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Do Objectivists Believe in Categorical Imperatives?

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I did provide substantial support. What I am saying is that if KendallJ thinks my support is wrong, that is fine, it would then be easy to disprove with other quotes from Peikoff's book. The problem is that KendallJ seems to be saying I have mischaracterized Peikoff's position without saying how or what he thinks Peikoff's position actually is.

No actually, I think my post indicated that it is not necessary to get much past the table to contents of OPAR to see that your claim of "substantial" support is questionable. It takes less time to look at such structure than it does to find your single sentence on p. 337, so one wonders why you skipped it. My expectation is that when someone chooses a quote to base their argument on, they have examined the heirarchy of the arguments to know if their citation is relevant, and essential, and in proper context. It doesn't take that much time to verify this. It only took my about 5 minutes or so to locate your quotes and put them in context. This is sloppy at best, and dishonest at worst. How someone can skip over the chapters specifically dealing with the development of the key arguments and find his justification in a derivative chapter is beyond me, and not worth rebutting as argument. I can weaken your assertion just fine by calling into question your source for support, and since I don't have much time either, this is the easier course of action. I provide a higlight of the Objectivist argument here.

In other words, we haven't even gotten to the substance of your assertion since your claim of substantial evidence is, on the bare surface of it, suspect. Wanna try again?

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As I said, if you have no counterargument or assertion that Peikoff's claim is something different than the quotes I found indicate, I think our discussion is at an end. I have neither the time nor the interest in finding every single quote in OPAR on the subject which might satisfy you.

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This is sloppy at best, and dishonest at worst. How someone can skip over the chapters specifically dealing with the development of the key arguments and find his justification in a derivative chapter is beyond me, and not worth rebutting as argument.

Here is the quote of what Vladimir said and softwareNerd asked him to back up with references:

This is false. At best, objectivism't argument for not violating rights is that it increases the risk of your own rights being violated plus some rather murky psychological harms.

Now, I will be the first to admit that this is not an accurate characterization of the Objectivist position. My strong guess is that is why softwareNerd asked Vladimir to back it up with a reference instead of rebutting it.

Here is what Vladimir cited to back up his assertion per softwareNerd's request:

"The brute stifles at the root the process on which his own survival depends" OPAR p. 315

"The irrational man is inevitably tortured. Success of his kind ... is a threat, attainment brings anxiety, desire is guilt, self-esteem is self-loathing...." OPAR p.337

Now, KendallJ - while I agree that the quotes he provided do not make his case, you have to admit that there is a connection between what he asserted and what the quotes say. Yes - I know, the quotes he presents are out of context. That was really all that was necessary to say in the first place - that, and to either suggest that he search for some more quotations or tell him outrightly why his assertion is not an accurate representation of the Objectivist position. I think the latter of the two would probably be more useful because, no matter how hard he searches, he is not going to find anything in OPAR or elsewhere in the Objectivist literature to back his particular assertion up.

I can think of perfectly innocent reasons why Vladimir made such an assertion in the first place. What about the possibility that somewhere, either in his reading of the source material or reading postings that others have put up here, Vladimir came to a false conclusion about what the Objectivist position is. A lot of people new to the philosophy do that.

And I really don't have a problem at all with Vladimir suggesting that the "psychological harms" are "murky." I don't agree with that as I have already mentioned in another posting. But if he doesn't fully understand the issues involved, it is not at all unreasonable that they would seem murky to him. Is it not possible that he is simply mistaken on that matter?

I should also point out that Vladimir said the following in response to softwareNerd's initial request:

I would have to find the other threads on this forum where the topic was discussed. I might just search up the relevant sections in OPAR later tonight and provide references to that.

That sounds to me like he very likely got his notion of what the Objectivist position is based, in part, on stuff that he read here on this forum. I am afraid that is a very common mistake for people new to the philosophy. You can't take anything that is said here as being a proper, official representation of the philosophy. Even those here who do have a solid understanding of the philosophy are not necessarily qualified to present it. And, quite frankly, there is no shortage of postings here that are outright wrong or, at best, highly rationalistic and/or dogmatic. Anyone new to the philosophy would do well to keep that in mind.

The way I look at it, Vladimir basically made good on his word - he picked up OPAR and found a couple of quotes that, in and of themselves, seem to support his assertion. To point out that they are taken out of context is by all means appropriate. But to suggest that he is dishonest or lazy is, I think, uncalled for. If he understood the context, he most likely wouldn't have posted the assertion in the first place. Vladimir did not promise to go back and re-read a couple of chapters - and since he is a busy student, I completely believe him when he says that he does not have time to do so just for the sake of a discussion board posting. What he promised to do was browse through and look for a couple of quotations that supported what he had already gleamed from the book. That is how someone can innocently "skip over the chapters specifically dealing with the development of the key arguments and find his justification in a derivative chapter."

