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Do Objectivists Truly Understand the "Other Side" that They're Lambasting?

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Correct me if I'm wrong, but Ayn Rand made no real effort to engage with those whom she labeled "mystics" and "Subjectivists". I have read her notes, and although I have read records of her visiting places like steel mills to try to make that side of her Magnum Opus (Atlas Shrugged) sound more realistic, there are no records in her notes of her ever visiting "the mystics" or "the subjectivists" in order to truly understand the people she was criticizing. Yes, she grew up in Soviet Russia, but that was a regime that claimed the mantle of "logic" and "reason" and "objectivity" every bit as fervently as she. Now you or them or anyone else can argue as to who was the proper heir of that mantle, but the fact is that the Soviets claimed that mantle with equal fervor as she. There is no record within her notes of her delving into the world of people who were more or less self-proclaimed "mystics" and "subjectivists". If I had to guess, it's because she simply saw it as "beneath her".

With other high-profile Objectivists it seems to be the exact same story. As far as I can tell, Objectivists don't really have a handle on "the other side"; they fire off criticisms of "mystics" without really knowing what "mystics" are saying.

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Let me start with a fundamental problem with your position: you claim actual knowledge of the effort that Rand put unto understanding various bad philosophies, and moreover you find it to be insuffici

Why would I do that?  You are the one asserting that Objectivists don't understand the views of mystics/subjectivists.  You need to prove it.  

Ok, here it is: NONE. There. It's summarized. There's NOTHING mystics have to say that I don't understand. Now it's your turn to contradict that by naming something.

I spent eight of my most impressionable years attending a Catholic elementary school. I understand quite well what they were saying then, as I do now. That's all the reason I needed, when I declined the "holy sacrament" of Confirmation, and assumed the whole of all religions to be a waste of time.

 

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I thought to create this topic because since at least the beginning of the 2010's the battle lines have begun to be drawn up for a new "culture war", with "professional skeptics" such as James Randi, Michael Shermer, Richard Dawkins, etc. and their numerous followers on one side, and people such as Rupert Sheldrake, Tom Campbell, Robert McLuhan, etc. and their growing number of followers on the other side who claim to have evidence for "psychic" and "paranormal" phenomena.

I've been following this new culture war for the past few years now, and I tried very hard to give an equal hearing to both camps, but as time has worn on, I have increasingly found myself falling into the latter camp. I recently read Robert McLuhan's book "Randi's Prize" and listened to an interview about the book in which McLuhan makes a similar point to what I said at the outset of this thread: that the "skeptical" camp is not making nearly enough of an effort to understand what they are trying to criticize.

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2 minutes ago, Dustin86 said:

I thought to create this topic because since at least the beginning of the 2010's the battle lines have begun to be drawn up for a new "culture war", with "professional skeptics" such as James Randi, Michael Shermer, Richard Dawkins, etc. and their numerous followers on one side, and people such as Rupert Sheldrake, Tom Campbell, Robert McLuhan, etc. and their growing number of followers on the other side who claim to have evidence for "psychic" and "paranormal" phenomena.

I've been following this new culture war for the past few years now, and I tried very hard to give an equal hearing to both camps, but as time has worn on, I have increasingly found myself falling into the latter camp. I recently read Robert McLuhan's book "Randi's Prize" and listened to an interview about the book in which McLuhan makes a similar point to what I said at the outset of this thread: that the "skeptical" camp is not making nearly enough of an effort to understand what they are trying to criticize.

Do you understand what the mystics and subjectivists are saying?  Can you summarize some of their views and show us how Objectivists don't understand those views?  

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3 minutes ago, Craig24 said:

 Can you summarize some of their views and show us how Objectivists don't understand those views?  

No I can't, Craig. That's something you need to do, if you want to continue to criticize them. That's the point I'm trying to make. Understand something before you criticize it.

Edited by Dustin86
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2 minutes ago, Dustin86 said:

that the "skeptical" camp is not making nearly enough of an effort to understand what they are trying to criticize.

I agree, Dawkins in particular fails to understand what he criticizes. He is not a serious philosophical voice of reason. He's all Scientism. Good counter-arguments require understanding of the opposing side.

Rand did make errors for some of her criticisms, especially eastern philosophy. Still, she had good understanding of how altruism must be based on irrationality, and a lot of Christian morality.

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5 minutes ago, Craig24 said:

Why would I do that?  You are the one asserting that Objectivists don't understand the views of mystics/subjectivists.  You need to prove it.  

