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Who Are The True Objectivists?

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I read the piece but did not find a definition of "Objectivist." The Kelly School/Peikoff School split (in general) is caused because of a difference in opinion of what it means to be an Objectivist.

That's really a consequence of the fundamental disagreement, which is whether or not Objectivism is a closesd system (e.g. can Objectivism still be changed or augmented).

Objectivism is the philosophy of Ayn Rand.

An Objectivist is one who understands and agrees with the philosophy of Ayn Rand.

I'm hesitant to ask the question, "Who are the true Objectivists?" It skirts on taking "Objectivist" as an honorific term instead of a descriptive one, which is a mistake that smacks of intrinsicism. It is up to each individual to determine for himself whether or not he understands and agrees with Objectivism.

What value is there to be gained from labelling people Objectivist or non-Objectivist? In a sense, it's a big deal, but in another (more useful) sense, it's just not. Whether or not someone is an Objectivist is really non-essential to forming a judgment of them. There are many, many other questions I ask about a person before I'm at all interested in finding out the answer to this one. Why is it so important to you?

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That's really a consequence of the fundamental disagreement, which is whether or not Objectivism is a closesd system (e.g. can Objectivism still be changed or augmented).

Objectivism is the philosophy of Ayn Rand.

An Objectivist is one who understands and agrees with the philosophy of Ayn Rand.

I'm hesitant to ask the question, "Who are the true Objectivists?" It skirts on taking "Objectivist" as an honorific term instead of a descriptive one, which is a mistake that smacks of intrinsicism. It is up to each individual to determine for himself whether or not he understands and agrees with Objectivism.

What value is there to be gained from labelling people Objectivist or non-Objectivist? In a sense, it's a big deal, but in another (more useful) sense, it's just not. Whether or not someone is an Objectivist is really non-essential to forming a judgment of them. There are many, many other questions I ask about a person before I'm at all interested in finding out the answer to this one. Why is it so important to you?

Yeah, I agree with you on this. When judging people I might wonder if they are Objectivist, but ultimately I will look at their behaviour and beleifs, their values etc and then use all this to form a rational judgement of this person. Whether or not they are Objectivist is but a small part of the whole judgement making process.

But having said that, if they can support a claim that they are Objectivist (and I have known of lots of people online for instance whom claim to be but are more pseudo-Objectivists such as Lindsey Perigo from SoloHQ it would seem). It is the other stuff about them which is important, if they are an Objectivist this willl probably be evident enough to give me a suspicion at least. And if they are not, they might still be respectable people. One of my friends is non an Objectivist (mainly because he has no real contact with the philosophy, and I have not made much of an effort to cover it in detail as I really get to speak to him), but he still has qualities I admire and I share many of his values, so I consider him a good person and a friend.

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It is up to each individual to determine for himself whether or not he understands and agrees with Objectivism.

Are you saying there is no objective standard?

Why is it so important to you?

See post #3.

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Are you saying there is no objective standard?

Of course there is, for each individual to judge for himself. How would you propose to judge what someone else understands and agrees with, other than by asking them? (Particularly the "agrees with" part).

See post #3.
I see post #3. I just don't understand where the confusion is. Whether or not you are an Objectivist is something that you can perceive directly. Just ask yourself two questions: Do I understand the entire philosophy? Do I agree with the entire philosophy? The only reason I can see for asking for some sort of guidelines outside of introspection is to determine whether or not others are Objectivists. That's really what my question was directed at.

One of my friends is non an Objectivist...

Just one? :D

One of my friends is an Objectivist. :P

As I said, it's completely non-essential. The important considerations are the persons sense-of-life and shared values. If you have those, then the rest is usually all good.

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Of course there is, for each individual to judge for himself. How would you propose to judge what someone else understands and agrees with, other than by asking them? (Particularly the "agrees with" part).

I see post #3. I just don't understand where the confusion is. Whether or not you are an Objectivist is something that you can perceive directly. Just ask yourself two questions: Do I understand the entire philosophy? Do I agree with the entire philosophy? The only reason I can see for asking for some sort of guidelines outside of introspection is to determine whether or not others are Objectivists. That's really what my question was directed at.

