Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum

Why don't Universities accept Objectivism as real philosophy?

Rate this topic


Recommended Posts

Why is it that the academic world refuses to accept Objectivism as a genuine philosophy?

I just read an article that referred to Ayn Rand as the kind of philosophy that is a cartoon of the real thing. The article was on Charles Bukowski and his poetry "He bears the same relation to poetry as Zane Grey does to fiction, or Ayn Rand to philosophy - a highly colored, morally uncomplicated cartoon of the real thing.". My point being that It seems that it's common to act as if Ayn Rand and her ideas weren't legit enough to be taken as real philosophy.

In intro to philosophy books you never see objectivism mentioned.

What is it with the complete rejection of Ayn Rand by the "philosophy world"?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't know why it doesn't have much academic recognition. I do know that when I read critiques of Objectivism by academics they usually haven't read it carefully enough. Also Ayn Rand didn't write her philosophy in a dry academic style. This is because she believed emotions could be objective, so there was no reason to leave them out of non-fiction. However most academics regard emotion as unprofessional and the opposite of reason (the "Spock" caricature of reason).

Edited by philosopher
Link to comment
Share on other sites

What is it with the complete rejection of Ayn Rand by the "philosophy world"?
Because most universities are run by big-government socialist types of mystical force-worshipping second handers. Its actually a good thing that these socialists are not teaching O'ism. If they were, I'd start to think there was something wrong with us.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Why is it that the academic world refuses to accept Objectivism as a genuine philosophy?

I just read an article that referred to Ayn Rand as the kind of philosophy that is a cartoon of the real thing. The article was on Charles Bukowski and his poetry "He bears the same relation to poetry as Zane Grey does to fiction, or Ayn Rand to philosophy - a highly colored, morally uncomplicated cartoon of the real thing.". My point being that It seems that it's common to act as if Ayn Rand and her ideas weren't legit enough to be taken as real philosophy.

In intro to philosophy books you never see objectivism mentioned.

What is it with the complete rejection of Ayn Rand by the "philosophy world"?

Absolutely sucks man.

Look at the philosophies of the "philosophy world." Life and death are pretty much opposite roads.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I really am trying to ask this in the politest way possible....

....Are you serious?

Yeah I'm serious. I don't get your response though.

Was there some reason why you had to question if I was serious or not? I don't post here a lot, has this subject been brought up before?

Edit: if you're reading my warn level, I have no idea why that is there. Somebody warned me months ago and I can't get rid of it.

Edited by Rocky Racoon
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've never been at all suprized that academia rejects Oism.

Oism

1) negates all other philosophies taught at universities

2) negates much of what universities do (racial quotas, govt funding, socialist indoctrination)

3) neagtes the notion of wielding unearned power over men-which academia cannot seem to do without

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've never been at all suprized that academia rejects Oism.

Oism

1) negates all other philosophies taught at universities

Two years ago I took a course at Princeton University on Aristotle's -Metaphysics- and -Nichomachean Ethics-. Does O'ism negate these?

Check your premises.

Bob Kolker

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I really wasn't trying to be an ass. I will try my best to answer you.

Your quote mentions Zane Grey. Zane Grey was a successful, popular writer who wrote books that entertained many people. His works are also highly accessible – meaning you don't need a formal degree in literary criticism to understand what he has to say. In many ways Ayn Rand's writings (both fiction and non-fiction) can be seen as similar – her works are entertaining, accessible and have enjoyed an almost unparalleled success across a broad spectrum of the public. And, sadly enough, it is for these very reasons that she is so often dismissed by many in the humanities. They don't reject her ideas (they don't even get that far), they reject the fact that she is popular outside of the humanities. Implicit in this type of rejection is the belief that if “anyone” can understand what she has to say, then her works can't have any great depth or meaning. (And, even more frightening, if her ideas are logical and understandable by so many, then what need is there for academics?)

A historical parallel can be seen in the Reformation. Until Martin Luther challenged the Catholic Church, all bibles and services were written and performed in Latin. Since at the time most people could not even read their own language, much less Latin, this left the Church in the sole position of interpreter of the “official” doctrine.

The parallel is that you will often find academics in the humanities (and soft sciences – see Climategate) “worshiping” what they study in the same way that monks and priests worship the Bible. And, almost universally, what they are studying is as open to interpretation and contradictory -- and therefore meaningless -- as the Bible. However, since only they can “understand” it, this makes them feel special in their little social clique. They, and only they, are the anointed few with the TRUTH!

Rand's Objectivism, as I hope you will come to learn, is the exact opposite of what passes for philosophy in most universities. It is logical, understandable and, most important, highly applicable to everyday life – whether you're an architect, doctor, engineer, artist, etc. And it's also fun to learn. It's rare that you will encounter such a logical mind. Even reading her non-fiction work is an aesthetic experience.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The parallel is that you will often find academics in the humanities (and soft sciences – see Climategate) “worshiping” what they study in the same way that monks and priests worship the Bible. And, almost universally, what they are studying is as open to interpretation and contradictory -- and therefore meaningless -- as the Bible. However, since only they can “understand” it, this makes them feel special in their little social clique. They, and only they, are the anointed few with the TRUTH!

