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      Major Update to OL (please click to open)   02/09/2016

      Sorry for the inconvenience, but we had to update OL and there have been some serious changes made by IPB. The real bad news is that they had to merge User Names and Display Names. This meant that I had to choose between bad and bad. I opted to keep the log-on information the same, so you can get on OL like you always did, but now your User Name is displayed. If your User Name and Display Name were the same, you will not feel the change. If they were different, you are probably irritated right now. I will figure out how you can change this so you can revert to the Display Name you used before if you like, however this may entail a change in how you log-on. The good news is that OL is now searchable from the very beginning. This means all the old posts from the A-Team in Objectivism (and everybody else) will finally show up when you search for something. I will keep changing this announcement as we adapt to these new changes. It's a pain, I know, but after looking around the backend for a bit, I believe the benefits will far, far outweigh the current irritation. They changed things in a hamhanded way and I don't like that, but I can't do anything about it. Benefit-wise, they actually did a good job, so please bear with us. In addition to this change, many good things are coming over time. You are the reason OL exists and I am sorry you have to go through this. Think of it like birth pangs... (All right, all right, that's forcing it.  ) Michael
Donovan A.

David Kelley's meeting with Yarron Brook

63 posts in this topic

I heard that David Kelley had a meeting with Yarron Brook some time ago? I also heard that they were unable to come to much if any agreements. Does anyone know anything about this meeting? What was the purpose of their talking?

Just curious.

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I heard that David Kelley had a meeting with Yarron Brook some time ago? I also heard that they were unable to come to much if any agreements. Does anyone know anything about this meeting? What was the purpose of their talking?

Just curious.

Donovan; I thought the meeting was with Ed Hudgins. I think it was friendly but noting a great disagreements.

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No, I heard of a meeting between Kelley and Brook, to see if there could be any cooperation between TAS and ARI. I also heard that they could not agree on anything.

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It is encouraging to hear that such a meeting occured no matter how much they disagreed - it is lightyears better than refusing to meet. So can anyone give some actual details, as in was it Kelley or Hudgins?

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Why doesn't someone ask Ed or David? The phone # is 202-AYN Rand. I don't think that's hard to remember or dial.

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Oh Ted. You are a clever fellow.

The meeting was with both Ed and David. They agreed to disagree. Open and closed Objectivism is the big problem.

Ted. Are you satisfied?

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I'm out for a family crisis but will post something here later with a few more retails. - Ed

Ed, I'm sorry to hear about your crisis. I hope things turn out okay.

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I'm out for a family crisis but will post something here later with a few more retails. - Ed

Ed,

I hope that your referred-to family crisis is resolved in the best possible manner for all those concerned.

Regarding this intriguing meeting that occured between you and David and Yaron Brook...this must be causing all sorts of speculation as to what was said at that meeting from both camps. Obviously, no great changes have occured, so major issues of contention were not resolved.... Being somewhat facetious (operative qualification is "somewhat") Did Dr. Brook indicate a familarity with the issues and events discussed in David's The Contested Legacy of Ayn Rand?

Regarding David's reference on the last page of his book, on the Institute's (IOS/TOC/TAS) "foreign policy," did Dr. Brook express an appreciation of the similar "foreign policy" exhibited by Miss Rand in her friendships and cooperation toward such libertarian/conservatives as Ludwig von Mises, Henry Hazlitt, and John Chamberlain?

To ask these questions is to already know the answers. So please view these as rhetorical questions. I am merely curious about the mental gymnastics performed by some Objectivists in their very selective (and inconsistent) application of Objectivism in general, and tolerance and cooperation in particular. I would think that the phenomena of "cognitive dissonance" would ultimately cause havoc with such mental compartmentalization. Indeed at several points of her writings, without using the above terms, Rand has stated that contradictions will ultimately be self-defeating. But rather than following Ayn Rand's principles, some Objectivists have instead been following the precepts of Alice's "The Mad Queen," and believing in at least three impossible things before breakfast."

