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Objectivism: "Closed" system

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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 think I’d better make it clear that I was trying to frame the issue, not provide a summary of either side’s stated position. Peikoff wouldn’t accept the characterization of studying Objectivism being like going to a museum, nor does Kelley claim that Objectivism equals Philosophy. In the talk I do recall him saying something like “I think everything that’s true is (or should be) part of Objectivism”, but he also goes to some length in “isolating the essence”, this in the context of describing what an Objectivist “movement” should be like.

In practice, both have produced work that “goes beyond” Rand, in the sense of being on subjects she didn’t address. So what’s the real difference? I think l’affaire McCaskey is a great illustration, and that really had little to do with the open/closed question. I say the lesson there was: when Peikoff makes a new contribution, the book it’s in is not to be criticized, not even behind closed doors.

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I think I’d better make it clear that I was trying to frame the issue, not provide a summary of either side’s stated position.

Oh, I quite understand. What I keep trying to say, in response to Boydstun's questions whether Peikoff's position measures up to the "Closed System" I've been referring to, and Dante's questions about whether Kelley's position equates to the "Open System," is that it doesn't really matter who believes (or argues, or has argued) what: it only matters what is true, re: Objectivism. And I present the "Closed System" and "Open System" that I do, because 1) I believe that they are popular understandings of those positions, as stated, and as referenced in the quotes that I've provided; and 2) those two positions help to (as you say) "frame," foil, relieve, and otherwise help my own views to stand out by way of contrast. They are provided to aid communication and understanding, not as my definitive pronouncements as to the psyches, stances (stated or otherwise), or moralities of Leonard Peikoff or David Kelley.

As far as I'm concerned, we can easily remove the names Peikoff and Kelley from this discussion and still retain the debate in full, because this is a debate of ideas and not assessments of individuals. That said, I will continue to refer to them (as I expect others to do) as is conducive to the discussion; I only ask that people take these references in the context of this specific discussion. The question is not "what does Leonard Peikoff believe Objectivism to be"? But "what is Objectivism"?

In practice, both have produced work that “goes beyond” Rand, in the sense of being on subjects she didn’t address. So what’s the real difference? I think l’affaire McCaskey is a great illustration, and that really had little to do with the open/closed question. I say the lesson there was: when Peikoff makes a new contribution, the book it’s in is not to be criticized, not even behind closed doors.

You keep doing this to me! :)

I want you to know, Doc (can I call you Doc?), that I'm like a sponge at this point. Every time you link out, I look... and usually wind up following link after link (or Googling) to follow up. It's not that I don't appreciate your efforts in doing that -- I do. And all of this information is... stimulating. Where McCaskey is concerned, I had no idea about any of that, but WOW. Reading the material that (for instance) Diana Hsieh had compiled is kind of like watching an autopsy -- fascinating, but gross. But this isn't a referendum on all-things-Peikoff, as I hope is clear by now.

That said, these links and my (highly preliminary) investigation into the McCaskey incident have produced at least one (potentially) illuminating datum. From Leonard Peikoff's website, on his lecture(s) on induction:

"These historic lectures present, for the first time, the Objectivist solution to the problem of induction—and thereby complete, in every essential respect, the validation of reason."

Well, all right. Apparently Objectivism has a "solution" on induction, the author of which is not Ayn Rand, but Leonard Peikoff. Or do I have this wrong, somehow?

Per my Essential System, of course Leonard Peikoff would be free to claim that his solution is "the Objectivist solution," and then we'd be free (as individuals) to judge whether he was right or not in his claim, by reference to the essentials of Objectivism and whether or not Peikoff's writings were consistent with them. It seems only sensible, and I guess it would have been the process that Ayn Rand would have performed had she been alive and able to either "approve" of his work or otherwise.

But the Closed System...? I've heard it said that one of the reasons why it is important that Objectivism be closed is to differentiate between the work of Rand and those who come afterwards. It's got me thinking. Certainly, from a historian's point of view, this is an important distinction that needs to be preserved. But as philosophy? What is philosophy? Here's Ayn Rand (from "The Chickens' Homecoming"):

Philosophy is the science that studies the fundamental aspects of the nature of existence. The task of philosophy is to provide man with a comprehensive view of life. This view serves as a base, a frame of reference, for all his actions, mental or physical, psychological or existential. This view tells him the nature of the universe with which he has to deal (metaphysics); the means by which he is to deal with it, i.e., the means of acquiring knowledge (epistemology); the standards by which he is to choose his goals and values, in regard to his own life and character (ethics)—and in regard to society (politics); the means of concretizing this view is given to him by esthetics.

Let me repeat from that quote, and with special emphasis: "The task of philosophy is to provide man with a comprehensive view of life."

I would take it, then, that a "full philosophical system" such as Objectivism does this. Whether the written body of work which we believe encompasses Objectivism is "comprehensive" or not is of much less import than whether Objectivism is comprehensive, functionally, in the mind of the Objectivist. When we say that Objectivism is "the philosophy of Ayn Rand," the first and most important meaning of such a statement is that it is the philosophy which Ayn Rand held internally and personally; her eventual publishing of select material is secondary and consequent to this first, primary meaning. Had she never published anything, she still would have been an Objectivist.

If we say that Leonard Peikoff is an Objectivist, whatever else we might mean by that label, I think we'd agree that this means that he holds Ayn Rand's essential concepts at the base of his convictions. As Leonard Peikoff must perform actions, he must do so in accordance with his philosophy; with whatever philosophy he personally holds, which in other respects we could (rightly) describe as being "the philosophy of Leonard Peikoff." Should Leonard Peikoff perform new integrations, leading to a theory of induction or anything else, he will presumably do so as consistently as possible with respect to his fundamental convictions. Let us suppose that he does this correctly: he develops a theory of induction fully consistent with the essential concepts of Objectivism. Is his theory not Objectivist?

The Closed System says "no, it is not." But now look at what the Closed System view requires! It insists that Leonard Peikoff keep separate -- in his mind -- his particular philosophical views according to their "source". What purpose does that serve Leonard Peikoff? A proper philosophy should be an integrated whole. But this Closed System view does not allow this integration, insisting that some of Peikoff's philosophical views are "Objectivist," while other philosophical views are... something else.

