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What percentage of Objectivists stay Objectivist?

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If someone had a rational reason to leave Objectivism, then Objectivism would no longer be a philosophy based on reason or rationality. If that person could present their reason and rationality in a convincing argument, it's rationality would convince all other rational Objectivists of its truth, and Objectivism would evolve.

The Objectivists would evolve, Objectivism would have to be left behind. There would be post-Objectivist or Randian schools thought.

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In a Donahue interview with Ayn Rand she actually seemed eager to find an adversary who was worthy of debate, she was willing to change her mind in light of a rational argument, but she claimed none of her antagonists would fight her on the issues. If at any time there is a clash between rationality and Objectivism, rationality is the only logical answer, and that rationality will then become a part of Objectivism.

George H. Smith claims to not want to allow government use of force. Ayn Rand says the government can only use force in retaliation against those who have used force. A lack of Self defense would contradict rationality. Can you see where the right for everyone to take retaliation into their own hands would quickly disintegrate society into gang warfare?

More interesting questions would be “What percentage of people exposed to Objectivist ideas come to a fully integrated understanding of Objectivism?”

How do you measure the number of people who leave Objectivism who were never really Objectivists to begin with?

How do you measure the number of people who believe they are Objectivists, but who actually misrepresent the philosophy, and end up driving the curious away?

How do you measure the number of people who are posing as Objectivists who secretly want to misrepresent the philosophy?

What are the primary tenants of Objectivism that are incontrovertible?

What things has Ayn Rand said that are open to debate?

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If someone had a rational reason to leave Objectivism, then Objectivism would no longer be a philosophy based on reason or rationality.

Would you acknowledge that George Smith stopped being an Objectivist as the result of a process of reasoning? Agree with him or not, did he use reason? As opposed to what, you say? Emotion? Glandular squirtings? He took a bribe from the Illuminati? Beats me, but some people just can’t respect disagreement.

If that person could present their reason and rationality in a convincing argument, it's rationality would convince all other rational Objectivists of its truth, and Objectivism would evolve.

Including the ones who refuse to read an argument? Did you read all of the posts on this thread?

George H. Smith claims to not want to allow government use of force.

Where did you read that?

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If someone had a rational reason to leave Objectivism, then Objectivism would no longer be a philosophy based on reason or rationality. If that person could present their reason and rationality in a convincing argument, it's rationality would convince all other rational Objectivists of its truth, and Objectivism would evolve.

But also, I think we have to take issue with that first sentence there. Reason does not require omniscience, and knowledge is structural. That's why it requires us to be always increasing, evolving, adding on, and revising previous knowledge. There are philosophies that have plenty of things wrong with them, and yet are still fundamentally based on reason, such as Aristotelianism, Thomism, Lockeanism, scholastic and natural law tradition that Rand drew from. Rand had commented that she could not have been able to integrate certain major parts of her philosophy were it not for previous knowledge already established. Or we can point to most of the major philosophies that are based on some fundamental idea, and thus evolve into distinct schools or traditions, or get various notable ideas taken from them and are folded into other philosophies, while the original fades away, only sometimes to have something resurrected from it, and so forth. I think the problem is, as Diana Hsieh put it, some people for some reason tend to freak out and go "OMG what if Rand had it wrong on X, Y, or Z?! What do we do then?!" In that case, that idea would simply die and the Objectivist tradition moves on without it a la Grames' post above.

Edited by 2046
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Would you acknowledge that George Smith stopped being an Objectivist as the result of a process of reasoning?

If he came to the conclusion that Government should not have the power to use retaliatory force, then I disagree with his conclusion and question the basis of his reasoning.

If he deliberately ignored certain premises, then what he did was not reasoning but rationalizing.

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If he came to the conclusion that Government should not have the power to use retaliatory force, then I disagree with his conclusion and question the basis of his reasoning.

If he deliberately ignored certain premises, then what he did was not reasoning but rationalizing.

The reason I brought up GHS was because I could link to a conveniently brief piece of his writing where he demonstrates understanding of AR’s position, and then respectfully expresses his reasons for disagreement. After this, TLD moved on to his still undefined distinction between “understand” and “accept”, thus moving the goalposts into la-la land.

I wasn’t trying to start a debate about anarchism, but if you’re going to say GHS’s reasons aren’t “rational”, you’ve got a big task ahead of you. And that task starts with understanding his position, which no one here has (that I’ve seen) bothered to do.

