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"Fact and Value," the Ayn Rand Institute, and the Anthem Foundation


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#1 Robert Campbell

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Posted 17 July 2012 - 01:39 PM

One might suppose that, as per the official doctrine promulgated by Leonard Peikoff and the principals over at the Ayn Rand Institute, Leonard Peikoff's article titled "Fact and Value" is not "part of Objectivism."

Because, as per the official doctrine, it was not written by Ayn Rand, and only that which was written for publication by Ayn Rand can ever qualify as Objectivism.

But one would suppose wrongly.

It turns out that a friend and colleague, Irfan Khawaja, was told a different story back in 2008. Dr. Khawaja is a philosophy professor, currently at Felician College in Lodi, New Jersey. He is also co-editor of Reason Papers.

He was about to start at Felician, when at some date late in 2007 John McCaskey dangled in front of him the prospect of a job at the Objectivist Academic Center. Knowing something of the Ayn Rand Institute's entanglement with Anthem, and a fair amount about ARI's internal politics, he began asking around about ARI's (and Anthem's) view of "Fact and Value." He did not want to even consider such a job, if endorsing "Fact and Value" was among the conditions of employment. Three of his contacts told him that it was; a fourth person, also connected with ARI, said that it wasn't.

So Irfan decided to make a more official inquiry.

Here is the entire chain of correspondence. I've tightened up some formatting in copies of emails derived from multiple interfaces, I've deleted Irfan Khawaja's email address, and I've cut out Yaron Brook's phone and fax numbers. Otherwise, everything is unexpurgated and unvarnished.

Irfan has not been a participant on online forums concerning Objectivism for quite a few years. He is not a member of this list and has told me that doesn't intend to join it. So readers should not expect a response from him here.

He has authorized me to release these items. I think they may be of interest. But keep in mind, I'm just the lightning rod.

Robert Campbell

#2 Robert Campbell

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Posted 17 July 2012 - 01:39 PM

Irfan Khawaja <######>

Tue, Jan 8, 2008 at 7:36 PM


To: leonard@peikoff.com

Dear Dr Peikoff:
My name is Irfan Khawaja. I'm a doctoral candidate in philosophy at Notre Dame, and an instructor in philosophy at Felician College in NJ. I have an interest in Objectivism and have recently written a doctoral dissertation defending aspects of the Objectivist Ethics.
I have recently been approached by representatives of the Ayn Rand Institute and the Anthem Foundation, inquiring into my willingness to be employed by ARI and/or participate in activities sponsored by the Anthem Foundation. I have consistently declined, and have made clear my reason for doing—namely, my rejection of the claims of "Fact and Value," and my belief that "Fact and Value" constitutes an important part of ARI's "operating charter," or mission statement.
The response I have gotten is two-fold. One predictable response has been that my objections to "Fact and Value" are themselves misguided. The less predictable response has been that "Fact and Value" is not, in any fundamental sense, part of ARI's operating charter or philosophical constitution. Indeed, I have even been told that the claims of "Fact and Value" are entirely irrelevant to the question of membership in ARI or participation in Anthem. In other words, one can be a member of ARI while rejecting "Fact and Value"—even rejecting it as vehemently as I do. A fortiori, one can participate in activities sponsored by the Anthem Foundation under the same circumstances.
For present purposes, let us put the "predictable" response aside. I am writing to solicit your view—as intellectual and legal heir of the estate of Ayn Rand and the author of "Fact and Value"-- about the "unpredictable" one, which puzzles me.
My questions are these:
(a) Do you regard "Fact and Value" as part of ARI's operating charter, or mission statement? Putting the point more neutrally: what is the relationship between the thesis of "Fact and Value" and ARI's institutional mission? Does the thesis, in your mind, govern the actions of the institution?
(b) Do you regard a person's rejection of "Fact and Value" as compatible with his participation in ARI or Anthem activities? I realize that Anthem is legally distinct from ARI, but I regard this legal distinction as morally irrelevant, and assume that you do as well: if, as ARI's website asserts, Anthem "specializes in one aspect of ARI's mission," it can fairly be inferred that the two organizations share a common mission that is of greater moral importance than the legal distinction between them.
Thank you for your time in answering my questions. I should add that I think the task of answering them is as much in your interest as it is in mine: it is in your interest that your view on this matter be well-understood, and it is in my interest to understand it.

