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That Kelley Creature

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5 minutes ago, RationalEgoist said:

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 disagreement 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? 

Well, I would use "in particular" as synonymous with "exclusively", but that's neither here nor there.  It probably was a sloppy reading anyway.

The reason Victor Hugo comes to mind is because a month or two ago I actually bought The Hunchback of Notre Dame on Audible specifically because of Rand's praise for what a great author he was, and I hated it.  Given how I now know it ends I have not been able to wrap my head around what she liked so much about his writing.

 

I'm not surprised that it came across that way, though.  I've been upset about this issue for a long time, and now that I'm trying (for the third or fourth time now) to bring it into the open once again, I have been trying to keep a lid on the urge for snarkiness.

Honestly, I know I'm being more aggressive than I should be, and it's not because of you.

 

10 minutes ago, RationalEgoist said:

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. 

No: I'll say it for you.

 

You cannot make any sort of commitment to agree with all of anyone else's ideas.  The moment you do that, you've signed a blank check on your own brain and can no longer claim to think for yourself.  That is why it's important to leave open the possibility of honest disagreement.

I truly do respect the fact that you gave up the label of "Objectivist" before you signed such a blank check.  I don't think you needed to (since I don't hold a high opinion of the ultimate conclusions reached in Fact and Value) but since you thought you did, I think you made the right call.

 

20 minutes ago, RationalEgoist said:

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.

No; seriously.  For a system of thought to be "complete" would either mean that you literally know everything which can be known or that you've given up on thinking and your "complete system" is, in fact, a cult.  That part was not hyperbole.

 

22 minutes ago, RationalEgoist said:

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. 

Ideas which are essentially different from or contradictory to Rand's?  Absolutely.  To call subjectivism, Marxism, Mormonism (etc) "Objectivism" would be absurd.

56 minutes ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

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.

I rest my case.

 

24 minutes ago, RationalEgoist said:

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. 

Arguing that anyone who takes her ideas seriously must think for themselves, which necessarily makes the daily practice of such ideas (call it, if you will, Objectivism) necessarily open-ended?

 

I mean ... Do you really need that proof?  It seems a bit pedantic but I am confident I can prove it.

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2 hours ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

But who says it's a closed system?  Ayn Rand certainly didn't. 

She was very strict and hard-nosed about it because she want anyone to misinterpret what her philosophy is. I mean, she never talked about Objectivism as anything besides exactly her views and what closely follows from those views. Especially since she was even resistant to acknowledging her influences besides Aristotle. What does it matter though? Why do you need to call yourself an Objectivist? If a closed system would make you not an Objectivist, who cares, it's not like I'm going to call the Spanish Inquisition on you. 

 

1 hour ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

"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. 

It doesn't encourage you to always agree. It just means acknowledge when you disagree. You don't need to be so concerned about how you label yourself. 

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1 hour ago, Eiuol said:

What does it matter though? Why do you need to call yourself an Objectivist? If a closed system would make you not an Objectivist, who cares, it's not like I'm going to call the Spanish Inquisition on you. 

Because it's the truth.

 

Granted, as I stated in the OP I've been having some trouble applying it to my own life of late, which is precisely why I've also been trying not to grandstand about it.  Maybe I'm not currently living as an Objectivist; that's sort of how I think of it, since I know I'm not using my time in the best ways I possibly could.

But I still believe in all those core ideas.  And I fully intend to start enacting them again soon.  And if I won't be able to call myself an Objectivist, when I get back to the point where I'm doing all of that on a daily basis, then I really don't see who can.

 

And you know, maybe I shouldn't be so concerned with the label.  It's ironic because it does seem to parallel the concept of Intellectual Property (which is one of my only disagreements with Rand) but I still feel that I ought to give her some sort of credit, even if it's only within my own mind, for everything I've gotten from her for essentially free.

But maybe not.  Maybe I should just call myself Eclectic and deny any one person having an outsized influence on my current philosophical framework.  It would certainly be much easier.

 

But I still don't feel that it would be true.

 

PostScript:

 

I mean, of all the things I currently think, almost all of them can be traced back to Anton Szandor LeVay, Ayn Rand and Elon Musk.  And when you learn that LeVay's ideas were basically just Ayn Rand's ideas, stripped of any epistemological basis, that leaves Ayn Rand and Elon Musk (the latter of which has managed to change my mind about maybe 5% of what the former has).

Granted, many of them are originally my own - which isn't consistent with a "closed system".  But to deny how many of them I got from Ayn Rand just feels like outright plagiarism.

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3 minutes ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

but I still feel that I ought to give her some sort of credit, even if it's only within my own mind, for everything I've gotten from her for essentially free.

By all means, give her credit. It doesn't imply calling yourself an Objectivist. Rand stated this straightforwardly when she said that "If you agree with some tenets of Objectivism, but disagree with others, do not call yourself an Objectivist; give proper authorship credit for the parts you agree with".

