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Objectivism: "Closed" system

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The Objectivist—June 1968

A Statement Of Policy

Part I—By Ayn Rand

excerpts below

My role in regard to Objectivism is that of a theoretician. Since Objectivism is not a loose body of ideas, but a philosophical system originated by me and publicly associated with my name, it is my right and my responsibility to protect its intellectual integrity. I want, therefore, formally to state that the only authentic sources of information on Objectivism are: my own works (books, articles, lectures), the articles appearing in and the pamphlets reprinted by this magazine (The Objectivist, as well as The Objectivist Newsletter), books by other authors which will be endorsed in this magazine as specifically Objectivist literature, and such individual lectures or lecture courses as may be so endorsed. (This list includes also the book Who Is Ayn Rand? by Nathaniel Branden and Barbara Branden, as well as the articles by these two authors which have appeared in this magazine in the past, but does not include their future works. )

As indicated below, I have asked my attorney, Henry Mark Holzer, to elaborate on my new policy and on the reasons that necessitated it.

A recent example of impropriety was perpetrated by a group which, while it purported to be an Ayn Rand study club, nevertheless proposed to issue its own "position paper" on Objectivism. Objectivism is a fully integrated and consistent philosophical system. People may take any philosophical "position" they choose, but if their position differs from that expressed in authorized Objectivist sources (as listed above), they should not attempt to peddle their views under the label of Objectivism or any "variant" thereof. Such attempts are obviously intended to cash in on an implied association which they have not earned, and they come close to being a fraud on Ayn Rand's readers.

These are just excerpts from part 1, there is more in the next issue. The closing of Objectivism as a legal act was completed and explained in these issues.

In contrast to the practices I have described, we receive many legitimate inquiries about the proper manner of using Ayn Rand's ideas or her philosophy. First, let me say that all of Ayn Rand's writings and speeches, as well as all issues of this magazine and of The Objectivist Newsletter, are protected by United States statutory and common law copyright. The discoveries (as contrasted with intellectual creations, such as fiction characters) presented in Miss Rand's works, can be used by anyone who regards them as true—provided the user gives credit for the discovery to Miss Rand. In this connection, I quote from her article on patents and copyrights: "A scientific or philosophical discovery, which identifies a law of nature, a principle or a fact of reality not previously known, cannot be the exclusive property of the discoverer because: (a) he did not create it, and (;) if he cares to make his discovery public, claiming it to be true, he cannot demand that men continue to pursue or practice falsehoods except by his permission. He can copyright the book in which he presents his discovery and he can demand that his authorship of the discovery be acknowledged, that no other man appropriate or plagiarize the credit for it—but he cannot copyright theoretical knowledge." (The Objectivist Newsletter, May 1964. )

On the other hand, the specific formulations of Ayn Rand's discoveries, as well as her fiction creations, constitute her property and fall under the protection of the copyright laws. These laws forbid plagiarism, which consists of presenting as one's own the ideas of someone else. These laws also forbid the paraphrasing of someone else's ideas, or the use of extensive quotations from someone else's work—even when credit is given—if these constitute the major part of the new work. What the copyright laws do permit is the quotation of brief portions of another's work, but only if appropriate credit is given and only if a careful distinction is drawn between one's own views and the views of the person one is quoting.

Thus, if in your own work you make a brief reference to the work of Ayn Rand, you must take scrupulous care to separate your views from hers and to ascribe to her only those statements which she has actually made. In other words, do not paraphrase or summarize what you think amounts to Miss Rand's position on any given issue; set forth what that position is—just as she has stated it.

The most significant line I have quoted here is "Since Objectivism is not a loose body of ideas, but a philosophical system originated by me and publicly associated with my name,..." Philosophy deals in universals, no universal conclusion was reached on homosexuality, therefore what Rand thought of homosexuality was not philosophy or Objectivism. This omission is not an error, as whyNOT's quote from 1976 explains.

