Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum

I think I might have to leave objectivism

Rate this topic


James Bond
 Share

Recommended Posts

One can find all of the same tenets of objectivism throughout the history of philosophy, so why associate yourself with a philosophy that has a lot of negative externalities? Why not say I'm a transhumanist/atheist/capitalist/virtue theoriest/sense-datam critical realist/romantic realist? Why is that less useful than simply saying I'm an objectivist, and consequently attaching myself to a system that, like so many other associations, comes with imperfections. That's why I asked in the original post what the benefits of are of advocating a system, rather than advocating tenets.

First of all, Objectivism is not primarily about being advocated to others, but rather guiding you in your own life. You should concern yourself less with the connotations others draw from your identifications and more with what you actually believe and how it relates to Objectivist thought.

Second, certainly most all of the elements in Objectivism have previously been advocated for one reason or another by philosophers of the past, but Objectivism is more than the sum of its parts. Objectivism offers a systematic way for discovering rational values and for putting one's knowledge and one's morality on objective grounds. For any moral question, Objectivism offers not simply an ad hoc answer, but rather a method for discovering the answer; it is not simply a list of tenants bunched together haphazardly, as you make it sound, but instead a systematic working out of the implications of the reality in which we live. In the realm of morality, for example, Objectivist virtues are not simply a list of characteristics that Ayn Rand found most important in a person, but abstractions from the nature of man and general principles which will help any person to live a rationally selfish life. If you read any serious Objectivist work, the principles being defended therein are inevitably defended by reference to observable facts about the nature of reality. For example, many philosophies and moralities proposed throughout human history have listed productiveness as a virtue, but only Objectivism defends it on the basis of the nature of man and his requirements for leading a successful life.

In short, Objectivism offers an integrated philosophy which is carefully worked out from observations about the nature of reality, not simply a list of positions on specific issues (direct realism, rational egoism, capitalism, etc).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am an Objectivist, except that:

I think that it is proper that a woman can be President of the United States;

I do not place a high value on operetta music (though I know many tunes);

I accept other people's homosexuality as their choice and do not find it disgusting;

I enjoy Mozart and Beethoven; I enjoy rock music, especially "new" music of the 80s and even punk.

I respond well to Rodin's "The Thinker;" (See my review on RoR here.)

I know that you can have law and justice without government.

I once read one book by Mickey Spillane -- I, the Jury -- and that was more than enough;

I tried "Charlie's Angels" and did not like it;

I watched old "Man from UNCLE" shows on DVD a few months ago and liked what I saw.

I believe that "ought" comes from "is" but that "is" might not lead to any "ought."

And I am not sure that saying you oppose welfare gives you a right to accept it.

But other than that...

I am an Objectivist.

And I agree with Ayn Rand that you might have a right to own a rifle, but you probably have no right to own a handgun.

(When asked to sum up Objectivism standing on one foot, Ayn Rand defined politics in terms of capitalism, not government.)

I see many clear distinctions among (1) objectivism as rational empiricism and (2) Objectivism and (3) the corpus of Ayn Rand's works.

Edited by Hermes
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am an Objectivist, except that:

I think that it is proper that a woman can be President of the United States;

I do not place a high value on operetta music (though I know many tunes);

I accept other people's homosexuality as their choice and do not find it disgusting;

I enjoy Mozart and Beethoven; I enjoy rock music, especially "new" music of the 80s and even punk.

I respond well to Rodin's "The Thinker;" (See my review on RoR here.)

I know that you can have law and justice without government.

I once read one book by Mickey Spillane -- I, the Jury -- and that was more than enough;

I tried "Charlie's Angels" and did not like it;

I watched old "Man from UNCLE" shows on DVD a few months ago and liked what I saw.

I believe that "ought" comes from "is" but that "is" might not lead to any "ought."

And I am not sure that saying you oppose welfare gives you a right to accept it.

But other than that...

I am an Objectivist.

