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Dennis Hardin

A Bold New Step for Objectivist Scholarship

354 posts in this topic

Metaethics, Egoism and Virtue

Studies in Ayn Rand’s Normative Theory

Edited by Allan Gotthelf and James B. Lennox

These must be trying times for Leonard Peikoff. Not only is he faced with rumblings of mutiny from within the ranks of ARI for his foolish moral indictment of John McCaskey, but certain members of his ordained ministry seem to have forgotten the unwritten ground rules of Objectivist “scholarship.” The dust jacket for this just-published volume reads: "Metaethics, Egoism and Virtue is the first of a new series, developed in conjunction with The Ayn Rand Society [of the A.P.A.], to offer a fuller scholarly understanding of this highly original and influential thinker."”

Apparently “fuller scholarly understanding” means that certain ARI-approved scholars (Darryl Wright, Tara Smith, Allan Gotthelf, Gregory Salmieri) think it is time for Objectivism to be taken seriously as a philosophical movement. (Even Harry Binswanger’s sparkling words of approval appear on the book cover. Something tells me he didn’t get a review copy.) In other words, it is time for Objectivists to stop using moral denunciation and dictatorial intellectual authority as a basis for pretending that certain dissenting and/or unsanctioned voices do not exist.

The Ayn Rand Society of the American Philosophical Association has long been a force for injecting rational dissent and open discussion into the Objectivist movement since it was founded in 1987, but, to my knowledge, this is the first time its work has appeared in book form. Whether or not this will result in closer scrutiny from Peikoff and the orthodoxy at ARI remains to be seen.

Consider the list of heretofore “tainted” or “unsavory” (from Peikoff’s warped orthodox perspective) and/or neglected characters, publications and organizations now suddenly acknowledged to exist: David Kelley, Douglas Rasmussen, Douglas Den Uyl, Roderick Long, Tibor Machan, Jack Wheeler, Lester Hunt, Nathaniel Branden (OMG!), The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, Reason Papers, IOS Journal. Various previously disdained books and other writings by these authors are also listed as references. Multiple publications of The Atlas Society are mentioned, although it is referred to as The Objectivist Center.

This is not a review of the book, since I have not had a chance to read it as yet. But I am encouraged by the fact that, from what I can tell at this point, the unofficial voices are all treated respectfully and seriously. (NOTE: The forthcoming book was previously mentioned here when it first went to the publishers in 2009. At that time, Robert Campbell expressed concern that Rasmussen’s papers were significantly dated. Hopefully this problem was corrected. Rasmussen’s referenced citations are dated from 2002 to 2007. )

Here is an important quote from the preface:

“Neither the editors nor the editorial board necessarily endorse the content of work published in this series, and we may on occasion publish writings one or more of us think ‘gets it all wrong,’ so long as these writings are respectful of Rand and her work and further the aims of the series.”

That actually sounds as if it were written by the advocates of a philosophy of reason. What’s next? Yaron Brook interviewing Chris Sciabarra for ARI’s IMPACT newsletter? I suppose it’s possible that the participants in this project could suffer the consequences of such recalcitrant behavior. We shall see. In case you were wondering, the book is not available from The Ayn Rand Bookstore.

Darryl Wright has a first-class mind. If he ever gets the boot from ARI, they are all in trouble. Or, to be precise, more trouble.

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> characters, publications and organizations now suddenly acknowledged to exist: David Kelley, Douglas Rasmussen, Douglas Den Uyl, Roderick Long, Tibor Machan, Jack Wheeler, Lester Hunt, Nathaniel Branden (OMG!), The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, Reason Papers, IOS Journal.

Dennis, I'm looking at the Ayn Rand Society description of the Gotthelf anthology. Where do you see mention of the above, other than the fact that Lester Hunt, a well-known philosopher is one of the contributors?

(BTW, would you neanderthals please keep minute-by-minute football updates on a football thread...or at least not allow the hijacking to consume the majority of the posts on a philosophy thread.)

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> characters, publications and organizations now suddenly acknowledged to exist: David Kelley, Douglas Rasmussen, Douglas Den Uyl, Roderick Long, Tibor Machan, Jack Wheeler, Lester Hunt, Nathaniel Branden (OMG!), The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, Reason Papers, IOS Journal.

Dennis, I'm looking at the Ayn Rand Society description of the Gotthelf anthology. Where do you see mention of the above, other than the fact that Lester Hunt, a well-known philosopher is one of the contributors?

(BTW, would you neanderthals please keep minute-by-minute football updates on a football thread...or at least not allow the hijacking to consume the majority of the posts on a philosophy thread.)

