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".. someone worth talking to writes about Rand. "

How do we judge who is worth talking to? For instance, is Chalmers a deep rooted Platonist?

"My opinion is that, unless you have a strong grasp contemporary philosophy to go along with your strong grasp of Objectivism, don't participate in philosophical debates with professional philosophers. Leave it to the pros like Binswanger and Norsen. ""

Opinion noted. But you don't really give your reason. I hesitate to attempt to pull it from one of your other posts on this thread and certainly won't presume. Can you state your reason that only pros with a "strong grasp on contemporary philosophy" ought participate?

John Donohue

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Maybe this will lighten things up.

I have changed my mind. I just read #10 for the first time. Let Travis and Harry have at it!

That is just god awful heavy going and would take me a whole day just to unravel.

It does not change my belief that for anyone not already totally indoctrinated to Plato, it is valuable for that person to hear that the root beliefs of Platonism require justification and that Ayn Rand has thrown down the challenge.

However, I can go back to my other "change the wind" activites and say...

Good night all and thank god I am not a professional philosopher.

John Donohue

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".. someone worth talking to writes about Rand. "

How do we judge who is worth talking to? For instance, is Chalmers a deep rooted Platonist?

"My opinion is that, unless you have a strong grasp contemporary philosophy to go along with your strong grasp of Objectivism, don't participate in philosophical debates with professional philosophers. Leave it to the pros like Binswanger and Norsen. ""

Opinion noted. But you don't really give your reason. I hesitate to attempt to pull it from one of your other posts on this thread and certainly won't presume. Can you state your reason that only pros with a "strong grasp on contemporary philosophy" ought participate?

John Donohue

It's not the case that most mainstream academic philosophers are deep rooted Platonists, or Kantians. The core of mainstream analytic philosophy is a mixture of some really bad stuff, and some good stuff. Maverick philosopher seems to be a philosopher of fairytales religion. I searched for his publications, and they are mostly related to arguing for the existence of god. So in the end Maverick may not be worth talking to (though some of the people participating in the comments may be).

So I'll use my Chalmers example. He is famous for his total rejection of materialism, and his endorsement of what is called property dualism. (This is contrasted with Cartesian dualism, which holds that the mind is some kind of distinct substance). Since Objectivism is supposed to be a type of property dualism, he is someone worth dialoguing with. There are other prominent philosophers who on some issues may find Objectivism appealing. That's been the case with some virtue ethicists and some moral realists, as well as some philosophers who defend direct realism about perception. So should there be a chance to talk about Objectivism on the blog of someone like Chalmers, it should be done by someone like Binswanger, and only someone like Binswanger.

Let me say that having productive conversations with these guys is not going to win us converts. But if they interact with someone who can defend Objectivism on level that Binswanger and Norsen can, it may persuade them to let students write papers on Rand. Or include her on the syllabus. If it suddenly becomes OK for students and professors to do research on Rand without controversy, that's a major achievement. And if they include her in their teaching that's a triumph. As I've heard reported at past OCON academic panels, these types of changes in attitude do happen. But they happen as a result of the style of communication exemplified by Binswanger/Norsen.

Why is it generally a bad idea for us amateurs to get into these types of conversations? Here's one really good reason: Philosophy isn't special; it's an expertise like any other. For every book you've read about philosophy, the professional has read a hundred. For every hour you've spent thinking about philosophy, he's spent a hundred. You can answer a couple dozen objections to Objectivism? He can come up with a hundred new ones on the spot. That's what philosophers are trained to do. So even if you are right, and even if you know you are right, you're going to lose. He's going to come up with objections you've never thought of based on theories and concepts you've never heard of. If you admit to never having heard of these ideas you look clueless. And if your response is lacking it looks like you are being dogmatic. And if you get defensive and start name calling you've undercut yourself completely.

