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Intellectual heir?

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**MOD NOTE** To be clear, I did not start discussion on this inane "inside baseball" topic. it was split from this thread: http://forum.objecti...showtopic=22166 (-sN)

An "intellectual heir" is not the same category as a "legal heir". A "legal heir" is a designation. A person can designate one or more other people as being their legal heirs. An "intellectual heir" is an evaluation. An intellectual can evaluate one or more people as being their legal heirs. By doing so, all they would be saying is that -- in their evaluation -- those people understand their ideas and use their ideas as a starting point in their own intellectual work.

If Plato says "Aristotle is my intellectual heir", it is completely legitimate for someone else to question that evaluation. Plato knows his own philosophy, but may be misunderstanding Aristotle. Also, Aristotle may be Plato's intellectual heir at the point Plato made the evaluation, but he may later cease to be. (In fact, the term "intellectual heir" is so loose that one might say that Aristotle can reject some of Plato's ideas and still be Plato's intellectual heir if he builds on other ideas of Plato.) Centuries later, one might say St. Paul is Plato's intellectual heir, even though Plato never knew him, nor is there any chain of persons making such evaluations, from Plato down to St. Paul.

The phrase "legal and intellectual heir" is a neat marketing line, because it reinforces the evaluation, giving it the connotation of a designation. Unfortunately, too many people seem to read too much into this. All said and done, calling someone the intellectual heir of another person is just an evaluation.

Edited by softwareNerd
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As Carl Sagan said, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. It’s easy to demonstrate that Rand did name an “intellectual heir”, see the “About the Author” section of Atlas Shrugged, any printing pre-1968. Where’s the comparable replacement statement of designation?

Exactly, there isn't a shred of evidence for that. Moreover, it would be extremely unlikely that she would make the same error twice, giving another person a blank cheque to speak in her name.

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I'd "vote your post up" if it wasn't anonymous.

I grant you a green button.

Huh? What does anonymous mean around here? I’m the same Ninth Doctor who posts on OL. Here’s a demonstration. I don’t want my name on my profile, having found that there are some not so savory characters lurking in Rand-land. I used to have my name on my profile, and you’ll notice that many people (over there) refer to me as Dennis. I can't help noticing that you're name isn't on your profile either. Or is Volco like Spock, meaning you only have the one name?

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Huh? What does anonymous mean around here? I’m the same Ninth Doctor who posts on OL. Here’s a demonstration. I don’t want my name on my profile, having found that there are some not so savory characters lurking in Rand-land. I used to have my name on my profile, and you’ll notice that many people (over there) refer to me as Dennis. I can't help noticing that you're name isn't on your profile either. Or is Volco like Spock, meaning you only have the one name?

You're funny. I was saying I agree and that I'd vote that comment up, but then you wouldn't know who did, so I just say "i grant thee a green point".

You may call me Matt or Mati, my nickname is my real name, mistake from a better era.

actually you'd know that if you used the search function on that link

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Exactly, there isn't a shred of evidence for that. Moreover, it would be extremely unlikely that she would make the same error twice, giving another person a blank cheque to speak in her name.

Amen. Now comes the uncomfortable part: what does it say about the person who claims such a designation if it wasn’t granted? Are we talking dishonesty inspired by envy for the only person who ever was so designated, or a desire for an unearned respect…how to explain it in a way that doesn’t reflect badly on him? I wouldn’t say this the same as a draft dodger claiming to be a combat veteran with a purple heart, but that’s the analogy that springs to mind.

It’s a controversy that is easily ended: produce the proof. The closest we have is the preface to The Ominous Parallels, published after Rand’s death, where she writes that Peikoff is an Objectivist philosopher. Compared to her praise of Nathaniel Branden in Atlas Shrugged (and later), when she actually used the terms “intellectual heir”, it’s quite tepid. This issue has been raised repeatedly for decades now, why not put it to bed?

