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That's why I cringe whenever someone like Nimble (not to pick on you, Nimble) who studies formal philosophy tries to pidgeon-hole Objectivism into one of their terms, like "consequentialism" or "deontology." I have seen that most of those terms are package-deals that cannot be used to describe Objectivism.

Also, there is the constant barrage of "Well, you don't expect me to believe that all academic philosophy is wrong, do you?"

Yes, we do. Because it is wrong. Deal with it.

This may be the start of an entirely different topic, so before I move on I will say thank you to those who have replied. I think the fact that there are emergency circumstances that allow you to violate rights, that answers my question. And I appreciate it.

Now onto my other point. I considered myself an Objectivist for 3 years, but when I started having serious issues and questions as I read more outside of Rand, the people I talked to were condescending, snide and often very unhelpful. I don't think it is in any Objectivist's self interest to make the entire academic community hate Rand, if your goal is to create a society of rational egoists. I dislike that Objectivism redefines terms pivotal to philosophy and makes communication very hard. When you use the word morality (this is just a random and not necessarily true example) differently than any other person who studies philosophy, it makes finding any common ground of understanding difficult.

I am assuming that when you argue you try to persuade people, by making communication difficult and by saying vague things like 'you aren't in tune with reality', when someone has a legitimate dispute. That does not help understanding or persuasion, and actually does nothing to add content to the discussion at hand.

Now, I love Ayn Rand's novels, and I love the derivative works used to form her philosophy...but I think that given the context of many situations, it is not in one's interest to be arrogant, unclear, or antagonistic during a discussion. There are tons of trolls who come on here, and try to pick fights; also there are tons of Objectivists (or people who claim to be) who do the same thing. I hope that even though I often disagree or have questions, that I at least appear sincere in my wanting truth above all things, that I appear polite and respectful, and that I am not being prickish by merely seeking pride from defeating someone in debate.

Thanks

Chris

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I dislike that Objectivism redefines terms pivotal to philosophy and makes communication very hard. When you use the word morality (this is just a random and not necessarily true example) differently than any other person who studies philosophy, it makes finding any common ground of understanding difficult.

But, and here is the critical point, this indicates that you still fail to grasp just how wrong mainstream academic philosophy is. The reason why Objectivism redefines pivotal terms is because the definitions given by mainsteam academics make understanding impossible. They have mis-defined them so badly that it is impossible to use their terms and actually come to a rational worldview.

The Objectivist defintions are not capricious. They are wholly necessary for any kind of understanding to take place. The fault, in other words, is not ours. The fault is theirs for having made so bad a mess of things in the first place.

To blame Objectivism for this animosity and lack of communication is gravely unjust. You are blaming the victim, while defending the perpetrator.

I am assuming that when you argue you try to persuade people, by making communication difficult and by saying vague things like 'you aren't in tune with reality', when someone has a legitimate dispute. That does not help understanding or persuasion, and actually does nothing to add content to the discussion at hand.

I can only assume, since you prefaced this with a quote from me, that you think I have done the things you describe. This isn't true, and you should point out exactly where it is taking place if you think it is.

The only claim I can understand is that I have been arrogant in regard to Objectivism versus mainstream academic philosophy. This is, if anything, generous. I am in complete and utter contempt of mainsteam academic philosophy and rightly so. Mainstream academic philosophy is ruinous, poisonous, nonsensical, gibbering crap, and if you've studied Objectivism for 3 years then you should know that.

That being said, I wasn't trying to pick on you, Nimble (and I said as much!). My point, that Objectivism cannot be pinned into the common di- or trichotomies of academia is true. And so is my point that all mainstream academic philosophy is wrong. If you take offense at these notions, then the fault is yours and not mine. I won't apologize for Objectivism nor will I show mainstream academic philosophy anything less than the total contempt that it deserves.

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Nimble,

I think the latter part of your post is worth discussing but is material best handled in a different thread. I can either move your latest response (and responses to it) to a new thread, or you can start a new thread. Let me know which, but this line should not be continued in this thread.

I have some of my own thoughts to add to that discussion as well. I'll be the first to admit that I can be curt at times, and I need to improve that, but for reasons other than you have suggested and they are best left for a separate thread.

Edited by RationalBiker

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Nimble,

I think the latter part of your post is worth discussing but is material best handled in a different thread. I can either move your latest response (and responses to it) to a new thread, or you can start a new thread. Let me know which, but this line should not be continued in this thread.

I have some of my own thoughts to add to that discussion as well. I'll be the first to admit that I can be curt at times, and I need to improve that, but for reasons other than you have suggested and they are best left for a separate thread.

Go ahead and move it, because I'd like to discuss it.

Thank you

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I won't apologize for Objectivism nor will I show mainstream academic philosophy anything less than the total contempt that it deserves.

...and I'd just like to add that said contempt is not directed against you unless you insist on claiming that Objectivism is somehow anything other than totally legitimate and mainstream academic philosophy is somehow anything other than totally illegitimate. I reserve the right to believe that someone who has studied Objectivism for 3 years should know better.

If that is not your position, then relax. I was speaking generally of the kinds of attacks we see on this forum, and I said as much.

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...and I'd just like to add that said contempt is not directed against you unless you insist on claiming that Objectivism is somehow anything other than totally legitimate and mainstream academic philosophy is somehow anything other than totally illegitimate. I reserve the right to believe that someone who has studied Objectivism for 3 years should know better.

If that is not your position, then relax. I was speaking generally of the kinds of attacks we see on this forum, and I said as much.