Again, all I think was necessary was to briefly explain why his quotes were inadequate - which you actually did, though in a somewhat mocking tone which really isn't very persuasive or productive. I also don't think Vladimir's request for specific references as to where he can find Peikoff's actual position is at all unreasonable. And it wouldn't have been very difficult to answer as you already provided such an answer a more general sort of way in your initial posting on the matter. All you really needed to do was refer back to it and perhaps narrow the scope a little bit.

As for the possibility of Vladimir being dishonest - well, I have had quite a few philosophical conversations and debates with Vladimir. He and I don't always agree on things - but I have yet to see him exhibit any form of dishonesty. Sometimes I feel like he is a bit thick-headed (I am sure he can say the same about me and others here as well). But I have a great deal of respect for his intelligence, his integrity and for the fact that he is approaching his study of Objectivism in a critical manner. To see a suggestion here that he is dishonest - well, I am sorry, that kind of bugs me. It is not true and it is not an appropriate thing to say to him. To level such a charge in an Objectivist forum - well, that is a pretty serious accusation.

Edited by Dismuke

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The error in your postings is that you essentially equate "self-interest" with pragmatic expediency. Objectivists mean something entirely different when they use the term and regard pragmatism or any other form of range-of-the-moment behavior to be ultimately self destructive.

I took "rational self-interest" (RSI) to mean the circumspect pursuit of contentment and prosperity. Obviously I am wrong. I have seen ample evidence that for Objectivists, there is no difference between the statements "S respects the rights of others" and "S is following his RSI". If adherence to RSI is, by definition, is the act of respecting rights - and if the act of respecting rights satisfies no goal other than the adherence to RSI - then clearly RSI is an end in itself. Objectivism is deontological. If RSI is not an end in itself, then it follows that it must satisfy some other end (e.g. prosperity). But you have specified no such end.

Edited by J.L. Mackie

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If adherence to RSI is, by definition, is the act of respecting rights - and if the act of respecting rights satisfies no goal other than the adherence to RSI - then clearly RSI is an end in itself. Objectivism is deontological. If RSI is not an end in itself, then it follows that it must satisfy some other end (e.g. prosperity). But you have specified no such end.

J.L -

Rational self-interest is neither an end nor some sort of sub-end toward higher ends. Rational self-interest is a principle - it is a standard against which you can evaluate and choose between the countless choices which confront you every single hour of every single day. The only "end in itself" in this context is an individual's own life.

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J.L -

Rational self-interest is neither an end nor some sort of sub-end toward higher ends. Rational self-interest is a principle - it is a standard against which you can evaluate and choose between the countless choices which confront you every single hour of every single day. The only "end in itself" in this context is an individual's own life.

He said that rational self interest is either an end or a means to an end, which I think is a perfectly legitimate dichotomy. All things are either ends or non-ends. All things are either A or not-A, that is a basic tautology, which I think holds.

If life qua man is your end, and rational self-interest is a principle that leads you to that, then it IS a means to an end.

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As for the possibility of Vladimir being dishonest - well, I have had quite a few philosophical conversations and debates with Vladimir. He and I don't always agree on things - but I have yet to see him exhibit any form of dishonesty. Sometimes I feel like he is a bit thick-headed (I am sure he can say the same about me and others here as well). But I have a great deal of respect for his intelligence, his integrity and for the fact that he is approaching his study of Objectivism in a critical manner. To see a suggestion here that he is dishonest - well, I am sorry, that kind of bugs me. It is not true and it is not an appropriate thing to say to him. To level such a charge in an Objectivist forum - well, that is a pretty serious accusation.

Whew, I knew that comment was going to get someone to come back to me.

Two issues should be separated and dealt with separately.

a. the status of his assertion.

b. his behavior and my comment on it.

I'm am aware of his claims leading up to his provision of citations so I wasn't expecting a whole lot. My goal in responding was to discredit his sourcing, as opposed to correcting his assertion or engaging him in a debate (since he admittedly didn't have time). That is a valid approach as you have said yourself, and one that takes me less time to do. I think it's pretty clear to anyone that his sourcing was poor. That means his assertion stands unsupported. My goal is complete, and I have no further interest in spending time on him since he has very little time to spend. At this point, if he wishes to support his claim, that is his option. It is not encumbent upon me to find and correct his argument. In addition, no less than three people in this thread (including myself which I linked to) have already made attempts to state the proper foundation for the Objectivist ethics in response to nimble's original question. Any of these suffice as a proper statement, and I'm sure can be supported further if he has questions about them.

My comment about his approach is not so nearly a claim of his dishonesty as a claim of my ignorance, and a puzzlement at behaviour that doesn't fit with past behavior. When someone says that something is "X at best, Y at worst", it brackets what could be possible from what is known, while admitting what is unknown. It says in effect, "I don't know what your motivations are, but your behaviour could be taken as X in the best light, and Y in the worst light". I too have found him to be generally thorough, and willing to continue debates - albeit always placing Objectivism in a negative light, which is what makes his behaviour on this thread so puzzling. I've simply indicated that his behavior is odd enough that it is difficult to understand his motivation and he risks improper characterization if he does not clarify. Is it a provocative way of putting it? sure. I am trying to provoke him to show us clearly with his behavior that he is dealing in an honest manner with this topic. Am I calling him dishonest? hardly.