Sadly, I frequently see shades of this in the writings of my own field. That is why those who work in it are so concerned with who is "in" or "out" and WHO said something instead of the correct focus on WHAT they said.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think people are vastly overestimating the rejection of Objectivism in academia. Ignoring is not rejection. If you want to argue that there is large-scale rejection of Objectivism by academics, you have to look at philosophy, not GLBT lit-crit. The reason why academic philosophers do not, for the most part consider Objectivism, is because Objectivists have not traditionally been engaged in academic philosophy, so they have no peer-reviewed books or articles to be concerned with. Tara Smith's work, for example, is taken quite seriously, because she engages in traditional academic philosophical activities.

The problem is really not academia, it is the popular / artsy media.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think people are vastly overestimating the rejection of Objectivism in academia. Ignoring is not rejection. If you want to argue that there is large-scale rejection of Objectivism by academics, you have to look at philosophy, not GLBT lit-crit. The reason why academic philosophers do not, for the most part consider Objectivism, is because Objectivists have not traditionally been engaged in academic philosophy, so they have no peer-reviewed books or articles to be concerned with. Tara Smith's work, for example, is taken quite seriously, because she engages in traditional academic philosophical activities.

The problem is really not academia, it is the popular / artsy media.

hmm this is actually interesting. It makes sense. Is there any reason that objectivist philosophers do not engage in any peer review?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Is there any reason that objectivist philosophers do not engage in any peer review?

Prior to the last 10-15 years there were basically no Objectivist philosophers with university positions. This has since changed, and the Objectivists who work in academia are producing peer-reviewed work in the normal manner, distinct from the work they do directed to the Objectivist movement. If you're really interested in the progress Objectivists are making into the academic world, I highly recommend becoming a donor to the Anthem Foundation. Their quarterly updates can't be beat.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you're really interested in the progress Objectivists are making into the academic world, I highly recommend becoming a donor to the Anthem Foundation. Their quarterly updates can't be beat.

I may do that. Do they send the newsletter automatically to donors? I don't see any indication on their site that they will give you a newsletter for donating.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Because most universities are run by big-government socialist types of mystical force-worshipping second handers. Its actually a good thing that these socialists are not teaching O'ism. If they were, I'd start to think there was something wrong with us.

Having some first-hand familiarity with the selection process, this is certainly not a reason. Perhaps in a freer market, private universities would impose demands on selection committees that the people they hire espouse free-market ideals, but it's not the case that people in modern philosophy (outside of political philosophy, anyway) select based on the desire to promote a political agenda.

Well, all you need to do is look at the kind of things they do accept as real philosophies. Forgetting Kant (don't we wish we could?) and his cronies, the more immediate chronological example of Derrida should really say it all.

Derrida hasn't really affected American philosophy at all. Only the extremely few continental departments. Kant and Rawls, and Kit Fine are far more influential.

It is quite unsurprising, after all Objectivism makes it abundantly clear that what they spend their time and effort on, what they have built their name and career on - is absolutely useless drivel.

So did logical positivism, but it had a place in academia. A fortiori:

Two years ago I took a course at Princeton University on Aristotle's -Metaphysics- and -Nichomachean Ethics-. Does O'ism negate these?

Check your premises.

Bob Kolker

As noted, Objectivism is a growing presence in academia and shows now signs of slowing. I am one of several graduate and undergraduate students very influenced by Objectivism, and there are already several powerful departments already populated by Objectivist professors, one of which is in America's top-five philosophy departments: The University of Pittsburgh.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I may do that. Do they send the newsletter automatically to donors?

As far as I know. There may be some minimum donation, I'm not sure. (I'm well above the minimum donation level; I've been a supporter of Anthem for many years now.) I'm sure if you just drop them a line via the Contact form on their website they'd be happy to answer your questions.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think the reason why Objectivism is not accepted as a real philosophy in universities, is because nobody wants to accept it.

It has alienated liberals in that it advocates economic freedom, and it has alienated conservatives in that it advocates atheism. And let's face it, you know it's true: political freedoms.

That's my theory: it has alienated both sides of the political spectrum, which many people subscribe to. It has advocated for individual liberties, yes, but it has introduced a radical concept that people were just not ready to entertain. Wait a minute, you want us to be able to have political AND economic freedoms? You want us to look after ourselves, as opposed to appeal to a false sense of morality? You want us to rely not on religion, but our own brains? This philosophy is just too radical for me!

Edited by Black Wolf
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think people are vastly overestimating the rejection of Objectivism in academia.