Sincerely,

Irfan Khawaja

#3 Robert Campbell

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Posted 17 July 2012 - 01:41 PM

From Irfan Khawaja via the Ayn Rand Institute website, January 8, 2008

Message
I have recently been approached by a prominent member of ARI with an
offer of employment at ARI, which I declined on the grounds of my
rejection of the claims of "Fact and Value." My rejection of the offer
was premised on the assumption that "Fact and Value" constitutes, in a
sense, the "philosophic charter" of ARI--in effect, the preamble of its
philosophic constitution. In other words, I assume that fundamental
disagreement with "Fact and Value" is incompatible with membership in
ARI, and with participation in its activities.

Are my assumptions correct? More generally, could you clarify the
relationship between the claims of "Fact and Value" and ARI's
institutional mission? How close is the connection between the two
things?

#4 Robert Campbell

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Posted 17 July 2012 - 01:41 PM

mail@aynrand.org
<mail@aynrand.org>

Tue, Jan 15, 2008 at 2:15 PM


To: #####


Thank you for your enquiry. In order that we may properly route your
email, could you please let us know the name of the ARI representative
you spoke with?

Best regards,
ARI

#5 Robert Campbell

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Posted 17 July 2012 - 01:42 PM

Irfan Khawaja
<#####>

Tue, Jan 15, 2008 at 3:27 PM


To: mail@aynrand.org

John McCaskey.

#6 Robert Campbell

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Posted 17 July 2012 - 01:43 PM

Yaron Brook
<YBrook@aynrand.org>

Tue, Jan 29, 2008 at 1:29 PM


To: #####

Dear Mr. Khawaja,

I am writing in response to your recent emails to ARI and to Dr. Peikoff inquiring about ARI's position on "Fact and Value" and whether agreement with it is a prerequisite for employment as a staff intellectual at ARI. Dr. Peikoff has shared with me your email. With his authorization, I am replying on behalf of both him and ARI.

I have also discussed your emails with John McCaskey, president of the Anthem Foundation and board member of ARI, since you indicated by email that he was one of the "representatives of the Ayn Rand Institute and the Anthem Foundation" with whom you spoke. I will in this letter speak for Dr. McCaskey as well. If there were other ARI or Anthem representatives with whom you spoke, I would appreciate knowing.

Although ARI encourages its board members and other associated with it to let job seekers know about our constant search for talented employees, only a hiring manager is of course in a position to offer someone a job at the Institute. No offer is made without an authorized signature. So to be clear: ARI has not extended to you an offer of employment and is not at this time considering doing so.

Now to address your specific inquiry. To be employed as an intellectual representative of ARI requires a demonstration that one understands and agrees with Ayn Rand’s philosophy and ARI’s mission. Since the philosophic claims made in “Fact and Value” are to be found in Ayn Rand’s philosophic work and form part of her philosophy, an inability to understand those claims is certainly relevant to employment as a staff intellectual at ARI. Outright rejection of those claims, which you state is your position, is incompatible with such employment.

There is no disagreement on this matter between ARI, Dr. Peikoff, or Dr. McCaskey. Thus I do not believe that I, Dr. Peikoff, Dr. McCaskey, or any authorized representative of ARI would say that someone's current understanding and acceptance of "Fact and Value" are, as you put it, "irrelevant" to employment in an intellectual position at the Institute. No one I have spoken with about this matter believes he ever said or implied that.

Past misunderstanding or disagreement with "Fact and Value" (or with any of the other principles of Objectivism) does not, of course, necessarily preclude someone from employment in an intellectual position at ARI. So if your evaluation of "Fact and Value" changes fundamentally, feel free to let us know.

