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Objectivism: "Closed" system

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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.

I dunno about imposing my standards, but I would certainly argue for them, and the reason is that I think the project under discussion is an important and valuable one, and using the standards I have outlined would enhance rather than detract from that value. I understand that Mayhew disagrees and makes a competent argument in defense of his practice, and that he put a lot of work into the project. I'm simply saying that in my judgment such work would be more effective and valuable if he acknowledged changes in wording explicitly.

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"Closed" should not be conflated with "complete".

Point taken. I think...

If Objectivism is "closed" but not "complete," what does that mean, practically? It means that there can be additions to the body of work known as Objectivism, so long as those additions are consistent with what came previously, yes? It means that "Objectivist Epistemology" could properly be understood as Objectivism?

"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.

Yes, we're agreed. Which specific segments came from Rand's writing (or, rather, are Rand's writing) will still be a distinction worth preserving... as historical information. In the final analysis, who first said "A is A" will be worth immeasurably less than the fact that "A is A."

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.

All right, that seems reasonable. I thought you were attempting to make some sort of rhetorical point through your questions, the sum of which I was unable to divine.

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.

Is the question whether a position on "sex" and other similar "philosophical topics" properly a part of a philosophy (in this case "Objectivism")? My initial instinct is to say yes (which I believe would place us in agreement), though it raises a few more issues in my mind that we might want to discuss. For instance, we'd need to take care to distinguish those elements of sex which belong to philosophy and which "to the science of psychology," as Peikoff indicates in that quote. Also, it seems to me that one's position on sex is derived from more fundamental matters, such as their general metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics.

And so... we were to determine that Rand's philosophical position re: sex was ultimately at odds with that which was more fundamental, i.e. reason and reality, would this inconsistency therefore be a permanent feature of Objectivism? Would the person who said, "Rand was right about reason and reality, and for that reason was incorrect about sex" not be an Objectivist? Would there need to arise a "new" philosophy, which endorsed reason, reality, and the newly understood "correct" position on sex?

In order to determine "what Objectivism is," and who is consequently an Objectivist, is it necessary to enumerate all of the many philosophical topics which may exist, and then find specific Rand-endorsed position papers on those subjects...? (And where Rand was silent, we must conclude that there is no "Objectivist position" on that matter?) Or is it sufficient to agree with Rand on reason and reality, and her positions on the further fundamentals of ethics, politics, and aesthetics, and then to allow those fundamentals to guide one to his conclusions on these various philosophical topics?

Following links on the philosophy link you'd provided (in the Lexicon), I found this (by Rand):

At a sales conference at Random House, preceding the publication of Atlas Shrugged, one of the book salesmen asked me whether I could present the essence of my philosophy while standing on one foot. I did as follows:

Metaphysics: Objective Reality

Epistemology: Reason

Ethics: Self-interest

Politics: Capitalism

If you want this translated into simple language, it would read: 1. “Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed” or “Wishing won’t make it so.” 2. “You can’t eat your cake and have it, too.” 3. “Man is an end in himself.” 4. “Give me liberty or give me death.”

If you held these concepts with total consistency, as the base of your convictions, you would have a full philosophical system to guide the course of your life. But to hold them with total consistency—to understand, to define, to prove and to apply them—requires volumes of thought. Which is why philosophy cannot be discussed while standing on one foot—nor while standing on two feet on both sides of every fence.

If we're agreed that Objectivism is a full philosophical system, then mustn't it ultimately have a position with respect to every possible philosophical topic? And isn't it defined by consistency with those four "base convictions?" And if two positions were promoted with regard to sex (as a philosophical topic), wouldn't the Objectivist position necessarily be that which was consistent with Objective Reality, Reason, Self-Interest, and Capitalism, quite apart from who was advancing the view (be it Ayn Rand, Leonard Peikoff, David Kelley, the Pope, or etc.)?

For my part, I don’t think much of the whole debate.

Apart from trying to understand the terms of the debate itself, I'm also struggling to see why the sides are (or appear to be) so passionate. (And... angry?) I would think that a common agreement on reality, reason, self-interest, and etc., would unite far beyond the dissent that a disagreement on the substance of the phrase "the philosophy of Ayn Rand" could engender. But obviously that's just because I don't understand fully what this surface disagreement portends with respect to fundamentals. My ignorance betrays me everywhere.

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.

Obviously, Objectivism is not "philosophy" in general. It is a specific philosophy. But if this specific philosophy under discussion is defined by its essentials, then couldn't it be regarded as "open" in the sense that all of its applications (that is: applications with regard to properly philosophical topics, as Boydstun has introduced) weren't necessarily laid out by Ayn Rand? And in that way, wouldn't its study be something different than a museum exhibit? Would it be more like, oh I dunno, an exciting dig (where things are as they are -- what's buried, awaiting discovery, is buried and cannot be changed -- but not everything is yet necessarily uncovered)?

Is what I'm suggesting a third path between the "Open" and "Closed" approaches? Is it closer to what Grames suggested with his use of "complete"? Or have I smuggled the Open or Closed approach into what I'm saying, and am just unaware of it?

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.

Come to it, didn't Ayn Rand identify essentials of Kant's thought which contradicted what Kant seemed to state explicitly? (If anyone wants to challenge me on this point, I offer immediate concession; I'm clueless when it comes to Kantian philosophy.) If we were to define Kant's philosophy, wouldn't it be in terms of his essential positions on metaphysics, ethics, and etc.? And wouldn't it be on that basis that we'd judge whether this philosopher -- Fichte or whomever -- were really a Kantian, regardless of whether he thought of himself, or Kant recognized him, as such?

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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.

You regard Jennifer Burns as dishonest? As in, if she gave testimony in a rape trial, you’d discount what she says because she’s just a liar through and through? For my part, I just think her book is shallow, though it has some interesting anecdotes. It wasn’t a total waste. I gather you didn't look at the analysis of Locke's piece. I recommend, specifically, the posts by Neil Parille and Don Klein.

http://www.solopassion.com/node/8185#comment-93946

Your words indicate that you want to have it both ways depending on what one means by "Objectivism".

In other words, I’m mindful of context?

"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 didn’t use the term “opinions”; I must say you do very well arguing against points no one ever made.

Which of Ayn Rand's enemies do you support or sanction?

According to Harry Binswanger? It would surely be easier to provide the list, and I’ll tell you which names to delete.

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

Do you have any idea what the expression “pound sand” means? I’m doubting it.

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.

I’ll be happy to explain that. The OL thread I mentioned earlier had posts by a young lady who signed on to OL, who then, I gather, learned of its moral status. She changed her signature to say “Available on ObjectivismOnline.net”. Soon after I first logged on here, I did a post on a thread discussing esthetics, where Ed Cline’s opinion on something came up. I provided a link to an article of his critiquing the film Amadeus, and gave my opinion of his work in general using a term that is admittedly opprobrious.

To be specific, I called him a twit.

This post was deleted, and I received an email from a moderator saying this was my first warning. I replied asking for an explanation, what rule I’d broken, whatever, and I never got a reply. Granted, this isn’t quite something out of Kafka, but I was none too pleased. So, I switched from “Prandium gratis non est”, my OL signature, to what you see now. You’re the first person to mention it. Since then, the only posts I've had deleted were from a flame war I had with a holocaust denier and anti-Semite.

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You regard Jennifer Burns as dishonest? As in, if she gave testimony in a rape trial, you’d discount what she says because she’s just a liar through and through?

No. As in, she misrepresented the ideas of Ayn Rand, so nothing she says about Ayn Rand can be trusted. Context indeed.

I didn’t use the term “opinions”;

No, you used the word "positions", which means "opinions". Please reread what you said.

According to Harry Binswanger? It would surely be easier to provide the list, and I’ll tell you which names to delete.

So you know, you just don't want to say. I suppose that would be a problem on this site too.

Do you have any idea what the expression “pound sand” means?

Do you? I guess if you said what it means you'd be breaking another rule wouldn't you.

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.

Here is Ninth Doctor's signature: "Available, uncensored, on Objectivistliving.com"

So the answer to my second question is: Yes, you are intentionally insulting the owner of this site.

Do you even know what censorship is? It is something only the government has the power to do. I guess this means you don't believe in private property either. Or at least you don't think that a property owner has the right to establish the rules for the use of his property.

Your explanation above says that you were warned once already about the same behavior you are displaying here, had a post deleted and instead of following the rules, you have decided to continue to break the rules.

Moderators, come on, this anarcho-tolerationist is clearly violating the rules. In this thread alone he has insulted ARI, anyone who accepts the closed-system principle (which is ARI's position), and Harry Binswanger (member of the Board of ARI). He is doing it in a snide and underhanded way so as not to be too overt about it, but he is doing it nonetheless. In a previous thread he insulted Leonard Peikoff. And now with his signature he is insulting you and the owner of this site with every post he makes. He needs a banning bad.

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Apart from trying to understand the terms of the debate itself, I'm also struggling to see why the sides are (or appear to be) so passionate. (And... angry?)

If you want to dive in, here’s a good place to start:

http://www.objectivistliving.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=776&view=findpost&p=7197

I’m sure a lot of the links are dead, but a little Googling and you’ll do fine.

And in that way, wouldn't its study be something different than a museum exhibit? Would it be more like, oh I dunno, an exciting dig (where things are as they are -- what's buried, awaiting discovery, is buried and cannot be changed -- but not everything is yet necessarily uncovered)?

