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I'm co-hosting a new podcast with Scott Schiff called Ayn Rand Fan Club. We met on Facebook and have a similar interest in discussing the Objectivist movement. This first episode addresses the issue of schisms and coalitions within the movement. In that light we take a critical look at several clips from the Yaron Brook Show. I hope you check it out and subscribe to the channel. And if you have constructive criticism, I'd like to hear it. Thanks.

 

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William and Scott: A contribution to get the ball rolling. Harking back to earlier days, and how much has changed and hasn't. One could start at the 25min mark if time-constrained.  

I firmly believe this is because Rand was frequently irrational about personal relationships, and her closest professional associates emulated this. The consequences were significant, not just a matte

I disagree with this: Objectivism is closed and nobody can add to it. Keeping it closed protects it from people who would misrepresent it. It means that if somebody wants to know about Objectivis

That was a decent discussion and here's my two cents.

You can rest assured that Objectivism will not peter out in ten years. Longer spans of time is the friend of Objectivism.

Yaron disagreeing with the fact that the Objectivism movement's leadership has long had a tendency for schisms is a self created blind spot (evasion).

The tendency for schisms exists even in this forum.

For instance, there was the thread about: is Objectivism being an Open or closed system. 

The tendency to call people not Objectivists or even "evil", has had a long history. Branden engaged in it and later brought up the fact that it was a problem. It was clearly personality issue with Rand herself.

Yes, I said it, and I am an Objectivist.

The way that I have settled on is: I find Objectivism as being the closest thing that I believe in terms of alternatives.
Egoism, Objective reality, the need for self esteem etc., are not things I have faith in, they actually explain the real world accurately. Since I agree with her on abstract issues, in a discussion, I self identify as an Objectivist, even thought I know I disagree with somethings or I don't understand somethings.

This unfortunate and painful tendency of the Objectivism movement became evident in the 70's with the  many excommunications.

So the schism tendency has existed for a long time and it's best that we are honest about it, to examine it, to handle it properly. 

Meanwhile there was some familiar (Swigish) whitewashing of the actual and proper difference between Objectivism and being an "American" conservative. Just as we would not consider leftists who are legalizing marijuana as ally's, there is a similar problem with the religious right.

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7 hours ago, whYNOT said:

Harking back to earlier days...

Thanks. I watched the whole talk. He identified a problem for intellectual movements as the conflict between the integrity of the ideas and the independence of individual people. He said you can't open your door to any idea that comes along because you won't have any content left. I think he had adopted the same wrong mindset that existed at ARI. It's this idea that an Objectivist movement should take care to uphold the integrity of Ayn Rand's ideas. No, it should uphold that which is true among Ayn Rand's ideas. And if it turns out that Ayn Rand was completely wrong, then we should gladly accept that we have no content left, because we've replaced it with even better, correct content.

Now I don't say that to suggest that Rand's ideas might all be discovered to be wrong or half-true, but this is about one's orientation toward the truth over Ayn Rand's ideas. If Rand got it right, so be it. If she got it wrong, or slightly wrong, then we need to choose what's right. An intellectual movement, any intellectual movement, should focus on finding the facts and believing what's true about reality. Movements that lose sight of that goal turn into dogmatic institutions zealously protecting content for the sake of protecting content.

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5 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

For instance, there was the thread about: is Objectivism being an Open or closed system. 

Was that a schism or debate? To me a schism would be the forum segregating into areas for "open" people and areas for "closed" people, or a faction simply being banned from participating.

5 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

Just as we would not consider leftists who are legalizing marijuana as ally's, there is a similar problem with the religious right.

Legalizing marijuana is not a major aspect of Objectivism. I don't think it compares to the capitalists among religious conservatives who like Rand.

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2 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

Was that a schism or debate? To me a schism would be the forum segregating into areas for "open" people and areas for "closed" people, or a faction simply being banned from participating.

 

Objectivism is an *open-ended* system, I maintain.

Whatever is "new under the sun" (that's discovered in future) will slot right in. (Will be integrated with previous knowledge).

Or else? Otherwise: 'reality' is fake and ever-changing and our minds are ineffective. Which are the most impossible claims. 