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Amen. Now comes the uncomfortable part: what does it say about the person who claims such a designation if it wasn’t granted?
It isn't a designation, but an evaluation (as explained above). In Peikoff's case, it is a claim. I believe many other Objectivist intellectuals can make the same claim and it would be just as valid.

BTW, even if Rand named Peikoff her intellectual heir, and even if she and Peikoff think of it as a designation, it does not change its actual nature. It remains an evaluation.

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Amen. Now comes the uncomfortable part: what does it say about the person who claims such a designation if it wasn’t granted? Are we talking dishonesty inspired by envy for the only person who ever was so designated, or a desire for an unearned respect…how to explain it in a way that doesn’t reflect badly on him? I wouldn’t say this the same as a draft dodger claiming to be a combat veteran with a purple heart, but that’s the analogy that springs to mind.

It’s a controversy that is easily ended: produce the proof. The closest we have is the preface to The Ominous Parallels, published after Rand’s death, where she writes that Peikoff is an Objectivist philosopher. Compared to her praise of Nathaniel Branden in Atlas Shrugged (and later), when she actually used the terms “intellectual heir”, it’s quite tepid. This issue has been raised repeatedly for decades now, why not put it to bed?

Boy, you really have unfound suspicions re Peikoff! You don't know she did not grant him "intellectual heir"; I have every reason to believe that she did and that he is honest about it. I was among known Objectivists at the time of her death and fully understood that Peikoff was assigned the position of intellectual heir.

She gave Branden too much credit, in retrospect. But why is it so hard to believe that Peikoff replaced Branden in her mind? In fact, in the end, she regarded him much more of an Objectivist.

Is there really any reason to continue this discussion? Does it have any bearing on how Obj.ists should look up to the "experts" et al?

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It isn't a designation, but an evaluation (as explained above). In Peikoff's case, it is a claim. I believe many other Objectivist intellectuals can make the same claim and it would be just as valid.

BTW, even if Rand named Peikoff her intellectual heir, and even if she and Peikoff think of it as a designation, it does not change its actual nature. It remains an evaluation.

No, no others could possibly make such a claim. How can you say that?

"Evaluation": what are you saying?

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No, no others could possibly make such a claim. How can you say that?"Evaluation": what are you saying?
Read the post I linked to. Of course I can claim that Matthew was Jesus's intellectual heir. It is not Jesus's prerogative to make such claims. Jesus can say that anything that Matthew says should be assumed to be just as valid as what he (Jesus) himself says; but that would be designating him as some type of incarnation, not evaluating him as an intellectual heir. There is no way Rand would designate someone in that sense, since she was fully aware of human volition (made all too real by her having changed previously published evaluation of Branden).

Just because Peikoff is unaware of people who are experts at Objectivism, does not mean there are none.

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It isn't a designation, but an evaluation (as explained above). In Peikoff's case, it is a claim. I believe many other Objectivist intellectuals can make the same claim and it would be just as valid.

BTW, even if Rand named Peikoff her intellectual heir, and even if she and Peikoff think of it as a designation, it does not change its actual nature. It remains an evaluation.

I disagree with your evaluation of the situation. In one of his podcasts, within the last year I think, he implies that she did in fact refer to him as her “intellectual heir”. I gather you recognize that this is probably not the case. Even if she did, it could never be a guarantee of the quality of future work or moral behavior. It was a bad idea from the get go.

But why is it so hard to believe that Peikoff replaced Branden in her mind?

In her mind? She went to the trouble of designating Nathaniel Branden as her intellectual heir in writing, published writing. She did no such thing for Peikoff. Do you recognize a difference here?

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In one of his podcasts, within the last year I think, he implies that she did in fact refer to him as her “intellectual heir”. I gather you recognize that this is probably not the case
I assume you're referring to this podcast. If Peikoff says Rand referred to him in those terms, I would believe him. I have no problem with believing him, because I think he is one of her intellectual heirs, along with a few others. He would be so even if she never said anything about it. Edited by softwareNerd
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I assume you're referring to this podcast. If Peikoff says Rand referred to him in those terms, I would believe him. I have no problem with believing him, because I think he is one of her intellectual heirs, along with a few others. He would be so even if she never said anything about it.

