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Are there any good arguments against Rand?

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While I appreciate what I sense your good intentions here to be, the philosophy of Objectivism is not perceptually self-evident as is "2+2=4." For the philosophy there is an enormous amount of material to be thought about and to integrate, leaving room for honest people to form good arguments against inferences. From the vantage point of having spent years learning the philosophy, we may consider such arguments to be wrong, but not to be dismissed as self-evidently wrong.

I dont mean self evident. I mean that Ayn Rand's philosophy does not have any good arguments against it, just as 2+2=4 doesn't.

One would have to know what Objectivism is, to argue against it. But, once one knows what Objectivism is, there is no "good" arguments against it.

There may be questions. (Homeless people, courts, taxation, etc.)

But there are no good arguments.

I have never heard an honest one.

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Why do you think that the methods of the specialized sciences are part of a philosophy? Perhaps I don't know what you mean by "philosophy."

Perhaps Publius meant to say that philosophy is a necessary underpinning of any method, and as such the Scientific Method could be viewed as a very precise and accurate application of Objectivism. Now I realize that Ayn Rand's philosophy did not give rise to science, but Objectivism and the Scientific Method hold similar characteristics in high regard: perception, reason, logic, proof.

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In response to the question, “Who will take care of the poor In a totally free society?” Ayn Rand replied, “If you want to help them, no one will stop you.”

Are you changing the subject? The issue I was discussing was "taking care of" those who are physically and mentally incapable of taking care of themselves -- not "the poor," a phrase which usually, in normal contexts, refers to sane, healthy, capable adults who (through misfortune or laziness) are not successful.

Which context are you addressing?

P. S. -- Please cite a source for your quotation.

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Are you changing the subject? The issue I was discussing was "taking care of" those who are physically and mentally incapable of taking care of themselves -- not "the poor," a phrase which usually, in normal contexts, refers to sane, healthy, capable adults who (through misfortune or laziness) are not successful.

How are the "those who are physically and mentally incapable of taking care of themselves" any different from "sane, healthy, capable adults who (through misfortune or laziness) are not successful." (addressing misfortune, specifically)? Is not a mental or physical handicap a misfortune?

Let us take some examples:

A man is born a cripple and his parents die. They did not leave insurance or any money. He is incapable of supporting himself. Is he to be a ward of the state?

Next, a man is born healthy but a meteor falls from the sky and cripples him. He has no friends or family and he can't support himself. Is he to be a ward of the state?

Next, a healthy child is born to a mother who was impregnated by a sperm bank. She dies in childbirth and the child has no friends or family. Is it to be a ward of the state?

As I said, I don't agree with the idea that anyone should be a "ward of the state." If YOU don't like the idea of cripples or children dying, then YOU do something about it. That is NOT the mission of the state.

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I dont mean self evident. I mean that Ayn Rand's philosophy does not have any good arguments against it, just as 2+2=4 doesn't.

Whether you meant self-evident or not, that is what your analogy implies. And it is wrong, as I just explained above.

One would have to know what Objectivism is, to argue against it.  But, once one knows what Objectivism is, there is no "good" arguments against it.
Do you not acknowledge that learning and integrating complex ideas is a process that takes a long time, and that rational and honest people can test what is presented by forming reasonable arguments to the contrary?

There may be questions.  (Homeless people, courts, taxation, etc.)

But there are no good arguments.

I have never heard an honest one.

Pardon my frankness, but I would suggest then that you question whatever standard you are using. You seem to be implying that when an honest and rational person studies the voluminous and complex set of ideas that represent Objectivism, that he must simply assume that it is right to begin with and only ask questions, rather than form good arguments against it. I cannot help but note that some of the finest Objectivist minds that I know were precisely the ones who struggled in forming good arguments against aspects of the philosophy, and learning, eventually, in the process, that their arguments were mistaken. To claim that such arguments cannot be an "honest one," is a slap in the face of some very good people.

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How are the "those who are physically and mentally incapable of taking care of themselves" any different from ...

This contentious subject, especially in the context of children, has been discussed extensively in several other threads, most notably in this one. For the record, I completely agree with the clear and succinct position oultlined by Burgess in this current thread, in his post #45.

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Do you not acknowledge that learning and integrating complex ideas is a process that takes a long time, and that rational and honest people can test what is presented by forming reasonable arguments to the contrary?

I think we have a misunderstanding. You are talking about people who are in the process of grasping Objectivism coming up with reasonable arguments based upon their incomplete understanding of Objectivism.

I am talking about actual arguments against Objectivism by those who understand Objectivism. I have never heard an honest argument against Objectivism by someone who grasps what Objectivism is. By that I mean: someone who has read and understands Objectivism - and then coming up with a valid argument against it.

I would like to know of one published article or book - ever - that:

a. shows a full understanding of what Objectivism is

b. does not misrepresent what Objectivism is

c. shows a viable or even honest alternative.

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I think we have a misunderstanding. You are talking about people who are in the process of grasping Objectivism coming up with reasonable arguments based upon their incomplete understanding of Objectivism.