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27 minutes ago, RationalEgoist said:

By all means, give her credit. It doesn't imply calling yourself an Objectivist. Rand stated this straightforwardly when she said that "If you agree with some tenets of Objectivism, but disagree with others, do not call yourself an Objectivist; give proper authorship credit for the parts you agree with".

Yeah; maybe.  I'd like the source if I could have it.  And, more importantly, who could the term apply to?

 

There was a time, from 2012 to 2014, in which I spent every minute of every day being productive.  I worked a full-time job, helped to raise my son and taught myself how to program on the side.  And in 2015, when I realized that my wife wasn't actually interested in Objectivism (certainly not in the way I was) I gave myself a month to program an extremely profitable Android app, to fund the transition from marriage to divorce (while still working a full-time factory job for most of each day, mind you).

In those moments where 100% of my time and energy was devoted to my own ideals (which were also Ayn Rand's ideals, apart from the issue of intellectual property and maybe one or two others) I was being an Objectivist.

 

Now, according to Peikoff (in Fact and Value) I was not an Objectivist.  Although I was giving everything I had to give to what I, after thinking it through, considered to be my best possible life - that's irrelevant.  I don't see IP the way Rand did, so that means that I wasn't being an Objectivist, even then.

 

I say to Hell with Peikoff.  When I'm back on top of things (the way I was then) I will call myself an Objectivist again, and I couldn't give a single pubic hair what he thinks of it!

 

And that's because I never would've started putting 100% of my effort into anything if I hadn't read Atlas Shrugged.  As far as I'm concerned she deserves some credit from whatever I can do because of that.

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3 minutes ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

I'd like the source if I could have it

To the Readers of The Objectivist Forum, The Objectivist Forum, Vol. 1, No. 1

4 minutes ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

In those moments where 100% of my time and energy was devoted to my own ideals (which were also Ayn Rand's ideals, apart from the issue of intellectual property and maybe one or two others) I was being an Objectivist.

 

Now, according to Peikoff (in Fact and Value) I was not an Objectivist.  Although I was giving everything I had to give to what I, after thinking it through, considered to be my best possible life - that's irrelevant. 

It seems to me that you're too caught up with calling yourself an Objectivist. Even if, in fact, you were not an Objectivist, does that take anything away from the highly virtuous actions you took during that period of time? I think not. Living virtuously in pursuit of your own happiness is the most important thing in the world. If you've rationally (and I cannot emphasize this enough) concluded that a departure from some of Rand's ideas will enhance your happiness, then you are in the right to act on that. 

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5 hours ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

What would a "complete" system even look like? 

It's not complete. In her late years, Rand was planning a theory of induction:

Quote

[...] If my hypothesis is true, then algebra might give me the clue to the objective rules of induction—to a kind of “Organon of Induction.”

(Journals of Ayn Rand, chapter 16)

Any kind of essay, book etc. is complete if it fully covers what the author intended to cover. It's his decision how in-depth that treatment is.

A system is a collection of interconnected principles. It is not a theory, but it can contain any number of theories, completed or not. The system is the main work, and is distinct from any presentation it might receive in full books, short essays, spoken lectures and many more.

With Objectivism, Rand was concerned with the essentials regarding five fundamental needs: the status of reality (mind-independent); proper cognition; survival; protection of individual rights; condensing our widest principles. 

Systems that cover this many branches are not commonplace in history. The system craze reached its peak in the 19th century.

Everything in the universe is interconnected (and thus all knowledge). We can expand any subject we want until we exhaust it completely. This is obvious to anyone. Protestations for 'openness' are simply calls for such expansion.

If you fiddle with the core ideas behind a worldview, you reach a different worldview (even if it's a close sibling of the original). According to my judgement, Kelley's corrections are not congruent with, and misinterpret, parts of Rand's system.

When Fichte become involved in a scandal, Kant had to publicly repudiate his philosophy because Fichte kept suggesting that his own system was simply the Kantian system, with a few rough edges softened.

(It wasn't).

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On 3/16/2022 at 8:38 PM, RationalEgoist said:

It seems to me that you're too caught up with calling yourself an Objectivist.

Maybe.  And maybe, if we accept the idea of a "closed system" then there are no Objectivists at all; plenty of "students of Objectivism" and "fans of Ayn Rand" and "people with Objectivist sympathies" but not a single Objectivist.  That's certainly the tortured sort of language your side seem to consistently resort to in order to describe themselves.

And that is better than chucking any possibility of ever rationally disagreeing with Ayn Rand (which is the option to which the analogies to a cult are applicable).  But it is a tortured way of using concepts which we don't use for other philosophies.