The point is that you can understand Objectivism and then disagree. My original list of former Rand admirers: Hillary Clinton, Ted Turner, and Arianna Huffington, weren’t good enough examples since they don’t have writings where they demonstrate understanding of Objectivism, they just amount to biographical anecdotes. So, I referenced GHS, whose Atheism: The Case Against God is highly respected among Objectivists.

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I wasn’t trying to start a debate about anarchism, but if you’re going to say GHS’s reasons aren’t “rational”, you’ve got a big task ahead of you. And that task starts with understanding his position, which no one here has (that I’ve seen) bothered to do.

Given what the OP asked, I don't even think the reasons for abandoning Objectivism have to be rational, nor must they be correct (which is not quite the same thing--people can, operating rationally, make honest mistakes based on their context). He wants to know the percentage of Objectivists who abandon it, for whatever reason. (In point of fact the OP doesn't even stipulate that the "ex-Objectivist" have to have understood it correctly; the controversy erupted when someone claimed it was impossible for a "true" Objectivist to ever leave it.)

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I wasn’t trying to start a debate about anarchism, but if you’re going to say GHS’s reasons aren’t “rational”, you’ve got a big task ahead of you. And that task starts with understanding his position, which no one here has (that I’ve seen) bothered to do.

And I don't claim to know his argument - and I didn't say he was absolutely irrational, I said "if" - he may very honestly consider one or more of his premises to be correct where we would disagree. I was, in other words, allowing for the possibility that he wasn't rationalizing, just mistaken. :)

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Yes, anyone who disagrees with Objectivist principles never fully understood and accepted (lived by) them.

That is not to say that such a person might have once thought he U&A.

This is the point I was at not long ago and I had trouble understanding the concept of rights, and I was calling myself an Objectivst for a long while, but when I really thought about rights, as such, I don't think I understood them fully before in order to have trouble with it later, so I stopped calling myself an Objectivst, not because I outrightly rejected Objectivism, but because I only had trouble with certain parts of it, because I never fully understood them the first time, as I thought I did.

So you bring up an interesting point, if one does have the U&A of Objectivism, one can argue that if someone can later reject it, assuming they are still mentally/psychologically competent and so forth, then they didn't fully understand it before.

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So you bring up an interesting point, if one does have the U&A of Objectivism, one can argue that if someone can later reject it, assuming they are still mentally/psychologically competent and so forth, then they didn't fully understand it before.

Or... they just decided they disagreed with one of its positions on any number of topics, because they have attained some more knowledge that they believe does not integrate properly with Objectivist principles. Saying that they just 'didn't understand it before' is to treat the attainment and integration of knowledge as an automatic and infallible process, which is contrary to Objectivism itself.

Edited by Dante
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I am going to resspond to a mix of comments.

"Now he may be WRONG in his reasons for being a former Objectivist, I think so, at any rate. But to simply claim that he cannot have been an Objectivist in the first place is patently absurd."

You are saying that one can falsely claim to be an Obj.ist (e.g. do so without valid reasoning) and then say he was an Obj.ist before he abandoned it. Now that is absurd.

"There was no indication that the reason for leaving had to be rational. Just that it had to be an O-ist who left."

So an Obj.ist is one who would use rational reasons for leaving? Think about that a bit....

Until someone find something fundamentally wrong with Obj.ism, that can't happen.

Therefore he would be acting irrationally and/or not be an Obj.ist.

"Your claim is that no one who ever understood it can possibly decide to leave. You didn't exclude the possibility that someone formerly rightly supporting Objectivism could make a wrong decision and leave."

No, I said understood as was a true Obj.ist. How could he rightly support..., make a wrong decision, leave, and say he was previously a true Obj.ist? Not logical. if you mean he thought he "rightly supported" but did not in fact do so, then ok.

In the case of Smith, no one has denied the fact that he has been a long-term Libertarian; therefore, he necessarily was never a true Obj.ist. If he understood and accepted (part of the real question here) Obj.ism, why would he then discount Obj.ist principles? It had to be that he errored. But how can an Obj.ist error since he has to consistently use reason and be rational, and given that Obj.ism does not have known fundamental errors?

"If someone had a rational reason to leave Objectivism, then Objectivism would no longer be a philosophy based on reason or rationality. If that person could present their reason and rationality in a convincing argument, it's rationality would convince all other rational Objectivists of its truth, and Objectivism would evolve."