All but two of these points are not part of Objectivism. They're not philosophical principles, they're at most applications of philosophical principles to concretes, and more often they're matters of personal emotional or aesthetic response. The exceptions are the (implied) support of anarchism and the question of the 'is-ought' relation -- and the latter is so vaguely put that I'm not sure it's actually in conflict with Objectivism.

(When asked to sum up Objectivism standing on one foot, Ayn Rand defined politics in terms of capitalism, not government.)

In such an essentialized definition a lot of vitally important stuff is left out. As I recall in the same summary she describes the ethics as "self-interest" but never mentions virtue. Does that mean she thinks the virtues aren't part of Objectivism? Obviously not. She views the virtues as implied by self-interest -- they are the necessary means by which one's self-interest is defined and pursued. Similarly, defining politics in terms of capitalism implies government -- capitalism is the system of individual rights and government (in Rand's view) is a necessary means for protecting them. Does that connection require a defense? Obviously, just as the connection between self-interest and the virtues requires a defense. But the fact that she didn't include that defense while standing on one foot doesn't mean that she views government as unimportant or anarchism as compatible with Objectivism.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The problem is that Rand is the source of most Objectivists' knowledge of philosophy. They don't know if she is the source of the ideas themselves until they study philosophy itself.
Please note that his question was not about who originated each of the ideas, but who was the source of the OPs philosophy. Do you understand the difference, and why invoking irrelevant historical antecedents is, well, irrelevant?
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Please note that his question was not about who originated each of the ideas, but who was the source of the OPs philosophy. Do you understand the difference, and why invoking irrelevant historical antecedents is, well, irrelevant?

How does the OP know who was the source of "his philosophy" if all he knows of philosophy is that Ayn Rand says "A is A?" If he doesn't know what Aristotle said, but he encounters Aristotle's ideas as incorporated in Rand's system, all he can say is that he heard of some ideas from reading Rand, who gives non-specific credit to Aristotle for some of the ideas she expresses. How can he know, until he reads Aristotle?

Alas, I am beset with irrelevancies, as here.

Mindy

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Please tell... And what do you call this institution of law & justice enforcement?

Actually, anyone can correct me if I am wrong, but I do not think it follows from Objectivism that "there can be no law and justice without government" just that only a proper agency should dispense justice and (a certain kind of) law which requires a social system with a government.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Then he knows that Rand was the source of his philosophy. He knows that he got his ideas from Rand; that is what "source" means.

That may be what "source" sometimes means, but it isn't what "ideas" or "philosophy" means, and, more importantly, it is not what you meant to ask!. You said, "the source." This is abyssmal, scurrilous rationalization.

Mindy

Edited by Mindy
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The problem is that Rand is the source of most Objectivists' knowledge of philosophy. They don't know if she is the source of the ideas themselves until they study philosophy itself.

I'm not entirely sure I see the relevance. Surely the question is whether one agrees with Rand's philosophical ideas, rather than whether one obtained one's philosophical ideas from her. These days I can imagine a person who got their knowledge of Rand's ideas entirely from secondary sources like Peikoff's book Objectivism or Smith's book Ayn Rand's Normative Ethics. One's major concern should be over what one believes and why, not where one first encountered a given idea.

For what it's worth I do have some knowledge of the history of philosophy from sources other than Rand. I find the choice of "A is A" as an example of an idea present in both Rand and Aristotle somewhat amusing, insofar as Aristotle did not explicitly formulate the Law of Identity. It's implied by his formulations of the Law of Non-Contradiction and the Law of Excluded Middle, but he doesn't quite come out and say it. If memory serves the Law of Identity wasn't explicitly stated until sometime in the medieval period.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm not entirely sure I see the relevance. Surely the question is whether one agrees with Rand's philosophical ideas, rather than whether one obtained one's philosophical ideas from her. These days I can imagine a person who got their knowledge of Rand's ideas entirely from secondary sources like Peikoff's book Objectivism or Smith's book Ayn Rand's Normative Ethics. One's major concern should be over what one believes and why, not where one first encountered a given idea.