 

When we meet someone who declares that the real world is unknowable to us; that all we can ever know is how things appear to our specific set of senses, and that the height of virtue is an adherence to duty for duty's own sake, we call them a Kantian.  And if they declared "no; I can't be a Kantian because Immanuel Kant argued for a limited government which respects individual rights, while I am a Communist" I could possibly see calling them a Neo-Kantian (maybe) but not discarding the label altogether.

 

If the shoe fits then wear it.

 

Incidentally, this is precisely why I don't run around calling myself an Objectivist when I know I'm not living up to the standards demanded by that philosophy.  If the shoe doesn't fit then I can't wear it.

And no; refraining from the specific use of the "O" label wouldn't take anything away from the virtue I'd be practicing.  But labels matter because concepts matter.  It doesn't matter whether we call a certain type of thing Arsenic or Arseeni or the element As - but it matters one Hell of a lot that we can distinguish that thing from food, or Objectivism from Kantianism.

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On 3/16/2022 at 9:55 PM, KyaryPamyu said:

We can expand any subject we want until we exhaust it completely. This is obvious to anyone.

No, it's not!  The expansion part is certainly obvious (as is the fact that this is what calls for "openness" are meant for) but the exhaustion part is precisely what I was asking about, because it's far from obvious to me!

 

Is there any field of science which has been "exhausted"?  One could speculate that perhaps physics might be at some point but there's still plenty that we still don't know about physics, and that's the most advanced scientific field I can think of.  Everything else is behind it - often multiple millenia behind it. And the fact that General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics are mutually exclusive (that we can model and predict the behavior of very large objects or very small objects with amazing accuracy, but that either model breaks down into incomprehensible gibberish in the presence of the other) leads me to suspect that even that still has plenty left to learn about.

One can imagine some future theory of physics which can accurately model and predict the motion of literally any physical object, which would presumably be the "exhaustion" of physics.  But I'm not aware of a single subject which has ever been exhausted in all of human history (including human history!) and we should remember that the assumption that it can happen is, in fact, an assumption.  Maybe it can't happen.

 

Furthermore, what I was specifically asking about was a "complete system".  Not a single subject, but a "system of interconnected theories and principles" in which every member is complete.  That's a slightly taller order than even the exhaustion of a single subject.

 

On 3/16/2022 at 9:55 PM, KyaryPamyu said:

If you fiddle with the core ideas behind a worldview, you reach a different worldview (even if it's a close sibling of the original). According to my judgement, Kelley's corrections are not congruent with, and misinterpret, parts of Rand's system.

So if I published The Wellspring of the Human Soul, about the architect Harrison Ragnar, you would not consider it an act of plagiarism?  Maybe it would be a close sibling of The Fountainhead (since I literally described the act of changing a few proper nouns and maybe a bit of the dialogue while retaining essentially the same story) but since it wouldn't be identical there wouldn't be a problem.

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17 minutes ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

Is there any field of science which has been "exhausted"?

You equate a philosophic system/worldview (a limited treatement of a set of issues) with the entire field of philosophy.

In other words, you're arguing for the latter, to people who mean the former.

43 minutes ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

Incidentally, this is precisely why I don't run around calling myself an Objectivist when I know I'm not living up to the standards demanded by that philosophy.  If the shoe doesn't fit then I can't wear it.

One can only judge by himself, by studying the system and determining which principles add up to the total worldview.

I am copying my own summary. Anybody who is at home with the following, I personally call an objectivist.

Quote

1. The refutation of supernaturalism, the primacy of consciousness, and coherentism.
2. All knowledge is contextual.
3. Existence is not an attribute of existents, it is the existents.
4. Consciousness is not an attribute of a given state of consciousness, it is that state.
5. Causality is the relation between an object and its activity.
6. Achieving life is enabled by performing cognition to gain awareness (beyond mere sense perception). Reason is the sole means of such cognition.
7. Why skepticism about reason, volition, correspondence, and the base of cognition (sense perception and its corresponding axiomatic concepts) is invalid.
8. Life does not need justification, i.e. its existence and needs are a natural fact. The purpose of life is happiness (lack of happiness depletes the will to live).
9. Crow: the need to essentialize, to see the core idea.
10. Why the goodness or badness of an action is calculated in relation to its effect on life.
11. Individuals are the proper beneficiaries of their own virtue; any deviation from this introduces the dynamic of lives being sacrificed to other lives.
12. The need to produce in order to earn one's needs.
13. Virtuousness is objective cognition of the value (goodness) of things. Evasion is suspension of such cognition
14. Morality is not difficult. Positive results increase our determination to be consistently virtuous.
15. The initiation of physical force suspends reality-oriented cognition for both the victim and the perpetrator, thus is anti-life.
16. One must judge how a view was formed, treating it as a product of free human action (which might hold evasions), and not as a given. One must not help evil perpetrate by sanctioning it.
17. The universe is not against you (it's neutral).
18. Happiness is the normal situation for a living being. Unhappiness results from pursuing goals that contradict our actual needs.
19. The mind needs its virtuous action to be matched by a corresponding reward, and not less than that. If the result is less, motivation becomes weak. Some achievements, such as personal efficacy (self-esteem), do not produce a pleasure that is commensurate with what is attained; sex is an appropriate supplement, since it is achieved based on personal value.
20. The need to protect one's life from interference by other individuals, by means of a limited government and a free market.
21. The need to hold in mind the large context in which one acts, i.e. the kind of world one lives in. Unlike a regular material object, an artwork is an embodied concept of what life is like. Facts are structured into artworks the same way referents are structured into concepts, i.e. according to essentials and a theme. Failure to do so leads not to concepts, but to strings of disconnected objects and nothing being refered to.

