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That Kelley Creature

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Fair warning: I have put zero thought into how this conversation might develop, if at all.  I'm just pissed.  I'm sorry I've been absent from this forum for so long - I haven't been acting out Objectivism that well in my own life, so I've been trying not to spout off about it (don't preach what you're not practicing - right?).  But right now I am triggered.

 

I was just playing a video game and listening to random YouTube videos when I came across this thing from ARI about the various schisms in Objectivism.  And I thought: why not learn something new while I'm playing?  So I watched the first half of it.

And around the 51 minute mark I had to stop and comment on it because David Kelley had come up.  As a video from the Ayn Rand Institute (with Harry Binswanger, no less) they naturally had to express that Kelley's ideas aren't consistent with Objectivism and how good and useful it is that both he and Peikoff wrote lengthy essays on their respective positions, to clarify the matter.

They didn't call Kelley evil, outright (as they should've, by their own standards) but Binswanger did mention that his position could only have been upheld by some emotional sort of rationalization.  He didn't even use the word "rationalization", though!  I believe it was "motivated reasoning"!  And shortly thereafter I had to stop the video, shut down my game and add a few more clarifications:

Quote

Kelley was not defending the moral righteousness of Communist Professors, but their less-evil-ness relative to Hitler or Stalin; that the ideas someone professes to hold are relevant to their moral character but that their actions (such as whether they spend their time writing books, burning books or burning human beings) matter more.

In Fact and Value Peikoff responded that all you really need to know about a man are the ideas he consciously professes since everything else will follow from that, anyway.

 

Which seems like a pretty nifty standard to me.  It doesn't require me to get off my butt, go out and do anything with my life; if I can memorize and regurgitate Galt's speech on command then that makes me morally equivalent to John Galt!  10/10 - would recommend to anyone else who holds the correct opinions.

Not like dirty David Kelley's opinions, of course.  He thought that Hitler was worse than a Communist professor which basically makes him worse than both of them combined.  That monster!

I am shocked that the ARI would platform even a distorted hyper-summary of that disgusting creature's ideas!  Shame on you all!

Quote

One of the things David Kelley said was that we shouldn't be harsher critics of those who agree with us more than we are of those who agree with us less (such as being harsher to Republicans than to Communists).  I don't believe the term "circular firing squad" was a thing yet but he basically said that such behavior is its prerequisite.

I know this makes him worse than Hitler; basically Satan himself.  But the fact that nobody in this conference actually called him Satan Incarnate makes me nervous...

I don't even know a word for the depths of evil required to agree with everything Ayn Rand thought and also with that Kelley creature!

And, finally, dropping that mountain of sarcasm I'd been dragging around:

Quote

Yes, the Peikoff-Kelley split was entirely about ideas.  And brothers - you're on the wrong side of it.

 

It's all good, though.  We recognize you as our intellectual brothers who are correct on almost all the major points.  Declare us whatever form of evil you like; there is much more we have in common than those points on which you happen to be wrong.  We won't even assume you CHOSE to be wrong unless we have some good evidence for it!  We'll just assume you made an honest mistake and put the whole thing behind us.

That's why you won't remain the larger sect forever.  As few of you as there are, you'll eventually start eating each other again.  It's in the nature of your ideas.

That's not Ayn Rand's fault.  It's Peikoff's.

 

Now, it is very good and useful that both parties formalized their positions in various essays.  Here they are:

A Question of Sanction by David Kelley

Fact and Value by Leonard Peikoff

Both blaze new trails in applying Ayn Rand's ideas to the real world.  Both claim to represent the true conclusions one should reach from proper Objectivist premises.  Both, in my own opinion, contain useful new insights and conclusions which Ayn Rand never explicitly outlined!

However, if the ARI wishes to endorse Peikoff's view then they ought to have the integrity to uphold their own principles and call Kelley precisely the sort of anti-Objectivist which Peikoff did.  I heard far too much tolerance in that conversation!!!

 

Postscript:

 

David Kelley's position represents TRUE Objectivism.  Peikoff (despite finding useful new insights along the way) represents the misapplied offshoot.  Fight me.

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold
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As I write, the video isn’t showing in my browser but I guess you are referring to
Navigating Schisms in the Objectivist Movement

The Ayn Rand Institute recently put up an article about the same subject:
Of Schisms, Public and Private
by Onkar Ghate & Harry Binswanger

Quoting the article:
“ARI, founded three years after Rand’s death, did not and does not pretend to be a spokesman for Ayn Rand or Objectivism.”

HAH!  Setting aside the name of the organization there are many examples.  For example, in November 2017 they published “The Anti-Intellectuality of Donald Trump: Why Ayn Rand Would Have Despised a President Trump” and reprinted in October 2019, re-titled “Why Ayn Rand Would Have Despised a President Trump.”  It begins by saying no one can speak for the dead  then proceeds to speak for the dead.

Again:
“ARI strives to maintain high intellectual and moral standards.”

What then was it doing associating with Carl Barney?  He was on the Board of Directors and Yaron Brook defended Scientology while he was donating to ARI, then excoriated Scientology when he stopped donating.  And never a word about his trade school fraud.

Why then does ARI still associate with Richard Minns?  Peikoff allows him to use the trademark “Atlas Shrugged” in connection with his Atlas Shrugged themed sculptures.  At any rate neither he nor anyone at ARI oebjects to it, when they should be objecting loudly and publicly.

 

 

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Harrison,

I hope to watch this video later. Meanwhile I have a couple of related questions.

Would you say that someone is an Objectivist only if they hold to everything that is truly part of the Objectivist philosophy? Or would you say that someone is an Objectivist if they hold to the essentials of the Objectivist philosophy? I'm with the latter.

It’s not that I go around wondering of people I encounter whether they are an Objectivist. But the two questions are sound all the same, and both are important for precision when talking about Objectivist philosophy.

I first met David Kelley around 1990. He had come to Chicago to talk to a circle there about the new organization he was trying to get going, which was called the Institute for Objectivist Studies. He addressed the question of what defines the Objectivist philosophy in terms of what is essential to the philosophy, and he took concurrence with those essentials to mark who is an Objectivist. After his remarks, I said I’d noticed he hadn’t mentioned Rand’s theory of concepts in its measurement-omission element, and I asked whether he considered that essential to the philosophy. He said that on balance he thought not.

Today I think he was correct on that. Rand’s measurement-omission theory of concepts is truly part of her philosophy, but not essential to it. I’ve come around to that verdict because of something Rand had said as a preface to Galt’s Speech in her For the New Intellectual book. She wrote there before the text of the speech: “This is the philosophy of Objectivism.” That has to mean that at least the essentials are contained in that text. (That is not to say that everything in the speech that is philosophy is an essential of the philosophy.)

