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Why is it that all of the top Objectivists are Jews? Not religiously Jewish but ethnically Jewish. Ayn Rand was ethnically Jewish as is Barbara Branden, Nathaniel Branden and Leonard Peikoff. The ARI is also a passionate defender of Israel. Many of the top mods on this forum and other Objectivist forums are Jewish.

Considering that Jews make up only a tiny fraction of the total population, what accounts for the high number of Objectivists (especially top Objectivists) who are Jewish? Also, is it feasible that the defense of Israel that the ARI engages in is motivated by a kind of ethnic affinity to the people of Israel?

top objectivists?

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Why is it that all of the top Objectivists are Jews? Not religiously Jewish but ethnically Jewish. Ayn Rand was ethnically Jewish as is Barbara Branden, Nathaniel Branden and Leonard Peikoff. The ARI is also a passionate defender of Israel. Many of the top mods on this forum and other Objectivist forums are Jewish.

How about "poor conclusion from insufficiency of sample size, and lack of proper inductive basis..." :P

That might be the best explanation.

Considering BB, and NB are not Objectivists, one would wonder if a sample size of 2 is appropriate basis to validate even your first statement.

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It was founded by a Jewish person who told all her friends. Maybe it just hasn't had time to spread yet?
This cannot be an explanation because the top Objectivists were not Ayn Rand's friends before she founded Objectivism.

I think this hits it pretty square. Look at the adherents of almost any "extreme" (i.e., self-consistent) ideology, and you'll find a high proportion of Jews.
Interesting. Can you give an example of another such ideology?

top objectivists?

so there's like, a hierarchy or something?

Yes there is a hierarchy because some of the Objectivists have spent a lot more time and effort studying Objectivism than others and are simply more prominent in the public eye. Lets take Leonard Peikoff as an example. He is a professional philosopher, a professional Objectivist, as well as having the title of Ayn Rand's heir. This definitely qualifies him as being the "top" Objectivist.

How about "poor conclusion from insufficiency of sample size, and lack of proper inductive basis..." :P

That might be the best explanation.

Considering BB, and NB are not Objectivists, one would wonder if a sample size of 2 is appropriate basis to validate even your first statement.

BB and NB were heavily involved in the Objectivist movement at one point in their lives therefore I feel this qualifies them as being included in the sample.

Still, there are a lot of ethnically Jewish Objectivists (Leonard Peikoff, Yaron Brook, Peter Schwartz, Alex Epstein) but I don't think it means anything beyond that.
The Spiechers are ethnically Jewish as well if I am not mistaken as is David Veksler the owner of this forum (again I'm not sure correct me if I'm wrong).

That Jews don't make up that much of the population, yet dominate the top ranks of Objectivism needs an explanation. I am leading towards the explanation that Jews like to make money and that Objectivism promotes this as top virtue, therefore the most enthusiastic Objectivists tend to be Jewish and rise up the ranks.

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That Jews don't make up that much of the population, yet dominate the top ranks of Objectivism needs an explanation.
Your alternative explanation is ridiculous. The actual explanation is quite simple. There is a very thorough and rigorous tradition of reasoning and argumentation as part of Yeshiva. This pervasive respect for intellectual activity, especially debate and the rational resolution of dispute, has been part of Jewish culture continuously for thousands of years. The correlation is observed not just with Objectivism, it's all forms of intellectual activity. Compare that to the downright contempt for learning that is attached to other religions, or the emphasis on faith over reason that pollutes Catholic theology.

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Many intellectual movements, whether rational or not, were created by people who were ethnically Jewish. Karl Marx was Jewish, for example, as was Ayn Rand, Murray Rothbard, Jesus (assuming he was a real person), etc.

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Interesting. Can you give an example of another such ideology?

Communism. Jews were heavily involved in its early development and in bringing about the Communist revolution in Russia. I don't have data, but I'd bet heavily that there were a lot of them (relative to the general population) in the American Communist Party in its heyday.

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Your alternative explanation is ridiculous. The actual explanation is quite simple. There is a very thorough and rigorous tradition of reasoning and argumentation as part of Yeshiva. This pervasive respect for intellectual activity, especially debate and the rational resolution of dispute, has been part of Jewish culture continuously for thousands of years. The correlation is observed not just with Objectivism, it's all forms of intellectual activity. Compare that to the downright contempt for learning that is attached to other religions, or the emphasis on faith over reason that pollutes Catholic theology.

