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A Question of Sanction


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#1 Michael Stuart Kelly

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Posted 10 August 2006 - 01:31 PM

(The following is David Kelley's famous essay roughly as it appears in The Contested Legacy of Ayn Rand. - Michael)


A Question of Sanction

An Open Letter, March, 1989


[This open letter was written in response to an article Peter Schwartz published in The Intellectual Activist in early 1989. I sent copies to about 30 people, including Schwartz himself and Leonard Peikoff, and authorized anyone to copy and distribute it further. Within a few weeks it had circulated widely in the Objectivist movement. Peikoff’s “Fact and Value” was written in response to it.]

A number of people have asked me about “On Sanctioning the Sanctioners” (The Intellectual Activist 2/27/89), which was in part an attack on me for speaking to libertarian groups. In response, I want to set the record straight regarding my own actions, and to identify certain attitudes in the article that I think are incompatible with a philosophy of reason.

* * *

In addition to my philosophical work over the last fifteen years, I have been a polemicist for freedom. In scores of articles and speeches, my goal has been to defend individual rights on an Objectivist foundation—as clearly and forcefully as I can, to as wide an audience as possible. As a polemicist, my efforts are naturally directed at people who are not already Objectivists. To reach that audience I must speak to groups and write for publications that do not share my ideas. In using these channels of communication, I try to make sure that my association with them does not put me in the position of endorsing ideas I reject. That would defeat my purpose. But I cannot engage my opponents without conferring some benefit on them, in some indirect and attenuated fashion—buying their books, helping them retain their audience, or the like. If every such benefit is to be condemned as aiding the enemy, then one cannot participate in the marketplace of ideas. One can only preach to the converted—a sorry sort of ingrown activism.

In any given case, therefore, I weigh the costs of association against the possible gains. Before I accept a writing or speaking engagement, I consider whether my sponsors are offering me access to an audience I could not otherwise have reached; or whether I would be helping them attract an audience they could not otherwise have earned. I consider whether my sponsors have a definite editorial policy or ideological commitment opposed to Objectivism, and, if so, whether they are willing to have me state my disagreement explicitly. I consider whether the format of my appearance would suggest that I endorse other speakers and their views. And I consider what I know of their moral and intellectual character. In weighing these and other matters, I am always looking for long-range strategic gain at minimal cost. That's how you fight a war of ideas.

In the case of libertarians, I have turned down many invitations because I felt the costs outweighed any likely gain. But the balance sometimes tips the other way. I recently spoke at the Laissez-Faire Supper Club on the role of Objectivism in defending freedom—the incident to which Peter Schwartz refers in his articles. I have also accepted an invitation to speak on the ethical foundations of rights at the Cato Institute's Summer Seminar in July. Of the factors that affected these decisions, the following are the most important:
  • Libertarianism is a broadly defined movement. The subjectivists represent one definite wing of the movement, and we cannot make common cause with them. But they are not the only or even the predominant wing. Many who describe themselves as libertarians recognize that rights must be grounded in a rational, secular, and individualist moral philosophy. I know and have worked with many such people, and I regard them as potential allies in the cause of liberty. I have generally found them open to Objectivist ideas, so long as one doesn't harangue them in a spirit of sectarian hostility. When I was invited to speak at the Cato seminar, for example, the organizers were enthusiastic about my proposal to explain why Ayn Rand's ethics is a better foundation for rights than any alternative.
  • Laissez Faire Books is not a magazine with an editorial policy, or a party with a platform. It is a book service, selling works that take many different positions on philosophical issues. Unlike a general-purpose book store, it deals primarily with works that are relevant to a free market, but within that range the owners select books primarily on the basis of what will interest their customers. This includes virtually anything on Objectivism, pro or con. One can certainly quarrel with some of their selections, but one cannot accuse them of loading the dice against us. They are eager to sell Ayn Rand's own works, as well as the contributions her followers have made to the literature. I am delighted that they have brought our work to the attention of their customers, some of whom were not previously familiar with Objectivism, and I have autographed copies of The Evidence of the Senses as a way to help sales. In doing so, I was not endorsing or supporting any work but my own. Nor do I “promote” the bookstore, as Schwartz claims, except in the sense of regarding it as a legitimate commercial enterprise.
  • The same principle applies to the Supper Club they sponsor. In appearing there, I was not, as Schwartz says, an after-dinner speaker at a libertarian function. I was the function. The sole purpose of the occasion was to hear my explanation of why individual rights and capitalism cannot be established without reference to certain key principles of Objectivism: the absolutism of reason, the rejection of altruism, and the commitment to life in this world as a primary value. Since I explicitly criticized libertarian ideas that are incompatible with those principles, I was obviously not endorsing them.

