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    Objectivism Is The Everyman's Philosophy

    In the universe, what you see is what you get,

    figuring it out for yourself is the way to happiness,

    and each person's independence is respected by all

  • Rand's Philosophy in Her Own Words

    • "Metaphysics: Objective Reality"Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed/Wishing won’t make it so." "The universe exists independent of consciousness"
    • "Epistemology: Reason" "You can’t eat your cake and have it, too." "Thinking is man’s only basic virtue"
    • "Ethics: Self-interest" "Man is an end in himself." "Man must act for his own rational self-interest" "The purpose of morality is to teach you[...] to enjoy yourself and live"
    • "Politics: Capitalism" "Give me liberty or give me death." "If life on earth is [a man's] purpose, he has a right to live as a rational being"

    Transcending Objectivism and Kantianism

    Ilya Startsev
    By Ilya Startsev,
    As can be seen with an old popular thread I started on Objectivism online forum, I am very interested in putting side-to-side various philosophies, even before I learn that some of them cannot be thoroughly compared! So I would like to find out whether it is even possible to conceive of transcending Rand’s worldview with that of her well-known ‘archenemy’ – Immanuel Kant himself. I’ve spent the last two years trying to figure out this big conflict in contemporary philosophy by studying Kant’s philosophy and debating Kantians, especially on Philosophy forums, which are now, unfortunately, non-operational. So what are some ideas that I’d like to put forward to initiate this discussion? Part I: Describing conflicts First, I want to delineate the premises of my argument as conflicting characters of both philosophies. Let Objectivism take only (a) subdivisions, while Kantianism take only (b) subdivisions. General vs. specific Objectivism is general in respect to being broadly applied to most areas of life, including even sex (in Rand’s words!). Philosophy, according to Rand, is a way of living, rather than only a way of thinking (which is a part of living but not the whole). Hence Rand is more concerned with having an integrated picture of the whole rather than only its parts in isolation or abstraction. Rand’s epistemology starts with metaphysics (most broad or general field of philosophy). Kantianism is specific in respect to being narrowly applied only to thoughts concerning positive knowledge in theoretical science, moral/ethical practice, and judgments in art. Kantian way of thinking takes ideas in isolation and abstraction and only bounded by mind, representing all areas of knowledge within mental structures and through categories of thought. Kant’s epistemology cycles through itself, making metaphysics subservient to it without a possibility of deriving any knowledge about ends. External vs. internal Objectivism is concerned with external experience of reality, where it finds knowledge. Every judgment must correspond to or be ultimately derived from external reality. Kantianism is concerned with internal experience, wherein it claims to find all positive knowledge. Everything considered to be ‘external’ to mind is merely thought to be a representation or appearance structured by our mind as pure reason or inwardly directed by mind as practical reason with aesthetic judgments connecting the two reasons. Public vs. academic Objectivism is well known in general public by means of popular novels, podcasts, presentations, and audiobooks, but not among many academicians, who openly oppose it or try to avoid it. Formal discussions of Objectivism mostly occur in Objectivist journals, and Objectivist scholars do not take these discussions to established and trustworthy academic philosophical journals. Hence the nature of Objectivist discussions and research is mostly closed rather than open, in regard to academic work. Kantianism is popular among many academicians but not in general public. Kantianism is considered by many academicians to be a ‘suble’ and ‘true’ philosophy not comprehended quite enough by most others. Objective vs. subjective Objectivism follows the ethics of rational or objective egoism to the detriment of sometimes being able to develop healthy relationships with others. Objects in this philosophy precede private subjects. Kantianism follows the ethics of rational yet subjective altruism to the point of forcing others (even violently) to heed one’s ‘social’ will (especially of those in power) as if it were universal law. Peikoff describes Kantian influences on Nazism in The Ominous Parallels, and Kant himself praises the sublime in war over peace in Critique of Judgment, §28. Thus, subjects in this philosophy are not only central but the only ones, as physical objects in themselves are non-existent. Political vs. scientific Objectivism has greatly influenced the progress of politics and economics through conservatives, neoconservatives, libertarians, and even some liberals. However, Objectivism hasn’t had much effect on science. Kantianism has greatly influenced the progress of science through Bohr’s Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics, Chomsky’s universal grammar theory, and various neuro and cognitive scientists, anthropologists, and psychologists. However, Kantianism hasn’t had as much direct effect in politics. Part II: Transcending conflicts Second, as a possible way to transcend these areas as it would mostly benefit Objectivism (like a stronger connection to academia in 3), I need to provide a potential idea to be built upon. My current and main source of inspiration is Leonard Peikoff’s DIM Hypothesis (2012), which is based on Rand’s epistemology, in particular her theory of concepts. What Peikoff develops in his book called after his hypothesis is a metaphilosophy (although he doesn’t call it that) specifying boundaries of all philosophies involving three categories: disintegrating, integrating, and misintegrating. As a point of contention, these are Peikoff’s words that I reinterpreted in favor of my own hypothesis: I’ve been building on some concepts from Peikoff’s hypothesis this past couple of years and have found another way (a visual method) to describe all philosophies, while also borrowing some of these terms from Peikoff. Based on my extensive research, I would like to show not only that I independently verified some insights from Peikoff’s hypothesis (as I also did a few years back for Rand’s theory) but also describe what he had achieved (and he considers this book his greatest achievement so far) as an understanding of Rand’s epistemology not as an epistemology in academic sense (which they don’t accept as such) but a meta-epistemology that transcends epistemology as conceived by Kant. If Rand’s epistemology be truly a meta-epistemology and Peikoff’s hypothesis be truly metaphilosophical, then we can use these areas to transcend Kant’s ‘transcendental’ philosophy without losing specificity required (as in 1). As far as I know, Kant never covered these areas in his philosophy. Considering that there also exists a term ‘metametaphysics’ (books on the topic: 2009, 2015, and 2016; cf. my metaphysics), maybe this so-called ‘transcendence’ can also achieve greater breadth than Rand was able to conceive, although, as speculative as all this may sound, there is currently not enough understanding of these new ‘meta’ (meaning not just ‘after’ but ‘beyond’) fields because they are on the frontier of contemporary philosophical research. Maybe we can share knowledge and understanding to see whether any of my suggestions have ground for further developments. At the end, if we reach any conclusion, we may find and improve upon the missing links required for Objectivism to hold the center stage it deserves in philosophical discussions.

