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David Kelley's meeting with Yarron Brook


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#1 Randall

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Posted 02 February 2009 - 10:56 AM

I heard that David Kelley had a meeting with Yarron Brook some time ago? I also heard that they were unable to come to much if any agreements. Does anyone know anything about this meeting? What was the purpose of their talking?


Just curious.
“When I disagree with a rational man, I let reality be our final arbiter; if I am right, he will learn; if I am wrong, I will; one of us will win, but both will profit.” - Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged

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#2 Chris Grieb

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Posted 02 February 2009 - 11:11 AM

I heard that David Kelley had a meeting with Yarron Brook some time ago? I also heard that they were unable to come to much if any agreements. Does anyone know anything about this meeting? What was the purpose of their talking?


Just curious.

Donovan; I thought the meeting was with Ed Hudgins. I think it was friendly but noting a great disagreements.

#3 Randall

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Posted 02 February 2009 - 09:59 PM

No, I heard of a meeting between Kelley and Brook, to see if there could be any cooperation between TAS and ARI. I also heard that they could not agree on anything.
“When I disagree with a rational man, I let reality be our final arbiter; if I am right, he will learn; if I am wrong, I will; one of us will win, but both will profit.” - Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged

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#4 Ted Keer

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Posted 02 February 2009 - 11:36 PM

It is encouraging to hear that such a meeting occured no matter how much they disagreed - it is lightyears better than refusing to meet. So can anyone give some actual details, as in was it Kelley or Hudgins?



Confession is always weakness. The grave soul keeps its own secrets, and takes its own punishment in silence.

#5 Chris Grieb

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Posted 03 February 2009 - 04:17 AM

Why doesn't someone ask Ed or David? The phone # is 202-AYN Rand. I don't think that's hard to remember or dial.

#6 Ted Keer

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Posted 03 February 2009 - 10:57 AM

So what did they say when you called?



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#7 Chris Grieb

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Posted 03 February 2009 - 03:04 PM

Oh Ted. You are a clever fellow.

The meeting was with both Ed and David. They agreed to disagree. Open and closed Objectivism is the big problem.

Ted. Are you satisfied?



#8 Ed Hudgins

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Posted 03 February 2009 - 08:55 PM

I'm out for a family crisis but will post something here later with a few more retails. - Ed

#9 Michael Stuart Kelly

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Posted 03 February 2009 - 09:02 PM

... with a few more retails. - Ed

Ed,

Can you include some wholesale stuff, too?

:)

(Sorry. That was too precious to resist.)

Michael

Know thyself...


#10 Randall

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Posted 03 February 2009 - 10:00 PM

I'm out for a family crisis but will post something here later with a few more retails. - Ed



Ed, I'm sorry to hear about your crisis. I hope things turn out okay.
“When I disagree with a rational man, I let reality be our final arbiter; if I am right, he will learn; if I am wrong, I will; one of us will win, but both will profit.” - Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged

Study Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand in Dallas, TX - www.thecultureofreasoncenter.com

#11 Jerry Biggers

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Posted 09 February 2009 - 02:23 PM

I'm out for a family crisis but will post something here later with a few more retails. - Ed

Ed,

I hope that your referred-to family crisis is resolved in the best possible manner for all those concerned.


Regarding this intriguing meeting that occured between you and David and Yaron Brook...this must be causing all sorts of speculation as to what was said at that meeting from both camps. Obviously, no great changes have occured, so major issues of contention were not resolved.... Being somewhat facetious (operative qualification is "somewhat") Did Dr. Brook indicate a familarity with the issues and events discussed in David's The Contested Legacy of Ayn Rand?

Regarding David's reference on the last page of his book, on the Institute's (IOS/TOC/TAS) "foreign policy," did Dr. Brook express an appreciation of the similar "foreign policy" exhibited by Miss Rand in her friendships and cooperation toward such libertarian/conservatives as Ludwig von Mises, Henry Hazlitt, and John Chamberlain?