Philosophers have a strange attraction to blogging, btw. I've had blogs listed on syllabi. They are followed by a LOT of people in the profession. Numerous leaders in the field blog. So if some academic philosopher writes a post about Objectivism, don't think about it as a blog post. Think about it as a presentation at the American Philosophical Association. Sure it's open to the public, but the vast majority of the audience is composed of other philosophers. So who do we want giving the commentary? You? Me? Or Binswanger?

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Can someone, especially West, explain to me benefit of accomplishing the goal he (West) laid out earlier that HB is supposedly trying to accomplish (I only say supposedly because HB has not been here stating his own goals explcitly, though that does seem to be his likely goal)?

I'm really not certain what spending lots of time and mental effort (assuming one will succeed!) getting such people to say "Okay, maybe Rand wasn't COMPLETELY whacky and there are SOME semi-respectable Objectivists" accomplishes that is worth the time and effort displayed in this entire chain of events.

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Can someone, especially West, explain to me benefit of accomplishing the goal he (West) laid out earlier that HB is supposedly trying to accomplish (I only say supposedly because HB has not been here stating his own goals explcitly, though that does seem to be his likely goal)?

I'm really not certain what spending lots of time and mental effort (assuming one will succeed!) getting such people to say "Okay, maybe Rand wasn't COMPLETELY whacky and there are SOME semi-respectable Objectivists" accomplishes that is worth the time and effort displayed in this entire chain of events.

Santiago,

I can't currently give you a technical answer about dealing with college administrative people in this regard, but the issue basically comes down to a practical matter which Objectivists can not do an end run around. The (Post-)Modernists hold the keys. They have tenure; they are the ones getting published in journals and editing the journals. (To also partially answer Thomas...) We don't have a choice in this. Either academic Objectivist professionals deal with dept. heads and journal editors et al. in ways that they appreciate and comprehend, or Objectivism doesn't get a hearing in academia.

For anyone reading this thread,

One of the first things that AR instructed her readers about as far as polemics go is this: (paraphrasing) "It's the the job of people such as Drs. Peikoff and Binswanger to tell others what Objectivism is. It's your job i.e. the readers' to point people to Objectivist resources."

I used to study this sort of material when I first went to university, but I wouldn't seriously consider engaging in a technical discussion with non-Objectivist academics without doing my homework. This kind of work is very tedious and time-consuming.

One of the main principles in having any fruitful dialogue is for a communicator to consider the personal context of the person(s) he or she is dealing with. A Modernist is not able to properly reconcile Objectivist terminology for similar reasons that an Objectivist would have trouble dealing with Modernist terminology. It's not unlike a Spanish speaker trying to communicate with a Russian speaker.

What one is to do when it comes to polemics depends on the goals to be achieved. I agree with West and Atlas on this... There are matters involving best uses of resources, best ways of framing arguments, etc.

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Am I understanding you correctly, tps, in that you are saying that, because of the current positions held by "(Post-)Modernists," Objectivists must engage them and earn their respect in order to "get a hearing" in academia?

Edit: In addition, is getting "a hearing" in academia the only way to change the philosophy of a culture?

Edited by sanjavalen
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Can someone, especially West, explain to me benefit of accomplishing the goal he (West) laid out earlier that HB is supposedly trying to accomplish (I only say supposedly because HB has not been here stating his own goals explcitly, though that does seem to be his likely goal)?

I'm really not certain what spending lots of time and mental effort (assuming one will succeed!) getting such people to say "Okay, maybe Rand wasn't COMPLETELY whacky and there are SOME semi-respectable Objectivists" accomplishes that is worth the time and effort displayed in this entire chain of events.

Something I want to say at the outset is that I think it's important to consider the personal contexts involved in these exchanges. What may seem like a lot of time and mental effort to you or I might not be much to HB or Norsen. This is not merely to criticize you or I, but instead to say that everyone has their own values and time with which to achieve them. Engaging academic philosophers may not be the most palatable (or practical) thing for most people, and that's okay. Also, there isn't just one or two ways to change the philosophy of the culture. I don't think that anyone is suggesting that "getting a hearing in academia" is the only way to change the philosophy of the culture. We are instead suggesting that it is one of the many ways to change the philosophy of a culture, and it's most effective when done by professionals due to the context.

