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    • Michael Stuart Kelly

      New upgrade with simpler interface   05/13/2016

      Once again, the fine folks at IPB made a new upgrade and things might not be where you started to learn they were. However, this is one time where I think they actually improved things for navigation. There are only a few big buttons: When you click on one of those buttons, some other stuff opens up, depending on which button you click. (Later Note: These only appear when zoomed in or in the mode for smartphones/tablets.) I'm learning this as you are, so I suggest you do what I am doing: click on these big buttons, see what they open and fiddle with the software some. Ironically, you will find there is a lot that is intuitive. That's what I'm discovering. (Later note: I just discovered that I was viewing the site zoomed in too far to see the normal view. The menus are still there with the old buttons, but when I zoom in too much, they disappear and the new buttons appear. I believe this zoomed in way is what the site looks like on mobile devices. I'm going to mess with it some more, then maybe make some explanations.) Sorry for the inconvenience. Still, over time, I hope you end up liking these changes. Michael
blackhorse

wither TAS

50 posts in this topic

TAS does not keep their website updated frequently enough. Is nothing happening at TAS? There STORE is still bare bones, too. It would be nice if someone over there would at least keep the website fresh. SHeesh! They barley have updates ever or news, articles, reviews, etc....

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TAS does not keep their website updated frequently enough. Is nothing happening at TAS? There STORE is still bare bones, too. It would be nice if someone over there would at least keep the website fresh. SHeesh! They barley have updates ever or news, articles, reviews, etc....

Did you mean to say "Whither TAS"? As in: what's the likely future of TAS?

Your spelling indicates that you think its likely future is already clear: it's withering away!

Either interpretation is reasonably likely, since you referred to "There store."

Also, why do we need updates on barley? :-)

REB

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Roger,

I saw this earlier and was going to start like this:

There store?

How about here store?

Or anywhere store?

But I stopped short because of the withering barley. :)

This has to be a spoof.

Either Blackhorse is having fun, or I want some of what he's having and having fun.

:)

(Actually, I want it, but I can't have it... Drat!...)

Michael

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TAS has become something like the Libertarian Party. It makes it possible for a few people to earn a living without having real jobs. It does very little outreach. It hardly publishes anything original. They put out a few articles, but it's nothing compared to other sites I go to.

I actually think Jim Peron's FR33MINDS is doing more than they are. As far as I know, Jim is a one-man band.

Nathan Crow said back in 1996 that it's just "social club." There isn't much evidence that it has changed.

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TAS has become something like the Libertarian Party. It makes it possible for a few people to earn a living without having real jobs. It does very little outreach. It hardly publishes anything original. They put out a few articles, but it's nothing compared to other sites I go to.

I actually think Jim Peron's FR33MINDS is doing more than they are. As far as I know, Jim is a one-man band.

Nathan Crow said back in 1996 that it's just "social club." There isn't much evidence that it has changed.

It might be more enlightening and "fair and balanced" to compare what the two leading figures of the East Coast and West Coast Churches of Objectivism have actually published in their adult careers.

First of all, Leonard Peikoff and David Kelley have both written numerous essays and given numerous lectures over the years, but I'm setting those aside, since they are scattered and/or in the less effective auditory mode. I also set aside Kelley's monographs on open Objectivism, benevolence, and laissez-faire, as I do Peikoff's lengthy essay on the analytic-synthetic dichotomy. (Any of this material could certainly qualify for inclusion in a published book, but there is no indication of any forthcoming.)

Secondly, Peikoff has had a 15-years or so lead on Kelley, so it would be reasonable to expect more published books from him. Yet, we see that so far, Peikoff has only published 2 books (Ominous Parallels and OPAR, in 1982 and 1991, respectively), and Kelley himself has published 2 books (The Evidence of the Senses and The Art of Reasoning, in 1986 and 1988).

Again, to be fair: Kelley's first book was based on his doctoral dissertation. Peikoff's dissertation, however, has never been published, and he has downplayed its worthiness (though I've read it twice and find it very good, though also very academic).

Now, note the dates on these four books. The most recent was published TWENTY YEARS AGO, and was based on lecture material from 1976!!

Once more, to be fair: Peikoff has had one of his sets of lectures on induction re-written as part of a book by David Harriman (The Logical Leap, 2010), and he reportedly has another book forthcoming (soon, one would hope!) based on his lectures on cultural analysis (The DIM Hypothesis). And Kelley is still working on a book he is co-writing with Will Thomas (The Logical Structure of Objectivism) -- but that book has been forthcoming for over 10 years!

So, while it ~looks~ like Peikoff has been more productive, the organization he (figure)heads has also had a much larger contributor base, plus the riches of the Ayn Rand Estate, off of which to support the writing efforts of himself and numerous other ARI members. So, that would explain a good portion of the disparity between the output of ARI and TAS/TOC/IOS. But not all of it.

I have long thought that a group that truly believes in and embodies "open Objectivism" should be a gushing fountainhead of creativity and productivity -- even if it had more modest financial resources to work with. Yet, after 20 years, I'm still waiting to see anything resembling this from the home of "kinder, gentler" Objectivism.

Having a more pleasant, less judgmental, more fraternal, less condemnatory atmosphere in which to socialize and intellectualize is worthwhile, and I have made some very nice friends during my association with TAS/TOC/IOS. But I have not seen any new, kick-ass (please forgive the Lindsey-ism) philosophy pouring out of the group. Is that too much to expect?

REB

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I have long thought that a group that truly believes in and embodies "open Objectivism" should be a gushing fountainhead of creativity and productivity -- even if it had more modest financial resources to work with. Yet, after 20 years, I'm still waiting to see anything resembling this from the home of "kinder, gentler" Objectivism.

It's us. When small men cast long shadows, sundown is near. Or sunup. We are Objectivism. Do you really expect some expert guru who is smarter than you to tell you something you could not figure out? How old are you? 60? More? What we need to identify is the second generation behind us, the 20-somethings. It is scary to think that as young and smart as we were 40 years ago, we were the ebb tide and then the planets stopped in their orbits and this is it. ... oh, well, that and the Movie...

People for whom "there withering barley" is an expression of interest in Objectivism cannot help but see you as a lodestar on the horizon of philosophical inquiry. Did you not publish in The Reason Papers and the Journal of Ayn Rand Studies? Oh, shucks... Have you forgotten what it was like to be young?

The reason that Kelley and Peikoff stopped working is that they ran out of energy. They got old. You want to find me, it's the third star on the right and straight on til morning. How about you, Roger? Old or young? Got any more ideas in there?

Edited by Michael E. Marotta
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I have long thought that a group that truly believes in and embodies "open Objectivism" should be a gushing fountainhead of creativity and productivity -- even if it had more modest financial resources to work with. Yet, after 20 years, I'm still waiting to see anything resembling this from the home of "kinder, gentler" Objectivism.

It's us. When small men cast long shadows, sundown is near. Or sunup. We are Objectivism. Do you really expect some expert guru who is smarter than you to tell you something you could not figure out? How old are you? 60? More? What we need to identify is the second generation behind us, the 20-somethings. It is scary to think that as young and smart as we were 40 years ago, we were the ebb tide and then the planets stopped in their orbits and this is it. ... oh, well, that and the Movie...

People for whom "there withering barley" is an expression of interest in Objectivism cannot help but see you as a lodestar on the horizon of philosophical inquiry. Did you not publish in The Reason Papers and the Journal of Ayn Rand Studies? Oh, shucks... Have you forgotten what it was like to be young?

The reason that Kelley and Peikoff stopped working is that they ran out of energy. They got old. You want to find me, it's the third star on the right and straight on til morning. How about you, Roger? Old or young? Got any more ideas in there?