Catholic Theology, or at least the pre-Aquinas variety that I think you are referring to, is heavily influenced by Ancient Greek Philosophy and also came out of the same Hebrew tradition that the current Jewish population also comes from. If you want my honest opinion on why faith over reason is prominent in Catholicism, I think there is a strong case to be made that Kantism and it's mutated off-spring are seeping their way into the church and reinforcing some of the rather primitive Platonistic influences, as well as some Augustinians who held similar views as Martin Luther yet didn't dare to oppose the Vatican. The Dominicans are guided by a much more rational kind of philosophy, and I think this deserves to be noted.

That Jews don't make up that much of the population, yet dominate the top ranks of Objectivism needs an explanation. I am leading towards the explanation that Jews like to make money and that Objectivism promotes this as top virtue, therefore the most enthusiastic Objectivists tend to be Jewish and rise up the ranks.

I think that this explanation completely misses the point of why people choose to follow Objectivism, most people gravitate to it because they are sick of having their minds injected with unearned guilts and irrational ideas. I myself have been fascinated with Ayn Rand's books because they are a breath of fresh air from the psuedo-journalistic literature that has been dominating the non Sci-Fi/Fantasy genre of fiction for the past 100 years. Making money is a consequence of free enterprize, as laissez faire is the expression of freedom, and people who don't accept the guilts that are thrown at them gravitate towards freedom and all that comes with it.

I'd suggest reading David's response on the history of Judaism and how it relates to Objectivism, this explanation is the most sensible of everything I've read so far.

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By definition, Jewish is not an ethnicity. It was only used to denote ethnicity during the Holocaust, and I guess it's something that managed to stick with us

That doesn't seem to be true, given that they are identified as a "people" from the time of Moses, unless the context of that word has changed.

The jews as a race/ethnicity/religion debate has its root in a more fundamental one: what is ethnicity and race? It isn't clear cut, even between caucasians and Africans. Alexandria is in Africa, and leaders of racially motivated organisations are always getting embarrassed when an investigative journalist discovers their mixed ethnic heritage.

Wherever we draw the line we are being arbitrary, there are infinite mixes of ethnicities which are, of course, derived from more infinite mixes. This is a concept like colour, it's not possible to draw the line between red and pink on a spectrum so we just accept some overlap between the two. A particular shade can identify itself as red, pink or reddish-pink and nobody would object, since identifying colour by name is a fuzzy, imprecise concept (that is, nonetheless, useful). Similarly, you should feel free to use the word "Jewish" if you want to describe your cultural background, or your genetic lineage, or your religion - but this doesn't exclude also describing yourself as Asian, African or Sikh.

That said, it's important to avoid package dealing the concepts (since race has no bearing on religion or cultural background) - so just say exactly what you mean, and don't worry too much about the overlap of the concepts.

So: "I am an atheist of Jewish heritage" seems to be perfectly acceptable.

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In Mexico, and probably other Latin American countries, we have the same issue with Indians /Native people.

When a person who was raised in a Mayan family, for example, does not speak Mayan anymore, that person ceases to consider herself "an Indian".

Language seems to be the ultimate tie to ethnicity in the case of Amerindian groups.

It is as if a Dogon from Mali who stops speaking in Dogon and starts speaking only in French, would cease to consider herself "a Dogon".

Another odd concept, used in the USA, is the concept of "Hispanic" as a race.

Blue-eyed blond people from Argentina are considered "Hispanic", while brown-eye dark-hair people from England would be considered "Caucasian".

Similarly, a black Cuban would be considered "Hispanic", while a black man from Bahamas would be considered "Black".

Edited by Hotu Matua

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To be a Jew doesn't necessarily mean to practice Judaism. It also could mean sharing the common genetic and cultural heritage, history, language, different cultural customs etc..

It is such a thing as a secular Jew. In fact majority of Israeli population is secular. I'd define myself simply as a Jew.

Edited by Leonid

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Jews are a distinct racial/ethnic group totally apart from religion, so the word "Jew" has a double-meaning.

Supposedly, Jews have the highest average IQ of all racial groups. This might explain why they dominate the top ranks of Objectivism, as well as why there are a disproportionate number of high-achieving Jews in other intellectual arenas, such as science and business.

Edited by iflyboats

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Supposedly, Jews have the highest average IQ of all racial groups. This might explain why they dominate the top ranks of Objectivism, as well as why there are a disproportionate number of high-achieving Jews in other intellectual arenas, such as science and business.

Yes that must be it. It could not have been the deeply established cultural Jewish traditions of valuing education and hard work plus high degree of rationality among this ethnic group.