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re: posts above this

The posts above do _not_ show where Ayn Rand said Objectivism is "closed". The above quotes show that Objectivism has an identity and that Ayn Rand intended to protect that identity and her intellectual property. Post #75, in particular, proves that Objectivism is not closed in any sense of the word that I understand.

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The posts above do _not_ show where Ayn Rand said Objectivism is "closed".
What do you mean by "open"? Do you mean that any new truth about Philosophy is Objectivism, even if Rand thought is was false, while being core and well-settled? Would that be "open"? Edited by softwareNerd

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What do you mean by "open"? Do you mean that any new truth about Philosophy is Objectivism, even if Rand thought is was false, while being core and well-settled? Would that be "open"?

We've already established that not everything that Rand thought or said is part of Objectivism. So, logically your statement "even if Rand thought is was false" doesn't apply. A philisophical statement is either consistent with Objectivism or it isn't.

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Allow me to expand your limited understanding: has identity = closed

No, to have an identity is to exist as something specific. Objectivism, in this context, is the Philosophy of Ayn Rand. The word "closed" means concluded. As Ayn Rand states above, Objectivism is not concluded. "There is an awful lot of work yet to be done".

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We've already established that not everything that Rand thought or said is part of Objectivism. So, logically your statement "even if Rand thought is was false" doesn't apply. A philisophical statement is either consistent with Objectivism or it isn't.
I asked about something that was:

  • philosophy
  • considered core by Rand
  • considered well-settled by Rand

I'm trying to understand what you mean by "open" and "closed".

For instance, If we were to find that man does not have free-will, would we incorporate that into Objectivism and start to say "Objectivism states man does not have free will"?

Or does openness only imply that newly discovered principles can be considered a part of Objectivism, but only if it is fully consistent with the philosophy of Rand?

Edited by softwareNerd

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Post #75, in particular, proves that Objectivism is not closed in any sense of the word that I understand.
Post #75 could not possibly prove such a thing, as explained in post #76. Because of the nature of Objectivism and the nature of death, obviously Rand cannot develop her philosophy further.

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I didn't think I was being insulting, just literal. But evidently not literal enough, so here is the same thing in baby steps:

If you are familiar with the Objectivist theory of concepts you know concepts are open-ended. Philosophy as a subject area and philosophizing as an activity are open-ended. Objectivism is not a concept. Objectivism is a proper noun. Proper nouns refer to a particulars, or as in this case, an enumerated set of particulars. Objectivism is not open-ended. Not open is closed. Objectivism is closed.

One can claim to philosophize, and one can claim to philosophize by applying the methods of Objectivism. No one can claim to create or discover new principles of

Objectivism, or modify or delete those that exist.

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Post #75 could not possibly prove such a thing, as explained in post #76. Because of the nature of Objectivism and the nature of death, obviously Rand cannot develop her philosophy further.

You quote her as saying "...job that no philosopher can finish in his lifetime" and "There is an awful lot of work yet to be done." Do you infer from these that Rand felt her philosophy (or any philosophy) can never be finished as a philosopher's life ends?

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If you are familiar with the Objectivist theory of concepts you know concepts are open-ended. Philosophy as a subject area and philosophizing as an activity are open-ended. Objectivism is not a concept. Objectivism is a proper noun. Proper nouns refer to a particulars, or as in this case, an enumerated set of particulars. Objectivism is not open-ended. Not open is closed. Objectivism is closed.

Your definition is, of course, correct. But your conclusion isn't. "BMW" is a proper noun and refers to a set of particulars. This set, however, is open-ended in that future cars can be called BMW. Objectivism is the philosophy as stated by Ayn Rand. But, this doesn't preclude future scholars from creating works that are consistent with Objectivism.

