Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum
TheNewIntellectual

Objectivism: "Closed" system

Rate this topic

Recommended Posts

I've been reading the thread and trying to get a handle on the whole open/closed/Kelley debate. Based on Davids comments I'm assuming that so long as someone is alive their philosophy is still open. Is this correct ? If so how does this square with Objectivists like say Tara Smith. Does she have her own philosophy which is still open ( because she's alive) and yet still maintain a closed philosophy ( Objectivism ) within the larger context of her personal philosophy? That's the only way I could make sense of it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
If so how does this square with Objectivists like say Tara Smith. Does she have her own philosophy which is still open ( because she's alive) and yet still maintain a closed philosophy ( Objectivism ) within the larger context of her personal philosophy?
Everybody has a philosophy; not everybody is attempting to develop a distinct philosophical system. I would surmise that Tara Smith is attempting to develop specific applications of Rand's existing system.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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.I agree with this, but I don't know if "open philosophy" advocates would. That was what I was trying to clarify.

The first quote you made from me, I actually meant it generally, not free will specifically. Sorry for the confusion.

I advocate closed philosophical systems. Or at least I advocate Objectivism being closed. Ayn Rand got the core right, as far as I know. Expand on it, but don't contradict or change it. If you find out it's wrong later on, discard Objectivism and call it something else. Or say "I agree with this this and this part of Objectivism but not this part."

Edited by Amaroq

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have been reevaluating my thoughts on this topic, and I think I'm beginning to understand the viewpoints of those like softwareNerd and David Odden.

As pointed out by some, indeed the "instantiations" of Objectivism that Ayn Rand wrote often, such as my example on public education, are not part of Objectivism the philosophy. This I can agree with. My difficulty, then, stemmed from the ARI's rejection of people who differ in areas like policy. At, for example, the Atlasphere and The Atlas Society, there are columnists who instantiate Objectivist principles (whether or not they succeed in doing so is an important consideration in a broader context than this discussion) that are contrary to the beliefs of the ARI. For example, many people write there that were critical of invading Iraq from the beginning, which was definitely not the policy of the ARI. My understanding is that the ARI would label such people with dissenting views as not being Objectivists, and this is where I see the most obvious differences between TAS and the ARI.

Are people who have disagreements with the ARI regarding policy not Objectivists?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In short, no.

It's my suspicion that ARI doesn't associate w/ the Atlas Society because it is a forum that lends legitimacy to people like the Brandens and David Kelly. The Atlas Society's reluctance to support the invasion of Iraq (if that really was a common position there, I don't know first hand), has little to do with it. I don't know of anyone the ARI has denounced as non-Objectivist. In my experience, they simply don't deal with people they believe to be dishonest or misrepresentative of the philosophy. So if they have ever made a public opinion of someone's "Objectivist status", it's gotta be rare.

edit- I wanted to ask if you knew of any public statements the ARI made about someone's "Objectivistness".

Edited by FeatherFall

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
At, for example, the Atlasphere and The Atlas Society, there are columnists who instantiate Objectivist principles (whether or not they succeed in doing so is an important consideration in a broader context than this discussion) that are contrary to the beliefs of the ARI. For example, many people write there that were critical of invading Iraq from the beginning, which was definitely not the policy of the ARI. My understanding is that the ARI would label such people with dissenting views as not being Objectivists, and this is where I see the most obvious differences between TAS and the ARI.
I am skeptical about your understanding. Show me where ARI has labeled someone "not an Objectivist" because they claimed that invasion of Iraq was altruistic and not in America's best interest. Show me where they labeled someone "not an Objectivist", period. (We don't need the cases of those like Kelley and the Branden's who did clearly repudiate Objectivism). I have no doubt that you've heard someone say "ARI condemned so-and-so because they disagreed with an editorial", but the world is full of lying trolls. So before accusing ARI of witch-hunting or excommunicating, look for an actual example.

I think a better exercise would be to look at the various positions promulgated through ARI and try to find one which you think you can disagree with while still accepting Objectivism. Do you disagree with this? Or this?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've got some questions on the "open vs. closed" thigamajigger. I'm sure that my questions have been anticipated and perhaps even answered or refuted elsewhere, but I feel the need to ask them personally and hopefully engage in a discussion. I'm equally sure some other thread is more apropos -- it seems like there's always a better/older/more suitable thread -- but at some point a person just has to choose. I hope everyone will forgive my impertinence.