While I like the imagery, I don’t think it’s applicable. By what means is something new uncovered? If an idea isn’t spelled out clearly enough already then how do you know you’ve interpreted it correctly? It smells of Biblical prophecy quest to me.

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.

You regard Jennifer Burns as dishonest? As in, if she gave testimony in a rape trial, you’d discount what she says because she’s just a liar through and through?

No. As in, she misrepresented the ideas of Ayn Rand, so nothing she says about Ayn Rand can be trusted. Context indeed.

Ah, point taken. Just how did I come up with that court testimony image?

No, you used the word "positions", which means "opinions". Please reread what you said.

Apparently you have a defective dictionary.

So you know, you just don't want to say. I suppose that would be a problem on this site too.

I “sanction” David Kelley, Nathaniel and Barbara Branden…how’s that? Recently on another thread I acknowledged that I voted for Harry Browne in 2000. The Libertarian candidate. As opposed to "sanctioning" Bush or Gore. Uh oh, I guess now my goose is cooked, huh?

Do you? I guess if you said what it means you'd be breaking another rule wouldn't you.

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=pound%20sand

One tries to be genteel, not to offend…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RSXVH63PEDk&feature=related

Do you even know what censorship is? It is something only the government has the power to do.

Damn, your dictionary is so defective I may as well be speaking Martian to you. Grok?

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/censor?show=1&t=1314490964

He needs a banning bad.

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Moderators, come on, this anarcho-tolerationist is clearly violating the rules. In this thread alone he has insulted ARI, anyone who accepts the closed-system principle (which is ARI's position), and Harry Binswanger (member of the Board of ARI). He is doing it in a snide and underhanded way so as not to be too overt about it, but he is doing it nonetheless. In a previous thread he insulted Leonard Peikoff. And now with his signature he is insulting you and the owner of this site with every post he makes. He needs a banning bad.

If you have an issue about a user, please PM a moderator about it instead, rather than talking about it in this thread.

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Moderators, come on, this anarcho-tolerationist is clearly violating the rules. In this thread alone he has insulted ARI, anyone who accepts the closed-system principle (which is ARI's position), and Harry Binswanger (member of the Board of ARI). He is doing it in a snide and underhanded way so as not to be too overt about it, but he is doing it nonetheless. In a previous thread he insulted Leonard Peikoff. And now with his signature he is insulting you and the owner of this site with every post he makes. He needs a banning bad.

Hi Mark.

Since I gather that you and I potentially disagree on this "open"/"closed" system debate, I'd sincerely like to understand your position better. Maybe you can help me to do it? I've written a few posts in this thread, and I'm not 100% certain, but it doesn't seem to me that the substance of my posts has been addressed head on. Could I give you a sample question that speaks to my lack of understanding? Imagine a person exists who's never heard of Ayn Rand, let alone read her. This person believes in an objective reality, that reason is the means to apprehend this reality, that ethically they should pursue rational self-interest, that the only proper political system is lassiez-faire capitalism. They've striven to integrate and apply their beliefs and, though they are again unaware of Rand, if they did read Rand, they would be surprised to see that they share complete philosophical agreement.

Prior to encountering Rand, is this person an Objectivist?

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If you want to dive in, here’s a good place to start:

http://www.objectivistliving.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=776&view=findpost&p=7197

I’m sure a lot of the links are dead, but a little Googling and you’ll do fine.

I don't have zero experience with this stuff -- I've read Fact and Value and Truth and Toleration before, and a couple more articles besides -- but I'm still fairly close to zero (especially as regards understanding), and your link will help me dig deeper. So thanks! (That said, it'll take me a while to wade.... Lawd-a'mercy, but it's depressing to look at that timeline. Is it just me, or is there a whole lot of wasted effort, time, potential... everything!?)

While I like the imagery, I don’t think it’s applicable. By what means is something new uncovered? If an idea isn’t spelled out clearly enough already then how do you know you’ve interpreted it correctly? It smells of Biblical prophecy quest to me.

I hope this doesn't come across as flippant (because I really don't mean it that way), but wouldn't the "means" by which something new is uncovered be the same as those employed by Rand? I mean... it's not as though she threw darts at a board to decide on (to use the previously introduced example) her position on sex.

If Rand had never said anything on the topic (let's say that Peikoff hadn't chosen to ask), and if there were a position on sex (as a philosophical topic) consonant with the Objectivist fundamentals of reason, reality, etc., would it really be improper to regard that view ("sex is good") as the Objectivist position? How did Rand determine which views were consistent with her own fundamentals, after all? And if she could do it, couldn't I?

And in acting in that fashion, in employing a life philosophy in accordance with the fundamentals of Objectivism, wouldn't I be acting as an Objectivist? And if I were acting as an Objectivist, and basing my views on philosophical topics such as sex on the fundamentals of Objectivism as specified by the person who coined the term, then in what way would those views not be Objectivist in nature?

Peikoff, in asking Rand "what philosophy specifically has to say" about sex may have uncovered another previously unknown aspect of Objectivism. But I do not think that his was the only way to go about it. Ayn Rand, for instance, must have employed another method altogether.

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I don't have zero experience with this stuff -- I've read Fact and Value and Truth and Toleration before, and a couple more articles besides -- but I'm still fairly close to zero (especially as regards understanding), and your link will help me dig deeper. So thanks!

I suggest you make a beeline to this essay:

http://mol.redbarn.org/objectivism/writing/RobertBidinotto/UnderstandingPeikoff.html

If Rand had never said anything on the topic (let's say that Peikoff hadn't chosen to ask), and if there were a position on sex (as a philosophical topic) consonant with the Objectivist fundamentals of reason, reality, etc., would it really be improper to regard that view ("sex is good") as the Objectivist position?

Look, one can easily say Rand was for Reason, and I used Reason to arrive at a conclusion not found in Rand’s writings. On what? Anything, I can’t think of a good example at the moment, but it shouldn’t be too hard. “Sex is good” is rather shallow, don't you think? My point is, there’s nothing Objectivism-specific about such an insight, and if there is something new that you think is Objectivism-specific, how do you show that that is the case? By reference to Rand's writings, in which case, the point is either not new, or if it is only hinted at, you’re open to the charge of Biblical prophecy quest.

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Again, my thanks for providing these sources. In the interest of not side-tracking what I believe to be at issue here (I have no desire, for instance, to wrangle over the meaning of "pound sand"), I'm going to withhold comment on most of it. My evaluation of Leonard Peikoff's epistemology, for instance, doesn't seem to matter when it comes to discussing the nature of Objectivism as a philosophical system.

But I'm sure that we will have cause to discuss these topics another time.

Look, one can easily say Rand was for Reason, and I used Reason to arrive at a conclusion not found in Rand’s writings. On what? Anything, I can’t think of a good example at the moment, but it shouldn’t be too hard. “Sex is good” is rather shallow, don't you think? My point is, there’s nothing Objectivism-specific about such an insight, and if there is something new that you think is Objectivism-specific, how do you show that that is the case? By reference to Rand's writings, in which case, the point is either not new, or if it is only hinted at, you’re open to the charge of Biblical prophecy quest.

You're introducing concepts here of "newness" and "Objectivism-specificity," when I'm not sure that they're relevant to what I'm trying to determine. Is "A is A" "new" to Rand? Is it "Objectivism-specific"? Is it more or less "shallow" than "sex is good"? (What does "shallowness" entail, anyways?) If you'd like to elaborate on your meaning of these terms, I'm game to listen... but on the face of it they seem to me to be off-target. After all, Ayn Rand didn't invent reason. This doesn't prevent reason from being a hallmark of Objectivism.

My point is, there’s nothing Objectivism-specific about such an insight, and if there is something new that you think is Objectivism-specific, how do you show that that is the case? By reference to Rand's writings [...]

Isn't that precisely what's at issue?

What if I were to say to you: "no -- the way that you show that something is properly 'Objectivist' is by reference to reason and reality. A position on a philosophical topic which is consistent with all of the fundamentals of Objectivism, as set forth by Ayn Rand, is an Objectivist position, whether or not Rand wrote on it specifically"?

Consider again what I've quoted from Rand earlier:

If you held these concepts with total consistency, as the base of your convictions, you would have a full philosophical system to guide the course of your life.

Did she say "if you held these concepts with total consistency and your name happened to be Ayn Rand..."? Did she say "if you held these concepts with total consistency and I'm good enough to write it all out for you"? No. She said that if you held these concepts -- the essence of Objectivism -- with total consistency, you would have a full philosophical system.

Well, what do we mean by "full philosophical system"?

Boydstun introduced the concept of "philosophical topics" to this discussion, and noted that sex is a philosophical topic. He (appears to) maintain (though he may correct me, if need be) that a philosophical system is not "full" sans a position with respect to sex, and he presented a philosophical position on sex which would run contrary to the Objectivist position (in the form of the Pope). In contrast, he provided Rand's words on the subject via Leonard Peikoff wherein she declared that "sex is good." It does not seem that she shied away from providing an Objectivist position on philosophical topics when asked. But how did she determine what the Objectivist position would be? And what is it that she did that anyone else is unable to do?

If a "full philosophical system" would ultimately require positions with respect to all philosophical topics (as it must, else how could it be assured to "guide the course of your life"), and if Objectivism is a full philosophical system, then Objectivism must ultimately have positions with respect to all philosophical topics whether or not Ayn Rand wrote on them. And how can such positions be arrived at without the great fortune to unearth some previously unknown Ayn Rand manuscript? Exactly the way she did it; by holding the base convictions of Objectivism with total consistency: "to understand, to define, to prove and to apply them." Difficult, for someone who is not Ayn Rand? Perhaps. Impossible? No.