    Mysticism – Kant and Rand

    Boydstun
    By Boydstun,
    Mysticism – Kant and Rand Reason Rand gives to Ellsworth Toohey the voice for some of her thinking on how certain false ideas compromise independent rational judgment, thereby making an individual ready for rule by the authority of others. Toohey speaks to Keating: When I was a youth, in high school, I was still religious. I had originated a saying: Logic in life is faith. I had not yet studied any logic, but of course one knows something about it before entering one’s first class or opening one’s first textbook on it. (I became an atheist at eighteen, shortly before reading Rand.) When Rand wrote The Fountainhead, published when she was thirty-eight, she knew quite a bit about logic and quite a bit about reason. Rand had some exposure to Kant by the time she wrote We the Living, for she refers to him in that work (1936). She uses the word transcendental in both Living and Fountainhead, although in these usages, the sense is as contrast with square perception and with immanent practicality. One definition of transcendental in American Heritage is “rising above common thought or ideas; exalted; mystical.” Rand joins the notions of saintliness and nobility more than once in Fountainhead. She expresses the radiant aspect of religion in what Toohey tells Stoddard to tell Roark in order to persuade Roark to build the Temple of the Human Spirit. She again expresses that radiant aspect in Dominique’s testimony at the court case over the temple. Dark aspects of religion are also not neglected in Fountainhead. The testimonies of Toohey and Keating at the trial express them, and the link between religion and socialism is remarked in several places in the novel. It is tempting to read Rand’s “just say that reason is limited” in Toohey’s technique as an allusion to Kant (see also 1961a, 18). Whether the statement is such an allusion or not, Rand certainly was speaking in the passage I quoted to anyone who was caught in the tension between reason and faith. In Atlas Shrugged the following is likely an allusion to Kant’s bifurcation of things as they are in themselves and things as they are in our sensory and rational cognition of them: “‘Things as they are’ are things as perceived by your mind; divorce them from reason and they become ‘things as perceived by your wishes’” (1957, 1036). A few paragraphs later, Rand tells the religionist: “Whenever you committed the evil of refusing to think and to see, of exempting from the absolute of reality some one small wish of yours, whenever you chose to say: Let me withdraw from the judgment of reason . . . the existence of God, let me have my one irrational whim and I will be a man of reason about all else—that was the act of subverting your consciousness, the act of corrupting your mind” (1037). Rand was not opposed to feelings. She was not against the idea of the human soul, provided it is thought of as naturally part of one’s living body and mortal as one’s body. In Fountainhead she has dialogue between Keating and his wife Dominique in which soul is given the expressly nonreligious meaning: that in one that is one’s genuine person—not only one’s body—one’s will and meaning, that in one which independently thinks, values, decides, and feels (GW II 454–55; cf. 1957, 1057). In Fountainhead religion that entails belief in the supernatural is taken to be false. It is not presented, however, as something needing to be abandoned for the sake of human independence and freedom. It is not expressly taken as subversive of those good things. That changes in Atlas, wherein all religion holding forth the supernatural is openly opposed as inimical to human life and freedom. There religion is proclaimed to be mysticism. I agree. (See also Peikoff 1991, 183–84; Underhill 1925.) In Fountainhead the classification mysticism had not been given directly to the Judeo-Christian belief in God. It was given to religion of the ancient Egyptians. It was maintained that such mysticism and atheistic dialectical materialism were only “‘superficially varied manifestations of the same thing’” (HR VI 600). Earlier in the novel, Rand had Toohey iterate and reiterate that the central moral teachings of Jesus and socialism were like peas in a pod. Rand had made clear that belief in God was mistaken and partly at odds with human life and achievement on earth (PK III 45). She had stopped short of pronouncing belief in God mystical. Early in Galt’s radio speech in Atlas, Rand attacks as mystical the common belief that there is a supernatural power called God, who issues moral commands based on whim, and to whom one must dedicate one’s life (1011). There are no ghosts in heaven (1012). There is no “mystic God with some incomprehensible design” (1025). Rand attacked the old conception of man as divided into two antagonists: soul, which “belongs to a supernatural realm,” and body, which is “an evil prison holding it [soul] in bondage to this earth” (1026). This division denies the reality of mind, the living self, as sovereign of human life. Without reason, man is left as a battleground of two monsters, “of a body moved by unaccountable instincts and of a soul moved by mystic revelations” (1026). Around this division are gathered two competing congregations against man’s life and happiness. These camps are known as spiritualists and materialists, which Rand characterized as the mystics of spirit and the mystics of muscle (1027). In reality, on earth, both mystical schools “want their consciousness to be an instrument not of perceiving but of creating existence, and existence to be not the object but the subject of their consciousness—they want to be that God they created in their image and likeness, who created a universe out of a void by means of arbitrary whim. . . . They want an omnipotent power over existence; instead, they lose the power of their consciousness” (1036–37). The underlying bond between religious mysticism and secular dialectical materialism in The Fountainhead has been expanded into a bond of spiritualism and materialism in Atlas Shrugged, which bond is called mysticism by Rand. She had introduced the latter two variants of mysticism by way of repudiating all dichotomies between soul and body. In 1961 Rand posed the opposition between reason and mysticism as underlying not only the soul-body dichotomy, but other false dichotomies as well: mind v. heart; liberty v. equality; and practical v. moral (1961b, 88). The fundamental opposition is between reason, “the faculty which perceives, identifies, and integrates the material provided by man’s senses,” and mysticism, “the claim to some non-sensory, non-rational, non-definable, supernatural means of knowledge” (1961b, 89; cf. Russell 1914, 6–7). Mysticism is the belief that “man’s mind is impotent” and that “man must be guided by some irrational ‘instinct’ or feeling or intuition or revelation, by some form of blind, unreasoning faith” (ibid., also 1960 62–63; cf. Russell 1914, 9–14). That definition of mysticism is close to one in American Heritage. One meaning of mysticism is “belief in the existence of realities beyond perceptual and intellectual apprehension, but central to being and directly accessible by intuition.” Another meaning of mysticism is “confused and groundless speculation; superstitious self-delusion.” Rand includes this second sense also with her concept of mysticism, for she writes that it is “the acceptance of allegations without evidence or proof, either apart from or against the evidence of one’s senses and one’s reason” (1960, 62). Certainly it is self-delusional to turn to supernatural dimensions through which simply wishing will make so (further, Rand 1957, 1035–36). In Atlas Rand had characterized mystics of spirit as believing in consciousness without existence (1027). She had characterized mystics of muscle as believing in existence without consciousness (1027; on this side of the coin, see also Efron 1968; Rand 1972; and Peikoff 1991, 33–35). In the context of those characterizations of the two kingdoms of mysticism, existence is preeminently material existence (1027). Schools of philosophy denying the reality of matter are called idealism. (Continued)

    Reblogged:I'm Happy for You

    Gus Van Horn blog
    By Gus Van Horn blog,
    Working my way through Barbara Sher's insightful I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was, I encountered the following helpful observation about child-rearing:
    Sher correctly notes that "your children ... belong to themselves," and suggests a better way of expressing happiness about their achievements: See the title.

    Yes. My son is only three and it is only potty training. (Finally!) But the time to start cultivating this habit is now, now that I am aware of the issue with this very common expression.

    -- CAV

    P.S. And don't get me started on the trendy, too often meaningless, "Good job," which does avoid the problem noted above. I noticed it was way over-used when my daughter wasn't even two, and decided never to use it myself. Indeed, my daughter surprised me one day by jokingly saying "good job" in a patronizing way. That let me know I was right to avoid that particular knee-jerk phrase. Link to Original

    The DIM Hypothesis - by Leonard Peikoff

    softwareNerd
    By softwareNerd,
    Amazon says it is to be released on Sept 4, 2012.

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