To continue, I can't speak for what HB is aiming to accomplish specifically, so I tried to cover as many bases as I could think of. I went along with John Donohue's proposal for a purpose [".. to dethrone Kantianism and all forms of neo-Platonism from running the universities and intellectual establishment and replace it with Objectivism (by that name or any other)"], since it's broad enough that I don't particularly disagree, and I don't think it would be dishonest to say that HB wants this too.

As for what HB and Norsen are actually accomplishing, I tried to detail that before, but I'll recapitulate the essentials as concisely as I can. The first thing that I think should be taken into consideration is something Atlas51184 stated before: these blogs have heavy traffic. They are widely read by not only other philosophers, but also by students of philosophy. The second thing to be considered is the fact that Rand is otherwise obscure within academia. It's not just that she's attacked, she's largely not even being discussed.

Taking those into consideration, the fact that Rand is being discussed (albeit in a negative light) shows that there is some interest, which I think is better than no interest and no discussion. You'll notice that the academic types (Tara Smith, Allan Gotthelf, Eric Daniels, Amy Peikoff, etc.) have been engaging non-Objectivist academics more and more, whether it's at philosophy conferences, law conferences, and others, which helps bring Ayn Rand and her ideas to the forefront of the discussion. What this actually accomplishes is the facilitation of awareness and understanding of Objectivism, whether that be the main philosophers on the blog (doubtful), or the numerous viewers from wide backgrounds (which range from doubtful to very promising)

Some smaller points that are worth mentioning:

- HB got to put in a substantial plug for his Consciousness book he's in the process of writing, in addition to multiple plugs for the collaborative volume being assembled and edited by Gotthelf and Salmieri.

- When the conversation began to derail into the realm of physics (when these philosophers had no business speaking on the subject), Norsen had an opportunity to provide a substantial account of not just the history of physics and QM (and the interpretations thereof), but the interfacing that occurs between physics and philosophy. Just on a personal level, this was highly stimulating. It opened my eyes to a lot I didn't know--I would not have been aware of it had the issues not been raised by those who were either dishonest/ignorant/mistaken about the subject. It would be nice to have someone like Norsen to bring with you into awful physics classes, but this acts as a good substitute for now. From responses I've seen both public and private, I see evidence of a similar spark in others (to varying degrees) regarding Norsen and Binswanger's excellent posts, on both sides.

Edited by West
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One of the first things that AR instructed her readers about as far as polemics go is this: (paraphrasing) "It's the the job of people such as Drs. Peikoff and Binswanger to tell others what Objectivism is. It's your job i.e. the readers' to point people to Objectivist resources."

This does not ring true. Please establish the foundation for this claim. Paraphrase is not good enough. Unless you can substantiate this, I reject it.

While many have expressed embarrassment at my posts in the blog in question, no one has shown that I erred as far as the actual philosophy of Objectivism. Yes, I am personally reviewing the purpose and goal of my approach, but not because I don't know what Objectivism is, not because I am incompetent in arguing it; only because of the small possibility that my approach does damage and my intended purpose -- to raise the eyebrows of any open mind reading the blog -- is non-existent.

I challenge your claim that only a few can argue Objectivism and the rest of us just direct people to the "resources."

The embarrassment of other Objectivists, by the way, could well be their problem, not mine. However, I am refraining for the moment, until I satisfy myself my "polemic" approach is actually doing harm. I am not yet convinced.

Note: Dr. Peikoff has told me he does not and will not engage these enemies.

John Donohue

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West,

As I just posted elsewhere I am currently in suspension of my 'strike at the root' approach in the academic blogs and currently listening to your points.

