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Donovan A.

Objectivism: General Knowledge Test 01

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This test has been designed to assess your basic knowledge of the philosophy of Objectivism. It is not intended to be an open book test. The first 50 questions focus on metaphysics and epistemology; 25 questions are on ethics, and 25 are on politics. Some of the questions have been taken directly from Nathaniel Branden’s Basic Principles of Objectivism lectures (also available as The Vision of Ayn Rand), and Leonard Peikoff’s book, entitled: Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand. Only reading Ayn Rand’s fictional work will not be sufficient preparation to excel on this test. This general assessment can help students of Objectivism and study-group organizers determine the ideal study materials and is not intended to evaluate one’s agreement with Objectivism.

Test Score Range:

0-60: Minimal understanding (Low) – Basic study needed

61-69: Moderate understanding (Low-Mid) – Basic study needed

70-80: Good understanding (Intermediate) – Basic study review needed

81-90: Competent (High-Mid) – Proceed to more technical studies

91-100: Advanced (High) - Proceed to more technical studies

In order to receive your test score, you will be asked to provide your name and email address. Your test score will be emailed to you. Your name and email address will be added to our general contact mailing list. Your name and test scores will not be published. All marketing emails sent from The Culture of Reason Center include the option to unsubscribe.

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I scored 86. I took the test cold, at night, not open book or especially aware, just off the cuff and it does reflect my general intellectual level. I only graduated summa cum laude because everyone else has been dumbed down.

Some of this depends on being well-aware of some specific paragraph-long explanations of technical terminology, specific to Objectivism. Mostly, though, you either understand it or you don't, and I do, about 86% worth. Fair enough. (I could do better open book, but who could not?) Also, I had at least one click error.

Daunce: You have no interest in learning anything about Objectivism, You just bring your very nice and high-minded self here and we accept you - I do, anyway - as a good person with an active mind and interesting insights. You could not guess above 25% on this.

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Marotta, you crushed me. I got 72.

I won't give away the right answer/s, but will share the ones that got away, below. All of the responses to the questions below were rejected by the testmaker. I am ashamed of my C-. Tell me, though -- will you return obsessively to the site for a retest until you fix all your shameful slips too?

Carol, by absorbing the full morphic field of my and MEM's answers, you can pull yourself above the water. I think MEM is wrong that you will not be able to get above 25. I expect Jonathan, Boydstun, REB and our secret friend to get closest to 100, and you will be somewhere in the upper-middle on the bell curve.

I got all these WRONG:

  • The law of identity states:
  • Match the following definition to the proper concept: "volitionally to adhere to reality by following certain rules of method, a method based on facts and appropriate to man's form of cognition."
  • Match the following definition to the proper concept: "the faculty that identifies and integrates the material provided by man’s senses."
  • The three versions of the primacy of consciousness that have dominated Western philosophy are:
  • Who is the philosophic father of the personal version of the primacy of consciousness?
  • What human choice leads to the mind-body dichotomy?
  • Ayn Rand referred to materialists as:
  • The fallacy of the frozen abstraction consists of:
  • Thinking according to Objectivism is:
  • What is implied by the notion of "reality as it really is?"
  • The exertion of mental effort can become automatic.
  • Why can't a determinist hold anything as true, including his own theory?
  • Match the following definition to the proper concept: "an existent regarded as a separate member of a group of two or more similar members."
  • Units exist in reality, apart from a conceptual consciousness.
  • According to Objectivism an "Abstraction" is:
  • The opposite policy of the concrete-bound mentality is exemplified by:
  • What method of cognition is required to achieve objectivity?
  • The four steps in the generation of an emotion are:
  • Only self-preservation can be an ultimate goal, which serves no end beyond itself.
  • Fill in the blanks: Every virtue, according to Objectivism, has two aspects: _______ and _________.
  • The concept of "egoism" identifies merely one aspect of an ethical code. It tells us not what acts a man should take, but who should profit from them.
  • A man can avidly pursue irrational values and thereby gain pleasure (of a sort) from the process of harming himself.
  • Fill in the blanks: (According to Ayn Rand) The conservatives want to rule man's_________________; the liberals, his_________.
  • Fill in the blanks: Politics is to economics as _______ is to _______.
  • The philosophically objective and the socially objective are corollaries.
  • Fill in the blank: A man's wealth under capitalism depends on two factors: _______________, and on ___________________.
  • Economic power is political power.
  • Faith is inconsistent with capitalism.