Just one? :P

One of my friends is an Objectivist. :P

As I said, it's completely non-essential. The important considerations are the persons sense-of-life and shared values. If you have those, then the rest is usually all good.

OK, a few of the others are not as well... but I was using that one as an example :P My only truly Objectivist friend is DragonMaci, and hes more of an amatuer than I am :D . But still, I respect him for the great, sincere effort he makes.

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Of course there is, for each individual to judge for himself.

Let me see if I understand. This objective standard (which can't be defined) is only to be applied by oneself on oneself? So, before I am an Objectivist I must first determine if I understand Objectivism (a complex philosophical system that some very intelligent people study for 30 years or more to grasp) and then after I have determined that I do in fact understand it, I must decide if I agree with all of it. Based on that standard I doubt that anyone can honestly say that he is an Objectivist. By the time you have it all figured out you have forgotten some of the stuff you thought you knew. I think it is possible to boil down the essence of what an Objectivist is.

I believe that there is a fundamental difference in the way an Objectivist thinks that makes him an Objectivist. I do not think he has to understand everything there is to know about Objectivism. I don't even think he has to agree with everything Ayn Rand wrote. I also believe that there are Objectivists out there who do not even know they are Objectivists.

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I believe that there is a fundamental difference in the way an Objectivist thinks that makes him an Objectivist. I do not think he has to understand everything there is to know about Objectivism. I don't even think he has to agree with everything Ayn Rand wrote. I also believe that there are Objectivists out there who do not even know they are Objectivists.

Here is how I would attempt to answer your question.

Objectivism, as a philosphy, is the philosophy of Ayn Rand. If one wishes to accurately described themself as an Objectivist, one must understand, accept and adhere to the philosophy as Ayn Rand layed it out. If you only accept parts of her philosophy, and reject other parts of it, then one couldn't accurately call themself an Objectivist. You are correct in the sense that one wouldn't have to agree with Ayn Rand on everything she said, as not everything she said was related to her explaining her philosopical system.

However, I think one the things other folks are trying to relay to you is, how important is it that you call yourself an Objectivist as opposed to the importance of deciding for yourself if you are living a proper life? I would think that it's far more important for one to understand how to live one's life in a proper manner than it is to have a label by which others can use to judge you.

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However, I think one the things other folks are trying to relay to you is, how important is it that you call yourself an Objectivist as opposed to the importance of deciding for yourself if you are living a proper life? I would think that it's far more important for one to understand how to live one's life in a proper manner than it is to have a label by which others can use to judge you.

I appreciate your thoughts on this but if we only discuss the most important topics here there would not be very much interest (look at all the thread topics--are they all the most important?). This is not about the fact that there may be something else that has a greater importance; it is about the meaning of a concept that gets used repeatedly on "Objectivist" forums.

Maybe the term “Objectivist” does not represent a proper concept. Wouldn’t it be ironic to learn that to call yourself an Objectivist is to admit that you do not use objectively formed concepts? That would mean that anyone who calls himself an Objectivist is not one!

My question is: Why would anyone who is sincerely interested in Objectivism not want to look objectively at this concept?

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Maybe the term “Objectivist” does not represent a proper concept. Wouldn’t it be ironic to learn that to call yourself an Objectivist is to admit that you do not use objectively formed concepts? That would mean that anyone who calls himself an Objectivist is not one!

My question is: Why would anyone who is sincerely interested in Objectivism not want to look objectively at this concept?

I don't see what the problem is, it has been clearly and objectively defined repeatedly in the replies above: Objectivist is he who understands, accepts and follows the philosophy of Ayn Rand.

What is the trouble?

mrocktor

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Can a real Objectivist disagree with a particular aspect of Ayn Rand's philosophy?
This is the harsh answer: no. This isn't just a quirk of Objectivism, it's a general fact. To be an X-ist, where X is a specific philosophy, means to agree with the philosophy X. I can't claim to be a Marxist if I reject the philosophical principles of Marx.

Developing something that Digital Don (Dave) said, I would urge you or anyone not to accept an idea because it is part of Objectivism and you're decided that you are an Objectivist. Instead, accept an idea because it is correct. If you find that you don't agree with some principle of Objectivism, and if you really do understand that aspect of Objectivism, then yeah, that means you are not an Objectivist. The same goes for other people: if they reject the philosophy Objectivism, then they aren't Objectivists.