Ayn Rand wrote extensive notes about her visits to steel mills and her efforts to try to find out about the steel business and the railroad business to try to make that side of her magnum opus (Atlas Shrugged) more convincing. However, for just one example, Rand uses the phrase "the mystic muck of India" (and similar) several times without having made any effort to understand Indian philosophy or religion, and without ever having visited India.

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10 minutes ago, Dustin86 said:

Ayn Rand wrote extensive notes about her visits to steel mills and her efforts to try to find out about the steel business and the railroad business to try to make that side of her magnum opus (Atlas Shrugged) more convincing. However, for just one example, Rand uses the phrase "the mystic muck of India" (and similar) several times without having made any effort to understand Indian philosophy or religion, and without ever having visited India.

How do you know that Ayn Rand did not undertand Indian mysticism?  

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16 minutes ago, Dustin86 said:

For just one example, Rand uses the phrase "the mystic muck of India" (and similar) several times without having made any effort to understand Indian philosophy or religion, and without ever having visited India.

What didn't she understand about it? Or is that my job to figure out?

Edited by Nicky
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Look, I cannot read her mind from beyond the grave, if that's what you're asking for. However, I have read her 752 page Journals which contain detailed descriptions of visits to steel mills, notes about the steel business and the railroad business, etc. There is nothing in her writings about India other than that it (according to her) contains "mystic muck".

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22 minutes ago, Craig24 said:

How do you know that Ayn Rand did not undertand Indian mysticism?  

It's hard to boil it down. A lot of western philosophers aren't so aware of Eastern or Vedic philosophy. Rand only seemed to know about the wildly explicit mystical ideas of some forms of Hinduism. I can't say what she did understand, as she never spoke about it. At least any mention was hand-waving, and totally overlooking the other parts that were good. I mean, even the Greeks had some bad ideas.

EDIT: self-modded a part that I shouldn't have said.

Edited by Eiuol
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Just now, Dustin86 said:

Look, I cannot read her mind from beyond the grave, if that's what you're asking for. However, I have read her 752 page Journals which contain detailed descriptions of visits to steel mills, notes about the steel business and the railroad business, etc. There is nothing in her writings about India other than that it (according to her) contains "mystic muck".

So, when you said that "Objectivists don't really have a handle on the other side", that was just a lie you made up. There is no actual reason for you to say that. You have exactly zero evidence for it.

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48 minutes ago, Dustin86 said:

Look, I cannot read her mind from beyond the grave, if that's what you're asking for. However, I have read her 752 page Journals which contain detailed descriptions of visits to steel mills, notes about the steel business and the railroad business, etc. There is nothing in her writings about India other than that it (according to her) contains "mystic muck".

It contains "mystic muck"?  That's all she said?  Well that's interesting.  Do you know about Indian mysticism?  

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1 hour ago, Craig24 said:

It contains "mystic muck"?  That's all she said?  Well that's interesting.  Do you know about Indian mysticism?  

I don't know, I think you wouldn't get a whole lot of material besides a few scattered lines. At best she only had a few one-liners of Americans who pretend to be mystical and enlightened. See anyone who speaks about "healing crystals":

Indian mysticism is a misleading term. I know of some extremely mystical sects in Buddhism. Buddhism is mystical for metaphysics in some ways - and so was Aristotle in some ways. But I also know essentially non-mystical approaches Buddhism has with regard to seeking a good life and introspection.

For Indian (vedic) philosophy, this is one resource I know of as a really basic start.

https://www.reddit.com/r/philosophy/comments/1jhf60/in_defense_of_indian_philosophy/?st=iykp03gp&sh=43820692

 

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7 hours ago, Nicky said:

So, when you said that "Objectivists don't really have a handle on the other side", that was just a lie you made up. There is no actual reason for you to say that. You have exactly zero evidence for it.

Rather than "just a lie you made up", in the light of having zero evidence to substantiate it, would "just an arbitrary assertion" have worked just as well?

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2 hours ago, dream_weaver said:

Rather than "just a lie you made up", in the light of having zero evidence to substantiate it, would "just an arbitrary assertion" have worked just as well?

No, when someone is lying, calling their lies "arbitrary", or "alternative facts", or anything else, won't do you any good. The only English word that accurately describes someone intentionally stating something that isn't true is "lie".

