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wither TAS

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Now, yes, I ~do~ exempt myself from this "criterion about Kelley," because (1) I am not a professional philosopher or intellectual or writer; I am a professional musician, and writing philosophy is my hobby; (2) I do not have a university position which requires and facilitates writing and publication in journals and books; and (3) I am not an insider or leader of either of the two organized Objectivist groups, so I have no position of responsibility within the movement.

Well, then, seriatim:

(1) I'd say that anyone who's had many articles in the Journal of Ayn Rand Studies is far more than a "hobbyist" in philosophic matters, and to me it verges on false modesty to pretend otherwise. That is a refereed journal, and it has notably high standards. Anyone who doubts this should ask some of those {ahem} who have had article proposals turned down about it.

I don't deny that I have ~ambitions~, and anyone who has been following JARS during the past 12 years knows that I am bursting with ideas to get "out there" in published form. I fall into the category that the great mathematician Polya called "talented amateurs." So, perhaps "hobbyist" was selling myself a bit short, but I am by no means a ~professional~ philosopher. Only my mother and Nathaniel Branden think of me as "Doctor Bissell." :-)

(2) That university positions "require" such publish-or-perish practices does not justify them, and never has. I've seen some of the lamest writing from university presses come across in reworked dissertations that should never have felled trees to be placed in print, but which served to put a book on a faculty member's CV. I fear that you're putting yourself up against a standard that, if not for the artificial pressures of that misguided institution known as "tenure," would never have been ginned up to its present dimensions in the first place.

Oh, Steve, if I'd had a university position, you wouldn't have been able to get me to STOP writing and submitting for publication--journals, books, what have you. But being a full-time musician has tended to put a bit of a crimp in my philosophy career. :-) My point here, though, is that as a person with university affiliation, one is ~supposed~ to be putting out ideas, as part of one's job. Seems reasonable to me, even though a lot of what is deemed acceptable is mediocre to worthless. As for me, whatever ~I'm~ supposed to generate is strictly a function of my personal interests and goals, not a professional or occupational obligation or expectation.

(3) Any "positions of responsibility" are functions of employment in those institutions, not because TAS or ARI demand respect as such, nor that those "organized groups" merit attention merely from being organized. I fear that you're giving far too much weight to affiliation with such institutions as being part of, or a signifier of merit within, "a movement." There is no "movement." Nor is this a proprietary NBI that operated under Rand's aegis and with use of her copyrighted materials. This is an intellectual marketplace, it's free-swinging, it freely self-pollinates (and copies), you're in the thick of it, and you've done more than a host of others who have university positions.

There certainly ~is~ a movement, it's just not a monolith. It has factions, including quasi-independent "outlier" factions. The "official" leaders of the various organized flavors of Objectivism are paid to put out ideas (and/or to promote Objectivism), so in that sense, they are both professional intellectuals and intellectual employees. This third point is kind of a combination of or elaboration on the first two points. But it's clear that I'm neither a professional intellectual nor a paid intellectual employee. I'm "working for free," because it's strictly a labor of love. And yes, I've done more than quite a few paid intellectuals and/or college professors. But that's a reflection on them, more than on me. To me, it's not amazing or laudable that I've done so much, but disappointing that they've done so little, when it's their ~paid profession~. That's why I "exempt" myself from this standard, while holding them to it!

All of the people I am evaluating -- and please, I am NOT trying to pick on David Kelley; just to hold him to the same standard I use to judge OTHER leaders of Objectivism and/or professional philosophers -- are people who have gravitated toward positions of influence and WANT to be understood and appreciated as spokesmen for, and leaders of, Objectivism (as it is and/or should be). They have positioned themselves in the center of the arena, and are appropriate subjects of evaluation and critique, IMO.

Well, their "wants" are immaterial. Whether they've actually performed is what matters. Many of them have, though in smaller and more modular chunks, rather than the larger dead-tree opuses. Many others, such as the Schwartz types, have coasted on their positions, patently thinking that institutional influence (or their pull with Peikoff) substitutes for independent achievement.

Oh, you're absolutely right about this. I have certain "favorite" thinkers in the movement, who have written or lectured on things I find very pregnant with possibilities for further development of insights into Objectivism and in particular certain areas such as mathematics or aesthetics. On the one hand, there are journal essays and essays in compilation books that are at least ~one~ step further into public accessibility, but there are also way too many lecture courses that have remained in audio form for years or decades and that are thus not readily open to criticism or scholarly citation. So, yes, the "smaller and more modular chunks" of published individual essays have an additional value beyond that of the unwieldy and not-for-the-record audio lectures. But what is truly sad to me is the great bulk of ~integrated~, ~large-scale~ thinking that remains locked up in the "safe-mode" of unpublished lectures.

