9thdoctor

New Developments re Harriman Induction book

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Robert Campbell’s thread has drifted/devolved to such a point I think it’s time to start a fresh one to share this news. An ARI board member, John McCaskey, has posted an Amazon review of the Harriman book, and resigned from ARI within the last 24 hours.

http://www.amazon.com/review/R33YO57MMEDAJ7/ref=cm_cr_pr_cmt?ie=UTF8&ASIN=0451230051&nodeID=#wasThisHelpful

http://www.johnmccaskey.com/resignation.html

Watch out for flying fur.

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I have a gut feeling that the resignation letter won’t be available in its present form for long, particularly the full text of the email from Peikoff to ARI’s attorney. So read it while you can.

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ND,

The original thread has indeed drifted.

I do intend to start a new one that quotes extensively from the Harriman book, but have been busy with other projects for a while now.

But my criticisms were going to focus on the epistemology and psychology in Harriman's treatment.

John McCaskey's criticisms are aimed at the history of science. If he is correct about Galileo and Newton, Harriman has been heavily involved in "rationally reconstructing" what Galileo and Newton actually did. In other words, he has been substituting the chain of events he thinks should have taken place for the chain of events that (so far as historians can discern) actually happened.

I didn't realize that the Anthem Foundation is now entirely run by ARI people. I did notice, a couple of years back, that ARI was describing AF as one its appendages.

McCaskey's departure, in and of itself, might not affect the Anthem Foundation all that much.

His disclosure of that email from Peikoff is a different story.

Robert Campbell

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ND,

I just made a PDF of McCaskey's statement with the full text of the email.

Others who read this thread should do likewise.

Robert Campbell

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John McCaskey's criticisms are aimed at the history of science. If he is correct about Galileo and Newton, Harriman has been heavily involved in "rationally reconstructing" what Galileo and Newton actually did. In other words, he has been substituting the chain of events he thinks should have taken place for the chain of events that (so far as historians can discern) actually happened.

Harriman's been involved in "rationally reconstructing" for a long while. There was a taped set of lectures from him in 1999 or before in which he was already doing that. (Larry gave a presentation at the IOS Summer Seminar in 1999 discussing some of the flaws.)

--

Meanwhile, on August 23, Harry Binswanger expressed the opinion to his list that Peikoff's theory solves the problem of induction, as I noted (post #36) on the "Concepts Vs Theories" thread. I have a copy of Harry's remarks, supplied by one of the people we know who subscribe to HBL. But of course it's against HBL's rules to post things from that list without permission. Those here who keep track of other O'ist venues might watch to see if Harry's post appears on some approved site.

Ellen

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I found this paragraph in John McCaskey's amazon review particularly apt:

Generally, scholars who try to recreate the development of scientific concepts in the minds of great scientists are struck by how successful these scientists are in making propositional generalizations while still forming--and often themselves never fully forming--the concepts that constitute the generalizations. The narrative these scholars present (using Harriman's metaphor, not theirs) is not that a fully formed concept comes into the mind of the scientist who then uses it as a green light to an inductive propositional generalization, but that a partly formed concept serves as a flickering greenish light to a partial generalization, which acts as a less flickering, somewhat greener light to a better concept, which in turn improves the generalization, which then improves the concept, and so on, until well-defined concepts and associated propositional generalizations emerge fully formed together (at which point, the subjectivist says, "See, it's all just a matter of definitions.") Most scholars find the process of scientific progress less linear than Harriman indicates and much more iterative and spiral.

It reminds me of one of Jean Piaget's last articles, on the dialectical spiral of concepts, predicates, judgments, and inferences.

Robert Campbell

PS. Once Peikoff believed in something that he called "the spiral progression of knowledge." Seems like a very long time ago.

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McCaskey says:

I have rarely spoken with Dr. Peikoff and never about this book. He did not seek me out for a first-hand discussion; he indicates here he is not interested in having one. I presume he formed his judgments based on whichever emails Mr. Harriman forwarded to him and conversations with participants of the July study group.

I myself (I can’t speak for anyone else) find Dr. Peikoff’s weighing of my criticisms hardly objective, his remarks insultingly unjust—especially that part about Hell—and his ultimatum, as such, a threat to the Institute. I believe it would be damaging to the Institute if the Institute acted either way, either acceding to his demand or rejecting it.

I am shocked at Lenny’s behavior. :rolleyes:

Actually, I am shocked that McCaskey or anyone else at ARI would be the least bit surprised at Lenny's behavior.

Peikoff: “I hope you still know who I am and what my intellectual status is in Objectivism.”

ROFALMAO! Why would he feel the need to say that? Is he completely nuts?

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Peikoff: “I hope you still know who I am and what my intellectual status is in Objectivism.”

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This strikes me as a fairly serious Objectischism.

Basically, McCaskey is saying that Peikoff should stick to what he knows (Objectivist philosophy) and leave the history and philosophy of science to people who know what they are talking about.

And the DIM book and the theory of induction were supposed to be Peikoff's big legacy.

