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Jerry Biggers

Peikoff's OBJECTIVE COMMUNICATION in print 9/3/2012

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OOPS!! I meant 2013, not 2012! Just seeing if you were paying attention!

Leonard Peikoff's 10 lecture course, "Objective Communication," coming out as a book and ebook (Kindle, Nook) 400 pages. edited by Barry Wood (??)on Sept. 3.

As I recall, that course had at least one Q&A session with Ayn Rand. Whether that will be include, who knows?

Available on that date from both Amazon and Barnes & Noble, as book or download>

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I wonder what kind of disclaimer will be included?

From my notes on the cassette version:

"Now, of course, the question is: How do you judge whether somebody is intellectually honest or not? You cannot judge that point by the shear fact that he disagrees with you. Obviously, your ideas are not self-evident. They have to be learned, they are philosophy which is a very complex subject. Many, many many honest errors are possible along the way, particularly in a confused mixed up world such as we live in at present. Nor can you decide that someone is dishonest simply because you are unable to convince him, because perhaps you are unclear, maybe you are not arguing very well or maybe he is really badly confused even though honest. So your presentation is clear, but he just can’t get it he is so mixed up. It’s very difficult in many cases to judge. In many cases, I would say it is impossible to know. At least it’s certainly impossible for me in many cases to know and I generally follow the policy of giving the benefit of the doubt if I am not sure."

- Objective Communication (1980) by Leonard Peikoff, Lecture 7, Tape 1, Side A at 12:00

Contrast with:

"Now we must note that falsehood does not necessarily imply vice; honest errors of knowledge are possible. But such errors are not nearly so common as some people wish to think, especially in the field of philosophy."

- Fact and Value (1989) by Leonard Peikoff

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Hmmm,...where do you think Leonard would score on your Objectivism tests?.

Answer: Probably higher after he retakes your Basic Principles of Objectivism (MP3) and/or reads The Vision of Ayn Rand.

My guess is that, since he has some visual impairment, he would enjoy the audio download better.

Hearing Nathaniel would bring back nostalgic memories of the halcyon days at NBI.

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I cannot state who has or has not taken CRC tests, but I can tell you there are many people that take the tests without giving their name.

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Is this the course that was divided into three parts 1. written comm.; 2. speaking comm.; and 3. formal debate. The time frame is right.

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I cannot state who has or has not taken CRC tests, but I can tell you there are many people that take the tests without giving their name.

Randall-

I meant that (Peikoff taking the BPO course/book/tests) as a joke. He probably would not be amused.

Your Objectivism Part one test seems to have more questions based on OPAR. He probably would like that part, but not anything smacking of Brandenianism.

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Is this the course that was divided into three parts 1. written comm.; 2. speaking comm.; and 3. formal debate. The time frame is right.

The Objective Communication course (which does not live up to its title or description) probably wasn't a great hit back when it was offered live in NYC (excepting that Ayn Rand participated in the Q&A of at least one f the lectures).

I can't imagine that his "Principles of Grammar" course, offered around the same time, but without Rand's participation, gathered much interest. I think that that may have been based on his courses given at Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute, where I believe he was teaching in the English Department, not Philosophy(??)..

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I can't imagine that his "Principles of Grammar" course, offered around the same time, but without Rand's participation, gathered much interest. I think that that may have been based on his courses given at Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute, where I believe he was teaching in the English Department, not Philosophy(??)..

English department, but he did give a so-called seminar on the philosophy of science. I describe the seminar as "so-called" because he did almost all the talking, at least in the one Larry and I attended as guests. Peikoff might have given more than one such course, since Phil Coates has said that he attended, and I don't think that Phil was there at the course Larry and I attended. If Phil was there, he was subdued.

I think Brooklyn Poly didn't have a philosophy department.

I don't know if Peikoff had lost his appointment at Brooklyn Poly by the time he gave that grammar course.

Ellen

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Oh, Jerry, you're so wrong. That grammar course was the gold standard. It was fantastic. It kills me to say he did anything worth while, but for a writer, it was the best.

Now, did your answer say the the communications course is the one I'm thinking of? Because if it is, the debate part was a Laurel and Hardy slapstick. He had teams of twos (pro and con) for religion v. atheism, capitalism v. communism, and -- I forget the third. The problem was that those who had to debate the 'bad' side were so scared that it would be held against them, all they could do was stammer, "well, you know, communism is good. Yes, really. It isn't so bad." Fred Weiss would mumble a word, step back, run back to the microphone and yell, "But you know I don't really believe that, right?" The only one worth watching was the guy who defended religion. He kept shouting "You can't speak until you've read the Dead Sea scrolls." over and over again, not allowing his opponent to open his mouth. He got close to a standing ovation.

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Ginny,

Re Fred Weiss, mentioned in your post above. How did he act in a direct presence situation? He used to post on SOLO, and he was thoroughly snotty in that context.

Ellen

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Oh, Jerry, you're so wrong. That grammar course was the gold standard. It was fantastic. It kills me to say he did anything worth while, but for a writer, it was the best.