Besides sundering this full integration, and calling into question whether Objectivism (or any other philosophy) could therefore be "comprehensive" and "[serve] as a base, a frame of reference, for all [of man's] actions, mental or physical, psychological or existential," it's interesting to consider the question of a "source" of a man's philosophical views. What, ultimately, is the source of the Objectivist's views re: metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, or etc.? Is it reading the words of Ayn Rand? Or is it relating what they read to the experiences in their own life, and their own logical faculty, i.e. by reference to reason and reality? And should Leonard Peikoff or any other Objectivist develop a proper theory of induction, consistent with the essential Objectivist concepts, wouldn't we expect that this theory of induction would proceed from the very same place -- reason and reality?

Ultimately then, and in reality, does the Objectivist's views on those matters upon which Ayn Rand wrote, and other "non-Objectivist-but-Objectivism-consistent" philosophical topics really issue from different sources? And does it really serve the Objectivist to try to keep separate the multitude of his particular philosophical views according to these supposed differing sources?

If Leonard Peikoff wanted to use a term for his philosophy, the philosophy of Leonard Peikoff, which represents an integration of his views on metaphysics, epistemology, ethics -- that is to say, his "comprehensive view of life" -- and certainly including his views on induction... what term should he use other than "Objectivism"?

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Hopefully this will be helpful to this discussion.

I've done a search on Dr. Peikoff's site, for his podcasts, on the issue of a "closed philosophical system" and thought I'd post the result:

First result - Dr. Peikoff's site:

'Is Ayn Rand’s philosophy a “closed system”?'

Date: May 3rd, 2010

Duration: 02:57

[Actual question - Unofficial Index, Episode 110: "'What exactly does it mean for a philosophy to be a closed system?'"]

Here's his response, as transcribed by me:

"A closed system is a philosophy which is an interconnected system of principles which are immutable, which cannot tolerate any contradiction, otherwise the whole system is collapsed. That would be a closed system. If it is just a collection of different ideas that can stand or fall on their own, then it's "open," meaning it's not a system.

Now, what is "open," if you want to call it that, is the application of that philosophy to concrete cases because many are not deducible from the philosophy even though they presuppose the philosophy, and we've seen that in these podcasts over and over. There are many options in how to treat love and hobbies and careers and how you assess the current scene and your predictions of the future, etc. Philosophies are open only in the sense that they admit, within limits, of a variety of applications and even disagreements if we can't show....

Now, but what these people mean, who say that it is bad for a philosophy to be a closed system - and they even use the word "system," you see, which means "all interconnected," what they want is that everything be optional about the philosophy, not just, for instance, whether you should go into law or medicine, but whether you should have a career, whether you should do anything long-ranged. It's all subjective; it's whatever you want. So, in other words, it's philosophy as a bunch of fortune cookies thrown together, open to any new one. That's the end of philosophy, the so-called "open philosophy."

Have you ever talked to someone who prides himself on what he calls an "open mind"? An "open mind" means an empty mind. It means that no matter what you tell him, he'll say, "Yeah, that's interesting, but so-and-so is interesting and so-and-so is interesting." This guy prides himself on never closing a question, and that is just what it is. The absurd thing is that there are people who believe that Ayn Rand is right, but object to the fact that she is interpreted by me and others as a "closed system." But, you know, I refrain from further personal comment."

Second result - Dr. Peikoff's site:

"In an earlier podcast you describe a closed system as, among other things, a whole which cannot tolerate any contradiction. Does this mean that Objectivism is the only closed philosophical system, because all other philosophies I know of contain many contradictions?"

Date: April 11th, 2011

Duration: 02:03

[Actual question - Unofficial Index, Episode 159: "'In an earlier podcast you described a closed system as, among other things, a whole which cannot tolerate any contradiction. Does this mean that Objectivism is the only closed philosophical system and/or the only one worthy of the name, because all other philosophies I know of contain many contradictions?'"]

Here's his response as transcribed by me:

"No. There are other closed philosophical systems too. Indeed, in my DIM Hypothesis, "M" stands for a closed, integrated philosophical system which is not based on reality. The consistency in such a case, what makes the integration possible, is an internal consistency. You take the scholastics, who developed a system where some of their axioms were issues of faith, but then there was step-by-step logical deduction; the conclusions, the whole set-up was closed, there were no internal contradictions. Now, of course, if you say, well revelation contradicts observations and God contradicts Nature, then there were contradictions. But within their fundamentals, they were true, the fundamentals were consistent with each other, and the consequences of those fundamentals were consistently drawn. So, those are closed, real philosophic systems. The greatest examples being Plato and Hegel.

Now, you can contrast that with, take Nietzsche for instance, take Zarathustra, where it's a bunch of aphorisms, some brilliant and some awful, but more or less related like one fortune cookie after another. That is not a system. Or Pragmatism, where truth is what works — what works today won't work tomorrow — so that is not a system.

For more about that you read my analysis of "D," which is disintegration, with "M," which is mis-integration."

Edited by Trebor

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(can I call you Doc?)

If Leonard Peikoff wanted to use a term for his philosophy, the philosophy of Leonard Peikoff, which represents an integration of his views on metaphysics, epistemology, ethics -- that is to say, his "comprehensive view of life" -- and certainly including his views on induction... what term should he use other than "Objectivism"?

I think some more history needs to be hashed out. In what context, and for what purpose did Ayn Rand create the name Objectivism for her philosophy? David Kelley rightly points out in his oft linked lecture that we don’t need a special name to refer to the works of a particular author, we just refer to the works of that author.

So, why Objectivism? The term first appears in the preface to For the New Intellectual, dated October 1960. At that time Nathaniel Branden Lectures had been going for a year plus, he was named her “intellectual heir” in the afterword to Atlas Shrugged (since deleted), and his first book Who is Ayn Rand? was forthcoming the next year. He had express authority to speak for Objectivism, citation available if there are doubters. I don’t think I need to spell it out much further, it’s pretty simple: she thought she had a solid partner, and thought they would be creating a school of philosophy. Didn’t happen, or, it did but it only lasted about 8 years. Hence, Objectivism.

Hopefully this will be helpful to this discussion.

I've done a search on Dr. Peikoff's site, for his podcasts, on the issue of a "closed philosophical system" and thought I'd post the result:

Kelley goes to the trouble of providing quotes and citations, thus building a case, while Peikoff demolishes a straw man, and hardly bothers to pack him with any straw at all. The mystery is why one of them continues to have adherents and defenders.

Edited by Ninth Doctor

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[Kelley goes to the trouble of providing quotes and citations, thus building a case, while Peikoff demolishes a straw man, and hardly bothers to pack him with any straw at all. The mystery is why one of them continues to have adherents and defenders.