Perhaps ideological tribalism can trump rationality at will. And if that is so, then this problem is an issue that Objectivists need to consider at more length, because it has not been resolved for the past forty years and has caused Objectivism to remain a very marginal cultural and political influence. The best example being the blatant and extreme altruist campaign rhetoric utilized by both Obama and McCain (and which went virtually unchallenged in the Mainstream Media (And yes, I know that some Objectivists criticized Obama and McCain on the internet and some got columns, letters, or Op-Eds published in a few newspapers. This is great, but their effect was similar to that of pebbles thrown into the ocean). Or, to extend the analogy, I don't think that the forces of collectivism need fear being engulfed by an Objectivist tsunami as a result of those relatively few opposing Objectivist voices that were heard.

I was going to end this with "End of rant." However, that implies that I have overstated the case. I have understated it.

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I'm out for a family crisis but will post something here later with a few more retails. - Ed

Ed,

I hope that your referred-to family crisis is resolved in the best possible manner for all those concerned.

Regarding this intriguing meeting that occured between you and David and Yaron Brook...this must be causing all sorts of speculation as to what was said at that meeting from both camps. Obviously, no great changes have occured, so major issues of contention were not resolved.... Being somewhat facetious (operative qualification is "somewhat") Did Dr. Brook indicate a familarity with the issues and events discussed in David's The Contested Legacy of Ayn Rand?

Regarding David's reference on the last page of his book, on the Institute's (IOS/TOC/TAS) "foreign policy," did Dr. Brook express an appreciation of the similar "foreign policy" exhibited by Miss Rand in her friendships and cooperation toward such libertarian/conservatives as Ludwig von Mises, Henry Hazlitt, and John Chamberlain?

To ask these questions is to already know the answers. So please view these as rhetorical questions. I am merely curious about the mental gymnastics performed by some Objectivists in their very selective (and inconsistent) application of Objectivism in general, and tolerance and cooperation in particular. I would think that the phenomena of "cognitive dissonance" would ultimately cause havoc with such mental compartmentalization. Indeed at several points of her writings, without using the above terms, Rand has stated that contradictions will ultimately be self-defeating. But rather than following Ayn Rand's principles, some Objectivists have instead been following the precepts of Alice's "The Mad Queen," and believing in at least three impossible things before breakfast."

Perhaps ideological tribalism can trump rationality at will. And if that is so, then this problem is an issue that Objectivists need to consider at more length, because it has not been resolved for the past forty years and has caused Objectivism to remain a very marginal cultural and political influence. The best example being the blatant and extreme altruist campaign rhetoric utilized by both Obama and McCain (and which went virtually unchallenged in the Mainstream Media (And yes, I know that some Objectivists criticized Obama and McCain on the internet and some got columns, letters, or Op-Eds published in a few newspapers. This is great, but their effect was similar to that of pebbles thrown into the ocean). Or, to extend the analogy, I don't think that the forces of collectivism need fear being engulfed by an Objectivist tsunami as a result of those relatively few opposing Objectivist voices that were heard.

I was going to end this with "End of rant." However, that implies that I have overstated the case. I have understated it.

Oops! It appears that my understatement knows no bounds! I misquoted the Mad Queen in Alice in Wonderland, as saying "three impossible things before breakfast." Actually, she said, six impossible things. If she were living in ARIanland, I guess she would have said that she often believed "an infinite number of impossible things." Either that, or she would have been purged.

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Regarding this intriguing meeting that occured between you and David and Yaron Brook...this must be causing all sorts of speculation as to what was said at that meeting from both camps. Obviously, no great changes have occured, so major issues of contention were not resolved.

Not true. Were the parties to truly see each other as irredemably evil, no such meeting would or could have taken place. Indeed, i only use "evil" if I am willing to come to blows. The fact that this meeting occured means that at least one party has changed its opinion or no longer accepts "Fact and Value," at least not literally.

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Regarding this intriguing meeting that occured between you and David and Yaron Brook...this must be causing all sorts of speculation as to what was said at that meeting from both camps. Obviously, no great changes have occured, so major issues of contention were not resolved.

Not true. Were the parties to truly see each other as irredemably evil, no such meeting would or could have taken place. Indeed, i only use "evil" if I am willing to come to blows. The fact that this meeting occured means that at least one party has changed its opinion or no longer accepts "Fact and Value," at least not literally.

