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Are there any good arguments against Rand?

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Not to speak for Stephen, but I think what he was trying to say was that none of us are qualified to defend all of Objectivism, the philosophy in its totality, because none of us had spent a lifetime that Ayn Rand has spent integrating and polishing her philosophy.

Therefore, since none of us approach the level of integration that AR has performed, all of us will inevitably have some difficulties with philosophy, some 'arguments against it'. And there's nothing wrong with that. That, I think, is what he was trying to say.

There's no division between people who 'get' Objectivism and people who don't. There's only a continuum, a range of people from those who understand philosophy very little, to those who have already spent a lot of time integrating the philosophy (i.e. the Speichers). The division is between people who are comitted to the basic principles of Objectivism and want to continue spending their lives integrating the rest of the philosophy, and people who aren't, and don't.

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Therefore, since none of us approach the level of integration that AR has performed, all of us will inevitably have some difficulties with philosophy, some 'arguments against it'. And there's nothing wrong with that. That, I think, is what he was trying to say.

"difficulties with philoshophy" does not = "agruments against" Objectivism.

As I went through the struggles to understand Objectivism, I never came up with a good argument against Objectivism. I simply strove to grasp it all.

And, on a more important note, anyone who tries to form an argument against something, yet does not fully or even nearly full understand what that something is, is engaging in a minor form of dishonesty. He is trying to refute - for some unknown reason - that which he hasn't grasped the meaning of. I can't ever remember an instance in my life when I was presumptuous enough attack some idea that wasn't clear to me. Who would waste people's time in that way????

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The Durande,

You wrote: "As I went through the struggles to understand Objectivism, I never came up with a good argument against Objectivism. I simply strove to grasp it all."

Have you read Scott Ryan's book, "The Corruption of Rationality"? I'd be curious to know what you thought of it. I haven't read it, but it appears that he is making an argument against certain aspects of Objectivism which, if true, would erode the coherence of Objectivism.

I think that Free Capitalist's views on this topic are correct.

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The Durande,

You wrote: "As I went through the struggles to understand Objectivism, I never came up with a good argument against Objectivism. I simply strove to grasp it all."

Have you read Scott Ryan's book, "The Corruption of Rationality"? I'd be curious to know what you thought of it. I haven't read it, but it appears that he is making an argument against certain aspects of Objectivism which, if true, would erode the coherence of Objectivism.

I think that Free Capitalist's views on this topic are correct.

Actually I have read excerpts, because a few years ago he had them posted online. He said he was working to make it a part of a book at the time.

He misrepresents Objectivism, and this is no exaggeraton, in just about every paragraph he writes. He is one of the most dishonest people I have ever had the displeasure of reading.

I won't even do him the service of repeating some of his nonsense here. You'll have to read his typing (I refuse even to call it a book) for yourself.

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The Durande,

You wrote: "I won't even do him the service of repeating some of his nonsense here. You'll have to read his typing (I refuse even to call it a book) for yourself."

Fair enough---I won't put you through it! But do you know of anywhere on the web that I might find a rebuttal?

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The Durande,

You wrote: "I won't even do him the service of repeating some of his nonsense here. You'll have to read his typing (I refuse even to call it a book) for yourself."

Fair enough---I won't put you through it! But do you know of anywhere on the web that I might find a rebuttal?

No. Not yet. In fact, that gives me an idea. If I am able to get up my stomach strength, AND somehow a copy of his book falls into my lap without having to pay for it, I might publish a rebuttal myself. But seriously, I was over at a Barnes & Noble and it was there on the shelf, and they do let people just hang out and read there without buying anything, so I guess if I had ABSOLUTELY nothing else to do I could kick back over there someday and do it. But my values just probably won't allow me to waste a day like that.

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No. Not yet. In fact, that gives me an idea.  If I am able to get up my stomach strength, AND somehow a copy of his book falls into my lap without having to pay for it, I might publish a rebuttal myself.

I know I would benefit if you decided to do that...

