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Objectivism: "Closed" system

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If everything true in philosophy is Objectivism no matter how it is discovered then that is asserting that "philosophy is Objectivism".

This is all starting to get a touch too abstract for my tastes (though I promise I'll come around to this quote again). For now, let me reintroduce the context in which this discussion found its genesis (emphasis added):

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.

The context is David Kelley's work on benevolence, the subject matter of which I would surmise as falling within the realm of "ethics."

Ayn Rand, via Objectivism, purported to create a "full system of philosophy," the purpose of which being to "to provide man with a comprehensive view of life." She defined certain concepts as being "essential" to her system -- one for each of the branches of philosophy -- including for ethics and for those disciplines upon which a theory of ethics rests, metaphysics and epistemology.

It cannot be that Ayn Rand succeeded in her pursuit, yet her philosophy does not encompass some philosophical position with respect to Kelley's "benevolence." The details of Kelley's theory are irrelevant to my claim, the question of "implication" doesn't matter, and neither does a dichotomy between deduction and induction. Either Kelley's work is fully consistent with Rand's fundamentals or it is not; in the former case it is Objectivist and in the latter case it is not.

It is "either/or" here because we are treating Objectivism as a "full system," providing man with a "comprehensive view of life." "Benevolence" is not outside of ethics, let alone life, and thus does not escape Objectivism's purview. The only other case a person could make here is that Ayn Rand failed in creating a "full system of philosophy." With respect to the present case, the argument would also have to maintain that either she failed to define her ethics according to essentials, or that there is some inconsistency between her ethics and her metaphysics and/or epistemology, or both. But any of those conclusions would entail the failure of Objectivism as a system, and, should we so conclude, we shouldn't be Objectivists.

If implication is the standard then deduction is the standard, and induction and what is newly discovered inductively is ruled out of Objectivism.

If what is "newly discovered" is ruled out of Objectivism, then Objectivism is in no way a "full system." Is it? And it would certainly fail to provide a "comprehensive view of life." Wouldn't it? And Rand could not say for certain that "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." Could she? How could that system -- or any system ever -- be assured "to guide the course of your life" if it could not take into account "what is newly discovered"?

But how can Objectivism fail so, if it correctly provides essential concepts to form the base of every branch of philosophy? I've mentioned before, and I'll reiterate now, that I don't know that any given philosophical position could be "fully consistent with" but not ultimately "implied by" Rand's essential concepts. If Rand has correctly identified the essential concepts fundamental to every branch of philosophy, then how could any higher-up concepts possibly escape some form of "implication"?

Where induction itself is concerned -- an area of epistemology, I believe -- suppose there were a method of induction which was fully consistent with (and if you insist, "implied by") Rand's essential concepts (as I believe Leonard Peikoff would maintain, given that he claims to have an "Objectivist solution" to induction). Would the results of those inductions performed through this Objectivist method thus be Objectivist?

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 disagree. Whatever road Rand traveled is available to anyone else. And if new inductions or integrations or deductions or what-have-you are available, they can even possibly travel further down that same road.

Remember that the ultimate purpose of philosophy is to provide a man with "a comprehensive view of life"; "a base, a frame of reference, for all his actions, mental or physical, psychological or existential", "[telling] 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."

By divorcing induction from deduction as you say, you would make the same mistake the "Closed System" advocates do: you would force a man to stop from a final integration of all of his internally consistent views -- the ability to sum his outlook on life into one coherent philosophy. And why? Because some of his views involve "induction" whereas others were formed "deductively"? This is not an essential difference and it serves him no purpose.

If everything true in philosophy is Objectivism no matter how it is discovered then that is asserting that "philosophy is Objectivism".

[...]

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.

Ultimately, I guess you're kind of right. And kind of wrong. But not at the same time and in the same respect. Uh, let me explain...

I define Objectivism according to Rand's essential concepts. It is a full system of philosophy; it has a position with respect to every possible philosophical topic (though not all have been written down or otherwise discovered). And because I accept Rand's essential concepts, I also accept everything which is fully consistent with them. And yes, because I believe Rand's essential concepts to be true, I hold everything fully consistent with them to be equally true. In this way -- in this specific context -- I do believe that "everything true in philosophy is Objectivism." This is, in fact, what I mean when I say that I am "an Objectivist."

This is not the same as to assert that "philosophy is Objectivism." It can only appear so to someone who has already accepted these essential concepts; that is, to an Objectivist (to whom, as a matter of personal outlook on life, philosophy is Objectivism). But there still exist, and always will, other ways of approaching philosophy. Other essential concepts which run contrary to Rand's. A person can always be a Kantian, for instance, or at least use that model to contrast his own views. Kantian philosophy is incorrect, of course, though the Kantian would not agree. To the Kantian, ultimately philosophy is Kantianism. (That a word?)

What distinguishes Objectivism from Kantianism, per philosophy, is not "one is true and one is false"; what distinguishes them are their particular views with respect to the branches of philosophy -- their positions on every topic, as defined by their essential concepts. If you believe that "the whole universe is consistent with the essentials of Objectivism," then that doesn't collapse Objectivism into philosophy, rendering it indistinguishable from Kantianism... nor does it mean that you're unable to engage in deduction or induction in a manner fully consistent with the fundamentals of Objectivism and thereby discover or formulate new Objectivist positions... It just means that you're an Objectivist.

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... 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.

Well, yes, fair comment.

My reading is that the crux was not initially 'benevolence' as such, but the question of 'judgmentalism'.

(A potted history: Kelley hob-nobbed with some Libertarians; Piekoff gave him the boot; Kelley came back with his "Truth and Toleration" book.)

In it DK - while completely concurring with Rand's precept of "Judge, and be prepared to be judged", questions the purpose of judging, its efficacy, its complexity, immediacy, and potential inaccuracy. Motivation and consequences, also to be considered.

In essence ( as I understand it) the complete methodology of evaluation.

He writes "Judgment requires thought." And goes on to analyze the thinking needed.

He criticizes LP's explicit judgmentalism as moral intrincism, (ouch!) and as being very often, unnecessary..

(As he says, jokingly - roughly from memory - "does one need to know the number of hairs in Plato's beard, or the blades of grass on Peikoff's lawn?")

and:

"it is intrincism to maintain that the moral status of an action or a person is self-evident, like a perceptual judgment."

Anyway, I don't have the ability to do his comprehensive book justice. I strongly recommend those who haven't, to read it. It's availably in entirety at OL, in the David Kelley Corner.

The questions I think we have to ask are - Was this misrepresentation or misunderstanding of Rand's 'Judgmentalism' by either party? Could it be only a question of degree of difference between the two philosophers? Whose approach is moral and practical, ie rational? Is DK's body of work anything more than a logical extension of Objectivist principles?

Why then the rift, this "Open and Closed"?

Storm in a tea-cup, red herring, or a genuine and critical moral dilemma that can't be resolved?

Judge for yourself after reading T'nT.

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Well, yes, fair comment.

My reading is that the crux was not initially 'benevolence' as such, but the question of 'judgmentalism'.