I agree with you that the fact that the meetiing in question took place at all implies that at least one party has changed its opinion or no longer accepts Peikoff's "Fact and Value" as literally true. However, no details about the meeting have been openly discussed by the principals involved, and may not be - unless there is a clear benefit to one or both parties to do so. Most importantly no changes in the exclusionary/anti-toleration/isolationalist policies or actions by ARI have occurred. Unless or until that occurs, I think we have to conclude that, as I said, "no great changes have occurred, so major issues of contention were not resolved."

The analogy that David Kelley made at the conclusion of The Contested Legacy of Ayn Rand - in comparing the opposing positions of TOC/TAS and ARI to the disputes between the Israelies and the Palestinian Arabs - may be closer to the truth of the matter than we might wish. In that case, I guess we can take some comfort in the fact that ARI has not chosen the Hezbollah as its model.

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I understand the leading "Hezobollah" person at ARI no longer has much imput into the orgranization.

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Protocols of the Elders of ARI?

:)

(Oh gawd... I don't believe I just wrote that...)

Michael

er,...of course I was writing in hyperbole..........................I think. :hmm:

Anyway, considering that Yaron Brook was at one time, an Officer in the Israeli Mossad (sp?) :super: ....I think that ARI is quite safe from any influence from Arab or Moslem extremism :devil: (gross understatement).

As for other, more benign, forms of intolerance.......well, we can only hope for the best!

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[i thought on Darwin’s 200th birthday (the reason will become clear below) it might be useful for me to post part of a document that I circulated concerning Objectivism and the differences between ARI and TAS. ARI folks were pretty clear that their goal is to promote Objectivism as Rand understood it. They also raised some other interesting issues. Here were some of my thoughts. - Ed Hudgins]

-----------------

I also offer here some of my own thoughts about … the questions, “What beliefs should carry the label ‘Objectivism’ and who should call themselves ‘Objectivists’?”

The concerns are that if Objectivism is too broadly defined, then individuals will come up with ideas that clearly depart from the philosophy but will label their thinking “Objectivism” and themselves “Objectivists.” As a result, our attempts to spread the philosophy will be undermined by the confusion this might create for the general public and public intellectuals.

Let’s draw out the issues and the implications of these concerns.

One can assert that the philosophy developed by Ayn Rand is Objectivism and that those who work to expand that philosophy—Peikoff, Kelley—can say that their work is based on Objectivism and, they believe, is consistent with Objectivism. So far this would be a fair statement with which all would agree.

But one might argue that because their beliefs were not developed or explicitly endorsed by Rand, that the unique insights of Peikoff, Kelley, et al. should not be considered as part of the Objectivist philosophy.

From this perspective one can ask, will the term “Objectivism” be relegated to an antiquarian niche? Consider the analogy with Darwinian evolution.

The Example of Darwin

Darwin postulated a handful of simple principles—natural selection that, in certain environments, favors individuals that have certain random genetic changes—to explain the origin of species, a view contrary to the Biblical creationist explanation of that time. But even during his own lifetime, Darwin’s understanding of how evolution worked was evolving.

After his death, other discoveries concerning the nature of genetic mutation and an expanded fossil record shed further light on Darwin’s general approach and in fact showed it to be a particularly powerful means by which to understand the origin of species.

So is it legitimate for those who, after Darwin’s death, believe that Darwin presented a basically correct description for how life evolved and who accept the truth of new scientific discoveries made after his death that are consistent with the principles he postulated to call themselves “Darwinists?” It would seem so. Otherwise all would have to call themselves “Darwinists-plus” or something else. Since knowledge about evolution has grown since Darwin’s death, presumably the term “Darwinist” would be frozen in time and no one today could call themselves “Darwinists.”

It seems then that by analogy, those—Peikoff, Kelley—who accept the basic principles of Objectivism, the philosophy developed by Ayn Rand, can legitimately call themselves “Objectivists.”

Subdivided Schools of Thought

Some raise the question about whether Objectivists should label their own extensions of the philosophy that they believe are consistent with and even integral to the philosophy by the term “Objectivism.” Again we can turn to the analogy with “Darwinism” to look at the use of labels for schools of thought.

“Darwinism” originally differentiated those who believed that life evolved from those who believed that it was created by a god. During Darwin’s lifetime an alternative school arose that accepted that species evolved but through a very different mechanism than that postulated by Darwin. This “Lamarckian” school rejected generic mutation as the mechanism driving evolution, maintaining instead that characteristics that individual organisms acquire through their own behavior—strong muscles developed through exercise—could be passed on to descendents. Because this school of thought rejected a fundamental premise of Darwinism, it was right that it be distinguished with its own label. (Later scientific discoveries have disproved the Lamarckian approach.)

