What dictionary did Ayn Rand use?


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Does anyone know which dictionary Ayn Rand used? Did she use more than one? I can't find this out anywhere so I thought I'd post the question.

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It might be interesting to know, but I fail to see the point.

We have several here. My wife has been a proofreader (over a hundred for Bantam-Doubleday; 20 or 30 more for smaller houses). I write. We have several Mirriam-Webster's (7th, 9th, 11th) and an American Heritage, the Oxford paperback (no OED, sad to say). My favorite is from World Publishing, mostly because I agree with its etymologies. I have a facsmile of Noah Webster's 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language.

Anyway, the point is that unlike most other consumer goods, they do not compete by novelty. "Giraffe" and "selfishness" are defined pretty much the same in all of them.

I do think that Ayn Rand exhibited weak writing when she said, "the dictionary defines X as ..." Unless a special point is to be made, we can assume that the reader has a dictionary.

We Objectivists could easily point to common definitions of capitalism, selfishness, egoism, altruism, reason, etc., etc., that at once indicate mass ignorance, and then isolate our own special understandings.

Contrary to the expectations of political extremists for conspiracies by eggheads or the rich, dictionaries are compiled by sampling actual the use of a word, not by a top-down ruling on what a word "should" mean. It is no surprise that languages change. While words are in flux, we argue. I just checked "germane." In 1828, it meant only first cousins. Now, it means anything relevant or closely related. I recommend highly The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary by Simon Winchester. Like sausage and politics, the making is not for the weak.

Short of all that, why do you ask?

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MrBenjamatic,

I recall reading someone who mentioned the dictionary (or dictionaries) found among Ayn Rand's books after her death, but I can't remember where. I am pretty sure it was in an article or discussion about her claim about the standard dictionary meaning of selfishness (which has proven to be one of her clunkers).

If you Google it, you will find all kinds of discussions about Ayn Rand's missing dictionary--the one with her alleged dictionary meaning of selfishness. (Use terms like dictionary selfishness "Ayn Rand" and so on if you do Google it.) Some folks bash her and some defend her. Not one I have ever come across cites a dictionary of her time where her understanding of selfishness is given.

If you are interested, here are three links you may like.

What Ayn Rand Read - This is a list of works compiled from many sources of what Ayn Rand read or is believed to have read. You might find that site, The Objectivism Reference Center, a valuable free resource for quick facts on Rand and Objectivism. I like that site a lot. Richard Lawrence does a great job with it.

Paper Tiger - This is a bookseller that specialized for a long time in the books Rand read. The owner, Fred Weiss, never advertised it as such (to my knowledge), but it is easy to see with a simple check of the older titles. Incidentally, Mr. Weiss is a very harsh fundamentalist kind of Objectivist who prized arrogance and Objectivist-like conceit over values like competence in his behavior, judging from his writing. Extremely tribal and, at times, nasty. He used to be quite active online a while back, but I don't think he is so much anymore. Whatever. He sells books and, as a businessman, I imagine he would even sell them to me if I order some from him. :smile:

The Obvious Parallels - This is an article on a Rand-bashing site called Ayn Rand Contra Human Nature. It deals with a college (Founders College) that was attempted a while back with the involvement of several people of the fundamentalist Objectivist orientation. It failed. The article points to the similarities between the curriculum and what Rand read. If you are ever feeling in a particularly masochistic mood, you might want to read through that site. The theme underlying almost all the writing is "Ayn Rand was wrong"--on just about everything. (I bet if a person said Ayn Rand claimed she was a woman, someone on that site would say she was wrong and make a case for it. :smile: ) But several of the posters are intelligent, so it is worthwhile to read it sometimes in a premise-checking way.

Apropos, Daniel Barnes and Greg Nyquist, the owners of the Ayn Rand Contra Human Nature blog, are avowed admirers of Karl Popper, who is an intellectual hero to Progressives. George Soros even runs a think-tank that gives out grants based on Popper's ideas. It is called Open Society Foundations (but until recently, it was called the Open Society Institute). I believe they bash Rand so hard because they know her ideas are poison to a Progressive one-world-government takeover of the planet (called euphemistically in Soros-speak, "open society").

This stuff doesn't give you Ayn Rand's dictionary, but it deals with what she consulted. Maybe some of the more scholarly members around here will chime in with better information for you.

Michael

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Thank you both. The reason I asked was I forgot what a sensation was (I'm reading Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology) as I hadn't thought about it since I first looked it up about a year and a half ago. The dictionary definition I found was inadequate, but I found a better definition online. That was all. I'm sure the other definitions in my old dictionary won't be schlock. I left my OED in my last college dorm, so I'm left with what I have now.

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Karl Popper, who is an intellectual hero to Progressives. George Soros even runs a think-tank that gives out grants based on Popper's ideas. It is called Open Society Foundations (but until recently, it was called the Open Society Institute). I believe they bash Rand so hard because they know her ideas are poison to a Progressive one-world-government takeover of the planet (called euphemistically in Soros-speak, "open society").

