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Objectivism: "Closed" system

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7 hours ago, Mike Joyous said:

Is there any material idea in Six Pillars that is untrue? If so,  please state it. 

. . .

I think it's really important for us all to look at many of her ideas critically. I am not talking about her fundamental principles,  but about many of her applications. 

The fact that any material ideas are true is not the criteria that makes them a part of Objectivism.

Likewise, the fact that any material ideas that are a part of Objectivism is not the criteria that makes them true.

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8 hours ago, Mike Joyous said:

I think it's really important for us all to look at many of her ideas critically. I am not talking about her fundamental principles,  but about many of her applications. 

I look at everything critically. I can't imagine doing otherwise.

Upon critical analysis, I usually find that I agree with Rand. But not always.

9 hours ago, Mike Joyous said:

Rand has led me to many wonderful truths and clarifications,  but if the folks who purport to spread Objectivism make me feel like the theologians who refused to look at Galileo's telescope, there is something wrong.

There exist dogmatic Objectivists (as well as Objectivists who occasionally act dogmatically). The "something wrong" is with them, not Objectivism, as such.

But if anyone -- Objectivist or otherwise (including Ayn Rand herself) -- told me not to look through some telescope, it wouldn't make a lick of difference to my decision to look. If that isn't an expression of "Objectivism," in full, then it is one of the most fundamental aspects of the philosophy. I see for myself.

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Much ado about nothing.

 

The debate over the closure of Objectivism is more or less directed at statements or conclusions which are not philosophical but are applications of the core philosophy based on assumed evidence of reality.  Since man is fallible those areas of application of the core philosophy are prone to error, but the core of the philosophy itself is not.

The basic fundamental facts of existence reality consciousness man ethics and politics do not change with the trends or the weather or the tides.  The core of the philosophy then is closed and it could be no other way.

More particular conclusions reached based on the philosophy as applied to more particular facts about which science continues to reveal must of course be refined over time. Those are not part of a philosophy but are conclusions reached with the help of a philosophy... they are not philosophy, philosophy makes them possible.  

This distinction is lost on almost everyone who wishes to argue about whether Objectivism is closed or not.  The core is closed and it's correct.

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Is there any material idea in Six Pillars that is untrue? If so,  please state it. 

Rand's insistence that her ideas are all that Objectivism is about has to be taken in context. It was a time when Objectivism and Rand were besieged by folks who did not understand her works. To speak that way about Branden makes no sense. At that time,  Branden understood her work but was not honest much of the time. However, in openly confessing his misdeeds, in his creativity in his field,  and his zeal in applying Objectivism within his field,  I see his cry for redemption. When Rand treated him as beyond hope,  that was shameful. 

I think it's really important for us all to look at many of her ideas critically. I am not talking about her fundamental principles,  but about many of her applications. 

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48 minutes ago, Mike Joyous said:

Is there any material idea in Six Pillars that is untrue? If so,  please state it. 

I'm not familiar with the "six pillars". However, let's say they're excellent set of ideas. Let's also assume that some of the stuff Rand wrote is wrong. What's the relevance? Under those assumptions, would you like to name "Objectivism" as being:

  • Rand's stuff
  • minus the stuff she got wrong
  • plus the stuff Branden got right

Is that the idea?

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On 8/26/2017 at 11:20 PM, dream_weaver said:

It merely states that Objectivism consists of what she has written on the subject, nothing more, nothing less.

If you asked someone what "algebra" was and they indicated a certain textbook on the subject, you'd know that they neither meant the literal textbook nor the sum of all of the words inside it, but the system of ideas (in this case a methodology) described by that book. Like any other system of thought, Objectivism cannot be said to exist (nor to consist of anything whatsoever) except inside of the brains of living people.

 

To claim that Objectivism consists of the integrated sum of the ideas expressed by Rand's works (which seems to be the actual content of the "closed" view) would be like claiming that algebra consists of the fully-assembled sum of everything in one particular textbook; an Official Algebraic Canon, if you will. 