Peikoff himself admitted during a lecture about 10 years ago that a certain idea he was discussing: "...if I ever wrote on this topic, which I never will, because I haven’t thought it out properly; I mean, you know, it’s OK for a lecture, but to write it out, you do have to do that for eternity..." See what I mean? An automatic escape-clause for the timid and/or lazy: "I'm going to get you to pay me to listen to me say this, but I'm not going to put my reputation on the line by putting it in print, so that people can criticize it publicly." Gah.

Perhaps Peikoff is uniquely wimpish about this, and perhaps I'm being overly malevolent in suspect that this attitude pervades the higher levels of ARI and TAS. But you have to admit it is a very revealing statement about the attitude toward publishing by one of the principals in the movement -- and that it at least partly explains why Peikoff has published so little over the past 50 years. (That, and being severly burned by Rand during the process of writing and re-writing Ominous Parallels.)

As for ~my~ philosophical productivity, it has all been "in the cracks" over the years, not as part of a university or movement or professional career, but solely from my love of ideas and in particular Objectivism and Aristotelianism, and wanting to see them not go off the rails or wither away because certain issues are dealt with in too limp-wristed or unimaginative a fashion. I DO NOT GET PAID FOR DOING THIS. I HAVE NO POSITION OF POWER AND INFLUENCE IN THE OBJECTIVIST MOVEMENT. I AM AN INDEPENDENT INTELLECTUAL.

Must you YELL at me? Did my demurring with your standards offend you that much?

Sorry, Steve. I was just using cap's for emphasis. I could have underscored or used italics.

What do you think constitutes "power and influence," or should? Being "paid for this"? Having a university or think-tank sinecure? Or should it come from personal examples of clear, persuasive, probing writing? That yours is more granular in its publishing scope doesn't make it less influential or important. I still see you downgrading yourself unnecessarily.

Oh, I think my writing ~should~ be influential, not least because of its persuasive and probing character. And the fact that it hasn't been published yet doesn't mean that it isn't important, any more than, say, Torre Boeckmann's essay analyzing painting is unimportant because it's in The Objective Standard, instead of being part of a book by Boeckmann himself on aesthetics. (I will certainly apply and cite his ideas when I get around to publishing my own book on aesthetics. He deserves it. And fie on Tara Smith for trying to dump Nathaniel Branden down the memory hole by instead citing Leonard Peikoff as an authority on the Objectivist view of self-esteem.)

So ... as to my book(s). Steve, you may not be aware that Mike Everling (head of Karl Hess Club) vigorously nudged me to have a book available to sell at my July 18 talk. So, I cobbled together a table of contents, including the "Logic of Liberty" talk and a number of essays I've written on ethics, politics, and religion over the past 40 years. The more I reflect on that outline, the more I think it is ~not~ the book I want to "birth" and sell. [...]

I'm deeply disappointed. I am among those who wanted to get a better handle on perusing and taking in what you have done, but cannot afford to gather diffuse sources. (Keeping up with JARS, especially, is expensive.)

Why don't you want to get more such exposure? Do you see e-publishing of what you decry, unfairly, as a "mongrel assortment" as more déclassé? Less prestigious than dead trees? Not worth your time to assemble the material? (Send it to me. I'll assemble it. We'll work something out. I've done this for a living for decades.)

Steve, thanks for the offer. I'm still pondering what to do, so don't give up on me. Also, see below.

But no, I don't downgrade e-publishing. I think that self-publication, in print or on the web or as downloads, is the "wave of the future," and I fully intend to make use of it. It's more the ~form of the content~ than the ~mode of the publication~ that I am concerned about, if that makes any sense.

[...] There is no doubt that a thinker can have ~some~ influence over a culture (or subculture) other than through books, but that influence is more diffuse when it's not collected and focused in a book, and I don't think it's "exaggerated obeisance" to apply this standard in assessing a thinker's output.

What I think is that everyone over the age of 40, who actually saw the pre-digital age for enough years to make a lasting impression — and certainly including you and me — is susceptible to the exaggerated mystique of the printed dead-tree book. It's best been described as "Picard's Syndrome." (Gary North limns this far better than I could ever manage to do. And, a digital-age near-eternity of eight years ago, he was remarkably prescient.)

Steve, I think the "real truth" is somewhere in the middle on this. I am an admirer of Naisbitt's Mega-trends, and he pointed out various ways in which the "equilibrium" in a given cultural area will be somewhere between, e.g., "high-tech" and "high-touch" (such as public movie theaters vs. watching a movie alone at home)--or, between printed books and e-books (not to mention audio books and lectures). And I admit that a number of the online essays I have downloaded will influence and pleasure me more on my Nook e-reader than on either my computer screen or on paper if I print them out.

I still believe that such obeisance to books is misplaced. It also diminishes the value of what you and a host of others have done. Objectiv-ish culture, such as it is, remains firmly rooted in books (the culture that Rand grew up in, as we all did until about 25 years ago) and oral presentations (the NBI-based historical quirk).