Straight deductive implications from those essentials would also be essentials. Things merely consistent with the essentials would not be essentials of the philosophy; that would be too weak a constraint to even pronounce such things as markedly part of the philosophy at all in my view. Arguing that mathematics is about the world, for example, is consistent with this philosophy, but also with many others, so not distinctively part of this philosophy. Showing that the way mathematics is about the world requires incorporation of Rand’s measurement-theory of concepts, however, would be a philosophy of mathematics distinctively Objectivist. It would be part of Objectivism, specifically the setting forth of an Objectivist philosophy of mathematics. It would not be an essential of the philosophy.

In some recent year, I think Peikoff also came around to saying that whether someone is an Objectivist hangs only on whether they hold to the essentials of the philosophy. That is not to say that he would agree with my constraint that in order to be an essential of the philosophy a thing has to be contained in Galt’s Speech or be a direct implication from essentials therein.

There are things that contradict those essentials, though one would might need to muster an argument to be persuasive that there is a contradiction at hand. I’d say that supporting mandatory national service of all the youth in the country contradicts essentials of Objectivism, and so one could say that a Representative advocating that is profoundly at odds with Objectivism. Composing an argument for the reality of the contradiction might be useful in some communications.

Another such contradiction, one I’ll argue, would be someone holding to the existence of God (under a traditional conception of that). Rand taking as the most fundamental of truths ‘existence exists’ bars the existence of an intelligent being such as God as more fundamental than existence and anything else as more fundamental than existence. Then too, in Galt’s Speech, Rand argued virtue of reason, the virtue of choosing reason, to the purpose of attaining the true ultimate value in life, which is life itself. Faith in the sense of the suspension of critical reason, she argued, is wrong, morally wrong. Acceptance of the existence of God by the mental operation of faith is wrong, however much true goodness one might repose in one’s notion of God. The true repose of all human value and meaning is in life in the world. The sacred is us alive on earth.

Edited by Boydstun
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I tried to watch the video, but it was just too freaky that when Onkar was speaking the picture was not showing him doing that particular speaking. I’ll try just listening to it.

I did read the article by Binswanger and Ghate. One thing, I’m pretty sure, that would be in the self-interest of the Ayn Rand Institute is to receive more financial donations. I doubt this piece will bring any relief on that score.

I agree with these authors that the splintering among Objectivist intellectuals previously marching in full coordination in their public writings concerning Objectivist issues was a good thing, not a bad thing, for flourishing of the philosophy and the movement. I think it has always been plain, as the authors remark, that Rand and ARI have in their disassociations with associates an aim of keeping straight in the public view what exactly is Objectivism.

Naturally, never mentioning the name of someone who is out there in the print criticizing something in Objectivism was a way of dampening how many more readers come to know about the critic and their full making of their case (this was before the internet communications possible today). Never mentioning the name of a partially overlapping critic or a professional sympathetic-but-unaffiliated philosopher making public headway on their own could also satisfy one’s animus. Human actions are often overdetermined: multiple reasons, any one of which suffices for the action (never mentioning a pertinent erudite person, and not-to-be-mentioned, in this case). The treatment of John Hospers at a soiree on an evening of October 1962 certainly showed those Rand/Branden claws; everyone knew they were to speak to this person no more, shun him. Letting him show up to be treated that way can be sweet for some.

The rendition of the public dispute between ARI/Peikoff and David Kelley way back did not report the public sequence correctly, and unless one drilled down by clicking on a link, one would be given the impression that Kelley started the public dispute. Unless one simply remembered the truth. It did not begin with a paper by Kelley attacking ARI. Kelley’s initial paper was a reply to an article by ARI’s Peter Scwartz attacking the character of David Kelley.

Back to the present piece, by Binswanger and Ghate, when Objectivists say of someone that they are being non-objective, they are relying on their Objectivism-familiar audience to get the import of immorality. The non-objective is the volitional, an irrationality. It’s similar to when an Objectivist declares that anyone doing such-and-such must have low self-esteem. That is a declaration of immorality, not merely a psychological problem, in the context of this philosophy. Another way of saying immoral without pronouncing “immoral.”

I attended the ARI-affiliated OCON in 1992. I was still a financial contributor to ARI at that time. Very educational conference. I eventually stopped contributing to ARI because they never left off pushing informally the party line that David Kelley was evil and should be shunned. I attended OCON also in 2011 and 2013. I think it was the one in 2011 that Yaron Brook presented a history of the Objectivist movement, particularly concerning the period since the publication of OPAR. It was interesting how much credit Brook gave ARI for continued high sales of Rand’s novels, but perhaps correct. He stated at one point that until OPAR there was not yet a philosophy of Objectivism. I gathered he was speaking a rather loosely. As far as making the philosophy, it is surely correct that Peikoff contributed to what was made between 1957 and Rand’s death. She justifiably had great confidence in his helps. After her death, what Peikoff accomplished vis-a-vis Objectivism was educating others in the philosophy and publicizing it and setting out the philosophy systematically and as a whole in his book OPAR. At one point our presenter said the name David Kelley, and some man in the audience roared out NO or BOO like he was at a ball game or political rally. Brook was visibly taken aback, and so were some audience members. There was one normal man I was chatting with there, and it came out that I was not an opponent of David Kelley’s existence, person, or endeavors. He was pretty surprised I would be at an OCON.

To be sure, you can have a fine time at an OCON even if you are not anti-Kelley.

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I listened to the first half of the video now. That will be it.

Dr. Binswanger and Dr. Ghate here flatly misrepresent the sequence as to who---Dr. Kelley or ARI---initiated the public sequence of attacks between them. I'll see to it that I'm never in the physical presence of either of these two individuals again. 

5 hours ago, Boydstun said:

. . .

The rendition [in the Binswanger/Ghate written peice] of the public dispute between ARI/Peikoff and David Kelley way back did not report the public sequence correctly, and unless one drilled down by clicking on a link, one would be given the impression that Kelley started the public dispute. Unless one simply remembered the truth. It did not begin with a paper by Kelley attacking ARI. Kelley’s initial paper was a reply to an article by ARI’s Peter Scwartz attacking the character of David Kelley.

. . .

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Historical question: What did Peikoff and his circle find wrong with Kelley in the first place? What touched off the Schwartz piece that in turn elicited Kelley's reply?