I also have learned a lot reading the responses from the various academic-speaking Objectivists. I agree it is good that there is at least exposure for the books.

Appreciation that you just laid out the idea that there is more than one way to accomplish {A}; ironically that opens the door for me to consider that arguing with the Orthodox Academic Platonist in their jargon can actually do some good, as well as opening the possiblity to others that perhaps my direct approach might have some value.

I will continue to think about if polemic in the blogs of the enemy does no harm

Thanks

John Donohue

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West,

As I just posted elsewhere I am currently in suspension of my 'strike at the root' approach in the academic blogs and currently listening to your points.

I also have learned a lot reading the responses from the various academic-speaking Objectivists. I agree it is good that there is at least exposure for the books.

Appreciation that you just laid out the idea that there is more than one way to accomplish {A}; ironically that opens the door for me to consider that arguing with the Orthodox Academic Platonist in their jargon can actually do some good, as well as opening the possiblity to others that perhaps my direct approach might have some value.

I will continue to think about if polemic in the blogs of the enemy does no harm

Thanks

John Donohue

Yes, there is more than one way to accomplish {A}, but to bring back the issue I raised before, who derives value from your approach? From a strictly psychological perspective, what kind of person will even respond (and not merely ejaculate insults in kind) to your kind of approach? After considering the question, I can only think that the answer is fellow Objectivists, since we share the proper context. Therefore this is a value only to the extent that there are Objectivists visiting the blog, weighed against the judgments and opinions of those unfamiliar with the Objectivist context (whom I think will have no interest upon coming into contact with the prevalent polemical approach). I would argue that the approach is more of a dis-value since the broader purpose is not accomplished by these means.

edit: I wanted to add that HB and Norsen's approach has a blanket effect that covers your intended audience (the "open-minded") substantially. (I don't share the comment made earlier about longer posts being necessarily bad, if that was the message intended)

Edited by West
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First, let me recapitulate my approach:

I challenge Platonists to justify their presuppositionalism. That is it in a nutshell.

The Kantian Apparatus is designed to allow all Platonists to avoid this. They smuggle in their a priori truths, their supernatural realm, their denial of induction and the futility of validating objective reality through the senses and reason.

They count on no one challenging the presuppositionalism. Well, those Objectivists arguing in 'their jargon' eventually have the goal of unmasking this gambit as well, but certainly WAY down the road.

So, when someone goes ballistic over Ayn Rand being a stupid hack because she won't operate out of the Kantian metaphysical presuppositions or deploy the Kantian epistemological schisms, I don't try to show them in their lingo how to view Rand, nor do I attempt to refute them myself in their jargon. I just say, as I did here:

http://maverickphilosopher.typepad.com/mav...ontingency.html

"... you go to great pains to somehow 'discover' that Ayn Rand's system respects 'contingency' in the way you do. It does not, and she does not. She rejects it utterly. Things that are not man made simply "are." That is why, formally, she uses the phrase "metaphysically given." As Rand rightly points out, unless it can be proven that the metaphysically given was created by God and God had a choice, then it serves no functional purpose, meaning or logic to ponder 'what it could have been.' Here: I'll quote someone other than Ayn Rand! "Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed." Francis Bacon

It would be more honest, rather than trying desperately to wedge Rand into your world view, to simply roast her for not respecting the dichotomy that you consider so fundamental."

I can provide other instances if you want to see more.

Now, here is my audience on the Platonist/OrthodoxAcademic/AP blogs: the person who is reading the blog of their professors who are not fully convinced of the primacy of consciousness. Their minds are not lost. They have never had anyone challenge the authorities to explain how God just gets plopped into place with no proof or justification, or how it can be that "There are no absolute truths" when that is an absolute, or indeed "why is it again that it has to be that some truths are a priori and some are not?"

That person just might say, 'you know that keeps nagging me too. Maybe I should read some of this Objectivist stuff."