Edited by william.scherk

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Carol, I decided to give you a cheat sheet. These are all, needless to say, wrong answers.

  • The law of identity states: If you don't got no picture ID, you don't get no vote.
  • What human choice leads to the mind-body dichotomy? An extra helping of lasagne.
  • Thinking according to Objectivism is: choosing not to breed.
  • What is implied by the notion of "reality as it really is?" The Objectivist Housewives of Vancouver.
  • According to Objectivism an "Abstraction" is: different from the dictionary meaning. You got a problem with that?
  • The opposite policy of the concrete-bound mentality is exemplified by: new light-weight ceramic/carbon-fibre mentality.
  • What method of cognition is required to achieve objectivity? Peikovian Classical Conditioning.
  • The four steps in the generation of an emotion are: wince, whine, blame, preen.
  • Fill in the blanks: Every virtue, according to Objectivism, has two aspects: Commercial and Industrial.
  • Fill in the blanks: (According to Ayn Rand) The conservatives want to rule man's dangly bits; the liberals, his wallet.
  • Fill in the blanks: Politics is to economics as Puccini is to Chekhov.
  • Fill in the blanks: A man's wealth under capitalism depends on two factors: Tax/regulatory burden, and on Republicanism.

Edited by william.scherk

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I got all these WRONG:

  • The law of identity states:

  • Match the following definition to the proper concept: "volitionally to adhere to reality by following certain rules of method, a method based on facts and appropriate to man's form of cognition."
  • Who is the philosophic father of the personal version of the primacy of consciousness?
  • Ayn Rand referred to materialists as:

We cannot discuss them in detail, but just to say, the first one you might get right from general university education and some attention to nuance in the presentation, but basically, the test is not on general knowledge but on Objectivism. If you have not spent a lot of time with this, it is to be expected. The last one is typical of having to know the canon, but broadly, they are all that.

I went to their website. They have meetings and stuff for sale. Dallas is a bit of a drive for me (like 3 hours - Texas is freakin' huge), but we do have a monthly group here in Austin and I will stop in if I can. The Dallas group is running Peikoff's lectures on CD. I assume this is at their meetings, as when we used to attend "Basic Principles" recordings locally.

I wish I had my notes from that. However, I do have a study guide by Leonard Peikoff before he was "doctor" from the NBI. I remember the thrill in buying Capitalism the Unknown Ideal when it came out and finding essays I had not read in The Objectivist or the Newsletter. So, just to say, a lot might get by you.

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Hi Mike,

The Culture of Reason Center has not offered any public study-classes since December 2011. As the organizer, I haven't had the time to offer meetings since then. I am hoping to be able to run some short audio-lecture events this fall, but that hasn't been decided yet. We hosted over 100 study-classes between January 2008 and December 2011.

We offered the following materials:

Villainy - The Nature of Evil Andrew Bernstein

Reason & Emotion Edwin A. Locke

Principles of Efficient Thinking Barbara Branden

Ayn Rand Ford Hall Ayn Rand

The Art of Introspection Edith Packer

The Philosophy of Objectivism Vol.1,2,3 Leonard Peikoff

Objectivism & The Struggle for Liberty David Kelley

The Virtue of Selflessness (Audio book) Ayn Rand / Branden

Capitalism The Unknown Ideal (Audio book) Ayn Rand / Branden / etc.

Raymond Newman - Interview w Dr. Edith Packer Newman/Packer 1983

Understanding Objectivism (Part 1) Leonard Peikoff

Since our last public study group event, I have been studying alone, or in small private groups, and I am currently working on developing additional Objectivist tests.

Best regards,

Randall

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Randall, thanks for all your hard work.

Dallas is a bit of a drive for me. Here in Austin, we have a local group, but I have not met them. They get together again September 2 and I will swing by after I get off duty at 7:00 PM.

I posted a link to your test on RoR, but as here, no one seems willing to announce their results, if they took the test at all. That is disappointing on both grounds. Do you have plans to publish the answer key? I went down my list of wrong answers, but it requires looking into the Lexicon, Voice of Reason, ITOE, etc., etc.

