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RSalar
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The authoritative version of the description Objectivist is someone that agrees with the entire core of Objectivist philosophy, as laid down by Ayn Rand. The core is distinct from the applications of the philosophy, on which many Objectivists differ.

An issue is core to the philosophy if deciding a different way on the matter constitutes a contradiction of one of the philosophical principles. Thus you can think that Ayn Rand was mistaken about the Woman President issue, which is about a psychological issue (I do), but you can't be pro-life or pro-animal-rights because this means denying that human beings have rights (an important ethical principle inherent to the philosophy) via the method of granting them to the non-human.

Where are these core principles listed (identified as such) and explained in Rand's own words?

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Could you name a few philosophers who expressly listed and explained their core philosophical rules?
What difference would it make if I could or could not? If there are none then it would be difficult (or impossible) for me to know if I agree with the entire core of their philosophies. If there are some then it would be possible but how would that make a difference here?
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What difference would it make if I could or could not?
It would presumably tell you that your request is somewhere between unreasonable and irrelevant. You ought to be able to resolve your problem without an explicit, annotated and numbered list authored by Rand.
If there are none then it would be difficult (or impossible) for me to know if I agree with the entire core of their philosophies.
I don't see why that should be so. If you are talking about an ill-defined philosophy, such as rationalism, nihilism, logical positivism or libertarianism, then of course you can't know what is in these philosophies, so you can't know whether you agree with them. There is no such problem with Objectivism: since Objectivism is the philosophy of Ayn Rand, then there are no "developments" that are still within Objectivism (Kelley notwithstanding). Of course not every word that Rand uttered is a declaration of her philosophy -- some of statements are declarations of her opinions or factual understandings of matters. As long as you understand what "philosophy" is, then the only reason that I can see for not being able to decide if you agree with Rand or you reject her philosophy is that you actually do not comprehend some statement of hers.
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You and I discussed her views regarding productive work and we went around and around and we never decided conclusively whether or not we were 100% in agreement with her. Would you say that her view of productive work is one the core principles of Objectivism? This is just one instance of areas of confusion. It was noted earlier that only Rand's actual words and that which can be logically concluded from them can be considered to be part of her authorized philosophy but Objectivism (even at ARI) has gone beyond her authorized works. You even said the OPAR is not authorized. So we are left with drawing our own conclusions with the very real possibility of being wrong (because of the nature and difficulty of the concepts involved). Yet it would appear that many (including the Kelly group) are willing to declare that they are Objectivists. I continue to believe that the concept, “Objectivist” is not a valid concept (at least as far as it has been represented in this thread) because it is impossible to reduce it to its concretes.

If we use a definition that simply states something to the affect that an Objectivist is a person who believes that the world is knowable and reason is man’s only means of acquiring knowledge, then it can be reduced to concretes (and is a valid concept) but it also broadens the group of Objectivists to include some factions that many would like to exclude.

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Well, Rand expressly explained her whole philosophy so at least one is bounded at the outer edge by that.

Frankly I was going to start making a list, but when I checked the OPAR table of contents it looked like a pretty good list for me. There's about 60 key sections within the book. I'd say most of the people I know who claim to be Objectivists have spent a minimum of oh 5 years studying the philosophy. This does not seem like an unmanageable set of key ideas to chew and integrate in the course of that timeframe.

I am troubled by your continued look to Rand to define the concept. If your standard is that only Rand knew her philosophy entirely, and only she could have articulated what is core, and since she didn't, then Objectivism is a false concept.

I'll agree with you, that the term cannot have such a formal meaning, since this is the standard for dogma. ("Rand said it, therefore it and only it is acceptable"). Rand never defined it.

Reason can help us determine what is core, and what is core may be contextual (not subjective).

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Frankly I was going to start making a list, but when I checked the OPAR table of contents it looked like a pretty good list for me. There's about 60 key sections within the book. I'd say most of the people I know who claim to be Objectivists have spent a minimum of oh 5 years studying the philosophy. This does not seem like an unmanageable set of key ideas to chew and integrate in the course of that timeframe.
Since OPAR was not authorized by Ayn Rand -- How do you know it is correct?
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Since OPAR was not authorized by Ayn Rand -- How do you know it is correct?

The question is a non-sequitir. There is a very good article on this very method of Descartian skepticism in The Objectivist Forum called "Maybe You're Wrong" by Leonard Peikoff. The answer to how I know is: I use reason to validate my conclusions.

I simply said, based on my knowledge of the philosophy it is a pretty good list to start with in this discussion. I have read most of Rands currently published works, and based on my understanding of the philosophy, I don't think there's much missing.

Which items do you think are incorrect?

