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wonder if you'd consider me an objectivist

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so it's been a while since I've posted on these forums, you may recall my heretical and purposefully evocative thread titled "I'm thinking about leaving objectivism"

I'm curious (although not particularly concerned) whether some of you would consider me an objectivist or not, here are my credentials:

-I think epistemologically, empiricism/reason is clearly superior/proper, I'm am a firm atheist without a trace of mysticism/agnosticism/whimsy

-I want free market capitalism/individual rights enforced by a small government.

-I think full egoism is deeply moral, and its converse is conversely/abjectly depraved

-I find romantically realistic art to be the most life affirming

-Metaphysically, I think the universe is fixed/absolute/solid/objectively to be mastered

-I say these things "on one foot", but I have comprehensively studied/read all of Rand's/Peikoff's/Branden's non/fiction, as well as other media by objectivists (podcasts, op-eds, public appearances, speeches, etc etc.)

I bring that up so you know I'm not someone who read The Fountainhead and loosely said "hey yeah that sounds good", it's more of "hey wow that is my philosophy realized, and my identity understood in a heretofore unexperienced rational context. This is coming from someone who's also read a lot of works of other philosophers and has a broad understanding of what the stakes are.

things you would probably dislike about me:

I think there is/was a dogmatic streak in Rand/Peikoff/ARI, and I think that's very hypocritical. This is probably my biggest contention. I liken it this way..let's say you are driving down a highway, and you see signs that say that your exit is in 50 miles (read: objectivism). You can then check your own map and have it confirmed. You see a lot of these signs. At the last sign, despite what your map says and what all they other signs said, it says that there is no exit. You are confused, and therefore have to disregard that particular sign while still appreciating those signs which continue to point the way and help you orient yourself.

You should know I'm not choosing whim over dogma, I'm saying if you really don't bullshit yourself, you will agree that there is institutional dogmatism in the objectivist movement. This is why I think Rand was right to be hesitant over the formation of an objectivist organization like the ARI. It's too dangerous, and even though we may think we are mature/independent enough to be able to have a organization of objectivists, it has not occurred.

I agree with Stefan Molyneux that it doesn't make sense to call your philosophy "objectivism" in the same way that you don't call evolution "Darwinism". It's evolution, and "objectivism" is philosophy. In the same vein It annoys me how Rand (allegedly) wanted other people to conform to some of her preferences, and personal opinions. Even though I think a large amount of the heat that's been directed at Rand's personal life is completely bunk, and stems from people desperately evading/looking for a chink in her armor, and not finding much to work with. Even so, it does appear that too many objectivists did/do kowtow to what they think she would have preferred. And keep in mind this is coming from a person who agrees with Rand about the morality (and subsequent necessity) of judgment.

Here's a third thing. I'm a lot less hostile than a lot of objectivists to what is largely called libertarianism. I respect/support Ron Paul for various reasons, and have no qualms about calling myself a libertarian. (Hell, Yaron Brook has even called Oist politics libertarian "in a non-Rothbardian" sense). I don't agree with some of Yaron Brook's criticism of Ron Paul. You can attack Ron Paul for a lot, and be right, but he's still far closer to the position of individual rights than a mainstream republican than whoever Brook would support in 2012. I'm a lot less hostile towards anarcho-capitalism than a lot of my fellow capitalists, even though I'm not and have never been an anarchist, and ultimately think it's contradictory. I appreciate the works of ancapists as a valid part of the theoretical work for capitalism.

my laptop is running out of battery, but these are some of the main reasons I'm no longer calling myself a student of objectivism, despite the life altering influence it has and will continue to have on me as I continue to study and live it. I understand the fact that objectivism is truly unique. There are no philosophies like it. It really is an achievement of the ages. So maybe you'd think me an objectivist seeing as in many ways (about 90-95%) still find it to be my philosophy. I think I basically am, but sans a few items of flotsam. I'd be interested to hear your replies if you care to share them.

