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That Kelley Creature

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The essentials of Objectivism, the elements that make it the philosophy it was and is and will continue to be—leaving aside the beer-singers of philosophy—are in Galt’s Speech. Rand wrote above the speech when she reprinted it in her nonfiction book For the New Intellectual: “This is the philosophy of Objectivism.” One can dispute the correctness of anyone, including Rand, who might take that statement to mean: P - “Everything in GS is an element of the Objectivist philosophy.” One could rightly deny correctness of P because the definition of what is philosophy is not up for capricious definition, and it is rightly said that some elements in GS are not part of philosophy at all. Period. Any claims about history of philosophy or about psychology of dictators, for examples, are not part of philosophy itself. Rand has a philosophy in GS not reliant on such elements in GS.

Galt’s Speech has been open to all and available to all for close critical commentary or defense since it was published. So, Grames, I wouldn’t expect expiration of copyright to affect anything on open/closed controversies.

Within what is indeed philosophy, Rand gets to define what is hers. If she takes the position under some notion of “instinct” that there is no such thing in humans, then however much one might think that position false, or however inessential it is to her philosophy, it is part of her philosophy, right there in Galt’s Speech. It is a traditional philosophical issue, and her position on it has some significant natural fit with what else she says about the animal that is human and about the human setting in reality and about the nature of reality. Similarly, Descartes gets to define his philosophy as including the idea that there is a good God who makes geometry true and makes it possible for us to know it is true. Wrong as we might think that idea, it is part of the philosophy of Descartes.

Innovations on Descartes’s philosophy, such as Malbranche made, do not change what was and is Descartes’s philosophy, even though Malbranche’s philosophy is only a stone’s throw away from that of Descartes. Then too, the setting out and defense of Descartes’s philosophy by Spinoza (prior to setting out his own philosophy) sensibly requires our own judgment as to whether and how far Spinoza is true to Descartes in this setting out and defense. It is sensible to be making such a judgment because we have Descartes’s texts for intelligent independent assessment. Likewise for any setting out and defense of Rand’s philosophy. Rand stated in FNI Preface that her philosophy as set out in her fiction, even as in GS, was in need of additional articulation in non-fiction compositions. These require our own independent judgment as to how consistent with the philosophy set out in GS they are or how strongly entailed by GS they are.

I’d like to add something that probably has not been said before. Cultishness is typically associated with features associated with a more closed-school conception of Objectivist philosophy than with a more open-school conception of same. But I see now from the case of Nietzsche in German culture from 1890 to WWI (1914) that openness (indeed, far, far wider openness than David Kelley would countenance) can readily participate in cultishness concerning Rand. Nietzsche’s philosophy was an enormously (but not entirely) open setup—by him. Everyone could interpret it bizarrely, bending it to their own political or personal agenda. Yet the cult of Nietzsche, portraying him as the most revolutionary and holy thing since Jesus, was (like his cultural splash) to Rand cultishness as storm to moderate gale.

Edited by Boydstun
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It was around 1970, in college, that I first encountered the name Libertarian. At the university library, I had passed by display shelves for current issues of scholarly philosophy journals. One of them was an issue of The Personalist whose contents, listed on the cover, included a debate that was being printed concerning the legitimacy of government. The label libertarian came up in there, and among the presenters was one of whom I came away thinking: he’s the bright one. That is, he was the bright among brights. His name was Robert Nozick. A few years later, he issued the classic of American political philosophy Anarchy, State, and Utopia. It was due to his first part therein that I began to take the idea of individualist free-market stateless rule of law seriously. Rand had raised an important objection to that idea, libertarian anarchism, earlier in CUI, although without the name libertarian.

I remained in the not-anarchist sector of libertarianism, with Nozick, Hospers, Machan, and Rand. I had been dissuaded from democratic socialism to Rand’s ideal of government when I read her novels in 1967. After absorbing ASU on top of Atlas Shrugged, I got myself some knowledge of economics by working my way through Man, Economy, and State by Murray Rothbard. I had joined the Libertarian Party in 1972 and continued to do volunteer work therein for the next dozen years. Rand dismissed us as simply trying to draw attention to ourselves. But in truth I was using the Party as a channel to telling the public I encountered in getting ballot-access signatures that there was this idea and ideal called libertarianism and handing them a brochure on what that was. In those days, very few had ever heard of such a thing. It was during my libertarian activism and study that I began in the early 1980’s to write.* I left off libertarian activism and study in 1984 and turned to study of the non-political areas of philosophy, which had been my focus in formal course work in college.

