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Branden’s "Vision of Ayn Rand" as “Official Objectivism”


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#121 Ellen Stuttle

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Posted 22 March 2012 - 03:36 PM

There are only two endorsements from Rand of presentations of her system: the first, for Nathaniel Branden's Basic Principles of Objectivism (now in print as The Vision of Ayn Rand). The other endorsement was for Leonard Peikoff's course, The Philosophy of Objectivism.


The Peikoff course The Philosophy of Objectivism used to be available from the ARI Bookstore. As of last September it was listed as "out of stock."

http://www.aynrandbo...sp?number=LP24M

I have suspicions about why it's no longer in stock -- because of discrepancies between material in it and later material by Peikoff, for instance in The Logical Leap.

Coincidentally, I decided last August to purchase the course. I'd blown hot and cold because of the price and had never quite made my mind up to spending $240 for it. But then, due to issues which arose on ARCHN, where I was posting for awhile, I decided to spend the money so I could check what Peikoff said -- and Rand endorsed -- on "certainty" in that course. Just then we had trouble with our Am Express credit card -- some identity-theft charges. During the week I was waiting for a new card, the course went "out of stock." Rats.

Ellen

#122 Ellen Stuttle

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Posted 22 March 2012 - 03:40 PM

With the exception of the "Benefits and Hazards" essay, you can be sure Rand agreed with everything in VOAR.  Not so with OPAR.


I like the parallelism of VOAR and OPAR.

Ellen

#123 Ellen Stuttle

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Posted 22 March 2012 - 03:53 PM

1) I think it is accurate to say that NBI derived a large part of its income from the franchising of its courses, including Basic Principles, and not from its publications. (Incidentally, neither The Objectivist Newsletter nor The Objectivist were "officially" publications of NBI (even though it looked that way, and copies could be purchased from NBI), but rather, a separate legal entity, The Objectivist, Inc). Consequently, if NBI were to have published its lectures in print, they would have had a substantial loss in income..


The numbers of people who took the taped courses was way higher than that of subscribers to the publications. The Objectivist -- according to a source I consulted available to publicity departments of publishing houses -- had a subscribership of about 21,000 - 22,000 at its peak. The publications couldn't have brought in much.

Ellen

#124 Ninth Doctor

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Posted 22 March 2012 - 04:24 PM

She exhibited "ARIan cultish behavior" in the way she misrepresented The Objectivist Newsletter as Ayn Rand's independent undertaking. Her course description is totally dishonest and false from start to finish. She could not possibly be ignorant of the equally important role Nathaniel Branden played in launching TON. Without him, it is doubtful there would have been an Objectivist Newsletter.


I don’t think you should assume that an OCON course description reflects on Milgram’s integrity. Since Peikoff is (it seems…one hopes) out of the business of micromanaging the “official” publications we can hope for an accurate biography to come from Milgram. She doesn’t have the track record of a Mayhew or a Valliant, and does cite Barbara Branden (Who is Ayn Rand?) in her chapter from the Atlas Shrugged essays book. Still I suppose it's tempting to presume she's guilty until proven innocent, either way I'm sure her book will be valuable.
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#125 Jerry Biggers

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Posted 22 March 2012 - 10:31 PM

1) I think it is accurate to say that NBI derived a large part of its income from the franchising of its courses, including Basic Principles, and not from its publications. (Incidentally, neither The Objectivist Newsletter nor The Objectivist were "officially" publications of NBI (even though it looked that way, and copies could be purchased from NBI), but rather, a separate legal entity, The Objectivist, Inc). Consequently, if NBI were to have published its lectures in print, they would have had a substantial loss in income..


The numbers of people who took the taped courses was way higher than that of subscribers to the publications. The Objectivist -- according to a source I consulted available to publicity departments of publishing houses -- had a subscribership of about 21,000 - 22,000 at its peak. The publications couldn't have brought in much.

Ellen

Ellen,
Your figures for the circulation of The Objectivist back in the late 1960s sound accurate. I assume that those who were interested enough to take one or more of the NBI courses, were also quite likely to be subscribers to The Objectivist Newsletter/The Objectivist (because those publications regularly included notices as to when and where upcoming NBI courses were to be held, and also the TV and radio appearances of Ayn and Nathaniel).

They also advertised in major newspapers. I remember seeing an ad in a Sunday edition of the Chicago Tribune, in its Books section, inviting readers to subscribe to The Objectivist Newsletter. The ad started with "AYN RAND and NATHANIEL BRANDEN invite you to subscribe to The Objectivist Newsletter."