Then if you want to determine if you're an Objectivist, determine if you reject some part of Objectivism: if so, which part, and why?. That isn't a fill-out-the-questionaire type test, but start with some aspect of Objectivism that you at least seem to disagree with, and then examine that aspect closely. A few years ago, there were aspects that I didn't understand, which I thought were being misrepresented and which I disagreed with. Turns out, I just didn't get the point. For me, the turning point was really understanding that Objectivism is a philosophy, which takes ideas very seriously, and not an academic exercise or a political movement. YMMV.

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This objective standard (which can't be defined) is only to be applied by oneself on oneself?

I did define the standards. There are two of them: understanding and agreement. Yes, in the vast majority of cases, it can only be applied to oneself. There are some cases where I am able to make that judgment about someone else (for instance, David Kelley, who has been very vocal in espousing a philosophy in direct contradiction to Objectivism, all the while calling it Objectivism), but for the most part, I can't really tell with other people.

So, before I am an Objectivist I must first determine if I understand Objectivism (a complex philosophical system that some very intelligent people study for 30 years or more to grasp) and then after I have determined that I do in fact understand it, I must decide if I agree with all of it.
Yes.

I want to make clear that there is a distinction between understanding/agreeing and completely integrating it into your own life. It is the integration that takes so very long. Understanding, not so much.

Based on that standard I doubt that anyone can honestly say that he is an Objectivist. By the time you have it all figured out you have forgotten some of the stuff you thought you knew.

If you are forgetting things, I suggest you move through your studies a bit more slowly. It helps.

I do not think he has to understand everything there is to know about Objectivism. I don't even think he has to agree with everything Ayn Rand wrote. I also believe that there are Objectivists out there who do not even know they are Objectivists.

Then you are in disagreement with Ayn Rand on this (non-philosophical) point. By the way, an Objectivist does not necessarily agree with Ayn Rand on everything she ever wrote. An Objectivist agrees with her philosophy, but might not necessarily agree with certain applications of it to other fields. Take her writings on psychology, for instance; I disagree with her article about a woman president.

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For me, the turning point was really understanding that Objectivism is a philosophy, which takes ideas very seriously, and not an academic exercise or a political movement. YMMV.

I think a lot of us have these kind of turning points, where once we grasp a specific point, everything seems to start falling into place. For me, it was finally grasping the contextual nature of, well... everything.

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I think a lot of us have these kind of turning points, where once we grasp a specific point, everything seems to start falling into place. For me, it was finally grasping the contextual nature of, well... everything.

If there was a turning point for me, it was listening to Peikoff's old taped lecture series on the Philosophy of Objectivism (I think it was recorded in about 1976). Hearing him give a systematic treatment of Objectivism, I got to see clearly for the first time how all of the different pieces of the philosophy depended on each other. Before that, I hadn't quite appreciated just what it meant for Objectivism to be a philosophical system.

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I really had no turning points in studying Objectivism. I began by reading The Fountainhead, then Atlas Shrugged, and I could see that heroes act differently from what I was used to reading in books. I kept asking why Howard did something and often I found an answer, and a logical one at that. I found her heroes fascinating. So, I soon started reading her non-fiction. I read everything except the most basic two - ITOE and OPAR. Ayn Rand kept saying in these books that I should not believe what she says - I should identify the premises and reach the proper conclusion and it would be the same conclusion. However, I often couldn't identify the premises, but her saying this suggested some kind of structure which makes logical thinking possible. When I read the first page of OPAR, I knew exactly what I was reading. It was like I was reading a book on the foundations of mathematics, only it was philosophy.

True, I ventured slightly into the rationalist waters, trying to explain how consciousness works (for lack of a better expression), but then I realized I don't have to because it's an axiom and it is self-evident (at least it is self evident to me that I am conscious :) ).

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If there was a turning point for me, it was ...

When I understood the objectivity and relational nature of human values. Up to that point I was able to shake off my childhood belief in God and faith, but not my deeply rooted Christian-based value system.

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For the record: I consider myself an Objectivist. Though I am by no means an expert, I have read all of Ayn Rand's books and agree with everything. A key part is: I am now consistently applying Objectivism to my personal life.

