Ayn Rand Explained


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Ayn Rand Explained

From Tyranny to Tea Party

Ronald E. Merrill, author

Marsha Familaro Enright, editor

(2012 Open Court)

Description at Amazon

Ayn Rand Explained is an engrossing account of the life, work, and influence of Ayn Rand: her career, from youth in Soviet Russia to Hollywood screenwriter and then to ideological guru; her novels and other fiction writings, including the perennial best-sellers, The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged; her forays into ethics, epistemology, and metaphysics; her influence on—and personal animosity toward—both conservatism and libertarianism.

Merrill and Enright describe Rand’s early infatuation with Nietzsche, her first fiction writings, the developments behind her record-breaking blockbuster novels of 1943 and 1957, her increasing involvement in politics in the 1950s and 1960s, including her support for the presidential candidacy of Barry Goldwater.

Rand’s Objectivist movement was first promoted through the Nathaniel Branden Institute, headed by her young protégé and anointed heir. The Institute advocated a complete worldview, encompassing Rand’s views on politics, economics, religion, art, music, epistemology, ethics (“The Virtue of Selfishness”), and sexual relationships. For several years the Institute grew rapidly, though there were ominous signs as some leading members were ‘put on trial’ for their heretical ideas, and ignominiously drummed out of the movement.

In 1969, Branden was expelled by Rand for ‘immorality’, the Institute was shut down, and all members who questioned this ruling were themselves excommunicated and shunned by Rand and her disciples. Branden became a best-selling author of psychotherapy books, with a following of Objectivists who had dissociated from the official organization headed by Rand, and after her death in 1982, by Leonard Peikoff. One of Rand’s inner circle, Alan Greenspan, later went on to get his hands on the steering wheel of the American economy.

Objectivism offers a comprehensive package of beliefs encompassing the ethics of rational egoism, rejection of all religion and outright atheism, the arts as expressions of good or bad metaphysical and ethical values, personal freedom from political interference, laissez-faire capitalism, and limited government. The last few years have witnessed a resurgence of Objectivism, with a jump in sales of Rand’s novels and the influence of Rand’s ideas in the Tea Party movement and the Republican primaries. While gaining membership, the Objectivist movement continues to be sharply divided into warring factions, the two major groupings led by the Ayn Rand Institute (Leonard Peikoff) and the Objectivist Center (David Kelley).

Ayn Rand Explained is a completely revised and updated edition of The Ideas of Ayn Rand, by the late Ronald E. Merrill, first published by Open Court in 1991.

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Does anybody know whether Merrill's 1991 book is worth updating?

David,

It sure is. The Ideas of Ayn Rand (which is what Ayn Rand Explained is based on) is one of the most engrossing books I have read on Objectivism by a non-insider and non-fundy.

Merrill covers things like why Objectivists stopped with activism in the Republican party in the 1960's, Nietzschean and Jewish influences in Rand's work, the rewrites in We The Living, Rand's view that practicing virtue is hard and a struggle, and a host of other stuff you normally don't get in Rand discussions. And he did it all from the perspective of someone who admires Rand, not someone out to debunk her or mock her.

I think Marsha did a good thing updating that book, although I have not seen her version yet. Knowing Marsha, she probably did a hell of a good job.

There is a Ron Merrill Corner here on OL. When I set it up, I wanted to spark discussion of his work and publish some of his unpublished writing. However, his widow, who owns the copyrights, married Adam Reed and he is hostile to me and my approach. So that idea got diluted into linking to a site where Merrill's unpublished works can be found.

I didn't encourage discussion of Merrill because back when I asked Reed for permission, from the tone of the response I got, I believed it would invite some ugliness to OL. Time passed and interest in him fell to the wayside. Now the forum is on solid ground and I don't care about the effect of snark and nasty attitudes. (I have learned how to deal with them--the hard way at that--without stifling the passion and free expression of OL members.)

So I believe we should discuss Ron Merrill. He's an original in our world and that is precious.