Thank you, WhyNOT, for addressing my off the cuff comment about benevolence as supposedly a virtue that belongs in Objectivism.

I still have yet to read all that I intend to read on this conflict, however it did occur to me that any concern about the virtuousness of benevolence is subsumed by the virtue of justice, which, unlike benevolence, covers the gamut of attitudes and approaches one might take towards others. At times justice would require benevolence, at times it would require ruthless hostility, etc.

To posit benevolence as a virtue itself, however, when at times it would be virtuous to not be benevolent — unless, for instance, one wants to claim that killing in self-defense, even if it requires ruthless hostility, is actually a benevolent act towards a violent attacker ("he'll thank me in the next life" perhaps) — requires positing that non-benevolence (ruthless hostility) be included as a virtue as well. Both benevolence and non-benevolence (ruthless hostility) would be required additions to the virtues held by Objectivism. That is a needless, confusing, supposed refinement of the virtues of Objectivism.

"My morality, the morality of reason, is contained in a single axiom: existence exists—and in a single choice: to live. The rest proceeds from these. To live, man must hold three things as the supreme and ruling values of his life: Reason—Purpose—Self-esteem. Reason, as his only tool of knowledge—Purpose, as his choice of the happiness which that tool must proceed to achieve—Self-esteem, as his inviolate certainty that his mind is competent to think and his person is worthy of happiness, which means: is worthy of living. These three values imply and require all of man’s virtues, and all his virtues pertain to the relation of existence and consciousness: rationality, independence, integrity, honesty, justice, productiveness, pride." - Galt's Speech [Virtue]

The virtues of Objectivism are universal and always valid. There is no context in which, if one wants to and chooses to live, one should eschew rationality, independence, integrity, honesty, justice, productiveness, pride, etc. ["Jesus, take the Wheel"], even if, due to different contexts, the implementation of those virtues, the pursuit of rational values (Reason, Purpose, Self-Esteem), requires quite different, even contrary (due to contrary contexts), actions. Productivity, for example, is a virtue, but that does not mean that a slave is being non-virtuous if he refuses to be as productive as he possibly could for the sake of his masters ("Yes sir, master, sir.") but instead attempts to escape his enslavement.

Judge for yourself after reading T'nT.

Yes, that's my plan.

Edited by Trebor

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Thank you, WhyNOT, for addressing my off the cuff comment about benevolence as supposedly a virtue that belongs in Objectivism.

I still have yet to read all that I intend to read on this conflict, however it did occur to me that any concern about the virtuousness of benevolence is subsumed by the virtue of justice, which, unlike benevolence, covers the gamut of attitudes and approaches one might take towards others. At times justice would require benevolence, at times it would require ruthless hostility, etc.

To posit benevolence as a virtue itself, however, when at times it would be virtuous to not be benevolent — unless, for instance, one wants to claim that killing in self-defense, even if it requires ruthless hostility, is actually a benevolent act towards a violent attacker ("he'll thank me in the next life" perhaps) — requires positing that non-benevolence (ruthless hostility) be included as a virtue as well. Both benevolence and non-benevolence (ruthless hostility) would be required additions to the virtues held by Objectivism. That is a needless, confusing, supposed refinement of the virtues of Objectivism.

"My morality, the morality of reason, is contained in a single axiom: existence exists—and in a single choice: to live. The rest proceeds from these. To live, man must hold three things as the supreme and ruling values of his life: Reason—Purpose—Self-esteem. Reason, as his only tool of knowledge—Purpose, as his choice of the happiness which that tool must proceed to achieve—Self-esteem, as his inviolate certainty that his mind is competent to think and his person is worthy of happiness, which means: is worthy of living. These three values imply and require all of man’s virtues, and all his virtues pertain to the relation of existence and consciousness: rationality, independence, integrity, honesty, justice, productiveness, pride." - Galt's Speech [Virtue]

The virtues of Objectivism are universal and always valid. There is no context in which, if one wants to and chooses to live, one should eschew rationality, independence, integrity, honesty, justice, productiveness, pride, etc. ["Jesus, take the Wheel"], even if, due to different contexts, the implementation of those virtues, the pursuit of rational values (Reason, Purpose, Self-Esteem), requires quite different, even contrary (due to contrary contexts), actions. Productivity, for example, is a virtue, but that does not mean that a slave is being non-virtuous if he refuses to be as productive as he possibly could for the sake of his masters ("Yes sir, master, sir.") but instead attempts to escape his enslavement.

Trebor,

In all honesty I have to add that I am still searching for causes - and who knows, solutions - to this. It has only been 2 or 3 years since I even knew about the 'rift'. So the 'jury is still out'.

Which brings me round to your 'benevolence under justice'. (OK, Rand's actually.)

Rand used a few of those metaphors of courtroom and judgment, as you know. I think one was about the judge, jury, and executioner in one's mind.

Perhaps all that Kelley has done is to add the prosecuting attorney and defense lawyer.B)

Certainly, simply put, all he is advocating is to take one's time with judgment - not to rush to condemnation. That is the limit of his 'benevolence'. Past that, ruthlessness serves. So whether it should be a singular major virtue could well be moot.

But you will judge for yourself, as you say.

To shift focus, briefly. Ultimately I am concerned with two things in all this: that this ridiculous rift between open and closed is finally settled; second, that justice is seen to be done.

'Justice' here to mean that ALL the top 'players' - the first rank Objectivist intellectuals - get their due recognition. I have no axe to grind, or particular loyalties - but only admiration for the intellectual contribution of every one of Ayn Rand's original circle, and also for the ongoing work the organizations do.

Each one of them may well have made errors (of honesty or judgment), but the magnificence of their individual achievements, and overall obvious integrity, is not besmirched (in my view.)

I believe we owe them that acknowledgment.

They are all growing old now, and it saddens me that it is for their few human errors they should be remembered, by Objectivists, till their last days.

No more preaching - that's all.:)

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I've been trying to come up with an analogy for my Essential System which will allow others to visualize what I "see." Though any extended analogy is likely to run into trouble, here's what I've come up with:

Imagine philosophy as geometry. Within philosophy, it is held that there are a series of points which are "true points." Taken together, these points -- which are philosophical positions or tenets or principles or valid applications -- represent "true philosophy" or "truth." And so, philosophers search for those points, and system builders search for a line that will define them.

Ayn Rand proposed an equation which defines a line. She defined the precise terms of her equation and also proceeded to demonstrate its use, to show how the points generated fall on the line, and how those points relate back to her equation. The purpose of the equation is to find any given point on this line, when that point is required. Over the course of any given human's life, it's unclear which points he may personally require -- which positions/tenets/principles/applications may serve his particular needs at any given moment -- but, by reference to the equation, he is able to access those points that he needs. Fundamentally what he needs is the equation (and the ability to apply it), because it is this tool which enables him to access everything else on that line with precision.

Other philosophical systems are other equations defining other lines (or possibly other geometric figures). They may intersect with Rand's line at one or more given points, or they may run parallel with it (meaning: not to intersect at any point, which is complete disagreement on which points are "true"), in which cases we can say that they are certainly not Rand's line. Or, if "another line" was to have point-for-point agreement with Rand's line, it would be Rand's line. It would not do to have limited agreement with respect to some line segment to claim that some other line was also Rand's; it would have to agree on every point.