  • He has enough time to make an assertion, but not enough to back it up.
  • His references are detailed enough that he must have spent sometime finding them, but the evidence that they are out of context is so blatant that he must not have spent any time assuring they were "relevant" as he claims.
  • The thread has several post which directly refute his assertion, but he has not picked any of these up and deal with them.
  • He seems willing to debate me, only if I spend time correcting his argument, which he did not bother to spend time on supporting in the first place.

None of that goes to motivation. It is pure behavior, and it is inconsitent with some of what I've seen from him in the past. On the surface, this could be taken many way, and that is all I claimed. The best course of action from an intellectually honest person who does not have the time to deal with a debate is not to start it, or to admit that their assertions were not properly substantiated and bow out. He has done neither. I am befuddled by his motivations, but his odd behavior could be taken in various lights, one of which is dishonesty. As of right now his assertion stands, but it has been discredited. Positive arguments have been given. If he chooses to try to resubstantiate his assertion, fine. If not, then we won't hear from him again on this topic.

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Rational self-interest is neither an end nor some sort of sub-end toward higher ends. Rational self-interest is a principle - it is a standard against which you can evaluate and choose between the countless choices which confront you every single hour of every single day. The only "end in itself" in this context is an individual's own life.

I am sorry but I don't understand. Principles are obeyed either because they are beneficial (in which case they serve some end) or because they are ends-in-themselves i.e. one has a duty to obey them. This is a true dichotomy. Either you do X because of its consequences or you do X because you ought to do X. There is no middle ground. Either Objectivist ethics tell you to do the first thing or it tells you to do the second thing.

Again, terms like that do not apply to Objectivism. The attempt to make the square peg go into the round hole is fruitless.

I do not understand this statement. The above-mentioned dichotomy is either true or false. If it is true, then it follows that all principles (including those prescribed by Objectivist) are either a means to some end or ends-in-themselves. The evidence here, so far, suggests that Objectivist principles conform to the latter description. By definition, then, Objectivism entails a deontological theory of ethics.

To deny this is really to say that the dichotomy is false. You are welcome to defend that position. The wikipedia article does a good job of describing when it is that a dichotomy is false:

A false dichotomy is a logical fallacy consisting of a supposed dichotomy which fails one or both of the conditions: it is not jointly exhaustive or not mutually exclusive. In its most common form, two entities are presented as if they are exhaustive, when in fact other alternatives are possible. In some cases, they may be presented as if they are mutually exclusive although there is a broad middle ground (see also undistributed middle).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dichotomy

You must either acknowledge that it is true (and applies to any prescribed principle, including RSI), show it to be false, or remain agnostic. But - to use one of Ayn Rand's favorite phrases - "You cannot have your cake and eat it too."

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(...) If it is true, then it follows that all principles (including those prescribed by Objectivist) are either a means to some end or ends-in-themselves. (...)

Principles are neither means nor ends. Principles are rational identifications about reality and the nature of man, they are facts. They are not ends: the end is man's life. They are not means: they exist independent from anyone's purpose. Unless you classify the wavelength of orange light, the diameter of the electron and pi as "means", principles are not "means". They are aspects of reality.

The trouble you are having is that all the classifications of academic philosophy, such as the "square holes" you are trying to fit Objectivism into, are based on improper epistemology. For instance: Objectivism seems to be "changing definitions" because they offer no proper definitions at all.

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I do not understand this statement. The above-mentioned dichotomy is either true or false.
Recall that you asserted "Objectivism is deontological", and Inspector replies "Again, terms like that do not apply to Objectivism." To be more direct, it is false that Objectivism is deontological (which is defined as: "In ethics, deontological ethics is a theory holding that decisions should be made solely or primarily by considering one's duties and the rights of others").

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Whew, I knew that comment was going to get someone to come back to me.

a. the status of his assertion.

b. his behavior and my comment on it.

I am sorry but you miss my point entirely.

Any person who has a misconception about exactly what the philosophy stands for and gives voice to it here in a posting is going to be unable to back his assertion up with quotes from the Objectivist literature. That is the very nature of a misconception. And someone who is new to the philosophy and is studying it is quite likely to have certain misconceptions about it which will eventually have to be corrected before they have a full and proper understanding of it.

The "status of his assertion" was that he was misinformed about what the Objectivist position actually is. So what? I think we have all been misinformed about things at least a time or two.

In Vladimir's instance, softwareNerd responded by asking him to back up the assertion he made about the Objectivist position. That is a good thing. If somebody is misinformed about something and nobody tells them - well, it could possibly take a very long time for them to come back to the subject and recognize the error on their own. Pointing out why and how the quotes he subsequently provided fall short of being able to back up his initial assertion is also a good thing - for the same reason. Not only does pointing out the errors of newbies give them the information they need to understand their errors, it can also be helpful in teaching them the importance of being a bit more careful about making broad, generalized assertions about subject matter they are still fairly new to.