* * *

Such, in brief, is the reasoning that has governed my conduct as a public advocate of Objectivism. Peter Schwartz regards it as transparently wrong, beyond any possibility of honest disagreement. He asserts that libertarians are the moral “equivalent” of the Soviet regime, and I the equivalent of Armand Hammer. These are wild accusations, preposterous on their face. But they exhibit a kind of zealotry that has a wider significance than the fact that Second Renaissance doesn't carry my works. I want to comment on three specific issues.

1) A sense of proportion. Even if we accepted the premise that libertarianism as such is a vice, there would be a vast difference of degree between libertarians and a regime that has the blood of millions on its hands. When we formulate moral principles, we may abstract from such differences of degree; we omit measurements, as Ayn Rand explained. But when we apply the principles in forming moral judgments about particulars, we must reintroduce the relevant measurements. Just as one diminishes the good by praising mediocrity, one trivializes evil by damning the venial. If libertarians are no better than Soviet dictators, then Soviet dictators are no worse than libertarians. Those who indulge in moral hysteria—condemning all moral error with the same fury, without regard to differences of degree—destroy their own credibility when it comes to the depths of evil: the Stalins, the Hitlers, the Ayatollah.

2) Evil vs. error. A cardinal principle of Objectivist ethics is that one should not give evil the moral sanction it needs to justify itself and disarm its victims. And a principle of responsible advocacy is that one should not endorse false ideas. These principles are related but they are not the same, because evil and error are not the same.

The concept of evil applies primarily to actions, and to the people who perform them. Schwartz asserts that we should not sanction the Soviets because they are “philosophical enemies.” This is a bizarre interpretation of their sins. Soviet tyrants are not evil because they believe in Marxian collectivism. They are evil because they have murdered millions of people and enslaved hundreds of millions more. An academic Marxist who subscribes to the same ideas as Lenin or Stalin does not have the same moral status. He is guilty of the same intellectual error, but not of their crimes (unless and to the extent that he actively supported them, as many did in the 1930s, although even here we must recognize a difference in degree of culpability).

Truth and falsity, not good or evil, are the primary evaluative concepts that apply to ideas as such. It is true that the horrors of this century were made possible by irrationalist and collectivist ideas. Bad ideas can be dangerous; that's one reason we shouldn't endorse them. But they are dangerous because people use them to perpetrate evil. We are not Hegelians: ideas per se are not agents in the world. Truth or falsity is the essential property of an idea; the good or ill it produces is derivative. It is also true that a given person may adopt false ideas through evasion, which is morally wrong. But another person might adopt the same idea through honest error. The assumption that libertarians as such are immoral is therefore an egregious insult. Some are honest and rational, some are not. The same is true for any other ideological group, including Objectivists. It is a gross non-sequitur to infer that because an idea is false, its adherents are evil for holding it.

The failure to draw these distinctions has a pernicious effect. If we approach ideas with the question: true or false?, we stand ready to combat bad ideas by the only means appropriate to intellectual issues: open, rational discussion and debate. But if we approach ideas with the question: good or evil?, we will avoid debate for fear of sanctioning evil-doers. We will substitute condemnation for argument, and adopt a non-intellectual, intolerant attitude toward any disagreement with our views.