To ask these questions is to already know the answers. So please view these as rhetorical questions. I am merely curious about the mental gymnastics performed by some Objectivists in their very selective (and inconsistent) application of Objectivism in general, and tolerance and cooperation in particular. I would think that the phenomena of "cognitive dissonance" would ultimately cause havoc with such mental compartmentalization. Indeed at several points of her writings, without using the above terms, Rand has stated that contradictions will ultimately be self-defeating. But rather than following Ayn Rand's principles, some Objectivists have instead been following the precepts of Alice's "The Mad Queen," and believing in at least three impossible things before breakfast."

Perhaps ideological tribalism can trump rationality at will. And if that is so, then this problem is an issue that Objectivists need to consider at more length, because it has not been resolved for the past forty years and has caused Objectivism to remain a very marginal cultural and political influence. The best example being the blatant and extreme altruist campaign rhetoric utilized by both Obama and McCain (and which went virtually unchallenged in the Mainstream Media (And yes, I know that some Objectivists criticized Obama and McCain on the internet and some got columns, letters, or Op-Eds published in a few newspapers. This is great, but their effect was similar to that of pebbles thrown into the ocean). Or, to extend the analogy, I don't think that the forces of collectivism need fear being engulfed by an Objectivist tsunami as a result of those relatively few opposing Objectivist voices that were heard.

I was going to end this with "End of rant." However, that implies that I have overstated the case. I have understated it.

#12 Jerry Biggers

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Posted 09 February 2009 - 04:20 PM

I'm out for a family crisis but will post something here later with a few more retails. - Ed

Ed,

I hope that your referred-to family crisis is resolved in the best possible manner for all those concerned.


Regarding this intriguing meeting that occured between you and David and Yaron Brook...this must be causing all sorts of speculation as to what was said at that meeting from both camps. Obviously, no great changes have occured, so major issues of contention were not resolved.... Being somewhat facetious (operative qualification is "somewhat") Did Dr. Brook indicate a familarity with the issues and events discussed in David's The Contested Legacy of Ayn Rand?

Regarding David's reference on the last page of his book, on the Institute's (IOS/TOC/TAS) "foreign policy," did Dr. Brook express an appreciation of the similar "foreign policy" exhibited by Miss Rand in her friendships and cooperation toward such libertarian/conservatives as Ludwig von Mises, Henry Hazlitt, and John Chamberlain?

To ask these questions is to already know the answers. So please view these as rhetorical questions. I am merely curious about the mental gymnastics performed by some Objectivists in their very selective (and inconsistent) application of Objectivism in general, and tolerance and cooperation in particular. I would think that the phenomena of "cognitive dissonance" would ultimately cause havoc with such mental compartmentalization. Indeed at several points of her writings, without using the above terms, Rand has stated that contradictions will ultimately be self-defeating. But rather than following Ayn Rand's principles, some Objectivists have instead been following the precepts of Alice's "The Mad Queen," and believing in at least three impossible things before breakfast."

Perhaps ideological tribalism can trump rationality at will. And if that is so, then this problem is an issue that Objectivists need to consider at more length, because it has not been resolved for the past forty years and has caused Objectivism to remain a very marginal cultural and political influence. The best example being the blatant and extreme altruist campaign rhetoric utilized by both Obama and McCain (and which went virtually unchallenged in the Mainstream Media (And yes, I know that some Objectivists criticized Obama and McCain on the internet and some got columns, letters, or Op-Eds published in a few newspapers. This is great, but their effect was similar to that of pebbles thrown into the ocean). Or, to extend the analogy, I don't think that the forces of collectivism need fear being engulfed by an Objectivist tsunami as a result of those relatively few opposing Objectivist voices that were heard.

I was going to end this with "End of rant." However, that implies that I have overstated the case. I have understated it.

