Branden’s "Vision of Ayn Rand" as “Official Objectivism”


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According to Peikoff’s criterion of material approved by Ayn Rand before her philosophy became “closed,” VOAR is “official” Objectivism.

OPAR is not. :smile:

Dennis,

I agree.

The fact that Basic Principles was given several times (and circulated in different taped editions) with some changes to the lecturer lineup, is of historical significance, but Ayn Rand blessed every version.

And the Academic Associates recordings (except for one or two salvaged from the wrack of NBI) were remakes, in any empty studio, from the same scripts that Nathaniel Branden used for his NBI work.

Besides, Roger, Jerry, and I produced transcriptions to a much higher standard of accuracy than prevails in the ARI orbit :smile:

Of course, the real problem with "official Objectivism" as defined by Ayn Rand is that it's not her definition any more.

Leonar Peikoff merely pretends to follow her definition, while imposing one of his own and expecting his disciples to overlook the contradictions.

Robert Campbell

Robert,

You're exactly right about that, of course. Part of my motivation in creating this thread was to draw further attention to that glaring fact. As I said in a prior post, the publication of The Vision of Ayn Rand affords those of us who care about facts and truth with a unique opportunity to hoist the curmudgeon on his own petard.

In "To Whom It May Concern," Rand wrote:

"I must state, for the record, that Mr. and Mrs. Branden's writings and lectures up to this time were valid and consonant with Objectivism. I cannot sanction or endorse their future work, ideas or ideological trends."

As bitterly vindictive as she was in the years following their break, I cannot believe that Rand would have sanctioned Peikoff's campaign to erase every trace of Branden from Objectivist history. Despite everything that transpired, she retained a healthy respect for reality that Peikoff clearly does not share.

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. . .

I would wager that she [Dr. Milgram] will make occasional disparaging references to Rand's "co-editor" at various points in her "talk," without ever mentioning Branden by name or giving him any credit whatever.

. . .

I know the actual person of whom you are speculating, and you are mistaken about that.

. . .

The publication of The Vision of Ayn Rand affords those of us who care about facts and truth with a unique opportunity to hoist the curmudgeon on his own petard.

. . .

No, the authentic value of the book has nothing to do with that opportunity. Its value is far larger and more lasting than that.
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. . .

I would wager that she [Dr. Milgram] will make occasional disparaging references to Rand's "co-editor" at various points in her "talk," without ever mentioning Branden by name or giving him any credit whatever.

. . .

I know the actual person of whom you are speculating, and you are mistaken about that.

. . .

The publication of The Vision of Ayn Rand affords those of us who care about facts and truth with a unique opportunity to hoist the curmudgeon on his own petard.

. . .

No, the authentic value of the book has nothing to do with that opportunity. Its value is far larger and more lasting than that.

One of the reasons for the transcription and print publication of Vision was to make this lecture series more readily available to the reading public. It was after all, the vehicle with which NBI used to establish itself in over eighty cities around the world (by authorizing representatives to publicize and offer this course - and others - by tape transcription).More importantly, it was the first publicly available attempt to offer Objectivism as a complete philosophical system.

A temporary (I hope) glitch has been the publisher's reluctance to offer the book through channels besides the few he has used up to this point.

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A temporary (I hope) glitch has been the publisher's reluctance to offer the book through channels besides the few he has used up to this point.

Jerry,

Jim Peron is a wonderful person, but he has not grokked the way business has changed with the Internet--or if he has grokked it, he has not accepted it. And the world passes by, as it always does to those who resist major innovations...

In fairness, he is a very good businessman in the individual physical niche store style.

Michael

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Yes, Jerry, and these uses:

. . .

I am considering buying this book The Vision of Ayn Rand, transcribing Nathaniel Branden's lectures "Basic Principles of Objectivism." Because Rand agreed with these lectures and because Rand also agreed with Peikoff's 1976 lectures "The Philosophy of Objectivism," a comparison of differences in content could show some evolution in Rand's thinking.

. . .

Further usefulness:

. . .

In those days, Branden’s lecture series Basic Principles of Objectivism included an example of the stolen concept fallacy in application to the validity of the senses.

Last week I mentioned the standard example of the mystics’ attack upon the validity of man’s senses, the stick that looks bent when seen in water. I will now give you another, similar example, which you will hear very often. Our senses deceive us, claim the mystics, because we know, in fact, that the rails of a railroad track are parallel, yet when we look off into the distance, the rails seem to converge to a single point. This proves that the senses are not to be trusted, that they give us a distorted and unreliable view of reality.