Michael

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When I made this test I didn't think to keep track of all of my sources and references. Some of the questions are directly from (or combined from) Rand, Branden or Peikoff. The majority of the questions come from OPAR. I have worked pretty hard to make sure that the test questions fairly represent the philosophy. I had to invent wrong multiple choice answers and sometimes tweak definitions to make them false instead of true (or vice versa). I developed many of the wrong answers based on my experiences in talking about Objectivism with people. However, if a particular question were to be contested by someone, I'd be happy to review my resources (time permitting). The next test I am developing will include references as to where the question came from and the correct answer. I wanted the questions to reflect degrees of knowledge and familiarity with Objectivism. Additionally, I had to collaborate with my IT adviser in order to find a suitable plugin for my website. While I am fairly happy with the software, it's not as functional as I wish it were.

70 people have taken the test so far.

The current average score is 73.71%

6 people have scored 90+.

17 people have scored 80-89.

20 people have scored 70-79.

21 people have scored 60-69.

6 people have scored below 60.

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Michael,

What is the name of the Peikoff NBI study guide you are referring to? Is it called An Examination Study-Guide to the Ethics of Objectivism?

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I scored 75. I thought I'd do better, but since I stopped studying the catechism decades ago it's about right. Some of the answers are questionable. I only had time to find one howler: Mental effort can be automatic. False. The actual correct answer is True. This is why Roark had the psychology of an engineer and did not have a creative mind like Wright's. The creativity in that novel was all the author's.

--Brant

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What is the name of the Peikoff NBI study guide you are referring to? Is it called An Examination Study-Guide to the Ethics of Objectivism?

Yes. Oddly enough, I have two copies, one of them marked "Free."

I scored 75. I thought I'd do better, but since I stopped studying the catechism decades ago it's about right. Some of the answers are questionable. I only had time to find one howler: Mental effort can be automatic. False. The actual correct answer is True.

As a parent, my experience with a newborn overrode my learning from Objectivism. People are not born tabula rasa. We are not born knowing facts, but we do have "personalities", - or a collection of "set point" naturally given chemical predispositions - probably from the moment of conception. The extent to which you can willfully change your personality type is not well-understood. Until psychology has an objective basis, finding truth here would be difficult to impossible. That said, I am not sure what the mindset of an engineer is.

Also, literally, as understood by Objectivism, the choice to think can become habitual, but it is never automatic. If anything, perhaps, the natural tendency to avoid pain would constantly pull toward evasion, like why people get fear reactions from getting on a roller coaster even though it is a perfectly contrained event with little objective risk. ... just speculating here...

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Some of the answers are questionable.

Could you list the other questions/answers you regard as questionable and why? I welcome the feedback and discussion.

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Michael,

What is the name of the Peikoff NBI study guide you are referring to? Is it called An Examination Study-Guide to the Ethics of Objectivism?

The first "study guide" issued was An Examination Study-Guide to the Ethics of Objectivism, published by NBI in 1967 0r 1968 (I don't have it in front of me). This was irreverently referred to by NBI students (in private) as "The Objectivist Catechism."

A revised version was reissued in the early 1980's with both Leonard Peikoff and David Kelley listed as the authors. This version is almost identical to the original, but all references to anything written by the Brandens was excised, including the NBI lecture course, The Basic Principles of Objectivism; and replaced with references to Peikoff's course, The Philosophy of Objectivism.

After Peikoff published a revised version of his lecture course as Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand (1991), a new "A Study Guide to Leonard Peikoff's Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand," by Gary Hull was issued. This guide only referenced Peikoff's book as a source, no other sources, such as some lady called Ayn Rand, were omitted.

A revised version with a supplemental index by Robert L. Karvonen for OPAR, supplanting the original, was added..

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Some of the answers are questionable.

Could you list the other questions/answers you regard as questionable and why? I welcome the feedback and discussion.

Randall,

I admire your initiative, in this effort and in other offerings through your organization. But, with this exam, I think that you have stepped-out onto thin ice. Your selected answers for your questions will be challenged. Continually. This could be avoided, or at least muted, by adding literature references for the correct answers. Ultimately, such challenges (which are already occurring, judging from responses here on OL) will require that your selection and justification for the correct answer be published. Avoid the deluge and fix this now.

Secondly, requiring test takers to submit their completed exam for scoring (rather than providing a method for self-scoring) will strike some as an attempt as a "loyalty test." It does not matter that your intent was for no such thing. The fact that you are not using it for this purpose does not mean that it could not be used in this manner. And that will be the accusation.

