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ragnarhedin

ARI vs. TOC

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"I bet you did not know that Sciabarra's hermeneutical approach deals explicitly with the synchronical and diachronical organic dialectical which transcends false alternatives. Are you now feeling enlightened?"

I think you meant "light headed" not "enlightened".

;)

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Is that even close?

Let's first try to break this down, and then put it back together.

HERMENEUTICS: For academia, "hermeneutics" is both an art and science of interpretation of texts. It has its roots (not coincidentally) in the interpretation of scripture. The rules of hermeneutics were laid down by people such as Wilhelm Dilthey, a 19th century German philosopher who was the son of a theologian. The Marxists love Dilthey. It beats actual thinking.

DIALECTICAL: Plato named the "dialectical" as a methodological aid for investigating propositions. It has come to mean the Hegelian sense of formulating a thesis, a contradictory anti-thesis, and a resolutionary synthesis of the two. To Sciabarra, Aristotle is "the true father of dialectics, the 'fountainhead' of the methodology, and Rand as a direct descendent of him." Sciabarra says he rejects the poles and middle ground of Hegel, yet he replaces it with "the common roots of apparent opposites." He sees the dialectical as an "integrated alternative that examines the premises at the base of an opposition as a means to a transcendence." Only problem is, Aristotle neither thought the dialectic to be fundamental, nor even relevant to the purpose of establishing significance. As to Ayn Rand, as I once told Sciabarra, he is trying to squish a well-rounded Ayn Rand, into a square dialectic.

SYNCHRONICAL: For Sciabarra this is one end of the dialectic, the "synchronic perspective ... grasps the parts as systematically interrelated." For normal Objectivists, it is sort of like reminding yourself to keep a full context.

DIACHRONICAL: This is the other end of the dialectic, one which "examines the dynamic tensions within a system, the internal conflicts or 'contradictions' that require resolution." Sciabarra "grasps that any system emerges over time, that it has a past, a present, and a future." For the rest of us, we might be generous and say it is important to look at things in historical context.

So, putting this back together, what is meant by "Sciabarra's hermeneutical approach deals explicitly with the synchronical and diachronical organic dialectical which transcends false alternatives?"

It means Sciabarra interprets the works of Ayn Rand by looking at her Russian ancestors and the ideas of Soviet Russia, and sees Miss Rand's philosophy defined equally well by what she accepted from that culture, as that which she rejected. He sees Ayn Rand's ideas as a transcendence of opposites of what she both absorbed and abolished of her Russian heritage. To Sciabarra Ayn Rand's "dialectic" owes its roots to her Russian teachers, and he "discovers" the parallels between Ayn Rand's philosophic approach and the methods employed in Marxist social theory.

Sciabarra wrote an entire book of torturous arguments attempting to make such fantasy seem real. Any resemblance between Ayn Rand and the portrait painted by Sciabarra, is purely coincidental and intellectually irrelevant.

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I've linked to this in another thread but I'll link to it again here. This is Arthur Silbur's take on the beheading of Nicholas Berg:

http://coldfury.com/reason/comments.php?id=P1880_0_1_0

As I said in a post above, Silbur is a compatriot of Sciabarra; who claims to be heavily influenced by Ayn Rand. I believe he was one of the early NBI people. (Nathaniel Branden Institute) Sciabarra and Silbur share identical views on most things and both vent the same Libertarian bile. I don't know if Sciabarra would agree with Silbur on the above but I wouldn't be shocked.

In essence, Silbur feels that Berg deserved what he got because he shouldn't have been so gung ho to help out in the Neo-conservative war effort by shipping himself to the middle east.

I want to either spit or vomit. And this man has the audacity to link himself to Ayn Rand.

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I would like to make something clear at the outset to everyone on this forum: for the last two years I have been a supporter of David Kelly. I am now seriously reconsidering this support and am starting to think ARI is the better choice.