Although I did transcribe the entire response that Dr. Peikoff gave on those two related questions, my point in doing so was not to get into the dispute as such, but to show — given that this discussion has been on identifying just what it means to say that a philosophy is open or closed — at least in part, just what Dr. Peikoff himself means by a closed philosophical system in essence, namely, as he put it briefly in his first sentence:

"A closed system is a philosophy which is an interconnected system of principles which are immutable, which cannot tolerate any contradiction, otherwise the whole system is collapsed. That would be a closed system. If it is just a collection of different ideas that can stand or fall on their own, then it's "open," meaning it's not a system."

Makes sense to me.

I have no doubt that Dr. Peikoff could build a much better, more thorough case, against those who claim that Objectivism is an open system, whether you or anyone else would agree with him, but the context of that podcast was the particular questions and issue, not a debate with the advocates of an open system.

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just what Dr. Peikoff himself means by a closed philosophical system in essence, namely, as he put it briefly in his first sentence:

Yet he misrepresents his opponents, and makes no effort to establish the context in which the dispute arose. “It’s all subjective, it’s whatever you want”? What a steaming pile of crap.

I have no doubt that Dr. Peikoff could build a much better, more thorough case, against those who claim that Objectivism is an open system

He’d have to change his methods radically, if he planned to convince anyone familiar with the actual arguments of the other side. I grant you though, strawmen haven't got a chance against him.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wOKK8mAkiUI

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So you disagree with his description or definition of a closed philosophical system?

Edit: If you disagree with it, what part of it do you disagree with? For convenience, here's that simple statement:

"A closed system is a philosophy which is an interconnected system of principles which are immutable, which cannot tolerate any contradiction, otherwise the whole system is collapsed. That would be a closed system. If it is just a collection of different ideas that can stand or fall on their own, then it's "open," meaning it's not a system."

Edited by Trebor

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So you disagree with his description or definition of a closed philosophical system?

You want me to critique his definition of closed, but not his definition of open? These are metaphors, and each concept exists only because there is an opposite.

Let me ask you, how well does Peikoff's definition square with Kelley's exercise of "isolating the essence" of Objectivism?

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You want me to critique his definition of closed, but not his definition of open? These are metaphors, and each concept exists only because there is an opposite.

Well, he does identify both open and closed (philosophical systems) in that statement, but since the thrust is on the meaning of a closed philosophical system, yes, I'm asking what it is about that statement you disagree with.

Let me ask you, how well does Peikoff's definition square with Kelley's exercise of "isolating the essence" of Objectivism?

I listened to that audio [the one that Dante linked to in post #148, this one, assuming that's what you are referring to] yesterday, but in order to respond to your question, I would likely need to listen again. Off the cuff, I think they are two different issues. Peikoff identified, in simple terms that make sense to me, what he means, what it means, to be a closed philosophical system versus an open philosophical system, identify or describing or defining both closed and open philosophical systems within that brief statement.

The essence of Objectivism, isolated, would then be the essential principles which form an "interconnected system of principles which are immutable, which cannot tolerate any contradiction, otherwise the whole system is collapsed."

So, if you will answer, again, what about his statement do you disagree with?

Edit: Clarity

Edited by Trebor

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The essence of Objectivism, isolated, would then be the essential principles which form an "interconnected system of principles which are immutable, which cannot tolerate any contradiction, otherwise the whole system is collapsed."

So, if you will answer, again, what about his statement do you disagree with?

Again, if you don’t define "open" accurately you can’t define "closed". These are metaphorical images of opposite states, so one may as well contrast red with blue, while calling it black and white. It isn’t going to sway anyone who knows what white is.

However, it’s an interesting statement he makes, does it mean that any principle which, falsified, does not “collapse the system” is what? Not part of Objectivism? Does this mean that Ayn Rand’s definition of Art is not part of Objectivism? I’m interested if anyone will argue that the metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, and/or politics of Objectivism would collapse if a different view of esthetics were substituted. Say, Aristotle’s, or Pseudo-Longinus’s. I gather Peikoff does regard her esthetics as part of the system, since he included it in Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand.

Just what does “collapse the system” mean, anyway? Reason and Egoism are toast if it turns out that Government can’t be financed by voluntary means? Examples are needed. I suspect Peikoff is overreaching.

Kelley doesn’t define it quite this way. His “isolate the essence” exercise is about first stating the broad fundamentals, then determining what is distinctive in Rand’s thought. However, he does spend time on certain essential connections, so perhaps they’re not completely at odds with each other here. Note, however, that not for a second does Kelley deny that Objectivism has identity, Peikoff's charge “It’s all subjective, it’s whatever you want” should have one of those Wikipedia "citation please" notes next to it.

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Again, if you don’t define "open" accurately you can’t define "closed". These are metaphorical images of opposite states, so one may as well contrast red with blue, while calling it black and white. It isn’t going to sway anyone who knows what white is.

I understand and agree with your statement, the concepts of "open" and "closed" are mutually dependent. Define "open" and one defines "closed": define "closed" and one defines "open."

Is it your view that one must first define "open" accurately before one can define "closed"? Or would you agree that one can first define, or identify, either "open" or "closed" and then define the other?

Dr. Peikoff did define both a "closed philosophical system" and an "open philosophical system" in that brief statement. I'll restate it here for convenience:

"A closed system is a philosophy which is an interconnected system of principles which are immutable, which cannot tolerate any contradiction, otherwise the whole system is collapsed. That would be a closed system. If it is just a collection of different ideas that can stand or fall on their own, then it's "open," meaning it's not a system."

By implication, from Dr. Peikoff's statement, I could say: An open system of philosophy is a contradiction. It is not a philosophy; it is not a system of interconnected, immutable, non-contradictory principles; it is just a collection of principles that can stand or fall on their own.

I assume that it is not that you think that Dr. Peikoff has not defined "open" and "closed" philosophical systems, but that you disagree with his definitions or identifications of "open" and "closed" philosophies. If that's the case, then can we get beyond the statement that "open" and "closed" are "metaphorical images of opposites states" and elaborations on that consideration?

Correct me if you think otherwise, but I do, I believe, get your point. A child, for example, that hasn't grasped what a closed door is cannot grasp what an open door is and vice versa. Grasping the concept "closed" or "open" requires or implies the grasp of the concepts from which they are distinguished. "Life" vs "Death" "Freedom vs Slavery" "War vs Peace" Etc.

