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What aspects Of Objectivism are unique?

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Brent Rolfe
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Having never studied philosophy in a formal or structured manner I cannot distinguish those aspects of Objectivism that are unique to it from those that are derived from other "schools".

For example, Bowzer recently posted on the "tree falling in a forest" thread that the "object as perceived" view of reality/knowledge (in this case as it pertains to the perception of sound waves) was distinctively Objectivist and rejects the view that the quality of sound resides in the falling tree alone or the the ears/mind of the perceiver alone.

In how many other ways is Objectivism "unique" or original and not an evolution from earlier (and I assume primarily Aristotlean) roots?

Brent

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In how many other ways is Objectivism "unique" or original and not an evolution from earlier (and I assume primarily Aristotlean) roots?

This is akin to asking someone to "tell me all you know about Europe." That is, this is an overly-broad question.

However, I think your best starting point is to read OPAR. Dr. P talks about differences between Objectivism and other systems throughout the book, as well as naming how Objectivism is unique in various parts. One particular one that comes to mind is how Dr. P describes the fact that Ayn Rand was the first to realize that concept formation requires a process of measurement omission.

Hope that helps.

d_s

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Here are some things that come to mind:

-Explicit identification and consistent application of "primacy of existence"

-Recognition of the fact that consciousness has identity and that this is not a disqualifier to it attaining knowledge

-The form/object distinction in perception

-Free will as the freedom to think or not

-Theory of concepts (specficially, the unit perspective and measurement omission)

-Certainty as contextual

-The arbitrary as neither true nor false

-The nature of objectivity

-Life as the standard of value

-The interests of rational men as not conflicting, or non-sacrificial egoism

-Egoism as the basis for individual rights

-The Psycho-epistemological function of art

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This is akin to asking someone to "tell me all you know about Europe."  That is, this is an overly-broad question.

d s

I apologise if my question is too broad. As I said in my original post, I have never studied philosophy in a structured way and I am unaware of how broad a queston I am asking.

To restate the question in general terms I am asking; to what extent are Ayn Rand's ideas an evolution and in what ways are they a revolution from previous philosophical thought?

Brent

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Here are some things that come to mind:

-Explicit identification and consistent application of "primacy of existence"

-Recognition of the fact that consciousness has identity and that this is not a disqualifier to it attaining knowledge

-The form/object distinction in perception

-Free will as the freedom to think or not

-Theory of concepts (specficially, the unit perspective and measurement omission)

-Certainty as contextual

-The arbitrary as neither true nor false

-The nature of objectivity

-Life as the standard of value

-The interests of rational men as not conflicting, or non-sacrificial egoism

-Egoism as the basis for individual rights

-The Psycho-epistemological function of art

DPW

OK thanks that is an impressive list!

Some of the points you raised would, I think (? :( ?)?, be an evolution from Aristotle.....e.g. point 1.

Others would be unique to Objectivism?

Brent

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Outside of Aristotle, it has almost no other roots. Why don't you name some, and I (or a lot of other people here) could tell you if there was an antecedent or not, and if so, what.

Thoyd,

I wish I could name some! :(

But your post leads me nicely to where I was going. ;)

If Aristotle is the primary/only philosophical root of Objectivism, then:

1) What did 2,000 years of philosophers actually acheive in between Aristotle and Miss Rand?

2) How did she do it?

I don't know a lot about Miss Rand's C.V., but :

a) I don't think she formally studied philosophy?

B) the people she had around her, while probaly extremely bright, don't seems to have been her collaborators as much as her students.

c) I haven't heard of her "bouncing" her ideas off the leading philosophers of her day.

So Miss Rand took Aristotle as her "base", read and dismissed much of the philosophy written in between and developed Objectivism by herself. I am not doubting that she did this, I am just trying to confirm the historical accuracy of it.

So to restate my original question: is Objectivism really a quantum leap in, rather than an evolution of, philosophical thought?

If so, WOW!

Brent

I apologise for any ignorance that my question implies.....that's why I put it in the "Basic" section!

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It's important here to acknowledge not only the many "points" about which Rand's thought was original, but the extent to which these points were integrated.