You're right, of course, Michael. When I grow up, I want to be like you! :-)

REB

P.S. -- I've got more ideas than a boxcar full of BB's. And I decided some time ago to stop hoarding them. It's just taking a while to get them all into publishable form. In the meantime, I just feel sad that there's no one out there, kicking our asses, leading the charge, saying, "Come on, guys, I can't do this by myself!" But as I once wrote in a short piece on another discussion list, "Be your own hero!" Or, as Nathaniel Branden sternly said, "There's no one coming" (on a white horse, to save you, mankind, Objectivism, etc.)

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The reason that Kelley and Peikoff stopped working is that they ran out of energy. They got old.

The reports of David Kelley’s purported lapse in productivity have been greatly exaggerated.

When I spoke with him at the recent TAS Seminar, David told me he is spending his every waking moment working hard on a new edition of his popular textbook on logic. His publisher is pushing him to meet a deadline that has pretty much forced him to put everything else on the backburner.

For those who don’t know, The Art of Reasoning is in widespread use in classrooms as a basic introduction to logic. When young college and high school students are studying about how to improve their critical thinking skills, they are being taught by one of the best minds in the Objectivist movement. If you have seen prior editions, you would know that his approach is designed to help people see through the countless fallacies we get spoon-fed every day by the mainstream media.

TAS also produced some excellent videos featuring David analyzing various philosophical aspects of the Atlas Shrugged movie. He also writes regular articles for The New Individualist.

David is as active now as he has ever been. We will be seeing a great deal more of his vitally important work in the not-too-distant future.

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.

I’ll bet you a coke that DK will deliver a summa. Even if it is posthumous.

In addition to the books Roger mentioned in #5, I would draw attention to the four titles Essays on Ayn Rand’s We the Living; Anthem; Fountainhead; and Atlas Shrugged. Each is of lasting value and will sell on and on through the years. Then too, there are the two books by Tara Smith on Rand’s theory of value and the ethical virtues. Lastly, I would add the two volumes recently issued from the Ayn Rand Society. Solid scholarship on Rand’s philosophy continues to be created all around us.

And let’s not neglect the old contributions: HB’s The Biological Basis of Teleological Concepts and DK’s The Evidence of the Senses (which Roger did note). Both remain good contributions.

It may be of some interest to mention here that LP’s lecture course Understanding Objectivism will be issued as a book this fall.

Lastly, it is a happy, if also a solemn, circumstance that when LP and DK die, other wide and deep intellects will continue new scholarship on Rand’s philosophy. Much to the chagrin of many in the wider culture, to be sure.

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Important works by David Kelley: The Art of Reasoning, The Evidence of the Senses, A Life of One’s Own, The Contested Legacy of Ayn Rand, Unrugged Individualism.

Also, by Stephen Hicks: Explaining Postmodernism (expanded edition coming out August 19), Nietzsche and the Nazis (both the book and the DVD).

We should also note the works of Nathaniel Branden and their relevance to Objectivism. In particular, The Psychology of Self-Esteem, The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem, and The Vision of Ayn Rand.

On the ARI side, the books by Andrew Bernstein and Craig Biddle should also be noted.

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Nice to hear that David Kelley is working on the 4th Ed. of his logic book. I'm a great admirer of his work and have read many of his articles on TAS. I have a copy of "A Life of One's Own" but haven't been able to get "The Evidence of the Senses"; is it still in print? There are a few available on Amazon but they're expensive.

Regarding "The Art of Reasoning", I have a copy of the 1st edition which includes a full chapter on the Term Logic developed by Fred Sommers and George Englebretsen. For some reason a lot of this was cut from the 3rd edition (now it only covers simple terms - syllogisms and sorites - not compound and relational terms). Anyone interested in symbolic logic will find Term logic a great alternative to the standard predicate calculus, it's every bit as powerful, but MUCH easier to use. Other than Sommers and Englebretsen, Kelley is the only author I'm aware of who's written on it. See "A revival" in the Wiki entry on Term Logic.

Edited by Davy
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I’ll bet you a coke that DK will deliver a summa. Even if it is posthumous.

Posthumous coke? Hmmm. I assume you mean the soft drink. OK, you're on!

In addition to the books Roger mentioned in #5, I would draw attention to the four titles Essays on Ayn Rand’s We the Living; Anthem; Fountainhead; and Atlas Shrugged. Each is of lasting value and will sell on and on through the years. Then too, there are the two books by Tara Smith on Rand’s theory of value and the ethical virtues. Lastly, I would add the two volumes recently issued from the Ayn Rand Society. Solid scholarship on Rand’s philosophy continues to be created all around us.

OK, I agree about Tara Smith's books, although I am particularly outraged by her re-writing of reality in her citations about self-esteem (crediting Leonard Peikoff rather than Nathaniel Branden, for Christ's sake). This aside, she is a good thinker and writer, and we should note that she also wrote Moral Rights and Political Freedom, which was published in 1995.

I only have the first of the ARS books, and I have found it rather turgid and difficult to read. Maybe it's the print size. The four anthologies of essays on Rand's novels are good (I especially like Torre Boeckmann's analysis of paintings), but like the ARS books, they are anthologies, not books reflecting ~sustained~ effort by ~an~ author.

What I'm talking about is something like Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology -- or Peikoff's OPAR or Ominous Parallels (and his forthcoming DIM hypothesis book) -- or Branden's various books -- or Kelley's books on perception and logic (his small books on benevolence and laissez-faire together might qualify as another book of the magnitude I'm talking about).

And let’s not neglect the old contributions: HB’s The Biological Basis of Teleological Concepts and DK’s The Evidence of the Senses (which Roger did note). Both remain good contributions.

I'm not that impressed with Binswanger's thesis-cum-book. I hope that his forthcoming book on consciousness addresses some of the issues surrounding self-regulation in regard to free will that his first book and his intervening pamphlet did not (IMO) address properly. (The latter was particularly sloppy, I think.)

It may be of some interest to mention here that LP’s lecture course Understanding Objectivism will be issued as a book this fall.

I checked on Amazon.com, and it appears to be another publication-by-surrogate, like The Logical Leap by David Harriman. Michael Berliner is listed as the author, and the publication date is given there as March 6, 2012, which is technically still winter, but certainly not fall. (For the record, I would be delighted to have a copy in my hands before March of next year.) However, if this counts as a Peikoff book, then so should The Logical Leap. Either two for Peikoff and none for Harriman and Berliner -- or one each for Harriman and Berliner and zero for Peikoff. We're probably going to see a good deal more of this, at least once Peikoff passes away and his many lecture series are mined for additional books by his surviving ARI colleagues.

Lastly, it is a happy, if also a solemn, circumstance that when LP and DK die, other wide and deep intellects will continue new scholarship on Rand’s philosophy. Much to the chagrin of many in the wider culture, to be sure.

I would say "few in the wider culture." I don't think those in the wider culture are nearly so chagrined about Randian and Objectivist scholarship as are those ~within~ the movement about that Randian and Objectivist scholarship which disagrees with their own intellectual and moral sensibilities. Witness the furor from ARI and fellow-travelling Rand-and-Branden-and-Kelley-and-Sciabarra-bashers over the often eclectic contents of the Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, for example.

REB

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Nice to hear that David Kelley is working on the 4th Ed. of his logic book. I'm a great admirer of his work and have read many of his articles on TAS. I have a copy of "A Life of One's Own" but haven't been able to get "The Evidence of the Senses"; is it still in print? There are a few available on Amazon but they're expensive.

Expensive? Amazon has two “good” used paperback editions of Evidence of The Senses for around $15. It is an excellent book. Prior to condemning Kelley for the horrible crime of speaking to a group of libertarians, I overheard Leonard Peikoff recommend the book to someone who had questions about the validity of sense perception.