Those who view Rand's system as "Closed" would hold that Rand's line is, in total, only those points which Rand personally demonstrated arise from her equation. Those who view Rand's system as "Open" would hold that Rand's line is defined by the line of "true points," whatever they ultimately turn out to be, and without respect to the equation which Rand initially proposed (the parts of the equation itself may be "modified" to better hit upon true points). Neither view is correct. Rand's line consists of every single point which follows from her equation, and only those points. Rand's line is defined by her equation, not by her body of published works (though obviously that is where most of us first encounter her equation), nor by "geometry," nor "philosophy," nor even "truth," per se.

Recently, Grames proposed that there might be points which are true, but do not fall on Rand's line (-- valuable, non-Objectivist philosophy). This is essentially the same as the Closed System view, though he would extend Rand's line by x number of points (arrived at by deduction via "implication"). He fears that, if Rand's line is ultimately point-for-point identical to the line of true points, then Rand's line is necessarily no longer defined by her equation but solely by "true points, whatever they ultimately turn out to be," which is the Open System. And thus he presents the same false dichotomy which the Essential System is attempting to resolve.

However. If Rand's line is ultimately point-for-point identical to the line of true points, the only meaning that this really conveys is: that Ayn Rand hit upon the correct equation. After all, it was to achieve this line of true points that she set out to design an equation in the first place.

As a corollary, we can take it that if Grames (and by extension, all Closed System advocates, though I do not take it that Grames has/had yet identified his own views as such) is correct -- if there are points which are true but do not fall on Rand's line -- then Ayn Rand has failed in her purpose. Her equation is faulty. There are gaps in her line where there should be points. Further, Grames might claim that there is no possible equation which could calculate all the points on that line, because any proposed philosophical system (or here, equation) is by-it's-nature cut off from further "induction," allowing for the possibility of valid (/"valuable") philosophical work outside of the system. (The only possible way for Grames' claim to be correct -- and Objectivism still otherwise valid/Rand's equation correct to her purpose -- would be if we introduce "skew lines." Those would be lines of true philosophy appropriate for creatures with other natures, thereby existing on "other planes.")

It does not mean that Rand's equation ceases to be that which defines her line, nor does it mean embracing the Open System to say, "I believe that Ayn Rand's equation is correct; I believe that Rand's line is also the line of true points." Saying such a thing -- believing such a thing -- is precisely what makes one an Objectivist.

Edited by DonAthos

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The context is David Kelley's work on benevolence, the subject matter of which I would surmise as falling within the realm of "ethics."

... The details of Kelley's theory are irrelevant to my claim, ...

The most you can claim is that your thoughts were prompted by Kelley's work. If the details of Kelley's work are irrelevant then you have shifted the context. There is another mega-thread here somewhere dealing directly with Kelley's work.

Ayn Rand, via Objectivism, purported to create a "full system of philosophy," the purpose of which being to "to provide man with a comprehensive view of life." She defined certain concepts as being "essential" to her system -- one for each of the branches of philosophy -- including for ethics and for those disciplines upon which a theory of ethics rests, metaphysics and epistemology.

Your reasoning appears to take the form of a simple syllogism:

A. Objectivism is philosophy.

B. Philosophy is comprehensive.

C. Therefore Objectivism is comprehensive.

But Objectivism is not philosophy itself, it is a philosophy. It can be classified as a philosophy without itself being comprehensive. It is an instance of the fallacy of division to attribute to every member of a set the attributes of the set as a whole.

Let's dwell for moment on comprehensiveness. There is a fashion in which it is true that Objectivism is comprehensive: no proposition can contradict any of the three metaphysical axioms Rand emphasized. That in itself qualifies as a position on every possible philosophical issue even if only by ruling out the impossible rather than positively specifying a "correct" Objectivist answer. Yet there is not enough to go on in the three metaphysical axioms or the rest of Objectivism to definitively settle every possible issue.

Rand claimed Objectivism was a full philosophical system. But that Objectivism is systematic (the parts interrelate coherently), is philosophical (about fundamental truths of existence and human nature), and is full (provides guiding principles in every branch of philosophy) is not equivalent to being comprehensive in the sense of settling every last issue once and for all.

It cannot be that Ayn Rand succeeded in her pursuit, yet her philosophy does not encompass some philosophical position with respect to Kelley's "benevolence." The details of Kelley's theory are irrelevant to my claim, the question of "implication" doesn't matter, and neither does a dichotomy between deduction and induction. Either Kelley's work is fully consistent with Rand's fundamentals or it is not; in the former case it is Objectivist and in the latter case it is not.

It is "either/or" here because we are treating Objectivism as a "full system," providing man with a "comprehensive view of life." "Benevolence" is not outside of ethics, let alone life, and thus does not escape Objectivism's purview. The only other case a person could make here is that Ayn Rand failed in creating a "full system of philosophy." With respect to the present case, the argument would also have to maintain that either she failed to define her ethics according to essentials, or that there is some inconsistency between her ethics and her metaphysics and/or epistemology, or both. But any of those conclusions would entail the failure of Objectivism as a system, and, should we so conclude, we shouldn't be Objectivists.

The default position is that Ayn Rand did not consider benevolence as on par with the other virtues she dwelled on, simply because she omitted it. That also qualifies as a position, in addition to the ever present "do not contradict the axioms".

You cling to the promiscuous standard of mere consistency, and would count anything as Objectivist as long as it did not contradict it. This is bad thinking for the reason given previously (the "all truths are consistent with each other" line) and it also violates Rand's Razor.

“Rand's Razor”

The requirements of cognition determine the objective criteria of conceptualization. They can be summed up best in the form of an epistemological “razor”: concepts are not to be multiplied beyond necessity—the corollary of which is: nor are they to be integrated in disregard of necessity.

In the process of determining conceptual classification, neither the essential similarities nor the essential differences among existents may be ignored, evaded or omitted once they have been observed. Just as the requirements of cognition forbid the arbitrary subdivision of concepts, so they forbid the arbitrary integration of concepts into a wider concept by means of obliterating their essential differences—which is an error (or falsification) proceeding from definitions by non-essentials. (This is the method involved in the obliteration of valid concepts by means of “anti-concepts.”)

There is no necessity to integrate into Objectivism that which has no relation to it other than also not being false. In fact, it is positively unjust to give credit to Rand for what she did not do directly or by implication, and it is the error of misintegration by nonessentials to cram every philosophic truth into the bag called Objectivism.

If what is "newly discovered" is ruled out of Objectivism, then Objectivism is in no way a "full system." Is it? And it would certainly fail to provide a "comprehensive view of life." Wouldn't it? And Rand could not say for certain that "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." Could she? How could that system -- or any system ever -- be assured "to guide the course of your life" if it could not take into account "what is newly discovered"?

If you want a dogma that will provide the answers to every question of your life, Objectivism is the wrong philosophy for you. Objectivism is a method, a way, a tao. It provides guidance without dictating the course of your life.