First, observe that this argument contains the Stolen Concept Fallacy, the use of sensory evidence to demonstrate the invalidity of sensory evidence. By what means did the mystics discover the rails were parallel, after all?

After Rand’s death, David Kelley’s The Evidence of the Senses (1986) included additional instances of this fallacy in connection to thinking about the validity of the senses. Although Kelley did not call the error by the name Stolen Concept, it and its corrective are there on the following pages: 135, 182–83, 218, 232–42.

Leonard Peikoff gives a helpful discussion of Rand’s conception of perception and its place in epistemology on pages 39–54 of Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand (1991). He gives references to Rand’s writings (and one oral remark) for his presentation of her view (Notes 1–7).

. . .

. . .

Rand was also aware of the controversy among contemporary philosophers concerning the soundness of the modern division of propositions into analytic or synthetic (a, b, c).This controversy had been prominent in academic print* and in semi-popular works such as A. J. Ayers’ Language, Truth, and Logic (1952; quoted in Peikoff 1967, 94) and the writings on philosophy of science by Hans Reichenbach and Philipp Frank (who was quoted in Basic Principles of Objectivism lectures in the nineteen-sixties; Branden 2009, 22–23) in the four decades before Rand’s ITOE. Immediately after completing the ITOE-series in The Objectivist, she issued therein Leonard Peikoff’s “The Synthetic-Analytic Dichotomy,” which came down on the side of those who had argued variously against the distinction. In ITOE Rand rejected the distinction in the course of laying out her theory of right definition (cf. White 1952, 318–30; Peikoff 1967, 94–97, 100–106, 115; Browne 2007, starting here). . . . .

. . .

Rand shared with Leibniz the view that the principle of non-contradiction rests on the law of identity. In the 1960’s lectures The Basic Principles of Objectivism, Nathaniel Branden held forth and explained Rand’s idea that the law of identity is the basic principle of metaphysics and of epistemology. The law of identity

is the link between the two sciences, the bridge between existence and consciousness, between reality and knowledge.

As a principle of metaphysics, the Law of Identity tells us that everything which is, is what it is. As a principle of epistemology, it tells us that contradictions cannot exist, that a thing cannot be A and not-A, and, therefore . . . we have made an error. Our thinking is wrong. Our thinking does not correspond to reality, and we must check our conclusions, our reasons for them, our premises. (Branden 2009, 66–67)

Leibniz is somewhat pleased.

Those relations on identity and non-contradiction were also presented by Leonard Peikoff in his 1962 lectures on the history of philosophy, where he indicated historical philosophic puzzles resolved by these Randian conceptions. In Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand, Peikoff writes:

The law of identity acts as a bridge linking existence and consciousness, or metaphysics and epistemology. The law acts as a bridge in a second respect also. The law defines the basic rule of method required for a conceptual consciousness to achieve its task. In this regard, the law tells man: identifications must be noncontradictory.

. . . Aristotle’s law of contradiction states . . . nothing can be A and non-A at the same time and in the same respect. This is not a different fact from the law of identity. It is a corollary of the latter, a restatement of it for the purpose of guiding human cognition. (1991, 118–19)

Rand’s sense of identity basing noncontradiction goes beyond Leibniz to include natures at the most fundamental level of identity. Moreover, identities of nature or character are not modifications of existence. Existence is identity, not only identity of sameness, but identity of character. Existence is both identities. Existence is identity of character.

. . .

And so forth through the years ahead.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

. . .

Below are some teasers from Nathaniel Branden’s remarks on the topic of forgiveness in “Basic Principles of Objectivism” as transcribed in The Vision on Ayn Rand.* (Remember class, circumstantial ad hominems are not relevant to the merit or demerit of the content in these lectures and this book. Get this book and get Roger’s corrected Index.)

Page 195:

What a person of pseudo-self-esteem “seeks from others is an escape from moral values, an escape from moral judgment, a promise to be forgiven, . . . .”

Page 295:

“Anything can be forgiven or tolerated in our culture, except somebody who will pass moral judgments. . . . It is . . . an age in which anything is to be forgiven, anything is to be understood except, as I say, anybody who dares to point out that the evil is evil.”