In the 1980’s Peter Schwartz was the editor and publisher of The Intellectual Activist, to which Leonard Peikoff was a contributing editor.

In 1986 Mr. Schwartz penned therein the essay “Libertarianism: A Perversion of Liberty” which was reprinted two years later in The Voice of Reason: Essays in Objectivist Thought. As I recall, Robert Nozick, the principal libertarian philosopher, and Nozick’s thought in the area is never mentioned in that representation of libertarianism by Mr. Schwartz. In 1988 it was Schwartz who started the public debate between the ARI/Peikoff set and David Kelley that would come to be the debate over open and closed Objectivism.

Schwartz’s opening volley was: On Sanctioning the Sanctioners

"Ayn Rand's principle of not sanctioning evil has an aspect that some TIA readers apparently do not see. It is clear why one should not, for example, sell goods to totalitarian states or provide shelter to escaping criminals or work as a PLO fund-raiser. Assisting one's philosophical enemies—i.e., those who hold values fundamentally antithetical to one's own—is ultimately harmful to one's own interests. And the corollary of this principle is: neither should one sanction the sanctioners of one's philosophical enemies . . . they deserve to be ostracized for it.

". . . Examples of philosophical enmity . . . of particular interest to TIA—and to those readers who have asked me why, in their words, "honest differences of opinion" cause me to dissociate from certain individuals who "still agree with your basic philosophy." The first example is that of Libertarianism. Libertarians are patently not allies in the ideological battle for capitalism, regardless of how many free-market positions they may claim to endorse. Nor are those who support them (i.e., those who contribute to the Libertarian Party or lend their names to Libertarian magazines or promote Libertarian bookstores or serve as after-dinner speakers at Libertarian functions [David Kelley]). They are all in fact furthering ideas and values fundamentally inimical to those of Objectivism. Consequently, TIA's editorial masthead, as well as Second Renaissance Book's catalogue of authors, categorically excludes anyone who openly preaches Libertarianism—or who supports the preachers. It is dishonest and self-defeating to treat such people as partners in the cause of reason, egoism and capitalism. They are not."

To which Kelley responded in published-elsewhere writing. Peikoff rejoined. And so forth.

The weight of the "me" in that Schwartz characterization and ostracism was his affiliation with Peikoff, who subsequently opened his rejoinder to Kelley by endorsing what Schwartz had written.

Edited by Boydstun
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On 4/9/2022 at 11:23 AM, Boydstun said:

Cultishness is typically associated with features associated with a more closed-school conception of Objectivist philosophy than with a more open-school conception of same.

Some selected elements form Galt's Speech.
[M]an's reason is his moral faculty.
A rational process is a moral process.
Moral perfection is an unbreached rationality[.]
The moral is the chosen, not the forced; the understood, not the obeyed.
Interestingly enough cult is utilized in Galt's Speech as well. 
The more I've examined the speech the more it appears to be an advocation of morality in distinction to what drove her to ask "why" of existence and let nothing stand in the way of what is surely perplexing to many who have yet to put their proverbial finger on it, the "inverted morality" that has gelled over the millennia while advances in other areas of thought provided the magnificence that has risen. 
The term cult is better applied to where efforts to understand are not being applied, than to delineating what are the essentials that warrant applying the effort(s) required for understanding.
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On 4/9/2022 at 11:23 AM, Boydstun said:

Galt’s Speech has been open to all and available to all for close critical commentary or defense since it was published. So, Grames, I wouldn’t expect expiration of copyright to affect anything on open/closed controversies.