Today, in light of new fossil evidence and discoveries, new questions and debates concerning evolution have arisen. For example, in recent decades Stephen J. Gould postulated what is described as a “punctuated equilibrium” view that holds that evolution is not a smooth process but proceeds in fits and starts. This view is opposed by anthropologist Richard Dawkins and others. It is still an open question concerning which view is correct or whether both views contain elements of truth.

But we are right to classify both the Gould and Dawkins schools of thought as “Darwinism” because both—unlike Lamarckianism—accept the basic principles of the theory and are not inconsistent with the theory’s principles. Perhaps some day the views of these schools will diverge so sharply that they will deserve special names.

Similarly, the “Big Bang” theory of cosmology for decades offered a particular explanation for astronomical observations and could be contrasted with the “Steady State” theory. They offered very different explanations for observations. Later discoveries showed this latter theory to be wrong; it has no adherents today.

Today there are debates within the Big Bang understanding of the origins of the universe concerning whether or not it started with an “inflationary” burst and soon slowed down. But adherents and opponents of this approach are still labeled as Big Bang advocates.

There are also debates about the underlying mechanisms driving the expansion of the universe. A “dark energy” explanation might still fit as an extension of the Big Bang approach. But a “String Theory” model that postulates multiple “universes” deserves its own label, since it rejects basic Big Bang assumptions.

We can find similar divisions and labels in other areas of knowledge, for example, within Austrian and the Chicago schools of economics.

Thus when we ask what set of beliefs should carry the label “Objectivism,” we must look first to acceptance of basic principles.

One Objectivism for Now

I would argue by analogy that we can say that Peikoff and Kelley, ARI and The Atlas Society all promote Objectivism. All accept the basic principles by which Rand defined the philosophy.

We can also recognize legitimate discussions and debates within Objectivism. Such exchanges cause no confusion in scholarly or scientific circles. After all, this is how knowledge is acquired and advanced in other disciplines. While we should be concerned first and foremost with the truth of new postulates and whether they are necessary parts of an Objectivist understanding of the world, we should not as such be concerned to keep the definition of Objectivism “pure” any more than a Darwinist worries about whether he is teaching “pure” Darwinism.

Are there any other schools of thought or inquiry in which its thinkers are concerned chiefly with preserving the ideas exactly as understood by the school’s founder or leading lights? Religious adherents and blind ideologues ask, “What is true Christianity, Islam or Communism and who is a true Christian, Muslim or Communist?” But those who seek knowledge through a rational process do not. Anthropologists are not concerned about who are the “true” Darwinists. They're concerned about the truth.

But what of Kelley’s thinking on benevolence or Peikoff's on his DIM hypothesis? Surely it is an open question whether these views are consistent with or should be considered a necessary part of Objectivism? And for purposes of pride of ownership if nothing else, surely Peikoff, Kelley and others would want their extensions of the Objectivist philosophy to be recognized as theirs?

In fact, Kelley as well as others associated with The Atlas Society in addition to Peikoff and ARI associates have made such distinctions. Kelley, for example, believes that benevolence is and should be considered an Objectivist virtue but he does not teach that “Ayn Rand said” but, rather, “I argue that.”

Objectivist thinkers will continue to be challenged by the need to reconcile the philosophy with new advances in knowledge. For example, research in evolutionary psychology and brain science raise questions about free will, the extent to which the mind is “tabula rasa,” and the like. From what I’ve seen such new knowledge is consistent with Objectivism and points to the subtlety of Rand’s insights.

It could be that in the future some Objectivists might conclude that the philosophy is incorrect in some crucial element, for example, the nature of free will. In that case it would be right to distinguish those individuals with a new label, perhaps “neo-Objectivists.”

Who Decides?

But who decides which new information or discoveries are consistent with Objectivism or should be considered part of Objectivism?

Issues about Objectivism should be settled in the same manner that issues are settled in other rational pursues of knowledge. They should be settled by discussions, by exchanges of information, by conferences, panels, debates in journals and the like. And it is reality, not majority opinion, that will be the final arbiter.