You did provide at least some explanation as to why his quotes fell short. But the tone of your response was condescending, mocking and rude.

That is simply NOT an acceptable way to treat someone who is new to the philosophy and has enough interest in it to take the time to study it and engage people in conversation about it. I would assume that you value the growth of the philosophy and would like to see more people, especially promising young people, develop an interest in it. If so, then you sure have a funny way of showing it. If you do not have the patience to deal with people being wrong about things and having lots of misconceptions and having difficulty grasping certain points which seem obvious to you - well, if so, you have no business discussing the philosophy with newbies.

When I finally got around to rereading your response to his quotes, (I only skimmed through it the first time) my first thought was: "Who the hell do you think you are to talk to him in that sort of tone?" I pretty much decided to bite my tongue on that - Vladimir is certainly able to take care of himself and he ultimately did the mature and proper thing by simply refusing to engage in further exchanges with you over it. But your insinuation that he might be dishonest - which you did make and are now apparently trying to weasel out of - well, I am not going to let that pass without a response. You have no idea who you are talking about or what you are talking about. And it sure as heck is not your place to call him to task simply because he put up an assertion that you disagree with and involves certain misconceptions. If that is your approach, then, for the sake of the philosophy, please stay away from newbies - or at least just confine your dealings to those who are uncritical and swallow the philosophy whole and become walking "randroids" who usually end up being hostile to the philosophy after a few years anyway.

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Principles are neither means nor ends. Principles are rational identifications about reality and the nature of man, they are facts. They are not ends: the end is man's life. They are not means: they exist independent from anyone's purpose. Unless you classify the wavelength of orange light, the diameter of the electron and pi as "means", principles are not "means". They are aspects of reality.

The trouble you are having is that all the classifications of academic philosophy, such as the "square holes" you are trying to fit Objectivism into, are based on improper epistemology. For instance: Objectivism seems to be "changing definitions" because they offer no proper definitions at all.

I think it could be argued that knowledge of wavelengths, or diameters serve as a means to an end. There are reasons why anyone even inquired to know the diameter of an electron. If principles are facts, just like wavelengths and science is the study of facts/nature, then science is also broken up into two categories: applied (means based) and pure (knowledge as an end in itself).

So I think JL made an error when he asked if principles are means or ends, but wanting to know principles is either a means or an end.

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Dismuke,

I understand that you feel strongly and that it is now your place to take me to task.

I read both of your posts, and while I agree with your suggestions for how to treat a newbie, I disagree that Vladimir falls into this category. He knows the philosophy well, and likes to disagree with it often, and I have yet to see anyone convince him that he has any misconceptions about it. I have a history of treating newbies with respect on this board, just as I have a history of debating strongly with Vladimir.

I represented the intent of my statements accurately, and if you want to assert that I intended something other than I did, well that will be your case to make.

I don't intend to speak to this issue any further. I'm sure we'd like to get back to the topic at hand. If mods have some feedback for me, I'd happily receive it back channel. Beyond that, I'd suggest everyone take a deep breath, and we all get back to the conversation.

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I read both of your posts, and while I agree with your suggestions for how to treat a newbie, I disagree that Vladimir falls into this category. He knows the philosophy well,

If he knew the philosophy well, he wouldn't have the misconceptions that he expresses about it, would he?

Vladimir is familiar with the philosophy. He has read through a significant portion of the literature. That is not the same thing as "knowing it well." I wouldn't expect him to "know it well" at this point in his studies. It is true that there are others who have studied it as much and as long as he has who are further along in their agreement with the philosophy. It is also true that there are those who have studied it just as much and long who are very good at being able to regurgitate various aspects of the philosophy back to others. But that is not the same thing as understanding the philosophy. Even if one is quick to agree with it, actually understanding the philosophy takes more time and study than Vladimir has been able to devote to it thus far. Your statement that "he knows the philosophy well" is grounds for me to question just how well you know the philosophy.

and likes to disagree with it often,
Good for him. If something about the philosophy strikes him as being significantly off the mark, he should disagree with it.

I, for one, am glad that he expresses his disagreements. If he didn't, how else will others have the opportunity to shoot him down and point him in the correct direction? What would you prefer that he do? Mindlessly agree with whatever Ayn Rand and Dr. Peikoff say? Keep his questions and disagreements to himself so that they remain unanswered and he eventually concludes that Objectivism is either flawed or flaky and simply goes away?

and I have yet to see anyone convince him that he has any misconceptions about it.

So what?