Steve, my primary concern is not over books ~versus~ essays, but that once a coherent body of essays has been written, they get compiled into a book, for ease of consideration, critique, and application. For instance, I have a number of valued photo-copies of old journal articles by the logician/philosopher Henry B. Veatch, as well as a number of his books. I don't value the former less because they didn't constitute an integrable body or bodies of work that could be put between the covers of a published book. But killing trees, as you put it, seems to have been necessary in ~some~ form, in order to make them useable by most scholars, such as myself.

I think there are entirely ~different~ problems with the book-culture and the lecture-culture. The latter seems to be a way of ~hiding~ from responsibility and criticism. The latter, at worst, seems to be a potential pitfall for vanity publication of works that are not worth the paper and ink. I certainly don't want to slide into that sorry ditch. I want my collected published works to be integrated and to have focused impact (to the extent possible), and not just collect dust on a shelf.

Your work, Roger, is neither of the above, as is true for many O-oriented writers. You end up unfairly dismissing it, and restricting it, because of matters of less-than-preferred form, not those of substance. I wish you wouldn't keep it out of the hands of those of us who'd like to more fully read and benefit from it.

I wish I wouldn't either, Steve, and I appreciate the encouragement. I haven't yet completely made up my mind. I would hate to publish "The Logic of Liberty" in a book in which it is just a larger-than-average lump, and not an integral part of the whole -- unless I could ~also~ publish it in a more ~integrated~ collection. Which I may do. I mean, didn't Ayn Rand publish both "Man's Rights" and "The Nature of Government" in The Virtue of Selfishness and Capitalism: the Unknown Ideal?

Let me reflect on this a bit more, before I completely abandon my announced intentions. I might be able to write a preface that draws the 40 years of essays all together, while also pointing toward the tetrachotomy book in which I also want to use "The Logic of Liberty." And thank you for caring about my work, and for trying to persuade me that I am ill-advisedly putting form over substance. I have spent a good deal of my music career finding effective ways to unite form and substance. There's no good reason why I can't give my philosophy essays a fair shake in this regard.

Best,

REB

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I am not a professional philosopher or intellectual or writer; I am a professional musician, and writing philosophy is my hobby; (2) I do not have a university position which ... I fall into the category that the great mathematician Polya called "talented amateurs."

Last year at this time, I was placing reviews of Astronomical Symbols on Ancient and Medieval Coins by Marshall Faintich. (I eventually got an academic placement to add to my CV.) I mention this because both numismatics and astronomy are areas where amateurs are respected for the good work they do. There are (nearly) zero university degrees in numismatics; most of the academics are classicists or historians. Eric P. Newman, former president of the American Numismatic Society and a frequent lecturer at the ANA Summer Seminars and the author of half a dozen paradigmatic works - Early Paper Money of the United States may be his best known - and a hundred lesser investigations worked (essentially) as a lawyer for a department store.

That philosophers are limited to universities only speaks to their impracticality. Even theologians serve congregations, performing rites of passage, counseling, etc. The only working philosophers are in fiction. Have you seen Dustin Hoffman and Lily Tomlin in I Heart Huckabees? Now there is Philosophical Practicioner by Larry Abrams.

Ethics, especially medical ethics, promised to be a new field, but the practice there is limited to medical professionals wrestling with tough issues, rather than hospitals hiring ethicists to consult with everyone else. (And again, hospitals make chaplains but not philosophers available to their patients.)

(2) That university positions "require" such publish-or-perish practices does not justify them, and never has. I've seen some of the lamest writing from university presses come across in reworked dissertations that should never have felled trees to be placed in print, but which served to put a book on a faculty member's CV.

Just as an aside, sociologists Fabio Rojas and Teppo Felin both warned graduate students seeking to become future professors not to waste time and effort with books. (Contra edited volumes here and contra self-publishing here.) My professors who did publish books all had tenure already. Thus, the motivations are different. The publish or perish applies first to gaining tenure within five to seven years, or else never at all. Then, if you want to become a department head or dean, that is a different track, entirely, where committees, not publications count. Beyond that, status comes from research, which is to say, research funding. You have to publish your research, of course, but that is routine. If you get $500,000 from the NIH or NASA or Rockefellar Foundation or Bill & Melinda Gates or wherever, of that half million, 40% (forty percent) goes to the university for administrative expenses. So, grants are written with that expectation. But the fact is that those who bring in the money are the stars of the university. Publications per se are secondary consequences.

University presses are no different than commercial publishers; in fact, they are commercial publishers, and they look at their work that way: they only sell to make money. The thing is, you never know what will sell until you try. That you find a lot of junk out there is because there is a lot of junk out there. Sturgeon's Law prevails, right?