As an exercise in "philosophical detection," I occasionally submit myself to the torture of reading these so-called refutations and anti-Objectivism arguments.

They range from the hysterical-laughter-inducing through preposterously-unintellectual to requiring-a-coupla-minutes-thought-to-untangle-the-mess.

(I hope no one is angered by my excessive hyphenation :-))

However, I have been unable to locate a copy of that Scott Ryan book - and I certainly do not want to pay for one.

Of the critiques I have read, none can be classified as "good," in any respect. As my understanding of Objectivism grows, it becomes easier for me to see that these critics simply do not grasp the philosophy, particularly the epistemology.

I guess it is a matter of intelligence...

BTW:

There is a certain practice among critics of Objectivism, namely that of denouncing ARI and Peikoff et. al. as "second-handers," or "amateur philosophers" or "unworthy heirs of Miss Rand" (they just say "Rand," of course).

Nothing can be further from the truth:

I recently read several articles by Dr. Binswanger (on www.capmag.com), and was completely shocked: the man is a genius. My emotional response was not unlike that which followed my first ever exposure to Miss Rand's writings.

Of course this estimate might be old news to you guys, but I am fairly new to Objectivism and except OPAR (which I find somewhat boring, in terms of writing style) have read nothing but pure Miss Rand and one essay by Peter Schwartz (who is also an excellent philosopher and writer in my opinion).

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Objectivism as expressed by Rand was a viewpoint having to do with my personal acquaintenships and political motivations. Nothing more, nothing less. I had already decided that I was closer to Aristotle than Plato and the best form of government left the people alone to their own devices as long as the government didn't take from the citizens what the government did not need.

I read this Objectivism back in the middle 60s and came to the conclusion that I was married to Jim Taggert and began to lose interest in him. My husband was self motivated but not the way I figured was a good motivation. He took from people as much as he could and was found cheating in many ways. I began to look at everyone through the eyes of AR but found that few had read her works and had no idea what was wrong and why I was so critical. I had lost a number of good friends when I realized they looked at the government to furnish all citizens with things they could not get for themselves.

I still do this although I have softened up a bit. The American citizens are not educated enough to even consider living without of the handouts of the government. I look at most of them with disgust. But I'm old and out numbered.

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where do you live Sandy? I suppose geography has something to do with it, because the majority of my friends are small "r" Republicans, they favor relatively free market capitalism, and a good degree of social freedom. The only thing separating most people from Objectivism is their attachment to religion and mysticism. I think the best thing we can do is treat Objectivism like it is; a new personal philosophy, a new way of thinking, rather than a new political party. Your decision to embrace Objectivism and reject the decadent philosophies of your peers is all that we as Objectivists could ask you to do. I salute you for being an Objectivist as long as you have, rather than buckling under the weight. I hope that I am still an Objectivist when I am old and outnumbered.

I personally could care less what those who speak out against Rand has to say, and that's coming from someone who takes an Objective viewpoint in everything. I know what reason is, I have used my rational mind to come to my conclusions, if you disagree that is your business. I take a very Howard Roark outlook on things (though admittedly, I am still working on The Fountainhead... Trying hard to get a 4.0 G.P.A is not condusive to reading large tomes of philosophy)

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I still do this although I have softened up a bit.  The American citizens are not educated enough to even consider living without of the handouts of the government.  I look at most of them with disgust.  But I'm old and out numbered.

Fortunately so, since your view is quite typical of your fellow Libertarians who also glommed onto Ayn Rand primarily because of her politics. Staying focused on political obsessions you all miss out on the true spirit of the American people, and the malevolent sense of life of your "disgust" towards them is more misanthropic than reasonably based. I have a benevolent attitude towards the American people, but not so towards the Libertarians who misue Ayn Rand and Objectivism as an excuse and justification for their own malevolence.

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[...] The only thing separating most people from Objectivism is their attachment to religion and mysticism. I think the best thing we can do is treat Objectivism like it is; a new personal philosophy [...]

