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What does Richard Dawkins know about Objectivism

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#1 Samson Corwell

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 09:10 AM

Has Richard Dawkins, famed atheist/agnostic, said anything about Objectivism or Ayn Rand? Has he been introduced to them? I wonder because one the other 'Four Horsemen' of New Atheism, Christopher Hitchens, mingled with The Atlas Society. All I can see coming from Richard Dawkins is about atheism and evolution, so I am interested in what he has to say about other things.

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#2 whYNOT

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 11:08 AM

I briefly scanned a Hitch book yesterday and found one reference to Rand as "one of the two kooks" (with some other woman). :smile:

I'll post the exact quote later.

He and Dawkins fought the good fight against religious dogma, and I believe should certainly be appreciated for that.

RD, for a layman like me, wrote brilliantly, specially on evolution: but when it came to a secular ethics - why be good, without God? - apparently could only fall back on natural law, "reciprocal altruism" and consequentialism as man's moral guide. "Apparently", because he really just puts forward moralists'  viewpoints without making much of a stand. Quite wishy-washy, in fact.

He doesn't refer much to volition, and is snooty about "moral absolutism." Figures..

I don't think he ever referred to Rand in any book.

A pity for me that such original minds should be conformist where it counts most. 


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#3 Jerry Biggers

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 12:07 PM

Richard Dawkins, in addition to his books on atheism and evolution, has been  a lifelong socialist and a prominent member of the British Left. Dawkins has made some very brief - and very disparaging - comments about Rand. In response to a questioner, who thought that, since he had wriiten a book titled The Selfish Gene, he might have some sympathy with Ayn Rand's views. Dawkins essentially exploded and denied any similarity between his views and those of Ayn Rand or anyone else advocating what he termed "social darwinism." From his very brief comment, it was not clear what, if anything, he had read by Ayn Rand.

 

Hitchen's comment on Ayn Rand is in his book of quotes (I forget the exact name - i think it's "The Quotable Hitchens,"), in which in answer to  a questioner from the audience at one of his frequent appearances at college campuses, several years' ago, he replied the he thought Atlas Shrugged was "silly" (not surprising from his lifelong allegiance to some form of socialism). However, he then added that he did find a lot of value in her book, The Virtue of Selfishness.This is a paraphrase, see the book for the exact wording.

 

Similar comments from Hitchens are quoted in the "in memorium article" about Christopher Hitchens, by Ed Hudgins of THe Atlas Society, available on their website.



#4 PDS

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 02:06 PM

Am I a bad person if I find Dawkins dreadfully boring?

 

And, not to suck up too much to Ghs, I don't think he can hold George's jock strap.  



#5 Michael Stuart Kelly

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 02:17 PM

Am I a bad person if I find Dawkins dreadfully boring?

 

And, not to suck up too much to Ghs, I don't think he can hold George's jock strap.  

 

Dave,

 

Agreed on both parts. Let me add "insufferably snooty" to "dreadfully boring."

 

The only thing Dawkins has been good for is to formalize the concept of idea virus and call it a meme. These words are now part of our culture, but they are no longer used or even studied (except by a few Dawkins supporters) in the form he laid out.

 

I won't say too much good stuff about George, though, as it might go to his head. :) 

 

Michael


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#6 BaalChatzaf

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 03:52 PM

Am I a bad person if I find Dawkins dreadfully boring?

 

And, not to suck up too much to Ghs, I don't think he can hold George's jock strap.  

Read his latest book:  The Greatest Show on Earth  and you might change your mind.


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#7 Samson Corwell

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 05:31 PM

I briefly scanned a Hitch book yesterday and found one reference to Rand as "one of the two kooks" (with some other woman). :smile:
I'll post the exact quote later.
He and Dawkins fought the good fight against religious dogma, and I believe should certainly be appreciated for that.
RD, for a layman like me, wrote brilliantly, specially on evolution: but when it came to a secular ethics - why be good, without God? - apparently could only fall back on natural law, "reciprocal altruism" and consequentialism as man's moral guide. "Apparently", because he really just puts forward moralists'  viewpoints without making much of a stand. Quite wishy-washy, in fact.
He doesn't refer much to volition, and is snooty about "moral absolutism." Figures..
I don't think he ever referred to Rand in any book.
A pity for me that such original minds should be conformist where it counts most. 


Natural law as in what? Laws of physics or rights? Reciprocal altruism, when using a commoner's (i.e., Joe Schmoe) conception of it, is easy to be drawn to. This isn't to say it is right, I am just making an observation. I'm convinced that the attractiveness of the Golden Rule, reciprocal altruism's ethical cousin, arises out of just living life and not wanting to be on bad terms with people. Still, when I read how one atheist (I forget who) cited the GR as their ethical maxim, I thought it was nice and all that, but you can turn it upside down by asking "What if someone wants to be provoked?".