I can count on one hand the number of times over the years I have had a debate with someone over a significant philosophical disagreement where the person ended up telling me he changed his mind simply as a result of that conversation with me. And this is with in-person, one-on-one debates, not in a discussion forum setting where it is much more difficult to engage in philosophical back and forth. Convincing someone to change his mind is always difficult - especially when you are dealing with someone who is intelligent, critical and very sure of himself as is the case with Vladimir. If you ever get a chance, take a listen to Dr. Peikoff's remarks on the subject in his Objective Communication course where he explains why it is so difficult.

Oh - and by the way: how can he have misconceptions about the philosophy that need to be corrected if he "knows it well"?

I have a history of treating newbies with respect on this board,

I have no idea what your history on this board is as I have read very few of your postings. But you did NOT treat Vladimir with respect in this thread. Your tone was condescending, hostile and rude. You also suggested that he was "lazy" or "dishonest." There are plenty of ways you could have made your essential point without resorting to such behavior.

As for history - I happen to have a long history of being VERY vocal against self-proclaimed "Objectivists" who disrespect or are hostile to newbies. I happen to hold that any person who values the philosophy and speaks on its behalf in public has a moral obligation to conduct himself in a way that does not reflect badly on the philosophy and cause newbies to recoil away in disgust. There are a lot of people out there who have never really given Objectivism much of a chance because, early on, they ended up being turned off by obnoxious people they falsely assumed were representative of the philosophy. I am not suggesting that you are such a person - and Vladimir is far enough along in his study that he ought to be able to see such people for what they are. My point, however, is that treatment of Objectivist newbies is a very important issue to me. In the case of Vladimir, he happens to be a friend of mine that I know from outside of Objectivism. If someone behaves rudely to a friend of mine - well, I may or may not speak up and throw it back in their face. But if someone unjustly suggests that a good friend of mine is dishonest - and that person claims to be an Objectivist who presumably understands just how serious such an accusation is - well, that is not something that I will tolerate in my presence without speaking out against it very vocally.

(And just so nobody misunderstands me - I am not suggesting that Vladimir be accorded treatment any different than anyone else here. Vladimir, like anyone else, must take the full consequences that can come from expressing one's opinions in public - and if he is not prepared to, he should keep them to himself. If he says something that is off the mark, it is entirely proper to shoot him down and to ask that he back up what he asserts. If he crosses the line and expresses his disagreements in a manner that is disrespectful to the philosophy or to Objectivists, he needs to be called on it and people need to be offended accordingly. But that was not the case in this thread - and he did not deserve the sort of treatment he was subjected to.)

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I have no idea what your history on this board is as I have read very few of your postings.

Dismuke,

I have read Kendall's post history on this board and I think that if you had, too, then you wouldn't be suggesting that he would ever "weasel out" of anything. It's just not his style. As a poster, he comes across as intelligent, thoughtful, well-learned and well-integrated in Objectivism, and also a very easygoing and nice guy.

Vladimir, however he is in person, comes across as a perpetual gripe whose only purpose here is to snipe at Objectivism. I know the difference between a newbie "I don't understand this; can you explain?" question and a "You Objectivists are wrong!!!" question, and Vladimir's posts are definitely the latter. I will remind you that the forum rules specifically forbid that kind of tone/attitude. For too long, he has arrogantly posted in that tone here and it was about time that someone called him to task for it.

I know, I know, he’s probably not really like that. But the point is that that is how he comes across.

I am not saying that Kendall did it in the best way possible; I don't understand how dishonesty entered into it. But I accept his explanation for his post and am not about to insinuate that he is dishonest, as you have done.

My point? I think that both you and Kendall are decent people and if you would both step back for a second, you will see that. I know that you are a busy fellow (aren’t we all!), and using enough of your time to make those long and well-thought-out posts that you write, so you haven’t had the time to know who Kendall is. Can you take my word for it, at least enough to take a closer look at him?

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Vladimir, however he is in person, comes across as a perpetual gripe whose only purpose here is to snipe at Objectivism. I know the difference between a newbie "I don't understand this; can you explain?" question and a "You Objectivists are wrong!!!" question, and Vladimir's posts are definitely the latter. I will remind you that the forum rules specifically forbid that kind of tone/attitude. For too long, he has arrogantly posted in that tone here and it was about time that someone called him to task for it.

From what I understand, a person need not agree 100% with Objectivism in order to post here. If a discussion about Objectivism and its applications is a purpose of the forum, then I fail to see how my substantive posts are off-topic. As someone who is an Ayn Rand fan and who is in agreement with most of the substantive applications of the Objectivist philosophy I believe it is my right to voice my opinion where I see 1.) a substantive philosophy-related problem in the post of another member whether or not their views correspond to Objectivist dogma, or 2.) Where I wish to voice my personal opinion on Objectivism's best application to some issue.

If you think I am some sort of troll who comes here merely to stir up trouble in my hatred of Objectivism, that is your prerogative. I personally find it rather depressing that my attempts to (as I see it) improve the procedural and structural elements of the philosophy have met with so much hostility. In many cases I simply think that either the standard Objectivist literature or other forum members have not critically examined some key issue and should do so. Othertimes I think there may be a flaw or weak spot in Objectivist's arguments which needs to be fixed or at least recognized in order to better support the philosophy.