Then, I admit I never quite understood that open/closed fight. It seems pointless or superfluous. Rand left a methodology, one can and should engage with and work out reality for oneself, not a gospel.

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5 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

. Movements that lose sight of that goal turn into dogmatic institutions zealously protecting content for the sake of protecting content.

Right. My take is that No One, not an association nor an individual, has the intellectual and moral authority to decree -

You are an Objectivist. And you are not.

That's much to do with dogmatic zealousness, like we are sending out O'ist missionaries who will properly promote The Word. Here's where intrinsicism steps in, Kelley's main point, that the contents of someone's mind can be revealed to you. As well as that their independence is to be respected.

Of course one can and should argue on many occasions, saying to someone: that's not true to reality. Or, equally, that's not true to the Objectivist principles. But they themselves are the only ones who can know their minds and all are on separate paths at differing levels of comprehension.

There was some intellectual jealousy in those early days, I guess. Sort of: Your intellectual advance means my loss...

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2 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

Legalizing marijuana is not a major aspect of Objectivism.

Liberty is a core aspect of Objectivism. The legalizing issue, politically, is a huge achievement that has been pushed for many many years without success (It will fix a lot of racial issues too). Conservatives would never do it. It is a very pronounced difference between Conservatism and Objectivism that you won't see.

2 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

I don't think it compares to the capitalists among religious conservatives who like Rand.

Correct, that is what you think. State Capitalism or Mercantilism is not laissez fair Capitalism. You think that they won't vote your property away for the public good? If you think they don't think that the government should control some companies, think again. Not much difference than the leftists in this regard.

And as far as personal freedom, gay rights, prostitutions, legalizing drugs, if you don't see it, I can't explain it.

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8 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

This unfortunate and painful tendency of the Objectivism movement became evident in the 70's with the  many excommunications.

I firmly believe this is because Rand was frequently irrational about personal relationships, and her closest professional associates emulated this. The consequences were significant, not just a matter of personal dispute. Nathaniel Branden made significant contributions but he was essentially thrown to the curb and all his contributions ignored and denied. I'm sure there are many more examples.

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6 hours ago, whYNOT said:

Objectivism is an *open-ended* system, I maintain.

Whatever is "new under the sun" (that's discovered in future) will slot right in. (Will be integrated with previous knowledge).

Or else? Otherwise: 'reality' is fake and ever-changing and our minds are ineffective. Which are the most impossible claims. 

Then, I admit I never quite understood that open/closed fight. It seems pointless or superfluous. Rand left a methodology, one can and should engage with and work out reality for oneself, not a gospel.

I disagree with this: Objectivism is closed and nobody can add to it.

Keeping it closed protects it from people who would misrepresent it. It means that if somebody wants to know about Objectivism there is only one place for them to go: Ayn Rand, because she wrote it.

This doesn't mean reality is fake or should be ignored or anything like that: I can, and must, still add to my knowledge, and this may include adding to my own philosophical ideas, if appropriate.

After all, Objectivism says to base your ideas on reality -- not merely on Objectivism itself, and not on Ayn Rand.

If I find it necessary to add to Objectivism, the addition is not part of Objectivism; it's mine.

5 hours ago, whYNOT said:

Right. My take is that No One, not an association nor an individual, has the intellectual and moral authority to decree -

You are an Objectivist. And you are not.

My take is opposite there, too: anyone can say that someone is or is not an Objectivist. But nobody can compel anybody else to agree with such a pronouncement (which might be correct or might not).

Perhaps surprisingly, I find that I don't often care whether or not somebody is an Objectivist. I do care if they are a liar, thief, murderer, etc., and it can also matter to me if they are mistaken, if the mistake affects me, regardless of whether the mistake is an honest one.

As far as using one's own judgment and judging other people, there is a proper way and an improper way. (This is also true of reason in general.) It's proper to use your judgment to protect your life and all the things that go with it (your friends, your property, etc., and this includes protecting your ideas from misrepresentation), but I don't think it's proper to use judgment as a club to beat others with, or to use it as some sort of public display.

I believe in self-defense, and I believe that criminals should have to give back what they have taken (to the extent possible), but I don't believe in "punishment" per se.

