Michael Stuart Kelly

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  1. PARC Reviews and Commentary I am not including interviews with Valliant, merely third-party reviews and commentaries, although he is present in many of the online discussions. Blatantly Against “So Here It Is, Ayn Rand on Nathaniel Branden, Circa 1968” – “Plumbing the depths of the soap opera with a fine-tooth partisan comb,” by David Brown. Review, April 22, 2005 (International Society for Individual Liberty – Book Beat). “The Passion of the Critics of Ayn Rand's Critics” by Scott Schiff. Review, May 24, 2005. Discussion. (Former SoloHQ now at RoR) Solo Passion SoloHQ archives: Article and Discussion. “How to Kill a Philosophy-A Review of The Passion of Ayn Rand's Critics” by Dennis Hardin. Review and discussion, June 29, 2005. (Former SoloHQ now at RoR.) Solo Passion SoloHQ archives: Review and discussion. “The Only Review of PARC You Ever Need to Read” by Roger Bissell. Review, February 18, 2006. (Objectivist Living) The Passion of Ayn Rand's Critics - One Man's View by Jordan Zimmerman. Review (link to database), Apr 27, 2006. (Objectivist Living) More Detached, with Reservations “REASON, PASSION, AND HISTORY” by Chris Matthew Sciabarra. Review, July 20, 2005. Discussion (including long rebuttal by Valliant and final rejoinder by Sciabarra). (Notablog) “The Passion of Ayn Rand's Critics: The Case Against the Brandens” by Wendy McElroy. Review, June 22, 2005. (LewRockwell.com) “Ayn Rand? Jealous?” by Robert Campbell. – Commentary, November 22, 2005. Discussion. (Former SoloHQ now at RoR) Solo Passion SoloHQ archives: Article and Discussion. “Valliant Versus the Brandens” by Fred Seddon. Commentary, November 25, 2005. Discussion. (Former SoloHQ now at RoR) Solo Passion SoloHQ archives: Article and Discussion. Blatantly For “The Vindication of Ayn Rand” by Cass Hewitt. Review, March 11, 2005. Discussion. (The Autonomist) The same article on The Free Republic (with discussion) “Hold Your Horses!” by Casey Fahy. Commentary, pre-release, April 6, 2005. Discussion. (Former SoloHQ now at RoR) Solo Passion SoloHQ archives: Article and Discussion. “Book Review: The Passion of Ayn Rand's Critics by James S.Valliant.” by Tom Minchin. Review, June 3, 2005. (The Intellectual Activist Forum) (Note from MSK: This was on The Intellectual Activist forum with follow-up discussion, but the forum has been deactivated. The link has bee provided, but it no longer works. The review can be seen almost exactly word-for-word on THE FORUM for Ayn Rand Fans – Post 167, June 4, 2005 – but the TIA discussion is no longer available.) “The Passion of Ayn Rand's Critics” by Diana Hsieh. Commentary, June 5, 2005. Discussion. (Noodlefood) “Book Semi-Review: The Passion of Ayn Rand’s Critics” by “Mike.” Commentary, June 10, 2005. (Passing Thoughts Blog) “The Passion of the Critics of Ayn Rand's Critics” by Lindsay Perigo. Review, September 26, 2005. Discussion. (Former SoloHQ now at RoR) Solo Passion SoloHQ archives: Article and Discussion. “Is Ayn Rand Optional?” by Don Watkins. Commentary, October 12, 2005. Discussion. (Noodlefood) “The Silence of Ayn Rand’s Critics” by Casey Fahy. Commentary, December 3, 2005. (Solo Passion – Discussion included in link and also published in The Free Radical, No. 69.) “A Review of The Passion of Ayn Rand's Critics” by Diana Hsieh. Commentary, January 20, 2006. Discussion. (Noodlefood) “Interviews with the Vampires” by Diana Hsieh. Commentary, January 22, 2006. Discussion. (Noodlefood) “Betraying the self. Betraying a heroine.” by Peter Cresswell. Commentary, February 1, 2006. (Solo Passion – Discussion included in link and also published in The Free Radical, No. 70.) (Note from MSK: This is probably the most bizarre of all of the spiteful writings involving PARC, speculating that the Brandens were the reason Ayn Rand never wrote another novel after Atlas Shrugged.) “The Nature of Poison” by Casey Fahy. Commentary, February 21, 2006. (Solo Passion – Discussion included in link.) Other Online Discussions Strongly Involving PARC and/or Valliant New Book: The Passion of Ayn Rand's Critics – News item, posted February 8, 2005. Discussion. (Former SoloHQ now at RoR) Solo Passion SoloHQ archives: News Item and Discussion. Amazon Customer Reviews of The Passion of Ayn Rand's Critics – First review on March 9, 2005. The Passion of Ayn Rand's Critics, New Book – Thread on THE FORUM for Ayn Rand Fans, Values – Current Events, started May 16, 2005. Wendy McElroy on Nate, Babs, and Ayn. – Thread on SoloHQ, General Forum, started June 22, 2005. (Former SoloHQ now at RoR) Solo Passion SoloHQ archives: Thread. Ayn