But how can Objectivism fail so, if it correctly provides essential concepts to form the base of every branch of philosophy? I've mentioned before, and I'll reiterate now, that I don't know that any given philosophical position could be "fully consistent with" but not ultimately "implied by" Rand's essential concepts. If Rand has correctly identified the essential concepts fundamental to every branch of philosophy, then how could any higher-up concepts possibly escape some form of "implication"?

How many forms of implication do you think there are? There is in fact only one form of implication. A proposition or set of propositions P imply proposition Q if and only if P and not-Q are contradictory. There are an infinite number of potential propositions Q for which neither of the pair Q and not-Q contradict anything in Objectivism. Some of those propositions will be about philosophical topics.

Where induction itself is concerned -- an area of epistemology, I believe -- suppose there were a method of induction which was fully consistent with (and if you insist, "implied by") Rand's essential concepts (as I believe Leonard Peikoff would maintain, given that he claims to have an "Objectivist solution" to induction). Would the results of those inductions performed through this Objectivist method thus be Objectivist?

No. Even deductive logic was merely discovered by Aristotle, not created by him. People have been reasoning deductively and inductively since the first humans walked the planet. Philosophers merely describe how to do it properly and explicitly. Even Peikoff claimed in his course on induction that induction is not to be justified but explained as to how to do it.

I disagree. Whatever road Rand traveled is available to anyone else. And if new inductions or integrations or deductions or what-have-you are available, they can even possibly travel further down that same road.

If it is truly new territory then there can be no pre-existing road to travel down. Your selected metaphor works against you. At most we might say a new trail will be blazed with a Randian axe.

By divorcing induction from deduction as you say, you would make the same mistake the "Closed System" advocates do: you would force a man to stop from a final integration of all of his internally consistent views -- the ability to sum his outlook on life into one coherent philosophy. And why? Because some of his views involve "induction" whereas others were formed "deductively"? This is not an essential difference and it serves him no purpose.

That is inexcusably silly. There is no bar to satisfying the personal need for a coherent and fully integrated personal philosophy. Just don't expect to others to accept your name for it because "Objectivism" is already taken. Objectivism is objective now, and impersonally defined.

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Your reasoning appears to take the form of a simple syllogism:

A. Objectivism is philosophy.

B. Philosophy is comprehensive.

C. Therefore Objectivism is comprehensive.

I think you may be slightly confused as to what I'm saying; my apologies if I've caused the confusion.

This is closer to my reasoning:

A. Objectivism is "a full system of philosophy."

"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."

B. A full system of philosophy will provide a man "a comprehensive view of life."

"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."

C. Objectivism provides a comprehensive view of life.

You cling to the promiscuous standard of mere consistency, and would count anything as Objectivist as long as it did not contradict it.

"Mere" consistency? Or total consistency?

"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."

If, in contrast to my position, you would like to say that Ayn Rand was wrong when she said, "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," it would be clearest for you to do so directly.

That is inexcusably silly.

I think we can do without this sort of rhetoric, don't you?

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B. A full system of philosophy will provide a man "a comprehensive view of life."

And where did the word "comprehensive" come from? It is not in that quote you like so much, so it does not belong in your conclusion statement C.

"Mere" consistency? Or total consistency?

"Mere consistency" contrasts to implication. "Total consistency" is redundant, it contrasts with inconsistent/not consistent/contradictory. You brought together two phrases from different contexts containing the word 'consistency'. Why? It is unclear what point you think you were making here. Spend longer composing your replies please, you've been doing well up to now.

If, in contrast to my position, you would like to say that Ayn Rand was wrong when she said, "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," it would be clearest for you to do so directly.

What is wrong here is the interpretation you are giving to her words. Guidance is a pretty low bar of performance to meet. "Do not attempt to contradict the law of identity" is guidance. "Be rational, honest, productive, etc." is guidance. These don't say anything about philosophical topics such as additional minor virtues, or the problem of explaining induction but being careful not to contradict what is already regarded as philosophical knowledge is still guidance in a broad sense.

I think we can do without this sort of rhetoric, don't you?

"Your bad argument is bad" would be bad writing. My evaluation was argumentum ad argumentum not argumentum ad hominem so it was a fair shot. If you wouldn't erect such offensively cheesy strawmen and I would not have to take them down so emphatically.

Edited by Grames

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And where did the word "comprehensive" come from?

The word "comprehensive," as you should recall since I've provided it before in this thread, comes from this quote (emphasis added):

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.

If this is Ayn Rand's view of philosophy, then what do you expect she was attempting to do, as a philosopher, through the creation of a "full philosophical system"? You think I'm stretching if I say that she was attempting "to provide man with a comprehensive view of life"?

It is not in that quote you like so much, so it does not belong in your conclusion statement C.

Since you bring up some specific fallacies later, I should observe that this is a non sequitur. The argument/syllogism that I provide (in opposition to your straw man of my argument) does not depend on the quote, per se -- the quote is used for illustrative purposes. The word "comprehensive" belongs in my conclusion statement C because it was introduced in my premise statement B.

No, I liked utilizing the quote as I did because I thought it added a stylistic flourish. While I understood that this might otherwise be confusing, I depended on your understanding of the arguments presented and evidence offered throughout this thread; I depended on your interpreting these statements in view of the context of what has come before. I mistook in so doing, and I apologize.

"Mere consistency" contrasts to implication. "Total consistency" is redundant, it contrasts with inconsistent/not consistent/contradictory.

I agree that "total consistency" is redundant. I imagine that Rand was redundant in that way, not accidentally, but to avoid the very kind of connotation you seek to convey with "mere consistency." She elaborates on this issue of "total consistency" as follows:

But to hold them with total consistency—to understand, to define, to prove and to apply them—requires volumes of thought.

There is nothing about that which sounds "mere" to me.

You brought together two phrases from different contexts containing the word 'consistency'. Why? It is unclear what point you think you were making here. Spend longer composing your replies please, you've been doing well up to now.

What two phrases have I brought together, each containing the word "consistency"? I only count one phrase -- Ayn Rand's phrase -- presented several times. Unless you're talking about your use of the term, which I quoted, and to which I was responding? But your use of the term is an attempt to represent my argument. And you are doing it incorrectly; that is the point that I was making.

What I mean when I say "total consistency" -- which is precisely the "promiscuous" standard to which I would hold philosophical positions with respect to their inclusion in Objectivism -- is what Ayn Rand meant when she said "total consistency." It appears to be her standard as well. I believe that neither of us mean what you do when you say "mere consistency," and I think that such a characterization of my argument is a bald-faced straw man.

As to whether I will spend longer composing replies, I'll address that below.

What is wrong here is the interpretation you are giving to her words. Guidance is a pretty low bar of performance to meet. "Do not attempt to contradict the law of identity" is guidance. "Be rational, honest, productive, etc." is guidance. These don't say anything about philosophical topics such as additional minor virtues, or the problem of explaining induction but being careful not to contradict what is already regarded as philosophical knowledge is still guidance in a broad sense.

