of requirements to call yourself an Objectivist (mind you don't get a card, and nothing becomes free, however there are no membership fees, and the tennis courts are lit at night). It takes a voice box. You will be the only one that has to pay a consequence if it is not true.

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Forgive me if the topic is redundant, but I pose the question in modest inquiry.

I am a history student at a university. Yes, a student of history. I call myself this because, although I love history and have devoted my life (though I am young) to the study of it, I do not qualify as an historian. In order to call onself "an historian" one must have either attained a Ph.D in history or produced a scholarly work, such as a book. Likewise, an undergrad philosophy student is not a philosopher until she has made some kind of contribution, or achieved some kind of recognition in the field of philosophy.

But does this rule apply to Objectivism?

I'm not sure, but I'm inclined to answer no. Because it is a philosophy for living and a complete system that must be integrated and applied, the context changes. If one integrates the system, therby making all decisions based on a set of rational and objective values and principles is she an Objectivist? Or does she have to DO something in the world of philosophy, economics, politics, art, or science to become one?

I am only 18 and I really do evaluate everything with rational principles. I integrate the world rationally as I experience it and anticipate many more experiences and thus, much more integration. But the System has been integrated and set in order to do so. Can I call myself an Objectivist yet, or am I still a student of Objectivism?

[i appreciate responses from all, but the question is especially directed to those of the likes of Stephen or Burgess, as they are older and more experienced Objectivists]

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Zoso,

But that creates a further problem: who determines what the premises of Objectivism are, and their interpretations? Do I accept Piekoff's interpretation, or Kelley's? They aren't always in agreement, you know. In New York, the Patriot group was riddled with disagreements. If I go with my own interpretation, and it's different from yours, who is the "real" Objectivist, and further, how is the distinction between a "student" Objectivist and a full-fledged Objectivist made?

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Forgive me if the topic is redundant, but I pose the question in modest inquiry.

I am a history student at a university. Yes, a student of history. I call myself this because, although I love history and have devoted my life (though I am young) to the study of it, I do not qualify as an historian. In order to call onself "an historian" one must have either attained a Ph.D in history or produced a scholarly work, such as a book.  Likewise, an undergrad philosophy student is not a philosopher until she has made some kind of contribution, or achieved some kind of recognition in the field of philosophy.

But does this rule apply to Objectivism?

I'm not sure, but I'm inclined to answer no. Because it is a philosophy for living and a complete system that must be integrated and applied, the context changes. If one integrates the system, therby making all decisions based on a set of rational and objective values and principles is she an Objectivist? Or does she have to DO something in the world of philosophy, economics, politics, art, or science to become one?

To be an Objectivist means to understand and agree with the philosophy and integrate it into your personal life, i.e., to act in accord with Objectivist principles. A philosophy is that which is available to everyone, in principle, and one does not have to make contributions to the field in order grasp and implement the principles. (Not to say that such contributions would be unwelcome. The world needs more intellectuals with an Objectivist perspective in all fields, so any contibutions you make will be appreciated. :D You sound like a bright, enthusiastic young person, so I look forward to seeing what you eventually accomplish. In the meantime, enjoy your studies, Objectivist and otherwise.)

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But that creates a further problem: who determines [...]

All such questions have answers. But first one must decide whether they apply to:

(1) An individual -- such as you or me or Zoso -- considering the issues for himself?

In this case, the individual resolves the issues by using all the tools of reason. This is cognitive resolution.

(2) A group of individuals organized for a purpose related to these issues -- such as ObjectivismOnline.net?

An organized group of individuals resolves the issues through whatever procedures it has set up to do so -- such as Wiki drafts of rules and open discussion of the issues, with the final decision being made by the owners or other directors of the organization. This is social resolution, which can only happen after individuals make decisions for themselves. The "losers" in the debate can go elsewhere, in a free society.

(3) A group of individuals who are not organized but supposedly have common goals -- that is, a social, political, or philosophical movement?

Here again each individual makes up his mind on the issues -- and then acts accordingly by deciding with whom to work and whom to exclude. There is no mechanism for resolution. Egalitarians strive for "consensus," but in a free society that means only that while a majority may think X other individuals can disagree and continue on with their own private business.

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But that creates a further problem: who determines what the premises of Objectivism are, and their interpretations? Do I accept Piekoff's interpretation, or Kelley's? They aren't always in agreement, you know. In New York, the Patriot group was riddled with disagreements. If I go with my own interpretation, and it's different from yours, who is the "real" Objectivist, and further, how is the distinction between a "student" Objectivist and a full-fledged Objectivist made?