I am not taking personal offense, and I am sorry for seeming as if I did. Also, I really prefer talking to you and David on this forum, you both have always been helpful to me. So don't think I would accuse you of what I mentioned above.

However, I still do feel that it is of poor choice to dismiss any philosopher or mode of communication modern philosophers might have, simply because they are theoretically wrong (please don't pick apart the word theoretically, I used that so that it doesn't become a debate about the rightness of any said philosophies). The rightness is irrelevant. My point is that, you have all these people who exist in society, who you have to interact with since man is a political/social animal of sorts (ie-he isn't ever in a "state of nature", where he must fend for himself all the time with no aid or interactions with humans)--it would be beneficial to have these people be rational.

Let's suppose that the majority of these people if thoughtful at all, then they are in the mainstream of philosophy. So they have misconceptions and wrong definitions by your standards. How are you to get those people seeking understanding of the world to view it in the right way, so as to make yours and their life easier? Is it by attacking that which they hold as ideal? No, its by discussion. Calm, rational, unbadgering discussion that lacks arrogance. You may be in contempt of the philosophy they hold, but anyone who is familiar with persuasion or humans in general will know that badgering is not the way to seek truth or persuade. It will almost certainly create social barriers that prohibit communication.

Everyone on this forum admits that for an Objectivist society to last, the majority of the people in the society have to uphold at least basic things like rights. Well as far as the market for ideas has spoken, Objectivism isn't winning, and rather than be resentful that others don't see it as you or I see it, it makes much more sense to improve its marketability. Everyone knows that in the long run a product sells itself, but the salesman matters, and if you do a poor job representing the philosophy, the philosophy looks bad. This is WHY Rand took great lengths to make sure only people approved by her spoke on behalf of the philosophy.

It is in your interest to persuade rational beings to advocate rights, not by attacking them or viewing them as evil, despicable beings, but by showing them errors in logic or mistaken facts. This may take a while, maybe months to adequately convince someone to change their position, and you may not be willing to do that for an individual, but don't ruin it for those of us (me) who will try to persuade someone to be a free-marketist. I absolutely hate that I can't mention Rand without getting flak for using her as a source. Purposefully making a bad name for Objectivism in mainstream culture does nobody good (it makes your interactions with non-Objectivists harder, and it ruins a potential fount of knowledge for others who might have been interested but knows only bad things about Objectivism).

Thanks

Chris

Edited by nimble

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Sorry to post twice in a row, however I read this said by KendallJ (this is not a personal attack, I think highly of you as an intelligent person, but I think you handle discussion in the wrong way) "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?"

This to me smacks of arrogance. The last 4 or 5 sentences do nothing but cut the original poster down and question his integrity, intelligence and assert KendallJ as being a psuedo-victor. The original poster is studying Objectivism and partaking my questioning it. He isn't trying to undermine it's legitimacy, so why treat this as anything other than a discussion? Comments like "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." are unnecessary. This possible constructive criticism of the original poster is undermined by this unnecessary jab at his intelligence, and it puts KendallJ up on this pedestal of superiority.

"This is sloppy at best, and dishonest at worst." That is just pure trash talk, and a fine example of why discussion is not possible with all these passive aggressive ad hominem attacks.

Thanks

Chris

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It is in your interest to persuade rational beings to advocate rights, not by attacking them or viewing them as evil, despicable beings, but by showing them errors in logic or mistaken facts. This may take a while, maybe months to adequately convince someone to change their position, and you may not be willing to do that for an individual, but don't ruin it for those of us (me) who will try to persuade someone to be a free-marketist. I absolutely hate that I can't mention Rand without getting flak for using her as a source. Purposefully making a bad name for Objectivism in mainstream culture does nobody good (it makes your interactions with non-Objectivists harder, and it ruins a potential fount of knowledge for others who might have been interested but knows only bad things about Objectivism).

Thanks

Chris

I think you're miscalculating on two fronts:

1) You're underestimating just how much contempt I have for mainstream academic philosophy (MAP). I do not think it is possible for someone to seriously study and believe that nonsense. It is so bad, so wrong, that I do not think it can be honestly believed. (I do still judge that on a case-by-case basis with the individuals I meet, however; don't get me wrong)

2) You are incorrectly assigning blame for the flak you receive when mentioning Ayn Rand's name to Objectivists. I'm sorry, but no. There are a few bad eggs on forums and such but no way in the world is the widespread contempt in MAP and academia for Rand based on those individuals. It is clearly based on their philosophic hatred for her ideas, and the philosophic, existential, and psychological threat that those ideas represent to MAP's. The frustration that you have for the dismissive attitudes of MAP's is something you should be directing at them, not us.

The leeway that you give these people is seriously frustrating me. First, you give them the benefit of thinking that they could honestly believe that tripe. Then you chalk up their rejection of Rand to anything other than a pathological hatred for reason, reality, and rights. I encourage you to look closer at them, and their motives, and furthermore to examine the fact that you are saying that those people are essentially innocent, while it is the Objectivists who are to blame for the conundrum that modern philosophy finds itself in.

I think you need to do some serious re-evaluation of these people. They are not the innocents that you give them credit for being. At least, not if they're anything like any of the academics that I have met.

Furthermore, while you have obviously studied Objectivism, and consider yourself an Objectivist of sorts, I see all of the above (as well as some of your other questions about Objectivism) as evidence that you really don't take Objectivism seriously yet. It's as if you haven't had that moment of epiphany, like in a beautiful mind (if you've seen that movie) where the numbers dance around him and it's suddenly all so clear. That's not meant as a put-down (and I hope you don't take it that way, because not yet fully understanding Objectivism isn't a crime), it's just that from the way you write, it seems that this whole "Objectivism thing" hasn't really clicked for you yet.