Yes, this is true, the "only thing separating most people from Objectivism is their attachment to religion and mysticism." However, since religion is a philosophy (albeit a primitive form of one), what you are saying is this: The only thing separating most people from the philosophy of Objectivism is their own philosophy.

Some individuals accept the platitudes of religion and some of its conclusions while being basically objective in many areas of their lives. But anyone who is actually religious is radically opposed to Objectivsm.

P. S. 1 -- What do you mean by "personal philosophy"? Personal as opposed to what?

P. S. 2 -- For anyone not familiar with Ayn Rand's views on religion, see "Religion," The Ayn Rand Lexicon, pp. 411-416.

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Yes, this is true, the "only thing separating most people from Objectivism is their attachment to religion and mysticism." However, since religion is a philosophy (albeit a primitive form of one), what you are saying is this: The only thing separating most people from the philosophy of Objectivism is their own philosophy.

Some individuals accept the platitudes of religion and some of its conclusions while being basically objective in many areas of their lives. But anyone who is actually religious is radically opposed to Objectivsm.

I appreciate your correction, I shall mind myself in the future, but for now allow me to better explain my position. I know alot of people who are fiscal conservatives, who vote Republican because they think less government than we already have is better, who more or less agree with what I have to say until I get to the metaphysical aspect of my philosophy, where they are appalled that I do not believe in god. I know plenty of libertarians like this too, people who have read Ayn Rand and "mostly agree with her" but can not reject a lifetime of faith. My roommate and sister come to mind. Both are logical, reasonable people, who simply can not reject their faith. My roommate particularly reminds me of Howard Roark, in terms of work ethic and attitude. But the one place we can not agree on is the fact that I am an atheist, and he is a Jehova's witness. My sister is like that as well, she is very much an Objectivist sympathizer, but her sympathies end at the metaphysical level. And with the exception of the metaphysics, My dad would be a red-blooded Objectivist, who agrees with Rand politically, epistemologically, and ethically. But still can not shake his faith in god.

I am positive there are more people like this, the Hank Reardins of the world, who are powerful figures who happen to have a single character flaw which prevents them from entering the gulch. Like John Galt, I have adopted a wait and guide policy with them, offering them advice when they need it, encouraging the person to do the right thing, but otherwise allowing the person to fix the problem theirself.

P. S. 1 -- What do you mean by "personal philosophy"? Personal as opposed to what?

Its a personal philosophy as in it's a philosophy that dictates the way a man should think. As opposed to a political party, perhaps some strange spin off of the Libertarian party, which wants the benefits of Capitalism without the responsibilities that come with such a political system. A libertarian wants Marijuana to be legal without understanding the moral implications of why using Marijuana is wrong.

I have come to this conclusion because that is how I used to think of Objectivism, that it is a new wave of politics... until I discovered that Reason and Egoism are equal pillars to Capitalism, not merely supporters.

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My roommate and sister come to mind. Both are logical, reasonable people, who simply can not reject their faith.

Don't you see the contradiction here?

My sister is like that as well, she is very much an Objectivist sympathizer, but her sympathies end at the metaphysical level. And with the exception of the metaphysics, My dad would be a red-blooded Objectivist, who agrees with Rand politically, epistemologically, and ethically. But still can not shake his faith in god.

Having faith and supporting the epistemology of Objectivism is a contradiction. Why are you not seeing that? What enables you to gloss over the contradiction?

I highly recommend Peter Schwartz's audiotaped lecture, "Contextual Knowledge," available from The Ayn Rand Bookstore. He shows, in effect, that one's conclusions can never be better than the premises on which they are based.

Objectivist metaphysics is the foundation of Objectivism. Anyone who rejects the metaphysics rejects all the rest -- no matter what words he mouths. If a libertarian says, "I support capitalism," and an Objectivist says, "I support capitalism," do you really believe they mean the same thing? They can't. It is impossible. The reason is that the basic principles condition the views built on them.