I have come to realize that Kelly is wrong in claiming Objectivism is an open system. Objectivism is the philosophy of Ayn Rand, period. What is open, and always will be, is philosophy as such. Anyone is free to publish any philosophical work they so choose, but nobody has a right to call it "Objectivism." Anything not written or approved of by Ayn Rand herself - even if it happens to be objectively true - cannot be called Objectivism. It would only be proper to say that one's work is influenced by Objectivism, or that it is based on breakthroughs made by Rand.

Then there is the issue of respect. It is very disrespectful to use the name of Ayn Rand's philosophy in a way she herself explicitly did not want it to be used. In light of Rand's stunning achievements, shouldn't one show her the utmost respect? I think anyone who claims to be her admirer should respect her wishes in regards to the way the name of her philosophy is used. Go ahead with your own work, but don't call it "Objectivism."

The above issues I have with Kelly do not change the fact that I think he has done some very good work of his own. I consider The Evidence of The Senses, A Life of One's Own, and Unrugged Individualism all to be excellent books (specifically what it is I like about these books in not the subject of this post, but I would be happy to discuss my reasons in the future). I agree with Kelly that benevolence is in one’s own rational self-interest, and that tolerance (to a point and in certain situations) is the proper way to deal with those with whom one disagrees. I also agree with him that willingness for open debate is necessary in a philosophy of reason.

So this is where I stand at this point in my thinking. Much of Kelly’s writing is of value, even brilliant. What I have a problem with is his claim that Objectivism is an “open system.” I also have a problem with the disrespect toward Ayn Rand he shows by using the term “Objectivism” in a way she explicitly stated she did not want it used. This sort of disrespect shown toward a woman whom I deeply admire is unsettling.

What do you think? Is it a contradiction to support ARI rather than TOC while still finding value in some of Kelly's work?

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What do you think? Is it a contradiction to support ARI rather than TOC while still finding value in some of Kelly's work?

Certainly not. Afterall, when Ayn Rand broke with Branden that did not invalidate the work he had published up to that point.

Regardless, the issue is not about allegiances, other than your own allegiance to the philosophy of Objectivism. I am pleased to see you move away from TOC towards ARI, and I hope it is clear in your mind as to your own motivation in doing so. On my own part, I think there is an even more fundamental reason for rejecting Kelly than his advocacy of an "open" Objectivism. I think the extensions to the philsopophy Kelly seeks through the entourage he has surrounded himself with, is even more damning. For instance, when Kelly froms allegiances with the likes of a Sciabarra and the lesser non-academic libertarians, I think that tells you everything you need to know about the superficiality of his grasp and support of Objectivism.

Now, I certainly do not want to engage in yet another Kelly-Peikoff, TOC-ARI debate -- god knows there have been more of those than the conflict even warrants -- but I just wanted to underscore the importance of fundamentals in these sort of issues. My advice is for you to just proceed with living your life and enjoying your studies at the university, and not worry too much about public declarations or debates regarding where you previously stood.

Also, if you have not already done so, you might want to look into the Objectivist Academic Center at ARI which lends support and education to young intellectuals like yourself. There are a few here on this group who are involved with that program, so you might enjoy speaking with some of them to learn first-hand what it is all about.

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Some C.S essays/posts:

http://coldfury.com/reason/comments.php?id=P814_0_1_0_C = on the New York blackout

Interesting that he claims he is an Objectivist when he makes the statment,

Before anyone could say “Osama Bin Laden,” we were being assured that this was not an act of terrorism (amazing how quickly they came to that conclusion!!!). But who the hell needs terrorists when you have public utility monopolies with which to contend???

Maybe he was joking? If so...it is a really bad joke for an Objectivist to be making.

Especially one who seems to profess a love for NYC.

I visited NYC a month ago and I fell in love with it. It is SOOOO amazingly productive, nothing stands still. An "Objectivist" bitching about a monopoly though?Talk about wiggidy wacktacular.

http://coldfury.com/reason/comments.php?id=P5_0_1_0_C

An essay about Libertarianism.

http://coldfury.com/reason/comments.php?id=P329_0_1_0_C

A post from the Nathaniel Branden forums...which Sciabarra seems to frequent quite regularly.