I could be wrong. But if so, I think it would help to understand your perspective and why you can't understand why I view MAPs so contemptuously.

Now as to the question of just how to deal with MAP types on an individual basis, that is largely a question of context. I think that you're looking at a few dismissals of their ideas here, and thinking that this means that I (or others here) would be rude to someone's face without cause if they tried to engage me in a serious discussion of ideas. To borrow a phrase, you should check that premise. I can only speak for myself, but as just one example, I have a co-worker who is clearly an M1: openly and proudly Christain, but also takes ideas seriously and wants to advocate Capitalism. I've had hours of serious and polite discussion with him and have convinced him of many ideas of Capitalism and Objectivism. I may even have convinced him to read Atlas Shrugged. (we'll see)

So, no, I was not rude to him or anyone else that wants to have a serious discussion of ideas with me.

But take another co-worker of mine as a counter-example: he's a walking mouthpiece for every Daily Kos leftist D2 idea out there. I learned very early on that he does not take ideas seriously at all. Life is just a cynical game to him, and philosophy is just a means by which to impose his whims. He is a whim-worshipper to the core. I do not engage him in any sort of discussion. I raise an eyebrow, contemptuously disagree with him, point out his contradictions, and change the subject to food so that we can talk about something where he makes sense. Believe me, it's better than he deserves, but I have to work with the guy. Note that while he is a clear product of the MAP ideas I hold in such contempt, I did not dismiss him out of hand. I gave him the chance to prove to me that he was honest, and he badly failed in that regard.

And finally, a third co-worker is an M2 Baptist fundamentalist. If he's bashing liberals, I'll tell him when he's right, or correct him if he's attacking good ideas along with bad. But more often than not, I'll simply say that I don't agree with his religious tenants and politely end the conversation. Of course, I hold his ideas to be just as insane as the MAP ones, but as an individual he still hasn't earned the same degree of contempt as the previous fellow.

I think these three examples show that it is not simply any anti-Objectivist idea that has earned my contempt so strongly. MAPs have earned it as a special class of contempt that I hold. This is a contempt that is eminently earned in my opinion, since they are not only wrong, but also dishonest. And I do not use that term lightly.

So take that for what it's worth.

I am not taking personal offense, and I am sorry for seeming as if I did. Also, I really prefer talking to you and David on this forum, you both have always been helpful to me. So don't think I would accuse you of what I mentioned above.

Thank you for clearing that up (and for the compliment!). I thought you were directing it all at me.

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I considered myself an Objectivist for 3 years, but when I started having serious issues and questions as I read more outside of Rand, the people I talked to were condescending, snide and often very unhelpful. I don't think it is in any Objectivist's self interest to make the entire academic community hate Rand, if your goal is to create a society of rational egoists. I dislike that Objectivism redefines terms pivotal to philosophy and makes communication very hard. When you use the word morality (this is just a random and not necessarily true example) differently than any other person who studies philosophy, it makes finding any common ground of understanding difficult.
I don't know whether to address this top-down or bottom-up: maybe I'll start in the middle. It's known that there are snarky Objectivists, but it's also known that there are snarky non-Objectivists. My suggestion is to re-examine the issue of "helpfulness", determine what you'd like, and whether that is a reasonable expectation. The first thing that you (and by you I mean anyone) have to recognise is that somebody has to be wrong, in the modern context of philosophy. The second thing to recognise is that academe is highly political, to the point that it is entirely possible that every philosophy department, or linguistics or history department, is foundationally bankrupt.

The accusation is often made that Objectivism redefines words, but I have never seen a convincing demonstration of that charge. The reason is that to prove redefinition, you have to first establish the original definition; well, it turns out that modern philosophy is a fountain of redefinition. I would agree with the statement that Objectivism is traditionalist in its definitions and has resisted modern trends to redefining philosophical terms. Of course there are some clear innovations, refinements in terms which amount to saying more precisely what it means to be X. For instance, Peikoff's characterisation of "certain" is, in my opinion, an amplification and clarification certainty from a traditional perspective, and it is different from the typical proof-theoretic nominalist view of certainty. But it's not us who are redefining terms.

The cold hard fact is that some people are not in tune with reality, and some people do not understand Rand's philosophy. One approach is to categorically and permanently shun such people, whenever encountered, as beyond hope. I've found that that is sometimes necessary, because some people are immutably dedicated to an irrational life and no action on my part can change that. The test that I apply is whether I see evidence that the person is open to reason. If they are, it may be a virtue to help the person correct their errors.

On the other hand, it is a serious vice to deny fundamental principles of Objectivism in order to appear to be helpful. Embracing a falsehood "for the sake of argument" is repudiating Objectivism from the very start. How could you expect a person to take Objectivism seriously if they are eager to repudiate the philosophy in order to woo recruits to this budding mass movement? You can't. And really, we do not expect to persuade the bulk of contemporary academic philosophers. We expect to slowly undo the conceptual rot that has permeated philosophy. Academic philosophers, who earn their living by selling ideas to the masses, will eventually readjust. In the meantime, I basically don't care what they do, because I've discovered that nobody really understands them, and their influence on culture can be counteracted off of their turf. When the best argument that a philosophy professor can offer against Rand's ethics is "Nobody takes her seriously", then you know that you're dealing with an anti-philosopher, someone who uses professional popularity as a guide to what ideas they will consider seriously -- someone unwilling or unable to think on their own.