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Yes that must be it. It could not have been the deeply established cultural Jewish traditions of valuing education and hard work plus high degree of rationality among this ethnic group.

I'm not aware of Jewish cultural traditions, but whenever there are clear trends based on race, such as blacks dominating the 100m dash or Jews dominating finance, I tend to think that cultural forces alone are insufficient to explain those differences.

Edited by iflyboats

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I'm not aware of Jewish cultural traditions, but whenever there are clear trends based on race, such as blacks dominating the 100m dash or Jews dominating finance, I tend to think that cultural forces alone are insufficient to explain those differences.

Now that's a well-defended position right there.

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Now that's a well-defended position right there.

The nature vs. nurture debate is way off the original thread topic, and I have too much work to do to get into it right now. Perhaps I shouldn't have brought it up. My apologies.

Edited by iflyboats

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When I am asked whether I am Jewish, I reply as follows: No. I was raised Jewish but I do not consider myself Jewish; I am an atheist.

Some have argued that I could have answered "yes" to this question and qualify my answser by saying that I am "ethnically Jewish". I think this is a misleading charaterization and is concept-stealing. Judiasm, is a religion. As such, to be a member of that religion, one has to believe in the existence of god at minimum. Now a Jew would argue that you could still be Jewish and an atheist so long as your mother was Jewish--your Jewishness does not depend on your own philosophy. This view, however, relies on the premise accepted by Judiasm that to be a Jew you merely need to have a Jewish mother--a premise which has no objective metaphysical basis. If one rejects this premise, then what is the objective definition of a Jew? It is someone who belives in god and accepts the basic tenants of Judiasm including that to be Jewish is to have a Jewish mother. For Christianity, the same principle applies--to be Christian, you have to believe the basic tenants of the faith including the belief that Christ is your savior etc. Therefore, Judiasm and all religions, is in reality, just an ideology, like socialism.

Just because I share some characteristics with Jews from my upbringing is not enough to say I am ethinically Jewish which would to imply that I am a non practising Jew but nevertheless accept Judiasm's basis tenants. If you are an atheist you can't be a member of any religion--ethnically or otherwise, from a rational viewpoint.

Agree?

It's called assimilation, everyone has to go through it and it lasts more than a few decades.

If you try to do it in just one you have to change your name and violently change your relationshiop with community and family, (like in Alisa Rosenbaum's morphing into Ayn Rand).

As a side note, those of you who are NOT Jewish have ALREADY gone through the process of assimilation from the tribe (probably some thousends years ago) into the nation, and then into another nation. An American White for instance has lost his tribe some 2200 years ago when the Romans invaded his home and assimilated by force and enticement the many Celtic and then Germanic tribes of Western Europe. Basques are an exception. If the American white is of pure Teutonic heritage instead of English or Switz, then he lost his tribe not 2200 years ago but 1200 when the Carolingian empire integrated them. A bit later even for the Rus and Scandinavians.

An American Black on the other hand might have lost his tribe not 2000 or 1000 years ago but just 400 years ago. That difference accounts for a lot when in reality both a Yoruba Nigerian tribe and a Vandal, or Helvetii Central European tirbe have both been uprooted, raped, enslaved in the same way and for the same purposes.

In the SAME way not just Amerindians were blighted by foreign bugs. What they suffered in the 1500s all of Europe suffered just a couple of hundred years before in the form of a foreign Mongolian pest arriving in the Crimea: We're talking about the Black Pest.

This is called integration and is what led to Globalization (the integration of all peoples into a single "Human" Culture)

Jews are sometimes hated because they were able to retain the tribe within the integrated society (be it nation, city, World). It sounds kinda like trying to have the cake and eating it too. That is another common point with the Roma or Gypsies. It is not unsurprising that the most famous "Gypsie", Charles Chaplin, was an English Gypsie. Englishmen and Anglo culture (with few, no longer existing exceptions) are the only non racist race! or un-national nation.... they outgrew their Englishness to deliberately become British!

Americans did the same but better.

It shouldn't strike us as surprising that these are the better societies for tribal peoples to assimilate and contribute.

Why is it that all of the top Objectivists are Jews? Not religiously Jewish but ethnically Jewish. Ayn Rand was ethnically Jewish as is Barbara Branden, Nathaniel Branden and Leonard Peikoff. The ARI is also a passionate defender of Israel. Many of the top mods on this forum and other Objectivist forums are Jewish.