Finally, let me clear up a couple of misunderstandings you seem to have. You refer to "membership in ARI" and “participation in its activities.” ARI is not a club. It has no "members." Anyone can participate in its activities by, for example, becoming a donor or attending one of our public lectures or summer conferences. Also, you refer to "activities sponsored by the Anthem Foundation." Anthem makes grants to universities, and the grants support a wide range of scholarly activities. Someone "vehemently . . . rejecting" a tenet of Objectivism, as you say you do of "Fact and Value," would not qualify for any direct and substantial grant from Anthem itself. But the criteria for participation in activities conducted by grant recipients -- whether classes, workshops, lectures, colloquia, edited volumes, etc. -- are left to the discretion of the grant recipient and his or her university. We hope this helps you understand the organizations.

Sincerely,

Yaron Brook
President & Executive Director

The Ayn Rand Institute
2121 Alton Parkway
Suite 250
Irvine, CA 92606

######

#7 Robert Campbell

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Posted 17 July 2012 - 01:45 PM

Irfan Khawaja
<#####>

Tue, Feb 12, 2008 at 10:29 AM


To: Yaron Brook <YBrook@aynrand.org>

Dear Dr. Brook:
This is to acknowledge receipt of your Jan. 29 response to my earlier queries. I apologize for the delay in responding, which was a consequence of my starting a new job at a new institution.
You are quite correct that Dr. McCaskey was not the person who described "Fact and Value" as "irrelevant" to the governance of ARI. My queries to ARI and to Leonard Peikoff compressed four separate conversations, the conversation with Dr. McCaskey being the fourth. I didn't mention the details of any of these conversations or identify them as separate conversations because I thought (and still think) that doing so was irrelevant to the question I was asking. In any case, only one of the other three people denied my contention that "Fact and Value" governed ARI's mission; it was this person who, while agreeing with "Fact and Value," described it as "irrelevant" to the missions of both ARI and Anthem. Since the conversation was confidential, I cannot divulge the person's name.
Finally, I fully acknowledge that ARI is not making me a job offer and has no intention of doing so. The question is of course moot, as I declined the offer (or quasi-offer) that was made by Dr. McCaskey in late December, and had no intention of accepting a job at ARI in the first place. I should also stress that I was not, at the time of my conversation with Dr. McCaskey, a 'job seeker'. As he knew (since he asked and I told him), I had recently accepted a job at Felician College, to begin in late January 2008; it was Dr. McCaskey who suggested that a teaching position at the Objectivist Academic Center would be a better prospect than the job I was about to start. In any case, I can say with confidence that I would not under any circumstances accept (or have accepted) a job at ARI; indeed, your letter has convinced me that I should have no involvement whatsoever with either ARI or the Anthem Foundation. In that respect, you have my thanks for having written it.

Sincerely,

Irfan Khawaja

#8 Robert Campbell

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Posted 17 July 2012 - 01:46 PM

On 3/12/12, Irfan Khawaja ##### wrote:
Dear Mr Brook:

I'd like to revisit an aspect of this correspondence we had four years
ago, if I could. I have periodically visited the website of the Anthem
Foundation since 2008, and have been surprised to find that it makes
no reference whatsoever to the claim you make in the very last
paragraph of the note you wrote me in early 2008. In that paragraph,
you took rejection of "Fact and Value" to be tantamount to a rejection
of Objectivism, and claimed that no one who rejected the claims of
"Fact and Value" would qualify for a direct and substantial grant from
the Anthem Foundation. That was news to me, and I suspect it would be
news to many people, including many people who are beneficiaries of
Anthem funding. It is in any case a significant moral condition on the
disbursement of funds by Anthem. A commitment to honesty would oblige
you to make it public on Anthem's website. I'd like to know if you
intend to do so in the near future, and if so, when.

Irfan Khawaja

#9 Robert Campbell

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Posted 17 July 2012 - 01:47 PM

From: Irfan Khawaja #####
Date: April 12, 2012 8:45:20 AM CDT
To: Yaron Brook <YBrook@aynrand.org>
Subject: Re: Fact and Value

I'm just following up on this email I sent last month. Do you or
Anthem intend publicly to disclose the fact that agreement with "Fact
and Value" is required to receive a direct and substantial grant from
Anthem?