Finally, even if we do not insist that a "full system" must have a position on every philosophical topic -- if we delimit a philosophical system to the fundamentals of metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, politics, and consider their further application on topics such as sex an ancillary issue (deeming such applications "in the Objectivist tradition," perhaps, but not Objectivist, per se) -- we must still confront the issue that ITOE suggests that a full OE has not yet been created. (Unless Rand chose her title in error? Or she changed her mind that Objectivism would constitute a full system? Or is there another possibility I'm not considering?) And I would still ask, in that case, whether a newly-written "Objectivist Epistemology" would properly be Objectivist? It must be, mustn't it?

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My evaluation of Leonard Peikoff's epistemology, for instance, doesn't seem to matter when it comes to discussing the nature of Objectivism as a philosophical system.

The Bidinotto piece speaks to my earlier point about the open/closed question having more to do with institutional insularity than any important philosophical disagreement. If you’re a philosopher, you do philosophy, whether your conclusions are consistent with Objectivism or not.

You're introducing concepts here of "newness" and "Objectivism-specificity," when I'm not sure that they're relevant to what I'm trying to determine.

David Kelley did a lecture inaugurating IOS (now called the Atlas Society), in it he goes through the concepts that are unique to Objectivism. Start at 28 minutes in.

http://www.atlassociety.org/founding-atlas-society

I’m suggesting that if you make some new integration or other type of contribution that you think should be considered part of Objectivism, it ought to arise out of these ideas that are specific to Objectivism. It’s all pretty debatable though, and we need some examples to hash this out.

(What does "shallowness" entail, anyways?)

I said “sex is good” is shallow, as in trite, or uninteresting. It’s like saying clean air and healthy food is good. While St. Paul might disagree, I don’t consider it a very controversial or insightful point.

Edited by Ninth Doctor

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Hi Mark.

Imagine a person exists who's never heard of Ayn Rand, let alone read her. This person believes in an objective reality, that reason is the means to apprehend this reality, that ethically they should pursue rational self-interest, that the only proper political system is lassiez-faire capitalism. They've striven to integrate and apply their beliefs and, though they are again unaware of Rand, if they did read Rand, they would be surprised to see that they share complete philosophical agreement.

Prior to encountering Rand, is this person an Objectivist?

Hi DonAthos:

This is not the question that the open/closed debate turns on. The debate turns on the definition of what "Objectivism" is. Once defined as "the philosophy of Ayn Rand", which is proper, then once Ayn Rand is done then Objectivism cannot be added to or subtracted from. My earlier analogy to Newtonian Mechanics is quite apt. Newtonian Mechanics is one thing and it is one thing in particular, it would be changed if someone decided to add a few pages from Einstein to the Principia, it wouldn't be Newtonian Mechanics.

Many books and articles have been written which I would call elaborations or applications of Objectivism and that is good. But it is up to each of us to decide which of these actually comport with Objectivism and which don't. But even if they do comport with it they still wouldn't be part of The Philosophy of Ayn Rand.

The funny thing is that in my estimation, the ones who promote the closed system principle (ARI) are the ones who produce the best books that do comport with Objectivism while the ones who promote the open system are the sycophants, posers and detractors of Ayn Rand who wish to change Objectivism while they ride Ayn Rand's coat tails and whose work and lives do not comport with Objectivism. Makes sense right: the ones who wish to change Objectivism are the ones who don't agree with it.

If you don't believe these people exist, they do. And if you want to see the real life consequences of holding this view, then go visit OL which Ninth Doctor has linked to several times in this thread and whose web address is in his signature. If you are a fair and rational person, it won't take very long before you start to feel dirty over there, it is like trying to have a conversation in a sewer, where nobody has any manners.

As for the person you posit above, Ayn Rand identified what she called "philosophy for Rearden", which is just the basics of Objectivism for the person who is productive and not really interested in the scholarly study of philosophy, he doesn't have time. This is what you describe above since the things you mention barely scratch the surface of Objectivism.

If you want to posit a person who is interested in technical philosophy, while not impossible, I would find it highly unlikely that he could arrive at all of the philosophical innovations that Ayn Rand did, after all, she was a genius the likes of which only three or four (in the field of philosophy) have been seen in all of human history. But if he did he would be well advised to give credit to Miss Rand for discovering it first, much as she did with Aristotle.

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Prior to encountering Rand, is this person an Objectivist?
From your question, it sounds like you'd rather use the label "objectivist" as a common noun, to denote the following concept: "a philosophy that argues for reality, reason, self-interest and individual rights". In that case, you're left with no label to denote the philosophy of Ayn Rand. Even if you come up with some label, the underlying fact is that one has two different concepts. To you, is this more than a discussion about how to label those two concepts?

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If you’re a philosopher, you do philosophy, whether your conclusions are consistent with Objectivism or not.

I don't have much to say in response to this, except that I want to agree and emphasize it. It's more than this, though. If you're an honest person, you'll come to conclusions as best you can whether those conclusions are consistent with Objectivism or not.

I don't take this to be at issue, however; I don't think that those who argue that Objectivism is "closed" would insist that we maintain consistency with Objectivism at the cost of being wrong per philosophy. They would say, rather, that we abandon Objectivism if Objectivism is wrong.

I guess the question, as I'm framing it, comes down to this: are the "conclusions" we're discussing Objectivist conclusions if (and only if) they stem from Ayn Rand's writings? Or are they Objectivist conclusions if they are consistent with fundamental Objectivist principles (as defined by Rand), apart from whether Ayn Rand had written about them specifically?

I said “sex is good” is shallow, as in trite, or uninteresting. It’s like saying clean air and healthy food is good. While St. Paul might disagree, I don’t consider it a very controversial or insightful point.

Well, this doesn't really speak to what I'm trying to suss out. Whether the moral status of sex is interesting or not, I don't think it bears on whether or not a moral evaluation of sex is properly philosophy. But come to it, I think it's sometimes worth saying that clean air and healthy food are good. And where sex is concerned, I fear that it's more than St. Paul who's taken issue with the value of sex...

This is not the question that the open/closed debate turns on. The debate turns on the definition of what "Objectivism" is.

Hmmm... I agree with you. My question(s), however, are aimed at teasing out what I regard as subtleties which have left me thus far unsatisfied that I have a full understanding of an "open system" or a "closed system." Believe me, as soon as I feel confident that I can say that I know "what Objectivism is," I will do it in a straight-forward manner. (More on that subject later in this post.)

Once defined as "the philosophy of Ayn Rand", which is proper, then once Ayn Rand is done then Objectivism cannot be added to or subtracted from.

I understand this sentiment as the crux of your position. And... I really wish that I could simply agree or disagree with it, as stated, but I'm not quite there yet.

My earlier analogy to Newtonian Mechanics is quite apt. Newtonian Mechanics is one thing and it is one thing in particular, it would be changed if someone decided to add a few pages from Einstein to the Principia, it wouldn't be Newtonian Mechanics.

This seems fair. But on the subject of Einstein and Newton, isn't it significant to your analogy that Einstein's theories undermined Newton's? There's no question (at least, not for me) that anything which would conflict with Objectivism's essential positions would not be Objectivist.

But if a physicist came along, not to overthrow Newton's theories but to establish logical corollaries to F=MA or what-have-you, wouldn't that be considered part and parcel to Newtonian Mechanics? For instance, Wikipedia provides this timeline of "classical mechanics" under the heading "Newtonian mechanics":

Newtonian mechanics

1687 - Isaac Newton publishes his Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica, in which he formulates Newton's laws of motion and Newton's law of universal gravitation

1690 - James Bernoulli shows that the cycloid is the solution to the isochrone problem

1691 - Johann Bernoulli shows that a chain freely suspended from two points will form a catenary

1691 - James Bernoulli shows that the catenary curve has the lowest center of gravity that any chain hung from two fixed points can have

1696 - Johann Bernoulli shows that the cycloid is the solution to the brachistochrone problem

1714 - Brook Taylor derives the fundamental frequency of a stretched vibrating string in terms of its tension and mass per unit length by solving an ordinary differential equation

1733 - Daniel Bernoulli derives the fundamental frequency and harmonics of a hanging chain by solving an ordinary differential equation

1734 - Daniel Bernoulli solves the ordinary differental equation for the vibrations of an elastic bar clamped at one end

1738 - Daniel Bernoulli examines fluid flow in Hydrodynamica

1739 - Leonhard Euler solves the ordinary differential equation for a forced harmonic oscillator and notices the resonance phenomenon

1742 - Colin Maclaurin discovers his uniformly rotating self-gravitating spheroids

1747 - Pierre Louis Maupertuis applies minimum principles to mechanics

1759 - Leonhard Euler solves the partial differential equation for the vibration of a rectangular drum

1764 - Leonhard Euler examines the partial differential equation for the vibration of a circular drum and finds one of the Bessel function solutions

1776 - John Smeaton publishes a paper on experiments relating power, work, momentum and kinetic energy, and supporting the conservation of energy.

1788 - Joseph Louis Lagrange presents Lagrange's equations of motion in Mécanique Analytique

1789 - Antoine Lavoisier states the law of conservation of mass

1813 - Peter Ewart supports the idea of the conservation of energy in his paper On the measure of moving force.