For what it's worth I do have some knowledge of the history of philosophy from sources other than Rand. I find the choice of "A is A" as an example of an idea present in both Rand and Aristotle somewhat amusing, insofar as Aristotle did not explicitly formulate the Law of Identity. It's implied by his formulations of the Law of Non-Contradiction and the Law of Excluded Middle, but he doesn't quite come out and say it. If memory serves the Law of Identity wasn't explicitly stated until sometime in the medieval period.

The person who put that question used it to abuse the OP. The writer of that question chided the OP for "leaving Objectivism" when his valuable philosophical ideas were owed to Rand. The OP had said he had found many basic ideas of Objectivism elsewhere in philosophy. The question was a challenge to that, since the OP agreed with most or all of Objectivism.

The question is not the tool, logically, that the abusive writer tried to make of it. I pointed that out in the interests of logic. I seem to be in a distinct minority when it comes to respecting the interests of logic, but that remains the case.

Now, you want to know whether it isn't more important what one believes than where one got those ideas from. Wildly out of context here. What you've said isn't outright false, but it is contextually retarded.

Mindy

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Now, you want to know whether it isn't more important what one believes than where one got those ideas from. Wildly out of context here. What you've said isn't outright false, but it is contextually retarded.

I don't think it's out of context at all. The OP concerns whether the poster should retain the label "Objecivist" in his current state. In the past dozen or so posts, this issue of sources has come up, but I think that's the line of reasoning that's out of context. I agree with khaight that it matters whether or not one agrees with Rand, rather than whether Rand was the source of one's ideas. Surely someone who validated certain parts of Objectivism on their own (such as rational egoism, or capitalism) before they ever encountered Rand could ultimately come to consider themselves Objectivist, even though Rand wasn't the source of all those ideas. Similarly, if Rand is the source of one's ideas in philosophy, but that person hasn't yet finished getting at least a basic grasp of the entire system of Objectivism, he or she is not an Objectivist. The relevant point to the original question is whether one disagrees with Rand about philosophy or not.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

One can find all of the same tenets of objectivism throughout the history of philosophy.
.

Why isn't this statement qualified ? Where in the history of philosophy is the theory of concept formation present as a system? What about rational self-interest; not just the naivety of philosophers like Hobbes or Stirner, but true Egoism? Metaphysical realism is one I will grant you. It's also one of the least astounding aspects of her philosophy.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Putting on my devil's advocate hat for a moment here.

Where in the history of philosophy is the theory of concept formation present as a system?

There is a provocative remark in Aristotle's On the Generation of Animals to the effect that instances of a universal vary "in the more and the less" -- an arguable precursor to the identification of measurement-omission as the essence of concept formation. The significance of this remark was largely overlooked until relatively recently, but it is there. Greg Salmieri has done some fascinating work on this, although it's very hard to follow in detail unless you're familiar with ancient Greek.

What about rational self-interest; not just the naivety of philosophers like Hobbes or Stirner, but true Egoism?

Spinoza?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The problem is that Rand is the source of most Objectivists' knowledge of philosophy. They don't know if she is the source of the ideas themselves until they study philosophy itself.

Mindy

I'm impressed that you appear to have knowledge of the inner workings of "most Objectivists'" brains.

You are, presumably, aware that Rand herself encouraged people to study other philosophers and evaluate their works objectively. An Objectivist who claims more than the must rudimentary knowledge of a philosophical school without having actually studied said school is neither acting as an Objectivist nor in accordance with Rand's own urgings.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm impressed that you appear to have knowledge of the inner workings of "most Objectivists'" brains.

You are, presumably, aware that Rand herself encouraged people to study other philosophers and evaluate their works objectively. An Objectivist who claims more than the must rudimentary knowledge of a philosophical school without having actually studied said school is neither acting as an Objectivist nor in accordance with Rand's own urgings.