Rand Smeared Again – Thread on SoloHQ, General Forum, started September 7, 2005. (Former SoloHQ now at RoR) Solo Passion SoloHQ archives: Thread. Jungian Objectivism Suspended – Thread on SoloHQ, General Forum, started September 24, 2005. (Former SoloHQ now at RoR) Solo Passion SoloHQ archives: Thread. The Argument from Intimidation – Thread on SoloHQ, General Forum, started October 22, 2005. (Former SoloHQ now at RoR) Solo Passion SoloHQ archives: Thread. (Note from MSK: This particular thread has the most comical pronouncement issued as argument I have ever encountered by an Objectivist discussion site owner: "And Michael, just for once, shut the fuck up..." - Post 158 by Perigo.) Ayn Rand Biography Recommendations – Thread on SoloHQ, Objectivism Q&A, started November 26, 2005. (Former SoloHQ now at RoR) Solo Passion SoloHQ archives: Thread. Of Firsts, Silence, and Truth - Article by Reginald Firehammer with discussion thread on The Autonomist, December 2, 2005. Just The Autonomist article here, and repeated here on The Rational Argumentator. Provocative Post! – Thread on Solo Passion, General Forum, started December 10, 2005. Why do some people hate the Brandens? – Thread on Solo Passion, General Forum, started December 16, 2005. Linz Bows Out Of TOC Summer Seminar – Thread on Solo Passion, Lindsay Perigo's blog, posted February 15, 2006. My History with Nathaniel and Barbara Branden – commentary by Diana Hsieh, March 22, 2006. Discussion. (Noodlefood) Important!!! – Thread on Solo Passion, Lindsay Perigo's blog, posted March 22, 2006. (Note from MSK: The purpose of the thread was to call attention to Hsieh's mini-biography of the same day, but very little about the subject was discussed. It is predominantly bickering between the posters as of March 27.) Frank's Drinking - Thread on Solo Passion started by Brant Gaede on March 22, 2006. A rather insipid non-discussion follows (stopped and resumed a couple of times, but still insipid). CRAP – Thread on Solo Passion, Brant Gaede's blog, posted March 24, 2006. Barbara Branden and TOC - Thread on Solo Passion started by Bill Perry on April 6, 2006. Is This What They Teach at the Ayn Rand Institute? - Thread on Solo Passion started by Robert Campbell on April 6, 2006. PARC is addressed in several posts within the context of ARI, true-believer mentality and JARS. Meeting Nathaniel Branden - Thread on Solo Passion started by Bill Perry on April 12, 2006. Although PARC is not addressed directly, so many of the issues raised in it are that this thread is pertinent. A Prosecutor's View of PARC - Thread on Solo Passion started by Bill Perry on April 20, 2006. The Whole Sordid Affair - Thread on Solo Passion started by Kelly Elmore on May 28, 2006, apparently at the request of Perigo ("Linz asked me to post something..."). A Final Request – commentary by Diana Hsieh, July 6, 2006. Discussion. (Noodlefood) The same initial post was published on Solo Passion on July 7, 2006 under the title of "A Request about PARC." James Valliant on Rand and the Remington Rand Typewriter Story - Entry by Neil Parille on his blog, ObjectiBlog: Ayn Rand and Objectivism, on July 23, 2006. Reposted on Solo Passion with discussion on July 26, 2006. James Valliant on Rand's Intellectual Debts - Entry by Neil Parille on his blog, ObjectiBlog: Ayn Rand and Objectivism, on July 23, 2006. James Valliant on Murray Rothbard - Entry by Neil Parille on his blog, ObjectiBlog: Ayn Rand and Objectivism, on July 24, 2006. James Valliant on Henry Holzer - Entry by Neil Parille on his blog, ObjectiBlog: Ayn Rand and Objectivism, on July 26, 2006. James Valliant on We the Living - Entry by Neil Parille on his blog, ObjectiBlog: Ayn Rand and Objectivism, on July 27, 2006. James Valliant on the Brandens - Entry by Neil Parille on his blog, ObjectiBlog: Ayn Rand and Objectivism, on July 28, 2006. James Valliant on the Passion of Ayn Rand - Entry by Neil Parille on his blog, ObjectiBlog: Ayn Rand and Objectivism, on August 6, 2006. Reposted on Solo Passion with discussion on August 20, 2006. James Valliant on Ayn Rand, John Hospers and the Brandens - Entry by Neil Parille on his blog, ObjectiBlog: Ayn Rand and Objectivism, on August 6, 2006. Reposted on Solo Passion with discussion on August 26, 2006. On Breaking With Rand - Entry by Neil Parille on his blog, ObjectiBlog: Ayn Rand and Objectivism, on August 6, 2006. Unusual Behavior as a Clue to What Happens Inside the Black Box - Thread on Solo Passion started by Robert Campbell on August 11, 2006 (many comments about PARC in the middle of the discussion). James Valliant on Ayn Rand and the Blumenthals - Entry by Neil Parille on