The "Objectivist authorities"


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In my piracy thread, Reidy quibbled with the phrasing of my question, comparing it with asking if I had permission of the "Objectivist authorities."

I have to say that I reject the notion of "Objectivist authorities."

Despite how he may act, Dr. Peikoff will be the first to say that Objectivism is not a religeon, and he is not a Pope.

There may be people who act that way, but it is not that way. An a philisophy that puts such importance on individuals makes room for those individuals to come to their own conclusions about things.

That being said, I brought my question to you all since this is the only place I can solicit the opinions of other Objectivists.

I like you guys, but I don't consider you (or anyone else) the final word on Objectivism. There are no "Objectivist authorities."

(That being said, I would weigh some ppl's opinions higher than others.)

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Despite how he may act, Dr. Peikoff will be the first to say that Objectivism is not a religeon, and he is not a Pope.

Why do so many refer to Lenny as Pope Leonard?

Ba'al Chatzaf

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Despite how he may act, Dr. Peikoff will be the first to say.....

Think about this.

Oh sure Carol...

Now you are going to try to tell us BIG "O" objectivists that actions speak louder than words!

Adam

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I have to say that I reject the notion of "Objectivist authorities."

Yeah, that's what I do. Advice: just be sure to do a "courtesy flush" when you are done--it tends to leave quite the mess.

rde

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What I said was that "Is it moral...?" sounds either like "Do we have a duty...?" or "Do we have the permission of the Objectivist authorities...?" If the second wasn't your meaning, then I suspect that the first was. Opposing the moral to the practical is a most un-Objectivist way of looking at things. If judging some course of action moral or not has a special meaning distinct from deciding whether or not it's the right thing for you to do in your present circumstances, what is that meaning?

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Despite how he may act, Dr. Peikoff will be the first to say that Objectivism is not a religeon, and he is not a Pope.

Why do so many refer to Lenny as Pope Leonard?

Ba'al Chatzaf

Speaking as someone who DOES refer to Lenny as Pope Leonard, I do it as a way of mocking him and pointing out his hypocrisy in claiming that he has some sort of authority over Objectivism.

"Pope" is a term with VERY negative connotations when I use it, including when applied to the actual Pope.

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Despite how he may act, Dr. Peikoff will be the first to say.....

Think about this.

Fred,

I agree with Carol.

"Integrity" means to align one's actions with one's principles. When someone's actions are not aligned with one's principles, we call that someone a hypocrite. Hypocrisy is the opposite of integrity.

The Peikoff/Schwartz/Binswanger/Hseih branch of Objectivism is a perversion of Objectivism. This perversion of Objectivism is rooted in the fact that these orthodox Objectivists can't accept that Ayn Rand herself did possess some negative personality traits. They thus twist the philosophy in order to rationalize and defend every single thing that Ayn Rand said or did. And when they can't do such a thing, they simply declare it to be a "non-philosophical" issue (and thus bring in David Kelley's point about essentials vs. inessentials in through the back door).

This form of Objectivism is little more than a cult of personality which is rationalized by an intrinsicist perversion of Objectivist epistemology and ethics.

And it is this form of Objectivism that gives all Objectivists a bad reputation, turns many young Objectivists into asshole "Randroids," and basically does much more damage to Objectivism than any of Objectivism's enemies could ever do. It creates an insular cult stricken with a bad case of 'us against them' siege mentality.

If you want more evidence, please read the following;

"Facts, Values and Moral Sanctions" by Robert Bidinotto: http://mol.redbarn.org/objectivism/Writing/RobertBidinotto/FactsValuesMoralSanctions.html

"Understanding Peikoff" by Robert Bidinotto: http://mol.redbarn.org/objectivism/Writing/RobertBidinotto/UnderstandingPeikoff.html

"The Contested Legacy of Ayn Rand" by David Kelley: http://www.atlassociety.org/sites/default/files/The_Contested_Legacy_of_Ayn_Rand.pdf

Also, if you doubt my allegation that the emotional/psychological root of the orthodoxy is ultimately a desire to rationalize and justify Ayn Rand's personality flaws, please read something from the actual orthodoxy;

"Is Ayn Rand Optional?" by Don Watkins: http://blog.dianahsieh.com/2005/10/is-ayn-rand-optional.html

Watkins states that "This is what makes the Brandens' "biographies" so evil. They are not simply inaccurate: they represent a concerted attack on hero-worship as such. They pander to the mentality that searches frantically, not for heroes, but for feet of clay."

Even if we leave aside the issue of the accuracy of the Branden's biographies (I believe they're generally accurate, but lets for the sake of argument set that issue aside), note the following assumptions Watkins makes,

1) Legitimate heroism requires absolute moral perfection in every single aspect of that hero

2) The psychological need to see one's values embodied in real life overrides the need for truth

3) The existence of flaws in Ayn Rand's character, if proven to exist, would in fact diminish Objectivism

I disagree with all three of these assumptions, especially assumption 2. The need for hero-worship is a consequence of a long, elaborate, complex abstract argument which presupposes the entire epistemological, ethical and meta-anthropological (theory of human nature) components of Objectivism. Watkins is reversing the logical order by subordinating the need for truth (which comes from the fact that humans need to grasp the world as it is in order to survive and thrive in it) to the need for hero worship (which comes from the fact that people with fully developed abstract moral codes gain a psychological benefit from seeing their moral beliefs embodied in the character of others).

All I can really say, Fred, is that you should indeed continue to question ANY claims of authority. Even if you agree with someone, don't hesitate to dissent if/when they say something you disagree with. Don't be a follower. Peter Keating was a follower. I can't see Howard Roark as the kind of man that needed to ask Leonard Peikoff how to vote.

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Fred Cole's original framing of the Piracy Issue seemed plain enough to me. He was not asking for just any kind of moral framework. Kantian deontology might be applied to the problem, or Christian absolutism, or Sophist formalism. Cole was asking for an analysis from Objectivism. Rather than actually trek the problem, it seemed easier for other to run down a sideroad and get lost in the woods.

It was (and is) a cogent question. America was born of revolution. According to military custom, no flag ever flies higher than the American flag except the chaplain's flag when services are being held, because we recognize that the state is under a higher moral authority. God or not, moral law supersedes civil law. So, on both the far right and far left, patriots imagine the line at which forceful resistance is morally mandated.

Myself, I reject that thinking. I look for market, not power, solutions. And I have Objectivist Authorities whom I can cite in support of my beliefs. In other words, from the law of identity, through epistemology to ethics, as a general rule, it is not in your self-interest to resist the state with force of arms. Then some might reply "What if police break into your home...." and "What if the government becomes so oppressive..." and "What if they censor the press..." and so on. Ayn Rand gave a list of preconditions for revolt. You can argue them, if you wish. That was Fred Cole's question.

But we would be discussing that within the context of objectivism, not existentialism.

If you do not see yourself as an authority on the subject of Objectivism, fine. You need not. If you, then, that's fine, too.

Edited by Michael E. Marotta
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