Pages 491–92:

“If you wish to avoid the trap and the errors of the sanction of the victim, you must learn to pronounce objective moral judgments. . . . / There are two principles to remember in such cases, two characteristics involved in all instances of the sanction of the victim: First, avoid granting anyone any double standard at your own expense. . . . [Do not make] the mistake of tolerating in others the kind of evil that you would condemn in yourself. Whenever you are able to say about some immoral action, with full rational knowledge of your reasons, ‘I would not permit myself to do this’, do not accept, tolerate, forgive, or sanction it, when it is done by others. / [second] . . . if you are made to suffer because of your flaws, if you are blamed, denounced, punished, or hurt because of your own actions, which you know to be evil, this is merely justice; and a rational person will accept it as justice and will work to correct his flaws. / But if you find yourself in a situation where the source of your pain is . . . .”

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I have to say, Stephen, your generally positive posture toward ideas is more reflective of things generally getting better for people over time and their relentless need to engage in commerce than is generally found in Internet philosophical give and take and academic warfare.

--Brant

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. . .

I would wager that she [Dr. Milgram] will make occasional disparaging references to Rand's "co-editor" at various points in her "talk," without ever mentioning Branden by name or giving him any credit whatever.

. . .

I know the actual person of whom you are speculating, and you are mistaken about that.

Do you know if Milgram has ever read Judgment Day, My Years with Ayn Rand, and The Passion of Ayn Rand?

Ellen

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Ellen,

Know positively, no, but with high likelihood, yes. As you know, I have not read those books. I did read Barbara Branden's Introduction to VAR. As I mentioned earlier, my friends and I discovering Rand in the 60's had heard no tapes of NBI; what mattered was printed material; NBI lectures and tapes were irrelevant to our learning Rand's philosophy. Our situation and its sufficiency is without notice in Barbara's Introduction. Perhaps numbers of us like that were not significant. I would guess rather that those pumped by NBI tend to overestimate the importance of something so socially and emotionally important to them. However that may be and however lacking in movement-redeeming value our type may have been, I wouldn't be surprised if Shoshana's presentation this summer provides some counterbalance and supplement to the cameo of Rand in that period composed by Barbara in the Introduction.

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. . .

I would wager that she [Dr. Milgram] will make occasional disparaging references to Rand's "co-editor" at various points in her "talk," without ever mentioning Branden by name or giving him any credit whatever.

. . .

I know the actual person of whom you are speculating, and you are mistaken about that.

Tell me how honest this sounds to you:

“In January 1962, Nathaniel Branden launched The Objectivist Newsletter, building on the success of his lecture courses at The Nathaniel Branden Institute.”

Would any honest Objectivist historian say that? Clearly not. The course content is obviously agenda driven. If she does mention Branden, you can be sure he will not be given the credit he deserves.

. . .

The publication of The Vision of Ayn Rand affords those of us who care about facts and truth with a unique opportunity to hoist the curmudgeon on his own petard.

. . .

No, the authentic value of the book has nothing to do with that opportunity. Its value is far larger and more lasting than that.

Oh good grief. How utterly obtuse can you be? Where did I suggest that this had anything to do with the true value of the book? I resent the implication of even suggesting that my intent was to say any such thing.

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. . .

I would wager that she [Dr. Milgram] will make occasional disparaging references to Rand's "co-editor" at various points in her "talk," without ever mentioning Branden by name or giving him any credit whatever.

. . .

I know the actual person of whom you are speculating, and you are mistaken about that.

She did appear on the same stage with Anne Heller and Mimi Gladstein, this suggests she’s above the kinds of ARIan cultist behavior we've so often witnessed and disparaged.

http://www.objectivi...ndpost&p=102147

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R.W. Bradford wondered about this, too, in his Liberty review of Judgement Day. He said that a lecture is more useful than a book for shaping a movement, which Rand and Branden wanted to do. People have to make an effort to show up. They're in the company of people who agree with them. A reader can stop and puzzle things over, make notes, spell out arguments and go back over earlier material. A listener can't do any of this. Finally, Branden is, in my observation, the kind of guy who likes an audience.

Peter,

This was definitely a reason to keep a lot of material in the oral tradition, both during the NBI days and later on.

Only now, as Pope Leonard the First and Only worries about his legacy, are we seeing the Harriman book, the Berlinerized Understanding Objectivism, and (supposedly in a few months) the DIM volume.

Robert Campbell

Another effect of keeping these lecture courses in the "oral tradition" is that it has the effect of shielding a lot of their contents from the critical analyses (particularly from the academic community) that they could have been subjected to if they were in print.