In addition to the circulation figures listed above, NBI had a mailing list of 80,000 that was used to advertise for its publications and courses.

Note: Ellen, if you are interested in obtainin one or more of the tape/CD courses that have been offered by the Ayn Rand Bookstore, and record sets or taped courses by Nathaniel Branden and Barbara Branden, you should regularly check on eBay, where copies often show up for sale. I have found and purchased about five of these courses through that method.

#126 Brant Gaede

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Posted 22 March 2012 - 10:45 PM

After the break the subscription list of The Objectivist shrank. The transition to The Ayn Rand Letter and end of The Objectivist came precisely with the issue that The Objectivist would have had to publish its circulation figures to qualify for its mailing rate. We will never know what the last year shrinkage was. I can't get my hands on the cost of a year's sub. was, but 10 bucks is about right. 20,000 subscribers x 10 = 200,000 gross a year That's like one million today. Now the next pub. was 33 bucks a year. If we assume 10,000 subscribers that's 330,000 bucks/yr or maybe 1.5 mil today. None of these figures is insignificant. BUT, it was seemingly less work for Rand for she only had to edit the occasional Peikoff. At the time I thought the bi-weekly pub was nuts and unnecessary. It proved too much for her.

--Brant

Rational Individualist, Rational self-interest, Individual Rights--limited government libertarian heavily influenced by Objectivism


#127 Dennis Hardin

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Posted 23 March 2012 - 02:46 AM


She exhibited "ARIan cultish behavior" in the way she misrepresented The Objectivist Newsletter as Ayn Rand's independent undertaking. Her course description is totally dishonest and false from start to finish. She could not possibly be ignorant of the equally important role Nathaniel Branden played in launching TON. Without him, it is doubtful there would have been an Objectivist Newsletter.


I don’t think you should assume that an OCON course description reflects on Milgram’s integrity. Since Peikoff is (it seems…one hopes) out of the business of micromanaging the “official” publications we can hope for an accurate biography to come from Milgram. She doesn’t have the track record of a Mayhew or a Valliant, and does cite Barbara Branden (Who is Ayn Rand?) in her chapter from the Atlas Shrugged essays book. Still I suppose it's tempting to presume she's guilty until proven innocent, either way I'm sure her book will be valuable.


Since Milgram's Rand biography was "authorized" by Peikoff--and since it is allegedly (per Harry Binswanger) supposed to "correct" the errors in the other, non-authorized biographies--do you seriously think Peikoff will not sanitize her manuscript before publication? Would a conscientious historian/biographer allow her work to be bowdlerized by an openly prejudiced editor?

I think one would have to be hopelessly naive to answer yes to those questions.

#128 Ellen Stuttle

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Posted 23 March 2012 - 03:54 AM

Since Milgram's Rand biography was "authorized" by Peikoff--and since it is allegedly (per Harry Binswanger) supposed to "correct" the errors in the other, non-authorized biographies--do you seriously think Peikoff will not sanitize her manuscript before publication? Would a conscientious historian/biographer allow her work to be bowdlerized by an openly prejudiced editor?


I think that Milgram's biography isn't planned as a full biography but instead as a history of Rand's creative life up through the publication of Atlas Shrugged. If so, it could stop short of the issues which developed after Atlas was published.

As far as I'm aware (though I haven't kept up on her work), Milgram has thus far primarily "played safe" in topics she's addressed -- i.e., she's stayed with topics, such as the history of Roark, which didn't tread the dangerous waters of Rand-Brandens. I'm intrigued by the announced subject of the OCON course, since it seems to require at least gingerly venturing into perilous depths.

Ellen

#129 Jerry Biggers

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Posted 23 March 2012 - 06:06 AM



She exhibited "ARIan cultish behavior" in the way she misrepresented The Objectivist Newsletter as Ayn Rand's independent undertaking. Her course description is totally dishonest and false from start to finish. She could not possibly be ignorant of the equally important role Nathaniel Branden played in launching TON. Without him, it is doubtful there would have been an Objectivist Newsletter.


I don’t think you should assume that an OCON course description reflects on Milgram’s integrity. Since Peikoff is (it seems…one hopes) out of the business of micromanaging the “official” publications we can hope for an accurate biography to come from Milgram. She doesn’t have the track record of a Mayhew or a Valliant, and does cite Barbara Branden (Who is Ayn Rand?) in her chapter from the Atlas Shrugged essays book. Still I suppose it's tempting to presume she's guilty until proven innocent, either way I'm sure her book will be valuable.


