Roger Bissell

Barbara's lectures on the Principles of Efficient Thinking

125 posts in this topic

Stephen,

Rand had a sense of humor. I saw it personally but you'd hardly think of it in describing her particular mind. My sense of humor is much bigger and more obvious. There are different flavors of humor, some very crude, even vulgar, from the professional comedians. George Carlin combined vulgarity with thinking. I combine thinking with modest self-deprecation making the twist while making a humorous comment. Carlin had the twists already all thought out and just presented them. It's even hard to think of him as a comedian but he got the classification. He described himself as an observer coming up with his observations. He went pretty deep with his stuff. I stay superficial. When I go deep, so to say, I go serious. Someone like Rand and myself could have had a lot on interactive fun. Carlin's vulgarity would have been a complete turnoff to her. I think the basic difference between myself and Rand that way is partly explained by the two generations between us. Similarly, it is difficult for me to listen to most of the videos on the Anti-Life Music thread. The title of that thread is kind of a joke, for obviously Kyle doesn't think those videos are anti-life, but I wonder if he would feel the way about Frank Sinatra or even classic rock.

It's going to be extremely difficult for you to come up with pure NBI-time POET lectures. Barbara's estate may have the original reel to reel tapes. I don't know who is handling the estate, but if it's not Kerry O'Quinn, he should know who is.

--Brant

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To be clear, Brant, I am not myself in need of or in search of the original complete set of Principles of Efficient Thinking. I was only mentioning in response to Roger's notice what can be actually usefully from the historical aspect.

. . .

Good news: Barbara's estate is negotiating with a publisher to put out a book of her efficient thinking lectures that will include additional transcripts of three lectures she gave on the subject between the mid-90s and mid-00s. The transcripts will be *triple* checked against the recordings to ensure maximum accuracy. And someone competent will be providing an index for the book. :-/ I would not expect the book to be published before 2016. I'm hoping they will use the title I suggested and that Barbara enthusiastically embraced in 2011: "Think as if Your Life Depends on It - Because it Does! (subtitle: Principles of Efficient Thinking).

Roger, you mentioned (#93) that the proposed book of the Efficient Thinking lectures would include additional lectures Ms. Branden gave on the subject more recently. I hope that the original lectures transcribed will be complete, no part of any lecture omitted. That is what makes such a work useful with respect to history. Selections from earlier work of a thinker aligned as a progression as if all along reaching for the position attained in later work is not helpful; selection by the criteria of such alignment is ruinous.

. . .

Brant, what do you think of B. Branden's statement about the nature of a sense of humor that I quoted in the post preceding your last one? Is her statement true, false, unsupported dogma, pretending to know more than she or anyone could possibly know, or what?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

PS

That post was #100 at the bottom of the preceding page. I'll bring the paragraph which included the quotation forward to this page:

Brant, in association with #99, Branden uses the traditional example of humor-ability of humans as an example of a distinctive trait of the species that would be wrong to take as the defining, differentiating characteristic of humans in the genus animal(172). (Rand did not use this example in ITOE, so far as I see just now.) The reason that Branden gives for the claim that a sense of humor is not the fundamental distinguishing trait of humans: “Well, a sense of humor is blatantly a consequence of the fact that man possesses a mind—and, more specifically, it’s a consequence of certain special premises in his mind.” She did not further explain this diagnosis for this example, although she went on to indicate that a laughing animal such as an hyena does not have a sense of humor. I don’t know what she would have thought of the following at the various stages of her life, but I suggest: Our proposition of uniqueness for the human trait we mark as sense of humor is a reasonable conjecture. But it is a conjecture, one open to elaboration and some qualification with further advance of science. Less conjectural and more clearly dependent on conceptual power, it seems to me, are our abilities for language, drawing diagrams, farming, and invention. Uniqueness of our ability to make music (and its dependence on conceptual power), I expect, is conjecture in the league with sense of humor, reasonable but reasonably open to significant qualification with the advance of science.
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Stephen,

"A distinctive trait" doesn't strike me as as a distinguishing characteristic as in a definition. "Rational animal" can sweep all the other stuff in respecting the human mind. When a man "the rational animal" ceases to be rational then he's like the other animals. That's a man. Not man as a concept. So the definition is correct.