Edited by James Bond
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... I'm curious (although not particularly concerned) whether some of you would consider me an objectivist or not, here are my credentials:.. ...
If I take what you say in this post at face value and go solely by that, then you agree completely with all the essentials of Objectivism. If you actually attempt to use these ideas in your life, it would imply that you agree with and practice the essentials of Objectivism. If that does not make you an Objectivist, I don't know what would. Edited by softwareNerd
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If I take what you say in this post at face value and go solely by that, then you agree completely with all the essentials of Objectivism. If you actually attempt to use these ideas in your life, it would imply that you agree with and practice the essentials of Objectivism. If that does not make you an Objectivist, I don't know what would.

Interesting. I guess you would be in the camp that says "philosophical essentials actualized are what is needed to be an Oist"

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so it's been a while since I've posted on these forums, you may recall my heretical and purposefully evocative thread titled "I'm thinking about leaving objectivism"

I'm curious (although not particularly concerned) whether some of you would consider me an objectivist or not, here are my credentials:

Heresy? A bit melodramatic there, don't you think? Why do you consider any of your beliefs to be "credentials"? A credential is a qualification, an evidence of status or authority. Why should anyone care, least of all you? Why is this a dilemma for you?

I think there is/was a dogmatic streak in Rand/Peikoff/ARI, and I think that's very hypocritical. This is probably my biggest contention. I liken it this way..let's say you are driving down a highway, and you see signs that say that your exit is in 50 miles (read: objectivism). You can then check your own map and have it confirmed. You see a lot of these signs. At the last sign, despite what your map says and what all they other signs said, it says that there is no exit. You are confused, and therefore have to disregard that particular sign while still appreciating those signs which continue to point the way and help you orient yourself.

You should know I'm not choosing whim over dogma, I'm saying if you really don't bullshit yourself, you will agree that there is institutional dogmatism in the objectivist movement. This is why I think Rand was right to be hesitant over the formation of an objectivist organization like the ARI. It's too dangerous, and even though we may think we are mature/independent enough to be able to have a organization of objectivists, it has not occurred.

Why? A little short of evidence and proof there. What does your map/sign metaphor mean?

I agree with Stefan Molyneux that it doesn't make sense to call your philosophy "objectivism" in the same way that you don't call evolution "Darwinism". It's evolution, and "objectivism" is philosophy.

Molyneux's position is nonsense. This seems like playing with words. Objectivism is philosophy? Okay, but this doesn't tell us much. Stoicism is philosophy, but Stoicism isn't Objectivism. Objectivism is a philosophy, but not all of philosophy that ever existed. To say otherwise would be to assert that Rand is the only philosopher to ever exist, and there was no philosophy before Rand, an insane proposition.

This kind of confusion seems to stem from a kind of dogmatism of its own. Some people seem terribly afraid that there could ever be anything false or wrong in Objectivism, so Objectivism needs to be an "open system" that can change according to truth, or else it's a dogma. Objectivism, thus, needs to be "all truth in philosophy."

But there are problems with this. First, dogma does not mean a philosopher's system of thought that doesn't reflect truth. A dogma is belief in something without proof. So if someone holds to any philosophy without proof, he is holding a dogma, regardless of that philosophy's truth-vale. So in this context, if someone refuses to accept Objectivism is false in defiance of the evidence, then he is holding a dogma, but this says nothing about why Objectivism itself would need to change.

Second, since man is limited and fallible he can never know "everything that is ever true, ever" so the pursuit of an "open system" encompassing "all truth in philosophy" defeats the entire point of philosophy and philosophic systems in the first place.

Lastly, this doesn't allow any differentiation between what is Rand's philosophy and what isn't. That's kind of the whole point of naming something, after all. If you wanted to call "Objectivism" all truth that ever exists, then you still need a word to call "that which constitutes the thought of philosopher X, Y, or Z." Objectivism means Randianism, basically, the thought of a specific philosopher. Since the thought of a specific philosopher is something specific, the law of identity does not permit it to change according to truth.

The dogma comes from not changing your beliefs, not from refusing to pretend someone said something other than what they said. In fact, the "open system" people are dogmatists because they would like to pretend exactly that, and are essentially afraid "OMG what if Rand had it wrong on something?! What do we do then?! We can't call ourselves Objectivists then! Oh no!" No, then you have to choose between Objectivism and the truth, and hopefully you choose the truth and then move on with your life. This doesn't tell us why Objectivism would suddenly morph into something that it isn't, or why it should be expected to.