3) Tolerance. Tolerance is not a virtue where evil is concerned; evil flourishes by the tolerance of good people. But it is a virtue in the cognitive realm. It is appropriate not only among people who disagree about the application of principles they share, but also among people who disagree on the principles themselves. Tolerance is not a weak-kneed confession of uncertainty. It is a recognition that certainty is contextual. It is a recognition of the fact that knowledge is neither revealed nor invented, but acquired by an active process of integration; that any conclusion we reach is tied to reality by a long chain of reasoning, and presupposes an enormous context; and that open discussion and debate are the proper means of intellectual exchange.

To have any hope of persuading others, we must take the trouble to understand their context; we must approach them on an equal footing, a mutual willingness to be persuaded by the facts; and we must grant them time to sort through the issues and make sure that any new conclusion is rooted in their own grasp of reality. If we find that the other person is not open to reason, we should abandon the effort. Tolerance does not require that we beat our heads against the wall, or put up with willful irrationality. But we should assume that people are rational until we have evidence to the contrary. In this respect, tolerance is the intellectual expression of benevolence.

Benevolence has another and to my mind more important benefit; the growth of our own knowledge. There is much we can learn from others if we are willing to listen. And even where they are wrong, we strengthen the foundations of our own beliefs—the accuracy and range of our observations, the validity of our concepts, the rigor of our arguments—by the effort to prove why they are wrong.

That's why every age of reason has welcomed diversity and debate. The great minds of the Enlightenment declared war on the entire apparatus of intolerance: the obsession with official or authorized doctrine, the concepts of heresy and blasphemy, the party lines and intellectual xenophobia, the militant hostility among rival sects, the constant schisms and breaks, the character assassination of those who fall from grace. These are the techniques of irrational philosophies, such as Christianity or Marxism, and may well have been vital to their success. But they have no place in a philosophy of reason.

Ayn Rand left us a magnificent system of ideas. But it is not a closed system. It is a powerful engine of integration. Let us not starve it of fuel by shutting our minds to what is good in other approaches. Let us test our ideas in open debate. If we are right, we have nothing to fear; if we are wrong, we have something to learn. Above all, let us encourage independent thought among ourselves. Let us welcome dissent, and the restless ways of the explorers among us. Nine out of ten new ideas will be mistakes, but the tenth will let in the light.

—David Kelley


Know thyself...


#2 Charles R. Anderson

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Posted 20 January 2007 - 09:22 AM

Should the last line read:

Nine out of ten new ideas ...

#3 Michael Stuart Kelly

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Posted 20 January 2007 - 01:46 PM

Charles,

Thank you. I corrected it.

There is something I wish to comment here. David Kelley gave me specific permission for this essay to be here. He also mentioned something important to me.

This essay is merely an introduction. Many questions arose because of it when it was written and he wrote Truth and Toleration (now The Contested Legacy of Ayn Rand) to answer them.

Yet his detractors often use this essay, even today, to bash him in an oversimplified manner and ignore the answers to their criticisms that are stated in the larger work. This is not just a mistake. It is dishonest.

Michael

Know thyself...


#4 Chris Grieb

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Posted 20 January 2007 - 02:12 PM

Michael; I am beginning to think that is one of the great themes in ARI thinking is the fact they are dishonest. That is a very bad sign for an ethics that has honesty as one of its major virtues

#5 sjw

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Posted 20 January 2007 - 05:25 PM

Peikoff's response ought to be posted too:

http://www.aynrand.o...=objectivism_fv

IMO, Peikoff takes the most malevolent possible interpretation of Kelly and responds to that. What Peikoff said did not seem to be addressing what Kelly actually said and/or takes great liberties at filling in gaps.