Oops! It appears that my understatement knows no bounds! I misquoted the Mad Queen in Alice in Wonderland, as saying "three impossible things before breakfast." Actually, she said, six impossible things. If she were living in ARIanland, I guess she would have said that she often believed "an infinite number of impossible things." Either that, or she would have been purged.

#13 Ted Keer

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Posted 10 February 2009 - 12:15 AM

Regarding this intriguing meeting that occured between you and David and Yaron Brook...this must be causing all sorts of speculation as to what was said at that meeting from both camps. Obviously, no great changes have occured, so major issues of contention were not resolved.


Not true. Were the parties to truly see each other as irredemably evil, no such meeting would or could have taken place. Indeed, i only use "evil" if I am willing to come to blows. The fact that this meeting occured means that at least one party has changed its opinion or no longer accepts "Fact and Value," at least not literally.



Confession is always weakness. The grave soul keeps its own secrets, and takes its own punishment in silence.

#14 Jerry Biggers

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Posted 10 February 2009 - 07:06 AM

Regarding this intriguing meeting that occured between you and David and Yaron Brook...this must be causing all sorts of speculation as to what was said at that meeting from both camps. Obviously, no great changes have occured, so major issues of contention were not resolved.


Not true. Were the parties to truly see each other as irredemably evil, no such meeting would or could have taken place. Indeed, i only use "evil" if I am willing to come to blows. The fact that this meeting occured means that at least one party has changed its opinion or no longer accepts "Fact and Value," at least not literally.

I agree with you that the fact that the meetiing in question took place at all implies that at least one party has changed its opinion or no longer accepts Peikoff's "Fact and Value" as literally true. However, no details about the meeting have been openly discussed by the principals involved, and may not be - unless there is a clear benefit to one or both parties to do so. Most importantly no changes in the exclusionary/anti-toleration/isolationalist policies or actions by ARI have occurred. Unless or until that occurs, I think we have to conclude that, as I said, "no great changes have occurred, so major issues of contention were not resolved."

The analogy that David Kelley made at the conclusion of The Contested Legacy of Ayn Rand - in comparing the opposing positions of TOC/TAS and ARI to the disputes between the Israelies and the Palestinian Arabs - may be closer to the truth of the matter than we might wish. In that case, I guess we can take some comfort in the fact that ARI has not chosen the Hezbollah as its model.

#15 Chris Grieb

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Posted 10 February 2009 - 12:00 PM

I understand the leading "Hezobollah" person at ARI no longer has much imput into the orgranization.

#16 Ted Keer

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Posted 10 February 2009 - 05:52 PM

So it is then Fatah that we're dealing with?



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#17 Michael Stuart Kelly

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Posted 10 February 2009 - 06:09 PM

Protocols of the Elders of ARI?

:)

(Oh gawd... I don't believe I just wrote that...)

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#18 Jerry Biggers

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Posted 10 February 2009 - 07:44 PM

Protocols of the Elders of ARI?

:)

(Oh gawd... I don't believe I just wrote that...)

Michael

er,...of course I was writing in hyperbole..........................I think. :hmm:

Anyway, considering that Yaron Brook was at one time, an Officer in the Israeli Mossad (sp?) :super: ....I think that ARI is quite safe from any influence from Arab or Moslem extremism :devil: (gross understatement).

As for other, more benign, forms of intolerance.......well, we can only hope for the best!

#19 Ed Hudgins

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Posted 12 February 2009 - 02:01 PM

[I thought on Darwin’s 200th birthday (the reason will become clear below) it might be useful for me to post part of a document that I circulated concerning Objectivism and the differences between ARI and TAS. ARI folks were pretty clear that their goal is to promote Objectivism as Rand understood it. They also raised some other interesting issues. Here were some of my thoughts. - Ed Hudgins]
-----------------

I also offer here some of my own thoughts about … the questions, “What beliefs should carry the label ‘Objectivism’ and who should call themselves ‘Objectivists’?”