But Popper was part of the Mount Pelerin Society, with Mises, Hayek and so on. I thought he was a classical liberal in politics. Soros has expressed admiration for Hayek as well as Popper, and I take that in the same way I take Oliver Stone's admiration for Ayn Rand.

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In the title essay to The Virtue of Selfishness she cites a dictionary that was available ca. 1964.

Which was?

John Hospers looked through 200 different dictionaries she might have used and didn't find the definition of selfish she used.

--Brant

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I just skimmed over that essay again. This is the 7th or 8th time I have read it, so I only skimmed this time. For the life of me, I have no idea what you are talking about.

It's in the introduction, 6th paragraph. And she doesn't "cite" a dictionary, she just says that that's "the exact meaning and dictionary definition". Now if no one can find such a dictionary does that mean everything else she writes is an arbitrary assertion? I mean, after the typewriter story who can you trust?

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Dennis,

Look deeper. It's ugly.

Michael

I just did a google for "Soros Popper", and the first thing that came up was absurd. Yeah, Popper was a commie in his youth, but their research stopped there, they didn't note that he switched. Stupid guilt by association. Could you provide a link to something you know of that's intelligent?

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Dennis,

On Popper, I first got interested in the Popper-Soros connection through Glenn Beck. I'm not sure Popper ever was a full-fledged Fabian. I have it on my plate to look all this stuff up in great detail later.

But I looked around for you. I found one article in Reason's Hit & Run Blog by Matt Welch that gives a transcript of some of Beck's comments, thoroughly bashes them and Beck (not very effectively, in my opinion), and quotes Brian Doherty's obituary of Popper:

Popper was not a doctrinaire libertarian. Though a long-time friend and correspondent of F.A. Hayek's, he embraced social safety nets and believed in the efficacy of what he called "piecemeal social engineering" to ameliorate social problems.

In my view, regardless of how much you dress up a phrase like "piecemeal social engineering," it still smacks of Progressivist (or Fabian) stealth. And that in theory is pure Soros in action.

I have to read more about Popper before I can make a solid statement about his politics. But the impression I get so far is that he was against certain kinds of dictators--most in fact, but would not be so adverse to the science-oriented technocrat kind of dictator (so long as you don't call such a dictator a dictator.)

There are several discussions about Popper here on OL, including his total rejection of definitions as valid knowledge. At least he thinks they are useful for mucking around. There is an article available online by him (it is linked to several times in those discussions--sorry, I don't have time to look it up right now) where he is quite explicit about this.

From what contact I have had with Popper so far, I consider him to be sweet poison. The taste is good, but the essence will kill you.

At one time, I thought there might be some underlying similarities between him and Rand. I have since changed that opinion. I think they were aiming at entirely different--and antagonistic--social visions.

Two Popper disciples in our neck of the woods are Daniel Barnes and Greg Nyquist of the Ayn Rand Contra Human Nature blog. I can't remember Daniel's stance on induction enough to say for sure, but I recall Nyquist flat-out denying induction exists. If I remember correctly, he claims he got this notion from Popper.

Imagine what kind of society that will get you...

Michael

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I know about the Introduction. I even mentioned the controversy around it. Pete said, "title essay." And I am pretty sure he was not referring to the Introduction. He's generally very careful about things like that.

But there is no "title essay". Never mind, I was just trying to be helpful, and I see it's all under control here... :smile:

I'm not sure Popper ever was a full-fledged Fabian.

He'd have had a hard time fitting in at Mount Pelerin. Even Milton Friedman was too middle of the road for the likes of Mises.

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Apropos, Daniel Barnes and Greg Nyquist, the owners of the Ayn Rand Contra Human Nature blog, are avowed admirers of Karl Popper, who is an intellectual hero to Progressives. George Soros even runs a think-tank that gives out grants based on Popper's ideas. It is called Open Society Foundations (but until recently, it was called the Open Society Institute). I believe they bash Rand so hard because they know her ideas are poison to a Progressive one-world-government takeover of the planet (called euphemistically in Soros-speak, "open society").

A thousand curses! My army of spies inform me that the brilliant plot conceived by Greg Nyquist, myself, and the shape-changing lizard George Soros to create a One World Government based on the Shariah Protocols of the Elders of the Knights Templar has been uncovered by that indefatigable Inspector Clouseau of philosophic detection, the one and only MSK. Armed with his half-read copy of the ITOE, the towering intellectual insights of Glenn Beck, and the vast, manifold introspections of his own ego he has, like his heroine, once again fearlessly blown the covers off the bottomless evil at the base of every thinker that he's never read. After all, places like Objectivist Living are temples of reason where the New Intellectuals can safely discuss burning questions like "What dictionary did Ayn Rand use?" But BWAHAHAHHA! Our hatred of such greatness for being great remains undiminished! We will return to spread our sweet poison and advocate our Popperian dictatorships anew across the internets! Fly my pretties! To the black helicopters, go!! BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHA!