This is what has been so unfortunate about the Objectivist movement for nearly two decades. Such benevolent exchanges and discussions between the de-facto ARI and Atlas camps have not occurred. And this fact answers the concern of some ARI associates that a more collegial relationship with Atlas associates will cause confusion and damage the Objectivist brand.

Mature individuals understand that only religions and unquestioned ideologies attempt to march in lock step and that it is not to be expected that there will be 100% agreement between individuals within the ARI or Atlas camps or between their adherents. In fact, the notion of warring “camps” in the case of Objectivism is the problem.

If we want to advance Objectivism, our chief concern should not be that honest disagreements between serious thinkers in the philosophy will tarnish us. It should be that we have been already tarnished by the closed practices outlined above. It should be that personal differences have been treated like philosophical differences.

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Excellent, Ed.

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Michael, this should be on its own thread even if it's congruent with this one.

--Brant

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Ed, that was one of the most thoughtful, helpful -- hopeful -- things that has been posted here, or anywhere else. Thank you very much for sharing the depth of your insight and breadth of your perspective.

Cheers! :cheer:

REB

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Ed,

An excellent piece.

Darwinism is a great example to choose, because some versions of it continue to thrive, while Darwin's own particular views are no longer accepted by any biologist. Some details of Darwin's personal views are, in fact, now well outside the acceptable range.

If Darwinism had been equated with strict adherence to the published words of Charles Darwin, then no one today could be a Darwinist, for no one today accepts Darwin's speculative theory of the mechanism of heredity, which appealed to "gemmules" circulating in the blood. Darwin's supporters, back in his own time, were highly dubious about it; some noted that as a theory of "blending" inheritance, it was inconsistent with his overall framework. Everyone who goes as a Darwinist today accepts the non-blending mechanism of heredity as laid out by Mendel, Morgan, Watson and Crick and others, none of whose work was available to Darwin himself.

Although many secondary sources claim that Lamarckianism was inconsistent with Darwin's own theory, this is not correct. Nor was it strictly a contemporary theory. Lamarck's theory was older than Darwin's, by two generations. Philosophie Zoologique came out in 1809, the year that Darwin was born. Since Darwin did not understand the mechanism of heredity, he had no way to rule out Lamarckian explanations. He did not prefer them, but he made concessions to them in his writings (in The Origin of Species, Lamarck's 2nd principle is called "the law of use and disuse").

Lamarckianism was not conclusively rejected in evolutionary biology until 1925 or so.

A couple of other thoughts.

Do you consider the doctrine of the arbitrary assertion to be basic to Objectivism? Leonard Peikoff, who elaborated it into the form in which is usually cited, obviously believes that it is. If David Kelley has doubts about the doctrine, he has so far kept them to himself. But if the doctrine is an internally contradictory hash, as I argue in my article in the Fall 2008 issue of JARS, no Objectivist can rationally accept it. If Objectivists end up seriously remodeling the doctrine, or chucking it, will any of them be able to count as Objectivists in a scriptural sense?

Although you are too gentlemanly to mention it, I'm sure it occurred to you that Darwinism was never accepted by Ayn Rand, and that Leonard Peikoff still distrusts it. Yet others at the Ayn Rand Institute, such as Harry Binswanger and Keith Lockitch, are strong proponents of evolutionary ideas, and of Darwin himself as a model of scientific deportment. It's interesting to read Dr. Lockitch's recent pieces on Darwinism, which give a reliable presentation of the man and his ideas—and never once mention what Ayn Rand thought about any of it.

Robert Campbell

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[i thought on Darwin’s 200th birthday (the reason will become clear below) it might be useful for me to post part of a document that I circulated concerning Objectivism and the differences between ARI and TAS. ARI folks were pretty clear that their goal is to promote Objectivism as Rand understood it. They also raised some other interesting issues. Here were some of my thoughts. - Ed Hudgins]

-----------------

I also offer here some of my own thoughts about … the questions, “What beliefs should carry the label ‘Objectivism’ and who should call themselves ‘Objectivists’?”

The concerns are that if Objectivism is too broadly defined, then individuals will come up with ideas that clearly depart from the philosophy but will label their thinking “Objectivism” and themselves “Objectivists.” As a result, our attempts to spread the philosophy will be undermined by the confusion this might create for the general public and public intellectuals.