Considering that Jews make up only a tiny fraction of the total population, what accounts for the high number of Objectivists (especially top Objectivists) who are Jewish? Also, is it feasible that the defense of Israel that the ARI engages in is motivated by a kind of ethnic affinity to the people of Israel?

People used to ask the same thing about Marx and Engels and their Communism: Founded by two jews, and followed first by jews and anglos to the point that in its heyday (right before the seize of power) a whole bunch of people thought that Communism and Judaism were interchangable terms (or menaces).

To understand this it will do you good to read some of Hannah Arendt's essays, specially those dealing with the assimilation of the jews and the unexpected backlash it provoked.

Humanism in its BROADEST sense is a secular continuation of Jewish traditional morality (not the horrible writen part but its practice, respect for the individual mind, and respect for the human body).

As pointed out before, Judaism is strictly exclusive and DNA-oriented because it's not only a religion but also a tribe (the Gypsies in contrast are FIRST a tribe, or a "people" and then they may have whatever religion or version of it they wish). But in oh so many times in history many patriarchs and prophets tried to stray away from dogmatic Judaism to spread its core values to the world.

Jesus Christ and/or his apostoles did that with Christianity.

Marx, Engels, and countless Jewish Socialists from the XIX and very EARLY XXc did that with Communism. Nowadays we can call it, whatever George Soros likes to call his new left that's already swept through the Americas and some of Europe. Right, he calls it Karl Poppers concept of an "Open Society".

Judaism is not centralized, neither ethnically or spiritually. That's why so many non practicing jews as dispair as Ayn Rand and George Soros, come up with such dispair own theories and practices.

Maybe the next question would be why? why so many Jews is Western Culture when they/we are actually infiltrates?

Well as Sophia was reminding us, Jews have valued the mastering of the written word sometimes more than a loaf of bread, (or slice of potato) in a time when even "well off" gentile peasants not only did not show interest, but were actually forbidden to learn to read (unless they wanted to change their professions to scribes or clergy). Sure there was some folk literature in both Catholic and Reformed countries (Ars Moriendi; the Book of Hours, the Common Book of Prayer, etc) but it's simply not comparable to the Jewish or Chinese millenary practice of dealing with words and ascribing them so much importance (kaballah pagan jews think they can find THE LORD if only they could find their name, and since every word is a number, they believe they can find the number of God THE LORD)

PD: Let's not forget about Sigmund Freud, the creator of yet another secular out-grow of Judaism: Not a materialist one like Marx's, but one centered in "care" and the curing power of words and truth, and expressed in an entirely Greek, not Semitic, way: Psychoanalysis is even a Greek word in its own right. But in some of his works you can see how he know and debunks Judaism (Moses was an Egyptian for instance).

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Volco "When I am asked whether I am Jewish, I reply as follows: No. I was raised Jewish but I do not consider myself Jewish; I am an atheist."

In order to answer such a question one first should answer " Who is a Jew?"

According to Jewish law (Halacha) the answer is very simple: A Jew is everybody who was born by Jewish mother or converted to Judaism in accordance with Jewish law. Period. From this definition follows that: 1.The fact of being a Jew has nothing to do with religion. This is just biological fact. Such a person could be Christian, Muslim, atheist,assimilated, or what you have-from the Jewish point of view he is a Jew. 2.A conversion to Judaism is obviously religious procedure, but it is not reversible. It's one way ticket. The convert may decide that he doesn't want to be observing Jew anymore, but he or she remains a Jew nevertheless. If converted woman gave birth after conversion, her children are Jews, her observance notwithstanding. The ethnicity or religion of the father is irrelevant. That why you may have Jews from every race and tribe. It is clear that Jewishness is not religious but ethnic and cultural phenomenon. Since Judaism is non-proselytizing religion and the process of conversion is long and complicated, and aspiring converts actually discouraged by rabbis to convert, Jews preserved common genetic heritage, as recent mitochondrial DNA studies confirmed.

Jews even have their own genetic diseases. Non-ethnic Jews are tiny minority.

One may claim that he doesn't accept the definition above. Alas, there is no other. Besides, I think it is only fair that Jews would be allowed to define who is a Jew. Jewishness is not only ethnic but also cultural phenomenon. Jews share common language, history, rich written and oral culture, traditions, customs which are not necessary religious. One of such a traditions is reverence for learning and mind in action. That maybe explains why among Objectivists so many Jews.

Edited by Leonid

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As an Israeli citizen, in the following post I shall bring you the general context about the Semitic \ Antisemitic form of racism, which are two sides of the same coin.