Suppose there was someone who demonstrated a complete, working knowledge of algebra without having ever picked up our hypothetical Official Agebraic Canon. Would their math be algebra or not?

 

edit: I'm reminded of the scene in AS which describes D'anconia as having "figured out" a rudimentary differential equation, completely independently. The phrasing seems to suggest how Ayn Rand would've answered that question.

 

Ayn Rand's works are the maps but Objectivism is the territory.

 

On 8/27/2017 at 12:46 AM, Mike Joyous said:

Rand's insistence that her ideas are all that Objectivism is about has to be taken in context. It was a time when Objectivism and Rand were besieged by folks who did not understand her works.

I think the only relevant context is that, although Rand had an unparalleled intellect and independently grasped things that many of us still struggle to learn even with her aid, she was still a fallible and non-omniscient human being.

 

To declare a system of thought "closed" could only make sense for those philosophies whose last followers died centuries ago (although there still might be a chance they left some record of it for new adherents to find, learn from and possibly improve). For that philosophy to include such principles as the contextuality of knowledge, the universal fact of fallibility and the importance of understanding things firsthand does not make it more sane to try to "close" it.

Isn't that much, at least, already obvious?

 

If she had a bad day (or even a bad year or two) and said a few less-than-genius things, that would not detract from the rest of her legacy's shining excellence - and neither would we honor it by closing our eyes and declaring it equally as good as some of the less-sane things she expressed.

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold
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On 9/2/2017 at 7:44 PM, softwareNerd said:

I'm not familiar with the "six pillars". However, let's say they're excellent set of ideas. Let's also assume that some of the stuff Rand wrote is wrong. What's the relevance? Under those assumptions, would you like to name "Objectivism" as being:

  • Rand's stuff
  • minus the stuff she got wrong
  • plus the stuff Branden got right

Is that the idea?

If you replace "Branden" with "other Objectivist intellectuals", yepper. I'm pretty sure we've already started removing things she got wrong if we won't defend the idea that men are metaphysically superior to women or that smoking pot (no qualifications on when, where, how or why; just smoking pot under any circumstances) obviously indicates that you want to die.

Unless you'd like to come up for a word for whatever-the-hell philosophy we've been developing ever since Objectivism died with Ayn Rand?

 

Again, I'd like to stress that almost everything she came up with truly was extraordinary. However, if she were still alive I think she'd be grateful to anyone who'd point out (politely, of course) the trouble with the other handful of her ideas.

'When I disagree with a man, we let reality be our final arbiter. If I am right, he will learn; if he is right, I will. One of us will win - but both will profit.'

 

 

P.S:

 

You should listen to the lyrics of this song. I have no idea what philosophical background Beardyman (the original artist) had, if any, but what philosophy do you think they best described, in that?

Must one read Ayn Rand in order to be an Objectivist?

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold
PostScript

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On 8/27/2017 at 9:19 AM, DonAthos said:

I see for myself.

THAT is Objectivism!!!

 

On 8/27/2017 at 10:15 AM, StrictlyLogical said:

The basic fundamental facts of existence reality consciousness man ethics and politics do not change with the trends or the weather or the tides.  The core of the philosophy then is closed and it could be no other way.

SL, I actually agree wholeheartedly with the essence of that.

 

There is a distinctive "core" of Objectivism, which is closed and correct, and which any change to would result in something different from Objectivism. There is also a fuzzier area of applications, which can have a variety of possible arrangements while still yielding something we'd recognize as a member of the same genus.

Actually, in light of Rand's comments on the metaphysical superiority of men (etc.), that might be the essential way most of us see it; we only disagree on where to draw the line between the root and the branches.

 

However, I don't believe the "closed" position (in the form my imperfect memory recalls Peikoff making it) permits any branches of legitimate disagreement; it's either you agree with every single comma and semicolon of Rand's or get the hell away and please don't tell anyone that we know each other, you degenerate.