Richard Dawkins, in addition to his books on atheism and evolution, has been  a lifelong socialist and a prominent member of the British Left. Dawkins has made some very brief - and very disparaging - comments about Rand. In response to a questioner, who thought that, since he had wriiten a book titled The Selfish Gene, he might have some sympathy with Ayn Rand's views. Dawkins essentially exploded and denied any similarity between his views and those of Ayn Rand or anyone else advocating what he termed "social darwinism." From his very brief comment, it was not clear what, if anything, he had read by Ayn Rand.


It may be that he is too wrapped up in material science to really care much about politics. Not an excuse or what not, but that's maybe the only area his motivatedin. Has he committed any sentiments to paper or the internet?
 

Hitchen's comment on Ayn Rand is in his book of quotes (I forget the exact name - i think it's "The Quotable Hitchens,"), in which in answer to  a questioner from the audience at one of his frequent appearances at college campuses, several years' ago, he replied the he thought Atlas Shrugged was "silly" (not surprising from his lifelong allegiance to some form of socialism). However, he then added that he did find a lot of value in her book, The Virtue of Selfishness.This is a paraphrase, see the book for the exact wording.

 
Trotskyism. So this is why I found Christopher Hitchens' mingling with TAS to be amusing and interesting.

Similar comments from Hitchens are quoted in the "in memorium article" about Christopher Hitchens, by Ed Hudgins of THe Atlas Society, available on their website.


This is why I asked.

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#8 Mike82ARP

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 02:48 PM

I like Dawkins, but for a different reason. I use his debate with John Lennox in my logic class.  Dawkins can barely get two sentences out of his mouth without committing a laundry list of fallacies or contradicting himself.  A great learning tool for my students!   Hitchens is/was much more engaging, but neither he nor Dawkins would be amenable to Objectivism.



#9 BaalChatzaf

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 02:53 PM

I like Dawkins, but for a different reason. I use his debate with John Lennox in my logic class.  Dawkins can barely get two sentences out of his mouth without committing a laundry list of fallacies or contradicting himself.  A great learning tool for my students!   Hitchens is/was much more engaging, but neither he nor Dawkins would be amenable to Objectivism.

Dawkins writes better than he debates.  A self respecting scientist should not waste his time debating with religiosos   who dispute the age of the earth or the correctness of the theory of evolution.   No more than an astronomer should debate with a member of the Flat Earth Society.


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#10 Xray

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 03:56 PM

RD, for a layman like me, wrote brilliantly, specially on evolution: but when it came to a secular ethics - why be good, without God? - apparently could only fall back on natural law, "reciprocal altruism" and consequentialism as man's moral guide. "Apparently", because he really just puts forward moralists'  viewpoints without making much of a stand. Quite wishy-washy, in fact.

 

But ideas like "reciprocal altruism" and "consequentalism" are not wishy-washy at all. They're very 'down to earth' actually, and can be illustrated by countless examples from real life.  



#11 Xray

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 04:09 PM

Dawkins writes better than he debates. 

 

Ironically, scientists' seriousness in their quest for truth often makes them look 'bad' in debates because they lack the 'slickness' of their ideologist adversaries who have been rhetorically schooled in debate by their organizations.



#12 william.scherk

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 02:07 AM

I like Dawkins, but for a different reason. I use his debate with John Lennox in my logic class.  Dawkins can barely get two sentences out of his mouth without committing a laundry list of fallacies or contradicting himself.

 

Greatly entertaining debate between Dawkins and Lennox, if I am thinking of that which you reference (at Oxford, not at Birmingham). After three bouts with Lennox, it is said that Dawkins has 'given up' debating creationists ...

 

Here is the last debate between the two men. Mike Eighty-Two Arp, is this the debate at Oxford the one you use with your students? I would love to see the syllabus!

 

 

(here also a debate between Lennox and Hitchens:)

 

 

Dawkins and Lennox in Birmingham

 

-- I have my Logical Fallacies open in tabs, and the Oxford debate open in Audacity. I am set to pounce on the poor Dawkins ... first sentences out of his mouth at 4:34.

 

-- Dawkins introduces the Oxford debate with a few wry comments here.


Edited by william.scherk, 07 March 2013 - 02:23 AM.

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#13 BaalChatzaf

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 06:48 AM

Dawkins has his moments of wit.  In his latest book, -The Greatest Show on Earth-  he puts a dozen really good witty remarks into the foot notes.  i think he is better with the written word than with oral debate.  By the way,  debate is a waste of time for scientists.  The facts speak for themselves.