My approach will simply be to launch these questions (mostly hypothetical) as a list, any number of which could be addressed or ignored. I'm still trying to work out the issues here... not only where I stand on them, but to even define the issues so that I understand them. What I'm aware of is this: the question of an "open" or a "closed" system is very important to many people. It seems to me that I should try to assess the problem, then, and arrive at my own answer. Alright, to the questions...

Objectivism is "the philosophy of Ayn Rand"? In what way? I know that it is what she's expressed in terms of metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, politics, and aesthetics, and not necessarily her thoughts on (as the popular example runs) psychology... but is that it? Is Objectivism simply what Ayn Rand had to say about metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, politics, and aesthetics? Or does the phrase "the philosophy of Ayn Rand" mean anything more than that? What, specifically?

Obviously, Objectivism cannot be modified to embrace anything which it is not. If an "Objectivist" introduces the possibility for divine revelation into his epistemology, he can no longer correctly call himself an Objectivist or his philosophy Objectivism. A is, well, you know. But can Objectivism incorporate something which is not contradictory? Something that introduces, expands upon, or further develops philosophical ideas in a fully consistent way? For instance, Ayn Rand termed one of her works "Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology." At first blush, this would seem to suggest that a fuller treatment -- "Objectivist Epistemology" -- should follow. Suppose someone were to unearth an unpublished manuscript by Ayn Rand which is her full-length OE? Would this work now be a part of Objectivism?

Suppose someone else -- Joe Blow -- were to write "Objectivist Epistemology" such that it would be what Rand would have written, verbatim, save for the byline? Is Blow's work Objectivist? Is it merely in the "Objectivist tradition"? Does his work need Peikoff's imprimatur to be considered "official"? (Does Peikoff even have such a power?) Does Blow need to coin a new term for "his" philosophy? Could an Objectivist also adhere to/endorse Blow's work? If he did so, would he still be Objectivist?

Suppose we found such a manuscript among Rand's effects, but the byline is missing? Would we trust ourselves to determine the status of this work with respect to "Objectivism"? Or would it be impossible to know whether OE were truly Objectivist if we couldn't prove its authorship?

Or, suppose that Joe Blow was born and raised somewhere else, such that he's never heard of Rand or Objectivism. He could be on an island somewhere, perhaps. Suppose that he came to the same conclusions with respect to metaphysics, etc., as did Rand, and wrote his views independently? (I take this as possible, given that Objectivism is based on reason and reality, and is accordingly true.) Would Blow's work be Objectivism? Would we now have two different philosophies, Objectivism and Blowism ("the philosophy of Joe Blow"), though they would agree on every possible philosophical issue?

Suppose Blow's works were discovered and it was determined that he'd lived before Rand, and written what he had before Rand. Would Objectivism cease to be "the philosophy of Ayn Rand"?

Suppose the writings that form the Objectivist "canon" were not written by Ayn Rand, but were a collection of documents authored anonymously. Could we understand them together as being a coherent philosophy? Or would not being able to attribute authorship to any one person mean that it could never be culled together into a unity? Or would that unity have to wait upon the first person to collect them together, and would that philosophy forever thereafter "belong" to the first person to do it? Would further anonymous documents which agreed conceptually with the first set be a part of this philosophy? Or would they only qualify if explicitly endorsed by the collector of those documents?

Well, there's that. I dunno how helpful any of these questions alone, or together, will be to me... but I'm trying to grope out the shape of these issues in the darkness. If anyone out there has some light to share, I'd be very appreciative.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Tyler,*

Would you concur with Rand’s conception of what is philosophy? Would you concur with Peikoff’s distinction between branches of philosophy on the one hand and philosophic topics on the other (Preface)? If there are philosophic topics seen by Rand as important for human life and in certain ways essentially connected to her philosophy, would you say that in those ways they are part of Rand’s philosophy? I answer Yes to all three.

–Stephen

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The search ought to bring up a few earlier threads on this. For a detailed series of posts on the topic, click here.