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Would you say that her view of productive work is one the core principles of Objectivism?
Yes. The only issue, as far as I can see, is understanding what she said. As I said, I ended up agreeing that she held that material production is a necessary part of the virtue of productivity. I don't think this was an issue of confusion, I was just wrong because I hadn't read the relevant part enough times or recently enough, and hadn't focused on the lines that you pointed out. You'll notice, I hope, that this new knowledge didn't lead me to repudiating Objectivism.
So we are left with drawing our own conclusions with the very real possibility of being wrong (because of the nature and difficulty of the concepts involved).
I sort of feel that my reply should be "And so...?", but instead I'll say "Yes, it is possible to be wrong. I've been wrong before, and I've managed to live with the horror of error". I hate it when I'm wrong, but on very rare occasions, I am.

You want a study guide that explains Objectivism? Read OPAR. Take any idea as presented by Peikoff, and simply check what he says against what Rand has said. If you can find a contradiction between the two, I'll eat my hat (I'd have to buy a hat first, but if you can actually find such a contradiction, I'll buy and eat a hat. A big old čiehgahpir.

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OPAR is not Objectivism, but is not wrong. Objectivism consists of the philosophical works Rand wrote or those by associates (like Leonard Peikoff and Nathaniel Branden) that she specifically approved of.

Objectivism does not exhaust the field of rational philosophical identification; the standard of right and wrong is reason, not whether or not Ayn Rand wrote it.

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OPAR is not Objectivism, but is not wrong. Objectivism consists of the philosophical works Rand wrote or those by associates (like Leonard Peikoff and Nathaniel Branden) that she specifically approved of.

Objectivism does not exhaust the field of rational philosophical identification; the standard of right and wrong is reason, not whether or not Ayn Rand wrote it.

Does Peikoff actually present anything new in OPAR? From what I've read so far and based off the sources he lists from Rand's works that are the basis for what he's presenting, I see it simply as a work to organize what Rand did, not as an addition to the philosophy.

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I wonder if RSalar thinks any concept can be valid if there is not some authority who can declare what it means.

The question then becomes how do we decide who is the authority and by what standard do they acquire that authority?

If our own judgment isn't sufficient, then whose is?

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I wonder if RSalar thinks any concept can be valid if there is not some authority who can declare what it means.
It depends on the concept. The concept "table" for example, needs no "authority" per se (other than the dictionary) but someone had to have originally declared that the word "table" is the term that will be used as the conceptual label for those objects that have the attributes that are required of tables. Concepts are man made—so some person had to have come up with every word that exists and some person also had to decide what that term represents in the actual physical world. In the case now before us we know who that person was—it was Ayn Rand. No other person can say that they know what Objectivism is unless they refer back to her description. She originated the term and she decided what the term means.

What my judgment or your judgment or anyone else’s judgment has to say about it does not alter what Ayn Rand decided Objectivism would be. We might disagree with her about her ideas but if we want to know what her philosophy is we need to look at her words and the words that she personally authorized. I think that her basic principles are sound but I do have issues with some of her conclusions. Since she made some of those conclusions part of her philosophy she determined what an Objectivist must believe in order to be an Objectivist (if an Objectivist is a person who believes that the philosophy of Ayn Rand is true). That’s why I posed the question in the first place. I think it is impossible to be an Objectivist if to be one you have to “believe the entire core of Objectivist philosophy, as laid down by Ayn Rand is true” and implement those beliefs consistently in your life (and if you don’t apply your beliefs you are violating one of the core priciples). The reason that it is impossible to meet this standard is because Ayn Rand never laid down the entire core—it was instead laid down by Leonard Peikoff in OPAR (which was never authorized by Ayn Rand). So we are left with a philosophy that she laid down over a period of years and in a variety of fictional and non-fictional works.

The problem that I have with the term “Objectivist” as used by people who think they understand Objectivism is that it is purely subjective. Each person decides for himself if he is or is not an Objectivist—each person decides if he understands the philosophy and he also decides if he is applying it properly in his life. Since there is no objective standard that can applied to prove if a person is or is not an Objectivist—the term is actually oxymoronic and therefore not valid.

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The problem that I have with the term “Objectivist” as used by people who think they understand Objectivism is that it is purely subjective. Each person decides for himself if he is or is not an Objectivist—each person decides if he understands the philosophy and he also decides if he is applying it properly in his life. Since there is no objective standard that can applied to prove if a person is or is not an Objectivist—the term is actually oxymoronic and therefore not valid.