Steven, I don't disagree it is that I have the considered opinion that the controversy is essentially fake.  The open/closed "controversy" only exists because of the real and imagined financial incentives of the people taking the "closed" side.  It is rather quite ordinary to be skeptical of and to scrutinize any self-described Objectivists, the same as self-described Aristotelians, Platonists, Nietzscheans, Catholics, Buddhists, or what have you.  This is the valid portion of the controversy.  Absent those financially interested parties there would be no larger "controversy".  Kelley earned some money speaking about Objectivism and didn't kick any back to the copyright holders, so he was kicked out of the club.  Everything written justifying the ostracization of Kelley is just rationalization.

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Grames, it has seemed to me that the only real competition for money by people or organizations making money off of Rand philosophy is in terms of competition for significant donors, where there are such, but not fees. Kelley's pulling rank against an in-place fairly hierarchical group might have put red under the collar on some personal levels---and if so, there could well have been some fakery and pretzeling going on in all this---but scooting him out from under the group would seem to draw financial contributions away from projects of the evicting group. Philosophy personnel at ARI or at Kelley's later group, it seems to me, have interests in staying in their work on Rand and its promulgation of some greater weight than making money. But then, I got skills besides philosophy from which one could make good money (with which to buy whatever top philosophy books I want hot off the press!), so it may make me too optimistic about the greater money people could make if they weren't spending their time trying to make money off of Rand philosophy. Another source of income to philosophers who spent time in these organizations would be that it helps them build an audience for any Objectivist-related books they might write and get published. I don't know how much money there is in that, but even if money in it is not so very much, an audience of minds ready to contact with one's own is mighty fine.

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Hi Doug,

I don’t know of any place of that essay online. Its exact title I now see is “Libertarianism: The Perversion of Liberty.” I have this essay in hardcopy in the book The Voice of Reason (1990), edited by Leonard Peikoff. The original, longer version of the essay appeared in the periodical The Intellectual Activist in 1985. I don’t have that longer version. What was chosen for its condensation for inclusion in the 1990 book, which would be widely read, is a fantastical distortion of the Libertarianism of which I was abreast and part of from the early ’70’s to mid ’80’s. Mr. Schwartz exhibited clips of views of various libertarians in a variety of Libertarian rags, most of which I never heard of, to make his case that libertarians are without philosophy, and are against having philosophy, and for that matter are against liberty. That last point was preposterous on its face, and I doubt he convinced anyone not idiot of it. The only libertarian book he noted was Murray Rothbard’s book For a New Liberty. He insinuated that Rothbard was the sole important libertarian thinker of the present scene. He silenced-over the other widely read book on that level which was written by philosopher John Hospers, the book titled Libertarianism. He silenced-over any of the libertarian philosophy books written to that point: Nozick’s Anarchy, State, and Utopia / Machan’s Human Rights and Human Liberties / Rothbard’s (amateur philosopher, but read) The Ethics of Liberty. Then too, of course, this libertarian (at the time) reader of Schwartz's smear knew perfectly well he had plenty of philosophy head-to-toe integrated with his standard libertarian proposition that the paramount political value should be individual liberty, individual rights.

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Can we draw a distinction between upper-case Libertarianism, which has to do with the Libertarian party, and lower-case libertarianism, which may be more general?

Before I joined this forum I thought of libertarianism as a somewhat general term for advocacy of strictly limited government, with the political part of Objectivism as a subcategory.  I gather it is not always used this way.  In particular, I gather some people would define libertarianism in a way that excludes Objectivism.  How widespread is this practice?  How much consistency is there in the way that libertarianism is defined to exclude Objectivism?


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Doug, to your first question, I also tend to capitalize libertarianism if it is some reference to the Libertarian Party. But I’m not fixed about it, and sometimes now I capitalize it if referring to what post-Atlas significant book writers on libertarianism are aiming at: writers such as Hospers, Rothbard, Nozick, Machan, D. Friedman, G. Smith, Rasmussen and Den Uyl, Narveson, R. Long, and Huemer. There remains the place for lower-case in more general, inclusive, and old usage. I don’t think any strong convention has arisen, unfortunately.

I have always agreed with your view that Objectivist political philosophy is a kind of Libertarianism. There is an effort to disavow Rand’s political philosophy as a genre of current libertarianism of any stripe, which is pushed from the Rand quarter (perhaps including Kelley and Bidinotto). In the books A Companion to Ayn Rand (Blackwell, 2016) and Foundations of a Free Society - Reflections on Ayn Rand’s Political Philosophy (Pittsburgh, 2019), there are attempts, continued from Rand, to class Rand’s political philosophy as not a Libertarian one. I think they are failures.