It makes the case for this crucial aspect of Objectivism so thoroughly that I doubt if anyone could truly read it and still question the point. The fact that this book is now ignored by orthodox Objectivism is, by itself, solid proof that the leaders of that branch of the movement are utter fools. It makes me feel embarrassed to call myself an Objectivist.

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The reason that Kelley and Peikoff stopped working is that they ran out of energy. They got old.

The reports of David Kelley’s purported lapse in productivity have been greatly exaggerated.

Dennis, we can only go by what we ~see~. What people ~aspire~ to do is a promissory note, not a proof of productivity. E.g., when it takes Peikoff 15 years to bring forth a "forthcoming" book (a recurrent drama of which we are now in scene three), you can hardly blame people for wondering what the problem is, and whether there is anything significant going on behind the scenes at all. As for Kelley, I can only judge by what I see of ~his~ output, which in recent years has consisted of a few essays and lectures and the like. If people have only such evidence as basis for their concern that his productivity has fallen off, are they somehow at fault for expressing those concerns?

When I spoke with him at the recent TAS Seminar, David told me he is spending his every waking moment working hard on a new edition of his popular textbook on logic. His publisher is pushing him to meet a deadline that has pretty much forced him to put everything else on the backburner. For those who don’t know, The Art of Reasoning is in widespread use in classrooms as a basic introduction to logic. When young college and high school students are studying about how to improve their critical thinking skills, they are being taught by one of the best minds in the Objectivist movement. If you have seen prior editions, you would know that his approach is designed to help people see through the countless fallacies we get spoon-fed every day by the mainstream media.

I have copies of the second and third editions, and I think it is an excellent ~textbook~ on logic, though I have a number of misgivings with it, and I hope those are addressed in his fourth edition of the book. In particular, perhaps I'm expecting a textbook to double as a treatise, but why in the world does Kelley make NO MENTION in his book of the Law of Identity, the Law of Excluded Middle, or the Law of Non-Contradiction? Doesn't this render it philosophically groundless--and thus a huge floating abstraction? Another, seemingly more mundane, quibble: Kelley (like Peikoff in his introductory logic lectures) says that to handle categorical propositions properly, we should put them in standard form, so that a proposition like "All giraffes are tall" should be restated as: "All giraffes are tall animals." Now, I couldn't agree more with this prescription. But WHY should we do this? It is another floating element in his textbook that amounts to an ~arbitrary assertion~.

Two of Rand's most emphatic principles of reasoning were "identify your primaries" and "shun the arbitrary." So, how can Kelley justify such lapses in his textbook? Again, I hope that his latest revision will address such problems--or that someone here on OL will kindly explain to me why such concerns of mine are misplaced.

TAS also produced some excellent videos featuring David analyzing various philosophical aspects of the Atlas Shrugged movie. He also writes regular articles for The New Individualist. David is as active now as he has ever been. We will be seeing a great deal more of his vitally important work in the not-too-distant future.

Considering that Kelley is now in his sixties, shall we presume that this work will appear sometime in the next 30 years or so? And would it be too much to expect some sort of ~hint~ as to what that work would consist of, and when it might be published? (And I don't mean just articles and movie analysis videos.)

Maybe five years or so ago, I attended a TOC Graduate Seminar at which it was intimated that Kelley was working on a book on "advanced" epistemology issues. Whether this was to be a compilation of essays or a treatise, and whether this book is still in the works, I have no idea. Has anyone else heard anything about it?

REB

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Expensive? Amazon has two “good” used paperback editions of Evidence of The Senses for around $15.

I'd only looked on Amazon UK, I'm wary of buying from the marketplace having been burnt in the past (books not arriving or not in the condition advertised) and also most marketplace sellers only ship to the domestic market. However, I had a look at the copies you referred to and the seller seems reliable (and ships to the UK), so I ordered one - thanks for the tip!

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Of course if one "sets aside" all the actual work that people do should that work be deemed inadequately emblematic of Productivity, then productive people will seem less productive than they are. We're "setting aside" lectures and essays because they haven't yet been collected into books? Really?

We also seem to even be "setting aside" Kelley's fully Productivity-emblemizing published books. A Life of One's Own doesn't make the cut?

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Of course if one "sets aside" all the actual work that people do should that work be deemed inadequately emblematic of Productivity, then productive people will seem less productive than they are. We're "setting aside" lectures and essays because they haven't yet been collected into books? Really?

I share your perplexity at Roger's criterion about Kelley. Especially with Roger's plan to publish a collection of nearly forty years of his own essays, this Fall, in eBook formats. One I plan to purchase, with its having been difficult to gather such works by Roger over the years. (Apart from the Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, that is, but I sold off the partial collection I had of those issues.)

We also seem to even be "setting aside" Kelley's fully Productivity-emblemizing published books. A Life of One's Own doesn't make the cut?

Unrugged Individualism? Laissez Parler? Truth and Toleration (original version)? I have all four of these, and a host of essays from my stints of being a contributor to IOS/TOC/TAS over the years. I value all of them.

(As I do a small booklet entitled "A Study Guide to the Ethics of Objectivism," written by an interesting pairing — Leonard Peikoff and David Kelley. {rueful smile})

I'm seeing a conflict of standards here, with exaggerated obeisance given to "published books" — when so much of professional or semi-pro Objectiv-ish intellectuals' work is found in essays, articles, referreed journals, monographs, and op-eds. Not easy to follow, in total for a particular author, but not unsubstantial or uninfluential solely because of that.

To be fair, that assessment takes in those affiliated with the Church in Irvine, including Peikoff himself. Though they give far too much emphasis on oral presentations, making excuses to not reduce them to written works, and always have. (A high irony, in that the Orthodoxy has until very recently been the faction most sustaining the use of the technology of NBI, not the open-Os.)

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The reason that Kelley and Peikoff stopped working is that they ran out of energy. They got old.

The reports of David Kelley’s purported lapse in productivity have been greatly exaggerated.

Dennis, we can only go by what we ~see~. What people ~aspire~ to do is a promissory note, not a proof of productivity. E.g., when it takes Peikoff 15 years to bring forth a "forthcoming" book (a recurrent drama of which we are now in scene three), you can hardly blame people for wondering what the problem is, and whether there is anything significant going on behind the scenes at all. As for Kelley, I can only judge by what I see of ~his~ output, which in recent years has consisted of a few essays and lectures and the like. If people have only such evidence as basis for their concern that his productivity has fallen off, are they somehow at fault for expressing those concerns?

Did I suggest anyone was at fault? I just wanted to educate those interested about what Kelley was currently working on.

When I spoke with him at the recent TAS Seminar, David told me he is spending his every waking moment working hard on a new edition of his popular textbook on logic. His publisher is pushing him to meet a deadline that has pretty much forced him to put everything else on the backburner. For those who don’t know, The Art of Reasoning is in widespread use in classrooms as a basic introduction to logic. When young college and high school students are studying about how to improve their critical thinking skills, they are being taught by one of the best minds in the Objectivist movement. If you have seen prior editions, you would know that his approach is designed to help people see through the countless fallacies we get spoon-fed every day by the mainstream media.

I have copies of the second and third editions, and I think it is an excellent ~textbook~ on logic, though I have a number of misgivings with it, and I hope those are addressed in his fourth edition of the book. In particular, perhaps I'm expecting a textbook to double as a treatise, but why in the world does Kelley make NO MENTION in his book of the Law of Identity, the Law of Excluded Middle, or the Law of Non-Contradiction? Doesn't this render it philosophically groundless--and thus a huge floating abstraction? Another, seemingly more mundane, quibble: Kelley (like Peikoff in his introductory logic lectures) says that to handle categorical propositions properly, we should put them in standard form, so that a proposition like "All giraffes are tall" should be restated as: "All giraffes are tall animals." Now, I couldn't agree more with this prescription. But WHY should we do this? It is another floating element in his textbook that amounts to an ~arbitrary assertion~.