his blog, ObjectiBlog: Ayn Rand and Objectivism, on August 12, 2006. Reposted on Solo Passion with discussion on August 13, 2006. $26 for to ask Nathaniel Branden a question on PARC? - Thread on Solo Passion started by Kevin Malone on August 17, 2006 (not much discussion). Lindsay and his "take" on Zionism/Israel. - Thread on Solo Passion started by Kevin Malone on August 21, 2006 (long discussion going over 500 posts and despite originally dealing with another subject, this discussion became diverted and changed to PARC by none other than Valliant himself on September 1, 2006 - with many challenging posts following between George H. Smith and Valliant and his supporters). PARC -- Impressions So Far - Thread on Solo Passion started by Chris Cathcart on August 23, 2006. How Many Copies Has Mr. Valliant's Book Sold? - Thread on Solo Passion started by Robert Campbell on August 27, 2006 (lots of reasons are given to justify the low sales). Ayn Rand Archives - Thread on Solo Passion started by Diana Hsieh on September 3, 2006 (medium-long discussion going well over 150 posts and despite originally dealing with another subject, this discussion became diverted and changed to PARC by a supporter on September 4, 2006 - with many challenging posts following between George H. Smith and Valliant and his supporters). Quick book notes re PARC and ARA - Thread on Solo Passion started by Chris Cathcart on September 5, 2006 (not much discussion). The Virtue of Sycophancy (1) - Entry by Daniel Barnes on September 9, 2006 on his blog, Ayn Rand Contra Human Nature (blog with Greg Nyquist's book as theme). The Virtue of Sycophancy (2) - Entry by Daniel Barnes on September 10, 2006 on his blog, Ayn Rand Contra Human Nature (blog with Greg Nyquist's book as theme). The Virtue of Sycophancy (3) - Cringe and Win! - Entry by Daniel Barnes on September 10, 2006 on his blog, Ayn Rand Contra Human Nature (blog with Greg Nyquist's book as theme). James Valliant on Ayn Rand, Barbara Branden and Libertarianism - Thread on Solo Passion started by Neil Parille on September 15, 2006. Reposted on his blog on September 16, 2006. Cringe and Win! - The 5 Most Embarrassing Moments in "PARC" - Entry by Daniel Barnes on October 20, 2006 on his blog, Ayn Rand Contra Human Nature (blog with Greg Nyquist's book as theme). Polls and Surveys Have you read The Passion of Ayn Rand's Critics? - Poll on Rebirth of Reason posted by Adam Buker. First comment on May 24, 2006. Comparative Objectivist book sales against The Passion of Ayn Rand’s Critics by James Valliant - Survey of Objectivist books sold in 2005 and 2006 by Michael Stuart Kelly. Posted on August 26, 2006.
  2. PARC Facts This thread is about The Passion of Ayn Rand’s Critics by James Valliant, which has been widely discussed by a relatively few number of people on the Internet. This is a “research” thread, so in keeping with the spirit of OL, it will be locked against discussion. If a reader has something he/she wishes to add or correct, please contact me at mikellyusabr@yahoo.com. The reason for this policy is that I wish to gather the maximum number of facts in a single place for easy consultation. The discussions tend to get long-winded, several passing 300 posts by far and one even going up to well over 500 posts, thus it is hard to separate the wheat from the chaff. Also, in some of these discussions, a small number of posters have become highly insulting about the Brandens and this is not tolerated on OL. The most basic fact will be given in this post, which is bibliographical, then a list of links to online reviews, outlines and information on the publisher. Factual mistakes like dates and such may be included in this list. This thread will be updated periodically. Michael
  3. Frank O’Connor’s drinking Fallacy in PARC: The account of Frank O’Connor’s drinking was made up by the Brandens, principally by Barbara. Quotes from PARC: Truth: Four different people close to Frank O’Connor corroborated that he had a drinking problem. Main reason for the fallacy in PARC: Sloppy research. The author did not consult either Barbara Branden or Nathaniel Branden and ask them for their sources, nor were any people who knew Ayn Rand outside of the ARI circle interviewed (at least none are credited in PARC). Evidence: Post by Barbara Branden: Objectivist Living, Fri Mar 17, 2006 12:55 am.. Edit - September 2, 2006 - More evidence Another confirmation of Frank's drinking was given in a discussion on Solo Passion by George H. Smith on September 2, 2006. A quote from the post is given below. Albeit, it is a bit vague, it is still from a credible source in the Objectivist world.