Suppose you were a devoted card-carrying leftist from the journalistic or academic community. Enraged by the continued interest in Ayn Rand, you decide to, in addition to the in-print material, procure copies of all the lecture series available through the Ayn Rand Bookstore. Most of these courses are only available on CDs or (now) as downloadable files. The costs for the CD series would be astronomic. After you secure a second (or third) mortgage, or get funded by George Soros, in order to pay for all these courses, you would then have to listen and take detailed notes as a substitute for being able to pick-up the printed book which you could have much easily annotated and referenced.

Only after doing at least the above, could you say that you have exhaustedly studied Objectivism (or at least post-Rand, Peikovian Objectivism), but nobody is going to make that effort..

Since many, if not all of the major ARI lecturers are academics, one might think that they would want to have their work available for academic scrutiny. You know, show-off to your peers that Objectivism is really serious philosophy, and that your flirtation with the Right has yielded some reputable results.. Unless, that is, the ARIan scholars fear what critics may find (such as errors, omissions, mis-representations, faulty logic, poor scholarship, etc.).

So, who is left to buy all these very expensive courses? Why, the loyal ARI devotee, who is not likely to admit, even if he finds faults in the materials, that he just blew $$$$ or more on material which should have been available in print to begin with.

Who else is going to go to all that effort? Apparently, no one from the left or even from the conservative right (other than reading each other's articles, which usually amount to re-cycling of prior criticisms).

The only academic study that I know of, which gives evidence (see his notations) of actually listening to most of the audio-only lectures, is that contained in Chris Matthew Sciabarra's Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical, (as documented in his hundreds of pages of annotations ). And Sciabarra's book is generally favorable to much of Objectivism. Of course, "much" isn't good enough for the ARIans, so Sciabarra's works are ignored, or dismissed with a few sentences of condemnation.

Edited by Jerry Biggers
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Yes, Jerry, and these uses:

. . .

I am considering buying this book The Vision of Ayn Rand, transcribing Nathaniel Branden's lectures "Basic Principles of Objectivism." Because Rand agreed with these lectures and because Rand also agreed with Peikoff's 1976 lectures "The Philosophy of Objectivism," a comparison of differences in content could show some evolution in Rand's thinking.

. . .

Further usefulness:

. . .

In those days, Branden’s lecture series Basic Principles of Objectivism included an example of the stolen concept fallacy in application to the validity of the senses.

Last week I mentioned the standard example of the mystics’ attack upon the validity of man’s senses, the stick that looks bent when seen in water. I will now give you another, similar example, which you will hear very often. Our senses deceive us, claim the mystics, because we know, in fact, that the rails of a railroad track are parallel, yet when we look off into the distance, the rails seem to converge to a single point. This proves that the senses are not to be trusted, that they give us a distorted and unreliable view of reality.

First, observe that this argument contains the Stolen Concept Fallacy, the use of sensory evidence to demonstrate the invalidity of sensory evidence. By what means did the mystics discover the rails were parallel, after all?

After Rand’s death, David Kelley’s The Evidence of the Senses (1986) included additional instances of this fallacy in connection to thinking about the validity of the senses. Although Kelley did not call the error by the name Stolen Concept, it and its corrective are there on the following pages: 135, 182–83, 218, 232–42.

Leonard Peikoff gives a helpful discussion of Rand’s conception of perception and its place in epistemology on pages 39–54 of Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand (1991). He gives references to Rand’s writings (and one oral remark) for his presentation of her view (Notes 1–7).

. . .

. . .

Rand was also aware of the controversy among contemporary philosophers concerning the soundness of the modern division of propositions into analytic or synthetic (a, b, c).This controversy had been prominent in academic print* and in semi-popular works such as A. J. Ayers’ Language, Truth, and Logic (1952; quoted in Peikoff 1967, 94) and the writings on philosophy of science by Hans Reichenbach and Philipp Frank (who was quoted in Basic Principles of Objectivism lectures in the nineteen-sixties; Branden 2009, 22–23) in the four decades before Rand’s ITOE. Immediately after completing the ITOE-series in The Objectivist, she issued therein Leonard Peikoff’s “The Synthetic-Analytic Dichotomy,” which came down on the side of those who had argued variously against the distinction. In ITOE Rand rejected the distinction in the course of laying out her theory of right definition (cf. White 1952, 318–30; Peikoff 1967, 94–97, 100–106, 115; Browne 2007, starting here). . . . .