Correct!

"More interesting question would be “What percentage of people exposed to Objectivist ideas come to a fully integrated understanding of Objectivism?”

Unfortunately, that has to be a very small %. It is those who do fully integrate it who can properly call themselves Obj.ists and who have no reason to leave it.

"How many Objectivists disagree to the point of questioning their status as an Objectivist, and later come to an understanding that lets them claim that they are an Objectivist once again?"

This is an interesting question that raises another point: if you believe that you accept and follow Obj.ist principles prior to fully integrating it, I believe it appropriate to call yourself an Obj.ist. If upon full integration you decide you are not a true Obj.ist, then you cannot say in retrospect that you really were (a la Smith). So such people do not refute my initial premise.

"TLD moved on to his still undefined distinction between “understand” and “accept”, thus moving the goalposts into la-la land."

I should not have to define a distinction between "understand" and "accept" to this crowd. And to call oneself an Obj.ist, both have to exist.

"I don't even think the reasons for abandoning Objectivism have to be rational, nor must they be correct. He wants to know the percentage of Objectivists who abandon it, for whatever reason.... The controversy erupted when someone claimed it was impossible for a "true" Objectivist to ever leave it.)"

Maybe by now this person realizes the error is this quote.

It is true that reasons can be irrational/incorrect. But a true Obj.ist would not use such reasons.

This is the more important message here, not the issue of percentage.

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This is the more important message here, not the issue of percentage.

To you, perhaps, but not in the original question, and you redefined the context so that all other answers were "wrong".

I even made the express point early on of making it clear what my SPECIFIC context was - and you proceeded to deliberately drop that context to apply your own contextual standard to my statement.

Edited by Greebo
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If someone had a rational reason to leave Objectivism, then Objectivism would no longer be a philosophy based on reason or rationality.

Yes.

I think the No true Scotsman arguments applicability in this is questionable, unless I am misunderstanding it, correct me if I am wrong in this:

All Objectivists are atheists.

Steve, who calls himself an Objectivist, says he believes in God.

Someone hearing this says that Objectivists could not say that and at the same time be Objectivists, for it is contradictory to Objectivism. He clearly could not have fully understood what being an Objectivist is, if he believes in a God and calls himself an Objectivist. How can he be both? He can call himself both, but he is not both. He is not a true Objectivist.

Can one then argue that the percentage of Objectivists that stay Objectivists would be 100%?

Edited by intellectualammo
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Someone hearing this says that Objectivists could not say that and at the same time be Objectivists, for it is contradictory to Objectivism. He clearly could not have fully understood what being an Objectivist is, if he believes in a God and calls himself an Objectivist. How can he be both? He can call himself both, but he is not both. He is not a true Objectivist.

Can one then argue that the percentage of Objectivists that stay Objectivists would be 100%?

No. This just illustrates the fact that Objectivism has a definite identity, it does not mean that someone cannot at one point in their life fit this identity, and then later choose to reject part of it. Now, being an Objectivist myself, I think that someone who rejects it has made an error, but that's the whole point; people are fallible, and Objectivists are no exception.

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Let's take a hypothetical person who understands and accepts the philosophical system of Objectivism, but then learns some new piece of knowledge, which they cannot integrate with the system. To them, it appears that this new fact contradicts some principle of Objectivism, that the two cannot be integrated into one system of knowledge. If we accept that Objectivism is true and not internally contradictory (which I do), then we are left with two possibilities: either this person's original idea of Objectivism was wrong, or there is some mistake in the connections they are forming between Objectivism and this new piece of knowledge; they are mis-integrating it.

Now, it seems that some people here think that only option A is possible; we know for sure that they didn't understand from the start. However, this line of reasoning implies that it is impossible for someone who does understand Objectivism to make a mistake when integrating knowledge; this line of reasoning requires us to assume that option B is impossible. Are the rest of us to take from this that you think that for Objectivists, reason and integration is now infallible? That it is impossible for a true Objectivist to make an epistemological mistake later in life? If so, I think you should check your premises. The proper application of logic and reason never becomes fully automatic or infallible. Forming and refining concepts will never be like forming percepts, no matter how much of a 'true Objectivist' you are.