#6 Michael Stuart Kelly

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Posted 21 January 2007 - 01:13 AM

Shayne,

Thanks for putting the "Fact and Value" link here. I already put it, and a link to the present article, on another thread in this section: Selective timeline and links of the Kelley-Peikoff schism.

As a matter of fact, there are quite a number of selective links on that thread to most of the pertinent literature about the schism, especially the different analyses of "Fact and Value" and "A Question of Sanction." On reading those articles, it is possible to get a pretty clear idea of the differences in approach between Kelley and Peikoff. (And, as much as I like Tracinski's present work, let's say his reasoning about "A Question of Sanction" was not his best effort. His article was written in 1989. I wonder if he would use those same arguments today.)

Michael

Know thyself...


#7 Charles R. Anderson

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Posted 23 January 2007 - 04:38 AM

I wrote off Tracinski as a lightweight a long time ago, having read several of his essays and exchanged a few comments with him about some short answers he gave on a list. One of those that really struck me as insipid was a comment that American Indians should be grateful that their way of life vanished. Now, I grant that the Indian way of life had to give way to Western Civilization and that Western Civilization makes life much better, but one should also be able to recognize that it was tragic when an Indian tribe was hit with an epidemic of smallpox or yellow fever and 60% of them died. One should also be able to understand that nothing justified the forced removal of Cherokee and Creek from the South after many of them took up Western life styles, became farmers, ran for and won public office, and yet were marched over the Trail of Tears to Oklahoma. He thought there was nothing wrong with this. It was simply great and glorious that the Indians were killed and shoved into smaller and less desirable areas. It was nearly inevitable, but it was not all great and glorious.

But, from comments made elsewhere on OL, I am given to understand that he has acquired some semblance of wisdom, so I shall have to look into whether he has grown up since then. I would not care to have an out-of-date negative opinion of a man who deserves better.

#8 Charles R. Anderson

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Posted 24 January 2007 - 04:27 AM

Tonight I read Robert Tracinski's first five parts of What Went Right? To my pleasant surprise, I was impressed by his maturation in the last few years as a thinker. Please see my more detailed comments on this article in the ARI Corner on the thread started by Robert Campbell on this article. On several important issues his viewpoints seem to have matured and become very compatible with mine.

#9 Bill P

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Posted 09 September 2007 - 05:17 AM

Peikoff's response ought to be posted too:

http://www.aynrand.o...=objectivism_fv

IMO, Peikoff takes the most malevolent possible interpretation of Kelly and responds to that. What Peikoff said did not seem to be addressing what Kelly actually said and/or takes great liberties at filling in gaps.



Putting the two documents side by side (get two monitors, or print one of them out!) is a good exercise in analysis of argumentation. Note the extent to which Peikoff, as far as I can determine, deliberately misconstrues Kelley, repeatedly. ALWAYS taking the worst conceivable interpretation of Kelley's words, and never trusting Kelley to be a good interpreter of his own words!

I was once in a relationship with someone who always wanted to be the final arbiter of WHAT I HAD MEANT BY WHAT I HAD SAID. In spite of the natural English meaning of what I had said (in many cases in writing!) and in spite of my protestations against her forced interpretations. Same pattern as with Peikoff-Kelly, though: The malevolent interpretation was insisted on, in spite of the natural meaning of the document and the concrete statement of the author about what is meant. The experience was infuriating, and I terminated the relationship (after the behavior persisted for months).

Kelley deserved far better, more respectful treatment from Peikoff, IMHO. I think that Peikoff is a lot smarter than he seemed to come off in the Question of Toleration / Fact and Value interchange. And the ramping up of the excommunications did the Objectivist movement, and the intellectual development of Objectivism, no good.

Alfonso

#10 BaalChatzaf

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Posted 09 September 2007 - 06:29 AM

Kelley deserved far better, more respectful treatment from Peikoff, IMHO. I think that Peikoff is a lot smarter than he seemed to come off in the Question of Toleration / Fact and Value interchange. And the ramping up of the excommunications did the Objectivist movement, and the intellectual development of Objectivism, no good.