Since Milgram's Rand biography was "authorized" by Peikoff--and since it is allegedly (per Harry Binswanger) supposed to "correct" the errors in the other, non-authorized biographies--do you seriously think Peikoff will not sanitize her manuscript before publication? Would a conscientious historian/biographer allow her work to be bowdlerized by an openly prejudiced editor?

I think one would have to be hopelessly naive to answer yes to those questions.

Expanding your description of "conscientious historian/biographer" to mean the publications of any academic pursuing scholarly studies, there is the case of Tara Smith's Ayn Rand's Normative Ethics, where Smith, when she discussed the Objectivist concept of "self-esteem," attributed it to Ayn Rand, not even mentioning Nathaniel Branden's articles in The Objectivist and Objectivist Newsletter, where this concept was developed.

While Smith's works would otherwise surely qualify as scholarly, her omission of Branden's discussion stands out. This appears to have been done to court favor with Peikoff and ARI. To get her books sold and discussed in ARI publications and to continue to be invited to make presentations at their conferences, this omission may have been the "expedient" thing to do, but how she squares this with her detailed examination (and approval) of the Objectivist concepts of the virtue of Integrity, and "the moral versus the practical," is beyond me.

Back to Shoshana Milgram - given Peikoff's astonishing admission that he did not even read :o :wacko: the edited transcripted version of his own Understanding Objectivism, before its print publication (I can only assume that he must be seriously ill) - one might assume that he would show the same negligence toward others' works.

#130 Dennis Hardin

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Posted 23 March 2012 - 11:44 AM


Expanding your description of "conscientious historian/biographer" to mean the publications of any academic pursuing scholarly studies, there is the case of Tara Smith's Ayn Rand's Normative Ethics, where Smith, when she discussed the Objectivist concept of "self-esteem," attributed it to Ayn Rand, not even mentioning Nathaniel Branden's articles in The Objectivist and Objectivist Newsletter, where this concept was developed.


I agree that what Tara Smith did in ignoring NB’s contributions on self-esteem brings her scholarly credentials into question. It is no excuse to say that one had to acquiesce to the irrational prejudices of an intellectual tyrant.



While Smith's works would otherwise surely qualify as scholarly, her omission of Branden's discussion stands out. This appears to have been done to court favor with Peikoff and ARI. To get her books sold and discussed in ARI publications and to continue to be invited to make presentations at their conferences, this omission may have been the "expedient" thing to do, but how she squares this with her detailed examination (and approval) of the Objectivist concepts of the virtue of Integrity, and "the moral versus the practical," is beyond me.


I disagree about Smith's scholarship. I found her overall treatment of the argument for egoism severely lacking. Her lack of attention to the key issue of human volition, in particular, struck me as a serious flaw.


Back to Shoshana Milgram - given Peikoff's astonishing admission that he did not even read :o :wacko: the edited transcripted version of his own Understanding Objectivism, before its print publication (I can only assume that he must be seriously ill) - one might assume that he would show the same negligence toward others' works.


Since Peikoff also claims that he has not read any of the “unauthorized” biographies—and since one purpose of this book is to “correct” their “mistakes”-- he will probably assign the task of auditing Milgram’s book to Schwartz or someone else who has.

I doubt he is seriously ill, although I do think his doctors tell him to limit his work time. Apparently his experience as a radio talk show host significantly jeopardized his health.

#131 Ellen Stuttle

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Posted 23 March 2012 - 01:45 PM

Back to Shoshana Milgram - given Peikoff's astonishing admission that he did not even read   :o :wacko:   the edited transcripted version of his own Understanding Objectivism, before its print publication (I can only assume that he must be seriously ill) - one might assume that he would show the same negligence toward others' works.


Since Peikoff also claims that he has not read any of the “unauthorized” biographies—and since one purpose of this book is to “correct” their “mistakes”-- he will probably assign the task of auditing Milgram's book to Schwartz or someone else who has.

I doubt he is seriously ill, although I do think his doctors tell him to limit his work time.  Apparently his experience as a radio talk show host significantly jeopardized his health.


Peikoff is seriously afflicted with eye problems and needs extreme magnification to read.

