Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum

A good (for once) explanation of objectivism to laymen

Rate this topic


Recommended Posts

Pretty good, but I have some doubts about the historical claims. Where did Plato divide philosophy into metaphysics, epistemology, ethics and politics? He wrote on all these topics, but I'm not aware of his having laid down this taxonomy. Rand, in any case, would add a fifth - esthetics - and Plato wrote about that, too.

Rand argued, following Aristotle, that Ontology was the proper area of Metaphysics and that Cosmology should be reserved for the physical sciences.

This is the exact opposite of the truth. The ancients freely mixed the two, and Rand is in direct opposition to him on this. Somewhere in her early Atlas Shrugged diaries she says that he was at his worst when he didn't observe the distinction.

Rand's remark about Aristotle being a "moderate realist" needs a lot more scholarly support than she ever gave it. If the author had said that Rand said this about him, he'd be on safe ground, but to attibute the position to Aristotle directly is hasty.

Link to post
Share on other sites

From your link:

Rand was an empiricist. She argued that ultimately all knowledge and deduction had to rest on empirical facts and that our senses were our point of contact with reality. She accepted that humans had no built-in ideas, and had to build their ideas from observations.

That description of Rand's view seems accurate but Rand herself would have objected to being called an empiricist. From the Lexicon:

[Philosophers came to be divided] into two camps: those who claimed that man obtains his knowledge of the world by deducing it exclusively from concepts, which come from inside his head and are not derived from the perception of physical facts (the Rationalists)—and those who claimed that man obtains his knowledge from experience, which was held to mean: by direct perception of immediate facts, with no recourse to concepts (the Empiricists). To put it more simply: those who joined the [mystics] by abandoning reality—and those who clung to reality, by abandoning their mind.
Link to post
Share on other sites

The fact that she didn't like to be called an empiricist doesn't prove that she wasn't. That would be a good dissertation topic for somebody. In the meantime I wouldn't take the link's word for it.

That description of Rand's view seems accurate but Rand herself would have objected to being called an empiricist. From the Lexicon:

While I don't know Rands specific stance on being an empiricist I do agree with the examples you quoted and think we may just be splitting hairs.

Rand's remark about Aristotle being a "moderate realist" needs a lot more scholarly support than she ever gave it. If the author had said that Rand said this about him, he'd be on safe ground, but to attibute the position to Aristotle directly is hasty.

I think the purpose of the article though was more to inform the casually interested of the facts about objectivism rather than to write a citable paper.

That is pretty good, but tvtropes.org is not a place I (or many others?) would ordinarily go to for explanations of philosophy.

Yes I was surprised how accurate it really was and how well it explained the philosophy without coming off as self important; a problem many objectivists seem to have sometimes :stuart: . I think I will use this write up whenever I need to explain objectivism to someone who is not already sympathetic to it without throwing OPAR or other books at them lol.

Link to post
Share on other sites

"Empiricist" is a terrible way to describe Ayn Rand's philosophy. It adds no more information than just saying "she wasn't a rationalist", but it adds massive amounts of potential confusion.

Ayn Rand's argument for her axioms, the foundation of Objectivism, has nothing to do with any kind of empiricism whatsoever. If anything, your average empiricist would call it a rationalist argument and dismiss it.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Rand was an empiricist. She argued that ultimately all knowledge and deduction had to rest on empirical facts and that our senses were our point of contact with reality. She accepted that humans had no built-in ideas, and had to build their ideas from observations.

That's not what an empiricist is, and that's a misstatment of what Rand argued.

Empiricists disdain concepts, thought and the operation of the mind. They focus on the outer, and dispense with standards, principles and conceptualization. They believe concepts are subjective, arbitrary or social, without any basis in reality. They think that deduction is useless, and they reject induction. They reject the mind and rely only on the senses. They claim there is no moral knowledge and no absolute truths or certainty (they are fundamentally skeptics).

While Objectivism does argue that the senses are our only point of contact with reality, and that knowledge must be grounded in reality, it goes further by saying that the mind plays an active role in the construction of knowledge -- such as through conceptualization, using deduction, induction, measurement omission, and so on.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...