1821 - William Hamilton begins his analysis of Hamilton's characteristic function

1834 - Carl Jacobi discovers his uniformly rotating self-gravitating ellipsoids

1834 - John Russell observes a nondecaying solitary water wave (soliton) in the Union Canal near Edinburgh and uses a water tank to study the dependence of solitary water wave velocities on wave amplitude and water depth

1835 - William Hamilton states Hamilton's canonical equations of motion

1835 - Gaspard Coriolis examines theoretically the mechanical efficiency of waterwheels, and deduces the Coriolis effect.

1841 - Julius Robert von Mayer, an amateur scientist, writes a paper on the conservation of energy but his lack of academic training leads to its rejection.

1842 - Christian Doppler proposes the Doppler effect

1847 - Hermann von Helmholtz formally states the law of conservation of energy

1851 - Léon Foucault shows the Earth's rotation with a huge pendulum (Foucault pendulum)

1902 - James Jeans finds the length scale required for gravitational perturbations to grow in a static nearly homogeneous medium

While the sources of these innovations are all preserved -- and importantly so -- isn't it also significant, and also with respect to your analogy, that they are all understood together as "Newtonian mechanics"?

Many books and articles have been written which I would call elaborations or applications of Objectivism and that is good. But it is up to each of us to decide which of these actually comport with Objectivism and which don't. But even if they do comport with it they still wouldn't be part of The Philosophy of Ayn Rand.

Here's something (else) that I don't understand about this entire affair. If I take Ninth Doctor at what I believe to be his implication, that this "open/closed" debate is not an "important philosophical disagreement".... And if I read you right here, where "elaborations" or "applications" are fine, they're simply not "the Philosophy of Ayn Rand"... Then why is there seemingly so much rancor on the subject?

While I'd like to reach a final understanding on these issues, and feel a goodly amount of curiosity/drive that I always feel in these types of pursuits, I can't say that they get my blood boiling, and I can't imagine them impacting my life in so direct a fashion that they could. If I were to ultimately err in the conclusion that I reach (where you're concerned, let's say that I decide that, "yes -- Objectivism can be 'added' to, so long as the addition is consistent with Objectivism's fundamentals"), would that mean that I've committed a grave moral offense? Ought I feel as though my soul is somehow on the line in this controversy? Because, honestly, I'm not convinced that it is.

The funny thing is that in my estimation, the ones who promote the closed system principle (ARI) are the ones who produce the best books that do comport with Objectivism while the ones who promote the open system are the sycophants, posers and detractors of Ayn Rand who wish to change Objectivism while they ride Ayn Rand's coat tails and whose work and lives do not comport with Objectivism. Makes sense right: the ones who wish to change Objectivism are the ones who don't agree with it.

I can't speak to this. I've seen some accusations leveled at ARI over the years, even though I've mostly kept apart from "the movement." About a decade ago, when I was very new to Objectivism, I had the good fortune to work at ARI. While not everything was perfect there, I highly esteemed many of my co-workers and I know for a fact that they do good work. As to the "sycophants, posers and detractors," I don't know that I've yet met any...? I probably wouldn't be very familiar with their work. At any rate, I certainly don't feel moved to despise anyone yet. Am I wrong there, too?

If you don't believe these people exist, they do. And if you want to see the real life consequences of holding this view, then go visit OL which Ninth Doctor has linked to several times in this thread and whose web address is in his signature. If you are a fair and rational person, it won't take very long before you start to feel dirty over there, it is like trying to have a conversation in a sewer, where nobody has any manners.

I believe in manners. And I try to be a fair and rational person. But I think I'm going to stick to this board for now; I don't know how long it would take me to evaluate the morality of an entire board, and relate that evaluation back to specific premises, individually held, on a topic where I don't even understand all of the sides yet...

But to bring a couple of these topics back to the main issue, I must say: whether OL is sewer-like or not, and whether or not closed system advocates produce better non-fiction than open system advocates, that wouldn't necessarily convince me of the truth of one side over the other. At the risk of tipping my hand, I'm not yet sure that there's not an "excluded middle." (Again: see below.)

As for the person you posit above, Ayn Rand identified what she called "philosophy for Rearden", which is just the basics of Objectivism for the person who is productive and not really interested in the scholarly study of philosophy, he doesn't have time. This is what you describe above since the things you mention barely scratch the surface of Objectivism.

If you want to posit a person who is interested in technical philosophy, while not impossible, I would find it highly unlikely that he could arrive at all of the philosophical innovations that Ayn Rand did, after all, she was a genius the likes of which only three or four (in the field of philosophy) have been seen in all of human history. But if he did he would be well advised to give credit to Miss Rand for discovering it first, much as she did with Aristotle.

Here's another thing I will not debate: the genius of Ayn Rand. If there are four like her, I guess I'd spot you Aristotle and then ask you to name who you think the other two are. So I'm not posing my hypothetical as a "likely" scenario, all things considered, but it's fashioned as it is for a reason.

I'll grant that our New Genius would later give credit to Rand for "discovering it first" (although he wouldn't cite Rand as an influence, as Rand did with Aristotle, because in my scenario our Genius has never heard of Rand)... but what is the 'it' he's meant to have belatedly discovered? If the 'it' is Objectivism, then doesn't that call into question the idea that "once Ayn Rand is done then Objectivism cannot be added to or subtracted from"? After all, couldn't our New Genius discover everything that Rand did and one thing more (given that this thing is fully consistent with every other aspect of Objectivism)? If our New Genius agreed with all that Rand wrote, wouldn't that make him an Objectivist?

Or, on the basis of having discovered "one thing more," does that disqualify our New Genius from being an Objectivist, his philosophy from being Objectivism?

Taking your core argument -- that Objectivism is the philosophy of Ayn Rand -- as seriously as I can, here's the conclusion I feel I'm forced to reach as regards my hypothetical. Our New Genius develops his philosophy and arrives at reason, reality, rational self-interest, the whole nine-yards, and he writes out the whole of what Rand would have considered "Objectivst Epistemology" had she written it. Later on, he discovers Ayn Rand's writings and is stunned to find agreement on every possible point. Of course, he immediately considers himself to be an Objectivist, gratified to find that someone else in the world had reached the same conclusions.

But he is mistaken. Because he has incorporated a fuller treatment on epistemology into his philosophy, he cannot be an Objectivist -- because Objectivism cannot be added to, once Ayn Rand is done. He must have a wholly new name for his philosophy, and distinguish it from Objectivism, even though "his philosophy" and Objectivism will never disagree on any possible philosophical topic. It seems to me like we would thus demand two different names for the same philosophy.

This does not appear sensible. But it seems like it is the proper conclusion to draw from your premise. Where have I gone wrong here?

From your question, it sounds like you'd rather use the label "objectivist" as a common noun, to denote the following concept: "a philosophy that argues for reality, reason, self-interest and individual rights".

Not just "a philosophy that argues" for those things, but the specific philosophy articulated by Rand. I don't believe that any other philosophy could argue successfully for those things, because insofar as they disagreed with Objectivism, I would hold those others philosophies mistaken.

In that case, you're left with no label to denote the philosophy of Ayn Rand. Even if you come up with some label, the underlying fact is that one has two different concepts.

I don't believe that I'm looking at two different concepts. I asked whether my hypothetical New Genius could be an Objectivist without having read Ayn Rand. I would answer "yes" in that they could follow the philosophy articulated by Rand without ever encountering Rand's specific formulations. They could even have done so prior to Rand's having written her works, or envisioned her philosophy, or been born.

Allow me again to refer to Rand's quote from my earlier posts:

At a sales conference at Random House, preceding the publication of Atlas Shrugged, one of the book salesmen asked me whether I could present the essence of my philosophy while standing on one foot. I did as follows:

Metaphysics: Objective Reality

Epistemology: Reason

Ethics: Self-interest

Politics: Capitalism

If you want this translated into simple language, it would read: 1. “Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed” or “Wishing won’t make it so.” 2. “You can’t eat your cake and have it, too.” 3. “Man is an end in himself.” 4. “Give me liberty or give me death.”

If you held these concepts with total consistency, as the base of your convictions, you would have a full philosophical system to guide the course of your life. But to hold them with total consistency—to understand, to define, to prove and to apply them—requires volumes of thought. Which is why philosophy cannot be discussed while standing on one foot—nor while standing on two feet on both sides of every fence.

I'm starting to feel as though no one here but myself feels that this quote is pertinent to our discussion... but what can I say? -- I think it pertains!

When Rand says that "you would have a full philosophical system," I take her at her word. What would we call that particular "full philosophical system" other than Objectivism? She says this in the context of describing the essence of "her philosophy." And if Objectivism is "the philosophy of Ayn Rand," that must be what we're trying to get at. And if Rand says that this particular system is achieved by holding Objective Reality, Reason, Self-interest, and Capitalism as the base of your convictions with total consistency, what grounds do I have to disagree with her?

Could my hypothetical New Genius cold those concepts with total consistency? There's no reason to say "not," is there? And if New Genius did so, wouldn't he be an Objectivist, per Rand's words quoted above? And if my New Genius wrote "Objectivist Epistemology" -- wrote it such that it is totally consistent with his philosophy, which is that very full philosophical system achieved by holding the aforementioned base convictions with total consistency (that is, Objectivism) -- then wouldn't it be Objectivist?

And if all of that is so, then isn't it wrong to take Objectivism being "the philosophy of Ayn Rand" as meaning that "once Ayn Rand is done then Objectivism cannot be added to or subtracted from"?