 

I'm out of time now, but does anyone have a convenient link to "fact and value" so I can double-check that?

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1 hour ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

Unless you'd like to come up for a word for whatever-the-hell philosophy we've been developing ever since Objectivism died with Ayn Rand?

I've never felt the need to come up with a word for "true philosophy", and it feels like cheating to say that all true philosophy is Objectivism. Anyhow, this controversy has always eluded me: my curiosity is mostly about why either side in the argument cares about this.

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45 minutes ago, softwareNerd said:

Anyhow, this controversy has always eluded me: my curiosity is mostly about why either side in the argument cares about this.

 

It is important in the sense that it determines boundaries. It helps with knowing what is okay and what is not okay in the discussions. There are those Objectivists who will erase anything attributed to Branden. From what I have seen, the forum at least allows examination and experimentation that some would consider as being harmful.

Granted, we have never seen a request or pressure to "burn books". But there are some videos of David Kelley complaining about being pressured to get out of the way. So, for some, certain ideas are not okay and people would rather know ahead of time rather than be chastised for it.

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32 minutes ago, Easy Truth said:

It is important in the sense that it determines boundaries. It helps with knowing what is okay and what is not okay in the discussions. There are those Objectivists who will erase anything attributed to Branden. From what I have seen, the forum at least allows examination and experimentation that some would consider as being harmful.

Granted, we have never seen a request or pressure to "burn books". But there are some videos of David Kelley complaining about being pressured to get out of the way. So, for some, certain ideas are not okay and people would rather know ahead of time rather than be chastised for it.

I think two things get mixed up here: let's presume that Branden is totally right and Rand totally wrong in any place they disagree. Obviously it is sensible to agree with Branden in such case, leave alone discussing it. The whole point is to discover true philosophy.

It does seem to be stealing someone's better idea if we then label their ideas "Objectivism" just because they were right and are fixing some error in Rand. Why not, then, call it "Aristoleanism"? I don't see why one has to come up with a concept for "true physics" or call it all "Newtonian Physics" even when it contradicts him. In every field of knowledge, we constantly learn and seek new truths and reject old ones. We use terms like "Newtonian Physics" or "Galilean ideas" as a way to conceptualize a certain set of specific ideas in the history of the science.

Edited by softwareNerd

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10 minutes ago, softwareNerd said:

It does seem to be stealing someone's better idea is we then label their ideas "Objectivism" just because they were right and are fixing some error in Rand. Why not, then, call it "Aristoleanism"? I don't see why one has to come up with a concept for "true physics" or call it all "Newtonian Physics" even when it contradicts him. In every field of knowledge, we constantly learn and seek new truths and reject old ones. We use terms like "Newtonian Physics" or "Galilean ideas" as a way to conceptualize a certain set of specific ideas in the history of the science.

I suppose some redefining is going on.

Some would say that it is a branding issue (identity?). I would say that it is a precision issue. Isn't focus the hallmark of thinking. Isn't precision the result of focus?

If it is not put to rest, Ayn Rand might eventually be called a Semi-Objectivist or a heretic.

Edited by Easy Truth

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1 minute ago, softwareNerd said:

I've never felt the need to come up with a word for "true philosophy", and it feels like cheating to say that all true philosophy is Objectivism.

I don't disagree. And if the primacy of existence, the necessity (and exact nature) of reason or that of acting in my own self-interest are ever legitimately disproven, I will not call whatever result I convert to "Objectivism" (nor any prefixed or suffixed variation of it). However, considering that she was the very first philosopher in history to define and consistently uphold these fundamentals, I'd give her namesake to any philosophy which uses them as the foundation from which to consistently* derive the rest.

 

23 minutes ago, softwareNerd said:

Anyhow, this controversy has always eluded me: my curiosity is mostly about why either side in the argument cares about this.