However, it’s an interesting statement he makes, does it mean that any principle which, falsified, does not “collapse the system” is what? Not part of Objectivism? Does this mean that Ayn Rand’s definition of Art is not part of Objectivism? I’m interested if anyone will argue that the metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, and/or politics of Objectivism would collapse if a different view of esthetics were substituted. Say, Aristotle’s, or Pseudo-Longinus’s. I gather Peikoff does regard her esthetics as part of the system, since he included it in Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand.

Just what does “collapse the system” mean, anyway? Reason and Egoism are toast if it turns out that Government can’t be financed by voluntary means? Examples are needed. I suspect Peikoff is overreaching.

Kelley doesn’t define it quite this way. His “isolate the essence” exercise is about first stating the broad fundamentals, then determining what is distinctive in Rand’s thought. However, he does spend time on certain essential connections, so perhaps they’re not completely at odds with each other here. Note, however, that not for a second does Kelley deny that Objectivism has identity, Peikoff's charge “It’s all subjective, it’s whatever you want” should have one of those Wikipedia "citation please" notes next to it.

Objectivism, the philosophy Miss Rand authored, is "a system of interconnected principles which are immutable, which cannot tolerate any contradiction, otherwise the whole system is collapsed." That's the meaning of stating that it is a "closed philosophical system."

Objectivism is a system of principles, not a collection of principles. Those principles are of necessity (to be a philosophy) interrelated and non-contradictory. If one part of a system fails, then the system fails. Crash! The system is invalid. Were the system invalid, then some of the principles may very well stand on their own, but the system no longer does. It will have been identified to be an invalid system as a system.

So, yes, if Miss Rand's definition of Art is inconsistent with the rest of her philosophy, then Objectivism fails as a system of philosophy.

And yes, if government cannot be financed voluntarily, if some initiation of the use of force by the government is required for its existence, then yes, Reason and Egoism are toast and Objectivism fails as a philosophy, as a system of system of interconnected, immutable, non-contradictory principles.

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We don't want to deal with the issues I've raised or the arguments I've made? We'd rather discuss Peikoff or Kelley, and try to figure out what they "really think"? Really? Okay then, let's get to it...

So you disagree with his description or definition of a closed philosophical system?

Edit: If you disagree with it, what part of it do you disagree with? For convenience, here's that simple statement:

"A closed system is a philosophy which is an interconnected system of principles which are immutable, which cannot tolerate any contradiction, otherwise the whole system is collapsed. That would be a closed system. If it is just a collection of different ideas that can stand or fall on their own, then it's "open," meaning it's not a system."

Is Objectivism an "interconnected system of principles"? Yes. Are those principles "immutable"? Yes. Can they "tolerate any contradiction"? (? What does this mean exactly? What would be doing the "tolerating" in this case?) I'll say this: I believe that there is no contradiction within Objectivism, once Objectivism is properly understood; this is why I am an Objectivist. There are no contradictions among Objectivism's principles. Would the system "collapse" if there were such a contradiction among the principles? Yes, absolutely. If one found a contradiction among Objectivism's principles, properly understood, then one should not (necessarily) abandon reason or rational self-interest or anything else, except one should abandon "Objectivism" as a system and then reassess the various points individually. For any Objectivist, this would be a major undertaking.

I can find no point on which to disagree with the Peikoff quote provided.

Here's "the problem." Peikoff's quote and his definitions do not appear to encompass the "Closed System" view as it has appeared to have developed in the Objectivist community. Moreover, it does not appear to argue against the "open system" that David Kelley (to my understanding) has argued for. This is especially problematic because the very terminology of "open" versus "closed" was developed in response to Kelley's statements and views; thus Peikoff's formulation should deal with Kelley's directly, and it does not.

However, it does take on a particular "Open System" view popular in the Objectivist community, which has increasingly begun to look like a straw man of Kelley's original views.

So, in summary, while I'll thus far say that Peikoff's statement appears uncontroversial, it does not seem to deal substantively with the actual issues raised either by David Kelley, or by the Objectivists in this very thread (both pro-Closed and anti-), or by me. Taking this statement of Leonard Peikoff's alone, I as-yet have no reason to believe that he, David Kelley, and myself don't actually all agree on the question of "what is Objectivism?" This leads me to believe that either the Objectivist community has been sold a large bill of goods through this debate, or Peikoff's quote does not get to the heart of the matter. (Or both.)

Edited by DonAthos

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We don't want to deal with the issues I've raised or the arguments I've made? We'd rather discuss Peikoff or Kelley, and try to figure out what they "really think"? Really? Okay then, let's get to it...

I apologize if I have hijacked or sidetracked the thread. I haven't read the entire thread in one go, but I have been keeping up with it. I simply thought that it might be helpful to actually have a statement of what a closed (and open) philosophy means as stated by Dr. Peikoff, knew that he had addressed it, and so I took the trouble to listen and transcribe his response and then post it. One thing led to another. I'll butt out if you prefer, with apology.

Is Objectivism an "interconnected system of principles"? Yes. Are those principles "immutable"? Yes. Can they "tolerate any contradiction"? (? What does this mean exactly? What would be doing the "tolerating" in this case?) I'll say this: I believe that there is no contradiction within Objectivism, once Objectivism is properly understood; this is why I am an Objectivist. There are no contradictions among Objectivism's principles. Would the system "collapse" if there were such a contradiction among the principles? Yes, absolutely. If one found a contradiction among Objectivism's principles, properly understood, then one should not (necessarily) abandon reason or rational self-interest or anything else, except one should abandon "Objectivism" as a system and then reassess the various points individually. For any Objectivist, this would be a major undertaking.

Given what you've said, I don't understand why you ask: 'Can they [the principles of Objectivism] "tolerate any contradiction"? (? What does this mean exactly? What would be doing the "tolerating" in this case?)' You seem to have answered your question. A system with contradictions fails as a system, just as does a simple, contradictory statement.

I also do not understand why "For any Objectivist, this would be a major undertaking" should one discover that Objectivism fails as a system due to the discovery of a contradiction among Objectivism's principles. It would not be like all is lost; in fact it would be a gain, the discovery of truth. I can't see that as requiring a major undertaking unless one is committed to Objectivism in spite of truth.

I can find no point on which to disagree with the Peikoff quote provided.

Here's "the problem." Peikoff's quote and his definitions do not appear to encompass the "Closed System" view as it has appeared to have developed in the Objectivist community. Moreover, it does not appear to argue against the "open system" that David Kelley (to my understanding) has argued for. This is especially problematic because the very terminology of "open" versus "closed" was developed in response to Kelley's statements and views; thus Peikoff's formulation should deal with Kelley's directly, and it does not.