Critics of the Objectivist movement have often accused its advocates as spouting individualism, yet demanding conformity. Unfortunately, the critics have been able to find ample examples that appear to support their accusations. It has not enhanced the image of Objectivism as a philosophy that advocates reason, individualsm, and independent thought.

Some here on OL may accuse me of exaggerating that your exam will be so interpreted. My answer: watch.

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Some of the answers are questionable.

Could you list the other questions/answers you regard as questionable and why? I welcome the feedback and discussion.

Sorry. I have no time for that. This type of exam can be passed by someone with superficial understanding of the material focused on what has been taught as opposed to actually correct answers. Very common in college courses graded by computers as opposed to essay tests. Both mutiple choice and essay tests have their separate problems. In science and math you actually have to come up with correct answers and methodologies. You don't get a smorgasbord of choices making it a guessing game if you don't know the answers.

Your test is sorta good of this type. I was amused to discern which questions came from Branden and which came from Peikoff.

If I were to make up a test of Objectivism, the questions would require short essays. Consider: Describe the basic logical connection between metaphysics, epistemology, ethics and politics. What ethics is implicit in the politics? Etc.

--Brant

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Hi Brant,

I suppose that depends on what one regards as a passing grade. The test isn't intended to determine who is an Objectivist, but to asess one's basic understanding and familiarity with Objectivist ideas. A person's score might indicate a lack of knowledge, or gaps, or outright disagreement with Objectivism. As a self-assessment, it can help a person learn that they might want to review some of Ayn Rand's works. As a study group organizer, the test can help me discover which lecture courses to offer. I agree with you that an essay test would provide even more information, but it would also be impossible for me to implement.

Thanks so much,

Randall

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Some of the answers are questionable.

Could you list the other questions/answers you regard as questionable and why? I welcome the feedback and discussion.

Randall,

I admire your initiative, in this effort and in other offerings through your organization. But, with this exam, I think that you have stepped-out onto thin ice. Your selected answers for your questions will be challenged. Continually. This could be avoided, or at least muted, by adding literature references for the correct answers. Ultimately, such challenges (which are already occurring, judging from responses here on OL) will require that your selection and justification for the correct answer be published. Avoid the deluge and fix this now.

Secondly, requiring test takers to submit their completed exam for scoring (rather than providing a method for self-scoring) will strike some as an attempt as a "loyalty test." It does not matter that your intent was for no such thing. The fact that you are not using it for this purpose does not mean that it could not be used in this manner. And that will be the accusation.

Critics of the Objectivist movement have often accused its advocates as spouting individualism, yet demanding conformity. Unfortunately, the critics have been able to find ample examples that appear to support their accusations. It has not enhanced the image of Objectivism as a philosophy that advocates reason, individualsm, and independent thought.

Some here on OL may accuse me of exaggerating that your exam will be so interpreted. My answer: watch.

Hi Jerry,

From time to time, I think it is okay to test the ice, no pun intended. So far, I have received only minimal criticism in regard to the questions and the answers. To some extent, I don't mind debating the criticisms, because if I'm wrong, I'll learn something, and the test can certainly be modified. An Objectivist philosopher that I very much admire has taken the test, and I have asked for his feedback. Nobody is obligated to take the test, and if someone thinks a question is unfair, they are free to email me. As I said, I'm working on additional tests, and I plan on offering references on those tests so that the test takers can look up the answers and decide for themselves if they agree with the arguments given by Rand, Branden or Peikoff, etc. The vast majority of the feedback has been positive. Some people have described taking the test as a "wakeup call." Other people have expressed that they are too intimidated to take it and there are people taking the test without giving their real name. Overall, I'm happy with the test as it is. It has increased traffic to my website and I think will encourage people to purchase products that will help them understand Objectivism more clearly.

On facebook, a person wrote the following objection:

"Existence is identity. I get that a corollary is an implication of established knowledge, and that it is a self-evident implication, but not that the established knowledge is automatic or perceptual so as to make a claim that causality is self-evident. It's self-evident once a man has grasped identity, i.e., self-evident to Objectivists, but it is not self-evident in the absence of such a recognition.

"It is self-evident that an entity must act in accordance with its nature." is false. True would be "It is a self evident implication (i.e, a corollary) of identity that an entity must act in accordance with its nature". Not the same thing."