The concerns are that if Objectivism is too broadly defined, then individuals will come up with ideas that clearly depart from the philosophy but will label their thinking “Objectivism” and themselves “Objectivists.” As a result, our attempts to spread the philosophy will be undermined by the confusion this might create for the general public and public intellectuals.



Let’s draw out the issues and the implications of these concerns.

One can assert that the philosophy developed by Ayn Rand is Objectivism and that those who work to expand that philosophy—Peikoff, Kelley—can say that their work is based on Objectivism and, they believe, is consistent with Objectivism. So far this would be a fair statement with which all would agree.

But one might argue that because their beliefs were not developed or explicitly endorsed by Rand, that the unique insights of Peikoff, Kelley, et al. should not be considered as part of the Objectivist philosophy.

From this perspective one can ask, will the term “Objectivism” be relegated to an antiquarian niche? Consider the analogy with Darwinian evolution.

The Example of Darwin

Darwin postulated a handful of simple principles—natural selection that, in certain environments, favors individuals that have certain random genetic changes—to explain the origin of species, a view contrary to the Biblical creationist explanation of that time. But even during his own lifetime, Darwin’s understanding of how evolution worked was evolving.

After his death, other discoveries concerning the nature of genetic mutation and an expanded fossil record shed further light on Darwin’s general approach and in fact showed it to be a particularly powerful means by which to understand the origin of species.

So is it legitimate for those who, after Darwin’s death, believe that Darwin presented a basically correct description for how life evolved and who accept the truth of new scientific discoveries made after his death that are consistent with the principles he postulated to call themselves “Darwinists?” It would seem so. Otherwise all would have to call themselves “Darwinists-plus” or something else. Since knowledge about evolution has grown since Darwin’s death, presumably the term “Darwinist” would be frozen in time and no one today could call themselves “Darwinists.”

It seems then that by analogy, those—Peikoff, Kelley—who accept the basic principles of Objectivism, the philosophy developed by Ayn Rand, can legitimately call themselves “Objectivists.”

Subdivided Schools of Thought

Some raise the question about whether Objectivists should label their own extensions of the philosophy that they believe are consistent with and even integral to the philosophy by the term “Objectivism.” Again we can turn to the analogy with “Darwinism” to look at the use of labels for schools of thought.

“Darwinism” originally differentiated those who believed that life evolved from those who believed that it was created by a god. During Darwin’s lifetime an alternative school arose that accepted that species evolved but through a very different mechanism than that postulated by Darwin. This “Lamarckian” school rejected generic mutation as the mechanism driving evolution, maintaining instead that characteristics that individual organisms acquire through their own behavior—strong muscles developed through exercise—could be passed on to descendents. Because this school of thought rejected a fundamental premise of Darwinism, it was right that it be distinguished with its own label. (Later scientific discoveries have disproved the Lamarckian approach.)

Today, in light of new fossil evidence and discoveries, new questions and debates concerning evolution have arisen. For example, in recent decades Stephen J. Gould postulated what is described as a “punctuated equilibrium” view that holds that evolution is not a smooth process but proceeds in fits and starts. This view is opposed by anthropologist Richard Dawkins and others. It is still an open question concerning which view is correct or whether both views contain elements of truth.

But we are right to classify both the Gould and Dawkins schools of thought as “Darwinism” because both—unlike Lamarckianism—accept the basic principles of the theory and are not inconsistent with the theory’s principles. Perhaps some day the views of these schools will diverge so sharply that they will deserve special names.

Similarly, the “Big Bang” theory of cosmology for decades offered a particular explanation for astronomical observations and could be contrasted with the “Steady State” theory. They offered very different explanations for observations. Later discoveries showed this latter theory to be wrong; it has no adherents today.

Today there are debates within the Big Bang understanding of the origins of the universe concerning whether or not it started with an “inflationary” burst and soon slowed down. But adherents and opponents of this approach are still labeled as Big Bang advocates.