In the same vein It annoys me how Rand (allegedly) wanted other people to conform to some of her preferences, and personal opinions. Even though I think a large amount of the heat that's been directed at Rand's personal life is completely bunk, and stems from people desperately evading/looking for a chink in her armor, and not finding much to work with. Even so, it does appear that too many objectivists did/do kowtow to what they think she would have preferred. And keep in mind this is coming from a person who agrees with Rand about the morality (and subsequent necessity) of judgment.

But this doesn't make sense. If someone holds a belief or a preference or a personal opinion, then of course they would want other people to accept them as true, or else they would not hold them (they would hold something else.) Isn't your statement itself a personal opinion that you want other people to accept? Why then, if you don't like Rand's preference on something, does it bother you so much? Who cares? Why does it matter that Rand thought Dvořák and Rachmaninoff was better than Beethoven and Mozart? Why is this a problem for anyone? Isn't that a bit creepy to be so worked up about such a thing? Why does it matter that you "be an Objectivist" so much? That's what creeps me out about your posts on here more than anything.

I'm going to have to agree with your last point on Ron Paul, though. Of course, one shouldn't interpret all disagreement with "hostility," and certainly there is plenty of unjustified hostility on the libertarian side. While it is a fact that some libertarians, maybe a lot of them, are just plain scum, no better than any commie or conservative, and I get there is need for some branding between ARI and LvMI. That being said, I don't get all the hostility towards Ron Paul. Amy Peikoff's critique of him was terrible, and Yaron's recent comments about him are bafflingly misinformed at the least, intentionally malicious at the worst. I don't get why ARI won't engage with the Mises people instead of treating anarcho-capitalism as persona non grata, so to speak. The Mises people, while the vast majority are anarchists, are willing to publish philosophic material, including on Objectivism, to sell Objectivist books, to discuss and publish papers on Objectivism. The level of scholarship, including sometimes on Objectivism, being put out by the Mises Institute is so vastly higher than ARI, it's quite disappointing.

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Things you would probably dislike about me:

I think there is/was a dogmatic streak in Rand/Peikoff/ARI, and I think that's very hypocritical.... I'm saying if you really don't bullshit yourself, you will agree that there is institutional dogmatism in the objectivist movement. This is why I think Rand was right to be hesitant over the formation of an objectivist organization like the ARI. It's too dangerous, and even though we may think we are mature/independent enough to be able to have a organization of objectivists, it has not occurred.

If there is some dogmatism in the "movement", there isn't in the philosophy, per se. Your judgment should be based on the latter.

I agree with Stefan Molyneux that it doesn't make sense to call your philosophy "objectivism" in the same way that you don't call evolution "Darwinism". It's evolution, and "objectivism" is philosophy. In the same vein It annoys me how Rand (allegedly) wanted other people to conform to some of her preferences, and personal opinions.

The name is a convenience and "evolution" is not a philosophy that needs a name.

Re Rand's dealings with close friends, that too should not affect your judgment of the philosophy.

I'm a lot less hostile than a lot of objectivists to what is largely called libertarianism. I respect/support Ron Paul for various reasons, and have no qualms about calling myself a libertarian. (Hell, Yaron Brook has even called Oist politics libertarian "in a non-Rothbardian" sense). I don't agree with some of Yaron Brook's criticism of Ron Paul. You can attack Ron Paul for a lot, and be right, but he's still far closer to the position of individual rights than a mainstream republican than whoever Brook would support in 2012. I'm a lot less hostile towards anarcho-capitalism than a lot of my fellow capitalists, even though I'm not and have never been an anarchist, and ultimately think it's contradictory. I appreciate the works of ancapists as a valid part of the theoretical work for capitalism.

Perhaps you are unaware of the true differences between Libertarianism and Obj.ism; e.g. Lib. does not fully accept Obj.ism's morality. To Brook and others, it does not matter how much closer Paul is to Obj.ism than other candidates when one is talking philosophically (vs. purely politically). Again, nothing here to question Obj.ism about.

So to the extent that you let such subjective factors deter you from Objectivism, then you are correct to not call yourself an Obj.ist and you need not ask the original question.

But if you can get past them and accept Obj.ist principles fully, then you should feel comfortable with the title.

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You should know I'm not choosing whim over dogma, I'm saying if you really don't bullshit yourself, you will agree that there is institutional dogmatism in the objectivist movement.