This is what it says at www.peikoff.com (emphasis added):

At the age of 17, Leonard Peikoff was invited to the home of Ayn Rand, the novelist and Objectivist philosopher. Thus began a friendship that lasted until her death in 1982. Today, Dr. Peikoff is Rand's legal and intellectual heir - and the world's foremost authority on Objectivism.

If I understand you, softwareNerd, you'd say that several people could be Ayn Rand's intellectual heir, according to our (reasoned) evaluation. But the use of the term from Peikoff's site...? I don't know. Suggests to me that there exists only those heirs -- legal and "intellectual" -- designated by Rand; that is, only Leonard Peikoff. It appears to be a title, which makes sense because "heir" conjures "inheritance."

Of course, ideas can't be inherited. The sense that you mean, like recognizing the development of ideas from Plato to Plotinus to Augustine, is fine and well, but that's a judgment I'd rather leave for posterity anyways. I can't imagine that Plotinus saw himself as (or would proclaim himself) "Plato's intellectual heir." He probably wanted to be remembered as Plotinus.

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I can't imagine that Plotinus saw himself as (or would proclaim himself) "Plato's intellectual heir."
He probably didn't have a web-site to market ;)

More seriously though, when it comes to books, lectures and so on, Dr. Peikoff's potential market is people who are looking for further development of Rand's ideas. It makes sense to stress that aspect, particularly when it is true (i.e. that most of what he has done is organize and elaborate Rand's ideas).

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He probably didn't have a web-site to market ;)

More seriously though, when it comes to books, lectures and so on, Dr. Peikoff's potential market is people who are looking for further development of Rand's ideas. It makes sense to stress that aspect, particularly when it is true (i.e. that most of what he has done is organize and elaborate Rand's ideas).

Hmmm... it's interesting. When speaking of an "intellectual heir" to Rand (in the sense you've meant), do I imagine someone who "organizes her ideas"? Or an intellectual of similar stature? The former, while perhaps necessary, sounds... somewhat uninspiring. Almost bureaucratic. No, I think that I'd be looking for something closer to the latter; a profound mind with an unparalleled command of reason and rhetoric. Someone able to take us the next step down the path that Atlas Shrugged, et al., began. Am I judging Peikoff unable to do such a thing? No. That would be unfair. But I'd at least say that I don't think he's yet accomplished anything worthy of being Rand's "intellectual heir" on a historical scale.

To go back to Plato, we don't speak today of all of his students or generally pronounce them Plato's "intellectual heirs," no matter how faithful they were to his initial teachings. Those who get mentioned, in my experience, do so on the basis of their own genius.

Regarding marketing... I see what you're saying, and I mostly agree. Certainly he needs to reference Rand in some manner. But can we agree that, at best, "intellectual heir" is a problematic formulation? Objectivism's strength above all is that it's grounded in reason. When I hear "intellectual heir" and my reaction is "but no; one cannot inherit ideas; this is nonsensical," then it seems to work contrary to its purpose, which is to entice Objectivism's natural market -- those who prefer their philosophy to make sense. In short, Peikoff's styling himself as Rand's "intellectual heir" has always made me less likely to approach him and his ideas, not more.

Further, it leads me to worry that Peikoff does really believe himself to be Rand's intellectual heir in the sense of having received a unique title carrying special privileges. You can see that kind of viewpoint manifest in this thread, here:

Assuming you are talking about philosophical topics, I would conclude that only Peikoff is a true "expert." [...]

Peikoff cannot name a successor to him because he is not convinced that anyone else has his expertise.

And here:

Rand selected [Peikoff] as the "owner" of the philosophy, and he has been given the right to do the same.

Hierarchy at the "top" is important to guide the spread of the philosophy, to identify the errors of others, etc.