Or is there something wrong with what Rand said that I quoted? Or something wrong with how I've interpreted it, or proceeded from it? If so, what?

To you, is this more than a discussion about how to label those two concepts?

Though, as stated, I don't think I'm dealing in two concepts, allow me to answer this question as though I were: yes. Yes, to me this is now more than a discussion on how we ought to define "Objectivism." It's become increasingly clear to me -- through the links provided by Ninth Doctor and even over course of this thread through his conversation with Marc K. -- that there's a lot at stake here, for reasons unclear, and that the true issues (for whatever reason, be they philosophical or psychological) remain muddled.

And so I'd like to be able to bring those true issues to light and find a way to formulate them such that men of reason could finally come to some sort of agreement/understanding. Or at the least, I'd like to satisfy myself on that score, not because the labeling of who "is" and who "isn't" Objectivist is of intrinsic interest to me -- it's not -- but because I'd like to at least know why it is that there's such seemingly pointless strife and fracture in the Objectivist movement, and who (if anyone) is in the right.

"Butter-side up" versus "butter-side down"? I don't care in the least. But if everyone is going to take up arms to shoot the other side, I guess I'd better decide how I prefer my toast.

Edited by DonAthos

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Tyler,

The developments in mechanics listed in your table from Wikipedia can be sensibly said to be developments of Newtonian mechanics when they are being contrasted with relativistic mechanics. In other contexts of discourse, ones in which the contrast with relativity is not immediately pertinent, we distinguish the item listed for 1835 from Newtonian mechanics. That is, we distinguish Hamiltonian mechanics from Newtonian mechanics.

At the time of Newton, and for some decades afterwards, the great contrast was between Newtonian mechanics and Cartesian mechanics. That contrast is probably more similar to the contrast between Randian philosophy and, say, Hegelian philosophy. More similar a contrast, that is, than the contrast between Newtonian and Hamiltonian mechanics.

In speaking of Newton’s mechanics one could be speaking of the mechanics Newton invented. That is, what he wrote himself, what he reached in his life. Clearly, one meaning of “the philosophy of Ayn Rand” or “Rand’s philosophy” is like that. (Compare also, Lavoisier's chemistry and Lyell's geology.)

When we say, however, that Euler was a proponent of Newton’s mechanics, we are shifting focus to the mechanics that Newton discovered and which continued to be applied and developed after his death. We are shifting focus to Newtonian mechanics (as in contrast to Cartesian mechanics).

To speak of Platonic philosophy or Cartesian philosophy or Randian philosophy is to refer to broad classes of philosophy. Broader are those in philosophy than is Newtonian or Cartesian in mechanics (or Euclidean in geometry). Cartesian philosophy is broader than Cartesian mechanics not only because philosophy deals with more general topics. I imagine the reasons for that are worth teasing out, but I have to leave off here and not get too distracted from my current areas of study (which will in part result in more installments to this essay-thread).

I hope these remarks will be a little help. I have not gotten to ponder all of the ideas people have contributed to this your sub-thread, but good to see such thinking and generous contributions, including your own.

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To essentialize all that DonAthos has eloquently argued for, he is in effect making the case for the logical necessity of forming the concept of Objectivism, rather than settling for a proper noun referring to a particular.

Edited by Grames

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I rather think we should have two words for "open-system" and "closed-system". The closed-system people advocate that Objectivists are people who agree with every philosophical position of Ayn Rand. What the "open-system" people advocate for, I think, is to view Objectivism not as the "philosophy of Ayn Rand"--meaning the philosophy in her head (or perhaps less restrictively the set of philosophical positions and arguments she wrote down/made public)-- and instead view it as "the school of philosophy inspired by Ayn Rand".

I've often found it weird that people use "Objectivist" in the first place. No one is a Transcendental Idealist. I doubt any person in history has ever identified as such, yet that was (to my understanding) the name given by Kant to his epistemological/ontological/metaphysical philosophy. Not only do people rarely use the names philosopher's themselves ascribe to their philosophies, they rarely if ever name their philosophy. When people refer to "Aristotelianism" or refer to something as "Aristotelian", I do not think they mean to refer to the philosophy expressed in the works of Aristotle, or something or someone as in full agreement with the philosophy of Aristotle. The same goes for "Kantian", "Spinozan", "Lockean", "Humean", "Neitzschean", "Platonist", etc. When people refer to "the philosophy of Kant" or something like that they refer to it most often by using precisely those words (or make it explicit from context that when they say "Kantian philosophy" they mean the philosophy in the mind of and/or expounded by Kant).

I view being a "Randian" as far more important than being an Objectivist-proper or not. My use of "Randian" is in direct analogy to how we discuss all other philosophers. Open-system advocates think we should simply use "Objectivism" to refer to the school, and "Objectivist" to refer to those whose philosophies are based on Rand's. I think that is rather silly, as we do this with no other philosopher. "Randian philosophy" or "Randism" or "Randianism" refer to the school, "Randian" to members of it. Objectivism can/should be left to refer to only the actual philosophical positions and arguments expounded by Ayn Rand. So I suppose you could say that in that sense I am a closed-system advocate. At the same time though, I don't put very much weight at all on whether someone or something is "Objectivist" as opposed to "Randian" as I don't view it as important. I think it is clear that all the true things in philosophy will belong in the school of "Randianism" (i.e. they will all be in the school of philosophy inspired by and closely tied to the views of Ayn Rand).

The animosity of the closed and open system people is really a debate about names. I think the open-system people should drop "Objectivism" and adopt "Randianism", and the closed-system people should stop worrying so much about whether something is "Objectivist" and instead focus on what is true in philosophy regardless of whether it is in full agreement with every philosophical position of Rand. The open-system people would change the name and the closed-system people would consider themselves Randians first and foremost (with "Objectivist" being largely irrelevant), then this whole debate would go away (or at least be rendered unimportant) and we could all go on advocating rational ideas in the culture unhindered by fractious schisms and infighting (which people then use against all Randians to paint us something as absurd as "cultists"--like people who make independence a virtue can be cultists).

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Okay. Through the process of participating in this thread, I finally feel as though I'm ready to advance a specific argument. While the substance of my posts may already have made this argument clear (as Grames has graciously surmised), I'd like to put that argument together into one place, and into the strongest form that I can, so that anyone taking issue with my perspective can do so effectively.

Part (or most) of what I'm about to say will be reiteration; I apologize if I bore anyone. However, I'm hopeful that anyone who believes that I'm wrong on this subject will seize this opportunity to explain how and why I err, so that I (and others) can be brought to a better understanding of the truth. Disclaimers being disclaimed, here we go...

Imagine the following philosophical positions: A, B, C, D, and E.

Position A is a position specifically addressed by Ayn Rand in her writing. It is fully consistent with the essential positions of Objectivism, as identified by Ayn Rand.

Position B is a position not specifically addressed by Ayn Rand in her writing, but it is fully consistent with the aforementioned essential positions.

Position C is a position specifically addressed by Ayn Rand in her writing. It is not consistent with the essential positions.

Position D is a position not specifically addressed by Ayn Rand in her writing. It is not consistent with the essential positions.

Position E *is* one of the essential positions of Objectivism, as identified by Ayn Rand.

The "Closed System," as I understand it, would say as follows: that Positions A, C (should any exist), and E are properly considered to be a part of the philosophy which Ayn Rand formulated and advocated, which is to say that only Positions A, C, and E are "Objectivist." A person's opinion with respect to Positions B and D are incidental with respect to his identification as Objectivist.

The "Open System," as I understand it, would say as follows: that Positions A, B, C, D, and E are all subject to inclusion or exclusion in Objectivism depending on whether or not they are, of themselves, "reasonable." Thus a person could hold Positions A, B, and C, but not D or E; or B and E, but not A, C, or D; or any permutation thereof -- and so long as they considered their positions "reasonable," and self-identified as "Objectivist," they could consider themselves to be Objectivist, in fact, because anything held to be "reasonable" falls within Objectivism.

Here it is my intention to argue for neither of the above Systems, as stated. (And if either of my characterizations turn out to be straw men of the actual positions held, my apologies -- it is unintentional; the above representations will still serve to demonstrate the contours of my argument via contrast.) My system, which for the purposes of discussion I will term the "Essential System," would say as follows: that Positions A, B and E are Objectivist while Positions C and D are not.

I believe that the Essential System best approximates how Ayn Rand, herself, viewed her philosophy, which I will now proceed to demonstrate via the same quote I've already copied here a bajillion times:

At a sales conference at Random House, preceding the publication of Atlas Shrugged, one of the book salesmen asked me whether I could present the essence of my philosophy while standing on one foot. I did as follows:

Metaphysics: Objective Reality

Epistemology: Reason

Ethics: Self-interest

Politics: Capitalism

If you want this translated into simple language, it would read: 1. “Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed” or “Wishing won’t make it so.” 2. “You can’t eat your cake and have it, too.” 3. “Man is an end in himself.” 4. “Give me liberty or give me death.”

If you held these concepts with total consistency, as the base of your convictions, you would have a full philosophical system to guide the course of your life. But to hold them with total consistency—to understand, to define, to prove and to apply them—requires volumes of thought. Which is why philosophy cannot be discussed while standing on one foot—nor while standing on two feet on both sides of every fence.

To take this a bit at a time...

Q: What philosophy is under discussion in the above quote?

A: Ayn Rand says "my philosophy." We are therefore discussing "the philosophy of Ayn Rand," from a piece entitled "Introducing Objectivism" taken from "The Objectivist Newsletter." The philosophy under discussion is Objectivism.