Phil:

You have no clue as to what is involved in the preparation of a game plan for football at the level we are discussing.

I would attempt to explain it too you, but suffice it to say, it is close to chess in it complexity. Perhaps that will give you some inkling of the intellectual acumen required to play the game.

Moreover, I will make it a point tomorrow night to place updates on this thread whenever there is a time out.

Since you wish to make this an issue and since you seem to link it to a lack of intelligence, I will provide an extensive post game analysis of the game from a structural and strategic model.

You see, I do a charted play by play of every super bowl. I have also been playing chess since I was five (5) and at one point my USCF rating was above 2100 which is pretty good turf, astro or grass.

Statements about football and Neanderthals merely exposes your ignorance to the intellectual demands of the game.

You are better than that Phil.

Adam

Edited by Selene
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> characters, publications and organizations now suddenly acknowledged to exist: David Kelley, Douglas Rasmussen, Douglas Den Uyl, Roderick Long, Tibor Machan, Jack Wheeler, Lester Hunt, Nathaniel Branden (OMG!), The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, Reason Papers, IOS Journal.

Dennis, I'm looking at the Ayn Rand Society description of the Gotthelf anthology. Where do you see mention of the above, other than the fact that Lester Hunt, a well-known philosopher is one of the contributors?

(BTW, would you neanderthals please keep minute-by-minute football updates on a football thread...or at least not allow the hijacking to consume the majority of the posts on a philosophy thread.)

I KNOW THIS IS GONNA SEEM WEIRD, PHIL, BUT I ACTUALLY GOT ALL THAT FROM LOOKING AT THE BOOK. . .

caveman.jpg

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Adam, the neanderthal crack was about the intellectuality/sophistication/boorishness of not being aware what a thread is about and continually hijacking it, not about an interest in football itself.

Still waiting for an answer to my substantive question:

"> characters, publications and organizations now suddenly acknowledged to exist: David Kelley, Douglas Rasmussen, Douglas Den Uyl, Roderick Long, Tibor Machan, Jack Wheeler, Lester Hunt, Nathaniel Branden (OMG!), The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, Reason Papers, IOS Journal.

Dennis, I'm looking at the Ayn Rand Society description of the Gotthelf anthology. Where do you see mention of the above, other than the fact that Lester Hunt, a well-known philosopher is one of the contributors?"

Edited by Philip Coates
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Adam, the neanderthal crack was about the intellectuality/sophistication/boorishness of not being aware what a thread is about and continually hijacking it, not about an interest in football itself.

Still waiting for an answer to my substantive question:

"> characters, publications and organizations now suddenly acknowledged to exist: David Kelley, Douglas Rasmussen, Douglas Den Uyl, Roderick Long, Tibor Machan, Jack Wheeler, Lester Hunt, Nathaniel Branden (OMG!), The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, Reason Papers, IOS Journal.

Dennis, I'm looking at the Ayn Rand Society description of the Gotthelf anthology. Where do you see mention of the above, other than the fact that Lester Hunt, a well-known philosopher is one of the contributors?"

Phil, to quote a well-known Rand hero, "To those who understand, no explanation is necessary. To those who do not understand, no explanation is possible."

Seriously: Phil, ya gotta read the book. It's in the book! How could you expect ARS to cram all these rag-tag names into an advertising blurb? The folks are mentioned in footnotes and bibliography and index -- and even occasionally in the text.

Gotta warn ya, though -- the book is a real "yawn." Unless you're way into meta-ethics.

REB

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Gotta warn ya, though -- the book is a real "yawn." Unless you're way into meta-ethics.

Have to concur. I got this by interlibrary loan from Pittsburgh, which has the one extant copy. Returned it the following day. Reminded me of those over-priced thrice removed commentaries on foundationalism versus coherence theory I had to buy for the 400 level epistemology seminar at Rutgers.

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Anybody got a prediction for today's football game?

The Superbowl is at hand.

:)

(I figure it's better to talk about football than discuss the criticisms of a book by a person who does not read it. :) )

Michael

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Anybody got a prediction for today's football game?

The Superbowl is at hand.

:)

(I figure it's better to talk about football than discuss the criticisms of a book by a person who does not read it. :) )

Michael

Michael:

Mike and I like the Packers big.

Dennis and REB like the Steelers.

Check out this commercial, it should be voted the best - over 12,000,000 views on YouTube already- it is remarkable-no words - no voice - just brilliantly adorable.

Adam

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Still waiting for an answer to my substantive question:

"> characters, publications and organizations now suddenly acknowledged to exist: David Kelley, Douglas Rasmussen, Douglas Den Uyl, Roderick Long, Tibor Machan, Jack Wheeler, Lester Hunt, Nathaniel Branden (OMG!), The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, Reason Papers, IOS Journal.