What if someone REALLY, REALLY doesn't bullshit themselves and they come to a different conclusion than you've come to? If you spent enough time around this forum, you will realize that this kind of statement really means nothing. I would say most people on this forum REALLY, REALLY do think for themselves and not bullshit themselves while doing so and each come to different conclusions sometimes.

What it really boils down to is that you are saying, if you really think about it, you will agree with my position. If you don't agree with my position, you must be wrong.

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If there is some dogmatism in the "movement", there isn't in the philosophy, per se. Your judgment should be based on the latter.

Agreed.

Perhaps you are unaware of the true differences between Libertarianism and Obj.ism; e.g. Lib. does not fully accept Obj.ism's morality. To Brook and others, it does not matter how much closer Paul is to Obj.ism than other candidates when one is talking philosophically (vs. purely politically). Again, nothing here to question Obj.ism about.

Libertarianism is not a whole philosophy, it is a political philosophy, one that is involved with multiple different philosophies. If you accept that premise than it wouldn't be possible for libertarianism to "fully accept" Oism's ethics. Objectivism is one of those philosophies. I understand that Brook/others don't think Paul is close to being an objectivist. Neither is Glenn Beck, but Brook chose to go on his show multiple times. You have to make use of what you can, and right now Paul is a better option than Romney. And I know he's said he thinks Paul would tarnish the reputation of his type of views, but I don't think he's right about that. We don't have the luxury of waiting (decades) for the culture to be ready to elect an objectivist, let alone to a position where he/she can have an effect. Unless someone better chooses to run, Paul is the one I would support. Here's the segment where Brook talks about Paul:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UPmmuVO93h4

So to the extent that you let such subjective factors deter you from Objectivism, then you are correct to not call yourself an Obj.ist and you need not ask the original question.

But if you can get past them and accept Obj.ist principles fully, then you should feel comfortable with the title.

that would be true if you were right that my reasons for truancy are subjective. But they're not.

Edited by James Bond
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[...] these are some of the main reasons I'm no longer calling myself a student of objectivism, [...]

This is the number one reason I wouldn't consider you an Objectivist: because you don't consider yourself one.

The number two reason I wouldn't consider you an Objectivist is because you don't capitalize the word, which means you don't really know to what Objectivism refers: it is the philosophy of Ayn Rand. I think this is related to what you say here:

I think there is/was a dogmatic streak in Rand/Peikoff/ARI, [...]

You should know I'm not choosing whim over dogma, I'm saying if you really don't bullshit yourself, you will agree that there is institutional dogmatism in the objectivist movement.

I'm not sure exactly what you are referring to. It couldn't be that Ayn Rand was a dogmatist since she explicitly said that one should study the philosophy and validate all of the premises and conclusions oneself using one's own mind. So the only thing I can think of is that Peikoff, ARI, and all Objectivists understand that Objectivism is one thing and it is one thing in particular. It is Ayn Rand's philosophy, she was its originator, discoverer, enumerator and promulgator and she is dead. Thus Objectivism is what it is and won't be changed. It doesn't contain every truth that is know but as far as I'm concerned every philosophic idea enumerated in Objectivism is true.

If that is what you consider to be "dogmatic", then you are right not to call yourself an Objectivist.

As far as your summation "standing on one foot", if this was an inquisition, I would have to know why you accept all of those conclusions and you would have to be able to prove them to me for me to accept your responses.

Another reason I wouldn't consider you an Objectivist is that anarchism has nothing to do with capitalism and accepting anarchism as proper would lead to a society's destruction more quickly than almost any other false ideology.

This is why I think Rand was right to be hesitant over the formation of an objectivist organization like the ARI. It's too dangerous, and even though we may think we are mature/independent enough to be able to have a organization of objectivists, it has not occurred.

ARI is an organization of Objectivists and a pretty good one at that.

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Now who is the dogmatist?

um, I never said you were, and what I said there wasn't dogmatic. I said that there can't be two logical answers to one logical question.

This is the number one reason I wouldn't consider you an Objectivist: because you don't consider yourself one.

Hmm.

If that is what you consider to be "dogmatic", then you are right not to call yourself an Objectivist.