 

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2 hours ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

And maybe, if we accept the idea of a "closed system" then there are no Objectivists at all; plenty of "students of Objectivism" and "fans of Ayn Rand" and "people with Objectivist sympathies" but not a single Objectivist. 

I think it would be weird though to say that if you overall disagree with Rand's aesthetic theory that you are still an Objectivist. You might disagree with how fine-grained a distinction should be, but I doubt you would object much to saying that a broad distinction like this is important. 

2 hours ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

But labels matter because concepts matter.  It doesn't matter whether we call a certain type of thing Arsenic or Arseeni or the element As - but it matters one Hell of a lot that we can distinguish that thing from food, or Objectivism from Kantianism.

Objectivism is a proper noun. According to Rand, these are not concepts in the full sense where the definition can expand, more information can be found about particulars, and formed by some comparison of units. There is exactly one Eiffel Tower, the word is only used to tell people what you are referring to concretely. You can't expand the definition of Eiffel Tower, you can't go and make more Eiffel Towers, and you don't require multiple Eiffel Towers to form a concept of them. You cannot later find a better definition of Eiffel Tower. Philosophy is more abstract of course, but that doesn't change how proper nouns work. Proper nouns are supposed to be relatively rigid. There are different degrees of understanding, sure, and we might disagree about what counts as fundamental. After all, a philosophy is something you hold in your mind, so multiple people can decide to agree or not. But the philosophy would still be closed because we are referring to a proper noun, not a broad method of doing philosophy. 

 

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On 3/23/2022 at 4:47 PM, KyaryPamyu said:
Quote

Is there any field of science which has been "exhausted"?

You equate a philosophic system/worldview (a limited treatement of a set of issues) with the entire field of philosophy.

In other words, you're arguing for the latter, to people who mean the former.

This is so confusing to me.  I can neither agree with what you're saying nor name any arguments against it because I literally do not  know what you mean.  Could you please elaborate?

On 3/23/2022 at 4:47 PM, KyaryPamyu said:

I am copying my own summary. Anybody who is at home with the following, I personally call an objectivist.

WHOA!

 

You know what this is?  This is an attempt to define what "Objectivism" is in terms of essentials.  This is precisely what I've been arguing for this entire time!

I hesitate to present any such list of my own (since I am arguing the Essentialist position and assume it will only be met with "but O'ism = every little thing Ayn Rand ever wrote").  But I see no problems with the list you've presented.  I don't see the "pyramid of ability" on that list - and I concur.  Issues like that are truly philosophical but non-essential to the core of the philosophy, itself.

Much like the issue of Individual Rights being nonessential to the philosophy of Kantianism.

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On 3/23/2022 at 6:10 PM, Eiuol said:

I think it would be weird though to say that if you overall disagree with Rand's aesthetic theory that you are still an Objectivist. You might disagree with how fine-grained a distinction should be, but I doubt you would object much to saying that a broad distinction like this is important. 

Far from it.  I think people like Isaac Newton and Thomas Jefferson were Objectivists before we discovered the proper word for it.  I know that neither truly agreed 100% with everything Ayn Rand said, and both probably presented contradictions in their own viewpoints which we could (and should) nitpick in retrospect.

But if the measure of a man is more of what he DOES rather than what he CLAIMS TO BELIEVE then I maintain that such figures were enacting Ayn Rand's ideals long before we fully understood why they should've.

On 3/23/2022 at 6:10 PM, Eiuol said:

Objectivism is a proper noun. According to Rand, these are not concepts in the full sense where the definition can expand, more information can be found about particulars, and formed by some comparison of units. There is exactly one Eiffel Tower, the word is only used to tell people what you are referring to concretely. You can't expand the definition of Eiffel Tower, you can't go and make more Eiffel Towers, and you don't require multiple Eiffel Towers to form a concept of them. You cannot later find a better definition of Eiffel Tower. Philosophy is more abstract of course, but that doesn't change how proper nouns work. Proper nouns are supposed to be relatively rigid. There are different degrees of understanding, sure, and we might disagree about what counts as fundamental. After all, a philosophy is something you hold in your mind, so multiple people can decide to agree or not. But the philosophy would still be closed because we are referring to a proper noun, not a broad method of doing philosophy. 