So that's it. Comments welcome.

John Donohue

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I'd ask others who think I have been insulting to view this thread, which is the one before the one that got me banned.

Please tell me if I was rude and insulting. [i used the word 'sloppy' but it was ironic: "bill" had continually applied it to Ayn Rand in several prior posts. Do I go to hell for that?]

This is also a good example of my approach; challenge their presuppositions without a moment's delay.

http://maverickphilosopher.typepad.com/mav...n.html#comments

John Donohue

[edited to add: I think my frind Richard deported himself well in that thread also]

Edited by John Donohue
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I decided not to continue in philosophy past a BA because I had some advanced philosophy courses and it was just gibberish. It wasn't that I couldn't understand them, because I could, it was that there was no way to get them to observe reality and introspect on what their mind was actually doing. I run into that here on oo.net at times and it is frustrating, because you can point to facts all day but they don't take is seriously. They tend to be more rationalists and for the die-hard rationalist in the analytic tradition, pointing to the facts is like out of bounds ... I don't know if we can make inroads into academia on a serious level (metaphysics and epistemology) because they have no focus on reality. It's all a mind game to them. And if you don't know how to play the game then you are an amateur. I realize that for something like physics, I wouldn't expect a Nobel Prize winner to have a chat with me about physics, given that I only have a BA in physics. He may or may not, but I can acknowledge that he knows a great deal more than me regarding modern physics. And I just don't have that kind of respect for modern academic philosophers, because I don't think they advance anything. And they wouldn't take me seriously anyhow because I point to reality for all of my discussions, for the most part, if I run into loggerheads with someone.

It is like you are reading my mind! I agree totally!

I've had the exact same experience from my philosophy courses at the university. I am currently working slowly on my MA, but I find it harder to find the motivation for each day that goes by, because I find the state of modern "philosophy" so horrible irrational and insane, that it's almost ridiculous. I just cannot take it seriously anymore.

When I try to take it seriously it just feels like I have to violate my own mind, trying to hold and accept contradictions, floating abstractions, the arbitrary, concretes without context, 50 pages long and badly written essays that easily could have been cut down to 10, etc - all in my head and make something coherent of it. Usually I can make something of it, but I can't stand for it, because I know it is all just utter nonsense. I seriously don't know how much longer I can take it!

I have several times talked to some of these people, trying to convince them that induction is the proper method. I say, over and over again, that we have to start with the facts. But it is seems hopeless. They do not see the need for facts or observations, at all. Most of them are, as you say, hard-core rationalists. Of course, I know what they think about induction, since I am aware that they swallowed everything David Hume and Immanuel Kant and other modern philosophers said.

My teacher in logic actually said that there is no "empircal method" for philosophers. All we have, she said, is logic, which in the end have nothing to to with reality, since it only reflect on how our language works. Therefore they also feel justified in imagine anything, i.e., to engage in pure fantasies based on absolutely nothing, and then pretend that this is serious philosophical "thinking". Then, based on such "thinking", they actually believe that they somehow can prove or disprove whatever they want.

I, however, am not being taken seriously because I point to reality.

What do they do when they are not busy fantasying? I have observed that the essence of their "method" consist of saying something weird, stupid, outrageous, meaningless or sometimes, by mere chance, even sensible and plausible, then "testing" the proposition by refering to their intuitions, i.e., their feelings. Facts? Reality? Observations? That's, apparently, not the proper philosophical method. But to be fair: there are some "experimental philosophers" who thinks that "observations" amounts to making polls on how people in general feel about these issues.

Again, I am not taken seriously when I try to tell them that their feelings are not proof of anything. It's just fantastic!