(My own view of the past three decades still leans toward limited-government Libertarianism, or in the Rand team’s parlance Radical Capitalism, but because they all are erroneous in fundamental theories of property rights in land and its relation to the most elementary state---and that has some bearings on correct contemporary law [such as right federal revenue]---my own view does not coincide with Libertarianism. I don’t want to distract by this at this time [by links], this theory on which I concluded my time, words, and development three-plus decades ago.)

“There are sundry ‘libertarians’ who plagiarize the Objectivist theory of politics . . .” (Ayn Rand, “Philosophical Detection” 1974).

According to Foundations of a Free Society, in the 1970’s Rand associated “libertarianism” with  Rothbard anarchism and as well perhaps with Karl Hess a former Goldwater promoter and anti-communist who had lately bannered the New Left and hippiedom. Rand urged her quarter to not latch on to those. Some distorting article in the NYT had cast Rand as of the same feather as those two in political philosophy, an identification to which she rightly objected.

In 1974 she would have known about the book by her former personal interlocutor and confederate in political philosophy who had written the book Libertarianism. Hospers was a professor at University of Southern California. She may have not yet known of the new book by Nozick (Harvard) Anarchy, State, and Utopia. Her silencing-over of Hospers as a major agent and influence among contemporary libertarians was anomalous. His political philosophy was the most like hers at the time, though his view in other areas of philosophy differed from hers, as she and he plainly understood from their communications in the early ’60’s. At least west of the Hudson, it was he, not Rothbard (New York), who was the natural expansion to Libertarianism of what Rand had written about political philosophy.

Somewhat earlier Rand apparently thought of von Mises as a “libertarian”, which is striking to me from my late ’60’s (Rand), early ’70’s (Hospers) awakening to Rand’s political philosophy and Hospers’s Libertarianism. I would have booted Mises from that classification under my Rand-Hospers Libertarianism in those days because Mises supported military conscription, and under Libertarianism, a person’s life does not belong to the state, but to himself, and one’s individual freedom must not be deprived from one who has committed no true crime.

The book Foundations of a Free Society has an excellent comparison by Prof. Lester Hunt of Nozick and Rand in political philosophy. There are exchanges in this book between Objectivists in political philosophy and others such as Prof. Huemer, which I bet are also quite good.

Nozick and wife (MA) sat a little ways from me (IL) at the national convention of the Libertarian Party in New York for Platform and selecting 1976 Presidential ticket. He was quite active and helpful in the Platform debates there on the floor. I had studied his ASU very carefully, and I knew that in future years, whatever he wrote on, I would be reading. And so it was.

Nozick 1974 - ASU 

Nozick '74.jpg

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A footnote to the preceding post may be in order.

I have a tool to which I'll give the name Ralph. It is made of steel and is cast into one continuous solid. On one end of the shaft is the head of a screw driver, and on the other end, after a bend in the shaft, is a closed wrench for a bolt head. This wrench is for the bolts (2) and the screw necessary to turn in order to alter the tension in or to change out the chain on my chainsaw.

There are two dipolar divisions of Libertarian philosophy, each of them like Ralph. One is the division between those who set their Libertarianism on individual rights and those who set their Libertarianism on social utility. On some game-theoretic connection between the two, see the pertinent articles linked in the "About Me" tab. The second dipolar division is between Libertarians who hold to limited government and those holding to rule of right law relying on voluntary processes devoid of governmental institution (individualist anarchism, also called anarchocapitalism). There are a couple of positions between those poles in the latter dipole; those are the ultraminimal state that comes up in Nozick's ASU and another one that comes up in my own theory (complementary to his) accessible through the preceding link map.

The most important argument from an individualist anarchist against Rand's case for limited government and, later, the most important argument against Nozick's case, were composed by Mr. Roy Childs. He later changed his mind and shifted to limited government. All of the better-known Libertarian lights from my era in it are now deceased.