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(EDIT: I can't help but like this guy. God knows why... :smile: )

My prior interactions with him didn't go well, but reading this latest post I detect a different style at work. I'm starting to think that post must have been ghost-written by Bill Sherk, I mean who else writes like that? It's genuinely amusing. Another thing, I don't recall where I read this but someone, a fundy I think, made the claim that Barnes is simply a sock-puppet for Nyquist, that they're the same person. Now if it turns out that WSS is the same as Barnes and the same as Nyquist, I mean what would you call that? Sounds too off the wall? Look up what happened to Johann Hari.

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Dennis,

Daniel's cool. We go back a ways.

I can forgive him almost anything for the migraines I have seen him inflict on O-Land fundamentalists. It's a hoot.

I just don't take his anti-Rand stuff too seriously. Oh, he digs up lots of good links and stuff and sometimes comes up with a really good insight or two, but when he gets on a roll about Rand, there's too much "throw a bunch of crap against the wall and see what sticks" approach to get all hot and bothered. Hell, I don't think he takes his anti-Rand stuff too seriously, either (but for different reasons than I do--I don't think he takes life or anything else too seriously).

Besides, he let his public intellectual image be defined by Ayn Rand way back when there was no Tea Party, no Atlas Shrugged movie and so on. And that means something. It's a tell, like the poker players say. He knew the force of her ideas when the mainstream did not.

Daniel Barnes is still, to this day, defined by Ayn Rand.

(To Danny-boy - Take that in your pipe and toke it. :smile: )

It's been a long time since I posted on his blog. I might visit him one of these days. I kinda miss him...

Michael

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Does anyone know which dictionary Ayn Rand used? Did she use more than one? I can't find this out anywhere so I thought I'd post the question.

Did she use the $Dictionary?

Ba'al Chatzaf

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FRATERNAL ORDER OF THE SACRED IGLOO Local 13

Office of the Grand Shaman

Dear Brother Daniel,

First you should know there is a rumour going around that you and Brother Greg are the same person or you are both three people, or something. Well of course we know you and Greg are two people though it is hard to tell you apart on the phone sometimes. This other person is a Bill Shirk, but there is no one of that name in our Lodge even lapsed. There is a Hilly Shirks over at Local 101, but that is not even his real name it is only a nickname because he always gets sick when it is his turn to call Bingo or drive the sledpool to the kids day camps. And Mottled Tusk is too far away from here even for the best dogs. I don't know how these dumb ideas get started but some people just like to make stuff up.

Also, want to commend you on your good work for the Education Committee, the workshop on Right and Wrong was very interesting and that movie with the trains was very scary, nobody will want to be Wrong after seeing that haha.

However looking at your materials for next session, I am afraid we can't approve it. That book does NOT Pop-up at all and there aren't even any pictures, and the words don't make sense. I would suggest you use the NHL Handbook again and show its applications to Real Life, but that would be too depressing for the course participants especially the ones who only enrolled because of the lockout. You better just do Iglovian Influences on Anne of Green Gables again.

You asked me at the last Strategy Meeting if it might be to our advantage to merge the Secret Plan with somebody elses secret plan and reap the rewards of synergy. I have taken a straw man poll and the feeling is definitely NO, the Secret Plan is unique and integral to the values and aims of the Brotherhood. Let other people make up their own plans.

See you at the Hut for the Little Mosque on the Prairie marathon,

ISS

Gord

Asst. Shaman

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I was sick those times and you can check with Doc Akqavit.

I know who tells those lies and made up that stupid nickname and it is a person who is very jealous of me because he is a big stupid loser.

ISS,

Dirk Hillwalker Jr.

Brother in Good Standing

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My prior interactions with him didn't go well, but reading this latest post I detect a different style at work. I'm starting to think that post must have been ghost-written by Bill Sherk, I mean who else writes like that? It's genuinely amusing. Another thing, I don't recall where I read this but someone, a fundy I think, made the claim that Barnes is simply a sock-puppet for Nyquist, that they're the same person. Now if it turns out that WSS is the same as Barnes and the same as Nyquist, I mean what would you call that? Sounds too off the wall? Look up what happened to Johann Hari.

Message: I exist!

Here's me:

http://www.barnescatmur.com/

http://www.barnescat...gory/who-we-are

And I do stuff like this:

http://www.barnescat...e-do/hell-pizza

And this:

http://www.stoppress...-botab-pay-dirt

As well as being married with three kids, surfing or skiing most weekends and that sort of thing, in what little remains of my spare time I occasionally criticise the egregious philosophical theories of Ayn Rand and her more absurd followers. They say a man should have a hobby after all. However to suggest as MSK does that somehow "defines" me only confirms that, as I have long argued, Randians really don't have a clue about definitions...;-) I also have no "public intellectual image." I co-write an obscure blog. If that is enough to take over the planet, then we are all in very big trouble.

Cheers

D

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btw - Daniel,

You're looking good in your "Who We Are."

Michael

EDIT: Oh God. You're a singer, too? I knew there was something wrong somewhere...

Here's a true story from my producing days. A lady once asked me for an opportunity. I asked if she was a musician. She answered, "No. I'm a singer."

At least she knew more about herself than most do. :smile:

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