Alfonso


Unfortunately for Objectivism, L.P. (sometimes called by his detractors, Pope Leonard) exhibits passive-aggressive tendencies. L.P. is a good example where reason has been made subservient to passion, just as Hume proposed. L.P. resonates with Rand's combativeness. Rand did not propose her philosophy in a quiet, dispasionate and logical manner. Not at all. She threw down the gauntlet. Rand regarded her opposition to prevailing philosophical and political views as War.

By the way, The Strike which is the gut of -Atlas Shrugged- as also an example of passive aggressive behavior and Fransisco's investment in San Sebastien was a classical example of malicious compliance which is one manifestation of passive-aggressive behavior. See http://en.wikipedia....ious_compliance. There it is, reason subservient to passion, just as Hume proposed. It is no wonder that Hume is as welcome in O'ist circles as Banquo's ghost was to MacBeth's party.

Ba'al Chatzaf

Edited by BaalChatzaf, 09 September 2007 - 06:34 AM.

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#11 Bill P

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Posted 09 September 2007 - 06:56 AM



Kelley deserved far better, more respectful treatment from Peikoff, IMHO. I think that Peikoff is a lot smarter than he seemed to come off in the Question of Toleration / Fact and Value interchange. And the ramping up of the excommunications did the Objectivist movement, and the intellectual development of Objectivism, no good.

Alfonso


Unfortunately for Objectivism, L.P. (sometimes called by his detractors, Pope Leonard) exhibits passive-aggressive tendencies. L.P. is a good example where reason has been made subservient to passion, just as Hume proposed. L.P. resonates with Rand's combativeness. Rand did not propose her philosophy in a quiet, dispasionate and logical manner. Not at all. She threw down the gauntlet. Rand regarded her opposition to prevailing philosophical and political views as War.

By the way, The Strike which is the gut of -Atlas Shrugged- as also an example of passive aggressive behavior and Fransisco's investment in San Sebastien was a classical example of malicious compliance which is one manifestation of passive-aggressive behavior. See http://en.wikipedia....ious_compliance. There it is, reason subservient to passion, just as Hume proposed. It is no wonder that Hume is as welcome in O'ist circles as Banquo's ghost was to MacBeth's party.

Ba'al Chatzaf



I have to disagree with some of this. Rand presented (not proposed, actually!) her philosophy in a passionate and logical fashion. Peikoff seems to have moved from Rand's passion about ideas to Peikoff's hysteria - a big jump, jettisoning logical presentation in the process.

The whole DIM thing - I don't think that would have had a CHANCE of seeing the light of day if Rand were still around.

On the strike as "passive-aggressive" - given the construct of the world in a decayed state as presented by Rand, what would you propose? That the men of the mind fight a physical war on the statists/looters? That they cooperate, humbly and cooperatively building the barbecues for the cooking of the cannibal meal, when they will the the entree?

Alfonso

#12 BaalChatzaf

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Posted 09 September 2007 - 07:49 AM

On the strike as "passive-aggressive" - given the construct of the world in a decayed state as presented by Rand, what would you propose? That the men of the mind fight a physical war on the statists/looters? That they cooperate, humbly and cooperatively building the barbecues for the cooking of the cannibal meal, when they will the the entree?

Alfonso


Under the hypothetical circumstances in AS, a Disappearing Act was probably the most practical course of action. In the Real World this would not work because there are too many people who go along despite the disadvantages.

Of course The Strikers could have sped things along with selective sabotage. In fact, that is what Fransisco did when he blew up his copper mines. For more delicate assets, just letting them fall into wrack and ruin is probably sufficient. In the recent book -The World Without Us- one can see how quickly the Jungle and the Weed will prevail without constant caring and maintaining.

I am characterizing L.P.'s behavior as passive aggressive. He has not conducted his disputes in a quiet rational manner and he has resorted to character assassination too. Not nice. I have had conversations with L.P. and I do not consider him a first rate intellect. And he is not a nice man either. He is strident and insecure.

