Robert Campbell

The DIM Hypothesis: Why the Lights of the West Are Going Out

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Robert,

Have you caught any hint in 'DIM' that Peikoff is aware he's moving outside

the 'closed' system of Objectivism? Is he, in fact? It appears that way to me.

(Maybe opening the door a crack.) :smile:

Tony,

Peikoff writes, for the record, that DIM is not Objectivism.

He does not refer explicitly in the book to the "closed system" doctrine, but this is probably part of a larger expository strategy of not citing Ayn Rand much in the body of the text, and avoiding most of his usual claims about her unmatched historical significance.

He gives some bits of the Objectivist epistemology a compressed exposition, and leaves others out entirely. He does finally get around to enunciating the doctrine of contextual certainty—in the second-to-last chapter!

The problem with the closed-system doctrine is that it has never meant what it appears to mean. Peikoff has always excluded from the closed system material by Nathaniel Branden and other disapproved persons, as well as statements by Rand that he deems non-philosophical.

On the other hand, he clearly does expect his latter-day productions to be counted as Objectivism—or else.

When he made his admonitions to vote Democratic in 2006, he essentially equated DIM, as presented in his lectures, with Objectivism.

When he demanded in 2010 that John McCaskey be cast out, he essentially equated the productions of his chief disciple David Harriman with Objectivism.

By the way, the portion of Harriman's work that rips Einstein's theories and utterly condemns quantum mechanics was largely kept out of The Logical Leap. It showed up, instead, in one of the chapters of The DIM Hypothesis.

Robert Campbell

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ND,

Yes Peikoff did say in his DIM lecture series that was for a while free on the ARI site that he had never heard of Feynman. I almost fell out my chair as well.

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ND,

Yes Peikoff did say in his DIM lecture series that was for a while free on the ARI site that he had never heard of Feynman. I almost fell out my chair as well.

This reminds me of a series of lectures offered through the ARI Bookstore, by Bo Dragsdahl, who is described as a "philosopher of science,"

titled "KARL POPPER'S ASSAULT ON SCIENCE." In a Q&A session, after a lecture, Dragsdahl is asked about the "null hypothesis." His response was, "I have never heard of it." An attempt by a student to explain it to him, did not refresh his recollection. This is who they think is qualified to take on Karl Popper?

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"By the way, the portion of Harriman's work that rips Einstein's theories and utterly condemns quantum mechanics was largely kept out of The Logical Leap. It showed up, instead, in one of the chapters of The DIM Hypothesis." - Robert Campbell

"By the way"?...like almost as an afterthought, you drop this bombshell? This is a stunning blow to the world of Physics, Peikoff and Harriman delivers a bodyslam to Einstein....and then demolishes Quantum Mechanics! Amazing! Certainly they will go down with Newton and Einstein as one of the revolutionary giants of theoretical physics!

This will throw the whole world of science into chaos,...

BUT NOW, WITHOUT QUANTUM MECHANICS, JUST HOW WILL ZEPHRAM COCHRANE INVENT "WARP DRIVE"?.

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Jerry,

ARI is selling "philosophy of science" lectures from a guy who's never heard of a null hypothesis?

Where do they find these people?

Robert Campbell

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ARI is selling "philosophy of science" lectures from a guy who's never heard of a null hypothesis?

Did he attend Junior High?

If someone will send me these audio clips, this one plus Peikoff saying he's never heard of Richard Feynman after giving a lecture on physics, there's the making of a great YouTube video. All I'll have to do is intercut a bit of this:

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Jerry,

ARI is selling "philosophy of science" lectures from a guy who's never heard of a null hypothesis?

Where do they find these people?

Robert Campbell

From the OCON 2003 conference brochure:

BO DRAGSDAHL

M.A., Philosophy, expected 2003; University of Copenhagen.

Mr. Dragsdahl is a graduate student of philosophy at University of Copenhagen. He has taught undergraduate classes in history of philosophy and philosophy of science and has been a student at the Objectivist Graduate Center since 1998. His lecture course “Thomas

Aquinas: Paving the Way for the Renaissance” was presented at the Summer 2002 East Coast Conference

According to the Google search, Dragsdahl has an entry on Linked-In including a resume/vita. I do not think he has completed his graduate work orwhether he now has an advanced degree.. He has a fairly strong Danish accent in the lectures.

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BO DRAGSDAHL

M.A., Philosophy, expected 2003; University of Copenhagen.

Mr. Dragsdahl is a graduate student of philosophy at University of Copenhagen.

So it may have been a language thing. I saw the name 'Bo' and figured he probably had a cousin named Luke.