  4. PARC Fallacies This thread is about The Passion of Ayn Rand’s Critics by James Valliant, which has been widely discussed by a relatively few number of people on the Internet. This is a “research” thread, so in keeping with the spirit of OL, it will be locked against discussion. If a reader has something he/she wishes to add or correct, please contact me at mikellyusabr@yahoo.com. The reason for this policy is that I wish to gather the maximum number of facts in a single place for easy consultation. The discussions tend to get long-winded, several passing 300 posts by far and one even going up to well over 500 posts, thus it is hard to separate the wheat from the chaff. Also, in some of these discussions, a small number of posters have become highly insulting about the Brandens and this is not tolerated on OL. The most basic provable fallacies will be given in this thread. Some comments on Valliant’s rhetorical methods also will be included. This thread will be updated periodically. Michael
  5. Nathaniel Branden Official Nathaniel Branden Website Nathaniel Branden Yahoo Forum Barbara Branden Official Barbara Branden Website Miscellaneous OL discussion of the movie The Passion of Ayn Rand OL reviews, facts and fallacies of PARC in the ARI Corner
  6. Here is a Rand quote from Ayn Rand Answers, The Best of Her Q&A, edited by Robert Mayhew (2005, New York, New American Library), pp. 151-152. Food for thought - and it is pertinent to this discussion. Michael
  7. Hey Bob! I definitely want to see this. Anthony Hopkins as a hero is a wonderful treat. My favorite performance of his is Meet Joe Black, where he plays a businessman of high integrity. Who would have thought imagined that out of Hannibal? Michael
  8. John, I certainly will not argue the point that the prelude to the young woman's question was insulting. The immediate interruption was certainly justified, albeit poor public demeanor. But Rand's insistence on making snipes at the young woman for the rest of the show (even after commercial breaks) was neither wise nor professional. Was she there to discuss Objectivism or discuss that person? The fact that it became a highlight coloring the rest of the show was as much due to Rand's fault as it was to the hostile audience and Donahue. One thing I was arguing against, though, was the preposterous claim that preceded the discussion of this in PARC (p. 80): Frankly, the discussion in PAR where this occurs is a discussion of Rand's general pessimism about the culture and is immediately followed by a very loving description of the 1979 Tom Snyder interview. As I hope my description showed, Barbara did not exaggerate the event at all. Instead, the paragraph was pulled out of context, undue emphasis was placed on certain aspects ("girl," etc.) to insinuate a meaning that was not there, and the event was misrepresented, with crucial facts being left out of the criticism. Michael
  9. Charles, thank you for the sentiment. Kat and I are very much in love and we love sharing the good vibes. Barbara, I value your private praise to me so highly that I did not even notice that you did not post it. Thank you so much. Phil, I am highly flattered by your words. Thank you. I put extremely high value on the tears, though. I am pleased beyond words that I touched you. No writer could ask for more. Michael
  10. Here is a brief summary of the story about the reason for the break between Ayn Rand and Kay Nolte Smith. Starting with PARC (p. 75), there is a criticism of PAR stating that this story was "curiously absent," thus insinuating some kind of dastardly cover-up. The source mentioned in PARC for this story is Jeff Walker's book, The Ayn Rand Cult, but this book is also characterized as the following (p. 393 n. 61): A further speculation is added (presumably so Walker's book can be used as a source selectively at whim): No other sources for this story are given in PARC. But some unnamed sources are mentioned elsewhere in an online discussion. From the rejoinder to Chris Sciabarra's review of PARC on Notablog: Thus anonymous sources for PARC (but not mentioned in the book) corroborate Walker's book (the named source), which is characterized as having "significant problems" with objectivity - and these distinguished people apparently claim that the offending "changes" (note the plural) were removed before the opening of the play. The anonymous ones must be the source for the time frame as this alleged fact is not given in Walker's book. The only other alternative would be that the author of PARC made it up. I do not have Walker's book yet, so here is a part of Jonathan's post above in this thread (which quotes Walker's book): To repeat, no information is given on when the "changes" (note the plural) are made in Walker's book. So the claim that these changes were removed before the opening must have come from the anonymous sources. Moving along on the gossip vine (and taking the cue from Jonathan), here is how the event is depicted in PARC (pp. 75-76): As Jonathan notes: To be fair, the author of PARC states that he tried to contact Kay Nolte Smith for an interview but was refused. It is almost comical that this attempt was in 1983 (PARC, p. 400 n 57). It is a real temptation to ask whether he was planning on writing PARC back then, before PAR was even written. As Sciabarra wryly observed in his review: Now Barbara has done the obvious. She asked the guy who was involved in the dastardly deed. This bears quoting again. Here are Philip Smith's words from Barbara's post above: See how the gossip chain works? And see the reliance of PARC on pure gossip for its rhetoric? We move from "one line" (Smith) to "few lines of dialogue" (Walker) to "systematic and personal betrayal" (PARC). Also, the single line was cut (not even changed) because it got "an inappropriate laugh" (implying at least one prior performance), and was cut for "one evening performance." Yet the anonymous sources used for PARC affirm "the fact" that the "changes" (plural) to the play "were removed before its opening ." All that was needed to avoid this error was the most basic research of all: ask the person who was involved in the event. Or have a trusted person ask him. He might have even discovered how Rand found out about the change (Kay told her). The research for PARC for this particular event is shoddy and not at all credible. Michael