I responded with quotes from OPAR that deal with the issue more in depth, but ultimately the discussion ended with this comment by me:

The function of this test is not to only test one's knowledge of works by Rand or endorsed by Rand. Branden's lectures were endorsed by Rand, so they would fall into the category of "official Objectivism." Peikoff's OPAR is based on his 1976 lectures, which I have listened to. As far as I can tell, OPAR is generally consistent with that material (material which Rand endorsed). I have worked pretty hard to make sure that the test questions fairly represent the philosophy. Rand clearly cannot endorse this test, so I have to use my best judgement in forming the questions. However, I do expect disagreement and debate with some of the questions and answers. Many people simply do not understand or agree with ideas put forth by Rand or her intellectual successors. I urge anyone taking the test to judge for themselves whether they think the test is fair, and to offer candid feedback regarding its philosophical accuracy (which I very much welcome). The current average score is 72.8 (after 32 submissions). The highest score so far is a 95, closely followed by a 92. I do plan on making more tests, some of which will be exclusively focused on works by Ayn Rand. I hope to find encouragement from my Objectivist friends as I struggle forward to produce more tests, which is a time consuming process.

Another person wrote:

Educators are always lamenting the use of tests as somehow being destructive to the learning process. But you know what? I learned A LOT from taking this test. I scored 80. The process of taking the test made me think, and examining the results increased my understanding further. Thank you!

Thank you so much for your input,

Randall

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Scored a 69. Interesting. I read ITOE over 30 years ago, tried hard then to understand it but never discussed it with anyone. I'll give it another look.

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Secondly, requiring test takers to submit their completed exam for scoring (rather than providing a method for self-scoring) will strike some as an attempt as a "loyalty test." It does not matter that your intent was for no such thing. The fact that you are not using it for this purpose does not mean that it could not be used in this manner. And that will be the accusation.

Nonsense! I took the test and submitted my name and email without an internal regard for their opinion of me qua me as an Objectivist qua Objectivist. I think you are wussing out. Be a man qua man and take the test qua test.

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Sorry. I have no time for that. This type of exam can be passed by someone with superficial understanding of the material focused on what has been taught as opposed to actually correct answers. Very common in college courses graded by computers as opposed to essay tests. ....

Oh, come on! You are so patently transparent. You are prevaricating ahead of your exposure. You do not want to take the test because you know that you will not do well. Fair enough. Maybe you know a lot more than any of us, more than I do, more than Ayn Rand did. That is not what this is. This is just about the canon of Objectivism, nothing more, nothing less. It is not about yorue moral worth as a human being or about your general intellectual ability. Basically, you are saying that you do not want to take an algebra test because the algebra teacher has greasy hair and you went out on a date with the prettiest girl in the class so you are cooler than he is. Maybe so... but how much algebra do you know?

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Sorry. I have no time for that. This type of exam can be passed by someone with superficial understanding of the material focused on what has been taught as opposed to actually correct answers. Very common in college courses graded by computers as opposed to essay tests. ....

Oh, come on! You are so patently transparent. You are prevaricating ahead of your exposure. You do not want to take the test because you know that you will not do well. Fair enough. Maybe you know a lot more than any of us, more than I do, more than Ayn Rand did. That is not what this is. This is just about the canon of Objectivism, nothing more, nothing less. It is not about yorue moral worth as a human being or about your general intellectual ability. Basically, you are saying that you do not want to take an algebra test because the algebra teacher has greasy hair and you went out on a date with the prettiest girl in the class so you are cooler than he is. Maybe so... but how much algebra do you know?

That hurt.

--Brant

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Brant scored a 75. Evidently you've forgotten the earlier part of the thread. Age...?

Michael did quote me as scoring 75 in an earlier post. He must have had a couple. I forgive him.

--Brant

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MIkee, thanks for the correction.

Brant, sorry for the oversight. My apologies in reply to your forgiveness - though we must be cautious about forgiveness, eh? But in any case, I was just over-tired. I typically come here (or to RoR), either to warm-up or relax. Last night, I was online here after working a day guarding a high-rise. We' are still near 100-F here and it's a full day. So, I just was out of focus, and I missed the context. You meant that you had no time to go back and critically review the test which you took.

I also spend most of my day - as I hope we all do - being polite (sometimes overly so) to others. It is only online with the social distances that I can dare to be blunt. You and I get along fairly well here and I did not mean to stress our tenuous relationship. Again, my apologies.

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