Two of Rand's most emphatic principles of reasoning were "identify your primaries" and "shun the arbitrary." So, how can Kelley justify such lapses in his textbook? Again, I hope that his latest revision will address such problems--or that someone here on OL will kindly explain to me why such concerns of mine are misplaced.

REB

The focus of David’s Art of Reasoning is improving thinking skills—and much of his approach involves explaining various aspects of Objectivist epistemology. He covers the nature of concepts, definitions, various logical fallacies and spends a great deal of time clarifying the differences between objectivity and subjectivism. He shows how to apply Objectivist epistemological principles in a common sense manner that is really remarkable. However, the subject matter is obviously limited to epistemology.

The book is so richly detailed and comprehensive—the edition I have is about 600 pages long—that I don’t think there is anything in it that could come close to being a ‘floating abstraction.’ He says in the introduction that he deliberately wrote it from a kind of nuts-and-bolts perspective in order to reach as wide an audience of students as possible. He wanted to keep theoretical discussions to a minimum because he felt they might cause a lot of students to lose interest. His goal was to keep students engaged in the process of examining their practical thinking skills. He also wanted to avoid wasting time with students “arguing with the text” on theoretical matters. He wanted to motivate practical-minded students to challenge the arguments they encounter every day.

I don’t know for sure, but I suspect part of his motivation for not mentioning Aristotle’s laws might be the modern controversies involved in such issues as quantum mechanics. He may have felt that any explicit restatement of the law of identity might derail the discussion in a purely theoretical direction which he did not have the space to address. But anyone who reads the book will be constantly exposed to Aristotle’s laws over and over, only in non-explicit form. For instance, he deals with the basic issues involved in the laws of logic (e.g., avoiding contradictions) in his discussion of the square of opposition. Later, in his discussion of causality, he states: “We expect objects to act within the limits set by their natures.”

He says at one point that we need to look past the surface complexities of language to clarify what is really being said. This is also a point he covers again and again. He makes clear that such is the rationale for translating statements and arguments into standard form for the purpose of analysis. I certainly see nothing whatever arbitrary about that.

All of this is pure speculation on my part. Only David could answer you for sure. But if this was his thinking it makes perfect sense to me.

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Of course if one "sets aside" all the actual work that people do should that work be deemed inadequately emblematic of Productivity, then productive people will seem less productive than they are. We're "setting aside" lectures and essays because they haven't yet been collected into books? Really?

I share your perplexity at Roger's criterion about Kelley. Especially with Roger's plan to publish a collection of nearly forty years of his own essays, this Fall, in eBook formats. One I plan to purchase, with its having been difficult to gather such works by Roger over the years. (Apart from the Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, that is, but I sold off the partial collection I had of those issues.)

Now, yes, I ~do~ exempt myself from this "criterion about Kelley," because (1) I am not a professional philosopher or intellectual or writer; I am a professional musician, and writing philosophy is my hobby; (2) I do not have a university position which requires and facilitates writing and publication in journals and books; and (3) I am not an insider or leader of either of the two organized Objectivist groups, so I have no position of responsibility within the movement.

All of the people I am evaluating -- and please, I am NOT trying to pick on David Kelley; just to hold him to the same standard I use to judge OTHER leaders of Objectivism and/or professional philosophers -- are people who have gravitated toward positions of influence and WANT to be understood and appreciated as spokesmen for, and leaders of, Objectivism (as it is and/or should be). They have positioned themselves in the center of the arena, and are appropriate subjects of evaluation and critique, IMO.

As for ~my~ philosophical productivity, it has all been "in the cracks" over the years, not as part of a university or movement or professional career, but solely from my love of ideas and in particular Objectivism and Aristotelianism, and wanting to see them not go off the rails or wither away because certain issues are dealt with in too limp-wristed or unimaginative a fashion. I DO NOT GET PAID FOR DOING THIS. I HAVE NO POSITION OF POWER AND INFLUENCE IN THE OBJECTIVIST MOVEMENT. I AM AN INDEPENDENT INTELLECTUAL.

So...as to my book(s). Steve, you may not be aware that Mike Everling (head of Karl Hess Club) vigorously nudged me to have a book available to sell at my July 18 talk. So, I cobbled together a table of contents, including the "Logic of Liberty" talk and a number of essays I've written on ethics, politics, and religion over the past 40 years. The more I reflect on that outline, the more I think it is ~not~ the book I want to "birth" and sell.

The central idea (and method) I've been working on for the past 10 years involves exploring and dissolving false alternatives in philosophy by using tetrachotomies. There is ~so~ much material, both already written and published in JARS as well as in the process of being written, that it will fill at least two 200+-page books. These are ~meaty~, ~integrated~ essays, not the mongrel assortment I've written (and some of which are excellent) since 1970.

So, I am going to have to renege on my announced publication of ethical/political/religious essays and instead gear up for some more writing to round out the first of at least two philosophical books using the tetrachotomy method, which will include "The Logic of Liberty," perhaps under the title "Will the Real Apollo Please Stand Up?" (I may put out the earlier grab-bag of essays under a different title.)

The second tetrachotomy book will be completely devoted to epistemology and logic and dialectics, and will include a theory of propositions, which Objectivism ~still~ has not produced. It will also deal with a number of my pet peeves with the major college logic textbooks, including those by Copi and Kelley. (No, I am NOT writing a logic textbook. More of a guide for using logic textbooks that are not properly grounded philosophically.)

We also seem to even be "setting aside" Kelley's fully Productivity-emblemizing published books. A Life of One's Own doesn't make the cut?

Unrugged Individualism? Laissez Parler? Truth and Toleration (original version)? I have all four of these, and a host of essays from my stints of being a contributor to IOS/TOC/TAS over the years. I value all of them.

Laissez Parler was co-authored with Roger Donway. It is a 49-page monograph published in 1983. Unrugged Individualism (1996) is a 65-page monograph. A Life of One's Own (1998) is a 165-page short book. Truth and Toleration/The Contested Legacy (1990/2000) is a 128-page short book. I consider (based on content) the first and third to constitute a book on political philosophy and the second and fourth a book on Open Objectivism.

Having said that, I simply point out that the latest one of them was written (revised) 11 years ago, at about the same time as the release of the (co-written) beta-version of The Logical Structure of Objectivism, which is still nowhere near publication, it appears. So, again, I ask: what book(s) is Kelley working on that are of the depth and power of his dissertation (Evidence of the Senses) or the comprehensive nature of his logic text? Are there "cards" he is "holding close to the chest" -- or is he "written out"?

...I'm seeing a conflict of standards here, with exaggerated obeisance given to "published books" — when so much of professional or semi-pro Objectiv-ish intellectuals' work is found in essays, articles, referreed journals, monographs, and op-eds. Not easy to follow, in total for a particular author, but not unsubstantial or uninfluential solely because of that.

First of all, by "setting aside," I do not mean that what Peikoff or Kelley have produced that is not in a book is not significant, important, ground-breaking, etc. I'm just talking about BOOKS. For instance, Nathaniel Branden and Tibor Machan have both written about 40 books. Chris Sciabarra, Douglas Rasmussen/Douglas Den Uyl, and George Smith have all written 3-4 books. None of them is in an official position of prominence in the Objectivist movement, with the exception of Nathaniel, of course--and possibly Chris, because of JARS.

