Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum

Philo Prof Bashes Objectivism On The First Day

Rate this topic


Toolboxnj
 Share

Recommended Posts

Ok, I have to take a philosophy class for a requirement to graduate.

So, this is your basic run of the mill intro to ethics kinda class. No problem.

He's introducing the material for the semester and without provocation starts bashing Objectivism and Ayn Rand. He's like "So, say you are one of those like Ayn Rand who think selfishness is a virtue! HA! Good thing there aren't too many of those people in the world!" in a devilish, evil kinda way (think Howard Dean's meltdown, but on Prozac).

Now, I'm fuming.. as a student of Objectivism (not quite there yet) I understand that we are a minority, but the greatest minority is the individual. I began to counter some of his arguments about morality, faith, reason and ethics on the first day of class, making it known that I'll be a thorn in his Kantian side. After he stated there are no absolutes, I said that he was making an absolute statement to the chuckling of the class.

Now, I have a couple options. I could drop the class and take something that wouldn't challenge or reinforce my ideas. I could continue the class, and stay quiet, and earn my A-B. I could also challenge the professor while learning the philosophy of my enemies while reinforcing my Objective thinking.

I don't know what I'll do yet.. I'll think about it over the weekend.

It's a shame walking through the college bookstore that Kant, Plato, Hume, Descartes, Hegel and others dominate the shelves while Rand, Locke and Aristotle have a minor showing, if they are there at all.

TB

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well, the fact that this professor felt a need to bring up Objectivism on the very first day is a sure sign that we are actually gaining ground! We're on the offensive, and the Kantians are on the defensive. Not bad for a minority!

I think your best option is probably to drop the class, but if you're out for some fun, you could go for challenging the professor and making the class laugh! (You should be aware, of course, that it won't exactly make the professor a friend of yours, 'f ya know what I mean.)

Staying quiet to earn an A-B is probably not a viable option now that you've started out as "a thorn in his side." People like this can be quite rancorous with those who challenge their dogmas, especially if you challenge him successfully!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Stay in the class and maybe you will even convert some of the other students or at least get them interested in Objectivism. Be vocal don't just sit and let him spew bad philosophy without questioning it. This is a a good thing I think if you make the most of it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As an undergraduate student in philosophy at Drew University, I've experienced the same thing, and not only in philosophy. I've experienced professors making anti-Objectivist statements (or anti-capitalism, anti-selfishness, etc.) on plenty of occasions.

There are a couple of things to consider here.

1. Are there other sections of the same class that you can take with a different professor?

2. How big is the class?

3. How much time is spent on lecture as opposed to student input?

4. How much do you know about Objectivism and how well can you argue for it?

If the class is relatively small (35 or less people), significant time is given to student input, and you can argue for Objectivism well, I'd say go for it. Not only can you train yourself in argumentation against the enemy but you can also expose your fellow students to alternate ideas.

Most importantly, depending on what kind of person your professor is, he may just appreciate your dissent. With Drew being a pretty small school (1,600 undergraduates), I've had plenty of time to discuss ideas with professors of philosophy, history, sociology, and religion inside and outside of the classroom. Doing so has greatly enriched my learning experience and allowed me to get a lot of worthwhile time with my professors.

If the class you are in is very large and not much time is given to student input, I wouldn't suggest challenging your professor regularly during class time. Doing so can interfere with the professor completing the lecture and is not very productive. Instead, concentrate your efforts after class and in office hours if possible. If there isn't much time for that, try creating an Objectivism club or some sort of discussion club. I'm the President of the Drew University Philosophical Society and we've had some involvement from professors in the past.

I've found that most professors hold ideas contrary to my own, but almost all of them LOVE students who ask questions and challenge their views. If the conditions fit, go for it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I could also challenge the professor while learning the philosophy of my enemies while reinforcing my Objective thinking.

if you value your grades then i wouldnt consider this option. while most professors wont give you bad grades just for openly disagreeing with them is it really worth it to discover that this particular professor is not so honorable?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's a shame walking through the college bookstore that Kant, Plato, Hume, Descartes, Hegel and others dominate the shelves while Rand, Locke and Aristotle have a minor showing, if they are there at all.