It is true that some individuals comparmentalize. That is one approach that leads to fragmentation. Another approach is dishonesty, that is, evasion. Some individuals evade the contradictions. Which approach are your sister and father taking to deal with the contradiction?

(By the way, does your father really say he supports capitalism -- including abolition of all taxation, all drug laws for adults, all welfare, all laws against pornography? In other words, have you actually tested his understanding of the principles by offering "extreme" examples?)

If your sister and father accept the two worlds of Christianity (its metaphysics) and the primacy of faith, how do they say they logically move from those foundations to an ethics of selfishness and a politics of laissez-faire? What explanations do they offer?

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Don't you see the contradiction here?

Having faith and supporting the epistemology of Objectivism is a contradiction. Why are you not seeing that? What enables you to gloss over the contradiction?

I highly recommend Peter Schwartz's audiotaped lecture, "Contextual Knowledge," available from The Ayn Rand Bookstore. He shows, in effect, that one's conclusions can never be better than the premises on which they are based.

Objectivist metaphysics is the foundation of Objectivism. Anyone who rejects the metaphysics rejects all the rest -- no matter what words he mouths. If a libertarian says, "I support capitalism," and an Objectivist says, "I support capitalism," do you really believe they mean the same thing? They can't. It is impossible. The reason is that the basic principles condition the views built on them.

It is true that some individuals comparmentalize. That is one approach that leads to fragmentation. Another approach is dishonesty, that is, evasion. Some individuals evade the contradictions. Which approach are your sister and father taking to deal with the contradiction?

(By the way, does your father really say he supports capitalism -- including abolition of all taxation, all drug laws for adults, all welfare, all laws against pornography? In other words, have you actually tested his understanding of the principles by offering "extreme" examples?)

If your sister and father accept the two worlds of Christianity (its metaphysics) and the primacy of faith, how do they say they logically move from those foundations to an ethics of selfishness and a politics of laissez-faire? What explanations do they offer?

This was such an excellent post, I thought it worthy of acknowledgement by repetition.

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Don't you see the contradiction here?
yes, I see it quite clearly, and it boggles my mind how someone who is entering a profession as logical and rational as the medical field still clings to his old faith. And trust me, he is good at it, makes above a 3.5, and to top it off, he's an athlete. Very smart fellow, I still do not understand why he ties himself to faith. But that doesn't stop the fact that, in terms of act and the way he handles himself, he is very rational.

Having faith and supporting the epistemology of Objectivism is a contradiction. Why are you not seeing that? What enables you to gloss over the contradiction?

hey, she's still learning, I never said she doesn't have any contradictions in her philosophy. Considering I have gotten her to at least admit to agnosticism (in other words, she has rejected the notion of the hebrew myth), I'd say it's pretty good progress for someone who, up until two years ago, still wanted to be a fashion designer (If that will paint a picture for you of her philosophical development at that point.) I am convinced that given more time I can get her to reject any notion of faith.

What I did say is that the way she thinks is very pro-Objectivist. But a lifetime surrounded by evil philosophy has clouded her judgement. Remember the wet nurse?

I highly recommend Peter Schwartz's audiotaped lecture, "Contextual Knowledge," available from The Ayn Rand Bookstore. He shows, in effect, that one's conclusions can never be better than the premises on which they are based.
thanks for the tip!

(By the way, does your father really say he supports capitalism -- including abolition of all taxation, all drug laws for adults, all welfare, all laws against pornography? In other words, have you actually tested his understanding of the principles by offering "extreme" examples?)

you'd be surprised how well developed he is. I once asked him if he felt the law should intervene if a man is brutally torturing his dog. His response was that the dog is the man's property, so he is entitled to do whatever he wants to the dog. And yes, my dad is for the 100% abolition of taxes, the end to all drug, pornography, and gun control laws, and believes there is no such thing as a "victimless" crime. Though like I said before, we differ quite fundamentally. I suppose I should retract my statement about his beliefs in Objectivism, upon reflection I have had to check my premises, and for pointing out my inconsistencies, I thank you. My father is more like a Jeffersonian in philosophy, but the way he thinks is very no-nonsense, realistic, and logical. Like I said, very wet nurse in nature, though he may be more like Stadler.