Irfan

#10 Robert Campbell

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Posted 17 July 2012 - 01:48 PM

Message sent by Autumn Bennett of Anthem Foundation on behalf of Debi Ghate at dghate@anthemfoundation.org

April 12, 2012
Dear Professor Khawaja,

Dr. Yaron Brook forwarded your email dated April 12, 2012 to me for response. I'm the Anthem Foundation's Senior Director.
I've reviewed the correspondence below and would answer your questions as follows:
1. Please note that Dr. Brook's email from 2008 does not state that agreement with "Fact and Value" is required in order to qualify for a substantial grant from the Anthem Foundation. Rather, Dr. Brook wrote that vehemently rejecting a tenet of Objectivism disqualifies a person from receiving a substantial grant through the Anthem Foundation. This does not mean that one has to agree with every principle of Objectivism, including those discussed in "Fact and Value", to qualify for a substantial grant from Anthem.
2. The Anthem Foundation provides information about its mission and the types of scholarly activities that it supports. The website, consistent with those of other funding organizations, does not provide information about its funding criteria.
3. The Anthem Foundation has grown considerably since 2008 in terms of its activities and provides many levels of support in addition to substantial grants.
Thank you for your interest in the Anthem Foundation and its mission.
Regards,
--Debi

Debi Ghate
Senior Director
Anthem Foundation for Objectivist Scholarship
www.anthemfoundation.org

#11 Robert Campbell

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Posted 17 July 2012 - 01:48 PM

Irfan Khawaja

<#####>

Sat, Apr 14, 2012 at 12:19 PM


To: Autumn Bennett <abennett@anthemfoundation.org>
Cc: dghate@anthemfoundation.org

Thanks. Your answer, especially claim (1), is dishonest nonsense. I
didn't say I rejected a tenet of Objectivism. I said I rejected "Fact
and Value." You are supplying the further claim, based on an
undefended inference, that rejection of the one is rejection of the
other. Claim (1) is unintelligible without recourse to that undefended
inference, but the inference has no basis whatsoever in the original
correspondence, and none, for that matter, in reality. Claim (2) is
merely an avowal of second-handedness. Claim (3) is irrelevant to the
issues under discussion.

Dishonest and inadequate as your answer is, I'll admit that in one
sense, it answers my question to my complete satisfaction. So I leave
my queries there.

Irfan Khawaja

#12 Robert Campbell

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Posted 17 July 2012 - 01:52 PM

Here, in my opinion, is the money quote, from Yaron Brook's email of January 29, 2008.

To be employed as an intellectual representative of ARI requires a demonstration that one understands and agrees with Ayn Rand’s philosophy and ARI’s mission. Since the philosophic claims made in “Fact and Value” are to be found in Ayn Rand’s philosophic work and form part of her philosophy, an inability to understand those claims is certainly relevant to employment as a staff intellectual at ARI. Outright rejection of those claims, which you state is your position, is incompatible with such employment.

There is no disagreement on this matter between ARI, Dr. Peikoff, or Dr. McCaskey. Thus I do not believe that I, Dr. Peikoff, Dr. McCaskey, or any authorized representative of ARI would say that someone's current understanding and acceptance of "Fact and Value" are, as you put it, "irrelevant" to employment in an intellectual position at the Institute. No one I have spoken with about this matter believes he ever said or implied that.

Past misunderstanding or disagreement with "Fact and Value" (or with any of the other principles of Objectivism) does not, of course, necessarily preclude someone from employment in an intellectual position at ARI. So if your evaluation of "Fact and Value" changes fundamentally, feel free to let us know.


Maybe some public comment from Mr. Brook would be in order?

Robert Campbell

#13 Stephen Boydstun

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Posted 17 July 2012 - 04:08 PM


. . .

This in-family puffing by Objectivists, of course, is not essential to the philosophy, and neither side is in their teachings at odds with the essentials of Objectivism, notwithstanding all the foot stamping to the contrary. All the condemning directed at Peikoff too, chronic at this site, is not essential to the philosophy or its future. The positive intellectual contributions of Peikoff and the Ayn Rand Institute are enormous, notwithstanding the slight notice given that by siblings. They march into the future fine, notwithstanding the in-family racket. (Remember too that he who has the gold makes the rules of an organization, and an annual operating budget of twelve million dollars is not likely mainly from Peikoff; the direction of productive work at ARI can continue should they lose his financial contribution at his death.) . . .