It's not a perfect indicator, but it's pretty darned good. Some extremely prolific and influential thinkers that come to mind who were NON-Objectivists include Isaac Asimov and Mortimer Adler, and they wrote dozens (hundreds?) of books. There is no doubt that a thinker can have ~some~ influence over a culture (or subculture) other than through books, but that influence is more diffuse when it's not collected and focused in a book, and I don't think it's "exaggerated obeisance" to apply this standard in assessing a thinker's output.

REB

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I wrote:

As for ~my~ philosophical productivity, it has all been "in the cracks" over the years, not as part of a university or movement or professional career, but solely from my love of ideas and in particular Objectivism and Aristotelianism, and wanting to see them not go off the rails or wither away because certain issues are dealt with in too limp-wristed or unimaginative a fashion. I DO NOT GET PAID FOR DOING THIS. I HAVE NO POSITION OF POWER AND INFLUENCE IN THE OBJECTIVIST MOVEMENT. I AM AN INDEPENDENT INTELLECTUAL.

Just a postscript about ~another~ book of mine that actually died in the womb of The Objectivist Center about 5-6 years ago. I was working on a monograph version of my "Art as Microcosm" essay for publication with critical comments by John Hospers and Michelle Kamhi, and found out inadvertently 6 months after the fact that TOC's ruling group had yanked funding and authorization for the project.

I figure that essay, plus the earlier "Music and Perceptual Cognition" JARS essay, plus the later essay comparing Camus and Langer to Rand's aesthetic views, plus my 2009 Free Minds talk on an Objectivist aesthetics of music would together constitute a nice book of 200 pages or so. It is still in the "queue" of my book projects, no thanks to TOC.

Sometimes Diana Hsieh's attitude toward the Kelley group seems more reasonable and less irrationally judgmental. One of her main beefs, other than doctrine, was that young scholars and writers didn't receive adequate training and support from TOC. Even discounting my having had a major rug pulled out from under me (for I am anything but a ~young~ scholar or writer!), I think that this problem still persists.

REB

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When I spoke with him at the recent TAS Seminar, David told me he is spending his every waking moment working hard on a new edition of his popular textbook on logic. His publisher is pushing him to meet a deadline that has pretty much forced him to put everything else on the backburner. For those who don’t know, The Art of Reasoning is in widespread use in classrooms as a basic introduction to logic. When young college and high school students are studying about how to improve their critical thinking skills, they are being taught by one of the best minds in the Objectivist movement. If you have seen prior editions, you would know that his approach is designed to help people see through the countless fallacies we get spoon-fed every day by the mainstream media.

I have copies of the second and third editions, and I think it is an excellent ~textbook~ on logic, though I have a number of misgivings with it, and I hope those are addressed in his fourth edition of the book. In particular, perhaps I'm expecting a textbook to double as a treatise, but why in the world does Kelley make NO MENTION in his book of the Law of Identity, the Law of Excluded Middle, or the Law of Non-Contradiction? Doesn't this render it philosophically groundless--and thus a huge floating abstraction? Another, seemingly more mundane, quibble: Kelley (like Peikoff in his introductory logic lectures) says that to handle categorical propositions properly, we should put them in standard form, so that a proposition like "All giraffes are tall" should be restated as: "All giraffes are tall animals." Now, I couldn't agree more with this prescription. But WHY should we do this? It is another floating element in his textbook that amounts to an ~arbitrary assertion~.

Two of Rand's most emphatic principles of reasoning were "identify your primaries" and "shun the arbitrary." So, how can Kelley justify such lapses in his textbook? Again, I hope that his latest revision will address such problems--or that someone here on OL will kindly explain to me why such concerns of mine are misplaced.

REB

The focus of David’s Art of Reasoning is improving thinking skills—and much of his approach involves explaining various aspects of Objectivist epistemology. He covers the nature of concepts, definitions, various logical fallacies and spends a great deal of time clarifying the differences between objectivity and subjectivism. He shows how to apply Objectivist epistemological principles in a common sense manner that is really remarkable. However, the subject matter is obviously limited to epistemology.

I'm not sure I understand your point here. If the subject matter of Kelley's logic text is "limited to epistemology," how would that exclude the Laws of Logic? Are they not part of epistemology and logic? Are they not the very ~grounding~ of the subject of logic?

The book is so richly detailed and comprehensive—the edition I have is about 600 pages long—that I don’t think there is anything in it that could come close to being a ‘floating abstraction.’

Well, perhaps you're right. Perhaps it's not the logic as a floating abstraction that I'm objecting to, but the whole discipline of logic as a huge mass of floating ~concretes~, untethered by fundamental premises. Rich detail and comprehensiveness does not provide an integrated discussion of a subject area, if the fundamental premises on which that discussion are based are not made explicit.

He says in the introduction that he deliberately wrote it from a kind of nuts-and-bolts perspective in order to reach as wide an audience of students as possible. He wanted to keep theoretical discussions to a minimum because he felt they might cause a lot of students to lose interest. His goal was to keep students engaged in the process of examining their practical thinking skills. He also wanted to avoid wasting time with students “arguing with the text” on theoretical matters.

Well, then, he dropped the ball when he introduced a discussion of the theory of Existential Import in the middle of a discussion of immediate inference and Aristotle's square of opposition. Of course, it's possible he thought most students would find the whole issue sufficiently confusing that they would skip over it. I have yet to read a satisfactory, error-free discussion of the matter in ~any~ logic text, and Kelley's is no exception.

He wanted to motivate practical-minded students to challenge the arguments they encounter every day.

All right, let's talk about practicality. What about the skeptical arguments against the Laws of Logic, the need for consistent concept-formation, definition, induction, deduction, etc.? Where is a student going to find help in combatting those, if not in an Aristotelian or Objectivist logic text??? Isn't it short-changing young intellectuals by failing to arm them for such battles? If they learn how to challenge arguments and out-argue their opponents, but fail to grasp and validate the fundamental goal of identifying facts of reality, how practical is that???

I don’t know for sure, but I suspect part of his motivation for not mentioning Aristotle’s laws might be the modern controversies involved in such issues as quantum mechanics. He may have felt that any explicit restatement of the law of identity might derail the discussion in a purely theoretical direction which he did not have the space to address.

If this is true, it points to a very serious double standard in dealing with (or avoiding) theory. Kelley's arch-competitor, Irving Copi, who is arguably the "big dog in the room," only mentions (in chapter 10 of Edition Ten of his text) the "laws of thought" in order to discuss objections to them and to dismiss their fundamentality and importance. Kelley, by sad contrast, find ~no~ place for them in his book.

Yet, Kelley has NO problem devoting three pages to a discussion of the theory of "existential import," which is a favorite of modern logicians who want to gut Aristotle's square of opposition, and a grudging inclusion by traditional logicians who don't know how to deal with the modern assault on propositional meaning and immediate inference. Let's see: three pages for Bertrand Russell's theoretical hobby-horse, but none for Aristotle's Laws of Logic. Hmm. Looks to me like Kelley took a wrong turn at Albuquerque.

But anyone who reads the book will be constantly exposed to Aristotle’s laws over and over, only in non-explicit form. For instance, he deals with the basic issues involved in the laws of logic (e.g., avoiding contradictions) in his discussion of the square of opposition.

~Why~ should we want to avoid contradictions? You may be able to tease out an explanation for this from Kelley's text, but I have yet to find one. The first place he mentions the term or one of its cognates is on page 203, where he says propositions that cannot both be true and cannot both be false are "contradictories."

I can't find even a ~statement~ that one should avoid contradictions, let alone an argument for ~why~ one should avoid them. It's certainly "non-explicit"! But if college students aren't going to encounter an explicit treatment of the Laws of Logic in a LOGIC TEXTBOOK, then WHERE WILL THEY??? And isn't this sad and wrong that they don't??