Now, I presume that you understand why all moral philosophies are contextual, whether or not they admit it.

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Nimble, I'll add that online-Forums are often impolite places. This isn't just in Philosophy, but even in things like technical discussions about computers. One goes to a forum on, say XYZ category of software, and asks: "which of the following products is better for my requirements?" and pretty soon, people are calling each other names!

The kind of dialog (i.e. in terms of tone) you speak of, will happen best between intellectuals in venues where such dialog is the norm. If you have the latest edition of ITOE, you'd have seen that Rand discussed it with non-Objectivist philosophers. This type of discussion is beginning to happen. In September, there was a conference of Objectivist and non-Objectivist philosophers at the University of Pittsburgh. This will increase as more Objectivist intellectuals continue to enter the Humanities as professors.

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Hi nimble.

Well, I guess I shouldn't have let the "damn Spartan's" crack slip! ;)

I did not take any personal attacks from your post above about my post to Vladimir.

I did respond to Dismuke's concern about it, and hopefully I presented my context a little better. I'll just deal here with things that are new.

I did not impune or instult Vladimir's intelligence, just his method. Nor did I directly call him dishonest, but say that there is enough contradiction from his more usual behavior that it is unclear what he is doing. My post is highly contextual and directed at Vladimir given our history. He is a smart guy. He knows Objectivism enough to have very specific criticisms of it. My "arrogance" calls attentions to very specific contradictions in his statements, and to the fact (pointed out to him repeatedly) that it is not encumbent upon me to fix his argument. It is decidedly provocative. I meant it that way. Vladimir and I have tussled before, and I don't care to beat around the bush with him.

As to the claim that Objecitivists are difficult to communicate with and could use maybe some style adjustments. I have a very difficult time with this assertion as a generality. First, a forum like this is inherently difficult to get all the nuance and emotion communicated. I've met some Objectivist that I though were prickly on the net, and turned out to be eminently benevolent people, and I was misinterpreting their words.

Second, as long as the general population of Objectivsts behave in a gernally rational manner (and most do), the dissemination of Rand's ideas is not in any way aided by the addition of an "overly ingratiating" tone or manner, nor is it encumbered if we continue to take strong stands. Anyone who chooses to assert that such is true, I've found, usually has an implicit philosophical stances that is a barrier to them accepting Objectivsm, and will not be more accepting if I placate the error.

Finally, what is my purpose and my responsibilty in a forum like this? My purpose is purely selfish, to debate ideas with like-minded and not so like minded people, to build some intellectual relationships and mutual admiration with just the like-minded people. Above the requirement that I behave in a generally reasonable manner, it is not my responsibilty or my duty to assure that how I am perceived concurs with reality, regardless of the mental state of the person doing the perceiving. It is in my interest to assure this with people whom I value and with whom I wish to have an ongoing intellectual relationship, but not with everyone. If someone is stuck in a place where they perceive anyone who stands up for themselves as "rude" or "arrogant", well, that really is their problem. Yes, they may leave the forum thinking we're all judgemental prigs, but you know what, anyone who stays and engages the group on a reasonable exchange of ideas, learns that it's not true. All I can say of the person who left too early was that their implicit assumptions cause them to take such observations more seriously than rational discussion, and I don't lose a bit of sleep over it.

The board really only works for like-minded individuals. That's just the reality of it. I'm not here to make this a place where avowed Communists feel welcome.

I'm taking the time to say all of this because I think you're a pretty smart guy (other than your choice of schools ;) ), and you do some thinking and would make a great addition to the group (just like hard headed Vladimir).

As to the definitions complaint. This one I've heard more times than I can remember. Yet, one must recognize that as long as we're discussion philosophy, definitions will be critical, and ALL philosphers jigger definitions around (implicitly, if not explicitly) to lay the groundwork for their assertions. I find it odd that people complain about Rand doing it, when if anything she was the one who made her definitions clear. Open any philosophy commentary, and you'll find the commentator working with every philosopher to understand how they meant this term or that word. Every philosopher who lays out a consitent set of ideas that is in any way unique will necessarily redefine the meaning of terms or create new terms. At least Rand had the good sense to lay out her definitions clearly. Recognize also that just because someone uses "commonly understood terms" does not mean they intend to preserve the meaning of it.Many times they piggy back on understood terms to hide their or they create new terms for terms that already exist to seem. Kant's "pure reason" is hardly related to reason, and a "categorical imperative" could have as easily been called a commandement, but no one seems to get on his case about it. Philosophers change defintions - get used to it. Rand is not unique and in no way subversive about it.

Edited by KendallJ

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I absolutely hate that I can't mention Rand without getting flak for using her as a source.

I agree with this 100% and it completely describes my efforts at discussing objectivism in the mainstream academic community.

I was thinking of starting a new post called something like "The future of Objectivism?" but perhaps the thoughts would work just as well with this thread which already exists.

I agree with nimble about the redefinition problem. As I have said on the "possibility" thread, there is a problem with objectivism and redefining words in a way which is non-essential to the philosophy. For example with the possibility argument, it is easy to communicate Peikoff's position using only terms with the accepted philosophical meanings. Any small advantage which is gained by redefinition is lost ten-fold by the confusion and suspicion it creates. In some areas I can see the point in clarifying which definition objectivism uses, such as with the words "sacrafice" or "altruism" for example. The problem is that even with these words, objectivists seem to then assume everyone else uses their definition, even non-objectivists who rightly use the term according to its dictionary-accepted usage.