It is pretty clear that in this and other threads you have continued to use the concept "subjective" improperly, and many people have discussed this with you. It will lead you to the intrinsic-subjective paradox. Contextual does not mean subjective, and something can be contextual and still be objective. An objective standard does not come from someone proclaiming something is so. That is intrinsicism, and ultlimately dogma. With lack of a proclamation, one can still reason the standard appropriately, and apply it to themselves, without someone else's sanction. Yes they may be in error, but is not because a proper standard is unknowable, or because Rand failed to issue her proclamation.

I'm reluctant to continue this discussion further because you continue to assert your point after people have pointed you in the right direction, and you have only weakly engaged them.

Edited by KendallJ
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It is pretty clear that in this and other threads you have continued to use the concept "subjective" improperly.
It is pretty clear to me that you are wrong. But ... if you can prove that I have used the term improperly I will gladly admit my mistake. Since you are making the claim I believe justice requires you either prove it or retract it.
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It is pretty clear to me that you are wrong.

I explained your error in some depth in another thread. The fact that you reject the explanation does not make you right. What's pretty clear to me is that either you need to do more reading of Objectivist literature or you already have and you reject it. If the later is the case, I'll bring your attention to the fact that if you intend to argue against Objectivism or its principles, the only permissible place to do that on this forum is in the Debate subforum. Here is a link to the rules for reference. If the former is the case, you should do more reading or asking questions rather than making statements that are wrong. Either way, you are now making accusations that go well beyond "Questions about Objectivism" and you should take this as an official warning to cease.

The problem that I have with the term “Objectivist” as used by people who think they understand Objectivism is that it is purely subjective.

You have consistently demonstrated that you fail to grasp the idea that facts of reality can be applicable to one individual and his circumstances while not being applicable to the next man. You've consistently demonstrated that you do not think that an individual man's mind is capable of accurately determining these facts of reality, and applying them to the context of his unique life so as to improve it's quality by the objective standard of "man's life". (and if you don't know what is meant by man's life as the standard of morality, I suggest again you need to read more) The quote above indicates that you are no longer asking for clarification, but you have come to a conclusion and that means any further argument on this line needs to be taken to the Debate sub-forum.

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The problem that I have with the term “Objectivist” as used by people who think they understand Objectivism is that it is purely subjective. Each person decides for himself if he is or is not an Objectivist—each person decides if he understands the philosophy and he also decides if he is applying it properly in his life. Since there is no objective standard that can applied to prove if a person is or is not an Objectivist—the term is actually oxymoronic and therefore not valid.

Actually, you are the one who is making the positive claim of subjectivism, so justice would suggest that you go first. :thumbsup:

I suggested a standard, and I suggested a list of core principles, and asked you to tell me which you thought were not core? I also answered your skeptical query "How do you know?", and gave you additional resources to back it up the response. Which you failed to answer. You didn't answer the question, yet you continue to asert subjectivity on the part of people who call themselves objectivists.

To claim someone an Objectivist might be subjective. However, it also might be possible that differing contexts result in contextual application of the standard differently. This is not subjectivity, it is contextual objectivity (i.e. the context by which Leonard Peikoff calls himself and Objectivist, and the context by which I do are different, but it does not mean that we are being subjective.) So therefore, it is not neccessarily purely subjective as you claim. The concept of contextual objectivity is what you seem to want to dismiss, as in this thread here.

If as you say in this thread, "There is no reason why personal values cannot be derived from objective facts contextual to each individual's life.", then why is it that the objective facts in the case above, namely that Peikoff formally represents the philosophy of Objectivism, and I just use the philosophy in my everyday life, mean that they are contextually different, and that we can both be Objectivists?

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Either way, you are now making accusations that go well beyond "Questions about Objectivism" and you should take this as an official warning to cease.
Ok -- But as you know my accusation (singular) was in response to another person's accusation. The only difference (that I can see) is that you agree with his.
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You have consistently demonstrated that you fail to grasp the idea that facts of reality can be applicable to one individual and his circumstances while not being applicable to the next man. You've consistently demonstrated that you do not think that an individual man's mind is capable of accurately determining these facts of reality, and applying them to the context of his unique life so as to improve it's quality by the objective standard of "man's life".
I do not think these statements are accurate. I have never said that it is impossible for facts of reality to affect individuals differently depending on the situation that each man finds himself—however there are some facts of reality that affect all humans. No human being, for example, can live without breathing air; no person can live after being beheaded in a car wreck; and smoking cigarettes is unhealthy period—no matter how much you enjoy smoking them. These are all objective facts of reality knowable to any rational human being, and I have never said otherwise. In fact that is the heart of my argument. I am saying that you can’t wipe these facts out of existence by simply thinking about them from your own personal perspective. I can think that I am improving the quality of my life, and I can have used objective facts of reality to come to this conclusion, but if in fact the quality of my life is diminished by my actions then it was my thinking that was wrong, not the facts of reality.
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