Michael

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I have ordered Marsha’s new edition, and I’m really looking forward to it. We are in DC on this windy rainy day. We are holed up with a view of Washington Monument (visited TJ’s last evening, fortunately), so I don’t have access to paper files just now. When we get home (diesel-electric locomotive, fortunately), I expect to find in files a review of The Ideas of Ayn Rand by Will Thomas. It will be interesting to see if Marsha ameliorates any of the problem theses or presentations observed in that review. I look forward also to what she might add on the relations of Rand and Nietzsche in view of the considerable scholarship that has appeared since 1991.

After Writing The Ideas of Ayn Rand, Ron had the following articles in Objectivity.

On the Physical Meaning of Determinism

V1N5 (1993)

Axioms: The Eight-Fold Way

V2N2 (1995)

A Biological Critique of Objectivist Ethics

V2N5 (1997)

I wrote a remembrance of my interactions with him concerning these works and unfinished work beyond the last here: True Searcher.

Ron wrote a review of Chris Sciabarra’s Ayn Rand: Russian Radical in 1995, which Chris has online here.

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From a review at Amazon:

Enright is responsible for bringing novel material with the brand new first three chapters. They add excellent material on Rand's life, her thought, and her impact on our society. This is especially helpful given that Merrill's original book was published in 1991, so updating is welcomed. Also, Enright's own experiences with the Objectivist movement from the beginning, including personal interactions with Rand herself, add intriguing material, interweaving these up-close observations with the development of the wider movement. The remainder of the book is a thoughtfully edited version of Merrill's thoughts, intertwined clearly with Enright's own insights, especially at points of disagreement, which are clearly delineated. . . .

One welcomed aspect of this book, given the subject matter, is its consistent tone of critical admiration of Rand, her life, and her ideas. Too many books are either fawning, sycophantic cheerleading for Rand or harsh, condemning diatribes against her. This supportive volume, with a critical, independent touch where needed, is a welcome addition . . . .

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However, his widow, who owns the copyrights, married Adam Reed and he is hostile to me and my approach. So that idea got diluted into linking to a site where Merrill's unpublished works can be found.

Ouch, I just looked and there's a nasty one star review by Adam Reed on Amazon. I'm not even sure what he's talking about, some of it seems to be written in code, but I gather this revision was done without his approval and whatever acknowledgement he got in Merrill's original has been taken out here.

http://www.amazon.com/review/RZ1LHUCET63BQ/ref=cm_cr_dp_title?ie=UTF8&ASIN=0812697987&channel=detail-glance&nodeID=283155&store=books

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Dennis,

I gather that some of Ron’s more extravagant speculations have been omitted from the revised version. I have finally, after 21 years, ordered Ron’s original The Ideas of Ayn Rand, as I have become fascinated with knowing exactly Marsha’s revisions. In stretches of substantial alterations, she notifies the reader by referring to Merrill in the third person and relating what he had said on the issue. This is followed by her own alternate view, which is prefaced with a first-person “I think” or the like.

Comparing text from Merrill 1991 shown at the Amazon site with Merrill-Enright 2012, it appears there is continual small alteration of the old text. From that sample, the changes appear much for the better.

Merrill 1991: “For years Rand had been carrying on a sordid sexual affair with her leading disciple, Nathaniel Branden” (5).

Merrill-Enright 2012: “Some years earlier, Rand had been carrying on an affair with her young protégé and ‘intellectual heir’ Nathaniel Branden” (29).

Dropping the sordid was an improvement. I don’t know whether Ron had simply selected the wrong word or what. It is good the new book has a new title, which is very appropriate to the content, which is both personal and ideological. Having a new title also distinguishes this work up front from Ron’s original. Nonetheless, it thrusts his main perspectives on Rand’s work forward for stimulation and consideration of a new generation of readers.

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Dennis,

Adam is a study in anger qua anger. You never know when he will go off or for what reason.