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I haven't studied the Kelley-Peikoff split and don't want to. I know only two things:

I have the upmost reverence for Dr. Peikoff, and take anything he says seriously, including his repudiation of Kelley. While I don't consider him infallible or blindly accept everything he says, I do grant him great credence in matters I don't understand. 

I also know that Kelley's idea of "open Objectivism" is a contradiction on its face. That starts his study of Objectivism—the philosophy of non-contradiction—with a contradiction causes me to regard him with great suspicion. 



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There seem to be a variety of definitions of "open" and "closed" Objectivism.  I did not see the original debate, but it looks suspiciously to me as though the distinction was badly defined from the beginning.  

Given this and the point that the open/closed debate grew out of an argument about libertarianism, I thought I would throw out yet another possible definition for whatever it's worth for possible inclusion in the mix.

The "closed" view holds that relatively concrete conclusions arrived at by applying Objectivist principles to what Ayn Rand and/or Leonard Peikoff and/or Peter Schwartz thought libertarianism was are part of the philosophy and/or a good litmus test of how consistently a person follows true Objectivism.

The "open" view denies this and says that a person can disagree with what Ayn Rand and/or Leonard Peikoff and/or Peter Schwartz thought libertarianism was, and therefore come up with different conclusions applying Objectivist principles to it, and still be a good, consistent Objectivist.


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Rand's contention with the libertarians at the time dealt with the superficial use of terms, i.e., freedom applied as a floating abstraction to justify a whim. If memory serves, it was this in conjunction with selective quoting of her writings in an attempt to ride on the coattails of the credibility she had established for herself that drew the bulk of her ire.

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On 4/17/2022 at 9:12 AM, happiness said:

I also know that Kelley's idea of "open Objectivism" is a contradiction on its face. That starts his study of Objectivism—the philosophy of non-contradiction—with a contradiction causes me to regard him with great suspicion. 

What, exactly, did Kelley say?  Was he introducing the concept of "open Objectivism" and "closed Objectivism", or was he responding to what someone else said about them?  How did he define them?


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As of this day, these were the top five entries on a Google search of "open objectivism", "closed objectivism".

"open objectivism", "closed objectivism"

The Case for Open Objectivism

Open Objectivism - Page 4 - Galt's Gulch

Open vs Closed Objectivism Part 1 by Aaron Day and David Kelley

Introduction to Active Objectivism

The Ad Hom Instinct


Mark Scott had David Kelly on his radio show shortly after the schism became manifest. Invitations extended to Leonard Peikoff, Ayn Rand and Peter Schwartz to appear on his radio show in the Detroit area were declined.

Mark, a staunch Ayn Rand aficionado and independent thinker, was not overtly pleased. Many of his broadcasts are available on The Mark Scott Project. I cannot attest if the interview is available, as I've not personally sifted through all the materials.

I do find the Open vs Closed Objectivism, followed by Introduction to Active Objectivism a play on her identification of an open mind versus a closed mind versus contrasted with an active mind. Still, if one takes what Miss Rand held to be the philosophy of Objectivism, it provides a platform for actively processing the material provided by one's senses and deriving objective conclusions from therein. 

Fact and Value is currently still freely available. Peter Schwartz has an edited version available in The Voice of Reason.


Here are some thoughts from another individual that I've encountered recently, though on a different but perhaps related matter:

  • Learn to identify good intent.
  • Learn to identify honest errors.
  • You have far fewer adversaries and enemies than you imagine.
  • Most people ... including most of the people who disagree with you ... are on the same journey you are.
  • Save your weapons and your vitriol for real enemies.
  • There aren't many, but they are out there.
  • And you'll be a much better fighter if you're not wasting your ammunition (and your moral integrity) engaging in friendly fire.
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Here is what David Kelley said at the end of A Question of Sanction about "closed".

Ayn Rand left us a magnificent system of ideas. But it is not a closed system. It is a powerful engine of integration. Let us not starve it of fuel by shutting our minds to what is good in other approaches. Let us test our ideas in open debate. If we are right, we have nothing to fear; if we are wrong, we have something to learn. Above all, let us encourage independent thought among ourselves. Let us welcome dissent, and the restless ways of the explorers among us. Nine out of ten new ideas will be mistakes, but the tenth will let in the light.