A lot of philosophers throughout history may have said various "objective-ish" sounding things, which were to a certain extent right. But that's the point: they were only right to a certain extent; beyond that their points were bogged down with contradictory implications. Their ideas could only reach a certain, limited "ceiling" -- beyond which they could only collapse, or disintegrate.

Recognizing, for example, that the arbitrary is neither false nor true, is an accomplishment, but it is one which many throughout history have probably recognized in some form. If one holds a mystical view of "truth", then one may also conclude that everything is arbitrary... and the accomplishment is lessened.

But if one integrates the facts of reality like Rand did, then the idea that arbitrary is neither true nor false, is backed up by the idea that reality is objective, which is backed up by the idea that reality has primacy, which supports the idea that using reason is an objective value, not a subjective luxury, which... etc.

True ideas support and lead to other true ideas, IF one integrates objectively. This is the genius of Rand, who integrated more than any other before her. History is filled with snippets of ideas later developed by Rand; her primary unique achievement is the assembling the disintegrated parts into the non-contradictory whole.

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So Miss Rand took Aristotle as her "base", read and dismissed much of the philosophy written in between and developed Objectivism by herself. I am not doubting that she did this, I am just trying to confirm the historical accuracy of it.

So to restate my original question: is Objectivism really a quantum leap in, rather than an evolution of, philosophical thought?

I have not read Spinoza, but supposedly she worked with some of his ideas. From what I understand it was a very small part that he had not developed very well. I think the appropriate response is indeed "Wow!" Miss Rand was an amazing person. I'm sure some of the more learned and well-read philsophers here will have no problem illuminating any other influences she may have had.

d_s

P.S. - no need to apologize for a thoughtful and respectful post!

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I have not read Spinoza, but supposedly she worked with some of his ideas. From what I understand it was a very small part that he had not developed very well.

Could you give more details on what Rand supposedly took from Spinoza, and (if possible) where you heard about it? I've heard some aspects of Spinoza recommended (in part, anyway) by a few Objectivist intellectuals, but I hadn't heard that Rand was even particularly familiar with his work.

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Here are some things that come to mind:

-Explicit identification and consistent application of "primacy of existence"

-Recognition of the fact that consciousness has identity and that this is not a disqualifier to it attaining knowledge

-The form/object distinction in perception

-Free will as the freedom to think or not

-Theory of concepts (specficially, the unit perspective and measurement omission)

-Certainty as contextual

-The arbitrary as neither true nor false

-The nature of objectivity

-Life as the standard of value

-The interests of rational men as not conflicting, or non-sacrificial egoism

-Egoism as the basis for individual rights

-The Psycho-epistemological function of art

I must say that Ayn Rand strikes as being one of the most consistent and articulate philosphers I have ever read. I do not believe that her views were all original; what I do know is that her integration of various views was a great achievement. To prove that Ayn Rand wasn't the first to articulate many of the positions you listed I would need to do some researching so as to give references and what not (for the sake of persuasion). By the way, are you saying that no one before ever articulated a particular position you listed or are you saying that they never did it as explicitly as Rand did?

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To prove that Ayn Rand wasn't the first to articulate many of the positions you listed I would need to do some researching so as to give references and what not (for the sake of persuasion).

Of course. Don't take me on faith!

By the way, are you saying that no one before ever articulated a particular position you listed or are you saying that they never did it as explicitly as Rand did?

Aristotle held the primacy of existence pretty firmly, but he didn't make it explicit, and I'm told the form/object distinction can be found to some extent in Aquinas, but other than that, to my knowledge, no one ever articulated the positions I listed prior to Rand.

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I browsed through the Penguin dictionary of philosophy in a bookstore yesterday. The entry for Ayn Rand was a very short paragragh which included the line....."her so-called philosophy of Objectivism". I think the "so-called" was italicised.

How can it be that the philosophical acheivements pointed out in this thread, and on this board in general, can warrant such cursory recognition.

(Not that the Penguin dictionary is the touchstone of recognition :lol: but I have browsed other phiosophy reference texts and rarely is Miss Rand's name even mentioned).