Dennis, I'm looking at the Ayn Rand Society description of the Gotthelf anthology. Where do you see mention of the above, other than the fact that Lester Hunt, a well-known philosopher is one of the contributors?"

I'm wondering what part of "I got all that from looking at the book" Phil didn't understand.

I feel like the radio announcer who keeps tapping his microphone, asking "Is this thing on?"

Good grief.

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Gotta warn ya, though -- the book is a real "yawn." Unless you're way into meta-ethics.

REB

Well, I absolutely loved the book. I especially liked the first two chapters because they deal with a favorite topic of mine—the premoral choice to live. But I thought the entire book was terrific. I didn’t yawn once.

Of course, it helps to stoke yourself with a few gallons of Starbucks coffee before tackling a volume like that. The problem is you sometimes don’t yawn until it’s time to go to work the next morning. <_<

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Anybody got a prediction for today's football game?

The Superbowl is at hand.

:)

(I figure it's better to talk about football than discuss the criticisms of a book by a person who does not read it. :) )

Michael

Michael:

Mike and I like the Packers big.

Dennis and REB like the Steelers.

Adam

Thank goodness you're not my bookie. I would never collect.

Check out what I wrote on "Ayn Rand and the Super Bowl." I've got the Packers winning 27-17.

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Anybody got a prediction for today's football game?

The Superbowl is at hand.

:)

(I figure it's better to talk about football than discuss the criticisms of a book by a person who does not read it. :) )

Michael

Michael:

Mike and I like the Packers big.

Dennis and REB like the Steelers.

Adam

Thank goodness you're not my bookie. I would never collect.

Check out what I wrote on "Ayn Rand and the Super Bowl." I've got the Packers winning 27-17.

Dennis:

Oops. So much for going on memory without checking the thread. So you think it will be the under,

I have it as 38-17 - interesting.

Mike has it as 20-17 Packers.

topicpreview.png Immediate Intervention Required for Dennis Harden!!

Adam

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> Seriously: Phil, ya gotta read the book.

I'd rather be forced to sit through a screening of "The English Patient" again.

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> characters, publications and organizations now suddenly acknowledged to exist: David Kelley, Douglas Rasmussen, Douglas Den Uyl, Roderick Long, Tibor Machan, Jack Wheeler, Lester Hunt, Nathaniel Branden (OMG!), The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, Reason Papers, IOS Journal.

Dennis, I'm looking at the Ayn Rand Society description of the Gotthelf anthology. Where do you see mention of the above, other than the fact that Lester Hunt, a well-known philosopher is one of the contributors?

(BTW, would you neanderthals please keep minute-by-minute football updates on a football thread...or at least not allow the hijacking to consume the majority of the posts on a philosophy thread.)

Phil:

You have no clue as to what is involved in the preparation of a game plan for football at the level we are discussing.

I would attempt to explain it too you, but suffice it to say, it is close to chess in it complexity. Perhaps that will give you some inkling of the intellectual acumen required to play the game.

Moreover, I will make it a point tomorrow night to place updates on this thread whenever there is a time out.

Since you wish to make this an issue and since you seem to link it to a lack of intelligence, I will provide an extensive post game analysis of the game from a structural and strategic model.

You see, I do a charted play by play of every super bowl. I have also been playing chess since I was five (5) and at one point my USCF rating was above 2100 which is pretty good turf, astro or grass.

Statements about football and Neanderthals merely exposes your ignorance to the intellectual demands of the game.

You are better than that Phil.

Adam

??????????????

Kick, block, toss, run, kick.

There's more?

--Brant

oh, yes; there's Phil

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You have to wonder: why would someone who despises reading books on philosophy expect to be taken seriously as a philosophical thinker?

“All men by nature desire to know.” --Aristotle

Aristotle never met-- Oh, never mind.

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Dennis,

I'm going to go out on a limb and say that I think Aristotle would have greatly enjoyed American football had it existed back then.

That's a quip, sure, but I'm also serious.

I really think he would have liked it--putting the human urge to violence under rules of civility, taking care with protection, using advanced thinking for judging strategies, tactics and opportunities, learning and executing high-level skills, and so on.

I might be wrong, but I remember reading somewhere that he liked the Olympics. If that's the case, I believe a Superbowl would have been a delight to him.

Michael

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> You have to wonder: why would someone who despises reading books on philosophy expect to be taken seriously as a philosophical thinker? {Dennis]

There's a difference between reading books on subjects you already understand very well and reading books on new material and a difference between reading what Rand had to say and reading academic nit-picking about stuff that is already clear.