Practically, what do you think constitutes the guidance that Objectivism is not supposed (or unable) to provide? I suppose that if it doesn't have to do with "minor virtues," or presumably "minor vices," it wouldn't have to do with the routine, daily decisions that a man makes? (At least, in so far as he is "an Objectivist.") After all, we want to avoid "a dogma that will provide the answers to every question of your life." If philosophy is not up to this task -- to providing the answers to our every question -- then where ought a man appeal for those answers?

If Objectivism, as a philosophy, is not so equipped, then ought a man be an Objectivist and additionally have other, more delimited philosophies and philosophical opinions to deal with the day-to-day? Or would that also be dogmatic, and thus unideal? To avoid dogma, should a man proceed randomly so long as he's not taking on one of the big, specific, Rand-approved issues such as Liberty vs. Statism?

And if a man accomplished this -- held Objectivism for "the biggies," but other philosophical opinions or more delimited "philosophies" on all of the "minor" topics -- and then wanted to summarize his philosophy on all topics and give it a name, what name would you suggest? (Since "'Objectivism' is already taken.")

"Your bad argument is bad" would be bad writing. My evaluation was argumentum ad argumentum not argumentum ad hominem so it was a fair shot. If you wouldn't erect such offensively cheesy strawmen and I would not have to take them down so emphatically.

Ah, I see.

This is, at least in part, why my last reply was rather terse and what discourages me from spending longer composing replies to you. I stopped having a taste for high school style argumentation shortly before leaving high school. The other part is because your replies have made straw men of my arguments, and shown no real effort on your part to understand what I've been investing an enormous amount of energy in trying to explain. It is very disappointing. If you'd like to continue discussion, then be civil. If you are unable to be civil, let me know and we'll leave it here.

But since we are here, now, I'll note that "that is inexcusably silly" is not an argument of any kind. You'll notice that I never once accused you of ad hominem; stop mischaracterizing what I say. Instead, I called it rhetoric, and that's exactly what it is. I've tried to keep my posts to explaining my arguments, not my "evaluations" of yours. Trust me, my evaluations would not be kind. But that is neither here nor there. If you believe that I have set up straw men, then establish the fact through argument and that will be enough to speak for you (just as I did by presenting your wildly inaccurate, nigh-satirical "syllogism of my views" against my own syllogism).

Finally, if you would truly like to "take down" my arguments with emphasis -- and I invite you to try -- you would be advised to demonstrate that you understand them first.

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The word "comprehensive," as you should recall since I've provided it before in this thread, comes from this quote (emphasis added):

Right, that is the premise B. in what I presented as an attempt to understand your thought:

A. Objectivism is philosophy.

B. Philosophy is comprehensive.

C. Therefore Objectivism is comprehensive.

Now, where exactly does this go wrong? Why is this a strawman? What is the distinction you wish to draw between your words and my attempt to restate your argument? How are the substitutions "a full system of philosophy" for "philosophy" and "a comprehensive view of life" for "comprehensive" so significant and meaningful that my shortened versions render the syllogism a strawman of your version?

If this is Ayn Rand's view of philosophy, then what do you expect she was attempting to do, as a philosopher, through the creation of a "full philosophical system"? You think I'm stretching if I say that she was attempting "to provide man with a comprehensive view of life"?
I think you are trying to stretch "comprehensive" to mean more than it does.

But a human being cannot live his life moment by moment: a human consciousness preserves a certain continuity and demands a certain degree of integration, whether a man seeks it or not. A human being needs a frame of reference, a comprehensive view of existence, no matter how rudimentary, and, since his consciousness is volitional, a sense of being right, a moral justification of his actions, which means: a philosophical code of values. Who, then, provides Attila with values? The Witch Doctor.

According to Ayn Rand philosophy can be both comprehensive and rudimentary at the same time. A sufficiently broad abstraction like the Golden Rule is both comprehensive and rudimentary: you can apply it to almost any situation and it remains a contentless pragmatic principle. What is rudimentary can be improved upon. Objectivism itself is an improvement on the Golden Rule and remains consistent with it ("judge and prepare to be judged") while not being derived from the Golden Rule in any relevant sense. Objectivism is not rudimentary, but it can still be improved upon. Ayn Rand did not have the arrogance to claim that hers were the last words in philosophy, or even the last important principles to be discovered.

Since you bring up some specific fallacies later, I should observe that this is a non sequitur. The argument/syllogism that I provide (in opposition to your straw man of my argument) does not depend on the quote, per se -- the quote is used for illustrative purposes. The word "comprehensive" belongs in my conclusion statement C because it was introduced in my premise statement B.
Which is justified by the Rand quote about the task of philosophy, right. If the omission of that Rand quote from that post was not significant after all then I still don't understand why my attempted restatement of your argument merits the evaluation of being a strawman.

I agree that "total consistency" is redundant. I imagine that Rand was redundant in that way, not accidentally, but to avoid the very kind of connotation you seek to convey with "mere consistency." She elaborates on this issue of "total consistency" as follows:

There is nothing about that which sounds "mere" to me.

It says to use the principles of Objectivism in life, not to derive new philosophies from them. The "you" in that sentence refers to the readers of the Ayn Rand Column, not professional philosophers. I am not persuaded that "apply" is included as an exhortation to derive new philosophical principles implied by what Rand presented. She is referring to the principles that she authored and the collection of them as a system (including principles not original to her), the ones that collectively constitute Objectivism (as she understood it in 1962, another interesting caveat first brought up by Boydstun. He is way ahead of me.)

What two phrases have I brought together, each containing the word "consistency"? I only count one phrase -- Ayn Rand's phrase -- presented several times. Unless you're talking about your use of the term, which I quoted, and to which I was responding? But your use of the term is an attempt to represent my argument. And you are doing it incorrectly; that is the point that I was making.
What is incorrect? You reject the need for implication as a criterion to include an additional philosophical position or principles within Objectivism. The lesser criterion of consistency is adequate in your opinion. Consistency is mere consistency relative to the alternative of implication. "Mere" is not an insult or a derogatory term: it is the accurate word to use in comparing those two alternatives where one is stronger and one is weaker. On a different topic the "mere" alternative, by sweeping up a broader set of referents, might actually be the correct alternative. But not on this topic. :)

What I mean when I say "total consistency" -- which is precisely the "promiscuous" standard to which I would hold philosophical positions with respect to their inclusion in Objectivism -- is what Ayn Rand meant when she said "total consistency." It appears to be her standard as well. I believe that neither of us mean what you do when you say "mere consistency," and I think that such a characterization of my argument is a bald-faced straw man.

What Ayn Rand meant was perfect non-contradiction of the small set of principles (not even the whole of Objectivism) which she was discussing in that column. I remain completely baffled why such a perfectly ordinary word as "mere", accurately used, causes such offense to you.

Practically, what do you think constitutes the guidance that Objectivism is not supposed (or unable) to provide? I suppose that if it doesn't have to do with "minor virtues," or presumably "minor vices," it wouldn't have to do with the routine, daily decisions that a man makes? (At least, in so far as he is "an Objectivist.") After all, we want to avoid "a dogma that will provide the answers to every question of your life." If philosophy is not up to this task -- to providing the answers to our every question -- then where ought a man appeal for those answers?
You don't appeal to anyone for the answers, you apply the principles you know to the situation at hand and figure it out yourself. If your figuring is of sufficient generality and originality while proceeding directly and deductively from known principles in Objectivism you are welcome to publish it and call it Objectivism.