It seems to me clear that he is saying that we should not stop with what Ayn Rand left us.  We should engage in ongoing study, learning, and debate.  He is not saying that the results of such ongoing study, learning, and debate will be part of Ayn Rand's ideas.  He is not addressing the question of how the label "Objectivism" should be used.  What is so terrible about what he said?


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Peikoff's key point about Kelley is to class Kelley with those who "reject the concept of “objectivity” and the necessity of moral judgment" and "sunder fact and value, mind and body, concepts and percepts".  I'm not convinced that Peikoff was right to class Kelley in this way.

It seems to me that Peikoff and Kelley are using the phrase "closed system" in different senses.  If we are to make an important issue of whether Objectivism is "open" or "closed", we need to carefully analyze what this should be taken to mean.  If we are to evaluate Kelley on the basis of this issue, we must make sure we correctly understand what he meant.


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Two clips from an interview with David Kelly by Mark Scott from March 6, 1992.

More David Kelley and Objectivism (03-06-92)

The second clip may be of more relevance to this conversation with an endorsement by Mark Scott for David Kelley's book "Truth and Toleration."


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  • 4 weeks later...
On 8/4/2008 at 4:12 PM, Acount Overdrawn said:

[since this isn't about the branches of Objectivism per se, I've put this post here in the "Critics of Objectivism" board, despite this not being a criticism of Objectivism. If the moderators have a better place for this, I'm more than happy to comply.]

by Roderick Fitts


Introduction and Key Points Concerning the "Open" and "Closed" Systems

It's been about a year since I first encountered the “Closed System vs. Open System” or “Leonard Peikoff vs. David Kelley” issue, and about 9 months since I sided with the closed system advocates (in my facebook note: Why I Support the Closed System).

I'd like to point out that I didn't completely understand the issue when I wrote that note, and I now regard my reasons given back then for siding with the “closed system” side as weak. To give examples, I had not yet grasped the relevant difference between philosophy and science to dispute David Kelley's claim about the need to revise and reformulate principles already accepted as “Objectivist,” and I lacked an understand of exactly why Objectivism was a proper noun, as I hadn't progressed sufficiently through the epistemology to know this.

After giving it a lot more thought, interacting with Ayn Rand Institute staff and affiliates, noticing the Objectivism-related material pouring from ARI members and supporters, and re-reading the papers central to the dispute, I can properly defend my stance as a “closed system” advocate. I'd especially like to thank Diana Hsieh for posting her thoughts about this dispute, including her disagreements concerning the “open system” view that Kelley and The Objectivist Center espouse.

(Comment: My interaction with the ARI has consisted of hosting speakers for the University of Michigan Students of Objectivism college lectures, taking courses at the Objectivist Academic Center, and most recently attending a summer conference about “Atlas Shrugged and the Moral Foundations of Capitalism.” While the issue of the “open/closed system” never arose in my dealings with ARI, my dealings with them helped in confirming that the accusations made about closed system advocates were strawmen and unjust.)

Now, I will name what I regard to be the key points of both the “closed” and “open” view, and afterward comment on four things:

(1) How the closed system is supported in academia, and why they're correct in upholding it.

(2) Kelley's view of using philosophic principles in essentially the same manner as scientific ones, and why he is mistaken.

(3) My reasons for characterizing the “open system” as I have here.

(4) Why the closed system is misunderstood and addressing several strawmen attributed to it.


Closed System:

1. Objectivism is the integrated whole of philosophic ideas, principles, and consequences (of said principles) expressed by Ayn Rand in published form, and material from others she agreed to include as part of Objectivism (e.g. Peikoff's lecture course “The Philosophy of Objectivism”) Due to the nature of integrated systems, any change of an element within Objectivism would have disastrous effects on the entire system, wrecking it.

2. New implications, applications, and integrations can always be discovered and learned by Objectivists, but these are to be considered separate from the actual philosophy as developed by Ayn Rand. One could say that some new work (e.g. one of Tara Smith's book on Rand's ethics) is “in the Objectivist tradition” or “Objectivist” in the broad sense that it is logically consistent with the philosophy, but is not an actual addition to the philosophy.