Dennis, do you have any source besides Harry Binswanger as to Milgram's biography having as one purpose to correct the mistakes of the other accounts? Binswanger isn't exactly a confidant of Peikoff's (Binswanger is one of the board members with whom Peikoff said he isn't on speaking terms during the McCaskey incident), and I wouldn't expect Milgram to confide in Binswanger -- if she were confiding in anyone. (Judging from the report of someone I know who's a good friend of Milgram's, she's keeping her own counsel about the book's contents.)

Ellen

PS: Jerry, thanks for the ebay tip (#125).

#132 Dennis Hardin

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Posted 23 March 2012 - 05:19 PM

Dennis, do you have any source besides Harry Binswanger as to Milgram's biography having as one purpose to correct the mistakes of the other accounts? Binswanger isn't exactly a confidant of Peikoff's (Binswanger is one of the board members with whom Peikoff said he isn't on speaking terms during the McCaskey incident), and I wouldn't expect Milgram to confide in Binswanger -- if she were confiding in anyone. (Judging from the report of someone I know who's a good friend of Milgram's, she's keeping her own counsel about the book's contents.)
Ellen


Ellen--

No, and the only source I did have was just a post on SOLO, so obviously it wasn't necessarily reliable.

#133 Ninth Doctor

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Posted 24 March 2012 - 07:26 AM

Back to Shoshana Milgram - given Peikoff's astonishing admission that he did not even read :o :wacko: the edited transcripted version of his own Understanding Objectivism, before its print publication (I can only assume that he must be seriously ill) - one might assume that he would show the same negligence toward others' works.


This is exactly what I meant to refer to. And quoting Binswanger is about as meaningful as quoting an OCON course description. I don’t assume that anyone associated with ARI is as bad as a Mayhew, Valliant, or Binswanger, after all McCaskey was associated with ARI. Plus, with all this talk of Peikoff's health, maybe the book won't come out until after he's joined the choir invisible. There's not even an estimated release date, at least not to my knowledge.
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#134 daunce lynam

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Posted 24 March 2012 - 05:32 PM


Back to Shoshana Milgram - given Peikoff's astonishing admission that he did not even read :o :wacko: the edited transcripted version of his own Understanding Objectivism, before its print publication (I can only assume that he must be seriously ill) - one might assume that he would show the same negligence toward others' works.


This is exactly what I meant to refer to. And quoting Binswanger is about as meaningful as quoting an OCON course description. I don’t assume that anyone associated with ARI is as bad as a Mayhew, Valliant, or Binswanger, after all McCaskey was associated with ARI. Plus, with all this talk of Peikoff's health, maybe the book won't come out until after he's joined the choir invisible. There's not even an estimated release date, at least not to my knowledge.


the choir invisible -ah! "Hark how the heavenly anthem drowns/all music but its own"

-Crown Him with any Crowns, one of my top 10 fave hymns

#135 Michael Stuart Kelly

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Posted 24 March 2012 - 06:48 PM

Well,....er,... maybe if we all wrote to him and asked him nicely?

Jerry,

Didn't work for me around the time the book came out.

But I am loathe to go into this in detail publicly due to the viciousness of Jim's attackers. (The Media Matters of O-Land in NZ for one, if you get what I mean.) Let's just say that I have a vastly different view of marketing than he does--but I am not yet in a position to "kill the snake and show you the stick I did it with" as they say in Brazil.

I have been studying hard and gaining skills in the many moving parts of Internet marketing before making my professional move. So, until I have a few marketing wins under my belt I can point to as case studies, I don't think my words will carry any weight with him or anyone close to him.

That's perfectly all right, too. In his position, I would probably have the same attitude.

Don't get me wrong, I just think that Jim is missing some opportunities to market a lot more books.

You can say that again.

In spades.

Michael

Know thyself...


#136 Dennis Hardin

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Posted 27 March 2012 - 10:24 AM

Apropos this thread:

Here is a link to a 2006 thread started by Michael detailing the numerous contributions of Nathaniel Branden which qualify as “official Objectivism.”

Great work, Michael!

#137 whYNOT

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Posted 27 March 2012 - 12:05 PM

What a wealth of material!
And all that was before he quit (took up?) his day job.

Anybody wanting to oust Nathaniel Branden from early Objectivism
has their work cut out. It is good to have this list under one roof.
"To know that we know what we know, and to know that we do not know what we do not know, that is true knowledge". Nicolaus Copernicus (An original objectivist) 1473-1543 ***No man may be smaller than his philosophy...***




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