The related problem I see with objectivism in terms of its use in influencing the culture/academia is that it is entirely a static philosophy. Objectivism is, technically, the philosophy of Ayn Rand. There cannot be any changes to Rand's explicit views or methods in objectivism in order for it to be called "Objectivism." For instance, Peikoff is really just an editor, not a philosopher. His job was to create a unified source for Rand's views in OPAR, drawing on the scattered discussions she has in her numerous novels and papers. Peikoff could not add anything meaningful to the philsophy.

This is one of the reasons I think Rand is treated so harshly in academia. It is the fact that for real objectivists, you either accept Rand 100% or else you cannot be called an "Objectivist" at all. In a way this is understandible, as Rand herself was very demanding in terms of philosophic conformity. This is good in the sense that it preserves the essential meaning and purpose of the philosophy, but bad in that it means that objectivism can never be improved upon or changed, even if the changes are for the better. To quote a Bushism, with objectivism, "either you are with us or against us" there is no middle ground.

This is why objectivism is sometimes seen as a cult among academic circles. It is not seen as a cult because of the substantive tenets of objectivism, it is seen as a cult because it, to academics, seems structured as to inhibit communication between "members" (Objectivists) and outside academics, and because there is no room for academic debate within the realm of "Objectivist dogma."

Personally, I think this can change. And in changing, objectivism might finally get a fair hearing among academics who oftentimes are not even hostile to many of Ayn Rand's views. The one things academics like, though, is procedure and the exchange of different ideas. And to the extent that objectivism is hostile to this, academia will always be hostile to objectivism.

To those who think academia is "bunk" and academics frauds, then of course what I just wrote above may be discarded. But I think it is dangerous in the extreme to abandon the realm of ideas in the academic world thus I think this is an important issue.

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I think you're miscalculating on two fronts:

1) You're underestimating just how much contempt I have for mainstream academic philosophy (MAP). I do not think it is possible for someone to seriously study and believe that nonsense. It is so bad, so wrong, that I do not think it can be honestly believed. (I do still judge that on a case-by-case basis with the individuals I meet, however; don't get me wrong)

2) You are incorrectly assigning blame for the flak you receive when mentioning Ayn Rand's name to Objectivists. I'm sorry, but no. There are a few bad eggs on forums and such but no way in the world is the widespread contempt in MAP and academia for Rand based on those individuals. It is clearly based on their philosophic hatred for her ideas, and the philosophic, existential, and psychological threat that those ideas represent to MAP's. The frustration that you have for the dismissive attitudes of MAP's is something you should be directing at them, not us.

I suppose I did underestimate your contempt for MAP. However I completely disagree with number 2. They don't have contempt for Rand and her ideas (some do, I'll concede that), but Rand is not the most radical person I've ever read. There are complete hedonists who advocate doing anything your whim wants. There are philosophers who argue that agriculture is the cause of all troubles in the world and we should regress back into hunter-gatherer types. There are people who openly support facism, socialism and terrorism and still get more leeway academia than Rand, why? I honestly don't believe it is simply for her ideas. I mean someone who hasn't read Rand might think, that she has Aristotelian/Neitzchian mixed ethics, Lockean political theory, inductive epistemology, and materialist metaphysics....all of which are not scary ideas that one hates without even having read her. People do read Aristotle, Neitzche, Locke, Hume, and any materialist you can name without hatred, yet they have contempt for Rand.

I don't mean to blame Objectivism for the mess MAP is in. I'd honestly like to study the history behind Objectivism in philosophy. I mean even if Rand had a bad reputation as a person, I'm not sure how that should affect her standing in academia. Neitzche was a crazy jerk, but people still read him.

Lastly, I want to say that you don't have to reject Objectivism to persuade people. And you do so yourself, with your co-workers. Of course there are people which can't rationally speak, and obviously you can't deal with them. However I doubt that every person involved in MAP is evil by nature in believing say Kant. People believe in God, even if it's only because they have not challenged it yet. If you believe people can only learn through induction, then it stands to reason that they can't know what they haven't encountered yet (ie-those who haven't read Rand). That IS the reason people read lots of philosophy, to get ideas that took people lifetimes to think about, and take what they worked on, analyze it and go on from there...and they pick the best which fits reality. If I am not all that smart and can't derive a philosophy on my own and all I have read is Kant and the Bible as my only serious texts, and I choose to be a Kantian--I don't think that is evil. The person just hasn't challenged it yet, but he will when he reads a text or gets an idea that opposes some tenet that a Kantian holds. And hopefully he chooses the one that matches reality.

Now, assuming this kid has limited time (as we all do) he doesn't want to read every work ever written, he wants to read those that will grow his understanding of the world exponentially, and if popular culture advises him that Rand is a waste of time then he may never read it. So having a culture adverse to Rand only creates problems of reaching potentially rational individuals.

As I said before, lacking knowledge is not evil, but refusal to change when given the right info. is what is evil.

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Personally, I think this can change. And in changing, objectivism might finally get a fair hearing among academics who oftentimes are not even hostile to many of Ayn Rand's views. The one things academics like, though, is procedure and the exchange of different ideas. And to the extent that objectivism is hostile to this, academia will always be hostile to objectivism.

I may be oversimplifying what you just said, or I may misunderstand it entirely, but it appears to me that you are suggesting that Objectivism be changed for the sake of popularity with the academia. I would not expect that to be what you mean. I would expect you would say that it should be changed because there is something wrong with it that does not reflect reality.

I would tend to agree with the argument that the way it's presented by some may have a negative impact on it's acceptance, but I wholeheartedly disagree with changing something one thinks is right just for the sake of popularity or growth.