If Objectivism, as a philosophy, is not so equipped, then ought a man be an Objectivist and additionally have other, more delimited philosophies and philosophical opinions to deal with the day-to-day?
Yes. See the virtue of independence in the Lexicon.

And if a man accomplished this -- held Objectivism for "the biggies," but other philosophical opinions or more delimited "philosophies" on all of the "minor" topics -- and then wanted to summarize his philosophy on all topics and give it a name, what name would you suggest? (Since "'Objectivism' is already taken.")
Anything you wish, but very likely no one but you will ever know of it unless you go public with your name for it. If you use Objectivism anyway, fine but expect negative feedback and non-acceptance of your claim unless you can demonstrate nothing in your philosophy goes beyond Objectivism and its implications.

But since we are here, now, I'll note that "that is inexcusably silly" is not an argument of any kind. You'll notice that I never once accused you of ad hominem; stop mischaracterizing what I say. Instead, I called it rhetoric, and that's exactly what it is.

But what is wrong with rhetoric? Rhetoric includes logical argumentation. See Wikipedia: rhetoric which includes logos, pathos and ethos. The only rhetorical plays that are unethical are ad hominem attacks and deliberately making false statements or known invalid arguments (i.e. 'trolling' in the modern parlance). "That is inexcusably silly" is neither of those. It is merely a colorful way of asserting that you made a bad argument, and the next sentences made the argument why it was bad. It serves the functions of being an introductory sentence and a topic sentence for the paragraph.

If you believe that I have set up straw men, then establish the fact through argument and that will be enough to speak for you (just as I did by presenting your wildly inaccurate, nigh-satirical "syllogism of my views" against my own syllogism).
I did that. I will restate: my arguments against your expansive interpretation of what Objectivism refers to do not have the power to stop your brain from working to integrate your own personal comprehensive view of life. Objectivism remains objective.

You take the time to belabor my offenses to your sensibilities, but you still have not responded substantively to my objections that "consistency is no borderline because all truths are consistent with each other" and Rand's Razor.

Oh, and as to your geometry post: your bad analogy is bad.

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That is inexcusably silly.

I think we can do without this sort of rhetoric, don't you?

"Your bad argument is bad" would be bad writing. My evaluation was argumentum ad argumentum not argumentum ad hominem so it was a fair shot. If you wouldn't erect such offensively cheesy strawmen and I would not have to take them down so emphatically.

If you'd like to continue discussion, then be civil. If you are unable to be civil, let me know and we'll leave it here.

But since we are here, now, I'll note that "that is inexcusably silly" is not an argument of any kind. You'll notice that I never once accused you of ad hominem; stop mischaracterizing what I say. Instead, I called it rhetoric, and that's exactly what it is.

But what is wrong with rhetoric? Rhetoric includes logical argumentation. See Wikipedia: rhetoric which includes logos, pathos and ethos. The only rhetorical plays that are unethical are ad hominem attacks and deliberately making false statements or known invalid arguments (i.e. 'trolling' in the modern parlance). "That is inexcusably silly" is neither of those. It is merely a colorful way of asserting that you made a bad argument, and the next sentences made the argument why it was bad. It serves the functions of being an introductory sentence and a topic sentence for the paragraph.

[...]

Oh, and as to your geometry post: your bad analogy is bad.

I have asked you to cut the rhetoric, then told you to be civil. In either instance, you could simply have agreed, or even just stuck to arguing what's important -- it's not like I was looking for an apology or anything, though you probably should have offered one. After all, insults are unnecessary to reasoned discussion, so why not respect a specific call for manners? But instead you've chosen to defend being insulting? And also to persist? (And to anticipate what I think would otherwise be coming: ad hominem and "insult" are not synonymous.)

Sorry, but I don't have time for this kind of "discussion." I'm interested in talking philosophy as a sincere mutual enterprise to better understand things, not as gamesmanship. I don't need to be friends with everyone I talk to, but I do need the conversation to be pleasant. You've chosen to make it unpleasant. And that's disappointing, but I'm not going to try to make it otherwise anymore, because you're clearly not interested in what I am.

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To the other participants of this thread:

I owe you an apology for engaging Grames in the manner I have. As soon as my conversation with him took the turn that it did, I should have recognized it and desisted from participating.

As to the arguments he's presented, if anyone else is confused on any of these points, I would be happy to discuss them with you. As a portal to such a discussion, here is my position with respect to "Philosophy versus 'a philosophy'":

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.

A man acts according to the ideas he holds. Ultimately, according to his philosophy. A man has no relationship to Philosophy, as such, except that he holds some particular philosophy (or different snatches of different philosophies). In this, he has no choice: if he is to act, he must hold some ideas upon which to act.

Ayn Rand, as a philosopher, wanted man to act upon the correct ideas. If the "task of philosophy is to provide man with a comprehensive view of life," she sought to give man the correct comprehensive view. Because it would not be sensible to try to write out all of the possible ideas a man might need for action (or hold them in the mind, or even discover them individually), she sought instead to find what was essential -- those key and fundamental ideas which would ultimately lead to all of the rest. The manner in which they would do so is thus: through understanding, defining, proving, and applying her fundamental ideas. She felt that in acting in this manner, a man would thus have access to that "comprehensive view of life" which was her ultimate aim; that is, her philosophy, which she called "Objectivism."

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I think you already know that "closed" systems do not actually exist.

All systems must draw energy from other systems and they also lose energy to the system surrounding it.

...

I can just see those philosophical wheels (principles) turning, one wheel turning another, turning another, like all those tiny gears in a finely made Swiss watch that one has to wind up regularly so as to energize the system of wheels, from the surrounding system (individuals), and so that the gears keep turning, making it possible for an individual to look at his finely made Swiss watch and know both the time of day as well as what is philosophically true. Good point!

Edited by Trebor

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Entropy appears to be conflating thermodynamically "closed" with philosophically "closed"; indeed his whole post looks like a lecture on thermodynamics. While it's good to understand thermodynamics, it's a mistake to assume that the word "closed" is even being used in quite the same sense, much less to argue or more precisely analogize that philosophy somehow needs an input of energy to run.

He thus makes a similar mistake to the one made by people who look at quantum behavior and decide there are no absolutes and peoples' consciousness determines reality.

All that the word "closed" means in this context is that the content of Objectivism cannot be added to subsequent to Ayn Rand's death. No doubt she built on other philosophers' work--so it's not "closed" in the sense of never having taken anything from outside, ever. It just cannot do so now and still be called Objectivism.

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Ayn Rand, as a philosopher, wanted man to act upon the correct ideas. If the "task of philosophy is to provide man with a comprehensive view of life," she sought to give man the correct comprehensive view. Because it would not be sensible to try to write out all of the possible ideas a man might need for action (or hold them in the mind, or even discover them individually), she sought instead to find what was essential -- those key and fundamental ideas which would ultimately lead to all of the rest. The manner in which they would do so is thus: through understanding, defining, proving, and applying her fundamental ideas. She felt that in acting in this manner, a man would thus have access to that "comprehensive view of life" which was her ultimate aim; that is, her philosophy, which she called "Objectivism."