. . .

Rand shared with Leibniz the view that the principle of non-contradiction rests on the law of identity. In the 1960’s lectures The Basic Principles of Objectivism, Nathaniel Branden held forth and explained Rand’s idea that the law of identity is the basic principle of metaphysics and of epistemology. The law of identity

is the link between the two sciences, the bridge between existence and consciousness, between reality and knowledge.

As a principle of metaphysics, the Law of Identity tells us that everything which is, is what it is. As a principle of epistemology, it tells us that contradictions cannot exist, that a thing cannot be A and not-A, and, therefore . . . we have made an error. Our thinking is wrong. Our thinking does not correspond to reality, and we must check our conclusions, our reasons for them, our premises. (Branden 2009, 66–67)

Leibniz is somewhat pleased.

Those relations on identity and non-contradiction were also presented by Leonard Peikoff in his 1962 lectures on the history of philosophy, where he indicated historical philosophic puzzles resolved by these Randian conceptions. In Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand, Peikoff writes:

The law of identity acts as a bridge linking existence and consciousness, or metaphysics and epistemology. The law acts as a bridge in a second respect also. The law defines the basic rule of method required for a conceptual consciousness to achieve its task. In this regard, the law tells man: identifications must be noncontradictory.

. . . Aristotle’s law of contradiction states . . . nothing can be A and non-A at the same time and in the same respect. This is not a different fact from the law of identity. It is a corollary of the latter, a restatement of it for the purpose of guiding human cognition. (1991, 118–19)

Rand’s sense of identity basing noncontradiction goes beyond Leibniz to include natures at the most fundamental level of identity. Moreover, identities of nature or character are not modifications of existence. Existence is identity, not only identity of sameness, but identity of character. Existence is both identities. Existence is identity of character.

. . .

And so forth through the years ahead.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

. . .

Below are some teasers from Nathaniel Branden’s remarks on the topic of forgiveness in “Basic Principles of Objectivism” as transcribed in The Vision on Ayn Rand.* (Remember class, circumstantial ad hominems are not relevant to the merit or demerit of the content in these lectures and this book. Get this book and get Roger’s corrected Index.)

Page 195:

What a person of pseudo-self-esteem “seeks from others is an escape from moral values, an escape from moral judgment, a promise to be forgiven, . . . .”

Page 295:

“Anything can be forgiven or tolerated in our culture, except somebody who will pass moral judgments. . . . It is . . . an age in which anything is to be forgiven, anything is to be understood except, as I say, anybody who dares to point out that the evil is evil.”

Pages 491–92:

“If you wish to avoid the trap and the errors of the sanction of the victim, you must learn to pronounce objective moral judgments. . . . / There are two principles to remember in such cases, two characteristics involved in all instances of the sanction of the victim: First, avoid granting anyone any double standard at your own expense. . . . [Do not make] the mistake of tolerating in others the kind of evil that you would condemn in yourself. Whenever you are able to say about some immoral action, with full rational knowledge of your reasons, ‘I would not permit myself to do this’, do not accept, tolerate, forgive, or sanction it, when it is done by others. / [second] . . . if you are made to suffer because of your flaws, if you are blamed, denounced, punished, or hurt because of your own actions, which you know to be evil, this is merely justice; and a rational person will accept it as justice and will work to correct his flaws. / But if you find yourself in a situation where the source of your pain is . . . .”

Hmmm,...it appears to me that you are the right person to formulate such a comprehensive study. :tongue::smile:

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A temporary (I hope) glitch has been the publisher's reluctance to offer the book through channels besides the few he has used up to this point.

Jerry,

Jim Peron is a wonderful person, but he has not grokked the way business has changed with the Internet--or if he has grokked it, he has not accepted it. And the world passes by, as it always does to those who resist major innovations...

In fairness, he is a very good businessman in the individual physical niche store style.

Michael

Well,....er,... maybe if we all wrote to him and asked him nicely? :wub::unsure:

Don't get me wrong, I just think that Jim is missing some opportunities to market a lot more books.

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. . .

I would wager that she [Dr. Milgram] will make occasional disparaging references to Rand's "co-editor" at various points in her "talk," without ever mentioning Branden by name or giving him any credit whatever.

. . .

I know the actual person of whom you are speculating, and you are mistaken about that.