Edited by knast
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Here's the strategy: If you are going to engage them, then the best thing to do is to present Objectivism. If you can be cogent about what Objectivism is, and can present it clearly, then there might be a chance that they will leave your posting up there. This means that if their student read their blogs, then they will get some exposure to Objectivism, though a very scant exposure; but it might be enough to spark an interest. Telling them things like they are never going to "get reality" or are rationalists or are superstitious and not worth reading will only result in your post being erased. But in this battle one must be calm in presenting Objectivism; and the only real purpose is to present Objectivism (especially the way Harry and Travis did). That way, in those entries where they discuss Objectivism, Objectivism will get as close to a fair hearing as is possible on those forums. I did some of this while I was in college and some professors did pause a moment to consider Objectivism. I don't know that any of them turned around and presented Objectivism to their classes, but at least some of the students heard a different viewpoint.

To do this, however, one must really know Objectivism and know how not to be drawn into a futile arguments on non-essentials. I think that is one reason Harry mentioned that he didn't want others to get involved. There is no need to have a flame war with these professors. Just present Objectivism. And I think Travis, especially in #10 did that very well, and it will be a sharp contrast to the way epistemology is presented in the classroom. The problem is that if you are not familiar with their perspective, then you will not know how to answer them at the roots of the issue.

So, if you are going to get involved in these professional philosopher's blogs, just present Objectivism in answer to them and the issues they raise.

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Am I understanding you correctly, tps, in that you are saying that, because of the current positions held by "(Post-)Modernists," Objectivists must engage them and earn their respect in order to "get a hearing" in academia?

Edit: In addition, is getting "a hearing" in academia the only way to change the philosophy of a culture?

What do you mean by post-modernism? If you mean the kind of stuff lampooned on the post-modernism generator website, then philosophers are not post-modernists. At least, the ones at leading departments aren't post-modernists. In my experience most philosophers think post-modernism is a dishonest scam. Those gibberish Derrida types are not popular in philosophy departments. English departments maybe. Not philosophy.

More generally, not just addressing sanjavalen, I see a lot of Objectivists claiming that academic philosophers are all relativists, or skeptics, or subjectivists, or Kantian, or some other type of bad guy. To be honest, I cringe when I read this stuff. It's not accurate. Of course there are philosophers who are like that. But they don't dominate the profession. There has been a huge backlash against skepticism in the last 30 years or so. I've never encountered a skeptic professor, though I've had many who were passionate about refuting skepticism. There's been a huge backlash against Kuhnian relativism about science and anti-inductivism. There are plenty of moral realists (believe there are objective moral truths) at leading departments. There are plenty of Rawlsian liberals, but nobody is a Marxist and there's not to many socialists, either. That's not to say that any the ideas of these philosophers are right, or even close to being right. What I am saying is that if your impression of philosophy was formed by reading/listening to presentations Objectivists gave 20 or more years ago, you are very out of date.

So it's not a good idea to say things like "All (most, many) philosophers are x" unless you, ya know, actually know first hand what current philosophers believe.

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The extent to which Vallicella is controlling the discussion has now reached an absurd level. In "Piekoff on the Supernatural" a user MichaelM left a lengthy response, which then received a lengthy reply of its own from Kevin Currie. But THEN Vallicella later deleted MichaelM's reply. So we are now left with a reply to a nonexistent post - a post that was apparently deleted for being unworthy of response and yet receiving response.

Edited by brian0918
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Something I want to say at the outset is that I think it's important to consider the personal contexts involved in these exchanges. What may seem like a lot of time and mental effort to you or I might not be much to HB or Norsen. This is not merely to criticize you or I, but instead to say that everyone has their own values and time with which to achieve them. Engaging academic philosophers may not be the most palatable (or practical) thing for most people, and that's okay.

The time costs are still real, even if they would be more for someone not as well versed in Objectivism as HB or Norsen.

Also, there isn't just one or two ways to change the philosophy of the culture. I don't think that anyone is suggesting that "getting a hearing in academia" is the only way to change the philosophy of the culture. We are instead suggesting that it is one of the many ways to change the philosophy of a culture, and it's most effective when done by professionals due to the context.