Q: Is Objectivism a "full philosophical system"?

A: Yes, in essence it is. However, in practical application, whether it is a full system or not is contingent.

Q: Contingent on what?

A: Contingent on whether certain concepts -- here referred to as the "essence" of Objectivism -- are held with total consistency, as the base of one's convictions; whether these essential positions are "understood, defined, proved, and applied."

Q: If this quote were taken seriously, what then would be the standard by which a given philosophical position would either be included or excluded from this "full philosophical system" which is Objectivism?

A: Whether or not it proceeded from these essential concepts.

Q: Given this, which of the earlier hypothetical positions would be Objectivist, and which not? A, B, and E would be Objectivist; C and D would not.

Ayn Rand here argues for the Essential System, and no other.

If Ayn Rand had meant to argue for the Closed System, how might she have described the "essence of her philosophy"? Perhaps she might have said something like this:

"There is no 'essence' to my philosophy. My philosophy consists of precisely those positions which I set into writing, no more and no less. Objectivism is not a complete philosophical system -- it does not exhaust the field of rational philosophic identifications. It may or may not guide the course of your life, depending on how long I live, and which subjects I choose to write about in the interim."

If she had instead meant to argue for the Open System, this may have been her answer:

"The essence of my philosophy is reason, and reason alone. Whatever positions are reasonable, those are ultimately what I mean by 'Objectivist.' Where metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, and politics are concerned -- whatever mistakes may be made along the way, and whether one attempts to integrate seemingly opposed views -- if one only holds himself to be reasonable, then he and I share the same philosophy."

Rand said neither of these things, nor anything close to them. What I've quoted does not argue for the Open System or the Closed System, but it does argue directly for the Essential System.

I am open to -- no, I invite -- further disagreement and discussion on these topics. However, I would like anyone now taking issue with what I'm stating to make reference to my specific arguments and demonstrate how I've erred in proceeding from the quote I've provided. Whereas initially I was mostly just confused, I now believe that I've really found an idea worth considering. And so if it is to be ultimately rejected, I should like it to be for the right reasons, which is to say: reason.

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Tyler,

The condition "is fully consistent with" is too weak. That condition for A-D would be better replaced by "is implied by." When David Kelley argued that benevolence should be seen as a major virtue in Rand's ethical system, he did not settle for arguing that it was fully consistent with her ethics, but that it was implied by her ethics (however far or near Rand herself was to seeing that implication). His arguments elicited counter-arguments, but the point is that the desideratum for additions to Rand's philosophy beyond what she realized concerning it has to be something much stronger than "is fully consistent with."

Hooke’s Law of elasticity, the Law of Definite Proportions in chemistry, and Mendel’s Law of Segregation for inheritance are each fully consistent with Newtonian mechanics, but they are not implications of it. Hamilton’s Principle of dynamics, on the other hand, is more than simply fully consistent with Newton’s mechanics.

Edited by Boydstun

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.

Tyler, I like your qualification “in her writing.” Ayn Rand was in a position to publish any of her ideas she pleased, and if she did not publish an idea, that is prima facie evidence that she was not entirely settled on the idea and its support.

I should add, however, to Rand’s writings: any writings by any author in her publications The Objectivist Newsletter and The Objectivist. Every piece in those publications was agreed with by Rand or it would not appear. Those publications were intended as exact representations of her views, and she was right there, insuring that was so. (Very unlike my journal Objectivity, in which I probably disagreed with something in every essay not authored by me.)

Your block quotation from Rand, was in the August 1962 issue of the The Objectivist Newsletter. That was a reprint of the piece. It had been Rand’s first column, appearing June 17, 1962, in the Los Angeles Times. At that time, what most of the newspaper audience could have known about Rand’s philosophy was what was expressed in her novels and in her title essay of For the New Intellectual (and perhaps in Who Is Ayn Rand? which included N. Branden’s “The Moral Revolution in Atlas Shrugged” – published in 1962, but I don’t know whether before June).

After the part of the column you quoted, Rand goes on to say:

In the space of a column, I can give only the briefest summary of my position, as a frame-of-reference for all my future columns. My philosophy, Objectivism, holds that:

1. Reality exists as an objective absolute—facts are facts, independent of man’s feelings, wishes, hopes or fears.

2. Reason (the faculty which identifies and integrates the material provided by man’s senses) is man’s only means of perceiving reality, his only source of knowledge, his only guide to action, and his basic means of survival.

3. Man—every man—is an end in himself, not the means to the ends of others. He must exist for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself. The pursuit of his own rational self-interest and his own happiness is the highest moral purpose of his life.

4. The ideal political-economic system is laissez-faire capitalism. . . .

After a substantial paragraph for #4, Rand goes on to explain the incompatibility between (i) the individual rights protected by the American government, which fosters capitalism, and (ii) altruism. She stresses that it is either-or. As political ramification of the morality of altruism, she points to atrocities of Soviet Russia, Nazi Germany, Red China, Cuba, and East Berlin. She points to the necessity of people accepting sacrifice for the “public good” in order for such regimes to arise. And for the prevalence of such talk in speeches of the Kennedy Administration.

Tyler, you have argued that Position C is part of the “closed” view of Rand’s philosophy. You reject Position C. You argue that Position B is concordant with Rand’s picture of the structure of her philosophy in her 1962 column. Substituting my “is implied by” (implied, when joined with pertinent facts) for your “is fully consistent with,” we have:

Position C – position addressed specifically in Rand’s publications, but is not implied by the essentials of Rand’s philosophy (as she stated it).

Position B – position not addressed specifically in Rand’s publications, but is implied by the essentials.

Position C was not embraced by Leonard Peikoff in his essay in which the “closed” character of Rand’s philosophy was addressed. I don’t think it is fair to saddle the “closed” view with such a position.

As for Position B, suppose Rand had died in 1962. Then her thesis that identity entails measurability would not have been part of her published philosophy. There would be some precursors of it in Galt’s speech, but this fully fermented statement of 1966–67 would not have appeared: “If anything were actually ‘immeasurable’, it would bear no relationship of any kind to the rest of the universe, it would not affect nor be affected by anything else in any manner whatever, it would enact no causes and bear no consequences—in short it would not exist” (ITOE 39). Yet this could be written by someone else subsequent to Rand’s fictive death in 1962, and seen to be nicely fitting into what Rand had already written in Galt’s speech.

It is not a realistic view of the “closed” view, to exclude from it Position B. In his 1989 essay “Fact and Value,” Peikoff remarked that for every philosophy “new implications, applications, integrations can always be discovered; but the essence of the system—its fundamental principles and their consequences in every branch—is laid down once and for all by the philosophy’s author” (emphasis added).

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Tyler,

The condition "is fully consistent with" is too weak. That condition for A-D would be better replaced by "is implied by." When David Kelley argued that benevolence should be seen as a major virtue in Rand's ethical system, he did not settle for arguing that it was fully consistent with her ethics, but that it was implied by her ethics (however far or near Rand herself was to seeing that implication). His arguments elicited counter-arguments, but the point is that the desideratum for additions to Rand's philosophy beyond what she realized concerning it has to be something much stronger than "is fully consistent with."

Hello Stephen,

In the first place, my thanks for your replies. They are thoughtful and engaging.

On the matter of "is implied by" versus "is fully consistent with," I don't know that I understand sufficiently the difference between the two to yet have a position. I hope that if I'm using the poorer formulation, my meaning is still clear. As to why I chose the language that I did, it was in an attempt to echo Rand's language in the quote I'd provided. Note (emphasis added): "If you held these concepts with total consistency, as the base of your convictions, you would have a full philosophical system to guide the course of your life. But to hold them with total consistency—to understand, to define, to prove and to apply them—requires volumes of thought."

If Rand's essential concepts were held with total consistency, then I don't know that any other philosophical position could possibly be "fully consistent with" those concepts and not "implied by" them. Could there be? I just don't know. I'm honestly talking a bit above my own understanding now, and so I'm going to demur, except to say... I worry a bit that "implied by" sounds like it's subsumed by logical deductions from formal axioms. And I'm not 100% sure that this would cover all of the ground that might be required for all those philosophical positions fully consistent with Rand's essential concepts -- I guess I worry that "implied by" might cut off some valid applications of inductive logic. What's more, I'm not certain that "total consistency" is "weaker" a criterion than "implication." Total consistency, as I regard it, is a highly demanding requirement (requiring "volumes of thought").

Blah, I really don't know! If you believe that this amounts to a substantive difference, then we could of course pursue it. I'm just unsure as to what that substance might be, at the moment.

Tyler, you have argued that Position C is part of the “closed” view of Rand’s philosophy. You reject Position C. You argue that Position B is concordant with Rand’s picture of the structure of her philosophy in her 1962 column. Substituting my “is implied by” (implied, when joined with pertinent facts) for your “is fully consistent with,” we have:

Position C – position addressed specifically in Rand’s publications, but is not implied by the essentials of Rand’s philosophy (as she stated it).

Position B – position not addressed specifically in Rand’s publications, but is implied by the essentials.

Let me be clear about what I've argued, or at least what I mean to argue. There exists a view of Rand's philosophy which, yes, would hold that Position C is a part of that philosophy. And yes, for my purposes here, I'm calling that the "Closed System." (Much more on this weak sauce parsing to come.)