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I may be oversimplifying what you just said, or I may misunderstand it entirely, but it appears to me that you are suggesting that Objectivism be changed for the sake of popularity with the academia. I would not expect that to be what you mean. I would expect you would say that it should be changed because there is something wrong with it that does not reflect reality.

Perhaps I should clarify. Objectivism should try to conform to accepted usage of terms as much as possible. This may mean that it forgoes some of its "pet" terms that have been redefined, so to that extent I guess I am advocating change. But this sort of change is one of language, not one of substance. I simply think that Objectivism can operate with words defined the way they are in everyday use and academic philosophy.

I think Objectivism could be less dogmatic, so I suppose you could say that is a change, even if only a procedural one. The problem as I said above is that Objectivism has so far resisted any change simply because it is change. I think this is one reason why there are so few (if any) Objectivism-influenced philosophers or books written from a Randian or Objectivist point of view. I view this as a bad thing.

I absolutely do not think that the tenets of Objectivism should be changed merely to make academics happy. For one thing, most academics are leftists and thus to appease them by changing the philosophy to be more left-leaning would be absurd. The part that needs to be changed to be more in conformity with academics is the terminology, not the substantive tenets.

I would tend to agree with the argument that the way it's presented by some may have a negative impact on it's acceptance, but I wholeheartedly disagree with changing something one thinks is right just for the sake of popularity or growth.

I agree. I don't think the philosophy should be "watered down" just so it is more popular with the masses. It is important, however, not to go out of the way to alienate the masses or academics when there is no good reason to do so. This is why I think redefinition and dogmatism are problems.

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The accusation is often made that Objectivism redefines words, but I have never seen a convincing demonstration of that charge. T

Maybe it would help if we gather together the words that objectivists have 'hijacked' and determine on a case by case basis, whether there is any merit and why.

A couple that occur to me immediately, which I have run into, are selfishness and love.

"self·ish

Pronunciation: 'sel-fish

Function: adjective

1 : concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself : seeking or concentrating on one's own advantage, pleasure, or well-being without regard for others

2 : arising from concern with one's own welfare or advantage in disregard of others <a selfish act>"-merriam-webb

In this case she either removed the "excessively" from the first definition or she accepted the second. The main difference is that she regards "concern with ones own welfare or advantage" to be a good thing rather then bad.

"Main Entry: 1love

Pronunciation: 'l&v

Function: noun

Etymology: Middle English, from Old English lufu; akin to Old High German luba love, Old English lEof dear, Latin lubEre, libEre to please

1 a (1) : strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties <maternal love for a child> (2) : attraction based on sexual desire : affection and tenderness felt by lovers (3) : affection based on admiration, benevolence, or common interests <love for his old schoolmates> b : an assurance of love <give her my love>

2 : warm attachment, enthusiasm, or devotion <love of the sea>

3 a : the object of attachment, devotion, or admiration <baseball was his first love> b (1) : a beloved person : DARLING -- often used as a term of endearment (2) British -- used as an informal term of address

4 a : unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another: as (1) : the fatherly concern of God for humankind (2) : brotherly concern for others b : a person's adoration of God

5 : a god or personification of love

6 : an amorous episode : LOVE AFFAIR

7 : the sexual embrace : COPULATION"

Seems like she used number 1,2, and 3a primarily.

No redefintion there from what I can tell.

Any others?

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....The problem is that even with these words, objectivists seem to then assume everyone else uses their definition, even non-objectivists who rightly use the term according to its dictionary-accepted usage.

The related problem I see with objectivism in terms of its use in influencing the culture/academia is that it is entirely a static philosophy. .....For instance, Peikoff is really just an editor, not a philosopher. ....

.....To quote a Bushism, with objectivism, "either you are with us or against us" there is no middle ground.

... it is seen as a cult because it, to academics, seems structured as to inhibit communication between "members" (Objectivists) and outside academics, and because there is no room for academic debate within the realm of "Objectivist dogma."

Personally, I think this can change. And in changing, objectivism might finally get a fair hearing among academics who oftentimes are not even hostile to many of Ayn Rand's views. The one things academics like, though, is procedure and the exchange of different ideas. And to the extent that objectivism is hostile to this, academia will always be hostile to objectivism.

...but this isn't an accurate depiction. The philosophy is what it is, and the academic world is as it is.

There isn't a need to cave in on Ayn Rand's definitions because those definitions are based on reality. Even dictionaries can be wrong if they are written by people who are not entirely concerned with and aware of the facts and context which they reference. Therefore, there is _not_ any middle ground to want or to use.

The view of Objectivism as a dogma is itself not objective. The problem isn't with the philosophy; the problem is with the academic interpretation of the philosophy. It's the academics' hostility to core Objectivist concepts which needs to change, and these are concepts everyone ultimately depends on for their respective survival.

There is a way to communicate with academics (or the press), but it does _not_ require or benefit from compromising on principles. This isn't the sort of thing that should be compromised; compromise in this case means "selling out". Is it any surprise that people who call for moral sacrifice also want epistemic sacrifice as well?!?

Objectivism has adversaries in the form of any number of interest groups (whether they appear to be friendly or not), but the overriding principle is always the same: Just say what the philosophy is, and say how it applies. _This_ is what Dr. Peikoff et al. have been doing. Frankly, it's more beneficial than any other overall approach.