I am talking about actual arguments against Objectivism by those who understand Objectivism. I have never heard an honest argument against Objectivism by someone who grasps what Objectivism is. By that I mean: someone who has read and understands Objectivism - and then coming up with a valid argument against it.

By "understands Objectivism" do you mean understanding every single aspect of the philosophy in as much depth and in as much detail as did its originator, Ayn Rand? If not, then what I wrote above stands, but I would only add that "takes a long time" is a lifetime of learning and integrating for those of us who do not possess the genius of an Ayn Rand.

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I think we have a misunderstanding. You are talking about people who are in the process of grasping Objectivism coming up with reasonable arguments based upon their incomplete understanding of Objectivism.

I am talking about actual arguments against Objectivism by those who understand Objectivism. I have never heard an honest argument against Objectivism by someone who grasps what Objectivism is. By that I mean: someone who has read and understands Objectivism - and then coming up with a valid argument against it.

By "understands Objectivism" do you mean understanding every single aspect of the philosophy in as much depth and in as much detail as did its originator, Ayn Rand? If not, then what I wrote above stands, but I would only add that "takes a long time" is a lifetime of learning and integrating for those of us who do not possess the genius of an Ayn Rand.

I am not sure "understanding" can be measured. In my opinion it's like pregnancy. At this time I can honestly say that what I have said also "stands."

I have never heard of much less read an honest argument against objectivism by someone who understands objectivism. I have almost always seen examples of people setting up an "objectivist straw-man" (a misrepresentation) and then knocking it down. But, to be fair, I must ask you if and where and when have you ever encountered a fair argument against objectivism by someone who even, say has a 85-90% understanding of objectivism?? (keep in mind that I don't believe in numerically measuring something like undertanding, but I will play around with the idea if you want.)

****Also, and this is crucial, the agrument must be against objectivism. It cannot be an argument that, say, upholds empiricism, or tomism, or any other philosophy without making reference to objectivism. The agrument must be against objectivism. I repeat this because I understand that Leonard Peikoff may have struggled for a long time with objectivism, and may have come to Ayn with some rationalist arguments. But what I doubt is that he came to her with arguments against objectivism. He merely wanted to hear her refutation of his professors. He did not argue against Objectivism.

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To "The Durande": For some reason your last two replies to me have obliterated the usual quoting process and rendered the posts rather unreadable. It is unclear as to who said what. I know you have used the quoting process successfully before, so please make an effort to use it properly again. You can check what your post looks like before final submission by first clicking on "Preview Post." Thanks.

I am not sure "understanding" can be measured. In my opinion it's like pregnancy. At this time I can honestly say that what I have said also "stands."

If anything can and should be measured, our understanding is certainly near the top of the list. All you need is the proper standard. For instance, one measure of our understanding of Objectivism is the degree of abstraction by which we hold the philosophy. The higher the abstractions that we hold are a measure of the degree of integration of the lesser (simpler, more concrete) abstractions upon which the integration is based. Another measure of our understanding -- in the opposite direction -- is to what degree we can reduce our abstract chain of reasoning to the perceptual level. As I said, learning and integrating the philosophy is really accomplished over the course of an entire lifetime, and few, if any of us, end up with a measure of understanding approximating that of Ayn Rand.

At this time I can honestly say that what I have said also "stands."

At this point I doubt that "stands" is the proper word.

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What's the point? Are you looking to raise doubts in your mind? For what end?

Doubts are a normal part of learning and integrating a philosophy into your life. Even after years of study, there will at least be points that stand unclear in your mind. This is true of any philosophy. But questions should properly come from your first-handed grasp of the facts and the application of the facts using your own mind not from what someone else said in a book or a journal.

On a personal note, I early on looked into a number of supposed arguments against Objectivism, and nearly all quickly turned out to be simple smears. The "better" arguments were based on confused understandings of Ayn Rand's positions.

My motivation was not to generate doubts in my mind, but rather grew out of the acknowledgement that I was not the most knowledgable scholar of the history of philosophy. My question was: do the experts in the field have any refutations of Objectivism? Did some philosophers in the past refute some position of Ayn Rand's? And the answer is no. If such existed, then objectivity would demand I accept the truth. But until such time, I remain a convinced Objectivist, with no expectation that some aspect of Objectivism will be refuted.

So I certainly would not condemn someone for looking for counterarguments. Any revolutionary idea shold be investigated thoroughly before accepting it as true, and Objectivism is no exception to that rule.

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At this point I doubt that "stands" is the proper word.

I have simply said that I have never seen in print any article or book which: (a) shows that the author understands what Objectivism is, and (B) gives an honest argument against Objectivism, without misrepresenting Objectivism.

I used the word "stands" the same way that you did. You said that your agrument "stands." Well, until someone answers my request for a citing of a single written work which meets the above standards, then my argument is the one that "stands." As in, it "stands" at the end of a 15 round prizefight without having been knocked down.