3. Objectivism is an abstract particular—a proper noun which refers ostensively to the philosophy of Ayn Rand. Specifically, the set of philosophical abstractions, principles, and ideas espoused by her. As an abstract particular, it refers to the same mental content which all of us possess who know anything about Objectivism.

(Comment: To grasp how "Objectivism" is a proper noun, I suggest thinking more about the differences between concepts and proper nouns. For example, the concept “car” is an abstract particular it that it refers to the same mental contents in all of us who can identify cars; there doesn't exist a “meta-concept” of “car” which is formed by omitting the measurements of our concepts of “car.” Please see Diana Hsieh's interview with Axiomatic Magazine for more on this, which can be found on the Wayback Machine's archive: http://web.archive.org/web/*/http://www.ax...ex=3&art=4)


Open System:

1. Objectivism is, in effect, equivalent to: all true ideas and principles discovered in philosophy, and to be discovered in the future. Beyond the self-evidence of axioms, all ideas and principles are subject to revision, reformulation, and/or qualification (or maybe not; I'll get to this in a second).

(Comment: In a sense, not even the axioms are safe from revision, etc. because there exists specific reasons why we need axiomatic concepts, specific functions that they serve and that are not self-evident (see ItOE 2nd ed. ch. 6 and p. 260); more specifically, it's the function of axiomatic concepts as “underscorers of primary facts” which makes it epistemologically necessary to formulate axiomatic concepts into formal axioms—into a “base and a reminder.” (ItOE p. 59) )

2. There is no inherent need to integrate the principles which are, at any given moment, determined to be “Objectivist.” Under the “open system,” the principle that knowledge is contextual (and therefore calls for integration of one's new insights into one's knowledge) need not be heeded, as principles are always subject to later revision.

3. Objectivism is to reflect the epistemological approach taken in regards to science, where principles must constantly be tested and confirmed by new data, and reformed or outright changed when the data suggests such a policy.

4. Skepticism of the truth contained in principles is the consequence of this view. Because there is never a “full context” in which to ground a principle, one can always doubt that one even has a valid principle.


Academia and Closed Systems

In my understanding, philosophic systems (e.g. Aristotle's philosophy, Hume's philosophy) are closed systems in the same manner that I've indicated above, and this is how they are treated in academia. For instance, in my 402 course on Aristotle, the class wrote papers interpreting areas of Aristotle's thought; even if the papers stated ideas which were logically consistent to Aristotle's philosophy, they wouldn't have been considered additions to the actual philosophy. At best, they were “Aristotelian” or “related to the philosophy of Aristotle.”

This has generally been my experience as an undergrad philosophy student and reader of scholarly works: philosophies are specific sets of principles laid out by the philosophies' authors, and while new implications, applications, etc. can be drawn out by others, these do not become part of the respective philosophies. Contrary to Kelley's view from ch. 5 of "Truth and Toleration" (T&T), Peikoff's claims of philosophies being closed systems do have “precedent” and “foundation.” (p. 72; For the online text, see: http://www.objectivistcenter.org/cth--40-O...Toleration.aspx ) The "precedent" is the practice of scholars carefully separating the works of a philosophy's originator from the works of followers, which has gone on for centuries. The "foundation" is the cognitive need to separate Rand's philosophy from both future developments (e.g. “Neo-objectivism”) and from other distinctive philosophies (e.g. Pragmatism and Platonism), and more broadly the need to do this with every other philosophy.

(Comment: In my view, it is this cognitive need which leads to forming proper nouns for people's theories, philosophies, and other mental products; a similar case involves actual people, whereupon we need a shorthand to cognitively differentiate among the various people we encounter, a function served by proper nouns.)


Part 2 will cover Kelley's mistaken reasons for attributing the same methodology to philosophic principles that are (for the most part) appropriate for science.

Here's the rest of my paper:

Part 2: http://umso.wordpress.com/2008/08/04/close...ls-part-2-of-5/

Part 3: http://umso.wordpress.com/2008/08/04/close...ls-part-3-of-5/

Part 4: http://umso.wordpress.com/2008/08/04/close...ls-part-4-of-5/

Part 5: http://umso.wordpress.com/2008/08/04/close...ls-part-5-of-5/

Questions and comments appreciated.


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