TB

If that were the case in my university I'd transfer!

Aristotle and Locke were at the foundations of capitalist thinking.

Omitting Aristotle, especially, should be considered a major sin.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Your grade and academic record is at stake, so it's definitely not an easy decision. However, I think it would be worth arguing with him throughout the semester if the appropriate conditions are met (like what RationalEgoistSG said).

What I have to add is this: at my university, there's a grade appeal process if you think that you have been graded unfairly (i.e. based on something other than your understanding of the material covered in class). If the teacher gives you a bad grade and you think you deserve otherwise--and you have evidence in the form of papers, others' papers for comparisons, etc.--then you can have a small group of professors and students review your case and potentially change your grade.

I don't know if you have anything like this at the college you go to, but if so it may be something to fall back on if it turns out bad for you.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Odd thing is I've always learned the most from professors that I've disagreed with (and there have been MANY of them). The trick is finding one that admires your veracity and dedication to the topic and rewards you for it.

It is a lecture/discussion class, entry level (even though I'm a 4th year junior). And my apologies, he is a grad student, not a prof. I wouldn't know what difference that would make (I've never had a grad student for an instructor before I came to this hellhole called Rutgers, but hey, it's FREE!)

I have chosen to keep the class, but not to remain so outspoken. Instead, I will use the class to gain knowledge of “the other side”, just as I am in my Marxist Theory class. Unfortunately, I do not think I’ll gain much by attempting to “convert the masses”, which isn’t my job anyways.

I’ll wear my “Rearden Steel” t-shirt and bring an **evil** Randian book to class on Tuesday

Objectivists of the Academic World, Unite!

Atlas51184: Yes, Yes, I remember you.. PM me (actually, I’ll PM you tomorrow) and we’ll get together soon and discuss the formation of the club.

TB

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm in a similar situation. The class is Business Ethics, and the first ethical theory the professor explained was egoism. Of course he went over the subjective version of it, and unfortunately, I didn't know how to respond. We have to write a few papers in the class, and in the one I already turned in I made it clear that I favor an objective egoism, and I received the highest grade possible with the note "Excellent response" on my paper. It does not help my case that I suffer from social phobia, making it difficult to voice my opinion in a public forum. If anyone has advice for my situation in the class, I would appreciate it.

Thanks,

Stan

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I wouldn't worry about your grade so long as you have good argumentative skills. The professor (or grad student teacher or whatever) cannot give you a bad grade so long as you understand the material and do a good job of supporting your arguments. He cannot fail you just because he doesn't agree- he can fail you if your arguments are weak and your understanding limited.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It does not help my case that I suffer from social phobia, making it difficult to voice my opinion in a public forum.  If anyone has advice for my situation in the class, I would appreciate it.

I would suggest you learn as much as you can about the subject. The biggest boost to one's intellectual self-confidence is knowing what you are talking about.

Then acquire and perfect communication and debating skills by practicing them in a safe environment like an internet board where you can be anonymous.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm in a similar situation.  The class is Business Ethics, and the first ethical theory the professor explained was egoism.  Of course he went over the subjective version of it, and unfortunately, I didn't know how to respond.

It's promising that you were aware of a need to respond, and it's not a disaster that you didn't know how. If you can come up with a good response now, you'll be that much further along the next time the subject comes up again in a different form, which I expect it will. At least you'll be able to say "I disagree", and be ready to reply if he asks why.

Attacking altruism and it's underlying anti-rational foundations is a huge undertaking and not something you can expect to completely accomplish in every context.

It's much better to have this happen in your class than on your job.

I recently attended a presentation by the CEO and other department heads of the company I work for. One of the things they discussed was the value of our company's reputation for delivering high quality products and providing expert service. Thinking about this, I started to see a couple ways that Objectivism could be applied to business ethics.