Objectivist metaphysics is the foundation of Objectivism. Anyone who rejects the metaphysics rejects all the rest -- no matter what words he mouths. If a libertarian says, "I support capitalism," and an Objectivist says, "I support capitalism," do you really believe they mean the same thing? They can't. It is impossible. The reason is that the basic principles condition the views built on them.

It is true that some individuals comparmentalize. That is one approach that leads to fragmentation. Another approach is dishonesty, that is, evasion. Some individuals evade the contradictions. Which approach are your sister and father taking to deal with the contradiction?

My sister, as I have mentioned before, is still learning, her contradictions are still being ironed out of her blossoming Objectivist style of thinking. My dad is still an enigma to me. To be honest we have never had an indepth discussion over the nature of metaphysics or any deep philosophical thought. Like most Libertarians, he is more focused on politics than other aspects of philosophy. What I have gotten out of him is his admiration for Objectivist egoism. And once I asked him how I discern what love is (back before my Objectivist days) his response was that I must use my reason to find out for myself with what kind of person I should fall in love. He says he had a falling out with Objectivism, and when I ask about it, he doesn't say. The last time I tried, he said it was because he didn't agree with all of the decisions Ayn Rand made, such as her support of Richard Nixon.

So like you said, one is horse crap, the other is dog crap. Even though both smell and look alike, they come from different animals. But he isn't a relavist or a moral subjunctivist or something similar. I suspect he may have more in common wih Robert Stadler than I'd like to admit. That being said, I know he is at least an Objectivist sympathizer. I mean, he is supportive of my desicsion to consider further education at the ARI.

This was such an excellent post, I thought it worthy of acknowledgement by repetition.

I agree. I get more mental stimulation from a single night here than I do discussion Doggerel philosophies anywhere else. As I hope everyone is aware, I am still polishing my own philosophy as well, and discussing it with other people of like-minded rationality is a great way to temper my own philosophy. I concede that I am not perfect, and am prone to mistakes in philosophy, but I am also grateful at the patience that many have taken to help groom me as a proper Objectivist. I feel more alive now than I ever did when I was grovelling at the feet of a god that didn't exist. And the more I learn about Objectivism, the more alive I feel.

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I'd say it's pretty good progress for someone who, up until two years ago, still wanted to be a fashion designer (If that will paint a picture for you of her philosophical development at that point.)

In what way is her wanting to be a fashion designer reflective of some state of "her philosophical development?"

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In what way is her wanting to be a fashion designer reflective of some state of "her philosophical development?"

I second this question. My girlfriend attends the Fashion Institute of Technology and is studying to become a fashion designer (childrenswear) - she also loves to read Ayn Rand and takes Objectivist ideas seriously.

The fact that many famous fashion designers are absurd (which is reflected in the "clothing" they create) does not imply that the profession itself is for loonies or philosophically inept people.

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An important thing to be aware of is that people can have mixed premises and compartmentalize. They can be faithful on Sundays and when the subject of religion comes up and 100% objective and rational at other times.

The way I deal with such people is to appeal to their rationality and their values. l show them how the best part of what they are is being undercut by some of the ideas they accept and some of the actions they take.

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the image I was trying to convey was that up until that time, she had given very little thought to philosophy otherwise. You know how it was in high school, how every girl (or at least, all of the popular ones) just knew she was destined to be a world famous fashion designer, in between her other careers as a hollywood actor and world renowned supermodel? There are the girls out there who have a passion for designing clothes, but those are the ones who work hard in school and set real goals to pursue that passion. But there are the floozies out there who do not apply themselves at school, they make the Ds but have the friends so to speak, and they just assume life is going to shower them with happiness because everyone of their boyfriends have done so.

Of course, now she has matured a great deal, has chosen rational goals based off of her own interests, and works hard to pursue them. And with this maturity has come philosophical development.