I think the scope of this thread isn't large enough, but an important issue raised by this is effective use of resources (especially a superior intellect) in accomplishing that overarching goal.

As for what HB and Norsen are actually accomplishing, I tried to detail that before, but I'll recapitulate the essentials as concisely as I can. The first thing that I think should be taken into consideration is something Atlas51184 stated before: these blogs have heavy traffic. They are widely read by not only other philosophers, but also by students of philosophy. The second thing to be considered is the fact that Rand is otherwise obscure within academia. It's not just that she's attacked, she's largely not even being discussed.

Taking those into consideration, the fact that Rand is being discussed (albeit in a negative light) shows that there is some interest, which I think is better than no interest and no discussion. You'll notice that the academic types (Tara Smith, Allan Gotthelf, Eric Daniels, Amy Peikoff, etc.) have been engaging non-Objectivist academics more and more, whether it's at philosophy conferences, law conferences, and others, which helps bring Ayn Rand and her ideas to the forefront of the discussion. What this actually accomplishes is the facilitation of awareness and understanding of Objectivism, whether that be the main philosophers on the blog (doubtful), or the numerous viewers from wide backgrounds (which range from doubtful to very promising)

Define: "Numerous"

Does anyone (especially HB, Amy Peikoff, etc.,) have a good idea of how effective that course of action (ie engaging academic philosophers) is? In particular, in attracting intellectuals to Objectivism.

Second and more importantly, once that question is answered, is there a better use of time than the above?

These are honest questions. I don't know the answers for a fact; but just from a marketing standpoint, I can't imagine that this particular standpoint is especially effective. I'm no super marketing expert, though, so obviously I could be mistaken.

Also, I should make clear that I am not trying to criticisize HB or any other "professional" that chooses to engage academic philosophers in exchanges. But I do wish to expression confusion and dismay if this is what they have honestly evaluated as the best use of their (valuable) time.

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The Presuppositionalism is intense. They continue to express disdainful shock that anyone would even be so stupid and so hideous to 'preemptively define god out.'

"It is illegitimate to attempt to answer a philosophical question by rigging one's terminology in such a way that the answer 'falls out' of the terminology. One cannot legislate the supernatural out of existence by using 'existence' in such a way that only natural items exist. Equally, one cannot legislate the supernatural into existence by a similar move. For example, one cannot define God into existence by saying that God is by definition an existent being since a nonexistent God is not God, and God is God (A is A!). If Peikoff is not making the first mistake, then he is equivocating on 'existence.' That is, he using it in two different senses. He is using it both as the "widest of all concepts" to cover everything that exists, but also in a narrow sense to cover only natural existents."

The above is extreme. I'd simply label it as a normal attempt to 'shift the burden of proof', except that is an understatement. What you are reading in that thread is raw, naked Primacy of Consciousness virtually without masking. "Bill" has no shame whatsoever in asserting that since the word "God" has been discussed, it is an existent, period, with the same legitimacy as the table his computer is sitting on.

Just imagine a world in which all you had to do is dream up an existent and ipso facto you have validated knowledge of it. It has equal standing before the law!

I really get the sense they are shocked and horrified that anyone would attempt to deny the a priori existence of god and the supernatural. They just can't believe it. I am sure more than one of them has looked at us and said "that is a really big sin, straight to hell."

You know, the Catholics have a sin called "presumption."

"Presumption is here considered as a vice opposed to the theological virtue of hope. It may also be regarded as a product of pride. It may be defined as the condition of a soul which, because of a badly regulated reliance on God's mercy and power, hopes for salvation without doing anything to deserve it, or for pardon of his sins without repenting of them. Presumption is said to offend against hope by excess, as despair by defect. It will be obvious, however, to one who ponders what is meant by hope, that this statement is not exact. There is only a certain analogy which justifies it. As a matter of fact we could not hope too much, assuming that it is really the supernatural habit which is in question. " -- The Catholic Encyclopedia

So, if you "hope" for salvation it is a virtue, but if you get "certain" of salvation you are condemned to hell. The more good deeds you do (which earn Heaven) the more you might be inclined (in your pride) to believe you are saved and therefore the more danger of committing the sin of presumption and being condemned to hell forever. Nice. That is so Kantian.