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On 3/10/2022 at 11:36 AM, Boydstun said:

It did not begin with a paper by Kelley attacking ARI. Kelley’s initial paper was a reply to an article by ARI’s Peter Scwartz attacking the character of David Kelley.

Do you have a source about what Schwartz said about David Kelley? I believe you, but I'm curious to read more.

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On 3/10/2022 at 6:16 AM, Boydstun said:

Would you say that someone is an Objectivist only if they hold to everything that is truly part of the Objectivist philosophy? Or would you say that someone is an Objectivist if they hold to the essentials of the Objectivist philosophy? I'm with the latter.

I am also, firmly, of the latter opinion.

 

I've realized in retrospect that this also touches on the "open" versus "closed Objectivism" issue (which should've been obvious but, as I initially stated, I had put zero thought into it) and I think the latter position (that someone is an Objectivist if they hold to the essential points of it) is somewhat synonymous with "open Objectivism".

After all, if the philosophy is open-ended then there may not only be points of disagreement which need to be sorted out, but seemingly-previously-established points which might be wrong.  If so then the only delineation one could draw between an Objectivist and a non-O'ist would be those essential points (reality, reason, egoism, capitalism).

The alternative (that only someone who agrees with every single punctuation mark in everything Rand and Peikoff ever wrote or said is an Objectivist) is not consistent with the fact that we are fallible creatures who sometimes make mistakes.  Even Ayn Rand, herself, was fallible.  To deny that is basically to reject the Objectivist view of what "reason" is - and yet if one doesn't deny that then how can it be a closed system at all?

 

On 3/10/2022 at 4:01 PM, Boydstun said:

Dr. Binswanger and Dr. Ghate here flatly misrepresent the sequence as to who---Dr. Kelley or ARI---initiated the public sequence of attacks between them. I'll see to it that I'm never in the physical presence of either of these two individuals again. 

Wouldn't that be the Peikoff position, though?  :P

 

I meant it when I called Binswanger and Ghate my intellectual brothers.  I'm sure there are many useful things I could learn from them (which is why I'm still subscribed to the YouTube channel where I found that video, despite their censorship of my own comments).  I don't think an all-out censure of them is called for, even though they gave a distorted misrepresentation of what happened; just a grain of salt to be taken whenever one hears them speak on this subject.

 

On 3/10/2022 at 7:40 PM, Reidy said:

Historical question: What did Peikoff and his circle find wrong with Kelley in the first place? What touched off the Schwartz piece that in turn elicited Kelley's reply?

David Kelley gave a speech at a conference of Libertarians about why they need Ayn Rand's philosophy if they truly want to defend freedom.  Schwartz said that this was essentially an endorsement of Libertarianism (and therefore of subjectivism) which no true Objectivist should ever be caught giving.

 

Essentially, Schwartz argued that it's not okay to speak to Libertarians because (even though they agree with us most closely of all when it comes to political issues) not all of them are already Objectivists, in the first place.  And Peikoff doubled down on that idea in Fact and Value.

And again: I think that Fact and Value breaks new and useful philosophical ground.  It's an important read.  But the conclusion (that one shouldn't even speak to those who aren't 100% "closed Objectivists" already) is simply absurd.

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On 3/9/2022 at 10:25 PM, Dupin said:

As I write, the video isn’t showing in my browser but I guess you are referring to
Navigating Schisms in the Objectivist Movement

...

... It begins by saying no one can speak for the dead  then proceeds to speak for the dead.

Yup.  That's exactly what I was referring to.  And that's another weird thing about this.

 

Those who assume Objectivism is a "closed system" always have to try and twist the way they phrase anything about it with "in my own opinion" and "I don't speak for Ayn Rand" and "this is only my own interpretation of the philosophy".

Like - is there anyone out there (particularly any fan of Atlas Shrugged &etc) who takes the opinion of any random internet commenter as gospel on how the philosophy functions?  Or assumes that they do speak for Ayn Rand?

It's a very weird sort of behavior but it does make sense for a "closed system" of ideas.  It doesn't make rational sense (with what we understand rationality to be) but it does make sense for a "closed system".

 

I don't know anything about those other people you mentioned, so I can't comment on them.  And it should go without saying that I might be wrong about any of this because I am not infallible!

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1 hour ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

Like - is there anyone out there (particularly any fan of Atlas Shrugged &etc) who takes the opinion of any random internet commenter as gospel on how the philosophy functions?  Or assumes that they do speak for Ayn Rand?

ARI is an institution which, in the public eye, is more knowledgeable about Objectivism than, say, a NY Times columnist or a random Internet commenter. Lots of people put words in Rand's mouth. If ARI wants to make an impact and spread Objectivist ideas, it is also in their interest to dispell falsehoods which circulate around, and indeed, mention if the author of a theory is Rand or some ARI board member.

'Closed', in regard to a system, does not mean complete, nor does it mean that it is perfectly accurate as far as non-essentials are concerned. For example, there's discussion as to whether percepts are really integrations of discrete sensations, as Rand said. But this doesn't affect her theory of epistemology. Compare this to changing some essential, e.g. denying free will or the primacy of existence; that would require massive revisions throghout every branch, to the point of reaching a different system altogheter.

There are many closed systems in philosophy, the most famous one probably being Hegel's, which is outlined in his three-volume Encyclopedia of Philosophical Sciences. Some philosophers, like Schelling, authored several ones, involving vastly different premises and methodologies. Although followers of these philosophies altered or repurposed some parts for their own views or systems, their views were never considered to be Hegel's or Schelling's actual systems.

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3 hours ago, Eiuol said:

[In response to my remark: "It did not begin with a paper by Kelley attacking ARI. Kelley’s initial paper was a reply to an article by ARI’s Peter Scwartz attacking the character of David Kelley."]

Do you have a source about what Schwartz said about David Kelley? I believe you, but I'm curious to read more.

The chronological order was:

Peter Schwartz - “On Sanctioning the Sanctioners”

David Kelley - "A Question of Sanction"

Leonard Peikoff - “Fact and Value

David Kelley - Truth and Toleration in Objectivism 

There is also a related lecture by Kelley in 1991 here. (I haven't seen much of that; I'm more a reader.)

I apparently do not have a copy of the initial article in the public exchanges, which was “On Sanctioning the Sanctioners” by Peter Schwartz.

Edited by Boydstun
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4 minutes ago, Boydstun said:

I apparently do not have a copy of the initial article in the public exchanges, which was “On Sanctioning the Sanctioners” by Peter Schwartz.