But yes, I reject Position C, and I argue that Position B is concordant with Rand's picture, as you say. As to your reformulations of my hypothetical Positions, so long as my earlier reservations (/confusions/ignorance) are noted, we'll adopt them for the time being.

Position C was not embraced by Leonard Peikoff in his essay in which the “closed” character of Rand’s philosophy was addressed. I don’t think it is fair to saddle the “closed” view with such a position.

[...]

It is not a realistic view of the “closed” view, to exclude from it Position B. In his 1989 essay “Fact and Value,” Peikoff remarked that for every philosophy “new implications, applications, integrations can always be discovered; but the essence of the system—its fundamental principles and their consequences in every branch—is laid down once and for all by the philosophy’s author” (emphasis added).

I believe I'd anticipated a bit of this in my earlier post:

[...] if either of my characterizations [of the "Open System" or "Closed System"] turn out to be straw men of the actual positions held, my apologies -- it is unintentional; the above representations will still serve to demonstrate the contours of my argument via contrast.

But that said, let me address this question of whether I've described the "Closed System" accurately head on. My primary aim is not to disagree with Leonard Peikoff (or David Kelley, for that matter). I do not know for a fact that Leonard Peikoff (either in his writing, or in his person) supports what I have described to be the "Closed System," or that David Kelley really argues for what's sometimes thought of as the "Open System." I'm open to the possibility that they both actually agree -- that they both would endorse what I've termed the Essential System (though in their own language) -- and that this apparent debate is either a big misunderstanding, or a personal feud, or that these terms have become so entangled into other differences of opinion that it's been nigh-impossible to prise apart the various threads for individual examination. Like so many other things, I don't know.

However.

My primary aim (where the "Closed System" is concerned) *is* to disagree with those who argue that Position C is properly a part of Objectivism, while Position B is not. If Peikoff is not among that number, so much the better. Does anyone, then, hold this view? I believe so. I'll now submit some quotes for your examination...

The following from the first two pages of this thread (the initial quote being from the OP):

[From TheNewIntellectual]

This was taken from the Objectivism Wiki:

[From Spano]

[...] I think it is proper to call Objectivism closed, and to limit it specifically to Rand's writings, because this prevents the word "Objectivism" from morhping into a meaningless descriptor. If you decide that you disagree with some aspect of Ayn Rand's writings and make some amendment, don't try to call your revision "Objectivism" - use some other descriptor.

[From BurgessLau]

A closed philosophy is a philosophy created by a particular person who chooses not to or cannot add to it. Death prevents a philosopher from adding to her philosophy. Objectivism, which is the proper name that identifies Ayn Rand's philosophy, is closed.

[in disagreement(?) with the above, from Hal]

I dont think Ayn Rand thought it [Objectivism] was complete; afaik she was working on a treatise on ethics towards the end of her life. The epistemology also needs fleshed out; IOE was only meant to be an introduction (AR states in the preface that she was planning on writing a more detailed work, which never appeared). Theres no real Objectivist philosophy of science, or of mathematics (only a rough outline). Philosophers like Peikoff and Binswanger are dedicating extensive effort to developing certain areas of Objectivism.

[to which this reply, from Inspector]

If I understand things correctly, Drs Peikoff and Binswanger are developing the ideas that Objectivism started. They aren't developing or "completing" Objectivism. Objectivism is the philosophy of Ayn Rand and does not include work done after her death. I don't know if there is a formal name for the work they have done or are doing.

More recently, and since the introduction of my "sub-thread":

[From Ninth Doctor]

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.

[From Eiuol]

To me, [the museum exhibit is] 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.

[From Marc K.]

[The] stance [of closed system advocates] is that anything not written or specifically sanctioned by Ayn Rand is not part of her philosophy, which is Objectivism.

[And in a later post...]

Once defined as "the philosophy of Ayn Rand", which is proper, then once Ayn Rand is done then Objectivism cannot be added to or subtracted from.

Let me now reach beyond this thread for a few others.

From Diana Hsieh's blog:

Certainly, the need for active scholars, intellectuals, and otherwise thoughtful folk to extend our knowledge in accordance with Objectivism is genuine. To spend all our days poring over the same Ayn Rand writings again and again for some as-of-yet overlooked tidbit of insight would be silly, if not suicidal. That's not in dispute though [...]

My critical point of dispute [...] is that such new work, even if true, ought to be acknowledged as separate from (albeit related to) the philosophy of Objectivism developed by Ayn Rand.

[...] if Ayn Rand did err, if her philosophic system contains serious flaws, then the proper approach is to "take what you want, and pay for it," where the payment is the relinquishing of the title "Objectivism," while still crediting Ayn Rand where appropriate.

[...]

[Objectivism] is the work of a single philosopher: Ayn Rand. Like other philosophical systems, it stands or falls as it was created by her.

From Roderick Fitts's essay (linked to in this thread by softwareNerd):

New implications, applications, and integrations can always be discovered and learned by Objectivists, but these are to be considered separate from the actual philosophy as developed by Ayn Rand. One could say that some new work (e.g. one of Tara Smith's book on Rand's ethics) is “in the Objectivist tradition” or “Objectivist” in the broad sense that it is logically consistent with the philosophy, but is not an actual addition to the philosophy.

In what is perhaps the clearest statement, from the policies of the Harry Binswanger List (which I became aware of through this thread):

It is understood that Objectivism is limited to the philosophic principles expounded by Ayn Rand in the writings published during her lifetime plus those articles by other authors that she published in her own periodicals (e.g., The Objectivist) or included in her anthologies. Applications, implications, developments, and extensions of Objectivism [...] are not, even if entirely valid, part of Objectivism.

In my opinion, these are all clear in that they would consider Position C to be part of Objectivism (though the authors of these quotes probably believe that there is no such extant position), and not Position B, and I believe that this approach constitutes what is typically meant by "Closed System."

Now consider this:

As for Position B, suppose Rand had died in 1962. Then her thesis that identity entails measurability would not have been part of her published philosophy. There would be some precursors of it in Galt’s speech, but this fully fermented statement of 1966–67 would not have appeared: “If anything were actually ‘immeasurable’, it would bear no relationship of any kind to the rest of the universe, it would not affect nor be affected by anything else in any manner whatever, it would enact no causes and bear no consequences—in short it would not exist” (ITOE 39). Yet this could be written by someone else subsequent to Rand’s fictive death in 1962, and seen to be nicely fitting into what Rand had already written in Galt’s speech.

You are absolutely right. Had Rand died in '62, that "identity entails measurability" would be a conceivable Position B. And per the Essential System, someone else could have come along in '63 and written it out, and yes -- that could be understood as part of Objectivism.

This is not allowable per the Closed System, however, as I believe the quoted sources demonstrate.

And as for where Leonard Peikoff stands, your quote certainly suggests that he does not agree with the Closed System, as I've laid it out, and would instead argue for the Essential System as I've defined it. I might have to do a full analysis of Fact and Value and whatever other sources are available to me to say for certain, but for now allow me to provide the Wikipedia entry on him:

Peikoff views Objectivism as a "closed system" that consists solely of the philosophical principles Rand herself had articulated, and he considers disagreement with any of these principles a departure from Objectivism.

How accurate an assessment this is of Peikoff's position, I cannot better say at present. But whether it is or is not Peikoff's actual position... whether, in fact, I've completely misunderstood the debate en toto, and none of the above quotes -- or their authors -- mean what I take them to mean, I will continue to argue here for the Essential System, as I've defined it, against what I take to be the Closed and Open Systems, until such time as I am shown to be mistaken.

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Having spent some time elaborating on the differences (as I see it) between the Essential System and the Closed System, I'd like to briefly do the same for the Open System.

Again -- this is the "Open System" as I understand it, and as I believe it is popularly understood. Whether this actually conforms to the views of David Kelley, or any given Open System advocate, I cannot at present -- and without a much fuller research -- say.

Here's a quote I'd used in my previous post, to discuss the Closed System:

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.

Now let's look at the Open System portion, which purports to equate Objectivism with "Philosophy." Objectivism is not Philosophy; it is, instead, a very specific philosophy. "Philosophy" (capital 'P') incorporates all sorts of irreconcilable and inconsistent views on every possible subject, which Objectivism cannot do. Moreover and much more importantly, which Objectivism does not do.

The Closed System advocates are right in this: that Objectivism -- what it is -- was set down, once and for all, by Ayn Rand. And that identity -- the identity that she gave to it -- cannot ever change. In specific, Objectivism's identity is its essential concepts, as defined by Rand, held with total consistency. That is what Objectivism is, and it constitutes a philosophy, but that philosophy cannot be changed one iota and still held to be "Objectivism."

To consider an analogy, imagine that Ayn Rand had developed a mathematical formula to determine... uh... prime numbers. And in her writings, she used this formula to identify 30 prime numbers. As regards the Closed System, it could not be said that Rand's system was only the 30 prime numbers she personally specified. But contra the Open System, it could not be said that Rand's system was anything other than those specific numbers which would issue from her exact formula. Rand's numbers, at any given time and from any given perspective, might be either unknown or miscalculated, but they would always be Rand's numbers, in reality, stretching into the distance. Those numbers would be defined by nothing more and nothing less than the formula Rand had invented to calculate them.

To bring this back to an earlier example, where sex (as a philosophical topic) is concerned, Objectivism can only have one position; there is only one such position that will be fully consistent with (or, possibly, "implied by" :) ) the essential concepts of Objectivism. But because Objectivism is a full philosophical system, it will have some position on every conceivable philosophical topic, whether or not those positions were identified by Rand in her lifetime, or by Peikoff in his, or by me in mine, or by you in yours. The numbers -- defined by the formula -- are etched in stone the moment that formula is constructed, whether we're aware of them or not.

