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Intro to Objectivist Epistemology

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Hi Clive,

You are not alone. ITOE can be quite hard to understand. Could you perhaps be more specific. What is it that you have a hard time understanding? Because, depending on what it is, I might be able to recommend different types of courses. Salmieri's course might be helpful to you, but its focus is to give you an overview of the Objectivist epistemology, not a detailed chewing of concept-formation.


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I understand completely. It I had to struggle to go deep into epistemology and ignored the more complex ideas for a long time. I “got” the basics but understanding in-depth sort of came up 1+1=banana at first. I’ve always been fascinated by economics and business, so my interest level usually kept me away from OTOE after the initial reading (around ‘95). There is nothing wrong with that either as specialization of interests is natural for individuals and healthy for a proper society. That is why Peikoff constantly beats on philosophers more than the politicians of today that ape their ideas in practice - They were the specialists that set the ideas that others, who naturally specialize in other fields, have accidently accepted.

I’ve recently returned to the subject to delve deeper since I am at the point that debating and communicating ideas has forced me to get my thinking in order. Long story short – I’m trying to get more involved locally to help with political change, or at least prevent future disasters in my corner of the world, and when working with people on political ideas the virtue of a proper epistemology really shines. Understanding hierarchy for example goes a long way to sort people ideas out when they don’t understand why religious arguments can’t be used to defeat a progressive, or helping some college kid understand why capitalism as he has been taught is invalid not only in content but even by its definition.

Really it is about cleaning up then clarifying your metal house.

I’d hunt down the notes on OO Grames wrote on various lectures on this, they are invaluable. ARI also has lectures on mp3 at cheap prices now. I’m currently listening to the Art of Thinking and it is a treasure trove of examples.

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Hi Clive,

Hope you return to Rand’s very rich Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology (ITOE) again and again through the years. It may be helpful to also read Leonard Peikoff’s Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand by way of getting the broader strokes of her epistemology, then return to ITOE.

A nice exposition of and perspective on much of Rand’s theory of concepts has been written by Allan Gotthelf and is available here. My own elaborations upon Rand’s theory are here and here.


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