By the way, the post you just replied to was originally deleted. Since you're a mod, would you mind explaining who and why deleted it, and who and why restored it?

There was also a thread I started, to complain about the deletion, that was deleted. Would you mind explaining why THAT was deleted? Or are these truths I'm not entitled to? And if so, why?

Edited by Nicky
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14 hours ago, Nicky said:

No, when someone is lying, calling their lies "arbitrary", or "alternative facts", or anything else, won't do you any good. The only English word that accurately describes someone intentionally stating something that isn't true is "lie".

That answers my question.

15 hours ago, Nicky said:

By the way, the post you just replied to was originally deleted. Since you're a mod, would you mind explaining who and why deleted it, and who and why restored it?

I restored it, in order to respond with my question. It was hidden as being provocative (exact wording eludes me.)

For what it's worth, "mystic muck" only appears in Galt's Speech, while her journal was comparing 1950's India with New York for contrast of lifestyle, which is dropping context if recent events in India are being substituted to draw what amounts to an erroneous conclusion.

 

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On 1/30/2017 at 5:41 AM, Dustin86 said:

Yes, she grew up in Soviet Russia, but that was a regime that claimed the mantle of "logic" and "reason" and "objectivity" every bit as fervently as she. Now you or them or anyone else can argue as to who was the proper heir of that mantle, but the fact is that the Soviets claimed that mantle with equal fervor as she.

Hang on, tovarisch. You just placed Ayn Rand on equal epistemological footing with Joseph Stalin on Objectivism Online.

What sort of response are you looking for here? Are you asking us to disprove your ridiculous assertion by demonstrating some sort of familiarity with whatever supernatural theories you won't even specify, so that we don't lose you to "the other side"?

You sound like you're already there, tovarisch.

 

On 1/30/2017 at 5:41 AM, Dustin86 said:

With other high-profile Objectivists it seems to be the exact same story. As far as I can tell, Objectivists don't really have a handle on "the other side"; they fire off criticisms of "mystics" without really knowing what "mystics" are saying.

Try me. B)

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On 1/30/2017 at 5:41 AM, Dustin86 said:

With other high-profile Objectivists it seems to be the exact same story. As far as I can tell, Objectivists don't really have a handle on "the other side"; they fire off criticisms of "mystics" without really knowing what "mystics" are saying.

9 hours ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

Try me. B)

I really should've elaborated a bit more. Sorry about that.

 

There is one and only one "rational" method of thinking. Whatever conclusions you reach by that method, regardless of whatever evidence is at your personal disposal, are rational; whatever you conclude for any other reason is irrational. I use "conclusion" here with a special emphasis on commitment. There's nothing irrational about the guess-and-check method unless it becomes guess-and-cling-to-forevermore.

The number of alternative ways someone could arrive at their beliefs (I.e. the number of possible forms of irrationality) is unlimited. They could go by the Bible. They could go by their elders' beliefs or The Party's beliefs or they could go by their negations. They could go by whatever undigested impressions they take from whatever random experiences. They could go by the stars or the weather or the behavior of birds or something they once saw in a bad acid trip. There is an infinity of wrong options.

 

If your only complaint is the way we1 (O'ists) lump all "irrational philosophies" into a single bucket - we1 do that because Objectivism is the only philosophical system that fits with "reason" from top to bottom (in essence and in sum if not in every microscopic detail). Wecan rationally demonstrate that this is true and that it is (again, demonstrably) the single most important factor in the quality of every single one of ourlives. It's a very real difference which weought to take very seriously.

 

If you have some particular philosophy in mind - name it! I'm far too familiar with the various tribes of Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Gnosticism, Wicca, Satanism (Theistic and LaVeyan), a handful of pagan pantheons, the ritualistic methods of Aleister Crowley and the Indian death cult of which Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom was such a good caricature. I did some ideological scavenging before I found Objectivism and most of it is still there, today, wasting some irretrievable portion of my brain. I'd love to put it to some use by explaining to you what's wrong with any particular one but you have to pick one. I will not run through them all, individually, just for your amusement.

 

If you'd be a bit more specific I'd be happy to discuss it (whatever it is). If not then have some music, anyway. It's good for the soul.

Footnote 1:

I'd like to apologize for my somewhat cavalier use of "we", in that sentence, but if you consider yourself an Objectivist and also believe that reason is either useless or meaningless then I simply don't take any account of you. Life is too short, you know?

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold
Unexpectedly saucy music video!
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