True, some students (the better ones) might be fine with this, since they are already on board with making sense and avoid contradictions. But why not throw in a little intellectual ammunition for them while you're at it? Or would that be considered too "partisan" and "argumentative"? (If so, then why all the loving attention to existential import?)

Later, in his discussion of causality, he states: “We expect objects to act within the limits set by their natures.”

How is this different from how David Hume would describe causality? Didn't he deny it was a law of principle, but instead simply talk about the ~psychological~ experience of "constant conjunction," whereby we come to "expect" certain things to happen after other things happen? This not only fails to offer an explicit grounding for the Law of Causality, but makes it sound subjective. Many modern logicians would be right at home with this. A principled Aristotelian or Objectivist should not!

He says at one point that we need to look past the surface complexities of language to clarify what is really being said. This is also a point he covers again and again. He makes clear that such is the rationale for translating statements and arguments into standard form for the purpose of analysis. I certainly see nothing whatever arbitrary about that.

What?! If I simply state that clarifying "what is really being said" is the rationale for converting statements and arguments into standard form, how does provide ~support~ for the rationale -- let alone saying it "again and again"? In my book, an arbitrary assertion is one for which one does not provide explanation or grounding, but just asserts, repeatedly if necessary, hoping that one's listener will accept it without explanation. And that is exactly how ~every~ logician I am aware of treat the issue of standard propositional form -- with the (sole?) exception of Henry B. Veatch, who cites Aquinas on the matter.

In fact, it is the ~failure~ to explicitly apply the Law of Identity to this issue that is the reason why standard discussions of standard form fail to rise above the arbitrary. As an exercise, consider ~why~ (specifically in terms of the Law of Identity and its role in logic, not just "to clarify") it is important to convert "My car is red" to "My car is a red vehicle." Or, "David Kelley is rational" to "David Kelley is a rational being."

True, the second statement in each case ~is~ more clear and ~does~ more clearly indicate "what is really being said." But abstract away the content, and you will see that the second statement in each case is saying: "A thing is itself," rather than "A thing is one of its attributes." This latter is false. A thing is ~all~ of its attributes, as a unity, not any ~one~ of those attributes.

Aquinas recognized this, and that is why he held that you can only legitimately identify a thing with ~itself,~ not with a ~part~ of itself. (Peikoff's discussion in "The Analytic-Synthetic Dichotomy" is a bit sloppy and inconsistent on this point. Most importantly, though, he wrote: "An entity is ALL of the things which it is. Each of its characteristics...constitutes a PART of the entity's identity." Emphasis added.) From this, it's a short step to: a thing is itself, not part of itself, and so statements indicating the latter must be rewritten, not just for clarity but for CORRECTNESS, to indicate the former.

The reason NONE of the major text writers explain standard form's rationale is that they ALL avoid like the plague any mention of the Law of Identity and its fundamental function in logic, including especially in propositions, their meaning, and their truth value.

All of this is pure speculation on my part. Only David could answer you for sure. But if this was his thinking it makes perfect sense to me.

Well, I am speculating, too, of course. But I have tried to take a look at the field in which Kelley is competing, and I see too many odd inconsistencies in Kelley's approach to give him quite the same amount of charitable leeway that you do, Dennis.

I'm certainly looking forward to Edition Four of Kelley's text. Surely he has made significant changes, and perhaps some of them will include patching up the omissions in fundamental doctrine and addressing more rigorously the whole issue of existential import.

REB

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When I spoke with him at the recent TAS Seminar, David told me he is spending his every waking moment working hard on a new edition of his popular textbook on logic. His publisher is pushing him to meet a deadline that has pretty much forced him to put everything else on the backburner. For those who don't know, The Art of Reasoning is in widespread use in classrooms as a basic introduction to logic. When young college and high school students are studying about how to improve their critical thinking skills, they are being taught by one of the best minds in the Objectivist movement. If you have seen prior editions, you would know that his approach is designed to help people see through the countless fallacies we get spoon-fed every day by the mainstream media.

I have copies of the second and third editions, and I think it is an excellent ~textbook~ on logic, though I have a number of misgivings with it, and I hope those are addressed in his fourth edition of the book. In particular, perhaps I'm expecting a textbook to double as a treatise, but why in the world does Kelley make NO MENTION in his book of the Law of Identity, the Law of Excluded Middle, or the Law of Non-Contradiction? Doesn't this render it philosophically groundless--and thus a huge floating abstraction? Another, seemingly more mundane, quibble: Kelley (like Peikoff in his introductory logic lectures) says that to handle categorical propositions properly, we should put them in standard form, so that a proposition like "All giraffes are tall" should be restated as: "All giraffes are tall animals." Now, I couldn't agree more with this prescription. But WHY should we do this? It is another floating element in his textbook that amounts to an ~arbitrary assertion~.

Two of Rand's most emphatic principles of reasoning were "identify your primaries" and "shun the arbitrary." So, how can Kelley justify such lapses in his textbook? Again, I hope that his latest revision will address such problems--or that someone here on OL will kindly explain to me why such concerns of mine are misplaced.

REB

The focus of David's Art of Reasoning is improving thinking skills—and much of his approach involves explaining various aspects of Objectivist epistemology. He covers the nature of concepts, definitions, various logical fallacies and spends a great deal of time clarifying the differences between objectivity and subjectivism. He shows how to apply Objectivist epistemological principles in a common sense manner that is really remarkable. However, the subject matter is obviously limited to epistemology.

I'm not sure I understand your point here. If the subject matter of Kelley's logic text is "limited to epistemology," how would that exclude the Laws of Logic? Are they not part of epistemology and logic? Are they not the very ~grounding~ of the subject of logic?

The book is so richly detailed and comprehensive—the edition I have is about 600 pages long—that I don't think there is anything in it that could come close to being a 'floating abstraction.'

Well, perhaps you're right. Perhaps it's not the logic as a floating abstraction that I'm objecting to, but the whole discipline of logic as a huge mass of floating ~concretes~, untethered by fundamental premises. Rich detail and comprehensiveness does not provide an integrated discussion of a subject area, if the fundamental premises on which that discussion are based are not made explicit.

He says in the introduction that he deliberately wrote it from a kind of nuts-and-bolts perspective in order to reach as wide an audience of students as possible. He wanted to keep theoretical discussions to a minimum because he felt they might cause a lot of students to lose interest. His goal was to keep students engaged in the process of examining their practical thinking skills. He also wanted to avoid wasting time with students "arguing with the text" on theoretical matters.

Well, then, he dropped the ball when he introduced a discussion of the theory of Existential Import in the middle of a discussion of immediate inference and Aristotle's square of opposition. Of course, it's possible he thought most students would find the whole issue sufficiently confusing that they would skip over it. I have yet to read a satisfactory, error-free discussion of the matter in ~any~ logic text, and Kelley's is no exception.

He wanted to motivate practical-minded students to challenge the arguments they encounter every day.

All right, let's talk about practicality. What about the skeptical arguments against the Laws of Logic, the need for consistent concept-formation, definition, induction, deduction, etc.? Where is a student going to find help in combatting those, if not in an Aristotelian or Objectivist logic text??? Isn't it short-changing young intellectuals by failing to arm them for such battles? If they learn how to challenge arguments and out-argue their opponents, but fail to grasp and validate the fundamental goal of identifying facts of reality, how practical is that???

I don't know for sure, but I suspect part of his motivation for not mentioning Aristotle's laws might be the modern controversies involved in such issues as quantum mechanics. He may have felt that any explicit restatement of the law of identity might derail the discussion in a purely theoretical direction which he did not have the space to address.

If this is true, it points to a very serious double standard in dealing with (or avoiding) theory. Kelley's arch-competitor, Irving Copi, who is arguably the "big dog in the room," only mentions (in chapter 10 of Edition Ten of his text) the "laws of thought" in order to discuss objections to them and to dismiss their fundamentality and importance. Kelley, by sad contrast, find ~no~ place for them in his book.