Where did she say this?  Because she also said in one of her discussions of Intellectual Property Rights (I believe it was the one about radio broadcasts) that philosophical "discoveries" cannot be owned, and explained why.  So if she said both then this is a blatant contradiction which not only explodes any notion of a "closed Objectivism" but on which only one of our sides can be right.

 

I'll see if I can track down where she mentioned that philosophical discoveries cannot be owned tomorrow.

 

---

 

This is totally irrelevant.  But I've had a bit to drink (as I said - I'm not living up to my own standards) and it is very good.

 

 

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

I think people like Isaac Newton and Thomas Jefferson were Objectivists before we discovered the proper word for it. 

But these people are philosophically very distinct from Rand, it's not like they believed the very important things that she believed but simply lacked a common name. By the sounds of it, you seem to equate truth with Objectivism, where anyone who holds correct ideas is an Objectivist. Which might be why you seem to think the closed system view is the view that there is no disagreement to be had about what is true. 

1 hour ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

Where did she say this? 

You can infer that easily from the first page of chapter 2 of ITOE.

1 hour ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

But I've had a bit to drink (as I said - I'm not living up to my own standards)

I won't bother then.

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20 hours ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

Could you please elaborate?

Here's an analogy:

  1. There is gravity
  2. We can formulate a theory of gravity
  3. Newton and Einstein formulated a theory on the same subject, gravity
  4. Since both theories cover the same subject, they are the same theory.

In other words, if by theory of gravity you understand: the concept of gravity, then yes, concepts are open-ended and allow for revisions.

If by theory of gravity you understand: a theory about gravity, then different theories of gravity have their own corresponding (closed, non-revisable) concept.

The concept 'Objectivism' does not stand for philosophy. It stands for a system of philosophy originated by Rand, distinct from the systems of Aristotle, Giovanni Gentile, Kelley etc.

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On 3/28/2022 at 8:39 PM, Eiuol said:

But these people are philosophically very distinct from Rand, it's not like they believed the very important things that she believed but simply lacked a common name. 

Yep.

On 3/28/2022 at 8:39 PM, Eiuol said:

By the sounds of it, you seem to equate truth with Objectivism, where anyone who holds correct ideas is an Objectivist.

Nope.

 

Isaac Newton believed in alchemy. This belief was not that far-fetched at the time (after all, the scientific method had only JUST been made explicit for the very first time - by him) and he fully integrated it into his overall worldview: he believed that since it was real, it could be measured, quantified and scientifically understood. And he didn't JUST believe it! Since he believed this to be true he then set out to prove it, experimentally, by reference to reality.

This was an incorrect belief which was properly integrated, was not arrived at arbitrarily or irrationally and which prompted the exertion of significant time and effort to discover further truths. Perhaps calling him an Objectivist was taking it a bit far, in retrospect, but that's a display of all the primary Virtues we're supposed to care about.

It wasn't a conflation of "truth" with Objectivism, but "rationality" (which does not automatically guarantee any particular truth).

 

And I did track down that quote I had in mind...

Quote

It is important to note, in this connection, that a discovery cannot be patented, only an invention. A scientific or philosophical discovery, which identifies a law of nature, a principle or a fact of reality not previously known, cannot be the exclusive property of the discoverer because: (a) he did not create it, and (b) if he cares to make his discovery public, claiming it to be true, he cannot demand that men continue to pursue or practice falsehoods except by his permission. He can copyright the book in which he presents his discovery and he can demand that his authorship of the discovery be acknowledged, that no other man appropriate or plagiarize the credit for it—but he cannot copyright theoretical knowledge.

It's from Patents and Copyrights in Capitalism: the Unknown Ideal.

 

On 3/28/2022 at 8:39 PM, Eiuol said:
Quote

But I've had a bit to drink (as I said - I'm not living up to my own standards)

I won't bother then.

I don't see why since, according to Peikoff in Fact and Value, the primary thing to judge are the ideas I consciously profess (much of which would also be your own ideas); not what I do with them. The notion that actions are the primary things to which "good" and "evil" apply (instead of to ideas) is the position advocated by That Kelley Creature.

 

Did I not mention what a nifty moral standard that is in the OP? I don't have to actually DO anything beyond holding the correct opinions; if I advocate Marxism then I am the moral equivalent of Karl Marx, and by the same token (mutatus mutandis) if I advocate Objectivism then I am the moral equivalent of Ayn Rand! 

 

Nifty, too, that she wasn't alive to comment on Peikoff's convenient moral standard.

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On 3/29/2022 at 3:52 PM, KyaryPamyu said:

Here's an analogy:

  1. There is gravity
  2. We can formulate a theory of gravity
  3. Newton and Einstein formulated a theory on the same subject, gravity
  4. Since both theories cover the same subject, they are the same theory.