  11. Since this is the place where impressions taken from PARC are being registered, and since the following observations will probably not make it in my upcoming review of PARC, I want to register them here. It has to do with the 1979 Phil Donahue show. I finally saw it last night and it left a strong impression on me. My own view of Rand physically up to then has been based on photographs and the one time I saw her in public at the Ford Hall Forum in the early 1970's. I will admit to being a bit shocked, since Rand did not age well at all. She showed all the signs of poor diet, smoking and lack of exercise. Her visual production was not TV-oriented, either, and showed her in an unflattering light. Also, once Donahue started walking around the audience for Q&A in Madison Square Garden, she seemed to slouch in her chair on stage. This might have been camera angles and the awkward position she had to turn to see him, but the whole visual impression of Rand I got was that of a grumpy old woman in a sloppy mood. (It pains me to write that, but this is how I saw it.) I am sure this was the impression seen by those who were not familiar with the philosophy. Now on to the excerpt on this in The Passion of Ayn Rand (pp. 391-392). I will quote the full paragraph (it was only one paragraph), but in PARC, the excerpt starts with "It was a disaster" (PARC discussion pp. 80-82). PARC basically presents the content of the exchange correctly (congratulating the ARI Bookstore on still keeping the tape available), then gives the evaluation below. In recounting the episode, though, it is claimed that Rand did not shout when she interrupted the young woman. What I saw would make that debatable. Rand certainly raised her voice above that of the young woman's and was highly abrupt, with full intention of interrupting. That can be called a shout in my book. It was not a hysterical shout, though, but definitely butting in with a loud voice. Before the excerpt, PARC gives the following description: Then the exchange is given. Notice that the word girl is given in quotation marks denoting sarcasm. In the excerpt, the word girl continues to be used in quotation marks. Notice also that Barbara's first reference had been to a "young woman." My guess from seeing the tape is that she was in her late twenties, so "young woman" with "girl" right after are apt designations, where girl would not mean an adolescent. There was nothing in Barbara's description that merits such getting all bent out of shape. It is accurate. After the exchange is presented, PARC continues: Maybe Barbara's quote was not her finest hour as an author, but it certainly is not inaccurate as given in PARC. Let's look at the complaints. The show actually was a disaster from what I saw. Rand seemed highly uncomfortable (but not with Donahue). She seemed a bit nervous, like people are wont to be when they are a bit rusty with being before an audience, and it was evident (to me at least) she was making an effort to control it. In addition to her poor visual presentation, Donahue was constantly in her face during the interview part and waving his arms all the time. The audience also was hostile. Whenever Donahue would make some point against Rand, the applause was solid. Whenever Rand would make a point, the applause was weak. The thing ended practically with Rand explaining why a woman should not be President (claiming that a woman as Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces was "unspeakable.") Now, within the context of Barbara's biography, all this might have been interesting to note, but there were several interviews she covered. All these details would have cluttered up the flow. Next point. There is an arbitrary 10% total show time put on the exchange. It is obvious that the author of PARC is not in show business, since he has no idea how to measure these things. Let's see what happened. Barbara stated that the exchange occupied "a substantial part of the show." There actually is one thing apparently misleading here, but a second's thought will show that it is not as misleading as it seems. Time-wise, many interviews come with Q&A sessions after the interview. So it is obvious that Barbara was not referring to the interview part when she made that comment. She was referring to the moment the young woman presented her question and was interrupted by Rand, and from that point on. How is TV time measured in terms of impact? I would say it is whether a topic is still present after a commercial break. If the topic is emotionally charged as this one was (with Donahue trying hard to stay on the good side of his predominantly young audience), the subject will be in the air even when other things are discussed. Slight insinuations to it with audience reaction constantly occur, which is what happened. But let's look at the main events. What PARC does not report is that after the first commercial break, Donahue tried to start the new period with a new question altogether. Rand stated firmly that she wanted to go back to that young woman's question, but wanted someone else to present it. Donahue tried to parry it a bit, then finally, running out options and running the risk of the show descending into only bickering, he personally asked Rand the ITT question. The answer not only included the answer, but more comments about the questioner. Then, after another commercial break (and PARC omitted this info too), Donahue asked Rand how she could judge Islamic people for being so intolerant when she herself would not listen to what the young woman had to say. (Solid applause.) Rand's answer focused on terrorism. Thus this exchange actually did occupy a substantial part of the show (three periods with two commercial breaks). So I don't put too much store in the criteria used in PARC for arriving at the 10% time figure. Parts of a TV program are judged in terms of impact and this exchange was one of the highlights. As to the remark in PARC stating that this episode did not prevent Rand from being invited back the following year, insinuating that Barbara was indirectly saying something like that, all a reader has to do is look at PAR, pp. 395-396, and read how lovingly Barbara wrote of that second Donahue interview. This also goes for the crack that there was no such "moment" (angry exchange) in the second Donahue interview, insinuating that Barbara was searching only for such things to put in PAR. Anyway, enough. The style of PARC is shot through with these kinds of insinuations and strategic omissions. I merely wanted to register my own impression on this because, frankly, this is one of the points where PARC had put a doubt in my mind. On examining what really went on, I see that even I was not immune to the excess of rhetoric. The conclusions damning PAR in the analysis in PARC simply do not stand up to reality, essential facts are left out and the wording is highly misleading. Michael