If Peikoff has similar views -- and his use of "intellectual heir" at least puts me on notice that he may -- then it will be hard to reconcile them with my beliefs that no one owns a philosophy, and that there is no hierarchical authority to "identify the errors of others" apart from my own mind. In my confusion, I might even conclude that Peikoff himself is irrational. Whatever he gains, marketing-wise, can't be worth this, can it? And if he's *really* Rand's heir in the historical sense, then why not just market himself the same way that Rand marketed herself? Write things that shake people to their core and blast them with their honesty and insight. If he wrote Atlas Shrugged Pt. II (not literally that, but something on par, whether fiction or non-), do we think it wouldn't sell today, for some reason? Or if he's incapable of doing something like that, lacking the skill or the genius or etc... then--again--in what sense is he Rand's "intellectual heir"?

Let him write Atlas Shrugged Pt. II. We'll read it, and then, should it prove worthy, we'll adjudge him (fairly) Rand's "intellectual heir" in the sense that you've been supporting. But till then, his use of the term only raises fears in my mind (perhaps groundless?) that he believes himself to have some sort of special, particular "ownership" of Objectivism which is not, in truth, in reality, available to anyone.

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When speaking of an "intellectual heir" to Rand (in the sense you've meant), do I imagine someone who "organizes her ideas"? Or an intellectual of similar stature? ...

To go back to Plato, we don't speak today of all of his students or generally pronounce them Plato's "intellectual heirs," no matter how faithful they were to his initial teachings. Those who get mentioned, in my experience, do so on the basis of their own genius.

Google tells me that the term "intellectual heir" is seldom used. Here are Google's top findings, if I ignore Objectvism-related ones:

  • Manning Marable was intellectual heir to W.E.B.DuBois (link)
  • Sarah Palin ... to Ronald Reagan (link)
  • Robert DeMeo... to Wilhelm Reich (link)

It seems, the term is virtually unused. I would not be surprised if the authors of those linked articles read Rand at some point, and the phrase stuck in their minds. I don't read Rand's description of "intellectual heir" as specifically meaning either of those alternatives you suggest. I read it to mean an intellectual who understands and agrees with her philosophy, and continues to work in that tradition. So, it could mean someone who does either, or a mix of both.

Regarding marketing... I see what you're saying, and I mostly agree. Certainly he needs to reference Rand in some manner. But can we agree that, at best, "intellectual heir" is a problematic formulation? Objectivism's strength above all is that it's grounded in reason. When I hear "intellectual heir" and my reaction is "but no; one cannot inherit ideas; this is nonsensical," then it seems to work contrary to its purpose, which is to entice Objectivism's natural market -- those who prefer their philosophy to make sense. In short, Peikoff's styling himself as Rand's "intellectual heir" has always made me less likely to approach him and his ideas, not more.
The phrase itself has not made any difference in my own inclination of read Peikoff, nor in my evaluation of him. To inquisitive folk who do not know who he is, it would simply tell them that he's someone who is following in Rand's tradition; if people know a little about who he is, the phrase does not add much new information. As for others, if people did not already know who he was, I guess it would appeal to some and put off others. Mostly though, people who don't already know who Peikoff is would not pause on such a phrase. Only students of Objectivism would actually dwell on the phrase, and spend time arguing about it.

Further, it leads me to worry that Peikoff does really believe himself to be Rand's intellectual heir in the sense of having received a unique title carrying special privileges. You can see that kind of viewpoint manifest in this thread, here:
I agree that the sense in which some people take it is wrong. All said and done, many Objectivists seem to read more into the phrase than Rand intended. When she used the phrase, she was praising a protege, saying that he was an intellectual in her tradition. Every now and then, Peikoff's detractors use it to criticize him for usurping some designation. However, their will always be detractors... actually, of the people who take the phrase for more than it says, the ones who worry me are not the ones who say Peikoff has usurped a designation, but the ones who take it to mean some valid transference of authority. Apart from setting up a straw-man for detractors to jeer at, they worry me because it is tougher to rid a movement of dogmatists, because they seem to agree with a lot that the movement says.