I've tried to find earlier threads on this topic -- and succeeded in finding a few, including this very one, begun in 2005 -- though I'm sure I've not found them all. Per your posting, I also read the linked thread and off-site posts by Acount Overdrawn. I could be mistaken on this point... but I think that my series of questions aims at different potential aspects of this question than is Overdrawn's focus.

I understand that an "Open System," in the sense that certain aspects of Objectivism could be modified according to "new evidence," would promote a general skepticism, and is a misapplication of a scientific approach to philosophy. Also that Objectivism is a cohesive whole, and that to change the epistemology, or the metaphysics, or et cetera, is to completely remake the philosophy; that is, it is to create a new philosophy altogether. And finally, I agree that "Objectivism" needs to stand for something so that we can individually decide whether we agree with it or not.

I guess what I'm asking is whether something "new" could be added to Objectivism if it did not modify previously established principles, and did not threaten Objectivism's cohesion, and was instead fully consonant with what Rand wrote and approved of personally. (This is all assuming that this "new" thing is proper to a philosophy, as such; though I don't know what it would contain specifically, the example I'd used in my earlier post was the monograph "Objectivist Epistemology" to which ITOE forms the Introduction.)

My initial inclination is that OE, whether written or approved by Rand or not, would properly be a part of Objectivism, though I sense that this runs afoul of many others' perspectives, and contrary to what is meant in part by describing Objectivism as "the philosophy of Ayn Rand." But I'm willing to be talked out of this inclination, if reason and reality are elsewhere. But mostly I'm hoping to see these issues more clearly, and that further discussion will help me to do it.

Tyler,*

Would you concur with Rand’s conception of what is philosophy? Would you concur with Peikoff’s distinction between branches of philosophy on the one hand and philosophic topics on the other (Preface)? If there are philosophic topics seen by Rand as important for human life and in certain ways essentially connected to her philosophy, would you say that in those ways they are part of Rand’s philosophy? I answer Yes to all three.

–Stephen

Hello Stephen.

To be honest, I feel like your questions are... slightly vague, and so I'm not certain that I know how to reply. When you say "there are philosophical topics seen by Rand as important for human life and in certain ways essentially connected to her philosophy," which topics are we discussing? Are they merely "seen by Rand as important for human life," or are they important? (Or does the distinction not matter?) When you say that these topics are "essentially connected" but only "in certain ways," what does that mean?

Perhaps it would help me to understand if you could supply some examples for reference?

Also, if you're stating something in roundabout fashion through these questions, I'd ask that you additionally state it outright. While I occasionally enjoy a Socratic approach in my learning, and understand the power of rhetorical questions, I believe that I am prepared to consider your position straight on.

To the meat, what specifically do you consider "Rand's philosophy" to be? How does this relate to the questions I've asked regarding Open vs. Closed systems in this thread?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've got some questions on the "open vs. closed" thigamajigger.

"Closed" should not be conflated with "complete". "Objectivism, the philosophy of Ayn Rand" will distinguish between her works and the work of a larger circle of Objectivists that will follow. There will be a very strong natural tendency to group all such works together as Objectivist, a tendency which can be justified objectively on the methodological grounds of similarity and essentiality as explained in ITOE. The distinction will still have value for scholars and those who are not scholars who want the abbreviated "from the horse's mouth" version of Objectivism.

There is the less essential point that Ayn Rand had an interest in defending her own intellectual property, her copyrights and the value of her name. This is less of an issue now that she is dead, and will become even less important when the copyrights all expire.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Tyler,

As I indicated in #110, I concur with the conception of philosophy held by Rand as given in the link philosophy. To think about the senses in which a philosophy is open or closed, it just seemed sensible to have in view exactly what is meant by philosophy when we refer to the philosophy of Rand or Kant or Dewey. I just thought it would be helpful.

The philosophical topics I had in mind were simply those mentioned by Peikoff there in the Preface, such as money, measurement, or sex. By “certain aspects of those topic essentially connected to Rand’s philosophy” I meant the very aspects and connections he treated in the text. For the topic sex, that is on pages 343–48. That is connected to Rand’s philosophy through the concept and role of happiness in her ethics. “The subject of sex is complex and belongs largely to the science of psychology. I asked Ayn Rand once what philosophy specifically has to say on the subject. She answered: ‘It says that sex is good’. / Sex is moral, it is an exalted pleasure, it is a profound value. Like happiness, therefore, sex is an end in itself; it is not necessarily a means to any further end, such as procreation. This uplifted view of sex leads to an ethical corollary: a function so important must be granted the respect it deserves” (346). That view of sex is in contradiction of the view promulgated by the Pope. His view is at odds with these philosophical aspects of sex put forth by Rand.