In anthropology you get such things as upright posture, opposable thumb, speech and the foot. My brother, who teaches anthropology, thinks hunting is actually female seeking. I think his anti-hunting bias plus his anthropology orientation leads to a distorted conclusion here. Bringing home the bacon--or working--does have to do also with mate seeking--the wife and the babies have to eat, have to be provided for--but if you're hungry that pain in your stomach comes first. Try not eating for two days and you'll understand, somewhat, a little, heroin withdrawal.

--Brant

the only things I would hunt would be feral hogs--I'd use a .44 magnum semi-automatic Rugar carbine and let the carcasses rot

not only pigs; I'd do the same for ISIS fighters--and completely cold-blooded without remorse (I would take prisoners, for I'd be after the Calphinate, not so much them)--but bury them with--wait!--those feral hogs I shot back in the States!

win-win!

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What is wrong with "I think, therefore I am". If one thinks he must exist long enough to have the thought.

Also true: "I eat, therefore I am". "I excrete, therefore I am" and so forth.

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I never cared much for BB's Efficient Thinking course. My main problem is that they moved along at a snail's pace. In college, when I owned the original Academic Associates LPs, I would sometimes play a record on 45 rpm instead of at 33-1/3. That picked things up a bit.

Ghs

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Stephen, in #100 you wrote: "Roger, you mentioned (#93) that the proposed book of the Efficient Thinking lectures would include additional lectures Ms. Branden gave on the subject more recently. I hope that the original lectures transcribed will be complete, no part of any lecture omitted. That is what makes such a work useful with respect to history. Selections from earlier work of a thinker aligned as a progression as if all along reaching for the position attained in later work is not helpful; selection by the criteria of such alignment is ruinous."

It is my understanding that Barbara's estate insists that the book be an absolutely accurate and complete transcript of her lectures, both the 10 from the original course and the 3 additional, later ones. If it were my project, I would insist this as well - annotating where I thought appropriate, but giving a full and faithful rendering of Barbara's work.

Barbara had always hoped to someday rewrite the lectures as part of a book on efficient *and* creative thinking, but I think that what has survived is already and inspiring and helpful. I agree with George that her delivery is a bit slow and boring, but I really like the material. I'm just very glad that her ideas are finally going to see print.

REB

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Just curious: who is her executor?

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I do not know this for a fact, so it is strictly unofficial, but I believe that Benjamin Syles and/or Wallis Grover are overseeing Barbara's published works on behalf of her estate. If so, then they may also be her executor(s).

REB

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I never cared much for BB's Efficient Thinking course. My main problem is that they moved along at a snail's pace. In college, when I owned the original Academic Associates LPs, I would sometimes play a record on 45 rpm instead of at 33-1/3. That picked things up a bit.Ghs

Efficient thinking for chipmunks.

J

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What is wrong with "I think, therefore I am". If one thinks he must exist long enough to have the thought.

That's a primacy of conscousness statement.

Also true: "I eat, therefore I am". "I excrete, therefore I am" and so forth.

Those two are a reversal of causation. "I am, therefore I can eat," is the correction, etc.

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...

I think that what has survived is already and inspiring and helpful. I agree with George that her delivery is a bit slow and boring, but I really like the material. I'm just very glad that her ideas are finally going to see print.

REB

Agreed, I'm going through these and they are incredible. I have them in MP3 format (purchased from The Culture of Reason Center) and listening to them at 1.5x speed helps the pacing.

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The lectures, of course, were originally delivered live.

Brant,

Now there's an interesting idea. Speeding Barbara up when she was alive.

Er...

I was gonna say more, but I think I'll leave that right where it's at...

:smile:

Michael

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...and what a great story teller she was.

PAR resides on my top shelf.

-J

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Stephen, in #100 you wrote: "Roger, you mentioned (#93) that the proposed book of the Efficient Thinking lectures would include additional lectures Ms. Branden gave on the subject more recently. I hope that the original lectures transcribed will be complete, no part of any lecture omitted. That is what makes such a work useful with respect to history. Selections from earlier work of a thinker aligned as a progression as if all along reaching for the position attained in later work is not helpful; selection by the criteria of such alignment is ruinous."

It is my understanding that Barbara's estate insists that the book be an absolutely accurate and complete transcript of her lectures, both the 10 from the original course and the 3 additional, later ones. If it were my project, I would insist this as well - annotating where I thought appropriate, but giving a full and faithful rendering of Barbara's work.