I found it. It is the third to last post on this page

https://www.objectivistliving.com/forums/topic/722-a-question-of-sanction/#comments

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On 3/12/2022 at 4:21 PM, KyaryPamyu said:

ARI is an institution which, in the public eye, is more knowledgeable about Objectivism than, say, a NY Times columnist or a random Internet commenter. Lots of people put words in Rand's mouth. If ARI wants to make an impact and spread Objectivist ideas, it is also in their interest to dispell falsehoods which circulate around, and indeed, mention if the author of a theory is Rand or some ARI board member.

Certainly; ARI is more of an authority on Objectivism than the NY Times or random internet commenters.  Which makes it particularly strange to hear every single lecture and elaboration on Rand's ideas presented with the same sort of disclaimer (these are my own ideas and not Ayn Rand's); particularly when they cover fundamental issues in a way that's obviously consistent with what Rand wrote.

Now, despite the fact that I call myself an Objectivist, did you have any trouble telling whose ideas were represented by the preceding paragraph?

And suppose I were to challenge some derivative point Rand made; say I think it was morally, egoistically right for the US to enter WW2 (which Rand opposed)?  Would you, at any point, be confused about the person putting forward that idea or the philosophical framework they were appealing to in order to justify it?

 

Onkar Ghate gave a lecture at one point; "Seize the Reigns of Your Mind" which was about the choice to think and how to cultivate good psychoepistemological habits.  It was very good; I've listened to it several times (I recommend you also listen to it at least once) and it was an excellent practical application of Rand's comments on free will.  If memory serves I believe he begins the lecture with a several-minute-long disclaimer that these are his own ideas and not Ayn Rand's and that any possible error therein would be entirely his own - which, in the context of how good those ideas were, just smacks of unnecessary self-abasement (particularly the second or third time you have to hear them).

Furthermore, the additional "any errors in this are entirely my own" is both a common part of such disclaimers and also a totally baseless assumption.  Who says Ayn Rand couldn't have screwed something up?  She was a human being, too, and we all have bad days.

 

On 3/12/2022 at 4:21 PM, KyaryPamyu said:

'Closed', in regard to a system, does not mean complete, nor does it mean that it is perfectly accurate as far as non-essentials are concerned. For example, there's discussion as to whether percepts are really integrations of discrete sensations, as Rand said. But this doesn't affect her theory of epistemology. Compare this to changing some essential, e.g. denying free will or the primacy of existence; that would require massive revisions throghout every branch, to the point of reaching a different system altogheter.

Absolutely.  Objectivism is not complete; there is room for much more discovery and application (there is a mountain of the undiscovered and unnamed for each punctuation mark Rand ever wrote) and doubtless a few corrections, as well - but not of the fundamentals.

A philosophy with a different view of volition, metaphysics or epistemology would not be Objectivism.  An ethical system which was not rooted in the individual's pursuit of his own positive values would not be egoism.  There are some things which cannot be changed without becoming an entirely different ideology.  However, some of the details may be open to honest dispute by rational Objectivists.

 

However, this view of Objectivism which you and I share is not the "closed system" coined by Leonard Peikoff.

 

Quote

IN HIS LAST PARAGRAPH, Kelley states that Ayn Rand’s philosophy, though magnificent, “is not a closed system.” Yes, it is. Philosophy, as Ayn Rand often observed, deals only with the kinds of issues available to men in any era; it does not change with the growth of human knowledge, since it is the base and precondition of that growth. Every philosophy, by the nature of the subject, is immutable. New implications, applications, integrations can always be discovered; but the essence of the system — its fundamental principles and their consequences in every branch — is laid down once and for all by the philosophy’s author. If this applies to any philosophy, think how much more obviously it applies to Objectivism. Objectivism holds that every truth is an absolute, and that a proper philosophy is an integrated whole, any change in any element of which would destroy the entire system.

-Fact and Value by Leonard Peikoff

This might mean that those who disagree with Rand about WW2 (such as Yaron Brook) or about miscellaneous off-the-cuff remarks on femininity, masculinity or the nature of homosexuality - any and all of these might be "anti-Objectivists" masquerading as Objectivists.  Such people presumably would feel nothing in particular about Rand's fictional heroes or the principles which animate them; Peikoff implies that any apparent evidence to the contrary is only a front they put up for the benefit of everyone else's eyes.

Whether or not any particular disagreement constitutes actual heresy depends on your definition of a "philosophical" issue from any other kind of issue.  Presumably World War 2 would be too concrete, but I sincerely doubt that the nature of human perception would be.

 

Welcome to the heretics!  We're glad to have you.  :thumbsup:

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14 minutes ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

This might mean that those who disagree with Rand about WW2 (such as Yaron Brook) or about miscellaneous off-the-cuff remarks on femininity, masculinity or the nature of homosexuality - any and all of these might be "anti-Objectivists" masquerading as Objectivists.  Such people presumably would feel nothing in particular about Rand's fictional heroes or the principles which animate them; Peikoff implies that any apparent evidence to the contrary is only a front they put up for the benefit of everyone else's eyes.

Whether or not any particular disagreement constitutes actual heresy depends on your definition of a "philosophical" issue from any other kind of issue.  Presumably World War 2 would be too concrete, but I sincerely doubt that the nature of human perception would be.

 

Welcome to the heretics!  We're glad to have you.  :thumbsup:

And that's what really bothers me about the tone they took in that conversation towards David Kelley.  Not that it was irrationally dismissive and hostile, but that it was so tolerant (when the entire reason for the Peikoff-Kelley split was about tolerance, David Kelley went on to write an entire book about why Objectivists should be intellectually tolerant and Peikoff's response was "nuh-uh; anyone who grows into adulthood while still believing in, say, Communism, must necessarily be evil by that very fact!")!

Saying "well, I think David Kelley definitely had some motivated reasoning behind his conclusions" and leaving it at that is not the Peikoff approach!  That's the David Kelley approach!  To be consistent with Peikoff would be to say "David Kelley was an Anti-Objectivist, secondhanded faker whose ideas came from nothing more than a desire to please the crowd.  I hope he dies in a chemical fire.  Good riddance!"

 

I'm not upset that the ARI isn't saying that; it's obviously a step in the right direction.  What pisses me off is that they still give no credit to the guy who originally pointed that step out as the correct one and are now dismissing him in his own, tolerant terms.

 

What happened to the chemical fires, ARI?  I assume you still have them somewhere???

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Is the closed system idea truly so difficult a concept for people to adequately grasp? Forgive me, but I'm at a point now where I'm genuinely beginning to assume intellectual dishonesty when it comes to someone who has been an Objectivist for several years (or someone who claims to be well-read on Objectivism) and doesn't understand what a closed system means. Speaking for myself, I grasped it fairly quickly. Reading the essay "Fact and Value" a few years ago was enough, if I remember correctly.