She did appear on the same stage with Anne Heller and Mimi Gladstein, this suggests she’s above the kinds of ARIan cultist behavior we've so often witnessed and disparaged.

http://www.objectivi...ndpost&p=102147

She exhibited "ARIan cultish behavior" in the way she misrepresented The Objectivist Newsletter as Ayn Rand's independent undertaking. Her course description is totally dishonest and false from start to finish. She could not possibly be ignorant of the equally important role Nathaniel Branden played in launching TON. Without him, it is doubtful there would have been an Objectivist Newsletter.

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When Rand anathemized Branden she said that TON started life with only one asset - the value of her name. He replied that it had, in fact, two assets - the value of her name and the NBI mailing list.

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It has been noted in this thread that there were evidently financial advantages to confining The Basic Principles of Objectivism lectures to tape form during the years before Rand dissociated herself from Nathaniel Branden. It has also been remarked in this thread, as has been remarked many years now, that keeping material in NBI lectures out of print shielded it from public criticism and allowed flaws to be corrected without a trace. Quite so.

Off and on, in the years after the split, Rand said she aimed to write a book that would be a systematic presentation of her philosophy. Eventually, she publicly passed that charge over to Leonard Peikoff. She would not have considered a transcript of his lectures The Philosophy of Objectivism to be the envisioned book. Likewise, Peikoff did not think of the target book to be a transcript of those lectures. The announcement at those lectures was that the book he would compose would be based on those lectures, not a transcript of them.

After she dissociated herself from Branden, would she have thought “Doggone it, I needed a book that was a systematic presentation of my whole philosophy, and I could have just had Nathan’s Basic lectures transcribed and that would have been it. Wait, what am I thinking?! Thank goodness we never did that, his name is on enough stuff as it is.”? Of course not. The book she had in mind to write was not that. What was her conception of the book-to-be’s systematic character? In what ways does the published transcription* of Basic not coincide with what she had in mind (which may have varied from the time of the split to the time of The Philosophy of Objectivism)? Would the envisioned book include her theory of concepts, which she regarded as one of her three most important philosophical achievements?

On that last question, Peikoff elected to get Rand’s epistemology treatise published by itself, with an Appendix including his related essay (which Rand had published in The Objectivist immediately following her treatise) and including extensive excerpts from Rand’s epistemology seminar. His own book OPAR could then include a treatment of Rand’s theory of concepts, referencing the other book, and keep the treatment within OPAR (as in The Philosophy of Objectivism) in proportion for a presentation of all the major areas of the philosophy.

Answers to the other questions are unknown to me. I do think the book Peikoff delivered was at least a close approximation to what she (and he) had envisioned fifteen years earlier. Comparison of OPAR’s systematic character with that of VAR and of its subjects with those of VAR would make an interesting study for someone to present here.

Not me. I have too much other scholarly work to do already. Another personal note, even though I have mentioned it before: I do not regard extensions I make from Rand’s philosophy primarily as further definition of Objectivism. I develop parts of Rand’s philosophy further than she had, and some of this could sensibly be said to be implicit in certain parts of her philosophy (not to say that Rand had the technical background, time, or inclination to make those developments). They are my own quest, and the sum, including much debt to Rand and some at odds with Rand, is my own philosophy.**

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Notes added:

*A slight doubt about whether this book is a literal and complete transcription of the recorded lectures arises by N. Branden’s Acknowledgment prefacing the book, in which he speaks of it as a transcription and as “capturing my spoken words in readable form,” rather than as a literal and complete transcription. But see representations of the fidelity of the transcriptions in the thread here.

**With his revisions to Rand’s conceptions of experience, reason, and the psyche, I think that were Nathaniel Branden to write a book systematically presenting his philosophy today, he should and likely would not represent it to be Objectivism, but an improvement thereon.

Then again, concerning that “likely would,” I have to pause over the plasticity of what counts as ethical egoism among people counting themselves rational egoists, which includes, but is broader than Rand’s version. I recall now a Branden lecture a few years ago in which he too exhibited that common pattern, after which I thought “really very nice, but like so many others, you mistakenly continue to squeeze the revisions into the box of ethical egoism.” Hard to let go old frames and names. That ad hominem, psychological circumstance it may be, is little to the work of arguing the detail of why the particulars do or do not, should or should not, count as rational ethical egoism.

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Stephen,

To address some of your points, stated above:

1) I think it is accurate to say that NBI derived a large part of its income from the franchising of its courses, including Basic Principles, and not from its publications. (Incidentally, neither The Objectivist Newsletter nor The Objectivist were "officially" publications of NBI (even though it looked that way, and copies could be purchased from NBI), but rather, a separate legal entity, The Objectivist, Inc). Consequently, if NBI were to have published its lectures in print, they would have had a substantial loss in income..