I'm really clear already on metaethics -- after decades of reading stuff and thinking on the subject. A book on induction or the philosophy of law would be another matter.

(That said, my smartass crack about a movie I found tedious shouldn't be taken too literally - or reacted to too snarkily. I have a full plate of to-be-reads, but at some point I may look at the book and if it's -really- well-written and discusses totally new applications or topics in an original or non-secondhand manner, read all or much of it.)

Dennis, a suggestion if you're telling people how great a book is: provide some evidence. A couple quotes or very perceptive or original lines which you underlined or put exclamation points next to as you read it.

Edited by Philip Coates
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> You have to wonder: why would someone who despises reading books on philosophy expect to be taken seriously as a philosophical thinker? {Dennis]

There's a difference between reading books on subjects you already understand very well and reading books on new material and a difference between reading what Rand had to say and reading academic nit-picking about stuff that is already clear.

I'm really clear already on metaethics -- after decades of reading stuff and thinking on the subject. A book on induction or the philosophy of law would be another matter.

(That said, my smartass crack about a movie I found tedious shouldn't be taken too literally - or reacted to too snarkily. I have a full plate of to-be-reads, but at some point I may look at the book and if it's -really- well-written and discusses totally new applications or topics in an original or non-secondhand manner, read all or much of it.)

Dennis, a suggestion if you're telling people how great a book is: provide some evidence. A couple quotes or very perceptive or original lines which you underlined or put exclamation points next to as you read it.

Phil,

I apologize for the "snarkiness." I did not intend it that way. I was and I remain genuinely puzzled by your reaction.

I think I gave fairly clear indication of why I liked the book. I am in the process of writing a longer review. There are some unresolved questions in Rand's metaethics I want to write about. Since you already have all the answers, you obviously couldn't care less about that.

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> Since you already have all the answers...

I don't think I meant to suggest I have -all- the answers, just that I'm really very knowledgeable and certain generally on metaethics, enough to make that move down my list of to-be-reads compared to things where I know much less.

Edited by Philip Coates
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> There are some unresolved questions in Rand's metaethics I want to write about.

Can you name them briefly?

If so, I'll check your longer review to see what you think they are. (Assuming it's tightly edited and doesn't feel like a rough draft.)

Edited by Philip Coates
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I've been reading the book. I'm currently in "Metaethics: Objectivist and Analytic", Irfan Khawaja's article, "The Foundations of Ethics: Objectivism and Analytic Philosophy".

What lured me to the book was the name Ayn Rand. I had already read Tara Smith's book on Rand's Normative Ethics, so this looked like something worthwhile, too. The Editors said that they aimed the book at academic philosophers. That is NOT me, but it is fun to read something with a new intellectual flavor and I'm actually finding some further clarification of Rand's thinking just by coming at it from another point of view. Of course I keep my philosophy dictionary handy. For some reason, though I understood the fact that you can, if needed, trace your abstractions back to "the evidence of the senses", I had been sloughing off a little on the importance of accurate concept definitions to understand reality objectively. I don't think I will ever lose track of that again because it gets a good treatment in this article and I was just looking for that uderstanding again.

I'm not qualified to write a review of a book like this, so I will leave that to you higher level Objectivists. Suffice it to say, I love this stuff and I'm eagerly looking forward to what you all have to say about it.

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> There are some unresolved questions in Rand's metaethics I want to write about.

Can you name them briefly?

If so, I'll check your longer review to see what you think they are. (Assuming it's tightly edited and doesn't feel like a rough draft.)

Phil,

The main issue that concerns me is the premoral choice to live, and how this appears to put Objectivism’s ethical system on the same capricious footing as existentialism. It still is not entirely clear to me how we can square this notion with Rand’s answer to Hume’s fact-value dichotomy. My hope is that writing on it again will serve to make it clearer.

I say “again” because many years ago I wrote an article about this topic for Full Context, which you can read here ('The Choice to Live’). I want to update my thinking on the topic based on so much else that has been said, including this recent book from ARS.

BTW, I am a merciless self-editor, which may explain why I have no idea when the damn thing will be finished.

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I'm not qualified to write a review of a book like this, so I will leave that to you higher level Objectivists. Suffice it to say, I love this stuff and I'm eagerly looking forward to what you all have to say about it.

Hmmmm. . .”Higher level Objectivists”. . .That’s just not how I think of myself at all.

Higher level human is more like it.

another-breath_the-god-complex.jpg

“What the heck are all those pathetic little things down there, anyway?”

P.S. Mary: If you read the book--especially this book--you are qualified to review it.

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