I admit I'm one of those whom MIndy mentions. I seized upon O'ism so fast that it was many years until I gained an interest in other philosophies - and then only as a comparative, academic excercise.

Told by friends back then that with my interest and aptitude, I should take up Philosophy at university, I used to reply, "what for, I've found what I need."

Now, I do find that some basic instruction in the methodology and principles of the discipline could have been beneficial.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I admit I'm one of those whom MIndy mentions. I seized upon O'ism so fast that it was many years until I gained an interest in other philosophies - and then only as a comparative, academic excercise.

Told by friends back then that with my interest and aptitude, I should take up Philosophy at university, I used to reply, "what for, I've found what I need."

Now, I do find that some basic instruction in the methodology and principles of the discipline could have been beneficial.

While I appreciate your honesty and self-awareness, my contention with Mindy was her claim of knowledge of what "most Objectivists" know.

Personally, I studied several courses in Philosophy in college. My major areas of interest were Metaphysics, Epistemology and Logic. I also took a course in the Philosophy of Time which ... was...weird...

I did *not* study ethics and modern philosophy, and lately I find myself occasionally looking for local classes to audit.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

While I appreciate your honesty and self-awareness, my contention with Mindy was her claim of knowledge of what "most Objectivists" know.

Personally, I studied several courses in Philosophy in college. My major areas of interest were Metaphysics, Epistemology and Logic. I also took a course in the Philosophy of Time which ... was...weird...

I did *not* study ethics and modern philosophy, and lately I find myself occasionally looking for local classes to audit.

OK, didn't mean to interrupt. I just represent one segment of the O'ist culture, that may be quite common.

Interesting, btw, the number of 'formally' trained intellectuals one rubs shoulders with here.

(Also, with M. and E. and Logic, I'm sure Ethics, Economics, and Political Science were a breeze for you.)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

.

Why isn't this statement qualified ? Where in the history of philosophy is the theory of concept formation present as a system? What about rational self-interest; not just the naivety of philosophers like Hobbes or Stirner, but true Egoism? Metaphysical realism is one I will grant you. It's also one of the least astounding aspects of her philosophy.

I agree that Rand's ethics are unique and rare, but I have to disagree that you can't find authentic egoism anywhere else. This begs the question though..why does a person's centralized philosophy have come from centralization? I agree that a person needs philosophy to survive in the same way that a person needs water, and that that the philosophy needs to be integrated. My fear is that in labeling oneself an objectivist, one might also be be accepting a package deal. Looking back, I believed in all of the tenets of objectivism before I started calling myself an objectivist..and now I wonder why I ever started calling myself an objectivist. I think it might have been because of the sense of community that it brings, and the romantic portrait that is painted by Rand's fiction. Take a gun enthusiast..he doesn't need to be an NRA member in order to enjoy gun culture, but it's fun/useful/more to be a NRA member.

Edited by James Bond
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't think it's out of context at all. The OP concerns whether the poster should retain the label "Objecivist" in his current state. In the past dozen or so posts, this issue of sources has come up, but I think that's the line of reasoning that's out of context. I agree with khaight that it matters whether or not one agrees with Rand, rather than whether Rand was the source of one's ideas. Surely someone who validated certain parts of Objectivism on their own (such as rational egoism, or capitalism) before they ever encountered Rand could ultimately come to consider themselves Objectivist, even though Rand wasn't the source of all those ideas. Similarly, if Rand is the source of one's ideas in philosophy, but that person hasn't yet finished getting at least a basic grasp of the entire system of Objectivism, he or she is not an Objectivist. The relevant point to the original question is whether one disagrees with Rand about philosophy or not.

It should be possible to draw a focus down to one particular argument in a thread, or one statement, etc. Being "reminded" that the more important question is so-and-so is pointless and fruitless when that is the case. Not every post is about the OP's overall question.