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You quote her as saying "...job that no philosopher can finish in his lifetime" and "There is an awful lot of work yet to be done." Do you infer from these that Rand felt her philosophy (or any philosophy) can never be finished as a philosopher's life ends?
The part which I quoted emphasized the statement "the elaboration of a system is a job that no philosopher can finish in his lifetime". I drew attention to to the work "elaboration". Rand had, at that time, articulated virtually all of what is the philosophical system Objectivism. Whether or not she believed that there were any principles of Objectivism yet to be correctly stated, we cannot know -- there is no evidence at all that I know of to the effect that she believe that there were any such missing principles.

As I also mentioned in my post, there were a number of elaborations (to use the word that Rand herself used) of Objectivism that she herself had not done. An example is Peikoff's elaboration of Objectivist epistemology in chapter 5 of OPAR, when he applies the principles of Objectivist epistemology to clarify the nature of the "certainty" scale and the distinction between the possible, probable and the certain. (To be more precise, I assume that this is a later elaboration -- I do not know what the content of that chapter was in the form that Rand herself saw and approved). Or, to take a unambiguous case, Tara Smith elaborates the Objectivist Ethics in Viable Values by integrating notions of existence and identity to yield her "flourishing" explanation of ethics. This is a specific application of Rand's philosophical principles to yield an elaboration of those principles -- a more detailed explanation in a more specific context.

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Objectivism is the philosophy as stated by Ayn Rand. But, this doesn't preclude future scholars from creating works that are consistent with Objectivism.
It does, however, preclude future scholars from creating works that define Objectivism.

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Your definition is, of course, correct. But your conclusion isn't. "BMW" is a proper noun and refers to a set of particulars. This set, however, is open-ended in that future cars can be called BMW. Objectivism is the philosophy as stated by Ayn Rand. But, this doesn't preclude future scholars from creating works that are consistent with Objectivism.

What makes BMW open-ended is the continued existence of the BMW manufacturer. Ayn Rand is dead.

When future scholars create works that are consistent with Objectivism, they will be adding to philosophy not Objectivism.

Your willful obtuseness has dissipated the default good will owed to strangers.

edit: re Kelley, he sure as hell did.

Edited by Grames

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As you can imagine, I've reported your posts.

:o

Where? Please provide a reference.

Not in this thread. Besides, you already know. Why else make the leap to Kelley in this discussion?

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Not in this thread. Besides, you already know. Why else make the leap to Kelley in this discussion?
Anyone reading this thread would know that Kelley has something to do with this discussion. They don't necessarily know why. I think the benefit of the doubt should go to Jordan on this one.

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Anyone reading this thread would know that Kelley has something to do with this discussion. They don't necessarily know why. I think the benefit of the doubt should go to Jordan on this one.

I looked at his profile, and then his website. Jordan knows exactly what he is doing. He disagrees with the argument in Fact and Value, not just on whether Objectivism is open or closed but whether Kelley tried to open it. The first question is the topic of this thread, the second question is the topic of this thread and this thread (among several).

edit: added a second thread link

Edited by Grames

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For instance, If we were to find that man does not have free-will, would we incorporate that into Objectivism and start to say "Objectivism states man does not have free will"?

Or does openness only imply that newly discovered principles can be considered a part of Objectivism, but only if it is fully consistent with the philosophy of Rand?

Even if it was fully consistent with the philosophy of Rand, it isn't part of her philosophy. Just a philosophical idea that was based on her philosophy and doesn't contradict it.

If we found that man does not have free-will, Objectivism would continue to say that man has free will and that free will is an axiomatic concept that has to be used in order to be attacked.

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Even if it was fully consistent with the philosophy of Rand, it isn't part of her philosophy. Just a philosophical idea that was based on her philosophy and doesn't contradict it.
I'm not sure what you mean here. On what other part of Rand's philosophy is the idea of free-will based?

But, I do agree with your conclusion (below), even if I don't understand how you reached it.

If we found that man does not have free-will, Objectivism would continue to say that man has free will and that free will is an axiomatic concept that has to be used in order to be attacked.
I agree with this, but I don't know if "open philosophy" advocates would. That was what I was trying to clarify. Edited by softwareNerd

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