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OwenKellogg

The Objectivist Center

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I've seen quite a bit of criticism of the Objectivist Center on here, and since I haven't really looked into it closesely I'd like to know exactly what about them I should be watching out for.

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The basic charge is that they (they being intellectuals and writers associated with The Atlas Society) misunderstand/misrepresent Objectivism on a fundamental level. The important documents to read are David Kelly's A Question of Sanction and Truth and Toleration, Peikoff's Fact and Value, and Schwartz's On Moral Sanctions. It's best to first have a firm understanding of Objectivism before getting into issues like that. Study all of Rand's writing, also study Peikoff's course Understanding Objectivism (most of the errors Kelly makes in A Question of Sanction and Truth and Toleration were dealt with by Peikoff in 1983, years before Kelly founded IOS). Also very helpful is Diana Hsieh's False Objectivism page. But like I said, if you're new to Objectivism this is probably an issue that should be put off for a while.

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That is a veeeery long story. How much time do you have?

I think Diana has pulled together the most info, and is probably the most balanced in that she supported TOC (earlier IOS) in its earlier incarnation.

http://www.dianahsieh.com/misc/toc.html

The fundamental schism is between David Kelley and Leonark Peikoff, over a) when one can pass absolute judgement, and :D is Objectivism an "open" system. However, Nathaniel Branded allied himself with TOC, and so the secondary schism is the original Branded / Rand split.

Basically TOC is out peddling it's own brand of Objectivism, and claims that ARI, are absolutist Nazi's (my phrase). Diana's split with them appears to be because TOC is running out of intellectual horsepower, and it's ideas are becoming threadbare. I won't put words in Diana's mouth so she can add comment if she cares.

At the time IOS was coming into it's own, I have to say I was open to some of the ideas (young Objectivist, what can I say - it's best to be familiar with O, before digging in), but frankly, after hearing a few of Peikoff's courses, I thought that Kelley was misrepresenting his position, and I thought Peikoff to be pretty rational.

Anyway, that's it in a nutshell. I'm sure others will give you their perspective.

Edited by KendallJ

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But like I said, if you're new to Objectivism this is probably an issue that should be put off for a while.

I second this recommendation. Until you have a solid grasp of the fundamentals of Objectvism (read: years of study and integration), trying to sort out who said what and who is right is probably a waste of time because you won't be able to make an independent judgment. You can go ahead and read Peikoff's "Fact and Value" to see if it makes sense; otherwise, reading the works of Ayn Rand is a much better use of your time.

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I second this recommendation. Until you have a solid grasp of the fundamentals of Objectvism (read: years of study and integration), trying to sort out who said what and who is right is probably a waste of time because you won't be able to make an independent judgment. You can go ahead and read Peikoff's "Fact and Value" to see if it makes sense; otherwise, reading the works of Ayn Rand is a much better use of your time.

I don't know about years.. I'd say reading Ayn Rand's Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology and Atlas Shrugged (if you understand them) is enough of a foundation. Because then, you understand what AR's position is (and you can infer some things about what she must have been like, to be capable of writing those).

Then when you see how people like David Kelly or Nathaniel Brandon react to her philosophy, and the way Peikoff and the people who support ARI react to it, it's easier to understand where they're both coming from, what they're trying to accomplish, and whose "side" you're on.

[Edit: And I'll say this about the differences between TOC and ARI. To me, one of the most significant things about people associated with TOC is-- they lie a lot. They're notorious for slandering various people (including Ayn Rand), and then the truth comes out, and then they act like the whole thing never happened. Ugh. To me that's almost worse than (what I regard as) their shallow and misleading philosophical positions.]

Edited by Bold Standard

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I don't know about years.. I'd say reading Ayn Rand's Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology and Atlas Shrugged (if you understand them) is enough of a foundation. Because then, you understand what AR's position is (and you can infer some things about what she must have been like, to be capable of writing those).

When I said years, I meant it in contrast to, say, months. I don't think you can read through Atlas and IOE once and fully grasp them. I'm rereading Atlas for the first time now after about 2-3 years, and I'm seeing things more clearly. My main point is that you can't be into Objectivism for a couple months, then pick up Fact and Value or Truth and Toleration and truly, independently sort things out. You just haven't had enough time to integrate, to let things sink in. This obviously varies by individual ability, but in general it takes a while for the philosophy to turn from being accepted rationalistically to truly inductively.

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Oh, yeah, you mean from the time you start reading Ayn Rand, not from the time you become an Objectivist. That's true-- I probably spent a whole year just reading Atlas Shrugged the first time. And I don't remember how long I spent on ITOE, but I remember I had to pay a big fine to the library. :D

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