No, I did not mean to be stating anything in a roundabout way by my questions. I have no use for the Socratic method. I just wanted to know if we agree at least on the questions in #110. Getting those settled in my mind or anyway having them in mind would be helpful to me in sitting down to study the pertinent papers by David Kelley and Leonard Peikoff on “open” versus “closed” philosophy.

. . .

Hello Stephen.

To be honest, I feel like your questions are... slightly vague, and so I'm not certain that I know how to reply. When you say "there are philosophical topics seen by Rand as important for human life and in certain ways essentially connected to her philosophy," which topics are we discussing? Are they merely "seen by Rand as important for human life," or are they important? (Or does the distinction not matter?) When you say that these topics are "essentially connected" but only "in certain ways," what does that mean?

Perhaps it would help me to understand if you could supply some examples for reference?

Also, if you're stating something in roundabout fashion through these questions, I'd ask that you additionally state it outright. While I occasionally enjoy a Socratic approach in my learning, and understand the power of rhetorical questions, I believe that I am prepared to consider your position straight on.

To the meat, what specifically do you consider "Rand's philosophy" to be? How does this relate to the questions I've asked regarding Open vs. Closed systems in this thread?

Rand's philosophy is expressed in her works. Peikoff's Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand is an accurate representation.* Over many years, I have written a lot about Rand's philosophy.* I have written about my disagreements with it; that requires knowing what her philosophy is. You can find out what is my understanding of Rand's philosophy by reading my essays (e.g.). But to best know what Rand's philosophy is, you will require no secondary sources, only your own reflective reading of Rand.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There are tons of people, and even some well-known Objectivists (such as Branden and McCaskey) who come to conclusions that fundamentally contradict Objectivism. The way I see it, the system is closed to maintain its integrity and protect it from people who don't understand it. There's morons everywhere who think their mistakes and contradictions are part of Objectivism. If it is ever opened up to changes from them, it would quickly become compromised and untrustworthy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There's morons everywhere who think their mistakes and contradictions are part of Objectivism. If it is ever opened up to changes from them, it would quickly become compromised and untrustworthy.

It seems to me that if you define Objectivism as the philosophy of Ayn Rand, the only way for any of these ubiquitous morons you reference to change it would be to change Ayn Rand’s words. The two gentlemen you name don’t have that power. However, it has been amply demonstrated that those who do have that power have actively used it, some say abused it. Ironic, no?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The two gentlemen you name don’t have that power. However, it has been amply demonstrated that those who do have that power have actively used it, some say abused it. Ironic, no?

I'm not sure what you are trying to show with those references. The point is that no one has the "power" to change Ayn Rand's words. Her writing is what it is.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not sure what you are trying to show with those references. The point is that no one has the "power" to change Ayn Rand's words. Her writing is what it is.

Ah, very well then, to clarify: those that have the power to publish books purporting to contain the words of Ayn Rand have changed those words. In some cases, e.g. the Journals, the unedited originals are not publicly available and the testimony of scholars who have seen them, I referenced Jennifer Burns above, is all we have. She writes “After several years working in Rand’s personal papers I can confirm Sciabarra’s discovery: the published versions of Rand’s letters and diaries have been significantly edited in ways that drastically reduce their utility as historical sources.” In other cases, such as the Q&A material, the original recordings (most of them) have long been commercially available, so comparisons are possible and patterns to the changes can be detected.

In the context of an open/closed system debate, all this serves to do is demonstrate the hypocrisy of certain closed system advocates.

For my part, I don’t think much of the whole debate. If you equate Objectivism with Philosophy, then of course it’s an open system. If, instead, it’s strictly the philosophy of Ayn Rand, then no, but then its study is like attending a museum exhibit. Can/should we speak of Objectivism the way one speaks of Kantianism? There was a philosopher, I’m drawing a blank on which one (Fichte?), whom Kant expressly rejected, yet today he is considered a Kantian. I say leave the judgements of the next century to the next century. For now, I think this debate mainly serves to maintain the insularity of the ARI crowd.