2) .Keeping courses in oral format was also practiced by ARI, and to a larger degree than NBI. ARI has existed much longer (almost 30 years) than NBI did (ten years), has a much larger budget, and access to many more potential supporters through the internet. So, the observation that use of the oral-only format has the effect of shielding the lecturer from greater public criticism applies to both institutions.

3) Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology was not initially published by Leonard Peikoff. It first appeared in serial format in The Objectivist (July 1966 - February 1967) and was later published by The Objectivist,Inc.in 1967. It was two year's later, before the edition including Leonard Peikoff's appended essay, The Analytic-Synthetic Dichotomy, was published as a "Mentor" paperback by New American Library in April 1969.

4) It is mere speculation to state what Ayn Rand's proposed complete statement of her philosophy would have looked like, and how close or different it would be from the Basic Principles of Objectivism or Peikoff's Philosophy of Objectivism courses, both of which she had endorsed as systematized statements of her philosophy until she finished her own book. If she had lived longer, would she have endorsed the changes Peikoff made in OPAR? Possibly, but Robert Campbell ("The Peikovian Doctrine of the Arbitrary Assertion," pp. 85-170, The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, Vol. 10, No. 1, Fall 2008) has raised questions about some doctrines that Peikoff included in OPAR that do not appear to be consistent with (or are expansions of) earlier statements of Objectivism.

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.

Off and on, in the years after the split, Rand said she aimed to write a book that would be a systematic presentation of her philosophy. Eventually, she publicly passed that charge over to Leonard Peikoff.

I do think the book Peikoff delivered was at least a close approximation to what she (and he) had envisioned fifteen years earlier. Comparison of OPAR’s systematic character with that of VAR and of its subjects with those of VAR would make an interesting study for someone to present here.

I don't know where Rand ever made any public statement that she had "passed the charge" of writing a treatise on Objectivism over to Leonard Peikoff

OPAR might be a “close approximation” of the treatise Rand envisioned, but if she wanted him to speak for her, she would have given Peikoff the status of her intellectual heir. There was a reason she did not. Anyone reading OPAR can see that much of it is good and much of it consists of Peikoff’s laborious, strained, even convoluted efforts to “channel” Ayn Rand. Needless to say, he was not successful at that task.

Ayn Rand endorsed every word of Branden’s “Basic Principles” course, and VOAR is a faithful transcription of that course. With the exception of the ‘Benefits and Hazards’ essay, you can be sure Rand agreed with everything in VOAR. Not so with OPAR.

That’s the whole point of this thread.

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Off and on, in the years after the split, Rand said she aimed to write a book that would be a systematic presentation of her philosophy. Eventually, she publicly passed that charge over to Leonard Peikoff.

I do think the book Peikoff delivered was at least a close approximation to what she (and he) had envisioned fifteen years earlier. Comparison of OPAR’s systematic character with that of VAR and of its subjects with those of VAR would make an interesting study for someone to present here.

I don't know where Rand ever made any public statement that she had "passed the charge" of writing a treatise on Objectivism over to Leonard Peikoff

OPAR might be a “close approximation” of the treatise Rand envisioned, but if she wanted him to speak for her, she would have given Peikoff the status of her intellectual heir. There was a reason she did not. Anyone reading OPAR can see that much of it is good and much of it consists of Peikoff’s laborious, strained, even convoluted efforts to “channel” Ayn Rand. Needless to say, he was not successful at that task.

Ayn Rand endorsed every word of Branden’s “Basic Principles” course, and VOAR is a faithful transcription of that course. With the exception of the ‘Benefits and Hazards’ essay, you can be sure Rand agreed with everything in VOAR. Not so with OPAR.

That’s the whole point of this thread.

I vaguely recall an incident reported, I think, in Barbara Branden's bio on Rand where she was asked, at some point quite late in her life, whether she had finished the comprehensive statement of her system, promised as long ago as For The New Intellectual (1961). She replied, "Oh, can't Leonard do it?"

Even assuming the incident was reported accurately to Barbara, I would hardly describe that type of response as a hearty endorsement of Leonard as being suitable for the job.

There are only two endorsements from Rand of presentations of her system: the first, for Nathaniel Branden's Basic Principles of Objectivism (now in print as The Vision of Ayn Rand). The other endorsement was for Leonard Peikoff's course, The Philosophy of Objectivism.