First of all, I want to mention that it is an arbitrary statement that Judaism is, as a matter of fact, a race (or rather an ``ethnicity,,), and when you see a Russian along with a Yemenite so-called 'Jewish' you can easily recognize this genetic fact.

The Jewish origin is attributed to the religion itself as well: be it to the sons of the people who used to be Jehovah worshipers in the Middle East in darker ages (if they have ever existed at all) or the current Jews.

The definition of a Jewish person is an infinite regress, while it assumes ahead that the concept of a Jewish person (as for a Jew's mother, or grandmother, or great grandmother, and so on by definition) is clear: a Jehovah's victim \ mystic.

As we have two distinct concepts for an alleged identical, distinct, single-rooted word, we are dealing not with an innocent technical error, but with an evil attempt to a double agent-concept, intended to help Mahzirim Beteshuva (missioners) have fellows' brain washed into the convinction that they cannot abstain religion since 'I will choose how to define my terms and I define religion as an equivalent of nation'.

For that, the concept of a 'Jew' person which consists of (a) religion and (B) race at one and the same time is not a concept but an anti-concept,

and as such there is no rational reason to use it and thus fall into the middle eastern primitivists' epistemological trash bin by unconsciously considering a mental attribute as if it were a genetic one.

A "stolen concept" is an attempt to claim for an inference by non-logical means. But since logic is man's only means of perceiving reality is, in context, logic, I shall now analyze the statement disregarding the failed rationalization.

The definition of a Jewish Person (i) is, implicitly, somebody who believes in the Jewish God and the Jewish Bible and only in them.

The definition of a Jewish Person (ii), according to the Halacha, is the son of a Jewish (i) female.

Now, because the distinction of this coupe of fundamentally different proper concepts does not exist, and because a definition of a concept is that which distinguishes it from any other concept, the suggested idea is that the racial characteristic distinguishes a religious from a secular person---hence the inference: "Jewish (i) => Jewish (ii)".

It's thus easy to refute this bromide by means of observing that one can either convert his religion into Judaism or be Jewish (ii) yet non-Jewish (i) simultaneously. Philosophically---why?

With that I am about to deal.

It has been said that it is that one's race to determine the course of his life and that it is solely a matter of a benevolent-genial tradition.

But the latter is nothing but the metaphysical racism of the former whose center of mass is but ethics---and do not be foolish: ethics is neither first cause nor primary, and it is made out of the same tribalistic ideology that can evaluate a human being according to his genetic attributes by the magic means of telepathy.

(In that respect 'tradition' is just a non consistent form of the religious, mystical morality.)

The answer to both of them is as follows: if your argument is that my fathers' and my peer group's behavior is that which changes me, consciousness is conscious and consciousness is identity which means that any consciousness is aware in itself, that any single consciousness is to determine the sum of them and not on the contrary; else if you claim that it is my great nose or the skin of my color, consciousness is volitional and one cannot foresee it ahead.

Both are axioms, and both are corollaries of the fact that consciousness exists and consciousness is a single entity.

These are the only existing arguments to justify this form of collectivism, determinism or together anti-individual consciousness racism. If you find any cause to avoid \ 'limit' my own volitional consciousness, you will have to prove it---and better do that without using your conceptual faculty---thought is an act of free choice. Otherwise it simply receives an 'arbitrary' status just as religion or altruism.

Just a few sentences as for the Zionism, the ethical \ political application of the Jewish Ethnicity philosophy:

I always like to ponder myself about how tragic it would be that according to Zionism we would have to found two different Galt Gulches as one is a just state only for Jews (or to be more precise supposedly Jews---because putting a gun over innocent, even if non-Jew people, is not a justified action) and another for the rest of the peoples, since the non-Jews will always automatically attack the Jews.

It's so hilarious, really.

This is my implicit sense of life moral judgement.

A philosophical translation: the Zionist philosophy will always fall since no forced ('national') collectivism, the belief that Society \ Nation \ Ethnicity \ God \ Mother Earth has primacy over the individual's mind, can never work in a rational world.

Why had it worked to this very day, and why is Israel the most free and industrial country in this desolate desert---in particular, why did Ayn Rand so enthusiastically?

Well, it is because it used to be composed of intelligent-western-assimilating people who were denounced and had a major philosophical mistake in their suggested causes and solutions of the problem.

But philosophy is the science that deals with the broadest abstractions---and you do not get the premises of your very enemy in order to beat him.

Observe what will happen when people will represent the reflection of this philosophical mistake---when people will start to constitute the Jewish 'tradition' collective.

Oh, in that period will it end!

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