Edited by tps_fan

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Personally, I think this can change. And in changing, objectivism might finally get a fair hearing among academics who oftentimes are not even hostile to many of Ayn Rand's views. The one things academics like, though, is procedure and the exchange of different ideas. And to the extent that objectivism is hostile to this, academia will always be hostile to objectivism.

I think it is changing already. Have you read any of Tara Smith's books? Very academic in style and hardly dogmatic I think. I'm not so sure it is as much that Objecitivsts are hostile to the exchange, as it is that for the first generation after Rand a lot of the concern has been to prevent corruption of her ideas before academic commentaries treat them. Until Objectivist scholars are in academia, the machinery of such works against the dissemination of her ideas. One might claim that this "close-mindedness" prevents the intiation of the exchange, but I tend to think that it is a chicken and egg senario. I think the safest thing is to have Objectivist scholars give the first "academic" treatment of her ideas. Beyond that, machinery of academia works to disseminate them.

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I will refer everyone back to my post, where I argued that academia isn't opposed to her core tenets because honestly, they aren't new in academia. People have been free marketists, materialists, inductive epistemology, and been selfish ethically. So if that's all you knew of Rand and had not read her to learn how she is a variation of those stances, I don't think you would hate her without having read her. Just like people don't hate Aristotle, Neitzche, Hume, Freidman, etc.

And as for having more Objectivists in academia, I intend to be a prof of either Economics or Political theory, so hopefully I can change that a bit.

Thanks

Chris

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I suppose I did underestimate your contempt for MAP. However I completely disagree with number 2. They don't have contempt for Rand and her ideas (some do, I'll concede that), but Rand is not the most radical person I've ever read. There are complete hedonists who advocate doing anything your whim wants. There are philosophers who argue that agriculture is the cause of all troubles in the world and we should regress back into hunter-gatherer types. There are people who openly support facism, socialism and terrorism and still get more leeway academia than Rand, why? I honestly don't believe it is simply for her ideas.

I cannot emphasize enough how wrong you are here! I would put this in gigantic, bold letters if I thought it would help!

I honestly find myself wondering what part of Rand’s writings you have missed because this topic is actually covered in Objectivism. Do you remember where she says that they will tolerate anything besides certainty? That they will accept any idea except the one that reality exists, is objective, reason is efficacious, etc?

Nazism, terrorism, hedonism, and ludditism all get more leeway than Rand because MAP’s are, at heart, Nazis, terrorists, hedonists, and luddites. Post-modernists are, psychologically speaking, people who have abandoned reason, their sole means of survival, and live in perpetual fear of this fact. Their overwhelming psychological need is to be able to say: “I COULDN’T HELP IT.”

Objectivism is the only… let me repeat that: THE ONLY philosophy that is fundamentally threatening to that idea. Other philosophies might, here and there, present partial or weak defenses of reason, reality, responsibility. But this isn’t fundamentally threatening to them. They can still find contradictions or uncertainties in those philosophies which permit them their intellectual vices. Objectivism is the only philosophy that systematically and completely rejects their mode of operation.

Ideas such as Aristotelian/Neitzchian mixed ethics, Lockean political theory, inductive epistemology, and materialist metaphysics are not particularly threatening to them, I’ll agree. But: Objectivism is NOT simply “Aristotelian/Neitzchian mixed ethics, Lockean political theory, inductive epistemology, and materialist metaphysics.” It may superficially resemble those things in their respective areas, but always there are crucial and important differences in Objectivism that make it complete and certain, whereas Aristotle, Neitzche, Locke, etc were full of contradictions and didn’t strongly establish reality, reason, egoism, capitalism, much less integrate them into a total system. Objectivism is a whole different animal.

That’s why I posited before that perhaps you didn’t “get” this whole Objectivism thing. You don’t seem to understand how utterly, fundamentally different it is. But, ironically, MAPs DO understand this. And that is why they are so hostile to it.

I agree with nimble about the redefinition problem. As I have said on the "possibility" thread, there is a problem with objectivism and redefining words in a way which is non-essential to the philosophy.

...and as all of us told you in the "possibility" thread, you are wrong about Peikoff's definitions not being necessary.

I will have to quote myself here:

But, and here is the critical point, this indicates that you still fail to grasp just how wrong mainstream academic philosophy is. The reason why Objectivism redefines pivotal terms is because the definitions given by mainsteam academics make understanding impossible. They have mis-defined them so badly that it is impossible to use their terms and actually come to a rational worldview.

The Objectivist defintions are not capricious. They are wholly necessary for any kind of understanding to take place. The fault, in other words, is not ours. The fault is theirs for having made so bad a mess of things in the first place.

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...and as all of us told you in the "possibility" thread, you are wrong about Peikoff's definitions not being necessary.

I can easily summarize Peikoff's views on possibility using standard terminology. In fact, I was struggling for a long time in that thread trying to figure out where everybody was coming from entirely because the use of terminology was different. If Objectivists in that thread had explained Peikoff's position using standard terms, the misunderstanding would never have happened. The "possibility" problem is symptomatic of the redefinition problem.

IE, Peikoff (or Rand) saw that the standard definitions of "possible" were broad and allowed statements they thought were irrelevant. Rather than accepting the standard usage with the caveat that such statements are irrelevant, they created a new term ("arbitrary") which is actually less precise than the standard terms, to capture them. This thus required them to redefine "possible" to include positive evidence (aka "probability" concerns).

In the end, the result is fairly coherent. Some claims are "arbitrary" (illogical, self-contradictory, or no evidence, etc.) and some are "possible" (where they are in conformity with reality and there is some positive evidence of their truth) At some point the evidence becomes such that they are "probable."

