What's an Independent Objectivist Intellectual to Do? in Objectivism 401 A blog by Roger Bissell in General Posted March 21, 2011 I don't think its entirely fair to describe TAS as intellectually sclerotic.That said, yes, there's plenty of commentary by TAS that is absolutely by-the-numbers Objectivist critique. Now, as an Objectivist myself, I often find this a touch dull. These days I read a lot more from Reason and Cato than from TAS. Reason and Cato, because of their heterogenous philosophical origins (i.e. different kinds of libertarian) often produce many interesting perspectives and ideas; ones that even if I cannot entirely agree with I can often learn from.Take, for instance, Virginia Postrel's concepts of "Stasism" and "Dynamism." These concepts didn't originate in Objectivist philosophy but are clearly compatible with and easily integrated into it.In many ways, I think its because I find it more interesting to connect Objectivism with other systems of ideas than simply to stick within boundaries. I've learned from many different systems of ideas and perspectives; to play "lets keep Objectivism separate from everything and burn intellectual bridges" is a massive detriment to Objectivism and to the philosophy of liberty generally.TAS, for all its faults, provides the precondition for the kind of intellectual growth Objectivism needs. Before TAS, the false dichotomy of "orthodox Randroidism versus anti-Objectivism" was very difficult to deny, at least in a practical sense. Hatred of the Objectivist movement easily poisoned people's opinions of Objectivism as a philosophy. TAS is an absolutely crucial step in destroying this dichotomy. I don't agree or necessarily like (or dislike) everything TAS does, has done or will do, but it clearly has been a trailblazer for non-orthodox Objectivists. David Kelley is a very clear writer, especially by the standards of philosophy, and the fact that the Atlas Shrugged film is being produced by an Objectivist outside ARI and co. is a massive boon.As for whether or not your ideas will be considered part of Objectivism... I honestly think they should at the very least be considered "Objectivist-compatible" or "a development upon/reformulation of Objectivism" (disclaimer; I've referenced one of your works in a few of my University assignments and in my Masters thesis). I too have an intellectual project; the synthesis of Austrian and Evolutionary economics atop an Objectivist philosophical base. Would I want that to be considered "Objectivism?" Well, I'd allege its perfectly logically compatible with Ayn Rand's work and Rand's work does at times approach using social-economic analysis that would fit my Austrian-Evolutionary paradigm. But I wouldn't consider agreement with my project an "essential" component of Objectivism, primarily because I don't think you'd have to agree with it in order to be an Objectivist (I'm leaving room for honest disagreement; I believe my project is entirely consistent with Objectivism's essentials but if people disagree with me, that doesn't mean they're evading). But would I think it fair to describe it as "Objectivist-compatible" or "an application of Objectivism" or something along those lines? Certainly.Its a very complex and delicate task to try and differentiate between "the core ideas of a specific intellectual school" and the elaborations, reformulations and revisions that are made over the course of that school's history. For instance, one could take the entire German Idealist tradition and describe its core idea as "our mental processes have a nature which shapes both the user of these processes and said user's knowledge" but there are so many different variations on this theme, from the Kantian rationalist "reason has a nature which shapes the user's knowlege" to the Fichte-esque "our nationalities influence how we think" to the Hegel-Marx "our relationship to the means of production determines how we think" to the Nietzsche-Foucault "our beliefs are ultimately a product of power relations" position. As I'm an open-system guy, I tend to see a very wide range of ideas as at the very least 'compatible with Objectivism.' The issue of whether or not I'd CALL these ideas "objectivism" can, to me, degenerate into fighting over a word. Do I agree that Objectivism needs to engage with other perspectives? Very much so. TAS at least try to do that on some level, and JARS is very competent in that regard. I do think the trend needs to accelerate. I think that the similarities between Rand and Hayek need to be covered (because there are many), as well as Rand and Schumpeter. I'm hoping my own work will at least begin to address this. I'd also like to see more Objectivist analysis of pop culture. The Marxist intellectuals of the Frankfurt School have exerted massive cultural influence on a wide number of artistic movements; they expended great effort in pushing their ideas into cultural PRODUCTION. Objectivism already has the advantage of being integrated into some of the most popular, well-known and controversial novels in Western Civilization; there's phenomenal resources there. If Objectivism could, like Marxism, deeply engage with popular culture, from a constructive perspective as well as a critical one, it would be beneficial (so far, most Objectivists seem content to lie back in their armchairs and issue condemnations whilst speculating on the psychological depravity of people that enjoy a specific type of Art; this is NOT what I'm talking about).There has to be more Objectivist Outreach, ultimately.Sorry for the rambling, I hope this post proves stimulating.