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#13 BaalChatzaf

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Posted 09 September 2007 - 08:11 AM

Under the hypothetical circumstances in AS, a Disappearing Act was probably the most practical course of action. In the Real World this would not work because there are too many people who go along despite the disadvantages.

Of course The Strikers could have sped things along with selective sabotage. In fact, that is what Fransisco did when he blew up his copper mines. For more delicate assets, just letting them fall into wrack and ruin is probably sufficient. In the recent book -The World Without Us- one can see how quickly the Jungle and the Weed will prevail without constant caring and maintaining.

I am characterizing L.P.'s behavior as passive aggressive. He has not conducted his disputes in a quiet rational manner and he has resorted to character assassination too. Not nice. I have had conversations with L.P. and I do not consider him a first rate intellect. And he is not a nice man either. He is strident and insecure.

Ba'al Chatzaf


I do not know what came over me. I am psychologizing!!! Arrrghhh!

Shame on me! I will now mortify my flesh moderately. Shame! Shame!

Sorry.

Ba'al Chatzaf
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#14 Robert Campbell

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Posted 09 September 2007 - 09:04 AM

Alfonso,

IMO, Peikoff takes the most malevolent possible interpretation of Kelly and responds to that. What Peikoff said did not seem to be addressing what Kelly actually said and/or takes great liberties at filling in gaps.


Did Ayn Rand never do this? (To be fair, if you are trying to figure out the full implications of what someone is saying, you are taking on the risk of overdoing or straining your interpretation. The best you can do is stay alive to those possibilities and ready to correct yourself.)

But, yes, in "Fact and Value" Dr. Peikoff has already decided that David Kelley is to be cast into the Outer Darkness, and is busily fashioning a justification out of any materials he can grab hold of. So, of course, he repeatedly reaches, or claims to spy meanings that no one else would find in Dr. Kelley's writing.

Kelley deserved far better, more respectful treatment from Peikoff, IMHO. I think that Peikoff is a lot smarter than he seemed to come off in the Question of Toleration / Fact and Value interchange. And the ramping up of the excommunications did the Objectivist movement, and the intellectual development of Objectivism, no good.


We may disagree in our assessments of how smart Dr. Peikoff is. (Personally, I don't think that a shortage of raw intelligence has been one of the major liabilities on the Peikovian balance sheet.) But there is no question that "Fact and Value" is one of his poorest performances in writing.

The essay is valuable, however, because it explodes all of the standard orthodox Objectivist protestations about honest errors of knowledge. Dr. Peikoff comes right out and declares virtually all significant disagreements with Objectivism to be dishonestly motivated.

Here's a further question to ponder:

How, in "Fact and Value," does Dr. Peikoff openly contradict epistemological claims made in Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand--claims that he deems of fundamental importance? (He was working on OPAR when he published "Fact and Value"; in fact, he'd already written the section in which he made these particular claims.)

The answer may surprise you.

Robert Campbell

#15 Robert Campbell

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Posted 09 September 2007 - 09:13 AM

Bob K,

I am characterizing L.P.'s behavior as passive aggressive. He has not conducted his disputes in a quiet rational manner and he has resorted to character assassination too. Not nice. I have had conversations with L.P. and I do not consider him a first rate intellect. And he is not a nice man either. He is strident and insecure.


I'm curious--what were the circumstances of your conversations with Dr. Peikoff? What did you talk about?

You certainly needn't flagellate yourself for "psychologizing." In her article on the subject, Ayn Rand repeatedly engaged in the very conduct she was purporting to condemn.

Robert C

#16 BaalChatzaf

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Posted 09 September 2007 - 09:36 AM

Bob K,


I am characterizing L.P.'s behavior as passive aggressive. He has not conducted his disputes in a quiet rational manner and he has resorted to character assassination too. Not nice. I have had conversations with L.P. and I do not consider him a first rate intellect. And he is not a nice man either. He is strident and insecure.