That's not what I consider dogmatic about people in the objectivist movement. I addressed that in my OP.

Another reason I wouldn't consider you an Objectivist is that anarchism has nothing to do with capitalism and accepting anarchism as proper would lead to a society's destruction more quickly than almost any other false ideology.

I agree that anarchism and capitalism can't co-exist, but in the intellectual history of capitalists/anti-statists, some are anarchists, and I reckon with that fact, and I even though I don't agree with their conclusion, I agree with their premise (individual rights) and some of the work they do to fight for things like property.

ARI is an organization of Objectivists and a pretty good one at that.

For sure, I don't mean to knock ARI. But I do have my concerns about some things I hear, even if it ends up that those claims are not sound.

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Why are you concerned at all?

haha, should I take that as a 'no'?

I wasn't going to make this thread because I'm not concerned, but then I decided to because it would be interesting to see why some here would agree/disagree with my reasoning, and potentially give me some more data to work with.

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um, I never said you were, and what I said there wasn't dogmatic. I said that there can't be two logical answers to one logical question.

That's not what you said. You wrote:

I'm saying if you really don't bullshit yourself, you will agree that there is institutional dogmatism in the objectivist movement.

In other words, anybody who disagrees with you is not merely wrong, but dishonest.

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haha, should I take that as a 'no'?

Not at all. There's no Objectivist principle that states that ARI as an organization has a healthy environment, or that Rand's personal opinions are gospel, or that Ron Paul is a negative force in the current fight for liberty, and certainly not one about asking others to evaluate oneself in some manner. I just don't get the heavy emphasis on the label. Knowing who you are, what you believe, and why you believe it is primary.

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In other words, anybody who disagrees with you is not merely wrong, but dishonest.

Yes, and yes. But I wouldn't say dishonest. It's not dogmatic to say "exactly" when someone demonstrates that you are only choosing to express one point, and that you firmly believe in your point. With the dogmatism I brought up, it was/is "this is my point, and if you don't agree than you have to leave ARI while I get to retain the authority to dictate who leaves when questioning my points." It's a strange thing. Each person has to decide on their own whether Peikoff has a better grasp on reality than say someone he booted (back when he was president), but his nobody questions Peikoff's authority because no one questions Rand's authority. That's an extreme to illustrate my point, and its coming from someone who has a lot of respect for both of those individuals.

Edited by James Bond
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Yes, and yes. But I wouldn't say dishonest. It's not dogmatic to say "exactly" when someone demonstrates that you are only choosing to express one point, and that you firmly believe in your point.

Your claim is stronger than the statement that anyone who disagrees with you is wrong. You said that anyone who disagrees with you is "bullshitting himself," i.e. lying to himself.

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Your claim is stronger than the statement that anyone who disagrees with you is wrong. You said that anyone who disagrees with you is "bullshitting himself," i.e. lying to himself.

Yeah. You are lying to yourself if you don't think there's a history of dogmatism in the objectivist movement, from the 50's to today. While there is dogmatism in many movements, it is particularly egregious in the objectivist movement where you would think it would be the last place you would find it, in a place were independent thinking is valued above all. You have to question everything, even the person who told you to question, even me. That's what independent thinking is. It has to be you and the conclusions that you alone form based on what you observe without the backup of Ayn Rand, or other objectivists, even if it makes you an outcast. It's a high price but sign me up.

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Yeah. You are lying to yourself if you don't think there's a history of dogmatism in the objectivist movement, from the 50's to today.

Then don't say that you're just claiming "there can't be two logical answers to one logical question." You're impugning the honesty of people who are familiar with the Objectivist movement and don't agree with your conclusions. For somebody who is opposed to dogmatism, you're a little quick to attack the characters of your opponents.

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I should add, too, that I disagree with all 3-4 of these dumbass wars, and they have bankrupted us just as much as the mafia-control-welfare state has.

I agree that the enemy is Islamofascism, and I agree that it needs to be brutally crushed before it eventually attempts to crush us. But as it is,these "strategic military actions" (not wars) have done more harm than good, emboldened the enemy, and added to the national debt. It's time to bring the all the troops home years ago, and to get serious or accept that these 'wars' will go on forever, waste more money, lose more soldiers, and only help the enemy's cause.