Fact and Value
Leonard Peikoff

Truth and Toleration
David Kelley*

Recent Discussions Notes: A, B, C, D, E, F

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

. . .
It won't suffice to assert that Leonard Peikoff and others affiliated with the Ayn Rand Institute have made enormous intellectual contributions, without examining what they have in fact contributed.
. . .


Works on Rand’s Philosophy from Scholars Associated with the Ayn Rand Institute and Leonard Peikoff

Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand
Leonard Peikoff

The Biological Basis of Teleological Concepts
Harry Binswanger

Viable Values
Tara Smith

Ayn Rand’s Normative Ethics
Tara Smith

Essays on Ayn Rand’s We the Living
Essays on Ayn Rand’s Anthem
Essays on Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead
Essays on Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged
Robert Mayhew, editor

The Logical Leap
David Harriman

Coming September 2012:
The DIM Hypothesis
Leonard Peikoff

Coming in 2013:
Ayn Rand: A Companion to Her Works and Thought
Gotthelf and Salmieri, editors

Concepts, Induction, and the Growth of Scientific Knowledge
Gotthelf and Burian, editors


#14 Michael Stuart Kelly

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Posted 17 July 2012 - 04:24 PM

Robert,

That's a very interesting reveal.

I'm glad you posted that. Sunlight is the best remedy for darkness.

I don't think there is anything wrong with stipulating agreement with a document (like "Fact and Value") in order to qualify for a grant from an institution. It's their money. They set the conditions for who they want to give it to. But there is something wrong with promoting and maintaining an image that is misleading when the ideology is reason, integrity, etc.

If promoting a false public image is not the intention of anyone from the ARI camp, I can't forsee any rational reason for any objection from those quarters.

If I were them, I know I would not object. I would welcome the clarifying opportunity and be glad that someone took an action to put this matter to rest.

Michael

Know thyself...


#15 Ninth Doctor

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Posted 17 July 2012 - 05:22 PM

I don’t get the significance of this. An unnamed person told Khawaja that agreement with F&V is not required to get ARI (and/or Anthem) sponsorship/employment, then, known ARI representatives denied it. They claim that F&V is derived from Rand’s writings, which is rather like a Catholic theologian claiming that the findings of the Council of Nicea concerning the eternal nature of Jesus are based on scripture. This isn’t a smoking gun situation, we all saw the actual shooting. Of course they’re going to say that.

However I do detect a strong suggestion, albeit contradicted within the text, that being that it was McCaskey who told Khawaja that agreement with F&V wasn’t necessary, and that Khawaja later covered for him by saying it was someone else whom he wouldn’t name. We know Peikoff hated McCaskey long before the Harriman imbroglio so, actually, it really isn’t news...but it may have marked the beginning of a, hmm, how to phrase it so it mirrors the line from Casablanca, a "beautiful frenemyship"?
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#16 Robert Campbell

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Posted 17 July 2012 - 05:53 PM

ND,

I don't know whether McCaskey was the unnamed ARIan who told Irfan Khawaja that one needn't make a loyalty oath over "Fact and Value" to get a job at ARI or a grant from Anthem.

It is clear that Khawaja had no intention of telling Yaron Brook who it was.

Robert Campbell

#17 Robert Campbell

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Posted 17 July 2012 - 08:38 PM

I realize that ND never took this kind of statement seriously. Still, for the record, let's hear out Leonard the First and Only, declaring what counts as Objectivism and what does not.

From Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand, page xv, bolding added by me:

Because of my thirty years of study under her, and by her own statement, I am the person next to Ayn Rand who is most qualified to write this book. Since she did not live to see it, however, she is not responsible for any misstatements of her views it might contain, nor can the book be properly described as "official Objectivist doctrine." "Objectivism" is the name of Ayn Rand's philosophy as presented in the material she herself wrote or endorsed.


Ayn Rand didn't write "Fact and Value." She didn't endorse it.

Right?