I think Ayn Rand's ideas are simply too important to be accepted on a dogmatic basis and for all further discussion, critique or improvement to be banned. Such intellectual firewalls are what characterize intellectually bankrupt dogmas like Christianity, Marxism the like. It shouldn't characterize one of the few philosophies that values individual thought and reason.

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Vladimir, however he is in person, comes across as a perpetual gripe whose only purpose here is to snipe at Objectivism I know the difference between a newbie "I don't understand this; can you explain?" question and a "You Objectivists are wrong!!!" question, and Vladimir's posts are definitely the latter.

There are also times when Vladimir has made broad generalizations about Objectivism which simply are not warranted or accurate. When he does, he needs to be called on it. If he makes such assertions about Objectivists - i.e. if he is making such statements about the people here and not with his objection to specific aspects of the philosophy, then he definitely needs to be called on it. Vladimir, like anyone else who may have disagreements with the philosophy, ought to understand that this is a forum for people who either value the philosophy or who are serious about learning more about it - and as such, the philosophy and its proponents need to be given the respect that they are due.

If you have specific concerns about Vladimir, you need to politely take them up with him - not with me.

For too long, he has arrogantly posted in that tone here
If Vladimir behaves in an arrogant manner, then he needs to be called on it - in the context of the particular thread where such behavior might allegedly occur.

and it was about time that someone called him to task for it.

The only thing that Vladimir did in this thread was equate his misconception of the Objectivist position as being the Objectivist position. If you wish to classify that as "arrogance" - well, I disagree but am not going to argue the point. Either way, softwareNerd did a pretty good job of shooting him down by asking him to back up his assertion - and he did so in a polite and civilized manner. I don't have a problem with the content of Kendall's objection that the quotes Vladimir dug up failed to back up his assertions - my problem was with the tone in which he made it. And even then, I did not have any plan to respond to Kendall's tone until I read where he suggested that Vladimir was dishonest. I have a HUGE problem with that.

I know, I know, he’s probably not really like that. But the point is that that is how he comes across.

I have had philosophical debates with Vladimir on a number of occasions. His undergrad degree is in.....philosophy, a course of study he began before he discovered Ayn Rand. As a result, he has many of the same premises regarding the subject of philosophy that one would expect from someone who has been through the sort of stuff that they teach in modern day philosophy classes on a college level. As someone who has not studied much in the way of philosophy outside of Objectivism, debating with Vladimir is sometimes a challenge because the context he brings to the subject is so very different from my own. And, of course, my context is very different than his. It is sometimes hard for him to follow my points because the meaning that Objectivists attach to certain key words is different than what he is used to from his studies of philosophy - and, for the same reason, I sometimes have difficulty understanding where he is coming from. So, on some occasions, he and I have basically ended up talking past each other. If anyone ever gets frustrated or heated, it is always me. Vladimir is cool as a cucumber and makes his points politely and relentlessly. I am glad that I never had to go up against him when I was on the debate team in high school. If he thinks he is right on a something, he sticks to his guns and does not back down. In that regard, he is very much in person what he is like here. While we have had some rather heated debates, I cannot recall a single instance where he was in any way evasive, dishonest or insincere. I have a great deal of respect for him and think it is great that he has an interest in Objectivism. I wish I was half as together as he is when I was his age. He is also one of the most well-mannered people I know - something which is increasingly rare in this post counter-culture hippie infested world of today. If he indeed posts something here that comes across as rude - well, then he needs to be confronted and told that is the way he is coming across as I seriously doubt that such is his intention.

I don't understand how dishonesty entered into it.

It entered into it when Kendall suggested it in regard to Vladimir. Maybe Vladimir is "arrogant" and maybe he isn't. He sure as heck is NOT dishonest.

But I accept his explanation for his post and am not about to insinuate that he is dishonest, as you have done.

I have insinuated no such thing. Now it is your turn to back up an assertion.

The ONLY thing I said about Kendall was that 1) He was rude towards Vladimir and 2) I questioned how well he understood Objectivism on the basis of his assertion that Vladimir "knew the philosophy well" - which, as ought to be clear to anyone who does understand the philosophy, is simply not true based on the misconceptions he expresses here.

My point? I think that both you and Kendall are decent people and if you would both step back for a second, you will see that. I know that you are a busy fellow (aren’t we all!), and using enough of your time to make those long and well-thought-out posts that you write, so you haven’t had the time to know who Kendall is. Can you take my word for it, at least enough to take a closer look at him?