[....]

REB

Barbara's estate has just given a "green light" to the publisher for a volume including Barbara's POET lectures and transcriptions of several more recent live addresses. No publication date has yet been announced.

REB

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I bought the tapes more than 4 years ago. I listened a little then, but they didn't grab my attention. I listened to several parts the past two weeks, but about 45 minutes in one day was plenty due to the style of presentation. On the other hand, it may be the most complete, single source of all the informal fallacies listed below coined (I think) by Ayn Rand.


I think the series is mistitled. A more descriptive title -- though not a marketing one -- would be Psycho-epistemology: Good, Bad, and Oodles of Examples of Bad. The titles of 4 of the last 5 lectures are: Emotions as Tools of Cognition, Common Aberrations in Thinking, The Fallacy of the Stolen Concept, and Psychological Causes of Inefficient Thinking!


I wasn't impressed with the lectures on focusing. She approached the subject in a moralizing, polarizing manner, for the most part contrasting being in a daze with fully focused. She used "focus" for both perception and conceptual thought. One can be in full focus conceptually and unfocused perceptually, or vice-versa. She over-simplified.


The contrasting is belabored, often about out-of-focus zombies. Talking about being out of focus is fine, but dwelling on it with numerous examples and excluding other aspects of the topic diminished the talk for me. There is no mention of any other philosopher's comments, as if Ayn Rand was the first philosopher to address the subject. Among philosophers the traditional term is "attention" rather than "focus". See here. Note: the Theories of Attention shown there were very recent or after when B. Branden did the lectures.


I consider every aberration covered in the lectures to be informal fallacies. Included are stolen concept, context dropping, floating abstraction, frozen abstraction, and package-dealing. Informal fallacies are covered in most or all introductory logic textbooks. Hmm, I wonder why none of the five are mentioned in David Kelley's The Art of Reasoning.

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What is wrong with "I think, therefore I am". If one thinks he must exist long enough to have the thought.

That's a primacy of conscousness statement.

Also true: "I eat, therefore I am". "I excrete, therefore I am" and so forth.

Those two are a reversal of causation. "I am, therefore I can eat," is the correction, etc.

There are entities that exist and do not eat or excrete or think. Existence as such does not imply any particular property.

On the other hand to say I am a thinking being therefore I think is a mere tautology.

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Also true: "I eat, therefore I am". "I excrete, therefore I am" and so forth.

Those two are a reversal of causation. "I am, therefore I can eat," is the correction, etc.

There are entities that exist and do not eat or excrete or think. Existence as such does not imply any particular property.

On the other hand to say I am a thinking being therefore I think is a mere tautology.

The statement, "I am, therefore I can eat," is an Aristotelian predication of a potentiality. The subject of the sentence indicates the first of the 10 categories, that a thing exists, its primary substance. The predication is the potentiality (an action) of the entity. Neither "I eat, therefore I am," or "I am, therefore I can eat," offer any proof to Objectivism's philosophical axioms. (Which, axioms aren't proven, they are.)

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On 2/11/2006 at 3:43 AM, Barbara Branden said:

Phil: "Barbara, you're not going to take 12 years like Leonard does on his books, are you?"

I'm not. I promise. What makes it easier is that I don't have to be perfect and lay down the rules for all time to come.

Barbara

Actually, it looks like it will be right at 10 years and change. And it will be a fine book, true to Barbara's POET lectures and rich with additional content. :cool:

REB

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13 hours ago, Roger Bissell said:

Actually, it looks like it will be right at 10 years and change. And it will be a fine book, true to Barbara's POET lectures and rich with additional content. :cool:

REB

Thanks for the update.

--Brant

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On 1/26/2016 at 4:18 PM, Roger Bissell said:

Barbara's estate has just given a "green light" to the publisher for a volume including Barbara's POET lectures and transcriptions of several more recent live addresses. No publication date has yet been announced.

I'll send an email note to Roger at The Lake, but I wondered if I have missed anything on the publication of Principles of Objective Efficient Thinking.

Edited by william.scherk
Corrected title of POET
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No official announcement yet, but the book is in the proofs stage, so unless some unforeseen difficulty comes up, I suspect we're no more than about 2-3 months away from publication. In other words, sometime this winter it will probably be available. Stay tuned! :-)

REB

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