Don't bother to examine a folly—ask yourself only what it accomplishes.

Ellsworth Toohey

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

those that have the power to publish books purporting to contain the words of Ayn Rand have changed those words. In some cases, e.g. the Journals, the unedited originals are not publicly available and the testimony of scholars who have seen them, I referenced Jennifer Burns above, is all we have.

Were that true it would be very unfortunate since Burns herself is guilty of much worse.

Please read "Comments on Jennifer Burns’s Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right" by Edwin A. Locke. Located here . Below is an excerpt:

The most critical errors Burns is guilty of are superficiality and misrepresentation, specifically the failure to understand and present the essentials of Ayn Rand’s total philosophy as an integrated whole. More fundamentally, Burns does not really take ideas seriously. A recurring theme of the book amounts to: “Why couldn’t Rand be less rigid, less focused on consistency and just get along with people?” (examples are given below).

You can't take Jennifer Burns' understanding of Ayn Rand as any understanding at all. Whereas the people who published those works you cite have shown themselves to be actual Ayn Rand scholars. So whose word do you want us to believe again?

I mean seriously, citing Jennifer Burns as a credible source of scholarship of Ayn Rand is like trying to denigrate the works of Leonard Peikoff using the musings of an anarcho-libertarian (oops) -- it doesn't pass the laugh test.

But really this just reaffirms the original point I was making. Let Burns and Britting and Harriman write what they want, it isn't part of the Philosophy of Objectivism. I mean some of these writings might be useful but we have all the material we need to understand Objectivism in the published works of Ayn Rand.

In the context of an open/closed system debate, all this serves to do is demonstrate the hypocrisy of certain closed system advocates.

I'm not sure to whom you are referring but there is no hypocrisy by the closed system advocates. Their stance is that anything not written or specifically sanctioned by Ayn Rand is not part of her philosophy, which is Objectivism.

For my part, I don’t think much of the whole debate. If you equate Objectivism with Philosophy, then of course it’s an open system. If, instead, it’s strictly the philosophy of Ayn Rand, then no, but then its study is like attending a museum exhibit.

You don't think much of the debate and yet here you are taking a stand, though a kind of agnostic stand. Are you saying that the philosophy of Ayn Rand is not a philosophy? I disagree, I consider Objectivism to be a philosophy and I consider it closed. Furthermore, I like museums and I would consider any museum that threw a few pages from Einstein into the Principia and called it Newtonian mechanics to be not a museum at all, but a total fraud.

For now, I think this debate mainly serves to maintain the insularity of the ARI crowd.

If by "insularity" you mean "insulated" from the works of Branden and Kelly and the Libertarians, then I would take that to be a compliment. However, after reading some of your other comments bashing Leonard Peikoff and anyone else associated with ARI, I suspect this is meant as an insult (and shows that your aren't as agnostic as you pretend to be). Please read the rules, this behavior is unacceptable here. If you want have an uninformed, logically inconsistent, anarcho, America-blaming discussion, go to the cesspool that is OL, they'll be glad to have you there.

Don't bother to examine a folly—ask yourself only what it accomplishes.

Ellsworth Toohey

Do you think it is a good thing to ally yourself with Ellsworth Toohey?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Were that true it would be very unfortunate since Burns herself is guilty of much worse.

Please read "Comments on Jennifer Burns’s Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right" by Edwin A. Locke. Located here .

I’m familiar with it.

http://www.objectivistliving.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=7429&view=findpost&p=117544

I didn’t think much of Jennifer Burns' book, if you look up Jeff Riggenbach’s critique I recall being in agreement with it. But this does nothing to establish that she’s dishonest in what she says she observed about the editing of Rand’s journals.

I mean some of these writings might be useful but we have all the material we need to understand Objectivism in the published works of Ayn Rand.

Induction? Propositions?

I'm not sure to whom you are referring but there is no hypocrisy by the closed system advocates. Their stance is that anything not written or specifically sanctioned by Ayn Rand is not part of her philosophy, which is Objectivism.

Please summarize in your own words what hypocrisy you think I was referring to.

You don't think much of the debate and yet here you are taking a stand, though a kind of agnostic stand.