Mindy

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Certainly not every post has to relate directly back to the OP, but it's hard to see how it would be out of context to make a post relating back to it at any point in the ensuing thread. If someone honestly things that the thread is attempting to address the OP and yet failing for some reason, it's not inappropriate to say so.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My fear is that in labeling oneself an objectivist, one might also be be accepting a package deal. Looking back, I believed in all of the tenets of objectivism before I started calling myself an objectivist..and now I wonder why I ever started calling myself an objectivist.

Certainly if someone calls themselves an Objectivist before they personally validate the major tenets of Objectivism, simply because they like how some of it sounds, that is accepting a package deal, but that doesn't sound like that was the case with you. In any case, whether you continue to call yourself an Objectivist or not, the most important issue for you is whether you lead a life of self-respect and self-interest, and attend to your values with full consciousness. I think this whole "do I call myself an Objectivist or not" issue is blown out of proportion in comparison with what is really important.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree that Rand's ethics are unique and rare, but I have to disagree that you can't find authentic egoism anywhere else. This begs the question though..why does a person's centralized philosophy have come from centralization? I agree that a person needs philosophy to survive in the same way that a person needs water, and that that the philosophy needs to be integrated. My fear is that in labeling oneself an objectivist, one might also be be accepting a package deal. Looking back, I believed in all of the tenets of objectivism before I started calling myself an objectivist..and now I wonder why I ever started calling myself an objectivist.

If you understand and have rationally come to agree completely with the philosophy of Objectivism, then you are an Objectivist, whether or not you go around telling everyone that you are. Now, by purposely hiding that fact for the specific reason of the negative opinion others have of Oism, you are evading, faking reality, elevating consciousness above existence, and thus acting irrationally. Objectivists can certainly act irrationally, but should be able to acknowledge and correct their past errors.

I think it might have been because of the sense of community that it brings, and the romantic portrait that is painted by Rand's fiction. Take a gun enthusiast..he doesn't need to be an NRA member in order to enjoy gun culture, but it's fun/useful/more to be a NRA member.

One of the properties of being an NRA member is owning an NRA membership card. There's no such requirement for Objectivism. To make your analogy valid, you would have to either assert that 1) you are enthusiastic about guns, but do not want to call yourself a "gun enthusiast", or 2) you have purchased and own a valid NRA membership card, but do not want to call yourself an NRA member due to negative connotations. Both are examples of faking reality.

Choosing not to become an NRA member, but still remain a gun enthusiast, could also be evasion, depending on the reason behind the choice. If the choice is done for financial reasons (due to cost of membership), or disagreement with NRA policies, then that may be a rational choice. If, however, you would like to become an NRA member, but choose not to because you fear humiliation from your friends, then that is irrational. You should also reevaluate your friendships. :D

So all folks who choose to remain gun enthusiasts but not join the NRA are not necessarily acting irrationally - it depends entirely on the reason for their choice. Likewise, all folks who choose to be Objectivists but not donate to ARI are not necessarily acting irrationally - the reason for their choice is what matters.

Edited by brian0918
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Now, by purposely hiding that fact for the specific reason of the negative opinion others have of Oism, you are evading, faking reality, elevating consciousness above existence, and thus acting irrationally. Objectivists can certainly act irrationally, but should be able to acknowledge and correct their past errors.

I don't think this is true. Avoiding the irrational responses that the randomn person makes--such remarks as, "Ayn Rand was a fascist!" is not wrong. If you sneeze, and someone says, "God bless you," are you required to reply that you are an atheist, that there is no God, and that by making that remark, they are proving that they are superstitious and irrational? I just say, "Thank you."

There are important people, whose negative opinion counts, and who deserve to know the truth, but these are the minority.

Specifically, you do not owe it to Objectivism, or ARI, or the future, etc., to represent yourself as an Objectivist.

Mindy

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...