You can disagree with Rand on, say, the essence of femininity being hero-worship, the practice of homosexuality being disgusting, or her preference for cats over dogs and still be an Objectivist. You are also perfectly free to disagree with Rand's personal opinions on a specific work of art. Those topics do not properly belong to the field of philosophy, and ARI (including Dr. Peikoff himself) has constantly made this clear to my knowledge. 

Objectivism is forever a closed system, and the book on it was closed the day Rand passed away. Does that mean it's the end of philosophy? No. Does that mean you cannot build on top of Objectivist ideas? No, it only means you can't claim them to be a part of Objectivism (for the obvious reason that Rand is no longer with us to say if she would agree with an idea or not), although they can be consistent with the philosophy. I usually think of Peikoff's theory of induction here. I know Harry Binswanger has done some independent epistemological work as well. 

I'm speculating here, but I suspect that many of the people who claim Objectivism to be an open system (whatever that even means) simply want to have their cake and eat it too. They want to cling on to the aspects of the philosophy that  they agree with, and then feel free to mix in their own ideas. But, sorry, it doesn't work that way. You're either an Objectivist or you're not. Stop looking for a third alternative when such an alternative doesn't exist. Obviously you are free to disagree with core parts (or even the entirety) of Objectivism, but then have the intellectual honesty to speak up and say you're not an Objectivist. That is what Rand wanted. Speaking for myself, I do NOT consider myself an Objectivist seeing as how I have disagreements with the core philosophy (in particular her aesthetics), although I still agree with the majority of it. I, however, never called myself an Objectivist unlike the open system advocates. 

I needed to get this off my chest. 

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2 hours ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

{Peikoff quotation] New implications, applications, integrations can always be discovered; but the essence of the system — its fundamental principles and their consequences in every branch — is laid down once and for all by the philosophy’s author.

The part in bold is the category under which WW2, femininity and your other examples fall in. Rand herself changed her mind on some of these, such as homosexuality. More is explained here. As for the fundamental principles, they were gathered into a single volume by Peikoff (OPAR).

Nothing wrong with trying to complete a system. IMO Kelley's additions are at odds with several important O'ist principles. Maybe somebody in the future will author a system that is in line with Rand's but much more comprehensive.

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RationalEgoist,

I don’t think it will do to say that if Rand did not live to say something was part of her philosophy, then it is not. Something can be logically entailed by what definitely was stated by her as part of her philosophy. The entailment will do. (Additionally, as you would know, just me saying that something is part of my philosophy does not really show that my dicta is part of philosophic views at all, and if philosophic, my stating it does not make it necessarily consistent with other parts of my philosophy.)

Here is such an entailment, taken from my fundamental philosophy paper published last summer:

Quote

Rand did not omit altogether elementary knowing of aliveness in elementary knowing of consciousness in her mature philosophy, although that elementary nexus is not highlighted. She set out her mature philosophy (save theory of concepts and aesthetics) firstly in the radio speech of her fictional John Galt. Read in its context in Atlas Shrugged, the speech is under a sunrise and a shadow. The sun had risen at the outset of Part III in Rand’s description of Dagny Taggart opening her eyes and seeing human clarity, openness, rightness, and serenity in the face of the man who later begins his national radio speech with the introduction “Ladies and gentlemen, . . . This is John Galt speaking.” The shadow is the economic disintegration and growing violence and tyranny in the country. Just prior to Galt’s speech, the author had concretized the “root and leaf ” of that darkness by the story of the shutdown of Henry Rearden’s steel mills, with Rearden carrying in his arms the dying government man, the young man Tony. In this scene, Rand had enacted the absoluteness of life and death and the need for right thinking for life. These are ideas she unfolds and elaborates in Galt’s speech, but they stand already in the immediate background of the speech and fresh in the mind who reads in the speech of Rand’s foundational concepts existence and consciousness. In presentation of the basic concept of consciousness, life is in background connection to it, though not part of consciousness in its most basic character. . . .

However, some sort of impossibility of mind without life is affirmed later in the speech when Rand writes of the alternative “your mind or your life” that “neither is possible to man without the other” (1957, 1022). Then too, when something she wrote in Galt’s speech “It is only the concept of ‘Life’ that makes the concept ‘Value’ possible” (1013) is joined with something else in the speech “A rational process is a moral process” (1017), it could be inferred that at least in higher, rational consciousness its aliveness is implicit in its episodes and this fact is reflectively accessible within such consciousness. Also, in an oral exchange a dozen years later, Rand remarked concerning consciousness: “It’s a concept that could not enter your mind or your language unless in the form of a faculty of a living entity. That’s what the concept means” (Rand in Binswanger and Peikoff 1990, 252; cf. Binswanger 2014, 30–41).

Rand’s informal say-so years later was not required for the thesis being part of her philosophy. Had she died before making that remark, as you see above, we could infer that the thesis was part of the philosophy she invented and stated in Galt’s Speech.

I’m not letting you off the hook, by the way, from being an Objectivist, simply because you disagree with Rand’s esthetics. Her philosophy in that area, like her theory of concepts, was not included in Galt’s Speech, and anything essential (or 'core' or 'fundamental') to her philosophy is in that text. Mere exemplification of her theory of literature in her novels is no setting out of her theory. She wrote above the text of Galt’s Speech in her book For the New Intellectual “This is the Philosophy of Objectivism.” Anything essential to the philosophy is in there or in its logical entailments. Rand’s esthetics and her theory of concepts are, of course, part of her philosophy of Objectivism. But they are not essential to the philosophy, however fine and important they may be in various ways. So. You’re not off the hook.

I’m delighted by your remarks about the rightness of just realizing and stating that one is not an Objectivist if one disagrees with an essential (or ‘core’, or ‘fundamental’) of the philosophy. The practice of enthusiasts of Rand’s fiction and philosophy thinking that when they have come to disagree with something essential in the philosophy, then Rand made a mistake in what was her philosophy and that it needs revision, while keeping the name Objectivism, has always been absurd. Neither Objectivism nor any other philosophy has as its definition “that in philosophy which is true” even if it happens that some philosophy such as Objectivism is entirely true. (Well, OK, I do concede that idiots are allowed that definition.)

Edited by Boydstun
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I’d like to add a bit to the preceding post, just to say that there are essentials and other things in Rand’s philosophy that are elaborated a bit in her writings after her 1957.