However, it does take on a particular "Open System" view popular in the Objectivist community, which has increasingly begun to look like a straw man of Kelley's original views.

So, in summary, while I'll thus far say that Peikoff's statement appears uncontroversial, it does not seem to deal substantively with the actual issues raised either by David Kelley, or by the Objectivists in this very thread (both pro-Closed and anti-), or by me. Taking this statement of Leonard Peikoff's alone, I as-yet have no reason to believe that he, David Kelley, and myself don't actually all agree on the question of "what is Objectivism?" This leads me to believe that either the Objectivist community has been sold a large bill of goods through this debate, or Peikoff's quote does not get to the heart of the matter.

I'm not sure what to say in response. I will have to read again and more on the conflict, as well as this whole thread, in order to identify what the "heart of the matter" is; then perhaps I may have something to offer.

Given that you say that 'Peikoff's quote and his definitions do not appear to encompass the "Closed System" view as it has appeared to have developed in the Objectivist community," will you please either point to or state succinctly just what that "Closed System' view is?

Edited by Trebor

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I apologize if I have hijacked or sidetracked the thread. I haven't read the entire thread in one go, but I have been keeping up with it. I simply thought that it might be helpful to actually have a statement of what a closed (and open) philosophy means as stated by Dr. Peikoff, knew that he had addressed it, and so I took the trouble to listen and transcribe his response and then post it. One thing led to another. I'll butt out if you prefer, with apology.

I can't expect you to have read the entire thread in one go -- my verbosity makes it sadly impossible. And I would greatly prefer if you didn't butt out. I am eager to engage with intelligent individuals on these issues! The trouble that you've taken in your transcription is much appreciated, though, as my "analysis" suggests, I'm not sure that the substance of Peikoff's statement really adds much to the ongoing discussion. Which is disappointing and counter-intuitive given who he is, and given the common understanding as to the origin of this debate... but what can I say?

As to one thing leading to another, I completely understand. I admit to some growing frustration, because I feel as though there are specific issues that I'd like to try to resolve (and what's more, I now believe that they are resolvable), but I have rarely felt engaged by others on those specific issues, which I've gone to some length to try to define. I sometimes suspect that people would rather argue about specific personalities and histories, rather than ideas. But no matter. We're talking about ideas now -- aren't we? -- and that's really all that I ask.

Given what you've said, I don't understand why you ask: 'Can they [the principles of Objectivism] "tolerate any contradiction"? (? What does this mean exactly? What would be doing the "tolerating" in this case?)' You seem to have answered your question. A system with contradictions fails as a system, just as does a simple, contradictory statement.

The use of language is important to me. Not for its own sake -- I care about the meaning far more -- but still, I know that Peikoff is intelligent, and I expect that he's (generally) careful in his phrasing. When I hear the word "tolerate" in conjunction with a philosophy, it just leads to a bit of confusion on my part, because I don't normally think of a philosophy as having a consciousness in the way that I normally would think of something which "tolerates" or does not "tolerate" something else. My initial inclination is to respond: "a person can tolerate or not tolerate a contradiction; a philosophy, which may or may not be internally consistent, does neither." I recognize that "tolerate" can fairly be used the way that Peikoff does here, just as a bridge can only tolerate a certain load, but on my initial read it produces the reaction in me that I've tried to describe. It's possible that this is only my issue (and not a big one), and no one else's.

As to why I've asked that question when I also appear to have answered it, the reason is because I was approaching the Peikoff quote a bit at a time and producing my responses as they came to me, as honestly as I could. I asked myself the question prior to arriving at the answer that I did, and I wanted to preserve a bit of my thought processes here for examination.

But as for the important stuff, I believe that we can count ourselves agreed: a system with contradictions fails as a system. If a person is an Objectivist, he must hold that Objectivism is a system without contradiction. If he believes that there are contradictions within Objectivism, then he ought not be an Objectivist.

I also do not understand why "For any Objectivist, this would be a major undertaking" should one discover that Objectivism fails as a system due to the discovery of a contradiction among Objectivism's principles. It would not be like all is lost; in fact it would be a gain, the discovery of truth. I can't see that as requiring a major undertaking unless one is committed to Objectivism in spite of truth.

As one (minor?) observation, but if there is a contradiction among Objectivism's principles (which, remember, is the pre-condition for this "major undertaking"), then wouldn't the Objectivist's commitment to Objectivism necessarily be "in spite of truth"?

Anyways, I believe that it is the nature of a contradiction (between, let's say, A and not-A) that it guarantees us that either A is correct or not-A is correct. However, it does not tell us which is which. And so, should the system of Objectivism collapse due to a contradiction, the Objectivist would have to re-evaluate all of the specifics of his personal philosophy to determine which were valid and which faulty. And that sounds fairly major to me.

As a personal anecdote, in my youth I was friends with a fundamentalist Christian. She eventually rejected the Church. Over time, I found that her personality and beliefs changed wildly -- her morality, her tastes, everything. Eventually I realized that her commitment to Christianity was far more than simply particular views on the question of "did Christ turn water into wine?" or things like that. Her Christian beliefs had been so fundamental to her philosophy, as such, that when her system crumbled, no part of it was immediately salvageable. She had to justify each belief anew. While I wouldn't count that process as anything other than, as you say, "a gain, the discovery of truth," it was still a major undertaking.

I'm not sure what to say in response. I will have to read again and more on the conflict, as well as this whole thread, in order to identify what the "heart of the matter" is; then perhaps I may have something to offer.

I'll be here. ;)

Given that you say that 'Peikoff's quote and his definitions do not appear to encompass the "Closed System" view as it has appeared to have developed in the Objectivist community," will you please either point to or state succinctly just what that "Closed System' view is?

I am not yet fully convinced that there is one consistent "Closed System" view, which is part of the difficulty we all have in discussing these matters. However, I did try to examine that view, as expressed by its seeming proponents, in this post.

For your convenience, here is one quote from that post which I believe is the most succinct demonstration of the view to which I refer:

From the policies of the Harry Binswanger list:

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--though they are to be encouraged and will be discussed on my list--are not, even if entirely valid, part of Objectivism.

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By coincidence I was also going to use Don Athos' "sold a large bill of goods" metaphor - and he's beaten me to it.:thumbsup:

I think the 'closed/open dichotomy' this generation of Objectivists has been presented with, as questionable at the very least. Far more accurate would have been the description: 'closed/ open-ENDED' debate.