Just taking one of the posts of these to make my point...for myself I use the term Student of objectivism because I haven't read and understood everything yet and therefor I am not sure if I consisently apply Objectivism in my personal life (I am not sure if it is even possible to do that to 100% in Sweden or any other country in the world), and therefor I cannot call myself an Objectivist. However I of course share the basic values A is A, using reason etc etc

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...for myself I use the term Student of objectivism because I haven't read and understood everything yet and therefor I am not sure if I consisently apply Objectivism in my personal life (I am not sure if it is even possible to do that to 100% in Sweden or any other country in the world), and therefor I cannot call myself an Objectivist. However I of course share the basic values A is A, using reason etc etc
I think you're being too harsh, and the reason why I urge you to lighten up is because what is implied by the reasons for not saying that you're an Objectivist. Objectivism is not an utterly unknowable, incomprehensible and impractical philosophy. Reading everything that Rand wrote isn't a requirement for being an Objectivist -- Buddhists and lawyers may well have these holy canons that are to be memorized, but that's not what Objectivism is about. Understanding is quite important, but making a mistake in grasping a specific application of Rand's philosophy does not mean that you are not an Objectivist. Objectivism is well-defined as a philosophy, but it is not so stringent that it cannot be practiced by any human being. If you find that you honestly do not comprehend Rand's philosophy but are interested and are studying it so that you can understand and evaluate it, then saying that you're a student of Objectivism is appropriate.

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I think you're being too harsh, and the reason why I urge you to lighten up is because what is implied by the reasons for not saying that you're an Objectivist. Objectivism is not an utterly unknowable, incomprehensible and impractical philosophy. Reading everything that Rand wrote isn't a requirement for being an Objectivist -- Buddhists and lawyers may well have these holy canons that are to be memorized, but that's not what Objectivism is about. Understanding is quite important, but making a mistake in grasping a specific application of Rand's philosophy does not mean that you are not an Objectivist. Objectivism is well-defined as a philosophy, but it is not so stringent that it cannot be practiced by any human being. If you find that you honestly do not comprehend Rand's philosophy but are interested and are studying it so that you can understand and evaluate it, then saying that you're a student of Objectivism is appropriate.

I would say that I am political Objectivist (Because that part I comprehend completly and if it is even a possible label), but there are some parts that I really need to read up on I think, possibly because politics is the part that I am most intrested in but I also understand why I need a philosophical backing of my political views. And yes I do agree with you on the parts that Objectivism is comprehandable etc, just that I need to read up on it I think. It is really really good to have something that you can really point at in philosophical and political discussions with people

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Is there a written exam that must be taken in order to become a certified Objectivist?

I'm going to throw my hat in with the "what's in a name?" crowd. The only time I really have to call myself an Objectivist is, incidently, when I am in the company of other Objectivists. For everyone else I call it the "philosophy for living on Earth." I am more familiarly known as the atheist, and the Libertarian (from my days of association with the party.)

I'll explain it if someone asks, but since it is my own philosophy, I see no reason to wear it on my sleeve.

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Ok, so far the thread has centred on what a true Objectivist thinks and believes.

But what about things upon which a person has no control over?

For example, a person who was abused as a child might grow up to be a really nervous adult. He/she might encounter Objectivism and find a new guiding principle to their lives. However, lets say they never really shake off their nervous disposition that was created in their childhood. Can they really be called an Objectivist?

Or another example. Say a person is really fat, short and ugly. They might agree with Objectivism, but how many doctors or lawyers, or millionaires (ie very rational and productive people) do you know who are short, fat and ugly?

I guess I am alluding to a principle that would say that most of our lives are beyond our control and are dictated by genes and childhood. I am basically saying that a true Objectivist is born and not made.

I am trying to figure out whether I really believe this. I am not sure and eagerly await responses!

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Regarding how many lawyers (and law students) I know that are short, fat, and ugly, I know plenty. There's some quote from that Reese Witherspoon movie that goes something like "Law school is for people who are boring and ugly and serious." For the most part, that quote is accurate.

Regarding your overall point, please check the threads on free will and determinism. You will probably find what you are looking for in those threads.

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