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I'm afraid Mr. Dragsdahl cannot get a pass, based on a misunderstanding due to a language barrier. I have his lecture set on cassette tape and I went back last night to listen to exactly what was said. The questioner asks what he thinks about Popper's view on the null hypothesis concept. Dragsdahl replies: "Null hypothesis? What's a null hypothesis?". A number of the attendees try to explain it to him, all speaking at once, so all of what they say is difficult to understand (which is not important, they are trying to explain null hypothesis to Dragsdahl, who never heard of it). Anyway, after listening to their attempts at explanation, Dragsdahl then replies to the original questioner, "I hope that answers your question."

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I submitted a review of DIM to The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies for its late-2013 issue, and it is now in the second round of blind review. Here is a sneak preview of the piece:

Dismissing criticisms that the DIM Hypothesis is unscientific, deterministic, or rationalistic, Roger Bissell focuses on the logical framework of Peikoff’s study of Western culture. In particular, he argues, Peikoff has conflated two different kinds of rationalists and empiricists and has completely overlooked combinations of the Platonist and so-called “Kantian” modes. As a result, his three pure integration “modes” actually produce not just two “mixtures” but a total of six. Further, without absolving Kant of very serious philosophical errors, Bissell marshals evidence that the real culprit responsible for the culturally disastrous “Disintegration” mode was one of Kant’s predecessors.

REB

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I am looking forward to your composition, Roger. It will be a good while before I am able to return to this book, but when I do, I’ll have your countervailing scheme for consideration as well.

My thoughts on DIM so far, and on Rand’s conception of how ideas move the world, are these: a, b, c, d, e, f, g, h.

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I prefer Nial Ferguson's explanation of why the West is going to hell in a handbasket.

Please see: http://www.ted.com/talks/niall_ferguson_the_6_killer_apps_of_prosperity.html

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I am looking forward to your composition, Roger. It will be a good while before I am able to return to this book, but when I do, I’ll have your countervailing scheme for consideration as well.

My thoughts on DIM so far, and on Rand’s conception of how ideas move the world, are these: a, b, c, d, e, f, g, h.

Actually, Stephen, my own "scheme" had to be deleted from the essay, because it overly complicated my case about Peikoff's model. In brief, my ACID model (abstract misintegration/concrete misintegration/integration/disintegration) pits the Aristotelian-Objectivist view against rationalists, empiricists, and nihilists (aka "Kantians" in Peikoff's model). As it is, I urge the expansion of Peikoff's model by the inclusion of four more "mixed" modes than he recognized or allowed. Doing so (I claim) not only explains the historical path of cultural evolution, but also puts Kant in a considerably different light than that shone on him by Rand, Peikoff, et al. I do think I will eventually publish a longer essay that will include my ACID model, but for JARS readers it just seemed excessive. (Crows were at risk of becoming an endangered species. :-)

REB

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Carol,

I'm puzzled about Amazon rejecting it, considering some of the nasty polemics they leave up for years.

And Shayne must not be doing well, if he's reduced to posting at SOLOP where all he can stir up is Perigo, Claudia, Gregster, cobwebs, and dust bunnies.

Amazon later reinstated my review, claiming it was a "mistake" to reject it. I added this comment to the review:

"Note: This review, in the form above, was initially rejected by Amazon with little explanation but that it violated their guidelines. It was actually not published by them until Dec. 20, 2012.

I've left in an error from my quoting of the first sentence, which should have read "The purpose of this book is to gain an understanding of our past and on that basis to predict our future."

I stopped posting here for the simple reason that I was threatened with moderation while trying to initiate a sincere discussion about whether discussions here should be sincere, and whether the intellectual equivalent of schoolyard bullying (i.e. the insincerity of attacking people just to get a rise out of them) should at least be condemned if not moderated. The result was that I was implicitly threatened with moderation. I left the forum on my own terms rather than being explicitly banned.

I posted the review SOLO for the simple reason that I thought the review should be available to Objectivists somewhere, and it was the only place I knew of that didn't censor people for being sincere. I certainly didn't post there because I think it's a great forum. There are no great Objectivist forums, or even good ones. This might have something to do with Objectivism itself.

Shayne

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I stopped posting here for the simple reason that I was threatened with moderation while trying to initiate a sincere discussion about whether discussions here should be sincere, and whether the intellectual equivalent of schoolyard bullying (i.e. the insincerity of attacking people just to get a rise out of them) should at least be condemned if not moderated. The result was that I was implicitly threatened with moderation. I left the forum on my own terms rather than being explicitly banned.

Shayne

life-guard-smiley-emoticon.gif

Don't be afraid Shayne, Michael hired a lifeguard....

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Roger Bissell’s 40-Page Review of The DIM Hypothesis

In his Preface to The DIM Hypothesis: Why the Lights of the West Are Going Out, Leonard Peikoff guesses that there is an 80 to 85 percent chance that Ayn Rand "would agree with the book, extol its virtues, and regard it as of historic importance.”