I think it's a conceptual thing. It's not about the specific word "Objectivism" (that would just be silly); it's about whether slightly-divergent views can still be fundamentally the same as those of Ayn Rand or whether any disagreement, of any size and over any issue at all, constitutes a full break with "reality, reason, egoism, Capitalism, Romanticism".

 

*Within the context of everything we know, so far. There can only be one ultimately "true" form of Objectivism, but that doesn't mean that whichever form that is will be obvious to us (or even the greatest minds among us) anytime soon. Andeven if it were I'd still grant that title to reasonable, level-headed newcomers, while they come to grasp it for themselves.

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4 hours ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

If you asked someone what "algebra" was and they indicated a certain textbook on the subject, you'd know that they neither meant the literal textbook nor the sum of all of the words inside it, but the system of ideas (in this case a methodology) described by that book. Like any other system of thought, Objectivism cannot be said to exist (nor to consist of anything whatsoever) except inside of the brains of living people.

The main difference I see within this is that Ayn Rand was alive, and while so, she wrote many of her discoveries in book form. The fact that she has since passed away does not take away from the fact that what she identified and categorized under her chosen heading of Objectivism came from the brain of a living person.

Today, those works are available to be read and comprehended by the brains of living people. Like algebra, there are principles and applications of principles.

4 hours ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

To claim that Objectivism consists of the integrated sum of the ideas expressed by Rand's works (which seems to be the actual content of the "closed" view) would be like claiming that algebra consists of the fully-assembled sum of everything in one particular textbook; an Official Algebraic Canon, if you will. 

Suppose there was someone who demonstrated a complete, working knowledge of algebra without having ever picked up our hypothetical Official Agebraic Canon. Would their math be algebra or not?

In your study of a particular field, you may come up with a new discovery, and even publish it. In the case of algebra, I am unaware of a single individual that radically challenged most of the percepts of what was commonly accepted as algebra and subsequently published their works declaring it as a branch of algebra destined to replace the old approach and henceforth be known as "arbegla".

4 hours ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

edit: I'm reminded of the scene in AS which describes D'anconia as having "figured out" a rudimentary differential equation, completely independently. The phrasing seems to suggest how Ayn Rand would've answered that question.

 

Ayn Rand's works are the maps but Objectivism is the territory.

Many people have independently come to views over their lives, some of whom (myself included) note that Rand articulated what they have been struggling to put into words for years.

As to the map analogy, Rand's works provide a map of the territory as she found it during her exploration. Aristotle, Plato and Immanuel Kant provided their maps of the territory as they expressed it based on their explorations. The territory is existence. The various maps may be used to assist you in your navigation of it.

If you're going to add new streets, or topological features, or a unique legend for cross referencing the symbols and markings on the field of the map, why not take credit for the development of your own unique map?

Rand acknowledged her respects to Aristotle and even Thomas Aquinas indicating where she differed. Anyone can acknowledge their respects to what Ayn Rand put forth as Objectivism and do the same. They may even come up with many objective discoveries of their own, that deserve acknowledging in the field of philosophy. They may even be viewed as having an Aristotelian, Platonic, Kantian, or even a Randian influence, yet each of the unique contributions of these contributors to the field of philosophy is their own.

In conclusion, what she wrote and in some cases said is what she wrote and said. In the end, she placed it firmly under the umbrella of Objectivism. Anything extrapolated from what what she said or wrote is just extrapolated. and should be evaluated on its own merits, not as an extension of Objectivism proper.

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51 minutes ago, dream_weaver said:

If you're going to add new streets, or topological features, or a unique legend for cross referencing the symbols and markings on the field of the map, why not take credit for the development of your own unique map?

Because if she figured out the elevations, latitudes, longitudes and the freaking street map to boot, and I came up with a fancy new kind of compass to put in the corner, it'd only make sense to call it "Ayn Rand's map" or at the very most "Ayn Rand's map with a fancy new compass". 

I am not a freaking looter, thank you.