Edited by Michael E. Marotta

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Later, in his discussion of causality, he states: “We expect objects to act within the limits set by their natures.”

How is this different from how David Hume would describe causality? Didn't he deny it was a law of principle, but instead simply talk about the ~psychological~ experience of "constant conjunction," whereby we come to "expect" certain things to happen after other things happen? This not only fails to offer an explicit grounding for the Law of Causality, but makes it sound subjective. Many modern logicians would be right at home with this. A principled Aristotelian or Objectivist should not!

How is this different from how David Hume would describe causality? David Hume would have said: "“We expect objects to act the same way they have always acted before." He would not have referred to such a concept as "limits set by their natures."

What?! If I simply state that clarifying "what is really being said" is the rationale for converting statements and arguments into standard form, how does provide ~support~ for the rationale -- let alone saying it "again and again"? In my book, an arbitrary assertion is one for which one does not provide explanation or grounding, but just asserts, repeatedly if necessary, hoping that one's listener will accept it without explanation. And that is exactly how ~every~ logician I am aware of treat the issue of standard propositional form -- with the (sole?) exception of Henry B. Veatch, who cites Aquinas on the matter.

In fact, it is the ~failure~ to explicitly apply the Law of Identity to this issue. . .

I'm certainly looking forward to Edition Four of Kelley's text. Surely he has made significant changes, and perhaps some of them will include patching up the omissions in fundamental doctrine and addressing more rigorously the whole issue of existential import.

REB

If I spent years writing a 600 page book for students explaining many of the essential ideas of Objectivist epistemology and demonstrating how to use those ideas in everyday thinking and problem-solving, and then I visited OL and there was another Objectivist bashing me for the way I phrased a sentence—or for not dealing explicitly with metaphysical issues (e.g., identity) when I explained why that was not my immediate purpose with this book--I would be feeling very discouraged, and I would start to wonder why the hell I want to be productive at all.

Perhaps that brings us full circle back to the original theme of this thread.

Frankly, Roger, with all due respect, that’s exactly how I see your entire post.

Good grief.

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If I spent years writing a 600 page book for students explaining many of the essential ideas of Objectivist epistemology and demonstrating how to use those ideas in everyday thinking and problem-solving, and then I visited OL and there was another Objectivist bashing me for the way I phrased a sentence—or for not dealing explicitly with metaphysical issues (e.g., identity) when I explained why that was not my immediate purpose with this book--I would be feeling very discouraged, and I would start to wonder why the hell I want to be productive at all.

Readers of this thread may recall that I ~began~ and ~ended~ my comments about Kelley's text by saying:

I have copies of the second and third editions, and I think it is an excellent ~textbook~ on logic, though I have a number of misgivings with it...I'm certainly looking forward to Edition Four of Kelley's text. Surely he has made significant changes, and perhaps some of them will include patching up the omissions in fundamental doctrine and addressing more rigorously the whole issue of existential import.

However, I see now that expressing my misgivings along with approval and optimistic anticipation constitutes "bashing." In fact, I think we (or at least I?) ought not to criticize ~anything~ ~anybody~ says or writes which ~somebody~ on this list might feel should not be criticized, because it might...discourage...them. (Note to self: "sandwich" technique is not an acceptable means of constructive criticism.)

Also, even though Kelley has been paid AND praised up one side and down the other for his excellent works, especially his perception book and his logic text, and I have been extremely vocal in citing and praising his perception book in my own work, none of that matters. He should be protected from criticism...uh, bashing...or he will lose the motivation to be productive.

Perhaps that brings us full circle back to the original theme of this thread. Frankly, Roger, with all due respect, that’s exactly how I see your entire post. Good grief.

Yes, I get it now. My post was like an invading microbe which was attacking David Kelley, threatening to discourage him and rob him of his motivation, and which thus must be repelled in whatever tortured fashion one can muster. It's irrelevant that Kelley clearly doesn't give a solitary crap ~what~ I think, positive or otherwise.

Personally, I ~long~ for engaged, penetrating commentary on my work, and I so seldom get it. But I realize now that it is unreasonable to expect that others would want and appreciate this, too. And I would be ~so~ grateful and open to corrections and suggestions about my ideas, and again I so seldom get them. But again, I am coming to realize that others do not welcome this process for themselves...or for those they admire and want to protect.

However, no one should interpret this to mean that I think these realizations are any kind of reflection on Objectivist Living, or the Objectivist movement in general. No, I see now that it's just me.

On vacation...

REB

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If I spent years writing a 600 page book for students explaining many of the essential ideas of Objectivist epistemology and demonstrating how to use those ideas in everyday thinking and problem-solving, and then I visited OL and there was another Objectivist bashing me for the way I phrased a sentence—or for not dealing explicitly with metaphysical issues (e.g., identity) when I explained why that was not my immediate purpose with this book--I would be feeling very discouraged, and I would start to wonder why the hell I want to be productive at all.