The only Objectivism is that philosophy explicated and endorsed by Ayn Rand, and the only arbiter in the case you mention is objective reality. No one sanctions you as an Objectivist by painting a sign on your head, and there is no secret decoder ring. People are free to "interpret" things as they wish, but that does not make them right. What is real is not a matter of opinion, but a matter of objective fact.

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The only Objectivism is that philosophy explicated and endorsed by Ayn Rand, and the only arbiter in the case you mention is objective reality. No one sanctions you as an Objectivist by painting a sign on your head, and there is no secret decoder ring. People are free to "interpret" things as they wish, but that does not make them right. What is real is not a matter of opinion, but a matter of objective fact.

You self-describe as an Objectivist when in your judgement you understand, accept and consistently act on the principles of Objectivism. If other people judge that you do not in fact understand, accept and act on those principles, they will challenge your self-identification. Then you have to decide whether their judgement is correct or not.

It's like making any other decision. There's no magic bullet or committee on-high that can imprint your forehead with the "Mark of Ayn". There's just individuals examining facts and drawing conclusions.

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To be an Objectivist means to understand and agree with the philosophy and integrate it into your personal life, i.e., to act in accord with Objectivist principles.

This is along the lines of what I was thinking, but I mainly wanted to be sure. I have been calling myself an Objectivist for sometime (ever since I felt that systen was fully integrated) and I just wanted to be certain I wasn't stepping in anyone's toes by doing so. I know I most certainly would not yet go around declaring myself an historian or philosopher quite yet.

You sound like a bright, enthusiastic young person, so I look forward to seeing what you eventually accomplish. In the meantime, enjoy your studies, Objectivist and otherwise.)

Thank you very much, Stephen! This is very kind. I am very excited about all the things I'd like to do with Objectivism, especially in history. I am very happy I had the fortune of finding the correct philosophy so early in life. I have so much opportunity to do great things, and I can only hope I'll have time to accomplish them.

PS: What!? No secret decoder rings!? :D

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PS:  What!? No secret decoder rings!?  :D

I am legally restrained on public forums from making that known, so I always create the impression that no such secret decoder rings ever existed. But, since this is just between you and me (no one else is listening in, right?) the truth of the matter is that, until recently, the secret decoder rings have been used by the Objectivist cabal for several decades. Unfortunately, in recent years the quality of the rings has gone down considerably, so, in a concerted effort to modernize, the cabal developed a secret algorithm which encrypts hidden messages in text, and now, instead of the rings, we distribute secret decoder CDs to be used on the computers of cabal members.

Likewise the secret handshake is gone, and instead a special computer protocol is used automatically for instant recognition of computers that belong to the members of the cabal. Even the traditional cabal song is gone; we use an mp3 instead. And, we no longer excommunicate deviant members, but rather we just disconnect them from the network!

p.s. Good thing no one else is listening in on this. I wouldn't want knowledge of the Objectivist cabal to get out. :D

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[...] Because it is a philosophy for living and a complete system that must be integrated and applied, the context changes. If one integrates the system, therby making all decisions based on a set of rational and objective values and principles is she an Objectivist? Or does she have to DO something in the world of philosophy, economics, politics, art, or science to become one?

I am only 18 and I really do evaluate everything with rational principles. I integrate the world rationally as I experience it and anticipate many more experiences and thus, much more integration. But the System has been integrated and set in order to do so. Can I call myself an Objectivist yet, or am I still a student of Objectivism? [...]

1. Sometimes people I barely know ask me some form of this question: "What is your philosophy?" (They might actually ask, "What is your philosophy of life?" or, more frequently, "What is your religion?")

My answer, without hesitation, is "I am an Objectivist." The reason is simple: Objectivism, as far as I have studied it and understood it, is my guide in life.

Keep in mind that one can be an Objectivist with basic but not in-depth understanding of Ayn Rand's philosophy. This is "philosophy for Rearden," who was objective in his approach to the world already and needed explicit explanations only in a few areas (such as the moral nature of sex).

That level of philosophical knowledge is distinct from "philosophy for Ragnar," that is, having a professional philosopher's level of understanding. (I learned this distinction from reading a note Ayn Rand wrote in her journals, for June 20, 1958 [The Objectivist Forum, August, 1984, p. 9], and from comments -- perhaps by Betsy Speicher -- in an online group many years ago.)

I see myself as being somewhere in between Rearden and Ragnar in my interest in and need of philosophy.

2. In some other contexts, some individuals might ask me how much I know about Objectivism. My answer is that I am a student of Objectivism. By that I mean that I am still studying the philosophy Ayn Rand developed, some parts with more attention than other parts. In that sense, I will probably be a student for the rest of my life. (I am 60.)

Whether I say "Objectivist" or "student of Objectivism" depends on which point I am trying to make.