Yet, Kelley has NO problem devoting three pages to a discussion of the theory of "existential import," which is a favorite of modern logicians who want to gut Aristotle's square of opposition, and a grudging inclusion by traditional logicians who don't know how to deal with the modern assault on propositional meaning and immediate inference. Let's see: three pages for Bertrand Russell's theoretical hobby-horse, but none for Aristotle's Laws of Logic. Hmm. Looks to me like Kelley took a wrong turn at Albuquerque.

But anyone who reads the book will be constantly exposed to Aristotle's laws over and over, only in non-explicit form. For instance, he deals with the basic issues involved in the laws of logic (e.g., avoiding contradictions) in his discussion of the square of opposition.

~Why~ should we want to avoid contradictions? You may be able to tease out an explanation for this from Kelley's text, but I have yet to find one. The first place he mentions the term or one of its cognates is on page 203, where he says propositions that cannot both be true and cannot both be false are "contradictories."

I can't find even a ~statement~ that one should avoid contradictions, let alone an argument for ~why~ one should avoid them. It's certainly "non-explicit"! But if college students aren't going to encounter an explicit treatment of the Laws of Logic in a LOGIC TEXTBOOK, then WHERE WILL THEY??? And isn't this sad and wrong that they don't??

True, some students (the better ones) might be fine with this, since they are already on board with making sense and avoid contradictions. But why not throw in a little intellectual ammunition for them while you're at it? Or would that be considered too "partisan" and "argumentative"? (If so, then why all the loving attention to existential import?)

Later, in his discussion of causality, he states: "We expect objects to act within the limits set by their natures."

How is this different from how David Hume would describe causality? Didn't he deny it was a law of principle, but instead simply talk about the ~psychological~ experience of "constant conjunction," whereby we come to "expect" certain things to happen after other things happen? This not only fails to offer an explicit grounding for the Law of Causality, but makes it sound subjective. Many modern logicians would be right at home with this. A principled Aristotelian or Objectivist should not!

He says at one point that we need to look past the surface complexities of language to clarify what is really being said. This is also a point he covers again and again. He makes clear that such is the rationale for translating statements and arguments into standard form for the purpose of analysis. I certainly see nothing whatever arbitrary about that.

What?! If I simply state that clarifying "what is really being said" is the rationale for converting statements and arguments into standard form, how does provide ~support~ for the rationale -- let alone saying it "again and again"? In my book, an arbitrary assertion is one for which one does not provide explanation or grounding, but just asserts, repeatedly if necessary, hoping that one's listener will accept it without explanation. And that is exactly how ~every~ logician I am aware of treat the issue of standard propositional form -- with the (sole?) exception of Henry B. Veatch, who cites Aquinas on the matter.

In fact, it is the ~failure~ to explicitly apply the Law of Identity to this issue that is the reason why standard discussions of standard form fail to rise above the arbitrary. As an exercise, consider ~why~ (specifically in terms of the Law of Identity and its role in logic, not just "to clarify") it is important to convert "My car is red" to "My car is a red vehicle." Or, "David Kelley is rational" to "David Kelley is a rational being."

True, the second statement in each case ~is~ more clear and ~does~ more clearly indicate "what is really being said." But abstract away the content, and you will see that the second statement in each case is saying: "A thing is itself," rather than "A thing is one of its attributes." This latter is false. A thing is ~all~ of its attributes, as a unity, not any ~one~ of those attributes.

Aquinas recognized this, and that is why he held that you can only legitimately identify a thing with ~itself,~ not with a ~part~ of itself. (Peikoff's discussion in "The Analytic-Synthetic Dichotomy" is a bit sloppy and inconsistent on this point. Most importantly, though, he wrote: "An entity is ALL of the things which it is. Each of its characteristics...constitutes a PART of the entity's identity." Emphasis added.) From this, it's a short step to: a thing is itself, not part of itself, and so statements indicating the latter must be rewritten, not just for clarity but for CORRECTNESS, to indicate the former.

The reason NONE of the major text writers explain standard form's rationale is that they ALL avoid like the plague any mention of the Law of Identity and its fundamental function in logic, including especially in propositions, their meaning, and their truth value.

All of this is pure speculation on my part. Only David could answer you for sure. But if this was his thinking it makes perfect sense to me.

Well, I am speculating, too, of course. But I have tried to take a look at the field in which Kelley is competing, and I see too many odd inconsistencies in Kelley's approach to give him quite the same amount of charitable leeway that you do, Dmetod?ennis.

I'm certainly looking forward to Edition Four of Kelley's text. Surely he has made significant changes, and perhaps some of them will include patching up the omissions in fundamental doctrine and addressing more rigorously the whole issue of existential import.

REB

Does any of this improve upon the scientific method? If not, then it's poor catch up.

--Brant

way behind

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Articles in the current issue of The Individualist point to website content. I actually checked them out. I never paid enough attention before, just seeing the homepage, not clicking on the tabs. It's why sloth is a deadly sin. TAS seems alive and well. What is not forthcoming from there or anywhere is a radical new idea. You have to expect that. We are lucky to have it once a generation. Before the founding of cities (from hunter camps, not farms; see Jane Jacobs), and the resultant population explosion, we were lucky to have any new idea once in three generations. Here we want innovation in one field, philosophy, while we seem to ignore the epistemological revolution of the graphical user interface.

It would be harsh to characterize the topic here as "Why are you people not doing more for me?"

Note that Ayn Rand's own work did not come from her being a member of the Aristotlean Society which produced paradigmatic innovations. She was an outlier, of necessity. As I point out now on my blog, innovation is drawn to the centers, but it may not begin there. Rand's philosophy is taught at university, but it did not begin there.

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Now, yes, I ~do~ exempt myself from this "criterion about Kelley," because (1) I am not a professional philosopher or intellectual or writer; I am a professional musician, and writing philosophy is my hobby; (2) I do not have a university position which requires and facilitates writing and publication in journals and books; and (3) I am not an insider or leader of either of the two organized Objectivist groups, so I have no position of responsibility within the movement.

Well, then, seriatim:

(1) I'd say that anyone who's had many articles in the Journal of Ayn Rand Studies is far more than a "hobbyist" in philosophic matters, and to me it verges on false modesty to pretend otherwise. That is a refereed journal, and it has notably high standards. Anyone who doubts this should ask some of those {ahem} who have had article proposals turned down about it.

(2) That university positions "require" such publish-or-perish practices does not justify them, and never has. I've seen some of the lamest writing from university presses come across in reworked dissertations that should never have felled trees to be placed in print, but which served to put a book on a faculty member's CV. I fear that you're putting yourself up against a standard that, if not for the artificial pressures of that misguided institution known as "tenure," would never have been ginned up to its present dimensions in the first place.

(3) Any "positions of responsibility" are functions of employment in those institutions, not because TAS or ARI demand respect as such, nor that those "organized groups" merit attention merely from being organized. I fear that you're giving far too much weight to affiliation with such institutions as being part of, or a signifier of merit within, "a movement." There is no "movement." Nor is this a proprietary NBI that operated under Rand's aegis and with use of her copyrighted materials. This is an intellectual marketplace, it's free-swinging, it freely self-pollinates (and copies), you're in the thick of it, and you've done more than a host of others who have university positions.

All of the people I am evaluating -- and please, I am NOT trying to pick on David Kelley; just to hold him to the same standard I use to judge OTHER leaders of Objectivism and/or professional philosophers -- are people who have gravitated toward positions of influence and WANT to be understood and appreciated as spokesmen for, and leaders of, Objectivism (as it is and/or should be). They have positioned themselves in the center of the arena, and are appropriate subjects of evaluation and critique, IMO.