I wouldn’t call it agnostic, since in Objectivist parlance that term means you not only don’t know, but you can’t know (concerning the existence of God). On many philosophic issues one can say definitively whether a given position is consistent with the philosophy of Ayn Rand. On others, no. For example, “balls roll” is a “first level concept”? Certainly not, that’s a readily demonstrable contradiction with Ayn Rand’s own words, very easily cited. OTOH, (sorry this is a non-philosophic example, it’s all that comes to mind at the moment) would Ayn Rand have endorsed Clinton for President in 1992? On the grounds that Bush was soooo bad (as Peikoff did)? Note, she endorsed Nixon in 1972, after the wage and price controls debacle she denounced in her 1971 FHF talk. Given this fact pattern, I’m “agnostic” on the question.

Please read the rules, this behavior is unacceptable here.

I was invited to post here by two of the moderators, who signed on to OL seemingly for that purpose. I had posted a comparison of the rules of this forum to those of HBL, claiming they were substantially the same. I was told that this is not the case. I have never joined HBL, I simply don’t pass the loyalty oath test, so I can’t compare directly, however I will say I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the treatment I’ve received here. It seems you disapprove, well, what can I say but: go pound sand.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you equate Objectivism with Philosophy, then of course it’s an open system. If, instead, it’s strictly the philosophy of Ayn Rand, then no, but then its study is like attending a museum exhibit.

To me, that's a good comparison to use for explaining in what sense "closed" means. The "exhibit" that is Objectivism won't ever change, although to some extent, it can be applied in various ways, but what it consists of is always the same. That the journals of Ayn Rand were unfairly edited doesn't suggest anything about open or closed; after all, there is a reason it wasn't originally intended for publication. Journals may be useful for a side-exhibit, but not the Objectivism exhibit. As an individual, you can choose to visit the exhibit or not, and if the exhibit inspires you, fantastic. At the same time, it's important to remember that the exhibit isn't all that reality consists of.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You can't take Jennifer Burns' understanding of Ayn Rand as any understanding at all. Whereas the people who published those works you cite have shown themselves to be actual Ayn Rand scholars. So whose word do you want us to believe again?

In many cases, we don't have to take anybody's word at all concerning the editing of Ayn Rand's journals and Q&A. Burns doesn't cite any examples, but Sciabarra in the third link gives an example using journal entries that were published in The Objectivist Forum. As for the Q&A edited by Mayhew, the audio of many of the Q&A sessions is available online, here for example, and the extent of the editing can be determined firsthand. The salient point is that no such editing should be occurring at all, by Ayn Rand scholars or otherwise.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I didn’t think much of Jennifer Burns' book, [...]. But this does nothing to establish that she’s dishonest in what she says she observed about the editing of Rand’s journals.

It establishes that she is dishonest. Are you telling me that if in court you discover a liar on the stand you are then going to parse what she is lying about and what she isn't? Not a good policy.

Induction? Propositions?

If, IF, it isn't part of Objectivism, then it isn't part of Objectivism. "Objectivism does not exhaust the field of rational philosophic identifications." -- HBL

Please summarize in your own words what hypocrisy you think I was referring to.

No thank you. I'll let you summarize in your own words what you meant by your vague and passing insult.

I wouldn’t call it agnostic, since in Objectivist parlance that term means you not only don’t know, but you can’t know (concerning the existence of God).

Actually, we know; God does not exist. Agnosticism in Objectivist parlance means unwilling to know or take a stand. Your words indicate that you want to have it both ways depending on what one means by "Objectivism". But Objectivism is one thing, it is what it is, it is Ayn Rand's Philosophy.

On many philosophic issues one can say definitively whether a given position is consistent with the philosophy of Ayn Rand. On others, no.

"Positions", in the way you use it here -- meaning "opinions", on philosophic issues are not part of Objectivism. Not even Ayn Rand's opinion is part of Objectivism; only what she could prove.

I was invited to post here by two of the moderators, who signed on to OL seemingly for that purpose.

Your usage of the the word "seemingly" means that you don't know what their purpose was. Beyond that, who cares if you were invited? I wasn't invited, does that mean that you can ignore the rules while I can't? Maybe you need to speak to the owner instead of the moderators if you have a problem with the rules.