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Also, if you have not already done so, you might want to look into the Objectivist Academic Center at ARI which lends support and education to young intellectuals like yourself. There are a few here on this group who are involved with that program, so you might enjoy speaking with some of them to learn first-hand what it is all about.

Is the OAC is based in Los Angeles? I am moving there in about three years.

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Is the OAC is based in Los Angeles? I am moving there in about three years.

The OAC has full support for phone students and in fact this is how a majority of its students take classes (my knowledge is dated a few years but I doubt that this has changed).

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Regarding the NYC blackout article,

Power IS totally "monopolized" here in NYC - by the Government, of course. Thus I don't really see any problem with Chris' quote; he's basically right.

Regarding academic lingo - maybe it's just me (and my background in an activity like high school debate, which has its own set of highly specialized jargon) but I don't mind it. In a certain context, it's useful - like medical or legal jargon. Believe me - if Sciabarra suddenly found himself altogether incapable of being understood, his style would change rapidly - but as it stands, he's an academic writing for an academic audience. What's wrong with that?

Again, I have to wonder if everyone here on the boards is merely being cranky with Sciabarra for the sake of sounding "orthodox" - or if they genuinely have a distaste for him. If it's the latter, I wonder why you'd even waste your time discussing him...? It's hardly a productive action. Just ignore him, or don't buy his books.

:pimp:

--A.

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Is the OAC is based in Los Angeles? I am moving there in about three years.

As I understand it, the OAC provides education and support in conjunction with undergraduate and graduate programs at universities. This is done on a remote basis so that students around the world can participate along with their usual studies. Here is a pointer to ARI's OAC page, which explains all the details.

http://www.aynrand.org/academic/

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Regarding academic lingo ... he's an academic writing for an academic audience. What's wrong with that?

There is nothing wrong, per se, with specialized terminology in any field as long as its purpose is to elucidate, not obfuscate. Unfortunately, the social sciences are plagued with jargon so vague, so over-generalized, so lacking in precise meaning as to be properly labeled gibberish. Postmodern academia wears such gibberish as a badge of honor. Ever heard of the Sokal hoax?

As to specifically what is wrong in Sciabarra's use of such language: I submit that such obfuscating terminology is precisely the means by which his ludicrous conclusions are reached. If a straightforward logical argument were made -- in support of Ayn Rand's Russian heritage being, as Sciabarra claims, so crucial to her philosophical development, in the particular framework he creates -- then the identified "facts" would be seen for being as irrelevant as they are, and the arguments would be seen as being as vacuous as they are. It is only by couching the "arguments" in the form of obfuscating terminology that the impression of reasonableness and intelligibility is created.

Again, I have to wonder if everyone here on the boards is merely being cranky with Sciabarra for the sake of sounding "orthodox" - or if they genuinely have a distaste for him.

Please keep your psychologizing to yourself. You know nothing of the motives of those who have posted on this thread. Stick to the facts. If you can refute a single thing said about Sciabarra then do so with a logical argument in reference to facts, not by casting aspersions about poster's motives.

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Again, I have to wonder if everyone here on the boards is merely being cranky with Sciabarra for the sake of sounding "orthodox" - or if they genuinely have a distaste for him. If it's the latter, I wonder why you'd even waste your time discussing him...? It's hardly a productive action. Just ignore him, or don't buy his books.

He is awful.

There used to be a website called the Daily Objectivist that he contributed to along with members of the TOC.

I once saw him comment favourably on an article arguing that Hegel's view of liberty was more Aristotelian than Rand's.

I knew that he was an idiot then and there.

And the less said about 'Feminist Interpretations of Ayn Rand' the better.