My only opinion of Kendall is based on what I saw in this particular thread. I only follow a small number of threads at any given time on this forum - and often I don't follow them that closely. I am not sure if Kendall has posted in any of them or not. There are a lot of user names here and it takes me a while to associate personalities and postings styles with them. I do follow Vladimir's postings - but since he frequently likes to post in topics that I am either not knowledgeable about or do not have a lot of interest in, I usually end up merely skimming through most of them. And since I usually follow his postings through his profile, I rarely see other people's replies and can recall none by Kendall. My comments about Kendall were confined to this particular thread and were very specific and very precise and involved no judgments about him whatsoever outside of that context. I would have made the exact same comments had Ayn Rand or Dr. Peikoff or anyone else behaved in a similar manner and unjustly suggested that a good friend of mine is dishonest.

As for Vladimir's conduct - if you wish to make that an issue my only response is he is a big boy and is more than capable of fighting his own battles. If there are legitimate concerns about his behavior, then, like anyone else, he needs to be politely confronted about them in the context of the specific thread.

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From what I understand, a person need not agree 100% with Objectivism in order to post here. If a discussion about Objectivism and its applications is a purpose of the forum, then I fail to see how my substantive posts are off-topic.

I will try to be patient with you here, but you clearly did not read what I said.

Here it is, again:

I know the difference between a newbie "I don't understand this; can you explain?" question and a "You Objectivists are wrong!!!" question, and Vladimir's posts are definitely the latter. I will remind you that the forum rules specifically forbid that kind of tone/attitude.

Was that a criticism of the intellectual content of your posts? Was it a criticism of the fact that you don’t 100% agree with Objectivism?

Allow me to put it another way:

Take the following 4 imaginary posts. They all say the same thing about Philosophy, but indicate different attitudes and possbily different intent. Do you think reactions will be the same? Should reactions be the same?

QUOTE(Imaginary-A)

I know reality exists, in the sense that I bonk my head with a frying pan, and I get hurt. What I do not understand is how to validate this philosophically.

QUOTE(Imaginary-B)

How can I prove that reality does not exist? I just don't see it? I just have to take it on belief.

QUOTE(Imaginary-C)

Objectivists like to think that reality exists. I agree with everything in Objectivism except this. I accept Objectivism, but to me it is like a belief system.

QUOTE(Imaginary-D)

Objectivists like feeling superior to others, thinking that their philosophy is reality-based. All said and done, there's no real way to validate reality. So, while I agree with Objectivism, I don't think we should be so sure that we're that different from others.

Which of those four is closest to the tone you use in your posts, Vladimir?

I mean, look at this. In the very post I am now replying to you have snuck in a backhanded insult:

I believe it is my right to voice my opinion where I see 1.) a substantive philosophy-related problem in the post of another member whether or not their views correspond to Objectivist dogma

Excuse me? Objectivist dogma?

And again, here:

I think Ayn Rand's ideas are simply too important to be accepted on a dogmatic basis and for all further discussion, critique or improvement to be banned.
See, look, you’re setting up a false dichotomy: Either ideas are accepted on a dogmatic basis, or you engage in critiquing and “improvement.”

I personally find it rather depressing that my attempts to (as I see it) improve the procedural and structural elements of the philosophy have met with so much hostility.

It isn’t a mystery to me at all.

1) This forum’s rules and purpose make it specifically clear that this is a place to understand the philosophy of Objectivism, not a place to “improve” it. (debate, being in the debate forum)

2) It is awfully presumptuous of you, someone who does not even understand the philosophy, to tell us how you can “improve” it. Remember that you are on our turf here. You are a guest in this house. If you have a concern about the food you are being served, you ask polite questions; you don’t spit in the face of your host (which is basically what you do here).

3) Add to this that in every case that I have seen, the errors you make in these attempts would not happen if you properly read and understood the philosophy before you went about attempting to “improve” it.

In other words, your attitude of “I know better than these dogmatic dopes and can teach them a thing or two” clearly shows through in your posts (and it is not appreciated).

If you dropped that attitude and spent the energy you currently use to fight and disprove the philosophy instead into attempting to learn and understand it, then you would see that your “improvements” are actually based on a misunderstanding of the philosophy. I understand that those attempts at “improvement” are based on what you see as genuine concerns. But notice that under my suggestion, those concerns are addressed by asking questions just as effectively as by offering criticisms and “improvements.” (moreso, actually)

Nobody is asking you to uncritically swallow anything; what we are asking is that you come here to learn, not to criticize. The fact that I have asked you to do this, and had it thrown back at me with criticism of “being dogmatic” is beyond insulting: it is tedious. Tedious, because it’s as patently untrue as it is commonly used by overly defensive newbies around here. It annoys me, because you would see that if you had actually bothered to read what I said, instead of just giving a defensive, knee-jerk reaction.

(Now, if you don't come away from this post understanding that I want you to stay, then you need to read it again.)

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If Vladimir behaves in an arrogant manner, then he needs to be called on it - in the context of the particular thread where such behavior might allegedly occur.

In progress... although I am admittedly venting a bit of pent-up hostility at him for holding this attitude here. So I will try to be polite about it when I inform him of how rude he is being.