Sorry about the formatting issues.

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Ive heard arguments against egoism being the only moral way to act. I forget which philosopher argued this, but he said that Rand merely labeled anything she wanted to as egoism then proceeded to call egoism moral. Like how it is okay to give to others so long as you choose to, yet that is altruism.

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Why do you think that the methods of the specialized sciences are part of a philosophy? Perhaps I don't know what you mean by "philosophy."
Well...not exactly. What I was trying to do in the post of Jan 4 2005, 2:06 AM was to point out the extent to which mankind uses Objectivism in our daily lives. It "amounts to a logical body of knowledge" in that all knowledge is necessarily based on Objectivism. This includes knowledge obtained by the Scientific Method. The Scientific Method is based on the Axioms of Objectivism. No, the Scientifc Method is not "part of Objectivism, the philosophy Ayn Rand created?" It is validated and implied by it though.

However, I am not really sure where the dividing line is. Maybe it is.

If it is not, then it is certainly validated by Objectivism and it is because the definition of philosophy does not extend it this far. If it is, then so be it.

I was not trying to engage in semantic minutia by making this post.

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What I was trying to do in the post of Jan 4 2005, 2:06 AM was to point out the extent to which mankind uses Objectivism in our daily lives.

Objectivism is a particular philosophy -- that is, a system of concepts and principles in five major branches, applicable to all people, everywhere, at all times. It was created by a particular philosopher, Ayn Rand.

I see no evidence that more than a few thousand people, much less mankind, are using this philosophy -- as a philosophy -- in their daily lives. I do see evidence daily that many individuals agree with and apply elements of Objectivism. Ayn Rand did not invent, for example, the virtue of courage. Courageous people existed before Ayn Rand. She did identify its nature and integrate that knowledge into the rest of her philosophy.

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However, I am not really sure where the dividing line is.

Philosophy is universal, applying to all people, everywhere, at all times. A specialized science is not universal but dedicated to looking at particular aspects of reality for particular uses or insights.

Two essentials separate the universal science, philosophy, from the specialized sciences (which each have a "philosophy" -- a set of fundamentals -- underling them):

METHOD: Philosophy uses methods available to everyone, everywhere, at all times -- sense-perception, thinking, logic. Physicists, historians, and lawyers use methods specialized for their needs -- in addition to sense-perception, thinking, and logic. Philosophers don't use microscopes while doing philosophy; biologists do while doing biology.

SUBJECT MATTER: Philosophy studies issues that apply to everyone. Specialized sciences (and their underlying "philosophy of science") focus on particular issues that would apply only to some people not others.

We live in a society of extreme division of labor. A few people are philosophers, in the primary sense (though everyone can philosophize). Many apply philosophical concepts to more and more narrow uses.

I was not trying to engage in semantic minutia by making this post.

I know you weren't. Your comments and doubts have helped advance this discussion. Thank you.

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I have simply said that I have never seen in print any article or book which: (a) shows that the author understands what Objectivism is, and (:D gives an honest argument against Objectivism, without misrepresenting Objectivism.

I used the word "stands" the same way that you did.  You said that your agrument "stands."  Well, until someone answers my request for a citing of a single written work which meets the above standards, then my argument is the one that "stands."  As in, it "stands" at the end of a 15 round prizefight without having been knocked down.

Sorry about the formatting issues.

I am still waiting to hear about one argument ever that meets the above standards. I really would like to read or listen to it.

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Objectivism rests on three axioms.

Axiom One: Existence exists.

Axiom Two: I am conscious.

Axiom Three: A is A.

The best way to prove Objectivism is to begin by refuting one or more of these. All of Objectivism amounts to a logical body of knowledge based on these, including the Scientific Method. If I were to try to disprove Objectivism as a philosophy, I would try to establish a philosophy based on these axioms. Every time I have seen this attempted, one of three outcomes resulted. Either the philosophy incorporated a contradiction at some point, or the philosophy violated one of these axioms, or the philosophy was Objectivism given another name.

That is exactly why the two philosophical "schools" which I cited fail to provide a good argument against Objectivism.

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Has anybody seen this? "Big Sister Is Watching You," by Whittaker Chambers, National Review Online.

If memory serves me correctly, Whittaker Chambers was a member of the Communist Party USA and was involved (very peripherally?) in the founding of the United Nations.

Ayn Rand testified as a friendly witness for the House Un-American Activities Committee during an investigation of Communist influences in Hollywood.

When ARE they going to make a movie out of Atlas Shrugged? It would make a nice three-parter like Lord of the Rings.

EDITED to remove excessive quotation, possibly violating copyright guidelines. Moderator, Burgess Laughlin.

Edited by BurgessLau
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I used the word "stands" the same way that you did.  You said that your agrument "stands."  Well, until someone answers my request for a citing of a single written work which meets the above standards, then my argument is the one that "stands."  As in, it "stands" at the end of a 15 round prizefight without having been knocked down.

You are alone in that ring, fighting yourself. You still have not grasped the issue.

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