  12. Dragonfly, I still wrapping my brain around all this because I essentially agree with both of you. (Now how's that for a contradiction? Call it Quantum Epistemology. //;-)) ) I have a nit to pick, however. Do you really perceive that Objectivists feel threatened? And that fear is their motivation for their thinking? I know some do because they are emotionally problematic, but I certainly don't feel threatened at all. For instance, I understand Roger's argument to mean that just because we have not discovered the cause of something, that doesn't mean that it doesn't have one. If a subatomic particle expired at a certain time, there was a cause, however minuscule. Trying to apply that cause to all similar atoms might not work since other unknown factors are still involved. I can also understand your view of saying let's wait and see what something is before saying what it must be. The terms "unknown cause" and "random" tie into knots in my mind on this. Michael
  13. Dragonfly, Lower your guns. Let's stay with what we say, not start taking offense at what we imagine is implied. (What we say is already difficult enough to communicate.) I merely wanted to emphasize the role of axioms since this seems to be the main point of conflict. You might be surprised at how many take the issues of axioms too far, in one direction (dogma) or the other (more dogma). So my thinking is that if we define not only what an axiom is, but why it is, we have a solid base for continuing a discussion of determinism. Michael
  14. Dragonfly, I'll certainly agree with this. If there is no interaction at all between the brain and the external world through the senses, then logical reasoning will not derive much. However, if logic itself is not valid when you look at stuff, then... then... then... ????? That's where axioms come in. Logic has to be valid to be used with any kind of value. I will also admit that Ayn Rand derived a large number of her premises from mostly logical thinking. Still, as starting points, even when she was wrong (for example, claiming that she could control and account for all of her emotions through conscious thinking), it was a different kind of approach that I find valuable to reflect on and test. (btw - Where Rand was wrong with the conscious programming of the subconscious was with the word "all." Many emotions and even involuntary muscle reactions can be controlled by will - such as specialized people lowering their own heartbeat rate through meditation - but not all. Also, I know of no case where a person thought himself to death by mentally stopping his vital processes, but I know of many with psychosomatic illnesses.) The interesting part is when a consciousness looks inward at its own thinking and awareness processes. It is focusing awareness on what exists as "external reality," i.e., itself. It becomes both looker and looked at. I wonder if a conceptual mind is the only one to be able to do that. I know that dogs and cats dream, so their consciousness is doing something more than just automatically responding to their environment. Michael
  15. I'll get to the will thing a little later. For now, I have two things on my mind: Roger, you stated: And you stated that only entities have attributes (did I get that right?). If so, do you consider reproduction, birth, growth, aging, metabolism and death to be attributes? These are present in all life. Accepting that they have been present in all single living entities up to now, but that is only because of random coincidence, really stretches the concept for me. There is a reason the concept "life" exists. This concept is formed by the same manner as all concepts, isolating distinguishing characteristics (attributes) and eliminating the measurements. Am I missing something here? Dragonfly, I really need to read Popper. I am reading a book critical of Objectivism at the present by Greg Nyquist, Ayn Rand Contra Human Nature. In the introduction, he claims Popper as one of his philosophic bases. He also states that induction does not exist (basing that on Popper also). I find this line of reasoning strange, yet I need to read more about it. Still, it cuts to the core of axioms. One of the normal complaints I observe from people who have read Popper is that a fundamental axiom does not tell you anything about what exists. The more I think about this, the more I see it as blaming an axiom for not being more than it is. The purpose of an axiom is merely to validate the interaction between our conceptual faculty and external reality. It does nothing more than that. It basically states that our mind is competent to know things and gives a starting point. The logic of an axiom always boils down to itself, since the existence of logic itself is an axiom. That is why it is acceptable to say that you cannot prove an axiom because you need to accept it to try to prove the opposite. You need logic to prove that logic is not valid, thus it can't be done. Faith is not logical because you can at least presume the opposite and still be within a logical framework. Axioms are the starting point of logic, not the starting point of reality. I fully agree with you that way too many Objectivists accept axioms on faith. They use axioms for arguments where they are not appropriate and, given the nastiness of much of the discourse, they practically advertise that they don't really know what they are talking about. But you have to admit that if things cannot be known validly, how can you observe them and gather information? Popper's notion of establishing truth through falsifying sort of falls apart if there is no standard for being able to determine what is false. Thus his system needs axioms too. So, am I missing anything here? Michael