From Galt’s Speech, one can see that she is some sort of empiricist, and this gets elaborated a bit in her later compositions ITOE and “Kant v. Sullivan.” Her definition of causality given in “The Metaphysical and the Man-Made” is a further elaboration of her conception of causality put forth in GS. Her addition of her distinction intrinsic/subjective/objective for value in “Captialism, the Unknown Ideal” and her application of that distinction to concepts or thought in ITOE might well be an addition, rather than an elaboration of things in GS (good research project). Rand’s essay “Causality v. Duty,” I’d estimate as elaboration of ideas on value in GS. Her addition of talk of “ultimate value” and the immortal-robot gedanken that appear in OE, but not in GS, I’d say are only elaborations of value theory in GS. From GS one can see that Rand’s philosophy relies on axioms, and whether what she says about them further in ITOE is another research problem as to how much in ITOE is elaboration of what was in GS and how much is new, innovation since GS (new at least in published text). Her measurement-omission element in her theory of concepts is no mere elaboration of anything in GS.

Edited by Boydstun
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Thank you for your cordial reply to my comment, Stephen. 

32 minutes ago, Boydstun said:

I don’t think it will do to say that if Rand did not live to say something was part of her philosophy, then it is not. Something can be logically entailed by what definitely was stated by her as part of her philosophy. The entailment will do.

Well, you could reasonably discuss this, but I do not think I agree with your conclusion, although I am open to being persuaded. I make the same conceptual distinction you do, namely that there is a category which subsumes all the essential (and, at least to some extent, derivative) philosophic views that a philosopher published and then a category which subsumes the knowledge which is in line with that philosopher's views. Nonetheless, I do not think I would agree that a certain piece of philosophic or scientific knowledge belongs to a philosophy just because it is in line with said philosophy (provided, of course, that the originator of the philosophy did not explicitly say so). Peikoff, for instance, does not believe that his theory of induction is part of Objectivism, although he does believe it is in accordance with it. When he wrote OPAR, he was very clear that the book was merely his interpretation of Objectivism. To me, this is the correct approach. It does not muddy the waters, and it does not confuse a newcomer trying to understand what belongs to Objectivism and what does not. 

Also, when you write that "my stating it does not make it necessarily consistent with other parts of my philosophy", it appears to me that you are saying a philosophy can hold no contradictions. Is that a correct interpretation of what you meant? 

43 minutes ago, Boydstun said:

Rand’s esthetics and her theory of concepts are, of course, part of her philosophy of Objectivism. But they are not essential to the philosophy, however fine and important they may be in various ways.

And since her theory of aesthetics does belong to the philosophy, I am not an adherent of it. To address your point on whether or not disagreement with her theory of aesthetics is essential enough to warrant not calling myself an Objectivist, I will say that if it were the case that I objected to an absolutely trivial and minor part of her aesthetics, then I would grant you that I would not be "off the hook" (as you put it) from being an Objectivist. But that is far from the case. I reject very substantive pieces of Rand's theory of aesthetics (including her definition of art, which I made a thread on once) to the point where the parts that I do find value in cannot possibly hold up the entire structure that is her theory. In other words, I am essentially rejecting her conceptualization regarding an entire branch of philosophy. Well, something tells me that Rand would not have considered me a proper follower of her philosophy had she known about these critical views I hold. Incidentally, I am currently in the process of doing an exhaustive write-up on all my disagreements with the Objectivist aesthetics. 

Besides, I am perfectly fine right here on the sidelines being merely an admirer and heavy sympathizer of Objectivism. I grant Rand's wish which stated that "If you accept some tenets of Objectivism, but disagree with others, do not call yourself an Objectivist".

And, more relevantly to this thread, my not being an Objectivist does not mean I will watch in silence as so-called Objectivists are actively trying to push Objectivism in an impure form in direct opposition to Rand's own wishes. There is no contradiction there. 

1 hour ago, Boydstun said:

I’m delighted by your remarks about the rightness of just realizing and stating that one is not an Objectivist if one disagrees with an essential (or ‘core’, or ‘fundamental’) of the philosophy. The practice of enthusiasts of Rand’s fiction and philosophy thinking that when they have come to disagree with something essential in the philosophy, then Rand made a mistake in what was her philosophy and that it needs revision, while keeping the name Objectivism, has always been absurd. Neither Objectivism nor any other philosophy has as its definition “that in philosophy which is true” even if it happens that some philosophy such as Objectivism is entirely true.

And I am equally delighted that you understood the core of what I was getting at as is shown by the section of your reply that I bolded. You are certainly correct, and I could not agree with you more. Well said. 

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27 minutes ago, RationalEgoist said:

. . .

Also, when you write that "my stating it does not make it necessarily consistent with other parts of my philosophy", it appears to me that you are saying a philosophy can hold no contradictions. Is that a correct interpretation of what you meant? 

. . .

Glad you asked.

I was thinking of bending over backwards to the point of foolishness trying to resolve what look like contradictions in a philosophy. Yes, one should interpret charitably, and it is standard work for philosophers to compose arguments on how something that appears inconsistent in some other philosopher is not really inconsistent when one gets in hand the right and fuller perspective of that other philosopher (based on text of that other). But sometimes the right conclusion really is that, having tried hard for resolution, a philosophy has an internal contradiction, and something in it is false for that reason. So if one finds what looks like a contradiction within a philosophy, don't go the way of Bible-Believer interpretation and suppose that the philosophy must be without contradiction really---the philosopher was super-smart---and we are just unable to see how the contradiction is resolved.

Edited by Boydstun
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Previously at Objectivism Online and pertinent to the windings of this thread, from KP:

Quote

 

In the introduction of "For the New Intellectual", Ayn Rand stated that Galt's Speech is the shortest summary of Objectivism. She was right, it's a summary in the sense of covering all of the essentials of Objectivism. But she leaves out many technicalities that you don't really need to study unless you're hardcore about learning all of its elements. For example:

a). In the intro of FTNI she states that Galt's speech barely touches on epistemology, and that she intends to write a treatise on it. She did, and the treatise was called "Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology". While Galt briefly covers how reason and logic work, ITOE explores epistemology through her theory of concept-formation (children-friendly lessons on measurement-ommision, abstraction from abstractions etc.) You don't need this unless you're a philosopher, a philosophy student or really interested in Objectivism.

b). The theory of aeshtetics. You can get a few clues about her aesthetic views from the way she describes the works of art in her novels (e.g. the piece of modern music Dagny hears on the street vs. the music of Richard Halley), but incorporating an explicitly stated aesthetic theory into an actual work of art (novel) would be redundant. In the Romantic Manifesto she covers aesthetics in depth. Again, this is a specialized subject that's not absolutely essential, even though it's important. Obviously, if you're an artist or art lover, it's absolutely crucial.