My reply to Ninth Doctor's quote was that Objectivism is neither Philosophy nor a museum exhibit (where all of the heavy lifting has been done) but it is like a wonderous dig. Rand buried the treasures. And they are what they are, and they cannot be changed. But they're not all yet discovered. There's work yet to do.

Through Ninth Doctor's other contributions to this thread, I became aware of the website Objectivist Living. Here is from (what I take to be) the board's administrator on the board's purpose and essence:

We hold that Objectivism is a dynamic, not static, set of principles. These principles are integrated into one system, but this does not preclude future integrations, additions and corrections as the nature of human beings and the universe becomes understood in more depth.

This is wrong, and to be clear, it is not the Essential System that I am arguing for.

Objectivism is absolutely a static set of principles. Objectivism does not change, and while it is certainly "dynamic," it is not dynamic in sense that he means.

What *is* dynamic in that sense, is: people.

A given person's understanding of Objectivism may be right or wrong at any given time, and his understanding of Objectivism's principles may change. As he attempts to hold Objectivism's essential concepts with total consistency -- "to understand, to define, to prove and to apply them" -- he will almost certainly err any number of times and in a multitude of ways. In a way, it may at times seem to him as though Objectivism, itself, is changing, just as the world sometimes seems to shift when we get a new insight or are struck with epiphany. But Objectivism does not change.

If ever we were to discover a Position C -- which is a philosophical position which is not consistent with (or implied by) Objectivism's essential concepts, but was promoted by Rand in her writings or in the writings that she endorsed -- then that Position C would not be Objectivist and would never have been Objectivist, even though every Objectivist in the world had previously considered it so.

It is not our thoughts on the subject that determine what Objectivism is. It is, instead, a matter of what in fact is consistent with the essential concepts of Objectivism. Static. Immutable. Undynamic. And in many cases awaiting discovery.

Edited by DonAthos

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Now let's look at the Open System portion, which purports to equate Objectivism with "Philosophy." Objectivism is not Philosophy; it is, instead, a very specific philosophy. "Philosophy" (capital 'P') incorporates all sorts of irreconcilable and inconsistent views on every possible subject, which Objectivism cannot do. Moreover and much more importantly, which Objectivism does not do.

This is not an accurate representation of the open system advocated by David Kelley. In his view, open Objectivism means defining Objectivism objectively, by reference to its essentials, and by its main differentiating factors from other philosophies. For an accurate statement of his views, I'd recommend listening to his own presentation of them given here in the audio presentation, especially starting at 13:00.

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It's useful to keep in mind that Ayn Rand remarked once that no philosopher can evolve a new philosophy in his lifetime. (Roughly, from my memory.)

So how much was left undone?What would Rand have achieved if she'd lived longer?

With all the essentials laid down by her, I'd suspect there is not so much remaining that cannot be derived from concepts and methodology. (Also, as one gets closer to fulfilment, , the law of diminishing returns gradually comes into play.)

Then after that, deeper investigation and refinement - and, ultimately, ongoing application of Objectivism, which is where its enduring value lies.

Surely, anything derived from her foundations will be immediately apparent in its truth, or falsehood? i.e., "Rand would have endorsed this" - or not. Perhaps by consensus of O'ist academics and scholars?

(As analogy, Schubert's "Unfinished Symphony" was completed after his death.)

As I say, my sense is that somewhere in the region of well over 90% of Objectivism has been completed.

Which leaves me a bit bemused about the necessity and rationality of the 'break' between 'closed' and 'open' factions. What was the point, besides people differences?

For instance, regarding David Kelley, I am of the conviction that his work towards benevolence as major virtue, is valid and true. This may have been an important contribution to filling that remaining +/- 5% .

Now, because of The Split, it may never be accepted into mainstream Objectivsim.

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This is not an accurate representation of the open system advocated by David Kelley.

That is as may be. You'll note that the portion of my post that you've quoted is in direct response to Ninth Doctor's representation of the Open System. When Ninth Doctor wrote that initially, in this thread, no one at that time offered any correction as to his assessment. What's more, I have reason to believe that Ninth Doctor's take on the Open System is a widely accepted one, and it is in contrast to that viewpoint that I present my own. I tried to stress that in the very post you're responding to, when I said "Again -- this is the 'Open System' as I understand it, and as I believe it is popularly understood. Whether this actually conforms to the views of David Kelley, or any given Open System advocate, I cannot at present -- and without a much fuller research -- say." I put that in the second sentence as its very own paragraph in order to avoid precisely this confusion.

With respect to the specific matter you raise, are you saying that Ninth Doctor's equation of Objectivism to Philosophy, per the "Open System," is unfair to David Kelley? That it is Kelley's argument as a straw man? It's not in my interest to take that particular argument up at this time; rather than try to suss out exactly who believes what, I'd rather concentrate my efforts on what it is right to believe. If it turns out that the Essential System I argue for is also what Leonard Peikoff argues for (though under a different name), per Boydstun's implicit suggestion here, then that's fine: Leonard Peikoff would thus be correct. If it turns out that David Kelley argues for the Essential System, then he is correct, too. What a fine mess it would be, if Kelley and Peikoff actually argued for the same Objectivism, eh? But as both sides seem to straw man the other (at least to my untrained eye), and as no one seems to have any agreement on what exactly constitutes the Closed System or the Open System viewpoint (which may go some way to explain my initial confusion in trying to sort all this out), I think I'll just concentrate on determining what Objectivism is.

Right now, I think that Ayn Rand correctly explained "what Objectivism is" when she explained that by holding the essential concepts (referred to in her quote, provided earlier) at the base of one's convictions with total consistency, one would have a full philosophical system. That "full philosophical system" is what Objectivism is. Is there any good reason for me to hold Rand mistaken?

In his view, open Objectivism means defining Objectivism objectively, by reference to its essentials, and by its main differentiating factors from other philosophies. For an accurate statement of his views, I'd recommend listening to his own presentation of them given here in the audio presentation, especially starting at 13:00.

Incidentally, since you and Ninth Doctor have both linked to that audio, I've gone ahead and listened through it. Hearing what I have about the Open System, I found it quite surprising. As counterpoint, allow me to quote from Betsy from a different thread:

One way Kelley bamboozles people is to use the term "Objectivism" to stand for "all correct philosophy."

Is she referring to that audio presentation? Is she referring to something else? I have no idea. Since it's not my interest to "bamboozle" anyone, and since I don't know the totality of Kelley's views, or what he might have said elsewhere, or what else Betsy might be referring to when she treats on the Open System, I think it's best that I steer clear from trying to decide what Peikoff or Kelley actually believe apart from what the Open and Closed System have come to mean in terms of this ongoing debate, and as established by the various quotes I've provided in this thread.

This is what I mean (whether Kelley, or anyone else, agrees or disagrees): Objectivism does not stand for "all correct philosophy." Nor is it what Betsy goes on to say, representing the Closed System:

The way to answer that is to say that Objectivism is the philosophy of Ayn Rand and nothing can be added or changed in Objectivism without her consent.

These two positions pretend to cover all possible ground. It isn't true. Instead of "all correct philosophy," Objectivism stands for "all philosophy fully consistent with the essential concepts detailed by Rand, as quoted earlier in this thread." And to that end, Ayn Rand's personal consent is not required.

It's useful to keep in mind that Ayn Rand remarked once that no philosopher can evolve a new philosophy in his lifetime. (Roughly, from my memory.)

This intrigued me, and inspired me to do some Googling. I believe I found the quote to which you refer in a work by Barbara Branden found here. I have not read this work yet, and so I can say nothing about the context in which it appears there, nor about its original context. That said, here is Rand's quote:

I do have a complete philosophical system, but the elaboration of a system is a job that no philosopher can finish in his lifetime. There is an awful lot of work yet to be done.

This seems to be perfectly in keeping with the quote about which I've made so much. What is left to say?

If "the elaboration of a [complete philosophical system] is a job that no philosopher can finish in his lifetime," then certainly Rand did not expect to do it herself with respect to Objectivism. If we take this quote at face value -- what it clearly seems to mean -- then how can this be reconciled with Betsy's view that nothing can be added* to Objectivism without Rand's consent? Unless we start stretching, to try to define "elaboration of a philosophy" in such a way as to be distinct from the philosophy, itself... or take Rand to mean that Objectivism (and by extension every other philosophical system) can never be complete? But no, mental gymnastics such as these are not required. It's far easier to adopt Rand's clearly expressed view that the complete philosophical system is available to those who hold her essential concepts with total consistency.

* To be strict about this, as I come to understand things better, the Essential System would not hold that anything can be "added" to Objectivism. We are instead talking about the discovery of that which is, which has been, and which always will be totally consistent with Rand's essential concepts. No addition required.

Surely, anything derived from her foundations will be immediately apparent in its truth, or falsehood? i.e., "Rand would have endorsed this" - or not.

Just to mention, but whether Rand would personally have endorsed some view is not the crucial criterion.

Perhaps by consensus of O'ist academics and scholars?

Neither is this.

The sole judge remains, as always, the individual's mind -- his best, fullest use of his reason and according to as full a context as he can manage. And where that's concerned, I'm not certain that we can count on truth or falsehood being "immediately apparent." Would that it were that easy!

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