You can reach the same conclusion using standard terminology. For what Peikoff calls "arbitrary" standard usage would include both the impossible as well as the possible without evidence of truth. For what Peikoff calls "possible" everyone else would simply call "more likely than not" or perhaps "possible but not probable" and both sides seem to agree about the definition of "probable."

This is, of course, assuming that Peikoff's realignment of the whole issue is necessary for Objectivism. (it is not) But even assuming it is, by explaining it in standard terms you easily can get people to understand where the differences are between Objectivism and other philosophies. For example, I didn't realize for the longest time that for Objectivists a statement can't be "possible" unless there is positive evidence. This is directly counter to accepted common usage AND philosophical usage. I was arguing with people I thought simply didn't understand what "possible" meant!

Eventually I figured it out and was able to get to the merits of the issue, but it took a LOT of time and a lot of cross-referencing to OPAR to figure it out. A philosophy should not demand of its potential students that they learn propriatary lingo unless absolutely necessary. In a way Objectivism is a philosophy too reform-minded for its own good. Rather than simply redefining the substantive debate and issues, it attempts to redefine the language of philosophy. And I believe that this is a mistake because it only tends to insulate the philosophy from the other 99% of philosophy students in the world who only understand the accepted meanings. These people will likely see Objectivist redefinition not as a welcome reform to the language of philosophy but as some sort of "trick" Objectivists use to gloss over substantive problems or weak arguments within the philosophy.

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I agree with you SoftwareNerd on what you said, however I think you are overestimating the post-modern movement. In my opinion, it is dead in every academic circle except language arts and anthropology. So I don't know how much of a fundamental threat Rand is. I would argue that for most intellectuals, pursuit of knowledge is a cultural status game, that no one takes that seriously. So I'm not sure that someone who has no experience with Rand would say "oh gosh, her certainty scares me to the point that I don't want to read her."

But I do accept your stance as legitimate given your skepticism of anyone who went to college and studied philosophy. So, I thank you for your time.

Chris

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In the end, the result is fairly coherent. Some claims are "arbitrary" (illogical, self-contradictory, or no evidence, etc.) and some are "possible" (where they are in conformity with reality and there is some positive evidence of their truth) At some point the evidence becomes such that they are "probable."

Actually, you still don't have it right. There are three categories, not two. False, arbitrary, and true. Illogical, self-contradictory claims are false, not arbitrary.

You can reach the same conclusion using standard terminology.
You can? There is a term for "neither true nor false; as there is no evidence either way?"

Again, this is your prejudice as someone who doesn't understand the philosophy. You are wrong in thinking that there was no reason behind defining the terms the way they did.

This is, of course, assuming that Peikoff's realignment of the whole issue is necessary for Objectivism. (it is not)

Again, you mischaracterize it as "re-alignment." That statement presumes that it was ever aligned in MAP. As I have said, MAP has so badly mis-defined their terms that no proper understanding can be reached with them. What Rand and Peikoff have done is fully and clearly explain the issues in a way that nobody before them has ever (AFAIK) done. They are not re-defining these issues, but rather are, for the first time, defining them.

I agree with you SoftwareNerd

Is that a typo?

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Actually, you still don't have it right. There are three categories, not two. False, arbitrary, and true. Illogical, self-contradictory claims are false, not arbitrary.

I am not talking about the truth values of statements, I am talking about how Peikoff divides traditional statements of possibility. I personally think it might be unclear where concepts such as "God" fall as "arbitrary" or "false" under the Objectivist system. Perhaps illogical statements are treated as "false" by Peikoff, it really doesn't matter as those are not treated as "possible" by the accepted definition either.

You can? There is a term for "neither true nor false; as there is no evidence either way?"
The accepted usage of "possible" covers all such claims non-exclusively. My previous post as seen above explains this. If you are arguing that previously there was no single word which described the concept that Rand/Peikoff were after and that creating a new word was impossible, that is another issue.

Again, this is your prejudice as someone who doesn't understand the philosophy. You are wrong in thinking that there was no reason behind defining the terms the way they did.

I never said there was no reason, in fact in my previous post I hypothetically went down the path Rand/Peikoff might have in desiring new definitions. I simply think whatever reason they did have is not sufficiently useful to warrant redefinition.

Again, you mischaracterize it as "re-alignment." That statement presumes that it was ever aligned in MAP. As I have said, MAP has so badly mis-defined their terms that no proper understanding can be reached with them. What Rand and Peikoff have done is fully and clearly explain the issues in a way that nobody before them has ever (AFAIK) done. They are not re-defining these issues, but rather are, for the first time, defining them.

Is that a typo?

This is completely untrue. I can provide the definitions for any of the standard accepted-usage terms I use. Whether you like the defintions conceptually is another issue. I personally think they are far more useful than Peikoff's redefinition, and in fact I challenge you to present any fact pattern or statement you think Objectivism analyzes in a certain right way, which you think the standard usage and method is unable to capture or under which leads to a different result.

Edited by Vladimir Berkov

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1 : concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself : seeking or concentrating on one's own advantage, pleasure, or well-being without regard for others

2 : arising from concern with one's own welfare or advantage in disregard of others <a selfish act>"-merriam-webb

In this case she either removed the "excessively" from the first definition or she accepted the second.

In fact, she didn't even remove that word from the definition, because it was not in there to begin with. The insertion of "excessively" is a later invention, one which violates a basic lexicographic principle of objectivity, where dictionaries are supposed to report the literal meaning of words and not confuse literal meaning with attitudinal crap, as in "excessively".

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