 

51 minutes ago, dream_weaver said:

Anything extrapolated from what what she said or wrote is just extrapolated. and should be evaluated on its own merits, not as an extension of Objectivism proper.

Firstly, shouldn't everything be evaluated on its own merits, full stop?

Secondly...

 

 

Doesn't this piece of artwork, which has absolutely no relation whatsoever to the person of Ayn Rand, express the very soul of Objectivism?

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We're all reasoning individuals who think for ourselves. Ayn Rand made the map, as others have pointed out. The map is a philosophy for living on earth, a map of earth. Times change. Politics change. Technology changes. New cities come, new volcanoes form new islands. We can't view Rand's "map" of Objectivism as something that is to forever remain unaltered. Things like "A is A, Existence exists, consciousness exists and is consicous of objective reality"... those axioms are the paper. That'll always be there, even if the entire terrain is destroyed by a meteorite.

But political topics like immigration? Rand never wrote on the topic, and has only one recorded remark on the subject. In Rand's time, it was European immigration of people who integrated into society culturally, as Rand herself did. Now, it is Third World immigration of people who primarily vote socialist and refuse to learn English or otherwise integrate, instead replicating the Third World right here in America. Somehow I doubt that Ayn Rand would've advocated throwing open the borders and letting 300 million Chinese and Mexican people come here, or Muslims, in fact she called their cultures primitive and barbaric. But that's what people like Harry Binswanger and Yaron Brook advocate for... unlimited immigration (except for Israel which gets to remain a Jewish state). Even if the number of people would come here and overwhelm American culture. That is impractical, thus immoral, for our side to accept. I would recommend that you all read this blog piece which makes the case for a restricted system of immigration better than I could ever do.

New scientific discoveries must also be integrated into our philosophy. I observe that quantum mechanics is a sticking point that a lot of Objectivists see, including Peikoff himself... but for one I am not convinced that there even is any contradiction. Quantum mechanics, in my eyes, is fully compatible with Objectivism... I admit I am no scientist but I don't see the problem. Even if it did contradict something in Objectivism, science is a valid epistemological inquiry. Say we observe something with our senses through the microscope or telescope, which are nothing more than extensions of the senses. If it contradicts something in our philosophy then we must integrate it.We have no choice in the matter (well, we do, that's called free will to not think, but that is evasion).

4 minutes ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

Simple As - Nightcore

Doesn't this piece of artwork, which has absolutely no relation whatsoever to the person of Ayn Rand, express the very soul of Objectivism?

Lyrically, that song kinda reminds me of "The Man" by The Killers.

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1 hour ago, dream_weaver said:

Anything extrapolated from what what she said or wrote is just extrapolated. and should be evaluated on its own merits, not as an extension of Objectivism proper.

46 minutes ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

Doesn't this piece of artwork, which has absolutely no relation whatsoever to the person of Ayn Rand, express the very soul of Objectivism?

 

 

 

1 hour ago, CartsBeforeHorses said:

Lyrically, that song kinda reminds me of "The Man" by The Killers.

Thank you!!! I'm pirating it tomorrow!

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14 hours ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

Thank you!!! I'm pirating it tomorrow!

If you derive value from the song, why would you not exchange equal value for it by paying to download it? I am confused, I do not think that it's very Objectivist to pirate music. I'm not trying to be an Ayatollah and telling you what you can and can't do, but that's just my take on it.

Also, this is another great song. It relates to a video that I'm making on Sonic the Hedgehog. It's a good song in its own right, though.

 

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3 hours ago, CartsBeforeHorses said:

If you derive value from the song, why would you not exchange equal value for it by paying to download it? I am confused, I do not think that it's very Objectivist to pirate music.

It's not. I don't personally hold to intellectual property rights, but (particularly in the case of more obscure artists) I do realize that my payment might actually be able to help or hinder their careers. Not necessarily the big guys but probably the really little ones.

I just has no moneys right now.

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