  16. I am glad that this discussion is back to civil. From my observations over the last year, people who discuss this subject within an Objectivist orbit usually end up calling each other names. This has happened to Dragonfly (from dogmatic Objectivists) and this has happened to Roger (from both dogmatic anti-Objectivists and from dogmatic Objectivists). One quality I particularly like about both of them is that neither are dogmatic and they both take their reasoning very seriously. So I please ask all to remember that those who post here usually have been subjected to vile and obnoxious slurs elsewhere for what they think. Nobody can receive that kind of attack without becoming resentful (I know I can't), so when a similar disagreement like what was experienced elsewhere occurs, it is only natural for a person to imagine that the obscenities are in the wings waiting to be hurled. With this in mind, my take on Dragonfly is that he is extremely intelligent and well meaning (with the added value of painting). My take on Roger is that he is extremely intelligent and well meaning (with the added value of playing trombone). Qualifying our terms sometimes helps because of the context of these past experiences. When Roger says something like, "only in the mind of someone who wants to escape or misrepresent the facts as being other than they are," I don't think he is talking about a person studying quantum physics with an open mind to see what does exist. I think he is talking about dogmatic people (and some who study quantum physics can get very dogmatic, smarmy and so forth - we have all met them). And when Dragonfly belittles Objectivists and Objectivism, I have had to hold onto my own feelings sometimes. After all, I am an Objectivist. But it is clear as day to me that he is not talking about me (nor about others around here who call themselves Objectivists). He is talking about dogmatic Objectivists and a dogmatic interpretation of Objectivism - especially in light of how he has been treated elsewhere at Objectivist places. We have all met those kinds too. (And even when he talks negative about Rand, I understand that he is talking at that moment only against her side where she was unclear or wrong, but emphatic, thus giving the impression of dogma. I understand that he admires the rest of her achievements.) One of the purposes of this site is to chew on Objectivist ideas - and no idea is so sacred that it cannot be checked and validated. By close examination, we hone and polish and correct and add to premises. This is good for everybody. Sorry for the parentheses, but Roger and Dragonfly just gave a wonderful example of how to disagree, start to fall into acrimony, then back up and stay on the ideas. I wanted to highlight this. This is what is going to change the world for the better, not the insults of fanatics. (Believe it or not, our little website is starting to make a positive impact at other places. I have to thank both Roger and Dragonfly - and all the others - for their contribution to that.) Michael
  17. Charles, The written word sure has its limitations. You did not come off as upset against Barbara. You came off as upset (to me at least) because your friend Eddie Willers bought it. You didn't want Eddie to die and you were upset that he did. And his friend Dagny didn't give two hoots. I wanted to convey that I thought Barbara was giving you a shoulder to cry on, that's all. (I better stop before I get in trouble...) Michael
  18. John, (Sorry I took so long getting to here - I wanted to spend some time on this in a quiet frame of mind.) I really like this idea of putting a poem with a painting. I might do one or another myself. What is interesting is that your poem draws focus to the value of the girl as a person, nature (rays) and the artist's technique. You make the pleased surprise in her glance get reflected back through reader (and viewer) - if he/she lets the poem in (internalizes it) - by highlighting all the beauty from these different sources. After going on this little mental trip, I don't think I will ever see this painting again without a pleasant kind of feeling of "Howdy, glad to see you" inside me popping up all by itself. (But do I see something furtive in her glance too? No matter, the "howdy" is now part of it all.) Michael
  19. Charles, I started laughing reading your defense of Eddie Willers. I wanted to yell out, "Rand wasted the dude. Deal with it! Get over it!" But you are right. Eddie is not a real person. He is a symbol (selectively recreated from reality). Your comments about the callousness of Dagny on leaving him behind without remorse is a good reminder that Dagny also is not a real person. People should not emulate her attitude toward Eddie. She was more fleshed out, but still she was selectively recreated from reality. She did not represent full reality - particularly not full psychological reality. (Although she did kind of have a way with heroic men...) Your comments also are a reminder that Atlas Shrugged is about philosophy - especially where making rational choices are involved - not about psychology (which is present, but very secondary and sketchy). The fate of Eddie Willers works on a philosophical level for depicting society, but not on a psychological one for depicting how a person acts and feels towards friends. btw - The kind of dimwit who holds Atlas Shrugged to be the Holy Bible of Objectivism will be hard to find around here. I don't speak for Barbara, but from what I have learned of her, I imagine her response was to provide you some information to help you get over your exasperation. I might be wrong, but I think she was trying to give you some comfort by giving you a reason why your friend Eddie bit the big one (you really did come off as upset), not "set you straight on the facts" like our dear dimwits would. Michael
  20. Paul, Mawdsley diet? Maybe you are you a child who needs starving? //;-)) Michael