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If we accept that Objectivism is true and not internally contradictory (which I do), then we are left with two possibilities: either this person's original idea of Objectivism was wrong, or there is some mistake in the connections they are forming between Objectivism and this new piece of knowledge; they are mis-integrating it.

Yes.

Now, it seems that some people here think that only option A is possible; we know for sure that they didn't understand from the start. However, this line of reasoning implies that it is impossible for someone who does understand Objectivism to make a mistake when integrating knowledge; this line of reasoning requires us to assume that option B is impossible. Are the rest of us to take from this that you think that for Objectivists, reason and integration is now infallible? That it is impossible for a true Objectivist to make an epistemological mistake later in life? If so, I think you should check your premises.

I see now. Thank you.

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Beats me, but some people just can’t respect disagreement.

Freedom of speech is the only way to respect disagreement. I would never force someone to agree with me.

Anarchism is a mess of contradictions: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anarchism , I wouldn't want to be associated with it.

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Given what the OP asked, I don't even think the reasons for abandoning Objectivism have to be rational, nor must they be correct (which is not quite the same thing--people can, operating rationally, make honest mistakes based on their context). He wants to know the percentage of Objectivists who abandon it, for whatever reason. (In point of fact the OP doesn't even stipulate that the "ex-Objectivist" have to have understood it correctly; the controversy erupted when someone claimed it was impossible for a "true" Objectivist to ever leave it.)

Agreed. The thread drifted right away was because of the assertion that the proper answer to what percentage of Objectivists remain so is 100%. There’s no data with which to answer the original question, so there wasn’t much to talk about.

And I don't claim to know his argument - and I didn't say he was absolutely irrational, I said "if" - he may very honestly consider one or more of his premises to be correct where we would disagree. I was, in other words, allowing for the possibility that he wasn't rationalizing, just mistaken. :)

Indeed, and I phrased my reply as an “if” statement as well. I do my best to avoid putting words into other people’s mouths.

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I am going to resspond to a mix of comments.

"Now he may be WRONG in his reasons for being a former Objectivist, I think so, at any rate. But to simply claim that he cannot have been an Objectivist in the first place is patently absurd."

You are saying that one can falsely claim to be an Obj.ist (e.g. do so without valid reasoning) and then say he was an Obj.ist before he abandoned it. Now that is absurd.

No I am NOT saying people can lie about being Oists or even genuinely believe themselves to be such but be wrong about it. Where in the hell did you get the idea that this is what I was arguing?

I am saying (for the umpteenth time now) that someone CAN be a genuine Objectivist and subsequently leave it behind. Actually I'll broaden the claim a bit: someone can understand Objectivism but not be an Objectivist, either because they left, or they never were one in the first place. You apparently are so unwilling to even entertain this possibility that you have to misinterpret everything I have said to "make sense of" it.

"There was no indication that the reason for leaving had to be rational. Just that it had to be an O-ist who left."

So an Obj.ist is one who would use rational reasons for leaving? Think about that a bit....

Until someone find something fundamentally wrong with Obj.ism, that can't happen.

Therefore he would be acting irrationally and/or not be an Obj.ist.

I was referring here to the question the OP asked. HE did not indicate in asking the question that he wanted to limit its scope to people who had rational reasons for leaving.

"Your claim is that no one who ever understood it can possibly decide to leave. You didn't exclude the possibility that someone formerly rightly supporting Objectivism could make a wrong decision and leave."

No, I said understood as was a true Obj.ist. How could he rightly support..., make a wrong decision, leave, and say he was previously a true Obj.ist? Not logical. if you mean he thought he "rightly supported" but did not in fact do so, then ok.

The OP never claimed correct or incorrect, rational or irrational leaving of Objectivism. As for whether it is possible for someone to leave Objectivism, having actually BEEN an Objectivist... this is the thing you cannot seem to concede might be possible. It's like Christians who say, on hearing that a preacher has become an atheist, claiming "well he must never really have been a Christian."

In the case of Smith, no one has denied the fact that he has been a long-term Libertarian; therefore, he necessarily was never a true Obj.ist. If he understood and accepted (part of the real question here) Obj.ism, why would he then discount Obj.ist principles? It had to be that he errored. But how can an Obj.ist error since he has to consistently use reason and be rational, and given that Obj.ism does not have known fundamental errors?

The issue isn't whether Smith is. or has ever been, a Libertarian, but rather whether he was ever an Objectivist.