[. . . ]

I see now that expressing my misgivings along with approval and optimistic anticipation constitutes "bashing."

In fairness to Dennis, Roger, I think you have to acknowledge that it would certainly seem that way to a donkey from Argentina. I mean, they've had severe problems down there with the beasts losing their motivation so utterly that they stop eating the vegetation that grows on those vast, grassy plains they have down there (I can't remember what they're called, just offhand), and the result is mass starvation - literally, piles of corpses. Under the circumstances, anything that looks even slightly like bashing - the scurrilous remarks Brian Doherty has made about Ayn Rand, for example - is likely to be taken perhaps a bit more seriously than you or I might be inclined to take it.

Just sayin' . . .

Helpfully,

JR

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If I spent years writing a 600 page book for students explaining many of the essential ideas of Objectivist epistemology and demonstrating how to use those ideas in everyday thinking and problem-solving, and then I visited OL and there was another Objectivist bashing me for the way I phrased a sentence—or for not dealing explicitly with metaphysical issues (e.g., identity) when I explained why that was not my immediate purpose with this book--I would be feeling very discouraged, and I would start to wonder why the hell I want to be productive at all.

[. . . ]

I see now that expressing my misgivings along with approval and optimistic anticipation constitutes "bashing."

In fairness to Dennis, Roger, I think you have to acknowledge that it would certainly seem that way to a donkey from Argentina. I mean, they've had severe problems down there with the beasts losing their motivation so utterly that they stop eating the vegetation that grows on those vast, grassy plains they have down there (I can't remember what they're called, just offhand), and the result is mass starvation - literally, piles of corpses. Under the circumstances, anything that looks even slightly like bashing - the scurrilous remarks Brian Doherty has made about Ayn Rand, for example - is likely to be taken perhaps a bit more seriously than you or I might be inclined to take it.

Just sayin' . . .

Helpfully,

JR

I suspect a little drinkin' here, JR. Brains plus booze, the best combination. But Dennis ain't a donkey.

--Brant

me, too

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If I spent years writing a 600 page book for students explaining many of the essential ideas of Objectivist epistemology and demonstrating how to use those ideas in everyday thinking and problem-solving, and then I visited OL and there was another Objectivist bashing me for the way I phrased a sentence—or for not dealing explicitly with metaphysical issues (e.g., identity) when I explained why that was not my immediate purpose with this book--I would be feeling very discouraged, and I would start to wonder why the hell I want to be productive at all.

[. . . ]

I see now that expressing my misgivings along with approval and optimistic anticipation constitutes "bashing."

In fairness to Dennis, Roger, I think you have to acknowledge that it would certainly seem that way to a donkey from Argentina. I mean, they've had severe problems down there with the beasts losing their motivation so utterly that they stop eating the vegetation that grows on those vast, grassy plains they have down there (I can't remember what they're called, just offhand), and the result is mass starvation - literally, piles of corpses. Under the circumstances, anything that looks even slightly like bashing - the scurrilous remarks Brian Doherty has made about Ayn Rand, for example - is likely to be taken perhaps a bit more seriously than you or I might be inclined to take it.

Just sayin' . . .

Helpfully,

JR

I suspect a little drinkin' here, JR. Brains plus booze, the best combination. But Dennis ain't a donkey.

--Brant

me, too

I've heard of pink elephants, but anthopomorphic donkeys -- thankfully I have not reached that stage yet. If I do, farewell sweet Moosehead.

Distant be the day!

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If I spent years writing a 600 page book for students explaining many of the essential ideas of Objectivist epistemology and demonstrating how to use those ideas in everyday thinking and problem-solving, and then I visited OL and there was another Objectivist bashing me for the way I phrased a sentence—or for not dealing explicitly with metaphysical issues (e.g., identity) when I explained why that was not my immediate purpose with this book--I would be feeling very discouraged, and I would start to wonder why the hell I want to be productive at all.

Readers of this thread may recall that I ~began~ and ~ended~ my comments about Kelley's text by saying:

I have copies of the second and third editions, and I think it is an excellent ~textbook~ on logic, though I have a number of misgivings with it...I'm certainly looking forward to Edition Four of Kelley's text. Surely he has made significant changes, and perhaps some of them will include patching up the omissions in fundamental doctrine and addressing more rigorously the whole issue of existential import.

However, I see now that expressing my misgivings along with approval and optimistic anticipation constitutes "bashing." In fact, I think we (or at least I?) ought not to criticize ~anything~ ~anybody~ says or writes which ~somebody~ on this list might feel should not be criticized, because it might...discourage...them. (Note to self: "sandwich" technique is not an acceptable means of constructive criticism.)