I hope he finds peace of mind some day.

At least he seems happy enough with Yoon (his wife and Merrill's widow).

Michael

I had forgotten about Adam Reed. Wow. I remember that dude breaking out with some very strange and angry strains of Objecti-Fever out of the blue.

J

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I have finally, after 21 years, ordered Ron's original The Ideas of Ayn Rand, as I have become fascinated with knowing exactly Marsha's revisions.

Thanks for the alert that the original is still available! I'd figured it wouldn't still be in print and hadn't looked, though I'd become curious also to compare the original text with Marsha's revisions.

I just ordered the last copy of the original paperback still in stock.

Ellen

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Hm, now the Amazon page for the original book in paperback just says "In Stock" and nothing about a limited quantity, whereas when I ordered, it said, "Hurry, only 1 copy left."

Are they having a run and they've replenished?

Ellen

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Ellen,

People can sell stuff on Amazon just like they do on eBay, except without the auction part.

Also, they can have Amazon do the fulfillment if they do not want to. This means, instead of shipping stuff themselves to customers, Amazon will ship in addition to taking care of the financial transactions with the customer. All the person does is arrange his stuff and format promo materials according to Amazon's policies, and, of course, ship his stuff to Amazon.

If his product(s) does not sell within a specified time, he pays for storage in Amazon's warehouse on a monthly basis until it is sold or until Amazon ships it back to him.

When Amazon says it has XXX items in stock, it can mean this arrangement or its own clearinghouse business with publishers where it keeps their items in stock in its warehouses.

Michael

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I see now that the review of The Ideas of Ayn Rand (1991) that I had recalled in #4 was not written by Will Thomas, but by Stephen Hicks. Michael had a link to the review within this post, but it is no longer working.

Prof. Hicks’ review was in the Fall 1992 issue of IOS Journal (V2N2), the publication in those days of David Kelley’s Institute of Objectivist Studies. Hicks found Merrill’s book “light years better than most by authors claiming to present and critique Rand’s work.” Chapters 3–5 were the best of Merrill’s book, in Hicks’ view. Those chapters deal with Rand’s fiction. Those are chapters 4–6 in Ayn Rand Explained. In this portion of his book, Ron had made some provocative claims, which Stephen and probably most readers of Rand would find dubious at best. It was in those chapters of Ideas also that Ron had delved into Nietzsche currents and counter-currents in Rand’s early literature and in The Fountainhead. A number of commonalities Ron discerned between Rand and Nietzsche are argued to be too broad-brushed by Hicks. Furthermore, in Ideas there are misunderstandings of Nietzsche and his relations to Kant. Hicks disputes in detail Merrill’s analysis of the most objectionable passages of We the Living 1936 that Rand cut in the 1959 edition. (See further 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and the references cited therein.)

Chapters 6–7 of Merrill 1991 treated Rand’s mature philosophy. This presentation Hicks finds seriously inaccurate at times and at other times very sketchy. He was also concerned, noting that Open Court is an academic press, that “because the power and originality of Rand’s insights do not come across in Ideas, professional philosophers may conclude, as most have for decades, that Objectivism is a watered-down version of old ideas. That can only hurt efforts by the Institute of Objectivist Studies, the Ayn Rand Society, and the Ayn Rand Institute to enhance Objectivism’s professional standing.”

As it has worked out in the many years since, there has been sympathetic close work by academics and independent scholars on Rand’s literature and philosophy published in esteemed presses, including works in Lexington, Cambridge, and University of Pittsburgh presses. Ayn Rand Explained comes onto the scene with those works already before the educated public. Its voice appears among theirs, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, among recent semi-popular works on Rand’s life, literature, philosophy, and influence. Which readers will find what fresh and durable in this revised issue of Ideas, we shall see.

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

A 1995 review by Ronald Merrill of The Letters of Ayn Rand is available by scrolling down here.

His remarks on The Journals of Ayn Rand are here.