There are many non-essentials that she covered implicitly (i.e. concretized and dramatized) in her novels, but were only made explicit later in her non-fiction works. In OPAR, Peikoff covers absolutely all the intricacies and technicalities, and he orders them hierarchically. He even includes things from his telephone conversations with Rand that she never got to write or publish. 

In a nutshell:
Galt's speech is all of the essentials of Objectivism.
OPAR is a comprehensive and scholarly study of ALL of its elements - essentials and technicalities alike - from all of her written works and private philosophical conversations. The structure of Galt's Speech was dictated by the context of the novel (which is why it took Rand 2 years to figure out how to structure it so that it's perfectly integrated to the novel), OPAR is a systematic and logically ordered study.

 

 

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On 3/14/2022 at 5:47 PM, RationalEgoist said:

Is the closed system idea truly so difficult a concept for people to adequately grasp? Forgive me, but I'm at a point now where I'm genuinely beginning to assume intellectual dishonesty when it comes to someone who has been an Objectivist for several years (or someone who claims to be well-read on Objectivism) and doesn't understand what a closed system means. Speaking for myself, I grasped it fairly quickly. Reading the essay "Fact and Value" a few years ago was enough, if I remember correctly.

No; it's not difficult to grasp.  Having been raised as a fundamentalist Christian I recognized the suggestion pretty much immediately upon reading Fact and Value.

But who says it's a closed system?  Ayn Rand certainly didn't.  So isn't that already a posthumous addition to the system in and of itself?

 

Suppose one were to disagree on, say, the Pyramid of Ability; the principle that less intelligent and less skilled workers gain far more benefits from their betters than they are capable of giving in return.  Is that not a properly philosophical point?  Suppose one were not just to disagree because one disliked the idea for some silly reason, but were in fact able to rationally (within the bounds of the Objectivist view of rationality) disprove it?  According to Peikoff and yourself this would be the end of Objectivism.  Never mind that altering that one point would have very little impact on the rest of politics or ethics and none whatsoever on epistemology or metaphysics (the concept of Rational Selfishness, for example, would not be changed very much); the philosophy represented by that one alteration would be something entirely different and alien to Ayn Rand's thinking.  Perhaps we could call it "Neo-Objectivism" or some such thing, in light of how very similar it would be to the original philosophy, but Peikoff would still urge its adherents never to mention Rand's name in connection to it - for Public Relations concerns.

 

On 3/14/2022 at 5:47 PM, RationalEgoist said:

Objectivism is forever a closed system, and the book on it was closed the day Rand passed away. Does that mean it's the end of [the] philosophy? No.

If you mean that it would exist in a state which lacks growth or motive power (which is the status of a corpse) then, no.  Catholicism did just that up until the dawn of the Renaissance and several strains of Islam have done so right up to the present day.

Science grows.  Mathematics grows.  Hell, even Marxism and Kantianism have grown in scope and complexity, and they're more-or-less opposed to it.  But every cult which is based on nothing more than blind faith has perpetuated itself, without much growth or change, in that corpselike state of any dogma.

And as soon as any minor point (such as the pyramid of ability) requires some sort of revision, in the same way that Newton's laws had to be revised in the light of Einstein, I will expect every follower of Peikoff to renounce everything else along with that minor point.

 

On 3/14/2022 at 5:47 PM, RationalEgoist said:

Does that mean you cannot build on top of Objectivist ideas? No, it only means you can't claim them to be a part of Objectivism (for the obvious reason that Rand is no longer with us to say if she would agree with an idea or not), although they can be consistent with the philosophy. I usually think of Peikoff's theory of induction here.

I'm sorry; where in the Objectivist Epistemology is the requirement (or, indeed, any possibility for) the approval of the Authorized Representative of Ideology?  I must have missed that chapter of the ITOE.

 

On 3/14/2022 at 5:47 PM, RationalEgoist said:

I'm speculating here, but I suspect that many of the people who claim Objectivism to be an open system (whatever that even means) simply want to have their cake and eat it too. They want to cling on to the aspects of the philosophy that  they agree with, and then feel free to mix in their own ideas. But, sorry, it doesn't work that way. You're either an Objectivist or you're not. Stop looking for a third alternative when such an alternative doesn't exist. Obviously you are free to disagree with core parts (or even the entirety) of Objectivism, but then have the intellectual honesty to speak up and say you're not an Objectivist. That is what Rand wanted. Speaking for myself, I do NOT consider myself an Objectivist seeing as how I have disagreements with the core philosophy (in particular her aesthetics), although I still agree with the majority of it. I, however, never called myself an Objectivist unlike the open system advocates. 

This is exactly what I mean.

 

So you are saying that, despite agreeing with the entirety of Rand's metaphysics, epistemology, ethics and politics, you don't like Victor Hugo?  And because you don't like classical music and Victor Hugo you do not have the right to call yourself an Objectivist?  Honestly, let's imagine what Howard Roark would say if Peikoff told him that he wasn't an Objectivist if he liked the wrong kind of music.

And let's never forget that Ayn Rand did not write Fact and Value, nor did she ever have a chance to give it her official stamp of approval.  So the treatise which declares such stamps to be an absolute necessity is, itself, devoid of one.

 

As to our motives, however, you're not thinking big enough!  Perhaps we want to slip ourselves into the Objectivist movement, twist its stated principles into straw-men and discredit it from the inside - not even to embezzle an unearned share of Rand's prestige in the eyes of the world, but to strangle that prestige in its crib, for the glory of Mother Russia!

mr-burns-wallpaper.gif.scaled1000.jpg.44e01f88e4ea47df6f15efb75c542704.jpg

Or maybe what you mean by "mixing and matching our own ideas with Rand's" is, in fact, thinking for ourselves.  And that this is a fundamental requirement of Objectivism, and that we must leave open the mere possibility of disagreement out of sheer principle (which is also a fundamental requirement of Objectivism).

 

I'm sorry you feel that you don't have the right to call yourself an Objectivist since you disagree with a few aesthetic points.  But I respect that you've at least held on to that mere possibility, for your self.  It's important.

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold
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Posted (edited)
On 3/14/2022 at 7:07 PM, KyaryPamyu said:

The part in bold is the category under which WW2, femininity and your other examples fall in. Rand herself changed her mind on some of these, such as homosexuality. More is explained here. As for the fundamental principles, they were gathered into a single volume by Peikoff (OPAR).