Someone apparently enlisted Binswanger and Gotthelf to the Peikoff/Harriman cause as well. Doesn't look like they post many Amazon reviews but they each posted one in defense of Harriman around the same time.

-Neil Parille

Edited by Neil Parille
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This strikes me as a fairly serious Objectischism.

Oh, yes. This is the big one, the real one -- the one where those who aren't willing to fix the problems in Objectivism will go one way and those who are will go the other. It's been coming a long while.

Ellen

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"When a great book sponsored by the Institute...is denounced by a member of the Board of the Institute...someone has to go."

ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME !!!!?????

Jesus H. Christ!

Is he completely freakin' NUTS ?????????

Edited by Philip Coates
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It has long been my suspicion that Ayn Rand's appointment of Leonard Peikoff as her heir was her revenge on the Objectivist movement.

If you have read I, Claudius, consider the parable of King Log and the meaning of Claudius' phrase, "Let all the poisons that lurk in the mud hatch out."

Excerpt, Leonard Peikoff to Arlene Mann of the Ayn Rand Institute, as quoted by John P McCaskey, subject of the letter:

"When a great book sponsored by the Institute and championed by me--I hope you still know who I am and what my intellectual status is in Objectivism--is denounced by a memeber of the Board of the Institute, which I founded, someone has to go, and someone will go. It is your prerogative to decide whom."

This is morally repugnant. Peikoff equates considered civil intellectual criticism with attack. Rather than address the relevant arguments, he fires off a legal letter. He refers not to the truth of any argument but to his supposed "intellectual status," which we know from past claims to be that of "intellectual heir" to Ayn Rand. He makes threats. He speaks pontifically and in explicitly religious terms.

Peikoff serves as a sort of bizarre reverse Turing test. If, after reviewing the evidence, you accept that the man behind the curtain speaks with authority, you disprove your own understanding of Rand's philosophy.

Let this letter be the end of his papacy.

Edited by Ted Keer
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Peikoff: “I hope you still know who I am and what my intellectual status is in Objectivism.”

Godfather scene--Fredo to Michael Corleone: "I'm smart!"

3.jpg

Fredo's pathetic posturing before Michael captures the essence of Peikoff, except that, compared to Lenny, Fredo commanded a certain aura of respect.

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Peikoff: “I hope you still know who I am and what my intellectual status is in Objectivism.”

This quote left me speechless with horror.

I am now quite convinced that Peikoff is mentally imbalanced.

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Oh, yes. This is the big one, the real one

Let this letter be the end of his papacy.

I honestly thought Peikoff’s Mosque podcast would be a tipping point, so I’m going to be maintaining regular respiration as we observe how this one plays out.

Notice that McCaskey has been ousted for private comments, and that people informed on him. Peikoff: "I don't know where else he has voiced these conclusions, but size to me is irrelevant in this context." His offence looks to have been just this side of thoughtcrime. Clearly the culture of Aristrip One still fosters this. Is it so different from the Reisman split?

FWIW I suspect McCaskey will fit in well at TAS.

Edited by Ninth Doctor
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If you have read I, Claudius, consider the parable of King Log and the meaning of Claudius' phrase, "Let all the poisons that lurk in the mud hatch out."

I’ve been accused once or twice on this board of being a nitpicker, and I don’t relish furthering this characterization, nevertheless the quote actually comes from the sequel novel, Claudius the God.

I think I’ve mentioned before another I, Claudius parallel: Aged Tiberius=Peikoff, Caligula=Hsieh (usually), Sejanus=Binswanger, Schwartz, probably Yaron Brook someday.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-8db3kAhJPo&feature=related

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If you have read I, Claudius, consider the parable of King Log and the meaning of Claudius' phrase, "Let all the poisons that lurk in the mud hatch out."

I've been accused once or twice on this board of being a nitpicker, and I don't relish furthering this characterization, nevertheless the quote actually comes from the sequel novel, Claudius the God.

I think I've mentioned before another I, Claudius parallel: Aged Tiberius=Peikoff, Caligula=Hsieh (usually), Sejanus=Binswanger, Schwartz, probably Yaron Brook someday.

The two books together are routinely referred to as I, Claudius, not The Claudius Series or some such. Wikipedia follows this usage.

But specifying to readers in which book to find the specific theme is helpful, as is posting the video.

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Here's a quote by Ronald Reagan that is apropos:

There is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he doesn't mind who gets the credit.

On the other side, there are severe limits on what a man can do or where he can go if all he cares about is who gets the credit.

That goes for people who predominantly care about who gets the credit.

You should care, of course, but independent thinking and doing based on that thinking is really the prime part for people who have first-hand souls. Credit comes way down on the list of priorities.

Peikoff's whole career illustrates this issue well.

Michael

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I honestly thought Peikoff’s Mosque podcast would be a tipping point, so I’m going to be maintaining regular respiration as we observe how this one plays out.

[....] Is it so different from the Reisman split?