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I'm not persuaded that The Ideas of Ayn Rand was in need of any updating.

Just in need of staying in print.

But I'm of course curious what changes Marsha Enright has made to it, so I've ordered a copy.

Robert Campbell

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I didn't encourage discussion of Merrill because back when I asked Reed for permission, from the tone of the response I got, I believed it would invite some ugliness to OL. Time passed and interest in him fell to the wayside. Now the forum is on solid ground and I don't care about the effect of snark and nasty attitudes. (I have learned how to deal with them--the hard way at that--without stifling the passion and free expression of OL members.)

So I believe we should discuss Ron Merrill. He's an original in our world and that is precious.

Michael,

Absolutely we should be discussing Ron Merrill.

And here, unfortunately, is all anyone needs to know about Adam Reed.

He published in the Journal of Ayn Rand Studies in Spring 2003:

http://www.aynrandst...ars4_2areed.pdf

He published in the Journal of Ayn Rand Studies in Spring 2008:

http://www.aynrandst...ars9_2areed.pdf

And he published in the Journal of Ayn Rand Studies in Spring 2009:

http://www.aynrandst...rs10_2areed.pdf

He has told various people (including me) that publishing in JARS helped him get tenure.

Yet his public commentary about Chris Sciabarra has been unrelentingly vicious.

Robert Campbell

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ND,

The Amazon review is nasty indeed.

Ron said, "It needed to be updated. Grady Booch built UML on Ayn Rand's epistemology, and now no one uses any other method for modeling. It doubled the success of engineers around the world..."

I told him. "Ron, it's not in Enright's book."

Ron started, "What about..."

I said, "Ron, it's Not an update."

Ron said, "Steele will get here eventually. I need to find Howard and borrow some dynamite."

The reference to Grady Booch can be decoded with the help of Dr. Reed's JARS article from Spring 2003.

David Ramsay Steele is a non-fan of Ayn Rand and an editor at Open Court.

It doesn't follow, however, that he has been trying to cheat the Estate of Ronald Merrill.

Robert Campbell

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As it has worked out in the many years since, there has been sympathetic close work by academics and independent scholars on Rand’s literature and philosophy published in esteemed presses, including works in Lexington, Cambridge, and University of Pittsburgh presses.

Mr. Boydstun mentions only those "esteemed presses" that have published books on Rand-related topics written or edited by persons affiliated with the Ayn Rand Institute.

Has Mr. Boydstun now concluded that only books by Tara Smith, Bob Mayhew, and Allen Gotthelf have, in recent years, contributed to the wider understanding of Ayn Rand's fiction and of her philosophy?

And if Mr. Boydstun is so persuaded, what is his current view of an article published in the Spring 2004 issue of the Journal of Ayn Rand Studies?

http://www.aynrandstudies.com/jars/archives/jars5-2/jars5_2sboydstun.pdf

Robert Campbell

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Michael,

Thanks for the information in post #12.

However, I'm not understanding what that information might mean about the sequence which happened when I ordered The Ideas of Ayn Rand on November 3.

Here's how the whole thing went:

I clicked on the page for The Ideas of Ayn Rand. Seeing that it said that there was only 1 left in stock, I immediately clicked on the Prime 2-day button, wanting to be sure to get the 1 that was left.

I then went to the page for Marsha's book and immediately -- without stopping to read any of the advertising material -- clicked on the Prime 2-day button.

Then, being presented with a "Customers Who Bought This Also Bought" advertisement, in which Leonard Peikoff's Dim was included, I thought, "Oh, what the hell, I'll get the damn thing. At least then I'll have it to hand for discussion at Thanksgiving." And I once more clicked on the Prime 2-day button.

Then, not being able to remember whether the Merrill page had said "More on the way," and wondering if the copy I bought was the last new copy left, I returned to the Merrill page, expecting to see "Out of Stock." Instead the page said "In Stock." No mention of quantities.

All this had happened in surely under two minutes.