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#14 Mike82ARP

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 08:46 AM

@William.  I use the debate from Birmingham. 

 

 

  The facts speak for themselves.

 

 

True, but the topic does not involve "facts" nor "proof", but in fact, only "beliefs" as Lennox points out in his opening remarks.



#15 Samson Corwell

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 07:24 PM

@William.  I use the debate from Birmingham. 

 

 

  The facts speak for themselves.

 

 

True, but the topic does not involve "facts" nor "proof", but in fact, only "beliefs" as Lennox points out in his opening remarks.

And that's when both sides lose the debate--trust me, I'm an expert at it. "When in doubt, shout it out!"


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#16 daunce lynam

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 08:23 PM


@William.  I use the debate from Birmingham. 
 

The facts speak for themselves.

 
sn 


@William.  I use the debate from Birmingham. 
 

The facts speak for themselves.

 
 
True, but the topic does not involve "facts" nor "proof", but in fact, only "beliefs" as Lennox points out in his opening remarks.


And that's when both sides lose the debate--trust me, I'm an expert at it. "When in doubt, shout it out!"


e, but the topic does not involve "facts" nor "proof", but in fact, only "beliefs" as Lennox points out in his opening remarks.


And that's when both sides lose the debate--trust me, I'm an expert at it. "When in doubt, shout it out!"


Yes. Debates can be fairly won or lost only when the debaters agree on the basic premise. This is almost never the case, and all our rhetoric and wit, and knowledge and passion and belief - and the professional prepping that Xray so wisely noted - go for nothing, in convincing the audience.

#17 Samson Corwell

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 09:38 PM

 

@William.  I use the debate from Birmingham. 
 
 

The facts speak for themselves.

 
sn 

 

@William.  I use the debate from Birmingham. 
 
 

The facts speak for themselves.

 
 
True, but the topic does not involve "facts" nor "proof", but in fact, only "beliefs" as Lennox points out in his opening remarks.

 

And that's when both sides lose the debate--trust me, I'm an expert at it. "When in doubt, shout it out!"
e, but the topic does not involve "facts" nor "proof", but in fact, only "beliefs" as Lennox points out in his opening remarks.

 

And that's when both sides lose the debate--trust me, I'm an expert at it. "When in doubt, shout it out!"

 

Yes. Debates can be fairly won or lost only when the debaters agree on the basic premise. This is almost never the case, and all our rhetoric and wit, and knowledge and passion and belief - and the professional prepping that Xray so wisely noted - go for nothing, in convincing the audience.

 

A teacher in high school told me I never let the facts get in the way of a good argument in mock trial.


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#18 daunce lynam

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 10:40 PM




@William.  I use the debate from Birmingham. 
 

The facts speak for themselves.

 
sn 


@William.  I use the debate from Birmingham. 
 

The facts speak for themselves.

 
 
True, but the topic does not involve "facts" nor "proof", but in fact, only "beliefs" as Lennox points out in his opening remarks.


And that's when both sides lose the debate--trust me, I'm an expert at it. "When in doubt, shout it out!"


e, but the topic does not involve "facts" nor "proof", but in fact, only "beliefs" as Lennox points out in his opening remarks.


And that's when both sides lose the debate--trust me, I'm an expert at it. "When in doubt, shout it out!"


Yes. Debates can be fairly won or lost only when the debaters agree on the basic premise. This is almost never the case, and all our rhetoric and wit, and knowledge and passion and belief - and the professional prepping that Xray so wisely noted - go for nothing, in convincing the audience.


A teacher in high school told me I never let the facts get in the way of a good argument in mock trial.


A teacher in high school told me I'd never get away with fudging the facts in a real trial.

#19 Xray

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Posted 08 March 2013 - 01:39 PM

Hitchen's comment on Ayn Rand is in his book of quotes (I forget the exact name - i think it's "The Quotable Hitchens,"), in which in answer to  a questioner from the audience at one of his frequent appearances at college campuses, several years' ago, he replied the he thought Atlas Shrugged was "silly" (not surprising from his lifelong allegiance to some form of socialism). However, he then added that he did find a lot of value in her book, The Virtue of Selfishness.This is a paraphrase, see the book for the exact wording.

 

Similar comments from Hitchens are quoted in the "in memorium article" about Christopher Hitchens, by Ed Hudgins of THe Atlas Society, available on their website.

 

Here is a link to Hitchens' assessment of Atlas Shrugged:

 

"Atlas snubbed": 



#20 BaalChatzaf

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Posted 08 March 2013 - 03:28 PM

Damn! I miss that man.  He is one of the wittiest humans who ever breathed air.


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