That's it. End of story.

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There are only two endorsements from Rand of presentations of her system: the first, for Nathaniel Branden's Basic Principles of Objectivism (now in print as The Vision of Ayn Rand). The other endorsement was for Leonard Peikoff's course, The Philosophy of Objectivism.

The Peikoff course The Philosophy of Objectivism used to be available from the ARI Bookstore. As of last September it was listed as "out of stock."

http://www.aynrandbookstore2.com/prodinfo.asp?number=LP24M

I have suspicions about why it's no longer in stock -- because of discrepancies between material in it and later material by Peikoff, for instance in The Logical Leap.

Coincidentally, I decided last August to purchase the course. I'd blown hot and cold because of the price and had never quite made my mind up to spending $240 for it. But then, due to issues which arose on ARCHN, where I was posting for awhile, I decided to spend the money so I could check what Peikoff said -- and Rand endorsed -- on "certainty" in that course. Just then we had trouble with our Am Express credit card -- some identity-theft charges. During the week I was waiting for a new card, the course went "out of stock." Rats.

Ellen

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1) I think it is accurate to say that NBI derived a large part of its income from the franchising of its courses, including Basic Principles, and not from its publications. (Incidentally, neither The Objectivist Newsletter nor The Objectivist were "officially" publications of NBI (even though it looked that way, and copies could be purchased from NBI), but rather, a separate legal entity, The Objectivist, Inc). Consequently, if NBI were to have published its lectures in print, they would have had a substantial loss in income..

The numbers of people who took the taped courses was way higher than that of subscribers to the publications. The Objectivist -- according to a source I consulted available to publicity departments of publishing houses -- had a subscribership of about 21,000 - 22,000 at its peak. The publications couldn't have brought in much.

Ellen

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She exhibited "ARIan cultish behavior" in the way she misrepresented The Objectivist Newsletter as Ayn Rand's independent undertaking. Her course description is totally dishonest and false from start to finish. She could not possibly be ignorant of the equally important role Nathaniel Branden played in launching TON. Without him, it is doubtful there would have been an Objectivist Newsletter.

I don’t think you should assume that an OCON course description reflects on Milgram’s integrity. Since Peikoff is (it seems…one hopes) out of the business of micromanaging the “official” publications we can hope for an accurate biography to come from Milgram. She doesn’t have the track record of a Mayhew or a Valliant, and does cite Barbara Branden (Who is Ayn Rand?) in her chapter from the Atlas Shrugged essays book. Still I suppose it's tempting to presume she's guilty until proven innocent, either way I'm sure her book will be valuable.

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1) I think it is accurate to say that NBI derived a large part of its income from the franchising of its courses, including Basic Principles, and not from its publications. (Incidentally, neither The Objectivist Newsletter nor The Objectivist were "officially" publications of NBI (even though it looked that way, and copies could be purchased from NBI), but rather, a separate legal entity, The Objectivist, Inc). Consequently, if NBI were to have published its lectures in print, they would have had a substantial loss in income..

The numbers of people who took the taped courses was way higher than that of subscribers to the publications. The Objectivist -- according to a source I consulted available to publicity departments of publishing houses -- had a subscribership of about 21,000 - 22,000 at its peak. The publications couldn't have brought in much.

Ellen

Ellen,

Your figures for the circulation of The Objectivist back in the late 1960s sound accurate. I assume that those who were interested enough to take one or more of the NBI courses, were also quite likely to be subscribers to The Objectivist Newsletter/The Objectivist (because those publications regularly included notices as to when and where upcoming NBI courses were to be held, and also the TV and radio appearances of Ayn and Nathaniel).

They also advertised in major newspapers. I remember seeing an ad in a Sunday edition of the Chicago Tribune, in its Books section, inviting readers to subscribe to The Objectivist Newsletter. The ad started with "AYN RAND and NATHANIEL BRANDEN invite you to subscribe to The Objectivist Newsletter."

In addition to the circulation figures listed above, NBI had a mailing list of 80,000 that was used to advertise for its publications and courses.

Note: Ellen, if you are interested in obtainin one or more of the tape/CD courses that have been offered by the Ayn Rand Bookstore, and record sets or taped courses by Nathaniel Branden and Barbara Branden, you should regularly check on eBay, where copies often show up for sale. I have found and purchased about five of these courses through that method.

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