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Speaking about people who never read Ayn Rand but claim to - I found this quote on some internet publication:

In an early scene of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged, the female protagonist shatters a sculpture, a piece of art she loves so much that she cannot bare for it to be viewed by others. Even in my younger, Randian days, I always found this extreme display of selfishness and possessiveness to be a bit disturbing.

The rest can be found here - http://www.popmatters.com/comics/my-flesh-is-cool-1-3.shtml

I wrote them this comment:

I find it hard to believe that the author of the article had his "younger, Randian days" - when the scene he describes in NOT taken from Atlas Shrugged like he suggests, but rather from The Fountainhead. Not to mention that Dominique, the character who breaks the statue, is NOT presented as Ayn Rand's ideal at all.

Howard Roark, the hero, is that ideal - an ideal that Dominique spends a decade of her life fighting.

Guess what they did? Changed Atlas Shrugged to The Fountainhead - but of course kept the rest exactly as it was... :D

I guess I had it coming.

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Many of the OAC courses are taught from a classroom at ARI in Irvine, so if you are in the L.A. area you can attend live. But otherwise, you can call in with a phone, or if your schedule doesn't permit, listen to class recordings on the internet.

Do check out the website that Stephen linked to. For the most part, the OAC has been quite a valuable experience for me.

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Thanks for the link. The OAC looks like something I should become involved in. I plan on attending graduate school and earning a degree in philosophy, so the knowledge I could gain from OAC would be very valuable. Would any of you who are involved mind telling me about your specific experiences? What is it like?

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Patrick,

PM me and we can talk about it. This is getting off-topic and I have personal experiences to share with you. I was once on the same track that you are on.

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What do you think? Is it a contradiction to support ARI rather than TOC while still finding value in some of Kelly's work?

At one point, I was in your position. But that was before I read Robert Tracinski's analysis of Kelley. If you have read Peikoff's "Fact and Value", and you still value Kelley's new work, then I suggest you read Tracinski's analysis.

Notes on "A Question of Sanction"

At the very least, I hope it will motivate you to re-examine the issue of tolerance.

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According to Stephen Speicher:

1. Sciabarra "has become a magnet that attracts others with strange approaches, a sort of clearinghouse for those who would distort Objectivism."

To paraphrase Rand, A boat that cannot stand rocking, had better be rocked fast and hard. So if Sciabarra is indeed "distorting" Objectivism, I think Objectivism can handle it.

Indeed, it as a sign of progress of our penetration into the zeitgeist that Rand, like Marx -- with whom she expressed sympathy on this -- would say today about some of her followers, "But I am not an Objectivist."

As Sciabarra says in http://www.nyu.edu/projects/sciabarra/about/chronicle.htm, That ideas thrive in a free atmosphere of critical dialogue is “one of the essential principles of the Western canon since the days of Socrates” -- perhaps even the most sacred Western value.

2. "By now my default position in regard to any writings emanating from Sciabbara and his entourage is to simply not treat anything they say seriously."

So because Sciabarra allgedly distorts Objectivism, absolutely everything he has to say is unserious?

3. "Sciabarra is a full-fledged modern academic, replete with all the jargon and obfuscation that comes with the privilege."

Sciabarra is an academic, yes, but he is also, like Rand, a popularizer. Just as Rand wrote Introduction To Objectivist Epistemology *and* The Fountainhead, Sciabarra writes for two audiences.

Finally, argive99 references the debate raging at Diana Hesiah's Noodlefood blog. The links aren't working at the moment, but before you dismiss those whom ARI scorns -- or who scorn ARI -- I suggest you read what they have to say.

Specifically, before you condemn Arthur Silber on the basis of http://coldfury.com/reason/comments.php?id=P1880_0_1_0, read his post, "The Self-Appointed Moralizers, and Would-be Executioners, of Objectivism": http://coldfury.com/reason/comments.php?id=P1824_0_1_0.

Above all, please check out Sciabarra's blog -- http://www.nyu.edu/projects/sciabarra/notablog.htm -- and judge for yourself whether Sciabarra is positively contributing to changing the world.