I'm curious--what were the circumstances of your conversations with Dr. Peikoff? What did you talk about?

You certainly needn't flagellate yourself for "psychologizing." In her article on the subject, Ayn Rand repeatedly engaged in the very conduct she was purporting to condemn.

Robert C


I detest psychologizing and I detest it even more when I do it. I hold myself to a higher standard than Ayn Rand. I never would let a love affair gone sour interfere with my professional conduct.

Thrice did I have conversations with L.P. over the phone on the David Brudnoy Talk Show in Boston. That was about 10 - 12 years ago. L.P. would be in town when he spoke at the Ford Hall Lectures (around April of each year). David was kind to let me be on the phone as long as ten minutes (the interval between commercial breaks on WBZ). We talked mostly about logic or should I say logic vs. $logic, physics and such like. We never discussed politics. I am pro market, pro capitalist so we had no issues there.

David Brudnoy told me that after he read -Atlas Shrugged- in the Dallas Texas airport (he was a fast reader) he ceased to be a Conservative and became a small "l" libertarian. So he always scheduled L.P. for his program when L.P. was in town.

David Brudnoy was the smartest and best educated talk show host in the U.S. His program regularly logged over three million listeners (WBZ is 50,000 watts clear channel). Over an 18 year period David and I struck up an intellectual friendship and he had me as a guest on his show about a dozen times. Sadly, sadly, David came down with an aggressive form of cancer and he died in December of 2004. I miss him. He had a brain and a half and he made radio (in the Boston market) what it should be. There is a smart talk show host in Denver, Mike Rosen who has David's spirit but only a fraction of David's erudition.

Ba'al Chatzaf

Edited by BaalChatzaf, 09 September 2007 - 11:54 AM.

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#17 Bidinotto

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Posted 09 September 2007 - 10:26 AM

At risk of hijacking, let me say a loud "Amen!" to your comments about David Brudnoy. I was on his show one night as a guest for the entire program, and it was a blast. A gentleman and a brilliant mind.

Now, we'd better get back to "A Question of Sanction." It's an interesting exchange.

#18 Kyrel Zantonavitch

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Posted 09 September 2007 - 11:01 AM

Kelley mentions the article On Sanctioning the Sanctioners (from The Intellectual Activist 2/27/89). This essay starts the whole debate. It sets the tone and context.

But virtually no-one has ever seen it. Neither side deals with it. It's been utterly supressed and unknown for almost 30 years now.

How is this remotely right?

Pure Liberal Fire -- a radical new book of philosophical essays containing many important ideas not found in any other Objectivist writer.


#19 James Heaps-Nelson

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Posted 09 September 2007 - 11:15 AM

Sanction is an area which is best judged individually. In order to judge, you have to have information. In order to have information, most of the time you have to read a book or article or grace people with your presence. The Hindu style contamination mechanism put forth by Schwartz and company is anti-reason. There are many people I interact with that don't have perfect or exemplary moral character. I interact with them in ways that are profitable to me and detrimental to no one. This also allows me to communicate what I think is wrong with their views or actions if appropriate.

I also don't put a positive obligation on others to know, care about or understand my judgments. They may have other priorities. I also allow for the fact that I may be wrong. If this is the case, I am counting on the independent judgment of others to shed light on my error.

Jim

#20 James Heaps-Nelson

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Posted 09 September 2007 - 11:19 AM

Kelley mentions the article On Sanctioning the Sanctioners (from The Intellectual Activist 2/27/89). This essay starts the whole debate. It sets the tone and context.

But virtually no-one has ever seen it. Neither side deals with it. It's been utterly supressed and unknown for almost 30 years now.

How is this remotely right?


Kyrel, you're exactly right. Schwartz is frequently republished in sanitized form with the most embarrassing bits edited or taken out completely.

Jim




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