Well, Objectivists are not in danger of committing that sin. But we have trumped it. We have invented "Non-Presumption!" I am sure a special place in Hell has our name on it.

John Donohue

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Well, the Maverick Philosopher has expanded his tracts against Objectivism, and even has a thread about what "existence exists" means. The overall rationalism is very evident. I would go so far as to say he, in some cases, is making logically valid assertions, however this is not the same thing as stating that he correctly identifies the facts of existence. That is, the term valid means that one makes logical connections based upon the premises, but it doesn't mean that the premises are correctly identifying facts of existence.

At any rate, he has quite a bit to say about how Miss Rand is such an amateur philosopher who doesn't really know what she is talking about and just rants. And he considers this to be a kindness. But he does make references to Miss Rand's works, and if people are curious, then they can read those works themselves and come to their own conclusions. This is a lot more than Miss Rand was given in the recent past.

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The time costs are still real, even if they would be more for someone not as well versed in Objectivism as HB or Norsen.

Yes they still exist, but I contend that it isn't really an issue for HB or Norsen (where it is for me--just answering posts on oo.net recently has taken far more time than I had expected or wanted). HB has been duplicating the posts on HBL for some time too, so they are being channeled to more than just that specific context.

I think the scope of this thread isn't large enough, but an important issue raised by this is effective use of resources (especially a superior intellect) in accomplishing that overarching goal.

It may be interesting to some to explore whether this is an effective use of HB's time, but I personally don't have much interest in questioning HB, Peikoff, and others' effective use of time. The individuals of that caliber that are professors already spend the bulk of their time lecturing and grading papers. Meanwhile, all of the rest are writing books, articles, running/participating in email discussion lists, attending academic conferences, Objectivist conferences, as well as running conferences specifically aimed at students (Clemson Summer Conference comes to mind). This list isn't exhaustive, it's just to give an idea that they are working pretty hard to saturate the culture (which was the theme of the last OCON).

Define: "Numerous"

Consisting of a great number of units (as distinguished from not many, or few). For concretes, the exact conference or website traffic figures can be dug up, I just don't have them easily on hand.

Does anyone (especially HB, Amy Peikoff, etc.,) have a good idea of how effective that course of action (ie engaging academic philosophers) is? In particular, in attracting intellectuals to Objectivism.

I'm sure they could answer the question more in depth to provide a more satisfactory answer, but from various responses I've heard (one venue being the academic panel at this last OCON, which had Tara Smith, Allan Gotthelf, John Allison, John McCaskey, Eric Daniels, and possibly a few others producing the responses), I get the sense that it's effective in some places, and not so effective in others. I think the idea is diversification, broadly.

Second and more importantly, once that question is answered, is there a better use of time than the above?

These are honest questions. I don't know the answers for a fact; but just from a marketing standpoint, I can't imagine that this particular standpoint is especially effective. I'm no super marketing expert, though, so obviously I could be mistaken.

Also, I should make clear that I am not trying to criticisize HB or any other "professional" that chooses to engage academic philosophers in exchanges. But I do wish to expression confusion and dismay if this is what they have honestly evaluated as the best use of their (valuable) time.

I think in the end this can best be answered by HB and others, but I still think that HB and Norsen aren't put out much by those posts, and the websites themselves have a lot of traffic. I think the particular concrete of the participation on the Maverick Philosopher blog is in principle the same as the point/counterpoint exchanges going on on websites such as this: http://www.opposingviews.com/questions/sho...ce-against-iran

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