Surely - and I may be wrong - it was Kelley's intention to expand the essential principles, with which he is in absolute agreement ( to the best of my knowledge) towards what I can only call a 'second tier' of principles. Of which 'benevolence as major virtue' for one is potentially a part? Nothing contradictory here.

Also, let us not lose sight of the fact that by Rand's own concession, the philosophy is not quite completed. I read academics mention the epistemology and the ethics, as example.

(btw, while I think Peikoff's definition in Trebor's supplied quote is excellent so far as it goes, I don't think he addressed the full context of the debate in it, either.)

Well before 'applications' of the philosophy are tackled, I can't see any other option but that the task for Objectivist scholars will continue for a long while...

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Dr. Peikoff did define both a "closed philosophical system" and an "open philosophical system" in that brief statement. I'll restate it here for convenience:

"A closed system is a philosophy which is an interconnected system of principles which are immutable, which cannot tolerate any contradiction, otherwise the whole system is collapsed. That would be a closed system. If it is just a collection of different ideas that can stand or fall on their own, then it's "open," meaning it's not a system."

"Open" and "closed" are redundant in this paragraph. If the meaning of open is that there is no system, then the only real distinction to be made is that there are systems and non-systems. Systems are composed of tightly interrelated parts and non-systems are composed of parts not tightly interrelated or not related at all.

Getting back to basics, the reason the word "open" came to be used in relation to Objectivism is by regarding Objectivism as a concept, and concepts are open-ended in referencing to yet unknown particulars as instances of the concept. By implication, "closed" would not refer to any additional particulars.

If Peikoff himself refers to his own particular work on induction as Objectivism, then he is implicitly regarding Objectivism as an open-ended concept. Attempting to "close" Objectivism (or any concept) against only contradictory additions is redundant to the roles of the definition and essence as described in ITOE.

The open vs. closed debate is just so much obscuring fog. The real dispute is over whether or not Kelley contradicts Objectivism in some way in his work on benevolence. Identifying that contradiction is enough to defend the integrity of Objectivism as a system. By the same standard, if there is no identifiable contradiction and there is implication then the integration into the system ought to be made. The complete the analysis, the last possibility is that there is no contradiction and no implication. Then we would have a potentially valuable work of philosophy by an Objectivist philosopher which is not part of Objectivism. Even merely making the case that Kelley's work is nonessential to and not implied by Rand's Objectivism would be enough to keep it outside of that system without appealing to any "closure" argument.

Regarding Objectivism as the fixed set of principles enumerated by Ayn Rand (and other authors in periodicals edited by her) makes the author the essential rather than the inter-relatedness of the system's principles and the logic of implication. There are contexts (citations in academic work) wherein that is the proper essential. The system context is how Ayn Rand herself thought of it and by naming her system she objectified it, she separated it and made it distinct from her person and her other thoughts. Objectivity with all that presupposes and implies is the essence of Objectivism and it ought to be treated differently, more objectively, than we treat the work of other philosophers.

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...I admit to some growing frustration, because I feel as though there are specific issues that I'd like to try to resolve (and what's more, I now believe that they are resolvable), but I have rarely felt engaged by others on those specific issues, which I've gone to some length to try to define. I sometimes suspect that people would rather argue about specific personalities and histories, rather than ideas. But no matter. We're talking about ideas now -- aren't we? -- and that's really all that I ask.

Speaking for myself, it's not that I wouldn't rather be discussing ideas than people, it's simply that I think you've made a compelling and thorough case, and reading through it all a few times I have found no point of contention from which to generate a discussion. The only contribution that did jump out at me was the opportunity to correct a characterization of the different sides of the debate, even though I understand that's secondary to your main objective.

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I can't expect you to have read the entire thread in one go -- my verbosity makes it sadly impossible. And I would greatly prefer if you didn't butt out. I am eager to engage with intelligent individuals on these issues! The trouble that you've taken in your transcription is much appreciated, though, as my "analysis" suggests, I'm not sure that the substance of Peikoff's statement really adds much to the ongoing discussion. Which is disappointing and counter-intuitive given who he is, and given the common understanding as to the origin of this debate... but what can I say?

Thank you. I will be reading the entire thread, and, although I did read the main essays that came out, from opposing sides, when this conflict arose back when, it's been awhile, so I plan on reading those articles again, and others, basically starting with "An Open Letter to the Ayn Rand Institute" which has a helpful list of related articles at the end. Problem is, several of those links no longer work. For the convenience of anyone else interested, I've updated that list with the correct URLs:

Robert Bidinotto - Facts, Values and Moral Sanctions: An Open Letter to Objectivists

Bennett Karp - Reintroducing the Measurements: An Old Fallacy with a New Name

David Kelley - A Question of Sanction

David Kelley - The Contested Legacy of Ayn Rand: Truth and Toleration in Objectivism (Excerpts 2, 3, and 4). [i have no idea what the excerpts were, so the link is to the entire paper by Kelley, a PDF]

Kirsti Minsaas - An Open Letter to Harry Binswanger

Leonard Peikoff - Fact and Value

Peter Schwartz - Libertarianism: The Perversion of Liberty in The Voice of Reason: Essays in Objectivist Thought (not available on-line)

Peter Schwartz - On Moral Sanctions

Robert Tracinski - Notes On A Question of Sanction

As to one thing leading to another....

I understand.

But as for the important stuff, I believe that we can count ourselves agreed: a system with contradictions fails as a system. If a person is an Objectivist, he must hold that Objectivism is a system without contradiction. If he believes that there are contradictions within Objectivism, then he ought not be an Objectivist.

I agree. Perhaps because I am not a professional philosopher, the issue seems minor to me. I'm not fundamentally committed to Objectivism, but to the truth. Were I to conclude that Objectivism is in error, I would leave it behind. That's a more difficult undertaking if one has one's life and livelihood bound to the philosophy as an intellectual.

As one (minor?) observation, but if there is a contradiction among Objectivism's principles (which, remember, is the pre-condition for this "major undertaking"), then wouldn't the Objectivist's commitment to Objectivism necessarily be "in spite of truth"?

Yes, but I thought that I had said the same thing.

Anyways, I believe that it is the nature of a contradiction (between, let's say, A and not-A) that it guarantees us that either A is correct or not-A is correct. However, it does not tell us which is which. And so, should the system of Objectivism collapse due to a contradiction, the Objectivist would have to re-evaluate all of the specifics of his personal philosophy to determine which were valid and which faulty. And that sounds fairly major to me.