Just as an individual's reputation is fundamentally an expression of his character, so with a company.

An individual can develop a good reputation by actually being good - by actually developing good character - or by acquiring skill in deluding others about his goodness. In the long run, this second type can continue his course only so long as he surrounds himself by deludable people - like Galt puts it, he becomes "a dependent on the stupidity of others, or [...] a fool whose source of values is the fools he succeeds in fooling". In the world of business, a foolish (unprofitable) company that surrounds itself by other foolish companies will go out of existence rather quickly (ignoring the effects of government intervention).

There's also a parallel to (or special case of ?) moral judgment. A company needs to judge the character of it's partners, suppliers, and competitors. It's disastrous to make long-term contractual obligations on the basis of illusory reputations. All of this kind of analysis depends on the idea that there actually is such a thing as "the good" and a way to know it; that it's not "all perception" - Objectivist ethics, with it's foundations in metaphysics and epistemology.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm in a similar situation.  The class is Business Ethics, and the first ethical theory the professor explained was egoism.  Of course he went over the subjective version of it, and unfortunately, I didn't know how to respond. 

You might "lend" him a copy of Why Businessmen Need Philosophy by Ayn Rand, et. al. by ARI Press. If he's interested, ARI might send him a copy for free. Next thing you know, it could be on the syllabus.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It is a lecture/discussion class, entry level (even though I'm a 4th year junior).  And my apologies, he is a grad student, not a prof.  I wouldn't know what difference that would make

My guess is it would make a big difference. Professors, even those who disagree with you, generally reward enthusiasm (I emphasize "generally"). Grad students, on the other hand, generally have something to prove, and will grade you down if they think you're challenging their authority.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm in a similar situation.  The class is Business Ethics, and the first ethical theory the professor explained was egoism.  Of course he went over the subjective version of it, and unfortunately, I didn't know how to respond.  We have to write a few papers in the class, and in the one I already turned in I made it clear that I favor an objective egoism, and I received the highest grade possible with the note "Excellent response" on my paper.  It does not help my case that I suffer from social phobia, making it difficult to voice my opinion in a public forum.  If anyone has advice for my situation in the class, I would appreciate it.

Thanks,

Stan

I did something similar. For my business ethics class, we had to write a term paper analyzing a current event through the prism of the ethical theories we learned. I told the teacher it would be a waste of my time to do that, and asked her if I could instead write a paper that would present an egoist theory of business ethics. She allowed it and was impressed with the result.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I now totally understand what students go through. I took a two year break and just started my first year in Fashion Design. So far so good, until today. I had my Art History class this afternoon, and it was horrible. My teacher is an extremely sarcastic woman, obsessed with stressing that you have to take into account everybody else's religions, calendars, etc. when studying the history of art. We were discussing that during the Neolithic age, greece and other territories progressed much faster than England. She actually said that the climate had something to do with it, but that while other countries, such as Greece, were developing writing and language, they were 'thinking'. About what I asked her, and how did she know this, what was the evidence? She just said that there was proof of trade between the less developped places and Greece for example, and that just because they didn't develop writing, that did not make them anymore inferior. Then she explained, there are no superior ways of communication among men, they are just different. When I mentioned the abstraction necessary in order to develop writing vs. drawing, she simply told me that "abstract is relative". I was shocked. As much as I have been reading about the university atmosphere during the past couple of years, the experience is awful. I'm thankful that the rest of my class are more hands on, less lectures. How do you deal with this? I objected to most of her irrational comments, but it simply amused her in an annoyed way, and shocked the rest of the class in a disapproving way. I really don't think I have the ability to convert either of them. I have thought of creating an Objectivist club on my campus, which is Ryerson University in Toronto. Any suggestions of ways to relieve my anger? I'm just glad the class is on Friday afternoons, so I have the weekend to recover.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...