If somebody makes a mistake, reality will "punish" them enough. Reality can be very unforgiving. Aside from self-defense (if appropriate), I don't have to do anything.

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2 hours ago, necrovore said:

I disagree with this: Objectivism is closed and nobody can add to it.

Keeping it closed protects it from people who would misrepresent it. It means that if somebody wants to know about Objectivism there is only one place for them to go: Ayn Rand, because she wrote it.

This doesn't mean reality is fake or should be ignored or anything like that: I can, and must, still add to my knowledge, and this may include adding to my own philosophical ideas, if appropriate.

After all, Objectivism says to base your ideas on reality -- not merely on Objectivism itself, and not on Ayn Rand.

 

You say disagree, and then go onto agreeing. Based on reality itself is what I recognize and uphold. Perhaps you overlook what I said about new future discoveries (reality, itself) which cannot contradict reality.

Do they modify Objectivism, change it? Never and not in the least.

Think a moment about "open-ended", like one's concepts, this cannot disturb what is the main conceptual corpus of knowledge. New discoveries do not conflict - they AFFIRM Objectivism, its metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, politics...

I think you read "open" in open-ended and jumped to a conclusion.

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10 minutes ago, whYNOT said:

You say disagree, and then go onto agreeing...

I think you read "open" in open-ended and jumped to a conclusion.

OK. Your original meaning wasn't clear to me. Sorry about that.

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2 hours ago, necrovore said:

My take is opposite there, too: anyone can say that someone is or is not an Objectivist. But nobody can compel anybody else to agree with such a pronouncement (which might be correct or might not).

.

Anyone "can say".

Well, sure, but reading carefully I said that no one can DECREE with intellectual/moral authority who is NOT Objectivist.

Keeping in mind the sort of authoritarianism and banishments that typified O'ist circles.

See the difference? Definitely not that nobody has the intellectual right to speak out, instead that not anyone can authorize who is, is not.

Even then, I don't attack the individual himself - as if I have revealed access to his mind - I would prefer to take on his words and ideas.

I.e. Saying and showing to him: "This is not real, not moral, not Objectivist" - rather than "YOU are not Objectivist".

Apart from being more honest and just, I think it is the objective way to correspond with other thinkers.

I have to parse my words carefully around here. ;)

 

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1 hour ago, necrovore said:

OK. Your original meaning wasn't clear to me. Sorry about that.

All fine, man. I've done some fast judgments myself, when all that clarity requires is a little more thought - just shows me how quickly "schisms" and disputes can get going out of nothing much.

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On 4/23/2021 at 6:40 AM, whYNOT said:

"It is intrinsicism to maintain that the moral status of an action or a person is self-evident, like a perceptual judgment." (DK)

 

Intrinsicism represents the lazy route through Objectivism. Not because "I found this" (proposition, principle, conception) to be true by my own painstaking observation and thinking and conceptualization. (Utilizing Rand's methodology). But because Ayn Rand said so. She revealed knowledge to me without effort on my part. For the rest, my superficial "self-evident, perceptual judgment" informs me of (especially) others' "moral status".

There's how I believe dogmatism crept in to this most non-dogmatic philosophy of all philosophies.

Within O'ism, I rate the problem of intrinsic knowledge and value as more serious than rationalism. Which explains Kelley's concerns. An intrinsicist O'ist will usually, one would think, eventually become bitterly disappointed at seeing little he expected to arrive on its own, and he will bounce between intrinsicism and skepticism eventually settling on the latter. Which could spell the end of his pursuits in Objectivism.

"Philosophically, the mystic is usually an exponent of the intrinsic (revealed) school of epistemology; the skeptic is usually an advocate of epistemological subjectivism. But, psychologically, the mystic is a subjectivist who uses intrinsicism as a means to claim the primacy of *his* consciousness over that of others. The skeptic is a disillusioned intrinsicist who having failed to find automatic supernatural guidance, seeks a substitute in the collective subjectivism of others".

Consciousness and Identity.