So, Miss Rand, according to you, sought to offer man a comprehensive view of life, but then realizing that her aspirations were too much for her to do (or perhaps more than she wanted to do), that she could not address all possible ideas an individual might need, she opted instead to only create an outline of essential ideas, an Essential System, cheating all of those who are in need of a comprehensive view of life.

A philosophy is an integrated, interrelated, system of fundamental principles. If it is true, valid, it enables an individual to understand (know) where and what they are (Reality), how they know where and what they are (Epistemology), what they should then do (Ethics), how they should interact with others who are of the same nature, or not (Politics), and how they can hold this complexity in a form in which they can actually make use of it (Esthetics).

You are criticizing Objectivism and Miss Rand for having fallen short of what you think she should have done in order to create a comprehensive view of life because she did not and could not "write out all of the possible ideas a man might need for action (or hold them in the mind, or even discover them individually)," yet she did in fact create a comprehensive view of life in the only form that such a comprehensive view of life could be created in, a philosophy of essential principles, principles that do require a person to do what they would already be required to do, to think for themselves, but principles which help them to do so.

Edit: clarity

Edited by Trebor

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I continue to consider both 'open' and 'closed' as misnomers - according to what both 'sides' perceive them to be, and my level of impartial understanding.

This is not meant as a compromise, nor is it, but how about a re-naming? Instead, what about the term 'Contained AND Open-ended' ?

This brings into play the hierarchical system, (which I believe Objectivism to be) beginning from the core of basic fundamentals, emanating to the derivations around the core, and ultimately to the peripheral margins.

The tightly-meshed core is immutable, as are the derivations (eg Ethics), while at the outer limits of periphery ("where the rubber meets the road") there can be dynamic change, adjustment and refinement.

For instance, I read earlier a poster say that if there could be found no moral way for a limited gonernment to tax its citizens , then Objectivism as a complete entity will have failed!

An obvious fallacy - taxation is simply a peripheral matter that hinges on core principles, but does not affect them in return. A one-way street.

Rand was emphatic about definitions; if we continue to accept the 'closed or open' misnomer (imo) I think we are introducing a host of fallacies.

'Contained, but open-ended'. What do you all think?

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So, Miss Rand, according to you, sought to offer man a comprehensive view of life, but then realizing that her aspirations were too much for her to do (or perhaps more than she wanted to do), that she could not address all possible ideas an individual might need, she opted instead to only create an outline of essential ideas, an Essential System, cheating all of those who are in need of a comprehensive view of life.

No, you have completely mistaken me. My argument is that she did provide a comprehensive view of life -- through her essentials.

A philosophy is an integrated, interrelated, system of fundamental principles. If it is true, valid, it enables an individual to understand (know) where and what they are (Reality), how they know where and what they are (Epistemology), what they should then do (Ethics), how they should interact with others who are of the same nature, or not (Politics), and how they can hold this complexity in a form in which they can actually make use of it (Esthetics).

You are criticizing Objectivism and Miss Rand for having fallen short of what you think she should have done in order to create a comprehensive view of life because she did not and could not "write out all of the possible ideas a man might need for action (or hold them in the mind, or even discover them individually)," yet she did in fact create a comprehensive view of life in the only form that such a comprehensive view of life could be created in, a philosophy of essential principles, principles that do require a person to do what they would already be required to do, to think for themselves, but principles which help them to do so.

Edit: clarity

Yes. So far as I can tell, you and I agree exactly except that I am not criticizing Objectivism or Rand (in the negative sense); I do not think she's fallen short. I think she did exactly what she set out to do.

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All systems must draw energy from other systems and they also lose energy to the system surrounding it.

This thermodynamic analogy is even worse than DonAthos' mathematical geometry analogy.

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No, you have completely mistaken me. My argument is that she did provide a comprehensive view of life -- through her essentials.

Okay, good to know. We agree that she did provide a comprehensive view of life, what I would call a "closed" philosophy, which I realize is still under dispute.

Yes. So far as I can tell, you and I agree exactly except that I am not criticizing Objectivism or Rand (in the negative sense); I do not think she's fallen short. I think she did exactly what she set out to do.

Okay again. So, again, the only issue or contention is whether or not Objectivism is "open" or "closed"?

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Okay again. So, again, the only issue or contention is whether or not Objectivism is "open" or "closed"?

Yes. And to that issue, I argue for an Essential System which I present as being opposed to the Open System and Closed System as they are popularly understood. The Essential System, in essence (heh), argues for precisely what we've agreed to: that Objectivism is a comprehensive view of life, established through those essentials which Ayn Rand identified and integrated and etc.

This Essential System is "closed" in the sense that Rand's essentials do not change, and neither do any of the positions with respect to philosophy reached when those essentials are "understood, defined, proved, and applied." The comprehensive view of life which Objectivism provides, when it is properly understood, is one thing and one thing only. It is immutable.

The Essential System is "open," however, in the sense that any given person may not have completely "understood, defined, proved, and applied" Rand's essentials. Nor has that happened in terms of a collected body of philosophical work. And so, as Peikoff said, "new implications, applications, integrations can always be discovered." Where it differs from "Closed System" advocates, as established through earlier quotes and discussion in this thread, is that I hold that this work does not need to be done by Ayn Rand alone, or approved by her personally, but can be done by any Objectivist insofar as he does so in total consistency with Ayn Rand's essentials.

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I continue to consider both 'open' and 'closed' as misnomers - according to what both 'sides' perceive them to be, and my level of impartial understanding.

This is not meant as a compromise, nor is it, but how about a re-naming? Instead, what about the term 'Contained AND Open-ended' ?

This brings into play the hierarchical system, (which I believe Objectivism to be) beginning from the core of basic fundamentals, emanating to the derivations around the core, and ultimately to the peripheral margins.

The tightly-meshed core is immutable, as are the derivations (eg Ethics), while at the outer limits of periphery ("where the rubber meets the road") there can be dynamic change, adjustment and refinement.

For instance, I read earlier a poster say that if there could be found no moral way for a limited gonernment to tax its citizens , then Objectivism as a complete entity will have failed!

An obvious fallacy - taxation is simply a peripheral matter that hinges on core principles, but does not affect them in return. A one-way street.

Rand was emphatic about definitions; if we continue to accept the 'closed or open' misnomer (imo) I think we are introducing a host of fallacies.

'Contained, but open-ended'. What do you all think?

Perhaps that's part of the problem, two different usages or meanings of "open" and "closed." I'm not yet certain.

One usage of "closed" seems to be that Objectivism is closed due to the fact that Miss Rand is the author and can no longer update Objectivism. It's her philosophy and everything she wrote is the philosophy, at least if what she wrote relates to it, identifying the essential principles, arguing that they are valid, etc. The other usage seems to be that Objectivism is closed because it is a complete, integrated system. In both senses, I consider Objectivism to be closed.