In other words, if by theory of gravity you understand: the concept of gravity, then yes, concepts are open-ended and allow for revisions.

If by theory of gravity you understand: a theory about gravity, then different theories of gravity have their own corresponding (closed, non-revisable) concept.

The concept 'Objectivism' does not stand for philosophy. It stands for a system of philosophy originated by Rand, distinct from the systems of Aristotle, Giovanni Gentile, Kelley etc.

And yet Rand explicitly mentioned how Einstein's theories were a refinement of Newton's and not a refutation (I believe it was in the ITOE). She also gave credit to Aristotle as her intellectual forefather, which would be odd if Objectivism was a refutation of Aristotelianism. The view of an explosive science in which all of our old ideas are regularly demolished every few decades is precisely what philosophy would be if philosophical systems were conceived of as permanently "closed".

Hell, under that conception there is no way one could ever link Kant to Stalin or Hitler in any way. Neither of them fully agreed with 100% of what Kant ever said - therefore neither of them was a Kantian. Therefore Kant had nothing to do with the Holocaust or the Holodomor.

 

And yet, every single time Rand ever spoke about Kant's philosophy it was in terms of essentials; stripping out every last thing which wasn't a vital component and speaking only of the core of the ideology. We still do this regularly whenever we discuss other ideologies, amongst ourselves - just not our own.

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15 minutes ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

Isaac Newton believed in alchemy. This belief was not that far-fetched at the time

Actually, he was very much a Christian mystic with all the occult mysticism of alchemy. Newton was relatively rational about physics and questions about physics, but he approached it in a rationalistic way such that he pretty much reduced physics to merely mechanical motions. 

21 minutes ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

I don't see why since, according to Peikoff in Fact and Value, the primary thing to judge are the ideas I consciously profess

Ideas that you semi-consciously profess with a vague haze which prevents clarity of thought. No use talking to you if you are in a self-admitted fog. 

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3 hours ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

She also gave credit to Aristotle as her intellectual forefather, which would be odd if Objectivism was a refutation of Aristotelianism

This seems to be your point:

  1. There is a science called philosophy
  2. Objectivism is true
  3. Therefore, Objectivism is philosophy as such, just with a fancy name
  4. Philosophy must be perfected and expanded

Under this model, the concepts of 'theory' and 'system' do not exist for you. Theory or system simply means: philosophic claims.

A collection of true philosophic claims is a true philosophy. Under this category, you put: Objectivism.

A collection of false philosophic statements is a false philosophy. Under this category, you put: Kantianism, Actualism, Hegelianism etc.

And you probably agree with the following: claiming that Aristotle had a theory of quantum physics is an example of rewriting history, or commiting forgery.
---------
Peikoff is protesting against attributing quantum physics to Aristotle.

Kelley is protesting about Peikoff claiming that philosophy must not be perfected. That is Kelley's misunderstanding.

No argument can, or will, solve a debate where the two parties argue for completely different things. This is what I mentioned a while ago: you are arguing for one thing, to people who mean something completely different.

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3 hours ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

He can copyright the book in which he presents his discovery and he can demand that his authorship of the discovery be acknowledged, that no other man appropriate or plagiarize the credit for it—but he cannot copyright theoretical knowledge.

Rand copyrights the books in which she presents her discoveries. She can demand that her authorship of the discoveries be acknowledged (as Objectivism), that no other man appropriate or plagiarize the credit for it—but she cannot copyright theoretical knowledge.

3 hours ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

A scientific or philosophical discovery, which identifies a law of nature, a principle or a fact of reality not previously known, cannot be the exclusive property of the discoverer because: (a) he did not create it, and (b) if he cares to make his discovery public, claiming it to be true, he cannot demand that men continue to pursue or practice falsehoods except by his permission.

Her acknowledgement is one of discovery, not of creation. Laws of nature, principles of reality, or facts of reality, are not creations.

Her precise form of presentation is available to anyone willing to put forth the effort to find and read it for themselves. 

As more information becomes public domain, it is getting set adrift in an ever increasing sea of data where essential data becomes more difficult to be subjugated to efficacious organization efforts.

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Posted (edited)
On 3/31/2022 at 12:11 AM, dream_weaver said:

Rand copyrights the books in which she presents her discoveries. She can demand that her authorship of the discoveries be acknowledged (as Objectivism), that no other man appropriate or plagiarize the credit for it—but she cannot copyright theoretical knowledge.

Her acknowledgement is one of discovery, not of creation. Laws of nature, principles of reality, or facts of reality, are not creations.

Precisely.  Thank you.

On 3/30/2022 at 11:24 PM, KyaryPamyu said:

This seems to be your point:

  1. There is a science called philosophy
  2. Objectivism is true
  3. Therefore, Objectivism is philosophy as such, just with a fancy name
  4. Philosophy must be perfected and expanded

Under this model, the concepts of 'theory' and 'system' do not exist for you. Theory or system simply means: philosophic claims.