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Then don't say that you're just claiming "there can't be two logical answers to one logical question."

Okay, let me clarify here then that I mean both that statement and the issue of people bullshitting themselves.

You're impugning the honesty of people who are familiar with the Objectivist movement and don't agree with your conclusions.

Correct. If you think something is right logically, and you think someone is avoiding that logic, then there is an element of self-deception (or evasion) involved. Keep in mind the degree, too. I'm not yelling "you are all evaders if you disagree" but I am highlighting the fact that if you don't see this logical truth, you are are "bullshitting" yourself.

For somebody who is opposed to dogmatism, you're a little quick to attack the characters of your opponents.

I don't think I've attacked anyone's character, if you got that impression I'd double check it. I've said that there are people who are wrong, dogmatic, and are lying to themselves, but that's been part of my argument from the start, and it isn't a character "gotcha" to get around a debate. I can see how if you are on the receiving end of that accusation it could feel like your character is being attacked, but I don't think that's the case. Questioned, I could see.

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You are lying to yourself if you don't think there's a history of dogmatism in the objectivist movement, from the 50's to today...

Evaluating the character of an entire movement of people and ideas is quite an involved task, and involves drawing from many different people's accounts of events and evaluating the objectivity and trustworthiness of the people giving accounts. As such, I see no reason whatsoever to suppose that people who come to different conclusions than you are lying to themselves. It's not like the Objectivist movement is some physical object somewhere and we can just look at it to see whether it's dogmatic or not. Personally, I haven't seen any evidence of dogmatism in today's Objectivist movement that doesn't involve some action or statement by Peikoff, who (as I understand it) currently has almost no involvement in the activities of ARI. My personal interactions with people at ARI have been entirely devoid of any kind of dogmatism or intellectual bullying. When I contacted ARI about requesting their help in starting an Objectivist club at my university, I was incredibly surprised by how little he asked me about my knowledge of and experience with Objectivism. All that I was asked was whether or not I had read Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead. From some of the rumors I had heard circulating about ARI, I half expected him to ask me whether I thought Objectivism was a closed system or not; there was absolutely none of that.

Also, most of the Objectivists I've talked to are right there with you on the worthlessness of the U.S.'s current wars, myself included.

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Okay, let me clarify here then that I mean both that statement and the issue of people bullshitting themselves.

Alright.

Correct. If you think something is right logically, and you think someone is avoiding that logic, then there is an element of self-deception (or evasion) involved. Keep in mind the degree, too. I'm not yelling "you are all evaders if you disagree" but I am highlighting the fact that if you don't see this logical truth, you are are "bullshitting" yourself.

My point is that "My opponents disagree with me because they're avoiding logic" is quite a strong claim, and without quite a bit of knowledge about their characters and the ideas they hold, you don't have the evidence to prove it.

I don't think I've attacked anyone's character, if you got that impression I'd double check it. I've said that there are people who are wrong, dogmatic, and are lying to themselves, but that's been part of my argument from the start, and it isn't a character "gotcha" to get around a debate. I can see how if you are on the receiving end of that accusation it could feel like your character is being attacked, but I don't think that's the case. Questioned, I could see.

Unless you don't see honesty as a part of one's character, accusing someone of dishonesty is a character attack.

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My personal interactions with people at ARI have been entirely devoid of any kind of dogmatism or intellectual bullying. When I contacted ARI about requesting their help in starting an Objectivist club at my university, I was incredibly surprised by how little he asked me about my knowledge of and experience with Objectivism. All that I was asked was whether or not I had read Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead. From some of the rumors I had heard circulating about ARI, I half expected him to ask me whether I thought Objectivism was a closed system or not; there was absolutely none of that.

I had someone (understandably) from ARI tell me that a ARI summer conferences were geared toward closed system advocates, because it was put together by the ARI and not TAS. Now I'm actually kind of a closed system guy (how do you add to empiricism? etc) but "closed" and "open" sometimes means "do you you agree with almost all the philsophical and many of the personal opinions of Brook, Peikoff, and Rand?"

Also, most of the Objectivists I've talked to are right there with you on the worthlessness of the U.S.'s current wars, myself included.

I haven't talked to a lot of objectivists, so I wouldn't know. I would say they are harmful, worse than worthless.

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