Checking again now, I find that again the page is saying

link

[i've left out the columns to the left of the paperback price.]

The Ideas of Ayn Rand by Ronald E. Merrill (Dec 31, 1998)

(7 customer reviews)

Formats - Price

 

Paperback - $17.95

Only 1 left in stock - order soon.

 

 

Hardcover

What do you think is going on? Are they fibbing about the "only 1 left"? Or do they have a number of consignment batches which they're going through in sequence? Or what?

If this helps, I received an order-has-been-shipped confirmation in which is stated:

"Sold by Amazon.com LLC (Amazon.com)"

--

Also, do you know how to find out quickly if a book is still in print? What I'd actually like to know about the Merrill book is if it is still in print.

Ellen

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Ellen,

If you go to the Open Court site, the book looks and acts like it is still in print: The Ideas of Ayn Rand.

I can't say its status with 100% accuracy, but like they say in Hollywood, if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck...

As to Amazon's inconsistent reporting behavior immediately after the purchase, that is probably the automatic algorithm buzzing and whirring until all the moving parts settle. My own guess is that since this book is a sporadic seller, Open Court does not want to keep more than one copy at a time in the warehouse for the sake of cost. I would even bet that one copy at a time is provided free by Amazon, but I haven't dug that deeply into the publisher agreements to say for sure.

To continue, Amazon's human engineering gurus, I mean their marketing department :smile:, saw that when publishers only provided one copy at a time for warehouse storage, reporting it on the sales blurb with a little spin, i.e. as only one copy left in stock, was a good way to induce the scarcity buzz-whirr in the reptilian brain of customers and get them to feel buying anxiety. So that's the way they do it.

This is only my speculation, but the thinking behind the way I just now laid it out is actually taught. From your description of your own buying experience, shows to go ya' it works, too. :smile:

Michael

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For (the insulting) #17, at the risk of boring the reader:

Perhaps I was too hasty. Let’s see. I was trying to indicate the books on Ayn Rand and her ideas before the public at this time, which are there along with the entry of Ayn Rand Explained, that were not around in 1991 alongside The Ideas of Ayn Rand.

To the more academic side, I waved at some such books by naming their “esteemed presses.” Let’s see. Which books had come to mind? Which notables on that more academic side would I add now that I give it a little more time?

I had Lexington – that would be 1, 2, 3, 4; Cambridge – that would be 5; Pittsburgh – that would be 6.

I would add now, if it’s not already too much wealth (and competition): Penn State – that would be 7 (& upcoming); University Press of America – that would be 8, 9; Peter Lang – that would be 10; Wadsworth – that would be 11; Rowman and Littlefield – that would be 12.

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Michael,

Thanks for the further elaboration in post #19. Sounds like a plausible hypothesis about Amazon's and Open Court's arrangement. Re "the reptilian brain [a biological notion in dispute, btw] of customers" and "buying anxiety," worked with me this time because I was afraid the book was out of print. Doesn't usually. I've many times ignored a "hurry, there's only 1 -- or a few -- left" indicator.

Ellen

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Re "the reptilian brain [a biological notion in dispute, btw] of customers" and "buying anxiety," worked with me this time because I was afraid the book was out of print. Doesn't usually. I've many times ignored a "hurry, there's only 1 -- or a few -- left" indicator.

Ellen,

LOL...

Scarcity only scratches the surface.

When you first start seeing this stuff clearly, like the way I just pointed it out to you, you really start getting ticked off. Not because you react to it predictably per se, but because you start to realize that people do this to you on purpose and they have been getting away with it for years without you even knowing.

It actually works a lot more than your one example (a hell of a lot more), and more insidiously than anyone can imagine. Even when you know about it, it works on you.

:smile:

(I constantly get amused at myself these days when I feel the urges and tugs. At least I'm beginning to be aware of them as they arise and recognize where they come from.)

This is one area where Rand's stated view of human nature is incomplete.