A collection of true philosophic claims is a true philosophy. Under this category, you put: Objectivism.

A collection of false philosophic statements is a false philosophy. Under this category, you put: Kantianism, Actualism, Hegelianism etc.

And you probably agree with the following: claiming that Aristotle had a theory of quantum physics is an example of rewriting history, or commiting forgery.

I absolutely believe that philosophy must be expanded and perfected.  100%

I do also play fast and loose with the terms "system" and "theory" (but not "complete system").  I understand these to be collections of individual claims, but as long as a system is not "complete" I don't see it as being too distinct from a theory; the borders between the two seem pretty fuzzy.

I basically agree about "a system of true philosophical claims" meaning Objectivism, and false systems including all the others. I don't consider "Objectivism" as just "philosophy as such" because of all those alternative philosophies.

 

The point about Aristotle having a theory of Quantum Mechanics is interesting.  It'd simplify things for me if we used General Relativity instead of QM (which seems much more Aristotelian) and, to be precise, I wouldn't say that Aristotle personally invented General Relativity.

I might agree that Aristotelianism implies Relativity, though.  I think I see what you're driving at, there, and I'll have to think about it.

On 3/30/2022 at 11:24 PM, KyaryPamyu said:

Peikoff is protesting against attributing quantum physics to Aristotle.

Kelley is protesting about Peikoff claiming that philosophy must not be perfected. That is Kelley's misunderstanding.

I disagree with that characterization, but let's just run with it for the sake of argument.

 

Fact and Value was the essay (which Ayn Rand was not alive to comment upon) in which Peikoff declared:

Quote

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. 

Further setting aside the obscene references to "essentials" and "fundamentals", he writes slightly earlier in the very same essay:

Quote

NOW TAKE THE CASE of Ayn Rand, who discovered true ideas on a virtually unprecedented scale. Do any of you who agree with her philosophy respond to it by saying “Yeah, it’s true” — without evaluation, emotion, passion? Not if you are moral. A moral person (assuming he understands philosophy at all) greets the discovery of this kind of truth with admiration, awe, even love; he makes a heartfelt positive moral evaluation. He says: Objectivism is not only true, it is great! Why? Because of the volitional work a mind must have performed to reach for the first time so exalted a level of truth — and because of all the glorious effects such knowledge will have on man’s life, all the possibilities of action it opens up for the future.

...

Now consider the case of Kant, whom I take to be the negative counterpart of Ayn Rand. To anyone capable of understanding Kant’s ideas, the first thing to say about them is: “false.” But implicit in the all-embracing war on reality they represent is a second verdict: “wicked.” The cause of such ideas has to be methodical, lifelong intellectual dishonesty; the effect, when they are injected into the cultural mainstream, has to be mass death. There can be no greater evasion than the open, total rejection of reality undertaken as a lifetime crusade. And only evasion on this kind of scale, evasion as the motor of an entire philosophic system, makes possible and necessary all the atrocities of our age. (For details, see The Ominous Parallels.)

The underline is mine, to underscore the fact that he is attributing the actions of Hitler and Stalin to Immanuel Kant.

 

It would be one thing if he truly was declaring that a "philosophy" consists of the discrete and immutable statements of its author (by which definition, each of us would have our own, personal philosophy).  It'd be a concept of questionable utility but with clear internal consistency.  No; he is simultaneously saying that none of the implications of Ayn Rand's writings are part of "Objectivism" and that Relativity is not part of Aristotelianism but also that the Nazi Death Camps are part of Kantianism, in the same way and at the same time.

And the latter part of that contradiction is the only one Rand, herself, ever explicitly supported.  We never got a chance to hear her opinion of the former half.

 

And that's assuming that your characterization is accurate, which I don't believe.

 

---

PS:

 

In Truth and Toleration Kelley criticizes much Objectivist discussion of other philosophies (and this part does apply to what Rand, herself, wrote) as treating ideas as the agents which act upon the world, while the people who hold them are devoid of volition.

A Kantian professor may lecture you about all the intricate details of his own (quite evil) philosophy.  Does that automatically lead to your acceptance of it?  If not; if you choose to accept it, in some way, and it then leads you to commit atrocities, then what degree of the blame belongs to that professor?

 

In Fact and Value Peikoff argues it's basically 100%.  The ideas of Kant, once accepted, could ONLY lead to starvation and massacre.  Kelley and I do not believe that it's 0% of the blame, but not 100% either.

 

This ties directly back into what I just told @Eiuol about how Peikoff's moral standard applies to a drunk like myself.

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold
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2 hours ago, Harrison Danneskjold said:

It would be one thing if he truly was declaring that a "philosophy" consists of the discrete and immutable statements of its author (by which definition, each of us would have our own, personal philosophy).