But the real problem with your thinking is this, which I will quote again:

But how can an Obj.ist error since he has to consistently use reason and be rational, and given that Obj.ism does not have known fundamental errors?

You believe Objectivists are infallible. (Anyone who is fallible must not be an Objectivist?)

At this point, there's no point in arguing with someone who thinks he is infallible. I guess I was more on the mark than I realized when I accused you of acting like you were the pope.

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No. This just illustrates the fact that Objectivism has a definite identity, it does not mean that someone cannot at one point in their life fit this identity, and then later choose to reject part of it. Now, being an Objectivist myself, I think that someone who rejects it has made an error, but that's the whole point; people are fallible, and Objectivists are no exception.

What does it take for an Obj.ist to reject part of it? He would have to find something irrational about it, or he would have to be less than a full Obj.ist in the first place. Making an error and rejecting is not having been an Obj.ist.

Dante

This line of reasoning implies that it is impossible for someone who does understand Objectivism to make a mistake when integrating knowledge. Are the rest of us to take from this that you think that for Objectivists, reason and integration is now infallible? That it is impossible for a true Objectivist to make an epistemological mistake later in life? If so, I think you should check your premises. The proper application of logic and reason never becomes fully automatic or infallible.

No, those who understand Obj.ism can certainly make mistakes.

But those who correctly call themselves Obj.ists - i.e. have fully integrated it and accept it - will not likely make Epis errors of significance (where they contradict Obj.ism's fundamentals). If they do and recognize them, then they will correct their thinking. If they do and don't recognize them, then they still have not rejected Obj.ism.

Steve

[No I am NOT saying people can lie about being Oists or even genuinely believe themselves to be such but be wrong about it.

I did not say "lie". You said he could be "wrong" and I responded with "falsely claim", meaning wrong in claiming when he was not truly an Obj.ist.

"Someone can understand Objectivism but not be an Objectivist, either because they left, or they never were one in the first place. You apparently are so unwilling to even entertain this possibility that you have to misinterpret everything I have said to "make sense of" it."

I already agreed with your first part; but you refuse to acknowledge that that is not equiv. to "understand and accept." and that the latter is what an Obj.ist does.

"(The OP) did not indicate in asking the question that he wanted to limit its scope to people who had rational reasons for leaving."

But I was saying that an Obj.ist cannot have irrational reasons; therefore it was implied.

"You believe Objectivists are infallible."

Not at all. But how can they be true Obj.ists and be making irrational decisions to leave Obj.ism?

I will stop here. Steve, you who are not attempting to understand my points; I'm glad some others did show some understanding. You have not answered the key questions or presented an example that is valid that refutes my claim; I have addressed the invalid ones. And in your frustration. you get personal with nasty comments. Enough.

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No, those who understand Obj.ism can certainly make mistakes.

But those who correctly call themselves Obj.ists - i.e. have fully integrated it and accept it - will not likely make Epis errors of significance (where they contradict Obj.ism's fundamentals).

There's a big difference between 'not likely' and 'impossible;' between 'Most Objectivists remain Objectivists' and '100% do.' Decide which you are arguing for and stick to it.

If they do and recognize them, then they will correct their thinking. If they do and don't recognize them, then they still have not rejected Obj.ism.

So if they make an error and contradict Objectivism's fundamentals, they 'still have not rejected Objectivism'? How exactly do you figure that? Objectivism consists of much more than just honestly seeking the truth.

Edited by Dante
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Not at all. But how can they be true Obj.ists and be making irrational decisions to leave Obj.ism?

To think is a choice.

To think requires work.

To be rational requires work.

We are O'ists because, among other things, we value being rational.

So couldn't an O'ist simply become *TIRED*? Tired of arguing? Tired of living in a world surrounded by people who don't give a fig about being rational? Tired of fighting against the current?

Can an O'ist make a deliberate choice to stop thinking - and thus deliberately choose to stop being an O'Ist because they believe that not in their own lifetime nor many to follow will mankind change its course enough to sufficiently make a difference?

I mean - it's EASY to be an O'ist when you're surrounded by other O'ists - Rand herself illustrated that in AS - that's what Galt's Gulch was - respite for O'ists to recharge, renew, be around like minded people, be AWAY from the world for a while. We don't have that option.

So what if an O'ist just gets tired of it all and simply chooses, irrationally, to give up the fight and play by everyone elses rules?

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