She basically held this stuff in low regard. Ironically, however, she loaded her fiction with it. And boy did she load up. (She often did in her nonfiction, too, but not nearly as much.)

Add that to some of her fundamental ideas about the preciousness of the human spirit while looking up toward greatness instead of down toward misery, and I believe that's the reason her fiction has become a major modern-day mythology that just won't go away.

Rand is one hell of an emotional manipulator. If anyone can get the reptilian brain on the hamster wheel and get the buzz-whirr spinning in overdrive, she can.

I'm going to eventually elaborate on this and give some very clear examples from her writing. All I can say right now is that, given her drive, her great talent and innate ability to soak up the lessons about this stuff from her Hollywood mentors (without ever admitting it, probably not even to herself), I'm almost thankful she did not live in a time like today where she would have had the proof and clarity neuroscience and psychology are providing.

Just look what they did in the Communist countries, and later Germany, starting from the beginning of the 20th Century with very basic "human engineering" style manipulation, which is the historical-intellectual context from whence she came.

God knows what she would have created. :smile:

Michael

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Addendum to #20 (further response to the insulting #17, but perhaps a convenience to have in this thread):

I had written in the post over which the Professor* went on personal attack:

. . .

It was in those chapters of Ideas also that Ron had delved into Nietzsche currents and counter-currents in Rand’s early literature and in The Fountainhead. A number of commonalities Ron discerned between Rand and Nietzsche are argued to be too broad-brushed by Hicks. Furthermore, in Ideas there are misunderstandings of Nietzsche and his relations to Kant. Hicks disputes in detail Merrill’s analysis of the most objectionable passages of We the Living 1936 that Rand cut in the 1959 edition. (See further 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and the references cited therein.)

. . .

In the gray link 8, one finds, beyond the references, the following:

. . .

Further Reading

I have decided to save the comparative study of Mitlied and pity in Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, and Rand for inclusion in future installments of “Rand’s Morality of Life.”

Other studies of Nietzsche and Rand, additional to the present thread, are these:

Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical (1995, 100–112) – Chris Matthew Sciabarra

“Nietzsche: The Myth and Its Methods” (1997) * – Fred Seddon

Reason Papers 22, Fall 1997

We the Living: ’36 and ’59” (2004, 205–13) – Robert Mayhew

Essays on Ayn Rand’s We the Living

Anthem: ’38 and ’46” (2005, 37–42) – Robert Mayhew

Essays on Ayn Rand’s Anthem

“Thus Spoke Howard Roark: The Transformation of Nietzschean Ideas in The Fountainhead* (2005 TOC Seminar) – Lester H. Hunt

Philosophy and Literature 30(1), April 2006

“Egoism in Nietzsche and Rand” (2005 TOC Seminar) – Stephen R. C. Hicks

The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies 10(2), Spring 2009

The Fountainhead from Notebook to Novel” (2007, 15–36) – Shoshana Milgram

Essays on Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead

“Ayn Rand Contra Friedrich Nietzsche”* (Objectivist Summer Conference 2008) – John Ridpath

A Symposium on Friedrich Nietzsche & Ayn Rand (2010)

– Stephen Hicks, Lester Hunt, Adam Reed (& Ronald Merrill), Peter Saint-Andre, and Robert Powell

The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies 10(2), Spring 2009

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

(“Truth of Will and Value” to be concluded in the next installment.)

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(I constantly get amused at myself these days when I feel the urges and tugs. At least I'm beginning to be aware of them as they arise and recognize where they come from.)

Michael,

LOL backatcha.

I sort of figured that my little parenthetic would set "the urges and tugs" of your "paleomammalian brain" -- which is the part of the "triune brain" you mean, not "reptilian brain" -- into action.