However, after reading Roger Bissell’s broad 40-page review of The DIM Hypothesis ("Beneath The DIM Hypothesis: The Logical Structure of Leonard Peikoff’s Analysis of Cultural Evolution"; The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, Vol. 13, No. 2, 2013), I am constrained to say that there is negligible chance of Rand agreeing with the book—she would not find much virtue in it and it is certain that she would not regard it as of historic importance.

Peikoff posits in The DIM Hypothesis that the three great philosophers, Plato, Aristotle, and Kant, offer the three “pure” (primary or fundamental) modes of integration. In addition to these three primary modes of integration, there are, he says, two “mixed” modes which are formed by joining the elements of the pure modes.

Thus, according to Peikoff, there are only five modes of integration: three “pure” and two “mixed.” But Bissell shows that there are problems in Peikoff’s DIM mixtures. Whereas Peikoff has asserted that there can be only two “mixed” modes, Bissell says that there can be six “mixed” modes in addition to the three “pure” modes.

Here’s the list of six “mixed” modes, according to Bissell:

 1. Plato primary + Aristotle, Peikoff’s M1
 2. Kant primary + Aristotle, Peikoff’s D1
 3. Aristotle primary + Plato, rejected by Peikoff
 4. Aristotle primary + Kant, rejected by Peikoff
 5. Plato primary + Kant, not mentioned by Peikoff
 6. Kant primary + Plato, not mentioned by Peikoff

Peikoff claims that Thomas Aquinas’s  thinking does not qualify as a DIM mixture for two reasons: firstly, Aquinas does not present an integrated view of fundamentals; secondly, he rejects Aristotle and Christianity as the basis or ground for the other.

But Bissell disagrees with Peikoff's view on Aquinas. Bissell says that “while it is true, as Peikoff says, that Aquinas “denies that the fundamentals of Christianity rest on the Aristotelian philosophy,” it is not true that “he denies the reverse.”” He also shows that Peikoff has misinterpreted the significance of the philosophy of Hegel and Spinoza.

According to Peikoff, Bentham and Mill are inspired by Kant. Here’s the relevant excerpt from The DIM Hypothesis: “In ethics, the most influential expressions of Knowing Skepticism are Comte's Religion of Humanity and the Utilitarianism of Bentham and Mill.... Being Kant-inspired, both regard elements within consciousness as the only basis for a distinction between good and evil.” But where is the evidence that Bentham and Mill were inspired by Kant? Bissell points out that the positions of Bentham and Mill are not Kantian—they are essentially Humean.

Bissell goes on to propose that rather than Immanuel Kant, David Hume “should be tagged as the arch-villain of modern philosophy, the paladin of the D2 Disintegrative position.” He devotes close to 50 percent of his review to exposing the weaknesses in the Objectivist position on Kant. “Hume seems much more Anti-Integration and nihilistic than Kant. At the very least, Kant seems more Pro-Integration and non-nihilistic than Rand, Peikoff, et al. give him credit for.”

Peikoff, it seems, has misinterpreted many of the statements that Kant makes in his works. For instance, from the famous Kantian statement—“I have therefore found it necessary to deny knowledge, in order to make room for faith”—Peikoff deduces that in ethics, Kant denied happiness, in order to make room for duty. He cites this as an instance of Kant’s attack on reason, this world, and man’s happiness.

But Bissell is of the view that Kant was not interested in attacking happiness or knowledge. He says that Kant’s “thrust in epistemology was to limit knowledge to a basis in experience, and to insist that theoretical reason could not produce either a proof or a disproof of free will, the existence of God, and so on, which are not found in our experience. These latter things can only be believed in, not known. In other words, Kant was denying that knowledge could be had of trans-experiential things, in order to make it clear that they had to be taken on faith (or not)—and that theoretical reason and knowledge had nothing to do with them.”

Finally, Bissell says that “the decades-long Objectivist condemnation of Kant, the branding of him by the philosophy’s founder as “the most evil man in mankind’s history,” and Peikoff’s equating of Kant with the Anti-Integration/Nihilist pole and his indictment of Kant’s philosophy as a “systematic negation of philosophy” are overripe for a careful examination and discussion.”

Bissell’s review of The DIM Hypothesis is profoundly important because it identifies significant problems not only with the logical framework of Leonard Peikoff’s hypothesis but also with the Objectivist theory of history.

 

 

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Chanakya wrote: Bissell’s review of The DIM Hypothesis is profoundly important because it identifies significant problems not only with the logical framework of Leonard Peikoff’s hypothesis but also with the Objectivist theory of history. end quote

Welcome aboard the Star Ship Enterprise. Objectivism’s use of history to advance a philosophy is important and relevant. As is, Objectivism’s misuse of history as evidence. Yet, I am unaware of Objectivism’s “theory of history”. Did I miss something during the briefing, Commander? (joke) Quite a bit of Rand's philosophy predicts that if you think or do anything in a certain fashion it leads to certain consequences.  

Peter

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