Even apart from its 2009 brouhaha with on-again/off-again renegade speaker Lindsay Perigo, The Atlas Society has had diminishing value for me in the past few years. While I certainly appreciate TAS's hard work for the 50th anniversary of the publication of Atlas Shrugged) -- and while I fervently hope that the Atlas Shrugged Part 1 movie is as much of a blockbuster as it can and ought to be -- on the intellectual side, I think TAS is becoming irrelevant.
Not that I’m even faintly considering going over to “The Dark Side” and join the Ayn Rand Institute. In my opinion, both TAS and ARI think too much “in the box,” instead of fostering development of new ideas.
I wish I were wrong about this, but I am not encouraged by what I have seen in the Advanced and Graduate Seminars in the past few years. In this, at least (and probably, at most), Diana Hsieh was right.
But as far as I can tell (from their publications and books), ARI is only providing training in Objectivist methodology, not encouraging new ideas that can be considered Objectivist. And for my money, who wants to be certified as a methodically trained “Objectivist philosopher,” when your own best, most creative ideas, even if they are compatible with Objectivism, are not allowed to be recognized as part of closed-system Objectivism?
Can there be any more pitiful creature than an “Objectivist philosopher” whose own original, valid philosophizing cannot be considered part of Objectivism? Hello!? Virtue of independence, anyone?
For that matter, isn't it outrageous that David Kelley’s ideas on the virtue of benevolence are not readily acknowledged as being part of the Objectivist Ethics? I am no ethical theorist, but I can give a simple, straightforward argument, right out of “The Ethics of Emergencies,” that proves benevolence is an aspect of integrity. I can give a knock-down argument, in Rand’s own words, for when and why we should help others, complete with quoted “should’s.”
But why should I have to do this -- and why are the closed-system Randroids unable and/or unwilling to do this themselves? Because they’re thinking in the box and upholding the letter of Rand’s writings, instead of their obvious, clear meaning. And people who think inside the box ethically are not a good bet to ally oneself with intellectually. Which is why I am not inclined to emulate Ms. Hsieh’s pilgrimage to The Dark Side.
On the other hand, people who think inside the box epistemologically are not a good bet to ally oneself with intellectually either. This is why I am spending more and more of my time developing and preparing my ideas for publication, with the help of a very small group of independent “Objectivists” (or whatever they are!), and to them I am eternally grateful for their encouragement and support.
My ideas will be disseminated and have an impact on the culture, and they will do so with or without the help (or aggravation and hindrance) of the intellectually sclerotic Movement leaders. And eventually, with or without the help of said Movement leaders, I expect that my ideas will be considered part of Objectivism, or at least consistent with Objectivism.
Not, however, with the moribund cul de sac of the closed-system so cherished by the in-group on the West Coast, but with the East Coast’s ideal of Objectivism as an open-system, Objectivism as it can and ought to be.
[i leave it to future generations whether to call my version of Rand’s philosophy “Bissellian Objectivism” or “Extrinsic Superjectivism.” ;) (This latter is a playful way of acknowledging Objectivism to be synonymous with the rejection of Intrinsicism and Subjectivism.)]