I did not give a lot of thought to what I said. However, again without too much thought, I think that whether or not it would be a major undertaking would depend on how one holds Objectivism. If all along one's way in gaining understanding of Objectivism and accepting it, as and when one has become convinced that it is true, via induction from concretes, then all of that knowledge remains, but one has to deal with the discovery of a contradiction to the system. The system breaks - assuming the discovery of some contradictory principle of Objectivism - but all else remains. Perhaps I'm wrong and haven't given it enough thought, but I do think that is a significant difference. If there's a contradiction and the system collapses, then one has to then find a resolution to the contradiction, rejecting Objectivism as a failed system, but then integrate everything back into a non-contradictory system, what one previously knew along with the resolution to the discovered contradiction. I personally don't see how this can happen; I think that Objectivism is integrated and consistent. (If one has accepted Objectivism on authority, say, which I think is rather impossible, then if the system breaks, all is lost. One has lost one's faith, as it were.)

As a personal anecdote, in my youth I was friends with a fundamentalist Christian. She eventually rejected the Church. Over time, I found that her personality and beliefs changed wildly -- her morality, her tastes, everything. Eventually I realized that her commitment to Christianity was far more than simply particular views on the question of "did Christ turn water into wine?" or things like that. Her Christian beliefs had been so fundamental to her philosophy, as such, that when her system crumbled, no part of it was immediately salvageable. She had to justify each belief anew. While I wouldn't count that process as anything other than, as you say, "a gain, the discovery of truth," it was still a major undertaking.

I do understand this. And this, I think, is the difference (indicated in my point just above). If one has accepted a wrong philosophy, then one has a lot of work to do, getting rid of the bad ideas and replacing them with correct ideas and ultimately an integrated philosophy.

I'll be here. ;)
I'll try not to muddy the waters.

I am not yet fully convinced that there is one consistent "Closed System" view, which is part of the difficulty we all have in discussing these matters. However, I did try to examine that view, as expressed by its seeming proponents, in this post.

For your convenience, here is one quote from that post which I believe is the most succinct demonstration of the view to which I refer:

From the policies of the Harry Binswanger list:

Thank you for the links.

Edited by Trebor

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"Open" and "closed" are redundant in this paragraph. If the meaning of open is that there is no system, then the only real distinction to be made is that there are systems and non-systems. Systems are composed of tightly interrelated parts and non-systems are composed of parts not tightly interrelated or not related at all.

I agree. I used those phrases in quotes aware of what you've pointed out, but given the context of the discussion on just what "open" and "closed" refer to with respect to Objectivism, it seemed sensible at the time. But, again, I agree. And, for now, I basically agree that there's no such thing as an "open philosophical system." Either one has a system or one doesn't. But again, in this context of this discussion on whether or not Objectivism is "open" or "closed," it seems that one has to investigate what an "open philosophical system" would be given that some claim that Objectivism is or should be an open system.

Getting back to basics....

I'll have to give this more thought.

The open vs. closed debate is just so much obscuring fog. The real dispute is over whether or not Kelley contradicts Objectivism in some way in his work on benevolence. Identifying that contradiction is enough to defend the integrity of Objectivism as a system. By the same standard, if there is no identifiable contradiction and there is implication then the integration into the system ought to be made. The complete the analysis, the last possibility is that there is no contradiction and no implication. Then we would have a potentially valuable work of philosophy by an Objectivist philosopher which is not part of Objectivism. Even merely making the case that Kelley's work is nonessential to and not implied by Rand's Objectivism would be enough to keep it outside of that system without appealing to any "closure" argument.

I tend to agree. A question occurred to me a few minutes ago. Although I've yet to reread the main articles from when this dispute began (and other articles I intend to read), off the top of my head, why would benevolence be considered a virtue? Rationality is a virtue, and it's always good to be rational. But is it always good to be benevolent? Are there not times when it would be virtuous to be vicious? If that's the case, although I realize I'm perhaps grossly misunderstand this whole conflict, then it seems that it would be a mistake to try to add benevolence as one of the virtues of Objectivism, and that is not considering any other issues as to the appropriateness of adding anything to Objectivism.

Regarding Objectivism as the fixed set of principles enumerated by Ayn Rand (and other authors in periodicals edited by her) makes the author the essential rather than the inter-relatedness of the system's principles and the logic of implication. There are contexts (citations in academic work) wherein that is the proper essential. The system context is how Ayn Rand herself thought of it and by naming her system she objectified it, she separated it and made it distinct from her person and her other thoughts. Objectivity with all that presupposes and implies is the essence of Objectivism and it ought to be treated differently, more objectively, than we treat the work of other philosophers.

Thank you. I have to give this more thought as well.

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So, yes, if Miss Rand's definition of Art is inconsistent with the rest of her philosophy, then Objectivism fails as a system of philosophy.

And yes, if government cannot be financed voluntarily, if some initiation of the use of force by the government is required for its existence, then yes, Reason and Egoism are toast and Objectivism fails as a philosophy, as a system of system of interconnected, immutable, non-contradictory principles.

Wow. I’ve got to say, I wasn’t expecting that answer. I’ll try to weigh in again tomorrow. It’s great to have a long weekend. cheers.gif

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[To] complete the analysis, the last possibility is that there is no contradiction and no implication. Then we would have a potentially valuable work of philosophy by an Objectivist philosopher which is not part of Objectivism.

Just out of curiosity, but if this were so -- an actual possibility -- then do you think that would call into question the idea that Objectivism is a "full philosophical system"? The way I take Rand's meaning with that phrase is that Objectivism (in the manner proper to a full philosophical system) should ultimately address everything properly philosophical -- a guide to the totality of man's thought and actions. (Consider her quote on the nature and purpose of philosophy, which I provided in an earlier post.) And if that were so, and if she were right about the fundamentality of Objectivism's essential concepts, then as a matter of principle I don't think that there could be philosophy non-contradictory (in full) to Objectivism that was not Objectivism.

I expect that every philosophical position will ultimately contradict Objectivism somewheres... or be Objectivism, itself.

Speaking for myself, it's not that I wouldn't rather be discussing ideas than people, it's simply that I think you've made a compelling and thorough case, and reading through it all a few times I have found no point of contention from which to generate a discussion. The only contribution that did jump out at me was the opportunity to correct a characterization of the different sides of the debate, even though I understand that's secondary to your main objective.