  21. Paul, I'm finally getting around to this. You wrote: Within the context of the starving child scenario, this identity-to-action causation provokes an emotional reaction far before it reaches the individual's conscious value system. I find that this is the way it works for me for the example. But what is weird is that I have a reaction of moral indignation BEFORE the identity-action process gets to my morality. Something has been learned or is built-in on a pre-verbal basis. There are two areas where I am constantly moving on in my inquiry in Objectivism. The first is what I call cognitive identification. One must properly identify something before one understands the causation that emanates from it. And one must properly identify something before one evaluates it. I have found in the online Objectivist community (and in writings) that evaluations are usually made instantly, without first looking to see what the noise is all about. The second area I find really lacking in Objectivism is a fleshed-out identification of human nature - one without value judgments - simply the facts. You get the initial admonition that "man is an end in himself," but just what man is gets fudged a bit. A rational mind with volition is given, together with a subconscious and emotions. Most of the rest has to come from between the lines in Rand's works. For example, she sometimes talks about people protecting their families and does so with a high emotional charge in favor of those people, so it is clear that she recognizes family as a value, but she does not discuss why this is so. Nobody can look at human history and simply state that family is not a basic human value. Exceptions (like some of the fictional characters she created, Roark for instance) do not make the rule. A good question to ask is if Roark would value a family. We know that he valued his love for Dominique. Would he have kids? Rand never did. Another part of human nature is how children fit in. The traditional Objectivist position of treating them like property does not even begin to address the nature of children. I often get the feeling (reading or interacting with Objectivists) that Objectivism is a philosophy for adults and that children are some kind of inconvenient "something" that miraculously become full human beings when they get to a proper stage of development. The fact that adults reproduce themselves in them and that they are the ONLY means of the continuation of our species is not even on the table in Objectivist philosophy - at least I haven't read anything so far. Isn't the continuation and survival of our very species a value? I have encountered some Objectivists who consider such a question to be "collectivist" thinking. There is so much more in human nature that is being ignored. I am doing a lot of thinking these days about human nature and the more I think about it, the more I believe that two words Rand constantly wrote need to be emphasized in future Objectivist thought: THE GIVEN I don't believe that the Objectivist concept of man's nature is complete. Not that it is wrong. Essential parts have been properly identified. The given has not been completely identified. The whole picture has not been presented yet. This is one of the reasons I think that the starving child issue struck such a strong chord and why some people even went to the extreme of getting nasty and closing off their minds. Most Obectivists so far merely say that morally, it is an issue, but you can't do anything about it in reality as regards the indifferent adult. Well here's the million dollar question: What use is a moral principle that does not result in getting or preserving a value? What I see is that a standard based on one part of human nature (rationality and individuality) is being used to cover a part that has not been properly identified (human nature as regards children). Getting back to your identity-causation thing, notice that the example produces an immediate identity-causation reaction of moral outrage in most everybody. Yet Objectivist ethics has nothing of importance to say about it except "tough luck." Using your chain of reaction, the initial immediate outrage gets to the conscious values level, and then a person gets stuck. A bewildered "what can you do?" (at best) is the result. The existence of this immediate reaction is more than enough proof that something critical has not been properly identified. Michael
  22. Michael Perry, I'm glad to see you come out of lurking status. Welcome to the sunlight. And I'm very glad to see you. If it's good company, intelligent discussion and a warm fire on a cold day you want, you are in the right place. Also, nobody will take your head off if they disagree with you here. Charles, Amen. Michael
  23. Roger, I don't think I made my meaning clear. I am trying to define terms before discussing. I'll give it a try with examples. A single life form, a beaver, for example, is an entity. Correct? A life is an entity. This beaver has awareness and a body. The awareness is part of it, an essential attribute. The body is too. This beaver also has gray fur, while the other beavers have brown fur. The color of the fur also is an attribute, but only a nonessential one. The beaver can have a different color of fur without losing its beaver-ness. If it loses its awareness, you can no longer call it a beaver with the same meaning as before. It is a different thing - a carcass (dead beaver or catatonic beaver). It is definitely not a living healthy beaver that will cause dams to be built. Thus to me, this awareness of the beaver is not something you can eliminate from it like you can fur color. The entity has some attributes that cannot be removed without changing the entity into something else causation-wise. That is my starting point. Also, one question. Where do you place will in human consciousness? (That's jumping ahead, I know.) Michael
  24. Roger, Here's my first little attempt at getting my mind wrapped around determinism with you (and please don't be impatient if we disagree, as this subject tends to elicit a lot of exasperation). I have a real problem considering consciousness as merely an attribute of a human being. If it is an attribute, than what is the human being? OK, maybe I can see consciousness as a "defining attribute," meaning if it is no longer present, the entity is no longer human (consciousness in this case including states of rest, etc.). I hold that "conscious human being" is the whole and proper entity. This is what can give rise to causation, maybe. Certainly not consciousness divorced from the rest of the organism. Life comes before the human being. Some people regard life as an attribute of matter. I don't. I regard it as a specific type of existent with its own identity that uses matter as part of its makeup. Life forms vary according to awareness (and other things, some of them quite icky). I consider a particular life form to be defined by its awareness (in addition to other things), and awareness is not merely along for the ride. If the awareness is not present, the carcass or even living body of that entity no longer is the same thing. How's that so far? Michael
  25. Rich, I don't want to hear it. You are our resident RECOVERING OBJECTIVIST. No more rationalizations. Up on the block. Come on! Get on up there! WE ARE GONNA DISSECT YO ASS, BRO!!! Gotta see what makes you tick. //;-)) Michael