I have never joined HBL, I simply don’t pass the loyalty oath test, [...]

Fortunate for me, unfortunate for you. Which of Ayn Rand's enemies do you support or sanction?

It seems you disapprove, well, what can I say but: go pound sand.

No, sir, it will be you pounding sand if you continue to flout the rules.

Furthermore, what is your signature meant to imply? Is it an insult aimed at the owner of this site who so kindly allows you to post here? Reprehensible.

Edited by Marc K.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The salient point is that no such editing should be occurring at all, by Ayn Rand scholars or otherwise.

I don't think so. The salient point is that Objectivism is closed. Therefore everything that comes after it is not part of it and everyone is on notice: if you see something claiming to be "Objectivism" it isn't and it is up to each of us as individuals to decide whether it conforms to Objectivism or not.

Furthermore, the standard you use above is impossible. No one is going to reproduce Ayn Rand's word's completely as this would be plagiarism. Every book or article that reproduces one or two or three sentences of Ayn Rand's is "editing" her work. Editing and editorializing are the only things that can be done at this point since Objectivism is closed, (and again it is up to the reader to decide). I find Mayhew much more honest than Burns since he puts right on the cover of his book "Edited by Robert Mayhew".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Furthermore, the standard you use above is impossible. No one is going to reproduce Ayn Rand's word's completely as this would be plagiarism. Every book or article that reproduces one or two or three sentences of Ayn Rand's is "editing" her work.

Here, I'm referring specifically to works like her Journals and her Q&A, works that purport to be making her words available to mainstream audiences. Of course such works need an editor, to organize and annotate the material, and in many cases explain and clarify, but Rand's exact original words should always be able to be read from the text, at least in a work whose aim is fundamentally to publish her words that hitherto had been unavailable. Mayhew, for example, changes the wording several times without informing the reader at the point of the change. He says up front (in the Preface) that he has done this on occasion; I'm not trying to claim that he's concealing anything, but I strongly disagree with his choice not to inform the reader at each point where he changes Rand's wording. I should be able to open Ayn Rand's Q&A, or her Journals, and be able to know exactly what her original words are, in addition to having helpful clarifying comments pointing out where she probably misspoke.

I agree that this has little to do with the open/closed issue, as Rand's philosophy can be found in her published works, but in an argument about who is more reliable when trying to determine what Rand wrote, I feel obliged to point out that ideally we shouldn't have to base anything on the reliability of other people.

Edited by Dante
clarity

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Marc K., thank you for your post (#117). I hadn't bothered to read Ninth Doctor's other posts, so I didn't know he was a Peikoff/ARI-basher. Overall, your post makes some good points that I was going to make myself. +1 for you.

Louie also made a good point about the journals being a side-exhibit.

Seriously though (I've been wondering this for a while now), what part of "Objectivism is closed, but that doesn't stop you from expanding on it" do these open system advocates not understand? Why are they so intent on evading the fact Oism's closedness doesn't stop them from coming to conclusions consistent with Oism? The only conclusion I can think of is that they have a contradiction with some part of Objectivism, and they want to keep it. If Objectivism is open, it can be quote-unquote "improved", and therefore their contradiction can be included in Objectivism. What other motivation could the open system advocates possibly have to keep pushing their position even when they're told that they can still expand on the closed system?

Like I said, the main reason for me that Objectivism is, and should remain, closed, is to protect its integrity. I'm sure the Christian Objectivists group (oh yes, there is a real Christian Objectivists group) would LOVE Objectivism to be an open system so they can "improve" it with their wisdom about how belief in God is consistent with Objectivism. Silly Ayn Rand must have made a mistake and failed to identify that you can rationally believe in God.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I should be able to open Ayn Rand's Q&A, or her Journals, and be able to know exactly what her original words are, in addition to having helpful clarifying comments pointing out where she probably misspoke.

I'm not sure why you want to impose your standard on him. He gives a very good explanation about why, how and what for he is editing the material and he uses Ayn Rand's own words to support his position. I respect your opinion on this site and I'm not trying to be snide or snarky but if that is the kind of book you would like to see, then you are free to write it.

[...] but in an argument about who is more reliable when trying to determine what Rand wrote,

Between Mayhew and Burns I don't think there is any question about who is more reliable.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...