Let’s draw out the issues and the implications of these concerns.

One can assert that the philosophy developed by Ayn Rand is Objectivism and that those who work to expand that philosophy—Peikoff, Kelley—can say that their work is based on Objectivism and, they believe, is consistent with Objectivism. So far this would be a fair statement with which all would agree.

But one might argue that because their beliefs were not developed or explicitly endorsed by Rand, that the unique insights of Peikoff, Kelley, et al. should not be considered as part of the Objectivist philosophy.

From this perspective one can ask, will the term “Objectivism” be relegated to an antiquarian niche? Consider the analogy with Darwinian evolution.

The Example of Darwin

Darwin postulated a handful of simple principles—natural selection that, in certain environments, favors individuals that have certain random genetic changes—to explain the origin of species, a view contrary to the Biblical creationist explanation of that time. But even during his own lifetime, Darwin’s understanding of how evolution worked was evolving.

After his death, other discoveries concerning the nature of genetic mutation and an expanded fossil record shed further light on Darwin’s general approach and in fact showed it to be a particularly powerful means by which to understand the origin of species.

So is it legitimate for those who, after Darwin’s death, believe that Darwin presented a basically correct description for how life evolved and who accept the truth of new scientific discoveries made after his death that are consistent with the principles he postulated to call themselves “Darwinists?” It would seem so. Otherwise all would have to call themselves “Darwinists-plus” or something else. Since knowledge about evolution has grown since Darwin’s death, presumably the term “Darwinist” would be frozen in time and no one today could call themselves “Darwinists.”

It seems then that by analogy, those—Peikoff, Kelley—who accept the basic principles of Objectivism, the philosophy developed by Ayn Rand, can legitimately call themselves “Objectivists.”

Subdivided Schools of Thought

Some raise the question about whether Objectivists should label their own extensions of the philosophy that they believe are consistent with and even integral to the philosophy by the term “Objectivism.” Again we can turn to the analogy with “Darwinism” to look at the use of labels for schools of thought.

“Darwinism” originally differentiated those who believed that life evolved from those who believed that it was created by a god. During Darwin’s lifetime an alternative school arose that accepted that species evolved but through a very different mechanism than that postulated by Darwin. This “Lamarckian” school rejected generic mutation as the mechanism driving evolution, maintaining instead that characteristics that individual organisms acquire through their own behavior—strong muscles developed through exercise—could be passed on to descendents. Because this school of thought rejected a fundamental premise of Darwinism, it was right that it be distinguished with its own label. (Later scientific discoveries have disproved the Lamarckian approach.)

Today, in light of new fossil evidence and discoveries, new questions and debates concerning evolution have arisen. For example, in recent decades Stephen J. Gould postulated what is described as a “punctuated equilibrium” view that holds that evolution is not a smooth process but proceeds in fits and starts. This view is opposed by anthropologist Richard Dawkins and others. It is still an open question concerning which view is correct or whether both views contain elements of truth.

But we are right to classify both the Gould and Dawkins schools of thought as “Darwinism” because both—unlike Lamarckianism—accept the basic principles of the theory and are not inconsistent with the theory’s principles. Perhaps some day the views of these schools will diverge so sharply that they will deserve special names.

Similarly, the “Big Bang” theory of cosmology for decades offered a particular explanation for astronomical observations and could be contrasted with the “Steady State” theory. They offered very different explanations for observations. Later discoveries showed this latter theory to be wrong; it has no adherents today.

Today there are debates within the Big Bang understanding of the origins of the universe concerning whether or not it started with an “inflationary” burst and soon slowed down. But adherents and opponents of this approach are still labeled as Big Bang advocates.

There are also debates about the underlying mechanisms driving the expansion of the universe. A “dark energy” explanation might still fit as an extension of the Big Bang approach. But a “String Theory” model that postulates multiple “universes” deserves its own label, since it rejects basic Big Bang assumptions.

We can find similar divisions and labels in other areas of knowledge, for example, within Austrian and the Chicago schools of economics.

Thus when we ask what set of beliefs should carry the label “Objectivism,” we must look first to acceptance of basic principles.

One Objectivism for Now

I would argue by analogy that we can say that Peikoff and Kelley, ARI and The Atlas Society all promote Objectivism. All accept the basic principles by which Rand defined the philosophy.