Well, their "wants" are immaterial. Whether they've actually performed is what matters. Many of them have, though in smaller and more modular chunks, rather than the larger dead-tree opuses. Many others, such as the Schwartz types, have coasted on their positions, patently thinking that institutional influence (or their pull with Peikoff) substitutes for independent achievement.

As for ~my~ philosophical productivity, it has all been "in the cracks" over the years, not as part of a university or movement or professional career, but solely from my love of ideas and in particular Objectivism and Aristotelianism, and wanting to see them not go off the rails or wither away because certain issues are dealt with in too limp-wristed or unimaginative a fashion. I DO NOT GET PAID FOR DOING THIS. I HAVE NO POSITION OF POWER AND INFLUENCE IN THE OBJECTIVIST MOVEMENT. I AM AN INDEPENDENT INTELLECTUAL.

Must you YELL at me? Did my demurring with your standards offend you that much?

What do you think constitutes "power and influence," or should? Being "paid for this"? Having a university or think-tank sinecure? Or should it come from personal examples of clear, persuasive, probing writing? That yours is more granular in its publishing scope doesn't make it less influential or important. I still see you downgrading yourself unnecessarily.

So ... as to my book(s). Steve, you may not be aware that Mike Everling (head of Karl Hess Club) vigorously nudged me to have a book available to sell at my July 18 talk. So, I cobbled together a table of contents, including the "Logic of Liberty" talk and a number of essays I've written on ethics, politics, and religion over the past 40 years. The more I reflect on that outline, the more I think it is ~not~ the book I want to "birth" and sell. [...]

I'm deeply disappointed. I am among those who wanted to get a better handle on perusing and taking in what you have done, but cannot afford to gather diffuse sources. (Keeping up with JARS, especially, is expensive.)

Why don't you want to get more such exposure? Do you see e-publishing of what you decry, unfairly, as a "mongrel assortment" as more déclassé? Less prestigious than dead trees? Not worth your time to assemble the material? (Send it to me. I'll assemble it. We'll work something out. I've done this for a living for decades.)

[...] There is no doubt that a thinker can have ~some~ influence over a culture (or subculture) other than through books, but that influence is more diffuse when it's not collected and focused in a book, and I don't think it's "exaggerated obeisance" to apply this standard in assessing a thinker's output.

What I think is that everyone over the age of 40, who actually saw the pre-digital age for enough years to make a lasting impression — and certainly including you and me — is susceptible to the exaggerated mystique of the printed dead-tree book. It's best been described as "Picard's Syndrome." (Gary North limns this far better than I could ever manage to do. And, a digital-age near-eternity of eight years ago, he was remarkably prescient.)

I still believe that such obeisance to books is misplaced. It also diminishes the value of what you and a host of others have done. Objectiv-ish culture, such as it is, remains firmly rooted in books (the culture that Rand grew up in, as we all did until about 25 years ago) and oral presentations (the NBI-based historical quirk).

Your work, Roger, is neither of the above, as is true for many O-oriented writers. You end up unfairly dismissing it, and restricting it, because of matters of less-than-preferred form, not those of substance. I wish you wouldn't keep it out of the hands of those of us who'd like to more fully read and benefit from it.

Edited by Greybird
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Articles in the current issue of The Individualist point to website content. I actually checked them out. I never paid enough attention before, just seeing the homepage, not clicking on the tabs. It's why sloth is a deadly sin. TAS seems alive and well.

Oh, I've been following the TAS/TOC/IOS website since its inception, and I'm well aware of the content they have posted there. They're still functioning on some level.

What is not forthcoming from there or anywhere is a radical new idea. You have to expect that. We are lucky to have it once a generation. Before the founding of cities (from hunter camps, not farms; see Jane Jacobs), and the resultant population explosion, we were lucky to have any new idea once in three generations. Here we want innovation in one field, philosophy, while we seem to ignore the epistemological revolution of the graphical user interface.

I guess I'm a bit puzzled by what you mean by a "radical new idea," such that one only comes along once in three generations (?!), and is not to be expected from TAS "or anywhere." These people have been ~swimming~ in new ideas that they don't know what to do with. (IMO.)

And I confess, I am simply ignorant about how computers have circumvented (?) innovation in philosophy. Some explanation and clarification would be helpful.

It would be harsh to characterize the topic here as "Why are you people not doing more for me?"

Hey, it's harsh reality that they are ~supposed~ to be (by a rational standard of value) functioning as nurturers of new Objectivist or Objectivist-related thought -- and that, by and large, they are NOT doing so. As I've noted, I'm not a young scholar, so whatever frustrations I've personally suffered are nothing (IMO) compared to the discouragement that young would-be Objectivist intellectuals have suffered from the inability of the Big Two to come through for their young scholars. These folks are NOT being well served, and thus the robust, vibrant fountainheads or centers of new thought that Objectivist organizations ~should~ be has become a stillborn aspiration.

The question is: Given your apparent values, including especially your concern that Objectivism remain a vibrant source of productivity and creativity, why are you people not doing what you are SUPPOSED to be doing for the next generation of Objectivist thinkers?

Note that Ayn Rand's own work did not come from her being a member of the Aristotlean Society which produced paradigmatic innovations. She was an outlier, of necessity. As I point out now on my blog, innovation is drawn to the centers, but it may not begin there. Rand's philosophy is taught at university, but it did not begin there.

I understand that Rand was "sui generis" and a radically rugged individualist, intellectually, and I believe that some significant amount of cultural healing and progress will come from some of her ideas being co-opted and utilized by less radical folks in more mainstream places in the culture.

That's not my point. In fact, you touch on my point, when you talk about innovation.

Objectivism as a philosophy -- and one would hope, Objectivist leaders as advocates of the philosophy and nurturers of young scholars and thinkers -- champions creativity and innovation. Yet, when I look at the two main centers of Objectivist organizing and promoting, I do NOT see this encouragement of new ideas.

The Closed Objectivist faction says flatly, there has been no new Objectivism since 1981, and will not be any, ever. Even Objectivism ~inspired~ new ideas are few and far between from these folks. The Open Objectivist faction rejects this, yet does little that I can see to foster ground-breaking new insights into or applications of Objectivism.

I don't intend to share the contents of private emails from people who have frustrated and disappointed me, so this will all have to remain less concrete than some would find satisfying. So, I'll just say that to me, the "kinder, gentler" Objectivists have seemed just as timid and hesitant to venture or encourage new ideas as the meanies out West.

Now, yes, I realize that there is an inherent tendency in organizations to be or become "conservative" and sclerotic, to lose their entrepreneurial edge (if they had one to start with), to play it safe and not take chances with new ideas, instead "chewing" and recycling ideas that are 20 or 50 years old. I also acknowledge that it is probably unreasonable to expect that the leading figures of the movement will risk their positions of influence by shoveling out ideas at anything faster than a glacial rate -- and that it is probably the "outliers" who will have to function as the true fountainheads of fresh perspectives and advances in human understanding and achievement, and often get very little in return for their trouble--in much the same way as the Tea Party has succeeded in changing the terms of the political debate, while being branded not just "radicals" but "extremists" and "bomb-throwers" and people who will "resort to violence, if they don't get their way." (And I don't think it's an accident that the Tea Partiers and Ayn Rand are being linked together and smeared these days.)

No, I see all this, and I accept it as the way things are. But that doesn't make me any less outraged and sad that the leaders of both the Open and Closed camps are doing little to shape their organizations as centers of vibrant creative thought. Who welcomes and celebrates the outliers? Mostly other outliers, it would appear...

So, back to the original question: Whither Objectivism? Or, indeed, Wither Objectivism?

REB

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