In the link you shared (as in Fact and Value, and elsewhere) Peikoff speaks of "abstractions" and "concretes" as if these are binary categories, instead of the spectrum we all know it to be.  How I feel about a particular person is a perceptual concrete.  My own sexuality is somewhat more abstract, sexuality in general is somewhat more abstract, the relation between thoughts and feelings is still more abstract, etc.  This is a case of a legitimate spectrum, and I still have yet to hear a satisfactory distinction between what is philosophical and what is not (including the one you linked to).

 

But let's set all that aside.  Suppose the pyramid of ability (the principle that less skilled workers gain much more from their betters than they could ever get in return) was somehow proven to be false?  I don't mention this example because I think it ever will be (I would be extremely surprised if it ever was) but because it is such a broad abstraction that it must surely count as "philosophical" and therefore is useful to think about.

What else would we have to change our minds about if that principle was ever disproven?  Certainly, this would affect a few other areas of politics, but not much - it would still be true that the principle of mutual consent must govern ALL interpersonal interactions and that every worker has the right to keep whatever he has earned.  Perhaps there would be a renewed interest in labor unions among Objectivist thinkers.  Our ideas about induction, logical integration or self-esteem, however, would not be affected.

To say that the philosophy represented by that one and only difference from Objectivism, as Ayn Rand herself explicated it, would be something fundamentally different from Objectivism - it's like saying that a man with nine fingers instead of ten would no longer be a human being.  It would be an outrageous multiplication of concepts for no reason whatsoever.

 

And incidentally, Peikoff is absolutely right.  In Truth and Toleration David Kelley explained how we can advocate for pure subjectivism under the cover of Objectivism (which is a far less socially acceptable cover than open, crusading subjectivism - most people would react with less hostility to the advocacy of baby-eating than to that of actual selfishness) for the glory of Mother Russia!  Although Alex Jones explains it better than he did.

 

Quote

Nothing wrong with trying to complete a system. IMO Kelley's additions are at odds with several important O'ist principles. Maybe somebody in the future will author a system that is in line with Rand's but much more comprehensive.

What would a "complete" system even look like?  Surely, in order to be "complete" we're talking about some Universal Theory of Everything, and that's not a possibility I think we'll need to consider any time soon.  In any case I literally cannot imagine any such thing beyond the concatenation of the noises "complete" and "system".

 

PostScript:

 

Suppose I were to write a book in which a heroic architect, who loves his work as nobody else does and builds his buildings like nobody else ever has before, fights a lonely battle to do the thing he loves?  Suppose he was in love with a newspaperwoman but couldn't be with her, because she was convinced he would lose that battle, and had to fight against a brilliantly malevolent author who continuously tried to ruin him?  It ends with the architect blowing up his own building (because it wasn't built precisely as he designed it) and had to argue for the moral righteousness of his own actions in court.  Suppose I changed the name of the main character to Harrison Ragnar, changed a few other details (perhaps rewrote some of the dialogue) and published it under the title: The Wellspring of the Soul.

Would that be a different book than the Fountainhead, because it didn't have precisely the same text throughout the entire book (as well as a different name)?  Or have I just described an act of plagiarizing The Fountainhead?

 

If I agreed with everything else Ayn Rand said except, say, the Pyramid of Ability, I would consider it disingenuous for me to call myself anything other than an Objectivist.  Just as the book about the architect Harrison Ragnar should be called The Fountainhead (because that is exactly what it is) Objectivism should be called Objectivism.

And since human beings are fallible and the proper, rational pursuit of knowledge leads to an ever-growing and occasionally-revised body of such knowledge (precisely as we see in science) Objectivism cannot be anything other than open-ended.

 

"Closed Objectivism" is a contradiction in terms.  It's an attempt to treat a Rational philosophy as a dogma or a cult, and these two things are mutually exclusive.  They cannot coexist in the same brain or the same ideology.

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold
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1 hour ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

But who says it's a closed system?  Ayn Rand certainly didn't.  So isn't that already a posthumous addition to the system in and of itself?

I think the burden of proof lies on you to prove Objectivism is an open system. Given how fiercely protective Rand was of the name "Objectivism", I seriously doubt that she would approve of what it is you're doing. 

1 hour ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

So you are saying that, despite agreeing with the entirety of Rand's metaphysics, epistemology, ethics and politics, you don't like Victor Hugo?  And because you don't like classical music and Victor Hugo you do not have the right to call yourself an Objectivist?

First of all, I never said that I agree with the entirety of Rand's metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, and politics, so that's just sloppy reading on your part. I said I disagree "in particular" with her aesthetics, which doesn't mean I exclusively disagree with the aesthetics. 

But, more importantly, this is a blatant misrepresentation of what I said. You've created a strawman. My disagreements with her aesthetic theory are significantly wider than you imply in your post. It's humorous because I even said you are free to disagree with Rand's views on a specific work of art (and, by extension, her views on a specific artist) and still call yourself an Objectivist. So why make the silly point about not liking Victor Hugo? 

1 hour ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

Or maybe what you mean by "mixing and matching our own ideas with Rand's" is, in fact, thinking for ourselves.  And that this is a fundamental requirement of Objectivism, and that we must leave open the mere possibility of disagreement out of sheer principle (which is also a fundamental requirement of Objectivism).

Did I say you can't think for your yourself? I'm saying you may not bring in your own ideas and conceptions into the philosophy of Objectivism and claim them as being part of it (even if they're consistent with it). 

On a sidenote, I almost didn't reply to this part because it's such an obvious smear on your part in the sense that you assume anyone who thinks Objectivism is a closed system must have thrown out their own independent thinking. Nonetheless, I thought it was worth it just to clear up your misunderstanding to any honest reader. 

57 minutes ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

What would a "complete" system even look like?  Surely, in order to be "complete" we're talking about some Universal Theory of Everything, and that's not a possibility I think we'll need to consider any time soon.  In any case I literally cannot imagine any such thing beyond the concatenation of the noises "complete" and "system".

This part wasn't geared towards me (and I'm sure KyaryPamyu will answer you with clarity as always), but I wanted to touch on what you wrote nonetheless. Objectivism being a closed system does not at all mean it is a "theory of everything" and that it is the end of all knowledge. Again, this is very belittling on your part because you can't seriously think that any of us would hold such a ridiculous view.

We should strive to preserve the concept of Objectivism, and this is done by first giving Rand's philosophy the name "Objectivism" as a way to safeguard the concept with all its philosophical content. The name actually has to mean something, it has to refer to something. Bringing in a bunch of other ideas (in particular ideas which are essentially different from Rand's) from other people destroys the whole concept understandably leaving people confused as to what and what does not belong to the philosophy. 

Edited by RationalEgoist
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