Also, even though Kelley has been paid AND praised up one side and down the other for his excellent works, especially his perception book and his logic text, and I have been extremely vocal in citing and praising his perception book in my own work, none of that matters. He should be protected from criticism...uh, bashing...or he will lose the motivation to be productive.

Perhaps that brings us full circle back to the original theme of this thread. Frankly, Roger, with all due respect, that’s exactly how I see your entire post. Good grief.

Yes, I get it now. My post was like an invading microbe which was attacking David Kelley, threatening to discourage him and rob him of his motivation, and which thus must be repelled in whatever tortured fashion one can muster. It's irrelevant that Kelley clearly doesn't give a solitary crap ~what~ I think, positive or otherwise.

Personally, I ~long~ for engaged, penetrating commentary on my work, and I so seldom get it. But I realize now that it is unreasonable to expect that others would want and appreciate this, too. And I would be ~so~ grateful and open to corrections and suggestions about my ideas, and again I so seldom get them. But again, I am coming to realize that others do not welcome this process for themselves...or for those they admire and want to protect.

However, no one should interpret this to mean that I think these realizations are any kind of reflection on Objectivist Living, or the Objectivist movement in general. No, I see now that it's just me.

On vacation...

REB

When you make a brief statement that a book is "excellent," but all of your specific commentary is profoundly negative--including an insulting insinuation that his approach reminds you of David Hume--I call that "damning with faint praise."

I am in awe of David's achievement with this book, and the obvious influence it is having based on its widespread use in classrooms across the country. I think that says some pretty fantastic things about the approach he chose to use (i.e., stressing nuts-and-bolts method rather than elaborate theorizing).

For the record, I have some strong disagreements with David, specifically with respect to foreign policy. He and I spent some time discussing those differences at the recent TAS seminar. But when I see a successful Objectivist work like this torn apart by criticism without also being lavished with the highest possible praise, it disturbs me, and I'm going to say so.

Edited by Dennis Hardin

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I suspect a little drinkin' here, JR. Brains plus booze, the best combination. But Dennis ain't a donkey.

--Brant

me, too

Well now, for the record, I have been compared to a Donkey before, albeit in a very different context.

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I suspect a little drinkin' here, JR. Brains plus booze, the best combination. But Dennis ain't a donkey.

--Brant

me, too

Well now, for the record, I have been compared to a Donkey before, albeit in a very different context.

aargh DH, we all know you are the Demoniac Shape-Shifter, stop the torture now!

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I suspect a little drinkin' here, JR. Brains plus booze, the best combination. But Dennis ain't a donkey.

--Brant

me, too

Well now, for the record, I have been compared to a Donkey before, albeit in a very different context.

aargh DH, we all know you are the Demoniac Shape-Shifter, stop the torture now!

Methinks the lady doth protest too much. . .

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In fairness to Dennis, Roger, I think you have to acknowledge that it would certainly seem that way to a donkey from Argentina. I mean, they've had severe problems down there with the beasts losing their motivation so utterly that they stop eating the vegetation that grows on those vast, grassy plains they have down there (I can't remember what they're called, just offhand),

Pampas.

But Dennis ain't a donkey.

Absolutely true from a strictly epistemological standpoint regarding the denotation of the term. :)

As for the connotative, figurative aspect of the term applied to Dennis - no good choice either. For DH lacks the stubbornness associated with it.

Edited by Xray

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It may be of some interest to mention here that LP’s lecture course Understanding Objectivism will be issued as a book this fall.

Does D. Kelley in his work explicitly advocate Objectivism as an open system?

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In fairness to Dennis, Roger, I think you have to acknowledge that it would certainly seem that way to a donkey from Argentina. I mean, they've had severe problems down there with the beasts losing their motivation so utterly that they stop eating the vegetation that grows on those vast, grassy plains they have down there (I can't remember what they're called, just offhand),

Pampas.

But Dennis ain't a donkey.

Absolutely true from a strictly epistemological standpoint regarding the denotation of the term. :)

As for the connotative, figurative aspect of the term applied to Dennis - no good choice either. For DH lacks the stubbornness associated with it.

Jeff knew what they're called. He just couldn't resist being literary.

--Brant

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Lol.

Yep, it was also a classic example of the Sandler Dummy Curve. As I read it, I was wondering who was going to jump into the trap and give the answer.

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Jeff knew what they're called. He just couldn't resist being literary.

I just thought maybe because of, well:

I suspect a little drinkin' here, JR. Brains plus booze, the best combination.

... the word "pampas" stored in the brain may not have found its way out. ;)

If I was in error, my apologies, as always. :)

Yep, it was also a classic example of the Sandler Dummy Curve. As I read it, I was wondering who was going to jump into the trap and give the answer.