Brent

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I browsed through the Penguin dictionary of philosophy in a bookstore yesterday. The entry for Ayn Rand was a very short paragragh which included the line....."her so-called philosophy of Objectivism". I think the "so-called" was italicised.

How can it be that the philosophical acheivements pointed out in this thread, and on this board in general, can warrant such cursory recognition.

(Not that the Penguin dictionary is the touchstone of recognition  :lol:  but I have browsed other phiosophy reference texts and rarely is Miss Rand's name even mentioned).

Brent

Rand wasn't an academic. This is a 'sin' for which current academia will never forgive her and for which they will resist her influence until their dying breath.

Also, she challenged 2500 years of philosophical thought and invalidated most of it. You can rest assured that there are some sour grapes. And also don't forget she's a woman in a field that has been traditionally a man's territory.

There are many reasons why her achievements are unrecognized even after far more than a cursory examination.

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How can it be that the philosophical acheivements pointed out in this thread, and on this board in general, can warrant such cursory recognition.

Look at it another way - someone whose philosophy is as original as Rand's is necessarily a departure from the philosophical mainstream. Would you expect them to embrace her? But the reason they described her philosophy as a "so-called philosophy" is because it was original presented in fiction rather than a well-respected academic journal. It's the form, not the content, that bothers them, because modern philosophy doesn't care a whit about content of your philosophy so long as you adhere to modern philosophy's method.

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How can it be that the philosophical acheivements pointed out in this thread, and on this board in general, can warrant such cursory recognition.

There is a basic rule of the game in academic philosophy, that any idea has to be minutely dissected with reference to its relationship to all other ideas. Rand did not play the citations game, which is partial license to ignore her work. The upside of her not playing the citations game is that you can actually read and understand her ideas. She also did not publish in (academic) peer-reviewd journals, and there is a basic rule that you don't have to pay attention to anything that comes out in an unrefereed souce.

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The upside of her not playing the citations game is that you can actually read and understand her ideas.

This isn't suprising to me. Most major breakthroughs in a field usually come from someone tangentially related to that field but not directly in it. It allows a broader perspective that lets the person transcend the accepted boundaries. The Wright brothers were not aeronautical engineers, they were bicycle mechanics. Einsteen was not a physicist proper, he was a mathemetician by trade. Rand was not an academic philosopher, she was first and foremost a novelist who decided to formulate a new philsophy to augment her writing!! (That alone speaks to her brilliance.)

So it makes perfect sense that she had nothing to do with academic philosophy. If she was an academic, she would never have made the breakthroughs she did. She would have focused on one narrow point and contemplated it to death.

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If Aristotle is the primary/only philosophical root of Objectivism, then:

1) What did 2,000 years of philosophers actually acheive in between Aristotle and Miss Rand?]

They were either pro-Aristotle or anti-Aristotle.

2) How did she do it?

I don't know a lot about Miss Rand's C.V., but :

a) I don't think she formally studied philosophy?

She did, in Russia, but more importantly, she studied history.

;) the people she had around her, while probaly extremely bright, don't seems to have been her collaborators as much as her students.

c) I haven't heard of her "bouncing" her ideas off the leading philosophers of her day.

That's why she accomplished so much. She looked at REALITY in her uniquely first-handed way.

So to restate my original question: is Objectivism really a quantum leap in, rather than an evolution of, philosophical thought?

If so, WOW!

:D I agree.

It is a quantum leap just as Aristotle was and just as the Enlightenment that spawned the American republic was.

A person who sees reality for what it is and writes can move the world.

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I don't know how the guy in sunglasses got there--it was supposed to be ;)

A "b" followed by ")" is the emoticon for the guy in sunglasses, and it gets automatically replaced by the corresponding picture. One way to avoid it is to put a space between the two characters: "b )" The other solution is to use numbers. :)

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A "b" followed by ")" is the emoticon for the guy in sunglasses, and it gets automatically replaced by the corresponding picture. One way to avoid it is to put a space between the two characters: "b )" The other solution is to use numbers. ;)

Yes, thanks. I realised what the problem was when I sent the second post and it turned out the same!! :)

Brent

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