The point I was trying to make was that some people mature at different rates than others. For example, there are 15 year olds that frequent these forums. When I was 15 I was more concerned with Karate class and getting my learner's permit to drive than philosophy, without really taking an interest in larger issue things like philosophy till a few years down the road. Luckily, it was still early enough for me to end up like Peter Keating. My sis and I were late comers. But not to late as to have already wasted the better parts of our lives.

my premise is that people can be rational but still, as Betsy says, compartmentalize. Like Thomas Aquinas, who Ayn Rand wrote of as being a rational man in an even more irrational age than this. And like Betsy says, when you appeal to their sense of reason, their clinging to their faith erodes. For example, my personal project, my sister, was once as pious towards her faith in God as I. But as of late, I have at least gotten her to admit to agnosticism, that there is no way the hebrew god can exist. I'm not finished, but it is progress.

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my premise is that people can be rational but still, as Betsy says, compartmentalize.

While what you say is true, I want to point out that it is extremely difficult for a normal person to maintain such compartmentalization over a very long period of time. Reality, and knowledge, is an integrated whole, and the mind cannot forever keep one "compartment" from leaking over to another. Bad ideas tend to drive out good ideas if issues with conflicting premises are not directly addressed.

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While what you say is true, I want to point out that it is extremely difficult for a normal person to maintain such compartmentalization over a very long period of time. Reality, and knowledge, is an integrated whole, and the mind cannot forever keep one "compartment" from leaking over to another. Bad ideas tend to drive out good ideas if  issues with conflicting premises are not directly addressed.

I guess that explains why she is so receptive to Objectivism :P

I find that many of her reservations against Objectivism stem from her confusing Egoism with Egotism. Simple rational explaination fixes that. I find that happens to alot of people. It's understandable as to why they would be confused, especially given the antipathy towards towards Rand, and attacks towards her and her ideals by the hysterical left and the religious right.

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I find that many of her reservations against Objectivism stem from her confusing Egoism with Egotism. Simple rational explaination fixes that.

Admittedly I do not know her as a person, but I would question this. I doubt the linguistic difference between these two terms could account for much. Based on what you have written before, I suspect most likely there are more fundamental premises involved.

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well, I am not the worlds greatest linguist, but my definition of egoism is rational self-interest, and my definition of egotism is irrational self-interest. Feel free to correct me if you feel that is wrong. In any event, would you call her irrational for choosing not to pursue a philosophy which she percieved to be egotistical? I don't blaim her, I told her that's what she gets for hanging around Libertarians too long.

The hypothetical situation she proposed to me was an instance where a woman had to choose between her life and the life of her baby. I asked her what she thought the Objectivist answer would be. She guessed that the woman should save herself every time, regardless. I asked her if that was what she believed in. She said no. I then told her that the woman would have to stand by her values, if she valued the life of her baby over her own life, then the Objectivist response would be for her to save the baby. It would be a noble act not because it was a sacrifice in the Kantian sense of duty, but because the woman stood by her principles even to the point where it cost the woman her life.

Similar to the climax of Atlas Shrugged, when John Galt had the choice to either become the economic dictator of the United States, or be tortured. If he was an Egotist, he would have chosen to become the dictator. But Galt was not, he was an Egoist, who stood by his principles to the point where he choose torture.

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well, I am not the worlds greatest linguist, but my definition of egoism is ...

That is not the point I tried to make. Miss Rand herself confused "egoism" and "egotism" in The Fountainhead, but for her it was just a practical error due to a dictionary definition. What I tried to indicate was that your claim that many of the "reservations against Objectivism stem from her confusing Egoism with Egotism" might be better explained by a more fundamental disagreement (based on what you previously wrote). Issues of faith versus reason, and religious altruism, run deep.

But, look, not knowing her personally and only going on what you write, I am uncomfortable pursuing this any further. I do not want to attribute to her conflicts that she may not have. Feel free to consider my previous comments, or not, but I will end this here.

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