Deciding to drop "open" vs "closed" and instead opt for "contained" vs "open-ended," at least for now, for me, just brings in more confusion.

I'm the poster who stated that "if there could be found no moral way for a limited gonernment to tax its citizens , then Objectivism as a complete entity will have failed!" although I didn't put it in those terms. I stand by what I said. A philosophy is a system of integrated (non-contradictory) principles, and, as Dr. Peikoff said, it "cannot tolerate any contradiction, otherwise the whole system is collapsed."

Here's how I put it and what you're remembering:

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.

Holding that individual's have rights and yet advocating or tolerating taxation is a contradiction. If Objectivism held that contradiction, it would collapse. As a system it would fail.

If theft is immoral on principle, then that principle is thrown out completely if theft is permitted, by law, say, on Tuesday evenings between 6 pm and 7:30 (I add 30 minutes to the hour for the convenience of those who are engaged in stealing, to give them a bit more time to get the things they want, you see.)

Why Tuesday evenings and only Tuesday evenings?

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Yes. And to that issue, I argue for an Essential System which I present as being opposed to the Open System and Closed System as they are popularly understood. The Essential System, in essence (heh), argues for precisely what we've agreed to: that Objectivism is a comprehensive view of life, established through those essentials which Ayn Rand identified and integrated and etc.

Essential System as opposed to what? Objectivism = Essential System vs. Objectivism = What?

This Essential System is "closed" in the sense that Rand's essentials do not change, and neither do any of the positions with respect to philosophy reached when those essentials are "understood, defined, proved, and applied." The comprehensive view of life which Objectivism provides, when it is properly understood, is one thing and one thing only. It is immutable.

Seems like you're saying that the above is the Closed Essential System of Objectivism. It's Miss Rand's own philosophy as she understood it in her own mind.

The Essential System is "open," however, in the sense that any given person may not have completely "understood, defined, proved, and applied" Rand's essentials. Nor has that happened in terms of a collected body of philosophical work. And so, as Peikoff said, "new implications, applications, integrations can always be discovered." Where it differs from "Closed System" advocates, as established through earlier quotes and discussion in this thread, is that I hold that this work does not need to be done by Ayn Rand alone, or approved by her personally, but can be done by any Objectivist insofar as he does so in total consistency with Ayn Rand's essentials.

And it seems that you're saying that the Open Essential System of Objectivism is what anyone else may have concluded it to be, not being privy to Miss Rand's mind directly. Or, everyone holds that Objectivism is what they understand it to be at their level of understanding of...well, of what? Objectivism? Miss Rand's philosophy? No. Of whatever it is they think Objectivism is given their level of understanding of...well, of what?

If one person holds that Objectivism is compatible with the divinity of Christ, okay, that's Objectivism to them. If another thinks that Objectivism is compatible with taxation, that's Objectivism to them. Etc.

There's an important difference between what "any given person may not have completely "understood, defined, proved, and applied" Rand's essentials" and Dr. Peikoff's "new implications, applications, integrations can always be discovered."

On the one hand, you're saying, I believe, that Objectivism is the Open Essential System of Objectivism in that various individuals have various views on what Objectivism is, they may not have 'completely "understood, defined, proved, and applied" Rand's Closed Essential System of Objectivism (which resided only in Rand's mind, but in part was conveyed to others via her writings). Given there are various individuals with various levels of understanding of Objectivism, Objectivism is what each individual believes Objectivism to be, not what Ayn Rand identified it to be, a Closed Essential System of Objectivism; it is, for each of them, an Open Essential System of Objectivism.

On the other hand, you're saying, I believe, that Objectivism is the Open Essential System of Objectivism due to the fact that any individual may yet discover "new implications, applications [or] integrations."

But of course, if an individual hasn't grasped Objectivism as an integrated whole, complete (closed) philosophy, then they are not capable of discovering any new implications, applications or integrations.

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You miss the point, my condescending friend. Energy is motion. Everything moves. All energy is transferred. Rands philosophy is borrowed from the Christian dichotomy. It is purely a Christian process of belief. It is nothing new. She was motivated to write her philosophy because she wanted to justify her selfishness....and she based this philosophy on the most popular theology. She did not fit in with the society around her, who found virtue in those who were giving, thus she was influenced to reject them. She was thus created by experiences and these experiences were created by people around her.

That is exactly what I've been thinking. Thank you, friend!

Edited by Trebor

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Deciding to drop "open" vs "closed" and instead opt for "contained" vs "open-ended," at least for now, for me, just brings in more confusion.

I'm the poster who stated that "if there could be found no moral way for a limited gonernment to tax its citizens , then Objectivism as a complete entity will have failed!" although I didn't put it in those terms. I stand by what I said. A philosophy is a system of integrated (non-contradictory) principles, and, as Dr. Peikoff said, it "cannot tolerate any contradiction, otherwise the whole system is collapsed."

Here's how I put it and what you're remembering:

Holding that individual's have rights and yet advocating or tolerating taxation is a contradiction. If Objectivism held that contradiction, it would collapse. As a system it would fail.

If theft is immoral on principle, then that principle is thrown out completely if theft is permitted, by law, say, on Tuesday evenings between 6 pm and 7:30 (I add 30 minutes to the hour for the convenience of those who are engaged in stealing, to give them a bit more time to get the things they want, you see.)

Why Tuesday evenings and only Tuesday evenings?

Ah, thanks for the correction to my garbled paraphrase. However is the financing of a government actually an integrated principle of Objectivism?

I agree that the principle of individual rights in society would depend on it, but if the finance is not forthcoming, it is the government that fails - not the philosophy. Surely?

That is why I view it as peripheral - a practical problem with solutions..

Perhaps you underestimate what can occur when people's self-interest and their benevolence B) intersect in a rational, non-coerced society - voluntarism.

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Ah, thanks for the correction to my garbled paraphrase. However is the financing of a government actually an integrated principle of Objectivism?

I agree that the principle of individual rights in society would depend on it, but if the finance is not forthcoming, it is the government that fails - not the philosophy. Surely?

That is why I view it as peripheral - a practical problem with solutions..

Perhaps you underestimate what can occur when people's self-interest and their benevolence B) intersect in a rational, non-coerced society - voluntarism.

In principle, yes, I would say that the financing of government is actually an integrated principle of Objectivism in as much as all philosophy has to say [on financing the government], or Objectivism at least, is that government is properly financed only by voluntarily means. If the finance is not forthcoming, voluntarily, then yes the government would fail, not the philosophy. My point was that if Objectivism were to hold that taxation is a or the proper means of financing the government, Objectivism would contain an egregious contradiction, collapsing it as an integrated system, as a philosophy.

I do not see it, taxation, as a peripheral issue philosophically, but only as a practical issue in transitioning from a mixed economy to a free society. Given where we are, it is going to be one of the last problems to resolve - there's no way to support our government as it is without taxation. But our government as it is, is corrupt.

How can people's self-interest and their benevolence intersect in a rational, non-coerced society that permits even a modest about of coercion, coercion in the sense of the initiation of force, the violation of individual rights and implicitly the rejection of all of Objectivism?

Edited by Trebor

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