I have had philosophical debates with Vladimir on a number of occasions. His undergrad degree is in.....philosophy, a course of study he began before he discovered Ayn Rand. As a result, he has many of the same premises regarding the subject of philosophy that one would expect from someone who has been through the sort of stuff that they teach in modern day philosophy classes on a college level.
What I can't comprehend is, having seen the kind of nonsensical, dishonest, poisonous, unmitigated crap that they teach in MAP, and then having actually read Ayn Rand, that he is even giving a shred of respect or legitimacy to the former. But he is. And not only that, but he has the gall to suggest that it is in some ways superior.

It entered into it when Kendall suggested it in regard to Vladimir.

I know. My phrase was meant to mean: "I don't see why Kendall suggested it."

I have insinuated no such thing. Now it is your turn to back up an assertion.

Here:

But your insinuation that he might be dishonest - which you did make and are now apparently trying to weasel out of

"weaseling" is a form of dishonesty, is it not?

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I personally find it rather depressing that my attempts to (as I see it) improve the procedural and structural elements of the philosophy have met with so much hostility.

Vladimir - the only thing I have to say in response to the above is that to "improve......the philosophy" one must first understand what one is seeking to improve. In my judgement, based on your postings here you have not yet studied it nearly enough to do that. If someone wishes to say that the above statement is arrogant - well, my friend, you are on your own on that one. You, of course, are free to disagree.

Othertimes I think there may be a flaw or weak spot in Objectivist's arguments which needs to be fixed or at least recognized in order to better support the philosophy.
Assuming that you are qualified to "fix" Ayn Rand's philosophy - well, this is not the forum to do that in. This is a place for people who are serious in learning about and studying Ayn Rand's philosophy. Hopefully you have an interest in doing that before you criticize it. Any "debates" with particular aspects of it need to be towards the end of understanding the philosophy. And the result of any such "fix" would NOT be Objectivism. It would be something else - Berkovian Philospophy or something along those lines. Objectivism is AYN RAND's philosophy.

I think Ayn Rand's ideas are simply too important to be accepted on a dogmatic basis and for all further discussion, critique or improvement to be banned.

I cannot recall a single instance where someone here has been banned for honest critique or discussion. Furthermore, while there are posters here who, unfortunately, are dogmatic, Inspector is NOT one of them.

If someone wishes to criticize Objectivism - well that's great. Have at it. But most of those who criticize it, unfortunately, have not made very much effort to understand it. And again, the purpose of this board is to provide a forum for people who wish to study and understand the philosophy - not a platform for people to tell us what a crock it is.

- - - - - -

Note to Inspector and Kendall - THAT is an example of how to politely and respectfully challenge Vladimir on points that he deserves to be challenged on.

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Note to Inspector and Kendall - THAT is an example of how to politely and respectfully challenge Vladimir on points that he deserves to be challenged on.

Noted. I'll also note you basically said the same thing that I did.

But, yeah, as I said I was venting a bit there. I don't think his accusations or criticisms were just and I was responding to that.

Or...

Perhaps I see it as a challenge: his major problem is that he needs to actually read what is being said to him. By being less than perfectly polite I am not making that easy for him. Perhaps somewhat intentionally: my whole point is that he needs some humble pie (i.e. to get of his high horse and listen). If he can get the message through the means I chose to express it, then he will have proven that he has learned the error of his ways.

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Noted. I'll also note you basically said the same thing that I did.

But, yeah, as I said I was venting a bit there. I don't think his accusations or criticisms were just and I was responding to that.

I did not see your last posting until after I posted mine. I did not mean to imply in any way that you were impolite. I think the world of Vladimir and stand by every word I wrote about him a couple of postings ago - but your comments on his last posting are entirely justified.

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From what I understand, a person need not agree 100% with Objectivism in order to post here. If a discussion about Objectivism and its applications is a purpose of the forum, then I fail to see how my substantive posts are off-topic.

The first sentence is true. However, the General forum's purpose is to discuss Objectivism's principles and applications, not to argue agaisnt them. It is expected that people new to the philosophy, or who have questions about aspects of it that they don't agree with or understand ask critical questions about it. However, there is a line between asking questions to understand or clarify and positing an opposing opinion. If a person intends to argue against some aspect of the philosophy, or they have a beef or a problem with parts of it, that should be taken to the Debate forum. You have actually been given considerable latitude in that respect, but from here out please take arguments or beefs against Objectivism to the Debate section. The mods and admins (to my knowledge and including myself) generally regard you as articulate and knowledgeable, so I think that's why you have been given the latitude you thus far.

Please respect this forum's purpose.

This site supports discussion of, first, the principles of Objectivism, as defined by the works of Ayn Rand and supported by the Ayn Rand Institute; and, second, their application to various fields. Therefore participants must not use the website to spread ideas contrary to or unrelated to Objectivism. Examples include religion, communism, "moral tolerationism," and libertarianism. Honest questions about such subjects are permitted. However, since the focus of this forum is the philosophy of Objectivism, such questions are not encouraged.

Further clarification on this issue is under discussion as we speak, but for now, this is where we stand.

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