FWIW I suspect McCaskey will fit in well at TAS.

What I'm referring to isn't an ARI vs. TAS issue, or an issue of political divergence, or of personality splits. I mean a deeper issue, alignment on which cuts across both organizations.

TAS hasn't done the job, any more than ARI has, of correcting Rand's missteps which give a basis for Peikoff's supposed "solution to the problem of induction," and for the charge that 20th-century physics is corrupt, having departed from the pure path of (supposed, mostly fictional) Newtonian method.

Regarding McCaskey's fitting in at TAS. Are there indications that he's planning to join TAS? What I'd like to see him do is form a splinter-off from both organizations, but I don't know if he'd be interested in doing that.

Ellen

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Whether John McCaskey intends to join TAS or any other such organization, I doubt anyone here is in a position to know.

I suspect he may not be interested in starting a new organization, simply because he let ARI take over the operations of the Anthem Foundation.

Meanwhile, TAS has remained open to those who don't toe the Peikoff-Harriman line.

On the other hand, David Kelley has made no progress in philosophy of science, nor he has he given it a high priority in his work—and TAS has invited some speakers who do follow Peikoff and Harriman.

The kind of work that McCaskey is now doing doesn't need to be carried out under the auspices of any Objectivist organization. That might be the most important lesson.

Robert Campbell

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Robert,

An orthodox Objectivist organization which does not toe Peikoff's line would be interesting, but I doubt it will happen. Because of Peikoff's age and increasingly erratic behavior (supporting Valliant's dishonest book, the 2004 fatwa, the Mosque issue and now "I hope you still know who I am") I doubt Harriman's influence in Objectivist science will outlast him.

I imagine most orthodox will stick with the ARI. I don't follow TAS closely, but I doubt orthodox Objectivists of McCaskey's orientation would like it.

-Neil Parille

Edited by Neil Parille
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Speaking of Galileo, I read a philosopher the other day who described his method as "Platonic/experimental" and said Galileo claimed we had to "mistrust our senses" because it doesn't seem that the earth is moving.

I suspect the history of science is not as tidy as Harriman makes it out.

-Neil Parille

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Subject: Abuse of Power

Now that I've calmed down from (my virtual screaming fit of) post #12, I want to methodically dismantle Peikoff's horrifying statements piece by piece. It's important that *no shred of what he is advocating or claiming be allowed to stand*:

1. "In essence [McCaskey's] behavior amounts to: Peikoff is misguided, Harriman is misguided, M knows Objectivism better than either. Or else: Objectivism on these issues is inadequate..."

But Leonard Peikoff has pointed out - repeatedly, emphatically, and with great heat - that Objectivism is Ayn Rand's contributions not his, that it is the name for her philosophy. Not his. And thus his writings after her death and those of Mr. Harriman are not part of Objectivism.

They are an application or extension. And on top of that, hardly obvious or cut and dried, because they are in a very technical, detailed, and difficult specialized field.

So how can any disagreement by anyone with a book on the history of science and on induction be contrary to Objectivism? And if he's not rejecting Objectivism, why would Peikoff consider this serious enough to demand his expulsion?

2. "M attacks Dave's book and thus....my course on induction."

He didn't apparently. The claim he "attacks" the book is a very great exaggeration. Unless M was saying things he didn't believe on Amazon in the reader comments, he thinks the induction work is a major contribution and has some disagreements with some smaller issues regarding the history - regarding what Galileo and Newton did. Really trivial stuff!! So does someone have to agree with *every word on every topic* touched on in this book, otherwise he should be expelled?

3. "When a great book sponsored by the Institute and championed by me is denounced by a member of the Board of the Institute...."

That's not accurate. He didn't "denounce" the book. That means to condemn or censure in a very wholesale way. It's also an exaggeration to say selling an important book in your bookstore or the same thing as "sponsoring" it.

3-Continued. "...someone has to go."

So basically, it's him or you and if he's not expelled, you will bail out of your promise to Ayn Rand to support and contribute to advancing her philosophy through the main organ that exists to spread the ideas? And -why- would you do that exactly?

Even if someone were to completely disagree with Peikoff about the DIM Hypothesis, and his theory of induction, and his view that Classical Greece is the best historical civilization, and his views about whether to vote for Democrats or Republicans this year, or whether to bomb the NYC mosque, NOT ONE OF THOSE VIEWS is part of Objectivism.

If everyone has to agree with you one every application, else you just might expel them, not only do you have to be infallible, but everyone else has to have your level of knowledge.

And all you are left with is sycophants who will -pretend- to agree with everything you say one every subject. Hardly practitioners of a philosophy of reason or the inhabitants of Atlantis.

,,,,

PS, I would like to add that one should not hold people to informal communications as in email - and P's comments are from an email. No one would want to be held to every email he every wrote or informal discussion or 'rant'. So in such cases it is always possible someone was imprecise or posted rashly and in the heat of anger. And with a cooler and wiser head, will retract and amend his statements.

Edited by Philip Coates
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