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BlackSabbath alleges vis-a-vis Sciabarra:

"I once saw him comment favourably on an article arguing that Hegel's view of liberty was more Aristotelian than Rand's."

1. Do you really expect anybody to believe your allegation without any evidence whatever, e.g., a reference? Objectivism most emphatically holds that each individual must arrive at his own conclusions -- by the judgment of his own mind -- not by the assertions of others.

Stephen Speicher says:

"Please keep your psychologizing to yourself. You know nothing of the motives of those who have posted on this thread. Stick to the facts. If you can refute a single thing said about Sciabarra then do so with a logical argument in reference to facts, not by casting aspersions about poster's motives."

Absolutely! Let's focus on principles, not personalities. "f you can refute a single thing said about Sciabarra['s]" work, please do.

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BlackSabbath alleges vis-a-vis Sciabarra:

"I once saw him comment favourably on an article arguing that Hegel's view of liberty was more Aristotelian than Rand's."

1. Do you really expect anybody to believe your allegation without any evidence whatever, e.g., a reference? Objectivism most emphatically holds that each individual must arrive at his own conclusions -- by the judgment of his own mind -- not by the assertions of others.

I do expect people to believe it because I am not a liar.

I said there used to be a website and there was.

I did not assert. That is what he said. It's nearly five years since I read that and the site has long been defunct/

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Absolutely! Let's focus on principles, not personalities. "f you can refute a single thing said about Sciabarra['s]" work, please do.

I did debate these issues with Sciabarra directly - anyone who is interested can follow our debate in the comments section of Diana Hsieh's blog. Pay careful attention to the tactics Sciabarra uses. Any honest reader will, in my view, come away with a negative evaluation of him. As for the theory he propounds in AR: The Russian Radical, to the extent it's meaningful, it's false; to the extent it's true, it's meaningless.

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So if Sciabarra is indeed "distorting" Objectivism, I think Objectivism can handle it.

With that, I agree. However, just as we wash away the graffiti defacing the surface of the Empire State Building, so we erase the mustache drawn on the image of Ayn Rand.

Sorry, but I do not "tolerate" those who distort Objectivism.

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"f you can refute a single thing said about Sciabarra['s]" work, please do.

Oh please, it has been done repeatedly. I did so in a public debate five years ago. But some are impervious to intellectual criticism. Even Sciabarra left the debate thinking that we had respect for each other. He actually asked me privately to contribute to his Journal!

The avowed enemies of Objectivism are not as clueless as some of its supposed supporters.

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BlackSabbath:

Your reply makes my point nicely.

Stephen:

Who said anything about "tolerating"? You're putting David Kelley's words into my mouth.

Nonetheless, your huge, bold, and categoric assertions require argument, not assertion. Show me the evidence.

Again, it goes against the very essence of Objectivism -- of reason -- to expect that people believe you because you say so, period.

Don:

I read the debate a few weeks ago; Diana's Web site -- www.dianahsieh.com -- is still down. While I appreciate your willingness to engage your opponents openly, I drew the opposite conclusion: any honest reader will come away with a negative evaluation of *you.* But, again, this is assertion, not argument.

Regarding Chris's thesis in *Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical,* maybe it's right, maybe it's wrong. But even if viciously wrong -- even if it gives unwitting readers a destructive depiction of Objectivism and Ayn Rand -- please, watch your hypberole. Chris's corpus is anything but serious (as Stephen says). In fact -- if you didn't know beforehand that he subscribes to Ayn Rand's philosophy -- I think you'd agree.

And the reason, Stephen, that Chris left a previous debate thinking that you both still repected each other, is that he prefers to make friends, not enemies; he seeks to build bridges, not moralize over "sanctions" and "ideological purity." Objectivism will never win if, like Communist nations, it builds walls around itself to keep its practicitoners from entering the outside world.

Edited by jrick

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