We can also recognize legitimate discussions and debates within Objectivism. Such exchanges cause no confusion in scholarly or scientific circles. After all, this is how knowledge is acquired and advanced in other disciplines. While we should be concerned first and foremost with the truth of new postulates and whether they are necessary parts of an Objectivist understanding of the world, we should not as such be concerned to keep the definition of Objectivism “pure” any more than a Darwinist worries about whether he is teaching “pure” Darwinism.

Are there any other schools of thought or inquiry in which its thinkers are concerned chiefly with preserving the ideas exactly as understood by the school’s founder or leading lights? Religious adherents and blind ideologues ask, “What is true Christianity, Islam or Communism and who is a true Christian, Muslim or Communist?” But those who seek knowledge through a rational process do not. Anthropologists are not concerned about who are the “true” Darwinists. They're concerned about the truth.

But what of Kelley’s thinking on benevolence or Peikoff's on his DIM hypothesis? Surely it is an open question whether these views are consistent with or should be considered a necessary part of Objectivism? And for purposes of pride of ownership if nothing else, surely Peikoff, Kelley and others would want their extensions of the Objectivist philosophy to be recognized as theirs?

In fact, Kelley as well as others associated with The Atlas Society in addition to Peikoff and ARI associates have made such distinctions. Kelley, for example, believes that benevolence is and should be considered an Objectivist virtue but he does not teach that “Ayn Rand said” but, rather, “I argue that.”

Objectivist thinkers will continue to be challenged by the need to reconcile the philosophy with new advances in knowledge. For example, research in evolutionary psychology and brain science raise questions about free will, the extent to which the mind is “tabula rasa,” and the like. From what I’ve seen such new knowledge is consistent with Objectivism and points to the subtlety of Rand’s insights.

It could be that in the future some Objectivists might conclude that the philosophy is incorrect in some crucial element, for example, the nature of free will. In that case it would be right to distinguish those individuals with a new label, perhaps “neo-Objectivists.”

Who Decides?

But who decides which new information or discoveries are consistent with Objectivism or should be considered part of Objectivism?

Issues about Objectivism should be settled in the same manner that issues are settled in other rational pursues of knowledge. They should be settled by discussions, by exchanges of information, by conferences, panels, debates in journals and the like. And it is reality, not majority opinion, that will be the final arbiter.

This is what has been so unfortunate about the Objectivist movement for nearly two decades. Such benevolent exchanges and discussions between the de-facto ARI and Atlas camps have not occurred. And this fact answers the concern of some ARI associates that a more collegial relationship with Atlas associates will cause confusion and damage the Objectivist brand.

Mature individuals understand that only religions and unquestioned ideologies attempt to march in lock step and that it is not to be expected that there will be 100% agreement between individuals within the ARI or Atlas camps or between their adherents. In fact, the notion of warring “camps” in the case of Objectivism is the problem.

If we want to advance Objectivism, our chief concern should not be that honest disagreements between serious thinkers in the philosophy will tarnish us. It should be that we have been already tarnished by the closed practices outlined above. It should be that personal differences have been treated like philosophical differences.

That's great, Ed. A well-reasoned defense of open Objectivism and open discussion between those who advocate Objectivism, but differ on some theoretical and/or practical applications of this philosophy. And it is certainly consistent with previous similar statements on these issues by David Kelley.

However, other than your use of the historical development of Darwinism as an analogy to similar points of contention between Objectivists - what is new here? What I read was an eloquent re-statement of the TAS position. But would any of the current leaders of ARI agree with you? Up to this point, in any written or public statement on this issue, ARI has maintained an exclusionary "fortress-like" mentality toward any criticism of their interpretation of Objectivism. I have not seen any signs of them lowering the drawbridge for discussion with possible allies.

This issue has been raised because another member of this forum asked about any details on a meeting between yourself and David Kelley with Yaron Brook. You responded that you could provide "some details." I gather, from your current statement, that what the "other side" said (which is the critical issue) in the meeting was confidential.

Whatever the case, I will be eager to see any signs of ARI's response. Additionally, a move by ARI (or its ARC) towards at least cooperation on issues of political and economic policy that ARI and TAS do agree.

I have this nightmare about this same issue still raging on, years from now, between vociferous advocates from both sides. In a concentration camp.

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