There are also debates about the underlying mechanisms driving the expansion of the universe. A “dark energy” explanation might still fit as an extension of the Big Bang approach. But a “String Theory” model that postulates multiple “universes” deserves its own label, since it rejects basic Big Bang assumptions.

We can find similar divisions and labels in other areas of knowledge, for example, within Austrian and the Chicago schools of economics.

Thus when we ask what set of beliefs should carry the label “Objectivism,” we must look first to acceptance of basic principles.

One Objectivism for Now

I would argue by analogy that we can say that Peikoff and Kelley, ARI and The Atlas Society all promote Objectivism. All accept the basic principles by which Rand defined the philosophy.

We can also recognize legitimate discussions and debates within Objectivism. Such exchanges cause no confusion in scholarly or scientific circles. After all, this is how knowledge is acquired and advanced in other disciplines. While we should be concerned first and foremost with the truth of new postulates and whether they are necessary parts of an Objectivist understanding of the world, we should not as such be concerned to keep the definition of Objectivism “pure” any more than a Darwinist worries about whether he is teaching “pure” Darwinism.

Are there any other schools of thought or inquiry in which its thinkers are concerned chiefly with preserving the ideas exactly as understood by the school’s founder or leading lights? Religious adherents and blind ideologues ask, “What is true Christianity, Islam or Communism and who is a true Christian, Muslim or Communist?” But those who seek knowledge through a rational process do not. Anthropologists are not concerned about who are the “true” Darwinists. They're concerned about the truth.

But what of Kelley’s thinking on benevolence or Peikoff's on his DIM hypothesis? Surely it is an open question whether these views are consistent with or should be considered a necessary part of Objectivism? And for purposes of pride of ownership if nothing else, surely Peikoff, Kelley and others would want their extensions of the Objectivist philosophy to be recognized as theirs?

In fact, Kelley as well as others associated with The Atlas Society in addition to Peikoff and ARI associates have made such distinctions. Kelley, for example, believes that benevolence is and should be considered an Objectivist virtue but he does not teach that “Ayn Rand said” but, rather, “I argue that.”

Objectivist thinkers will continue to be challenged by the need to reconcile the philosophy with new advances in knowledge. For example, research in evolutionary psychology and brain science raise questions about free will, the extent to which the mind is “tabula rasa,” and the like. From what I’ve seen such new knowledge is consistent with Objectivism and points to the subtlety of Rand’s insights.

It could be that in the future some Objectivists might conclude that the philosophy is incorrect in some crucial element, for example, the nature of free will. In that case it would be right to distinguish those individuals with a new label, perhaps “neo-Objectivists.”

Who Decides?

But who decides which new information or discoveries are consistent with Objectivism or should be considered part of Objectivism?

Issues about Objectivism should be settled in the same manner that issues are settled in other rational pursues of knowledge. They should be settled by discussions, by exchanges of information, by conferences, panels, debates in journals and the like. And it is reality, not majority opinion, that will be the final arbiter.

This is what has been so unfortunate about the Objectivist movement for nearly two decades. Such benevolent exchanges and discussions between the de-facto ARI and Atlas camps have not occurred. And this fact answers the concern of some ARI associates that a more collegial relationship with Atlas associates will cause confusion and damage the Objectivist brand.

Mature individuals understand that only religions and unquestioned ideologies attempt to march in lock step and that it is not to be expected that there will be 100% agreement between individuals within the ARI or Atlas camps or between their adherents. In fact, the notion of warring “camps” in the case of Objectivism is the problem.



If we want to advance Objectivism, our chief concern should not be that honest disagreements between serious thinkers in the philosophy will tarnish us. It should be that we have been already tarnished by the closed practices outlined above. It should be that personal differences have been treated like philosophical differences.

#20 Dennis Edwall

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Posted 12 February 2009 - 02:40 PM

Excellent, Ed.




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