I assume the 'Sandler Dummy Curver' hopes to strike a successful business deal via proceeding like that. But I have difficulty seeing Riggenbach in that role, or applying the tricks of the trade for other reasons.

Actually JR looks like the very opposite of a 'slick business eel' to me. But then appearances are deceiving, as the saying goes. :)

Edited by Xray

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I assume the 'Sandler Dummy Curve' hopes to strike a successful business deal via proceeding like that. But I have difficulty seeing Riggenbach in that role. He looks like the very opposite of a slick business eel to me. :)

"Slick business eel..." Oh, you mean like the government paid school administrator who sells you that he is educating your child. Got it. Yes. Jeff does look like a school administrator, but we all know better.

Was that your point?

Adam

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I assume the 'Sandler Dummy Curve' hopes to strike a successful business deal via proceeding like that. But I have difficulty seeing Riggenbach in that role. He looks like the very opposite of a slick business eel to me. :)

"Slick business eel..." Oh, you mean like the government paid school administrator who sells you that he is educating your child. Got it. Yes. Jeff does look like a school administrator, but we all know better.

Was that your point?

Certainly not.

To me, JR neither looks like a businessman nor like a school administrator.

But back to the "Sandler Dummy Curve": what exactly is its purpose?

Edited by Xray

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A better, more clinically accurate description:

psychological manipulation

It is a common type of passive-aggressive behavior in which you artfully conceal your malicious intent. I obviously have no idea what the motivation was here, but such negativistic patterns are often found in people who are prone to depression.

Counseling can sometimes be helpful for such people, but the many layers of defense mechanisms they exhibit make it unlikely that they will choose to seek help. The best approach for those who associate with them is to protect yourself by learning to identify their toxic behavior patterns in advance.

Edited by Dennis Hardin

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A better, more clinically accurate description:

psychological manipulation

It is a common type of passive-aggressive behavior in which you artfully conceal your malicious intent. I obviously have no idea what the motivation was here, but such negativistic patterns are often found in people who are prone to depression.

Dennis:

Is this how you are defining that Sandler technique?

Adam

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The reason that Kelley and Peikoff stopped working is that they ran out of energy. They got old.

The reports of David Kelley’s purported lapse in productivity have been greatly exaggerated.

When I spoke with him at the recent TAS Seminar, David told me he is spending his every waking moment working hard on a new edition of his popular textbook on logic. His publisher is pushing him to meet a deadline that has pretty much forced him to put everything else on the backburner.

For those who don’t know, The Art of Reasoning is in widespread use in classrooms as a basic introduction to logic. When young college and high school students are studying about how to improve their critical thinking skills, they are being taught by one of the best minds in the Objectivist movement. If you have seen prior editions, you would know that his approach is designed to help people see through the countless fallacies we get spoon-fed every day by the mainstream media.

TAS also produced some excellent videos featuring David analyzing various philosophical aspects of the Atlas Shrugged movie. He also writes regular articles for The New Individualist.

David is as active now as he has ever been. We will be seeing a great deal more of his vitally important work in the not-too-distant future.

The dust cover of my copy of The Art of Reasoning has, as I recall it, a reproduction of an odd Klee painting. I never understood the point of that. An odd choice for an Objectivist semi-academic.

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The reason that Kelley and Peikoff stopped working is that they ran out of energy. They got old.

The reports of David Kelley’s purported lapse in productivity have been greatly exaggerated.

When I spoke with him at the recent TAS Seminar, David told me he is spending his every waking moment working hard on a new edition of his popular textbook on logic. His publisher is pushing him to meet a deadline that has pretty much forced him to put everything else on the backburner.

For those who don’t know, The Art of Reasoning is in widespread use in classrooms as a basic introduction to logic. When young college and high school students are studying about how to improve their critical thinking skills, they are being taught by one of the best minds in the Objectivist movement. If you have seen prior editions, you would know that his approach is designed to help people see through the countless fallacies we get spoon-fed every day by the mainstream media.

TAS also produced some excellent videos featuring David analyzing various philosophical aspects of the Atlas Shrugged movie. He also writes regular articles for The New Individualist.

David is as active now as he has ever been. We will be seeing a great deal more of his vitally important work in the not-too-distant future.

The dust cover of my copy of The Art of Reasoning has, as I recall it, a reproduction of an odd Klee painting. I never understood the point of that. An odd choice for an Objectivist semi-academic.

I always assumed Klee was used because he was a non-objective painter, in order to reinforce the point that The Art of Reasoning was foregoing the orthodox Objectivist injunction to state one's primaries. (A painting by George Wigend [if I read the name correctly], another non-objective painter, was used for the cover of the first edition. I don't know what appeared on the cover of the second edition, nor what the publisher has in mind for the forthcoming revision.)