I have to tell you, this brought a smile to my face. There have been times where I've wondered whether anyone was following along, or whether my arguments were compelling (or hell, intelligible) to anyone other than myself. So, anyways, thank you for replying to say this.

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In looking for more information online on the issue/dispute — "open" vs "closed" philosophy/Objectivism — I've found a couple of sources that others may find helpful as well:

Michael Stuart Kelly on 8/19/2006 on Objectivist Living posted:

"Selective timeline and links of the Kelley-Peikoff schism"

Roderick Fitts posted on his own blog, "Inductive Quest," in March of 2010, a two-part discussion:

"Closed vs. Open Part 1: Introduction, and the Issues"

"Part 2: The History of the Dispute, and the Closed and Open Systems"

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Just out of curiosity, but if this were so -- an actual possibility -- then do you think that would call into question the idea that Objectivism is a "full philosophical system"? The way I take Rand's meaning with that phrase is that Objectivism (in the manner proper to a full philosophical system) should ultimately address everything properly philosophical -- a guide to the totality of man's thought and actions. (Consider her quote on the nature and purpose of philosophy, which I provided in an earlier post.) And if that were so, and if she were right about the fundamentality of Objectivism's essential concepts, then as a matter of principle I don't think that there could be philosophy non-contradictory (in full) to Objectivism that was not Objectivism.

I expect that every philosophical position will ultimately contradict Objectivism somewheres... or be Objectivism, itself.

Possessing a firm grasp of a fundamental is not enough to deduce everything to which that fundamental relates. A fundamental will relate to some new knowledge deductively, but most new knowledge will require an inductive joining of the principle with new observations. Deduction reveals what is implicit within what is already known, so it makes sense to use the concept of Objectivism to refer to all that is implied as well as what was made explicit by Rand. The line between what is implicit and what is not is the furthest extent of the borderline between what is Objectivism and what is not.

Boydstun brought up the issue of implication as the standard in post #144, and gave examples from physics. It is wrong to make the fallacious conversion "Newton's system is physics, therefore physics is Newton's system." It is equally wrong to go from "Objectivism is philosophy" to "Philosophy is Objectivism".

Another contrast to keep in mind is that between systems and comprehensiveness. Systems are abstractions in the form of essentials and fundamentals and are primarily methodological, the opposite of comprehensiveness which addresses all particulars. Objectivism is a full system in making fundamental identifications in all of the branches of philosophy, not by comprehensively specifying a correct position (a dogma) on every philosophical topic.

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Possessing a firm grasp of a fundamental is not enough to deduce everything to which that fundamental relates.

I agree.

A fundamental will relate to some new knowledge deductively, but most new knowledge will require an inductive joining of the principle with new observations.

Yes. But I think we would be wrong to remove the possibility for such induction from Objectivism, i.e. a "full philosophical system."

Deduction reveals what is implicit within what is already known, so it makes sense to use the concept of Objectivism to refer to all that is implied as well as what was made explicit by Rand. The line between what is implicit and what is not is the furthest extent of the borderline between what is Objectivism and what is not.

I believe that this is incorrect. The borderline between what is Objectivism and what is not is that which is fully consistent with the essentials of Objectivism, not alone what is "implied" by them.

Boydstun brought up the issue of implication as the standard in post #144, and gave examples from physics.

Boydstun did bring that up, and I did respond to him in this manner:

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.

Boydstun has not as yet replied to this, but as you have brought the subject matter back, it seems like I was right in my initial take on the issues involved. Objectivism is, per Rand, a "full philosophical system," and regarding philosophy, in Rand's words: "Philosophy is the science that studies the fundamental aspects of the nature of existence. The task of philosophy is to provide man with a comprehensive view of life." If Objectivism as a philosophy can accomplish this -- if it can "provide a man with a comprehensive view of life" -- then surely it has a position with respect to Kelley's claims on benevolence, and every other philosophical claim.

It is wrong to make the fallacious conversion "Newton's system is physics, therefore physics is Newton's system." It is equally wrong to go from "Objectivism is philosophy" to "Philosophy is Objectivism".

Yes, it is wrong to do those things. I am not doing those things. I am not claiming that "Philosophy is Objectivism." I am instead claiming that a full philosophical system (such as Objectivism) will ultimately have a position on every philosophical topic, if one "understands, defines, proves and applies" the concepts essential and fundamental to the various branches of philosophy with total consistency. This a philosophy must do if it is to be certain to "guide the course of your life."

Another contrast to keep in mind is that between systems and comprehensiveness. Systems are abstractions in the form of essentials and fundamentals and are primarily methodological, the opposite of comprehensiveness which addresses all particulars. Objectivism is a full system in making fundamental identifications in all of the branches of philosophy, not by comprehensively specifying a correct position (a dogma) on every philosophical topic.

These fundamental identifications, however, will necessarily lead to certain positions on every philosophical topic... if they are "understood, defined, proved and applied." And yes, in that way, Objectivism will be comprehensive. (Again note Rand's language: "The task of philosophy is to provide man with a comprehensive view of life." Her use of "comprehensive" was not in error.) The question is not "will Objectivism have something to say on X given philosophical topic?" But "what is the Objectivist position with respect to X given philosophical topic"? My answer is: "whatever position is fully consistent with the essential concepts of Objectivism." This is in contrast to other possible answers such as "whatever Ayn Rand said it was," or, "whatever is reasonable."

While we understand a concept according to its essentials and fundamentals, that does not mean that the particulars cease to exist or cease to be relevant. Objectivism is not its essential concepts alone. Objectivism is its position with respect to every possible philosophical topic, whether or not those positions have formally been identified, discovered, or understood.

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Yes. But I think we would be wrong to remove the possibility for such induction from Objectivism, i.e. a "full philosophical system."

If everything true in philosophy is Objectivism no matter how it is discovered then that is asserting that "philosophy is Objectivism". If implication is the standard then deduction is the standard, and induction and what is newly discovered inductively is ruled out of Objectivism.

Circling back around to my previous post, I find that there is a real sense in which Objectivism qua system and Objectivism qua Ayn Rand as author are the same: only Ayn Rand could expand the system of Objectivism inductively.

I believe that this is incorrect. The borderline between what is Objectivism and what is not is that which is fully consistent with the essentials of Objectivism, not alone what is "implied" by them.

All truths are consistent with each other. If you accept the essentials of Objectivism as true then the whole universe is consistent with the essentials of Objectivism, so consistency is no borderline at all.

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