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Stephen said:

Unfortunately, in recent years the quality of the rings has gone down considerably, so, in a concerted effort to modernize, the cabal developed a secret algorithm which encrypts hidden messages in text, and now, instead of the rings, we distribute secret decoder CDs to be used on the computers of cabal members.

I have the secret decoder algorithms on 8-track tapes, read aloud by William Shatner. Are these still good?

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I have the secret decoder algorithms on 8-track tapes, read aloud by William Shatner. Are these still good?

Unfortunately, not. We at the cabal discovered that under Romulan influence Spock mind-melded with Shatner just before the taping, and the algorithms that were recorded only make sense if the original message is in Klingonese.

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1. Sometimes people I barely know ask me some form of this question: "What is your philosophy?" (They might actually ask, "What is your philosophy of life?" or, more frequently, "What is your religion?")

My answer, without hesitation, is "I am an Objectivist." The reason is simple: Objectivism, as far as I have studied it and understood it, is my guide in life.

I don't think it's fair to call myself an Objectivist, but whenever someone asks me what my politics or philosophy are, I refer them to Ayn Rand. While I can't actually call myself an Objectivist, I believe that I can fairly claim Objectivism as my philosophy and world-view. The main reason that I am not yet ready to call myself an Objectivist is because I don't understand all of it...but I'm working on it, and that's the main reason I started posting on this website.

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I don't think it's fair to call myself an Objectivist, but whenever someone asks me what my politics or philosophy are, I refer them to Ayn Rand.  While I can't actually call myself an Objectivist, I believe that I can fairly claim Objectivism as my philosophy and world-view.  The main reason that I am not yet ready to call myself an Objectivist is because I don't understand all of it...but I'm working on it, and that's the main reason I started posting on this website.

[bold emphasis added]

Zoso, I have a couple of comments you might want to consider:

(1) "Fair" usually means "equal," as when one receives a fair trial the procedures apply equally to everyone. Fair has nothing to do with calling oneself an Objectivist. Instead, the right word (and concept) would be "objective." It is the single most important concept in Ayn Rand's philosophy. Objectivity is a certain kind of relationship between the facts of reality and the ideas we have about them. The kind of relationship is a logical one. In other words, an objective idea is one that is drawn logically from the facts of reality. All of Ayn Rand's philosophy follows from this concept.

You may have been using the word "fair" casually while typing quickly. Nevertheless, the concept of objectivity is the right one to name here, and the right one to begin practicing using when evaluating anything. Unfortunately, I studied Objectivism, off and on, for 30 years before I began to get a glimmer of the meaning of objectivity. I had started at the wrong end of the philosophy: the conclusions. It was the premises and especially the method that should have gotten most of my attention.

(2) To be something you don't need to understand everything about it. To be a botantist does not require knowing everything about every plant. The key is to essentialize. Do you know the essentials and can you give examples of the consequences of those essentials in each branch of the philosophy? If the answer is yes, then you know the philosophy (essentially).

If you don't know what essentializing means, you might start by looking under "Defiinitions" in The Ayn Rand Lexicon. I consider "essential" (which is a short-hand way of saying "essential characteristic") to be the second most important idea in Objectivism, after objectivity. Unfortunately it took me about 35 years to get a glimmer of its meaning. Sometimes progress is slow, but the main thing is to keep making progress.

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QUOTE(Megan Robinson @ Dec 11 2004, 02:57 PM)

PS:  What!? No secret decoder rings!?  ohmy.gif

I am legally restrained on public forums from making that known, so I always create the impression that no such secret decoder rings ever existed. But, since this is just between you and me (no one else is listening in, right?) the truth of the matter is that, until recently, the secret decoder rings have been used by the Objectivist cabal for several decades. Unfortunately, in recent years the quality of the rings has gone down considerably, so, in a concerted effort to modernize, the cabal developed a secret algorithm which encrypts hidden messages in text, and now, instead of the rings, we distribute secret decoder CDs to be used on the computers of cabal members.

Likewise the secret handshake is gone, and instead a special computer protocol is used automatically for instant recognition of computers that belong to the members of the cabal. Even the traditional cabal song is gone; we use an mp3 instead. And, we no longer excommunicate deviant members, but rather we just disconnect them from the network!

p.s. Good thing no one else is listening in on this. I wouldn't want knowledge of the Objectivist cabal to get out. biggrin.gif

And people say Objectivists don't have a sense of humor... :confused:

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I totally agree with BurgessLau and I'll add to it. There is a HUGE difference in making an honest mistake and actually evading truth. If there is an internal contradiction on your part, it is best to step back, look at things objectively (lower case o) and correct the issue. I've learned that my greatest contradictions have been in relationships with friends and girlfriends. So, I've taken the time to step back and look at my actions, however painful it is, and learn from my mistakes.

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