Here's a brief description of the theory from someone who thinks there's "a lot to this idea." The post appears on a thread titled "MacLean's Triune Brain Nonsense?" on the brainmeta.com site.

http://brainmeta.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=6291&view=findpost&p=55715

Paul King

post Oct 09, 2005, 10:32 PM

Post #4

[underscore added; misspelling in original]

(Unknown @ Jun 27, 03:55 PM)

Is MacLean's Triune Brain concept utter nonsense with no basis in neuroscience? I'm inclined to think it is, and have been told as much from many neuroscientists. Yet, the triune brain concept remains popular with laymen and the general public. Why is this?

Actually, I believe there is a lot to this idea.

To say that we have "three separate brains" is a little bit silly. But I also think this is a misunderstanding of the concept.

What does seem to be the case, and there is a lot of experimental evidence for this, is that the brain has three basic layers. Each layer extends and physically wraps the more primitive layer below it. And each layer, in extending the older layers, transforms the overall character and behavior of the system as a whole.

The problem with seeing these as "three separate brains" is that it implies that each one operates independently of the others and could exist without the others. It is more accurate to say that each more recent layer augments the capacity of the layer below it. And each newer layer has some ability to override the layer below it.

The brain stem ("reptilian brain") keeps the body alive. It decides when we wake up and when we go to sleep and keeps us breathing.

The limbic system ("paleomamalian brain") directs the overall behavior of our body when we are awake. It makes us obsess over food when our blood sugar is low. And it makes us do "irrational things" in order to have sex, protect children, and defend ourselves.

The neocortex ("neomamalian brain") has all of our memories. This is the organ within our brain that notices complex patterns, experiences reality, and remembers the past. It's job is "to put 2 and 2 together" to build an operational model of the world geared toward survival. This part of the brain is functioning as an active, adaptive, pattern matching memory. It is consulted for behavior, but it doesn't drive it.

The way to think of it, then, is that the brain stem turns the brain off at night so it can recharge, and it keeps the body from being destroyed as best it can. The limbic system runs the show, but it does not know what show it is running. The neocortex has all the detail regarding what is best to do at each micro-moment. But it is only able to give advice. The limbic system must take the advice, even though it does not understand it.

The thread has a discussion, pro and con, in laymen's terms.

Ellen

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Ellen,

You have not been following my many and various discussions here on OL of the triune brain. Nor of my interest in persuasion.

Basically, the triune brain in marketing and persuasion is used as a virtual model for the sake of simplicity, not as an exact science to explain the precise location for processing each pinpoint of sensory input in fMRI scans. Nor to explain the nature of the brains of reptiles.

Rather than argue with you, here are a few of the authors who I have been studying and have been informing my interest in the brain: Daniel Kahneman (Thinking Fast and Slow), Antonio Damazio (merely a few lectures so far), Geoffrey Miller (Spent), V.S Ramachandran (only a few very, very fascinating lectures so far), Richard Restak (Optimizing the Brain lecture series), Nassim Talem (The Black Swan--not really brain science, but he hangs out with Kahnemann, so I went through the damn thing), David Rock (Your Brain at Work). I have also digested a couple of political works by George Lakoff (The Little Blue Book and Don't Think of an Elephant), although that side of him is getting really boring. I've got his works on metaphors and am chomping at the bit to get into them. I have read a part of Inside Jokes by Daniel Dennett, which is an excellent work so far on humor and the brain.

This is just off the top of my head and does not include the many works I have started and not finished. I have a huge pile of works and authors that I have not even gotten to yet (Pinker, Gazzaninga, Kurzweil and, yes, even Daniel Amen). And this doesn't even scratch the surface of the marketing people I have read who base their stuff on brain science. I'll be glad to cite names and works if you like.

There.

That's enough name-dropping for now. The thing is, I am actually digesting all this stuff. Axons and dendrites and synapses and a whole bunch of other technical brain stuff (and even some cell biology--but WSS would not approve since it comes from Bruce Lipton) inhabit my worldview now, but I prefer to keep things in layman's terms when I discuss them. The technical stuff bores me and fascinates me at the same time, but the stories always enchant me (think Kendall Haven).

Michael

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