If Peikoff believes there is some type of transference the way some posters here do, then he is wrong too.

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Now comes the uncomfortable part: what does it say about the person who claims such a designation if it wasn’t granted?

More food for thought:

hitchens.jpg

The line was crossed out, by hand, by Mr. Hitchens himself. Now, imagine some other protégé of Gore Vidal, say, Johann Hari (this schmuck), waiting until after Vidal’s death to start saying he’s “Vidal’s Dauphin”, while providing no evidence that Vidal ever said so. Every publication includes it in the byline, at every public appearance it's mentioned in the intro. A couple decades later, an interviewer asks Hari what he likes best about being the Dauphin, and he says he likes "having the power to make definitive statements on philosophical issues".

Of course, this analogy breaks down since Johann Hari is a writer people have already heard of (what would he gain?), however some people really do look up to Gore Vidal in such an exalted way.

Edited by Ninth Doctor
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If Peikoff has similar views -- and his use of "intellectual heir" at least puts me on notice that he may -- then it will be hard to reconcile them with my beliefs that no one owns a philosophy, and that there is no hierarchical authority to "identify the errors of others" apart from my own mind. In my confusion, I might even conclude that Peikoff himself is irrational. Whatever he gains, marketing-wise, can't be worth this, can it? And if he's *really* Rand's heir in the historical sense, then why not just market himself the same way that Rand marketed herself? Write things that shake people to their core and blast them with their honesty and insight. If he wrote Atlas Shrugged Pt. II (not literally that, but something on par, whether fiction or non-), do we think it wouldn't sell today, for some reason? Or if he's incapable of doing something like that, lacking the skill or the genius or etc... then--again--in what sense is he Rand's "intellectual heir"?

Let him write Atlas Shrugged Pt. II. We'll read it, and then, should it prove worthy, we'll adjudge him (fairly) Rand's "intellectual heir" in the sense that you've been supporting. But till then, his use of the term only raises fears in my mind (perhaps groundless?) that he believes himself to have some sort of special, particular "ownership" of Objectivism which is not, in truth, in reality, available to anyone.

There clearly is a lack of respect for Peikoff floating around here; and you wonder why he and other "experts" don't participate?

You might conclude he is irrational? Where does that come from?

If he does not write a fiction book equiv. to AS, then he proves himself incapable? Really? His existing works don't speak for themselves?

And all the quesitoning about him being "intellectual heir": you just don't believe him?

Were you around Rand's associates from the days of Branden to her death and learned something I and others don't know?

Do you have reason to believe that Peikoff was Rand's "second mistake" (as noted by someone)?

Is it the questioning of Peikoff and perhaps others in ARI and elsewhere that leads to the debate on the appropriateness of some Obj.ist hierarchy or on who is an expert?

And how is all this questioning relating to the topic at hand?

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And how is all this questioning relating to the topic at hand?

It is the topic at hand. This is a new thread, broken off from the discussion of why “major” Objectivists don’t participate in online forums. If that’s what you want to discuss, proper netiquette would have you doing it on that thread, not here.

His existing works don't speak for themselves?

I gather you have a very high opinion of his published work. Not everyone shares your evaluation. Google “butcher of Konigsberg” for a particularly trenchant critique.

And all the quesitoning about him being "intellectual heir": you just don't believe him?

Were you around Rand's associates from the days of Branden to her death and learned something I and others don't know?

One may ask the same question of you. Are you aware of some facts the rest of us have overlooked? Maybe you have a late 70’s copy of the “Objectivist Calendar”, where an official announcement was made? How about a recording of an unavailable FHF question period, or Rand backstage at the Donahue show introducing Peikoff to strangers saying: “meet my intellectual heir”. I’m ready to be convinced.

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.

A rose by any other name . . .