That is true. I had a professor who quoted Ayn Rand in a lecture on ethics. The course was in the College of Engineering and Computer Science, which is actually grounded in reality. Any classes I had in the College of Liberal Arts never mentioned Rand specifically, but the philosophies expressed by those professors were clearly anti-Objectivist. I think the rejection has more to do with the specific discipline and isn't necessarily academia in general. Objectivism is probably accepted much more in engineering, hard science, and business colleges than it would be in humanities.

One criticism that was explained to me was that Rand is viewed as a fiction writer since most people first encounter Objectivism through Atlas Shrugged. Apparently it doesn't matter that she has a lot of nonfiction work explaining Objectivism. If you ever write a fiction book, you can't be a philosopher. That clearly doesn't hold water but that was the explanation I received.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think people are vastly overestimating the rejection of Objectivism in academia. Ignoring is not rejection. If you want to argue that there is large-scale rejection of Objectivism by academics, you have to look at philosophy, not GLBT lit-crit. The reason why academic philosophers do not, for the most part consider Objectivism, is because Objectivists have not traditionally been engaged in academic philosophy, so they have no peer-reviewed books or articles to be concerned with. Tara Smith's work, for example, is taken quite seriously, because she engages in traditional academic philosophical activities.

The problem is really not academia, it is the popular / artsy media.

I have to disagree, David. It would speak poorly of these so called philosophers in academia if they were so incompetent that they could not recognize genuinely powerful philosophical arguments such as Ayn Rand's because of the format in which it is presented.

I have heard various reasons for the rejection. I think Peikoff was the one who said it was largely because Ayn Rand presented an integrated philosophical system, and academics today don't like systems. But I suspect that the biggest reason is because she obliterates the very foundation of their beliefs at a fundamental level and it scares them. She almost completely nullifies all work done since Kant, showing most of them to have been nothing more than Ivory tower thinkers.

Having said that, her work is gaining inroads into academia today. Objectivism is being taught and taken seriously. It's been a slow process, but it's getting there. I think a big reason for this is because a younger generation is taking over.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have to disagree, David.
Okay, but what exactly are you disagreeing with? I dispute the presupposition that academic philosophers reject Objectivist, and your comments do not provide any evidence of such rejection.
It would speak poorly of these so called philosophers in academia if they were so incompetent that they could not recognize genuinely powerful philosophical arguments such as Ayn Rand's because of the format in which it is presented.
The issue is not the format, it is the venue. It may well be that when Objectivist scholars start to publish in peer-reviewed academic philosophical venues that we will still face the problem of the mainstream ignoring or rejecting our argument, but until that actually happens, there's no basis for drawing any conclusions about the mental state of academic philosophers w.r.t. Objectivism.
Having said that, her work is gaining inroads into academia today. Objectivism is being taught and taken seriously. It's been a slow process, but it's getting there. I think a big reason for this is because a younger generation is taking over.
Maybe; but one of the problems that Objectivism faces is precisely the unwarranted claim that it's an philosophy held only by youngsters, one that people grow out of.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

One criticism that was explained to me was that Rand is viewed as a fiction writer since most people first encounter Objectivism through Atlas Shrugged. Apparently it doesn't matter that she has a lot of nonfiction work explaining Objectivism. If you ever write a fiction book, you can't be a philosopher. That clearly doesn't hold water but that was the explanation I received.

That doesn't seem to prevent them from taking Sartre seriously as a philosopher, and he wrote fiction. (Bad fiction, but there it is.)

I can think of one other reason why academics have trouble with Objectivism: method. Rand presents Objectivism as an integrated system, in terms of essentials. Modern and contemporary academic philosophy is much more comfortable addressing issues in isolation, and trying to analyze them in detail. Because of this methodological difference, Objectivists and traditional academic philosophers often seem to be speaking different languages. Each side has built up its own set of technical vocabulary, its own key concepts, and its own grasp of what the critical issues in philosophy are. As a result, when presented with a philosophic argument written from an Objectivist context, most academic philosophers automatically reinterpret it in terms of the concepts with which they are familiar. Figuring out how to bridge this gap is a significant part of what some of the Anthem-funded Objectivist academics are working on. An excellent example would be Ben Bayer's paper A Role for Abstractionism in a Direct-Realist Foundationalism, forthcoming in the peer-reviewed journal Synthese. (Bayer and Salmieri's paper How We Choose Our Beliefs is also interesting.)

Rand and the first-generation Objectivist philosophers like Leonard Peikoff and Harry Binswanger were busy assembling a high-level, integrated presentation of the overall philosophy. Academia wants highly-detailed analyses of isolated issues, many of which are based on very widely accepted false dichotomies. I remember a story Peikoff told once of an incident back when he still held an academic position. He took a small chunk of his dissertation and reworked it into a paper which he submitted to a journal. The journal rejected it, saying "This is a fascinating idea, but you need to write a whole book on it." Because Objectivist methodology is conceptual, Objectivists will toss off ideas in a few paragraphs that academics want to see explicated in excruciating concrete detail for entire book chapters.

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...