Kant's ideas did open the path to Nazi ideology, but those are two very distinct systems of thought.

Most people keep a distinction between the ideas of a thinker, and ideas influenced by that thinker. A concept of 'Randianism' would be closer to the latter, since that's what Aristotelianism or Kantianism typically refer to: a sphere of influence, rather than one system. Objectivism explicitly refers to one system.

If you have a personal view of what a philosophy is, it's important to check what your audience means by the term, in order to know how to situate your arguments.

While I agree with O'ism, I also think that 'isms' should never exist in science. But unlike physics, philosophy is The Land of the Isms, so there's no escape from that at the moment.

While I don't think philosophic principles should be any more personal that math and medicine, I do believe, for the same reason, that people should be more interested in applying universal principles to their own particular case (a sort of mini-philosophy), rather than appending oneself to some denomination. (Making a philosophy popular is another issue. Creating a public movement is one possible strategy). So I share your eagerness to simply look at 'philosophy as such'.

Returning to the issue of system, I have no qualms with Kelley philosophizing in the Randian spirit, or even coming up with a Kelley-ism. I do however think that altering someone's work is wrong; no matter how close your philosophy is to someone else, you should philosophise under your own name.

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19 hours ago, KyaryPamyu said:

While I agree with O'ism, I also think that 'isms' should never exist in science. But unlike physics, philosophy is The Land of the Isms, so there's no escape from that at the moment.

Actually, having given your analogy to Aristotle some thought, I would consider Relativity to be an Aristotelian idea.

 

I've never been quite comfortable drawing a binary distinction between philosophy and every other area of human thought.  Unlike gender, the fundamentality of an idea is a legitimate spectrum; not a binary.

I've been trying to leave that issue aside because it tends to bog any discussion of this issue down.  After all, without that clear division "Objectivism" would literally consist of "literally every opinion Ayn Rand ever held on anything", and those who argue for a closed system object to that characterization in the strongest possible terms - often to the exclusion of the rest of the argument.

The way I think of systems of interrelated ideas (such as philosophies) is a bit fuzzier than that.  There are dividing lines between contradictory ways of thinking, certainly, and there is a spectrum of abstraction (ranging from "existents" to "this computer monitor in front of me") but it's nowhere near as cut-and-dry as many Objectivists (above all, Peikoff) would suggest.  I've never been able to pin down such clear divisions for myself, nor has anyone else to whom I've raised the question thus far.

And in the fuzzier way I conceptualize different systems of thought, Relativity would belong in Aristotelianism (which argued for the importance of logical inference and an adherence to observable reality).  Almost every hard science would also be an outgrowth of Aristotelianism.

 

If you want to see a non-Aristotelian "science" just see Lysenkoism (or any other pseudoscience).

 

19 hours ago, KyaryPamyu said:

While I don't think philosophic principles should be any more personal that math and medicine, I do believe, for the same reason, that people should be more interested in applying universal principles to their own particular case (a sort of mini-philosophy), rather than appending oneself to some denomination. (Making a philosophy popular is another issue. Creating a public movement is one possible strategy). So I share your eagerness to simply look at 'philosophy as such'.

But such mini-philosophies don't need to have their own concept.  We just call them "what I personally think" (just as I did in the previous section).  If you can show me precisely where to put a clear dividing line between what is "philosophical" and what is not then my personal worldview tomorrow might be different than what it is, right now.

This is the conception of "philosophy" with obvious internal consistency but questionable utility.  Which, again, could not have been what Rand or Peikoff were using whenever they were discussing Kantianism.

 

And just to be clear, I don't see a problem with calling the Nazi Death Camps part of Kantianism (just as I don't see a problem with calling General Relativity an Aristotelian idea).  Both are pretty far removed from what their original authors could have imagined, but there is an undeniable logical progression from A to B to C to D.

What I do have a problem with is saying that E has nothing to do with D or C or B or A in the case of Objectivism.  It's simply not true.

 

19 hours ago, KyaryPamyu said:

Returning to the issue of system, I have no qualms with Kelley philosophizing in the Randian spirit, or even coming up with a Kelley-ism. I do however think that altering someone's work is wrong; no matter how close your philosophy is to someone else, you should philosophise under your own name.

And if Kelley's ideas or mine were as far removed from Objectivism as Objectivism is from its Aristotelian root then I might agree.  However, if I were to read about a new philosophy which shared everything in common with Objectivism except a denial of the Pyramid of Ability and perhaps a few new derivations, I would consider it plagiarism to refer to it as anything other than Objectivism.

 

The decision of where to draw that dividing line should be made on the basis of the ideas, themselves; not the particular brain which discovered them.

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That Objectivism is a "closed system" you should understand merely to mean that "Objectivism is fully copyrighted and those copyrights will be enforced to the fullest extent of the law."  After the copyrights expire, and the current crew of freeloaders expires, "closed system" will have no referent and be meaningless.

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