In 1976 Rand wrote the following of a new 12-lecture course that Leonard Peikoff had prepared in consultation with her: "Until or unless I write a comprehensive treatise on my philosophy, Dr. Peikoff's course is the only authorized presentation of the entire theoretical structure of Objectivism, i.e., the only one that I know of my own knowledge to be fully accurate." This series of lectures was titled The Philosophy of Objectivism. These lectures were recorded, then heard for several years around the country in a controlled social format—no pirating—by groups of people who paid to hear the lectures. I heard the recorded lectures and took 53 pages of notes. The recordings included Q&A following the lectures, and Rand participated in these (once she had recovered well enough from a major surgery). It was stated at these lectures, and through years after, that Peikoff would work the lectures into a book. This he completed in 1991.

That book is Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand. It is. The book is indeed true to the content of his lecture series, which were, by Rand's own statement, an accurate presentation of her philosophy. Fortunately, Peikoff references his statements in the book to Rand's own published writings. This is a help in checking for oneself how truly it expresses Rand's philosophy.*

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A rose by any other name . . .

Stat rosa pristina nomine, nomina nuda tenemus...

There’s no question that Rand approved of Peikoff’s work, it is the claim that she named him her “intellectual heir” that is at issue. And also, the implications if she didn’t, especially noting that she did previously use those exact terms to describe someone else.

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There clearly is a lack of respect for Peikoff floating around here; and you wonder why he and other "experts" don't participate?

The main concern here is whether any evidence can be offered that Rand actually designated Peikoff as her intellectual heir, as he claims. Backing up one's claims is (or should be) routine for any academic or intellectual, and in general the same would be asked of Objectivist experts in a formal academic discussion setting. I therefore fail to understand why this attitude by forum-goers would keep any experts away.

Now, if all he means by intellectual heir is what softwareNerd takes from it, an intellectual who follows in the tradition of Rand and builds on her work, then the claim is backed up by the books, articles, and lectures that he has produced. However, this would not seem to give him an exclusivity on this title in any way, and in fact I could think of several others who would also qualify based on the work they have produced.

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There clearly is a lack of respect for Peikoff floating around here; and you wonder why he and other "experts" don't participate?

I'm prepared to give him whatever respect he earns. That's my policy for everyone. You may wonder whether his designation of Rand's "intellectual heir" entitles him to additional respect, prima facie? It does not; titles do nothing for me.

However, if his use of the title is irrational -- as I fear it may be, though have not yet concluded such -- then my respect for Peikoff will suffer.

You might conclude he is irrational? Where does that come from?

From here:

Further, [his use of the term "intellectual heir"] leads me to worry that Peikoff does really believe himself to be Rand's intellectual heir in the sense of having received a unique title carrying special privileges.

To elaborate, I fear that Peikoff might think himself to have some special role qua Objectivism to "identify the errors of others," as I believe you'd suggested earlier in the thread. This seems to me an irrational position, as I do not believe that such a position is available in reality. The identification of errors can only happen by the individual mind, which admits no authority higher than itself. Objectivism cannot have a Pope.

On the other hand, softwareNerd has staked out a meaning for "intellectual heir" where many people could lay claim to the designation, with or without Peikoff's (or Rand's) knowledge or blessing: "an intellectual who understands and agrees with her philosophy, and continues to work in that tradition." Per this definition, you could conceivably also be "Rand's intellectual heir," as could I. This view seems fine to me, but I don't believe it's what you take "intellectual heir" to mean. Perhaps I'm wrong? Do you agree with softwareNerd's assessment of the term?

What do you think "intellectual heir" means, exactly?

If he does not write a fiction book equiv. to AS, then he proves himself incapable? Really?

I don't know. Incapable of what? Incapable of writing a fiction book equivalent to Atlas Shrugged? Perhaps. I don't know. If Peikoff could do such a thing, would he want to? Too speculative....

But I was addressing a couple of different senses that "intellectual heir" could mean, here. Specifically, I was considering whether Peikoff had shown himself to be a genius on Rand's level. Maybe he has and I just haven't familiarized myself with his work well enough? I don't know. But in that sense of "intellectual heir," I'd be reluctant to give it to Peikoff until I was satisfied that he did have comparable skill and insight to Rand (not necessarily fiction writing, but something).