[So much for the political Right and Left! As we know very little divides them. But something similar in trichotomy exists in Objectivism and makes for serious internal divisions]

 

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Rand was shrewd. When the term Randianism arose—as had Platonism, Aristotelianism, and Kantianism arisen before her—she recognized the uniqueness of her identifications and quickly rechristened them as Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand (or so wrote Leonard Peikoff.)

[Y]ou do not have to live; it is your basic act of choice; but if you choose to live, you must live as a man—by the work and the judgment of your mind.

Is it any wonder that passage from Atlas Shrugged didn't read: if you choose to live, you must live as an Objectivist?

On the other hand, if the work and the judgment of your mind is objective, are you going to much care if others consider you an Objectivist or not?

Scisms can divide organizations. Free associations are maintained or dissolve of their own accord.

Is an organized movement required to promote objectivity, or do those who chose to live as men ultimately constitute a movement toward objectivity of their own accord?

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41 minutes ago, dream_weaver said:

Scisms can divide organizations. Free associations are maintained or dissolve of their own accord.

Is an organized movement required to promote objectivity, or do those who chose to live as men ultimately constitute a movement toward objectivity of their own accord?

Disagreement will healthily arise among individuals qua individuals speaking in their own right. Organizations are fine and good for specified purposes - but have promoted the taking of sides by groups of individuals, and major divisiveness that can put people off the philosophy. Maybe many more smaller organizations could alleviate that tendency? I'm unsure. But I'm sure the future of the movement depends on and is focused on individuals, where it essentially began. For a philosophy, like many have said, it's in its youth, and growing pains are normal.

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On 4/23/2021 at 9:21 PM, dream_weaver said:

Is an organized movement required to promote objectivity, or do those who chose to live as men ultimately constitute a movement toward objectivity of their own accord?

I think there's something to be said for the division of labor and how it affects the spread of ideas, but I'll have to think about it more. Good question.

Our second episode is up on YT. This time we discuss cancel culture and review some clips from Ben Bayer, Onkar Ghate, Stephen Hicks, David Kelley, and Yaron Brook.

 

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This is not simply the old "New Left" is obvious. I'm wondering if postmodernism was given the attention it greatly deserved by Oists then and now, considering that Hicks' ground breaking, cautionary book has been out since 2004. Seemingly, p-m has been previously viewed and ignored as a sort of peripheral movement. Cancel culture clearly had its start in "critical xyz theory" which had its roots in deconstructionism (a theory that's still quite new to me). This appears,and Hicks confirms above, to be a relatively recent intellectualism taught in universities over two generations that I believe fed into and mightily revitalised Leftism, perhaps leaving Objectivists blindsided by the unexpected ferocity of the new-new Left. Nice one MisterSwig, a searching talk.

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(Scratching the surface of) Deconstructionism.

From PhilosophyBasics:

It is a theory of literary criticism that questions traditional assumptions about certainty, identity, and truth; asserts that words can only refer to other words; and attempts to demonstrate how statements about any text subvert their own meanings.

Per Wikipedia/Deconstructionism:

Deconstruction is an approach to understanding the relationship between text and meaning. It was originated by the philosopher Jacques Derrida, who defined the term variously throughout his career.

We, the 'deconstructionists' cannot find meaning in the words as they relate to other words, instead of 'constructing' the relationships between concepts and how they are derived from their existential referents.

The best defense against deconstructionism is to seek the existential objective referents, not so much to change the mind of such an interlocutor, but to maintain one's clarity and commitment to a policy of using language as a tool of cognition.

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7 hours ago, whYNOT said:

I'm wondering if postmodernism was given the attention it greatly deserved by Oists then and now, considering that Hicks' ground breaking, cautionary book has been out since 2004.

I remember when Gary Hull and others were butting heads with the postmodernists back in the mid-90s when the buzzword was "multiculturalism."

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Anyone recognize any of this?

Hicks claims that postmodernism is defined by four features. First, it is a metaphysically anti-realist position, which holds that it is “impossible to speak meaningfully about an independent reality.” Second, postmodernism is epistemologically skeptical of the possibility of acquiring objective knowledge about the world. Third, it is methodologically collectivist, regarding human nature as primarily defined by group affiliations. And, fourth, postmodernism is politically committed to protecting those groups which postmodernists regard as victims. 

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