Robert Campbell

#18 Robert Campbell

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Posted 17 July 2012 - 09:06 PM

A couple of Stephen Boydstun's statements deserve comment here:

The positive intellectual contributions of Peikoff and the Ayn Rand Institute are enormous, notwithstanding the slight notice given that by siblings. They march into the future fine, notwithstanding the in-family racket.


If by "siblings," Stephen means folks like David Kelley and Will Thomas, then he has a point. They are still, for the most part, Peikovians.

However, it won't suffice to assert that Leonard Peikoff and others affiliated with the Ayn Rand Institute have made enormous intellectual contributions, without examining what they have in fact contributed.

On a previous thread, I argued that the doctrine of the arbitrary assertion, as presented in OPAR and in various of Leonard Peikoff's lectures, is not an "enormous intellectual contribution." Rather, I think a close and careful appraisal will show that it is a dreadful intellectual embarrassment.

And its status as an embarrassment does not depend on Peikoff's personal role in it. It wouldn't become better-quality epistemology if every jot and tittle of it had been developed by Ayn Rand herself.

Stephen's initial reaction was to ignore most of Peikoff's text, along with every one of my actual arguments.

I keep holding out hope that his eventual reaction will take into account what Peikoff actually said—and what I actually said.

(Remember too that he who has the gold makes the rules of an organization, and an annual operating budget of twelve million dollars is not likely mainly from Peikoff; the direction of productive work at ARI can continue should they lose his financial contribution at his death.)



Does Leonard Peikoff donate anything out of his own pocket to the Ayn Rand Institute?

So far as I know he never has.

The Ayn Rand Institute needs the cooperation of the Estate of Ayn Rand. Some of this cooperation confers direct financial benefit, notably via allowing bulk buys of Rand's books to give to high schools. The rest is a matter of what the Estate can take away if ARI does anything to displease. That is how Peikoff wields control, even though he holds no executive position at ARI.

On Leonard Peikoff's death, the direction of ARI will primarily depend on what his heir chooses to demand of the organization.

Robert Campbell

#19 Ninth Doctor

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Posted 18 July 2012 - 04:38 AM

I realize that ND never took this kind of statement seriously.

Yeah, I’m pretty numb to these kind of stimuli, or at least that's how I was feeling last night. As I recall, however, somewhere in F&V Peikoff claimed that he’d made a discovery, that he’d just now learned something new from the Kelley controversy. I’m not up for rereading and seeking out a quote right now, but if so, it certainly works against the above claims of his underlings.
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#20 Robert Campbell

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Posted 18 July 2012 - 08:48 AM

ND,

Exactly.

Here is one of Peikoff's claims to have discerned something new (capitalizing as in the online version):

THIS, I FINALLY SEE, is the cause of all the schisms which have plagued the Objectivist movement through the years, from the Brandens in 1968 on through David Kelley, and which will continue to do so for many years to come. The cause is not concrete-bound details—not differences in regard to love affairs or political strategy or proselytizing techniques or anybody’s personality. The cause is fundamental and philosophical: if you grasp and accept the concept of “objectivity,” in all its implications, then you accept Objectivism, you live by it and you revere Ayn Rand for defining it. If you fail fully to grasp and accept the concept, whether your failure is deliberate or otherwise, you eventually drift away from Ayn Rand’s orbit, or rewrite her viewpoint or turn openly into her enemy.


And here is Peikoff enunciating his official definition of Objectivism:

My answer is: Objectivism does have an “official, authorized doctrine,” but it is not dogma. It is stated and validated objectively in Ayn Rand’s works.

“Objectivism” is the name of Ayn Rand’s achievement. Anyone else’s interpretation or development of her ideas, my own work emphatically included, is precisely that: an interpretation or development, which may or may not be logically consistent with what she wrote. In regard to the consistency of any such derivative work, each man must reach his own verdict, by weighing all the relevant evidence. The “official, authorized doctrine,” however, remains unchanged and untouched in Ayn Rand’s books; it is not affected by any interpreters.


So Peikoff is saying that the very work in which he propounds his official definition is not "official Objectivism."

But you'd damn well better treat it as official Objectivism, if you want to stay on the right side of Leonard Peikoff.

The doublethink goes a long way back.

Robert Campbell




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