Suppose we were to say that Rand was "Aristotle's intellectual heir," meaning that she was a genius of his stature, every bit as revolutionary and perceptive, or perhaps more. That Rand is worthy of "Aristotle's mantle." Would Peikoff measure up to Rand (and Aristotle) in that same fashion?

His existing works don't speak for themselves?

If you have something specific you'd like to direct me to, by all means. My exposure to Peikoff's works have been limited, and not greatly inspired me to dig deeper.

Again, and with respect to softwareNerd's earlier surmise that Peikoff's use of "intellectual heir" was savvy marketing, it actually has depressed my interest in his work. Perhaps sN's right -- perhaps different people react differently to it?

And all the quesitoning about him being "intellectual heir": you just don't believe him?

Were you around Rand's associates from the days of Branden to her death and learned something I and others don't know?

Can't speak for anyone other than myself, but personally it's less a question of "belief" and more a question of what the heck "intellectual heir" is supposed to mean. I mean, let's say that Rand came up to Peikoff one evening and said, "Leonard, you are my intellectual heir!" Great. But what did she mean by that? What did Peikoff take it to mean/what does he mean by it on his website? And what am I supposed to think it entails?

Again, if it's simply sN's assessment -- intellectual Objectivists working in Rand's tradition -- then I have no problem with it. But that doesn't seem to map completely with how I've seen it used (the timbre of it, if you will), nor how I think you've been referring to the "hierarchy" within Objectivism, or how Peikoff somehow "owns" the philosophy and can name his own "successor."

So the issue (again, for me) is less "did Rand proclaim Peikoff to be her 'intellectual heir'?" and more "what is meant by 'intellectual heir'?"

Do you have reason to believe that Peikoff was Rand's "second mistake" (as noted by someone)?

No. But then, I don't know that I have reason to believe that Branden was her "first mistake," if I take you right. If we're now discussing Rand's assessment of other peoples' character, I don't know that it interests me a great deal. At that point, we're no longer talking about metaphysics, ethics or epistemology, but the interpersonal relationships of folks from about a half-century ago. If, however, we're talking about Peikoff's (or Branden's) philosophy, then I don't know of any shortcut apart from judging what they say and do on its own merit. Peikoff's claim to "intellectual heir" tells me nothing about whether what he has to say is any good or not. And frankly, the same goes for Branden and the scorn that he's apparently received. I've not read his books and so I can't tell you much about them.

Or is this an error on my part? Should I base my assessments of people's beliefs and character on the say-so of my "betters"?

Is it the questioning of Peikoff and perhaps others in ARI and elsewhere that leads to the debate on the appropriateness of some Obj.ist hierarchy or on who is an expert?

My apologies, but I don't think I understand the meaning of your question.

I do note the word "expert" however, and I'll simply seize on that for this question: with regards to philosophy, do you think that there is any appropriate time for a person to defer his own judgment to that of an "expert"?

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If you have something specific you'd like to direct me to, by all means. My exposure to Peikoff's works have been limited, and not greatly inspired me to dig deeper.

The products of his that I've been told are of particularly high quality (by people whose opinions I respect) are his lectures Understanding Objectivism and Objectivism through Induction. Unfortunately, I do not have firsthand experience with either, as they are prohibitively expensive, but Understanding Objectivism is slated to be released in book form next year, which I am greatly looking forward to.

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The products of his that I've been told are of particularly high quality (by people whose opinions I respect) are his lectures Understanding Objectivism and Objectivism through Induction. Unfortunately, I do not have firsthand experience with either, as they are prohibitively expensive, but Understanding Objectivism is slated to be released in book form next year, which I am greatly looking forward to.

Excellent -- thank you. Based on what I've read thus far across these forums, your recommendation carries weight, and I anticipate being an "early adopter" of Understanding Objectivism when it releases. :)

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