In lecture 8 of her efficient thinking lectures, Barbara Branden made a very important point about Objectivism and rational thinking: "Ayn Rand once said that if philosophers were to adopt one basic principle of epistemology, they would be unable to continue the irrationalities they promulgate. The principle is: define your primaries. Define your axioms. Define what you take as the self-evident, as the base from which your thinking and philosophizing begins." One presumes that this policy should apply to one's ~teaching~ as well as one's thinking in general.

One of the pitfalls that failure to do this can lead to is what Rand and Barbara called "thinking in a square," which prevents one from seeing possible solutions to problems one is working on. In the case of a logic text which fails to spell out the axioms of logic, because it may turn students off of learning thinking skills, this means that such long-standing controversies as "existential import," which conspicuously avoid the Law of Identity and its corollaries (except to distort them) will more likely resist proper solution, and such conventional practices as "standard propositional form" will seem arbitrary and unfounded in terms other than those of the traditional standard of expediency and pragmatism.

So, the reason one needs to name one's primaries is not only to keep from promulgating irrationalities (such as arbitrary rules), but also to give oneself and others a better shot at refuting irrationalities (in their guise as the conventional wisdom on a subject), which especially ought to be a concern in the fundamental methodological subject of logic!

Again, I hope that the forthcoming revised edition of The Art of Reasoning takes a right turn from the previous edition and addresses this crucial requirement of objectivity (naming one's basic presuppositions)--and perhaps even makes some headway on specific unresolved issues such as the ones I mentioned above.

REB

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If I spent years writing a 600 page book for students explaining many of the essential ideas of Objectivist epistemology and demonstrating how to use those ideas in everyday thinking and problem-solving, and then I visited OL and there was another Objectivist bashing me for the way I phrased a sentence—or for not dealing explicitly with metaphysical issues (e.g., identity) when I explained why that was not my immediate purpose with this book--I would be feeling very discouraged, and I would start to wonder why the hell I want to be productive at all.

[. . . ]

I see now that expressing my misgivings along with approval and optimistic anticipation constitutes "bashing."

In fairness to Dennis, Roger, I think you have to acknowledge that it would certainly seem that way to a donkey from Argentina. I mean, they've had severe problems down there with the beasts losing their motivation so utterly that they stop eating the vegetation that grows on those vast, grassy plains they have down there (I can't remember what they're called, just offhand), and the result is mass starvation - literally, piles of corpses. Under the circumstances, anything that looks even slightly like bashing - the scurrilous remarks Brian Doherty has made about Ayn Rand, for example - is likely to be taken perhaps a bit more seriously than you or I might be inclined to take it.

Just sayin' . . .

Helpfully,

JR

Thanks, JR, that is ~very~ helpful!

Curiously, it seems to relate to a recent story I read about a Scientologist who organized an ocean voyage for male cats. For some reason, the guy became so demotivated that he forgot to feed the cats, all of whom ended up along with the guy in, as you put it, "piles of corpses." A real cat-astrophe.

Now, what the connection might be between this male cat, ocean voyage, Scientologist guy and the Argentinian grassland donkeys, I cannot say, but the authorities are taking it very seriously. Perhaps too seriously.

REB

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If I spent years writing a 600 page book for students explaining many of the essential ideas of Objectivist epistemology and demonstrating how to use those ideas in everyday thinking and problem-solving, and then I visited OL and there was another Objectivist bashing me for the way I phrased a sentence—or for not dealing explicitly with metaphysical issues (e.g., identity) when I explained why that was not my immediate purpose with this book--I would be feeling very discouraged, and I would start to wonder why the hell I want to be productive at all.

[. . . ]

I see now that expressing my misgivings along with approval and optimistic anticipation constitutes "bashing."

In fairness to Dennis, Roger, I think you have to acknowledge that it would certainly seem that way to a donkey from Argentina. I mean, they've had severe problems down there with the beasts losing their motivation so utterly that they stop eating the vegetation that grows on those vast, grassy plains they have down there (I can't remember what they're called, just offhand), and the result is mass starvation - literally, piles of corpses. Under the circumstances, anything that looks even slightly like bashing - the scurrilous remarks Brian Doherty has made about Ayn Rand, for example - is likely to be taken perhaps a bit more seriously than you or I might be inclined to take it.

Just sayin' . . .

Helpfully,

JR

Thanks, JR, that is ~very~ helpful!

Curiously, it seems to relate to a recent story I read about a Scientologist who organized an ocean voyage for male cats. For some reason, the guy became so demotivated that he forgot to feed the cats, all of whom ended up along with the guy in, as you put it, "piles of corpses." A real cat-astrophe.

Now, what the connection might be between this male cat, ocean voyage, Scientologist guy and the Argentinian grassland donkeys, I cannot say, but the authorities are taking it very seriously. Perhaps too seriously.

REB

LOL. Internecine warfare is best for humor--if no blood is actually drawn!

--Brant

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