Now, did your answer say the the communications course is the one I'm thinking of? Because if it is, the debate part was a Laurel and Hardy slapstick. He had teams of twos (pro and con) for religion v. atheism, capitalism v. communism, and -- I forget the third. The problem was that those who had to debate the 'bad' side were so scared that it would be held against them, all they could do was stammer, "well, you know, communism is good. Yes, really. It isn't so bad." Fred Weiss would mumble a word, step back, run back to the microphone and yell, "But you know I don't really believe that, right?" The only one worth watching was the guy who defended religion. He kept shouting "You can't speak until you've read the Dead Sea scrolls." over and over again, not allowing his opponent to open his mouth. He got close to a standing ovation.

Re: "Principles of Grammar" course - No kidding?! Well, it was just a wild guess on my part. So, I'm wrong. Again.

Anyway, I was going on the presumption that, since Rand reportedly (in the bios.) requred that Leonard rewrite drafts of his The Ominous Parallels, multiple times for several years, that he must have had some grammatical problems that Rand kept pointing-out to him. As I said, a wild guess. Thanks for the real story.

Re: "Objective Communication." The course that I have is on cassette tapes, (dated 1983, Second Renaissance Books), ten lectures, untitled on the album covers and on the body of the cassette tapes. Included was a printed 30 page booklet, entitled "OBJECTIVE COMMUNICATION," subttled "Writing - Speaking - Arguing".

The Table of Contents: Part One - (three separate essays) "Certainty," "The Draft," and "Excerpts".

On Part Two - Four essays, "Primacy of Consciousness: Some Manifestations," "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness," "The Moral and the Practical," and "Racism." Although the author for these brief essaysis not listed, I think that Part Two are from essays by Rand. Part One, I am not sure. To clear this up, I will have to listen to the first two cassettes, where I think Peikoff explains the booklet and also what the subjects are for each of the ten lectures.. Sorry, but I haven't listened to it in over ten years.

UPDATE: see my next post, which is the "official" description of the course content.

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Okay, from Peikoff's website, this description of the contents of the ten lectures, including the use of the booklet.

.

Objective Communication

This course teaches you how to present ideas effectively. It identifies certain principles of intellectual communication, and applies them to three areas: writing, speaking and arguing. It is concerned, not with style, but with substance, i.e., with the basic methods necessary to achieve a clear, absorbing presentation of your viewpoint.

Dr. Peikoff draws on principles from such diverse fields as epistemology, drama, education and polemics. If you want to be able to convey your thoughts objectively — whether you are preparing a report for work, a paper for school or a book for a publisher — this course will dramatically enhance your skills. Throughout the sessions, volunteers were given an opportunity to make brief presentations. Since the subjects of these exercises (included as a booklet with the taped course) are limited to aspects of Objectivism, the exercises may also expand or refresh your knowledge of this philosophy.

The ten sessions, which are themselves masterful examples of objective communication, consist of the following:

Basic Principles and Methods

(opening lecture)
The nature and problems of intellectual communication. The role of epistemology: the "crow epistemology" and the Law of Identity; knowledge as contextual. Motivating the audience. Delimiting the subject. Logical organization of material. Balancing abstractions and concretes.

Writing

(4 lectures)
Written presentation. Similarities and differences between writing and speaking. Making a piece of writing self-contained. How to judge a formulation’s objectivity. Exercises in editing philosophic statements to achieve precision of thought. Analysis of samples of student writing.

Speaking

(3 lectures)
Oral presentation. The nature and problems of extemporaneous delivery. The problem of overloading the listener’s mind. Transitions, pace and emphasis. Monitoring the audience’s response. How not to bore the listener. Analysis of short talks by students.

Arguing

(2 lectures)
When — and when not — to argue. The art of philosophical detection. Selecting the essential points to answer in a discussion. The major pitfall of polemics: conceding the opponent’s premises. Arguing politics, and how to deal with spurious "facts." Training oneself in philosophic argumentation. Analysis of mock arguments, with students (or the instructor) serving as "devil’s advocate."

Ayn Rand answers questions from the audience at the end of Lecture 1, ranging from esthetics to politics. Of particular value is her discussion of the fiction writers whose works best illustrate the craft of writing.

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Jerry, yes, thanks, that's the lecture. Did the cassettes have those arguments (or debates on them?) Do you recall those debates and how silly they were? By the Way, I do recommend the grammar lecture to anyone.

Ellen: I knew Fred vaguely. He was friends with Ed Cline, whom I saw briefly at the time. He was snooty, invoking the wisdom of Peikoff at every opportunity. He made sure that listeners understood that he and Peikoff were peas in a pod. I never forgot his performance at the debate thing, and I had to work to keep a straight face. He just wasn't as impressive as he thought he was.

Jerry - wait a minute. I just reread your course summary, and it says Rand answered questions at the end. Can't be the same one, then.

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Ginny -

As Peikoff's (from his site) description says, Rand only answered questions in a Q&A at the end of the first lecture,

not at the end of the course

But now your questions have revived my interest so I'll listen to it again!.

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I have a taped course by Peikoff called "Writing: A Mini-Course."

I only listened to half of it way back when. My impression at the time was that it was boilerplate, and not even good boilerplate. That's why I didn't finish.

I won't give any examples right now because my memory sometimes screws up, but as a hypothetical example of the kind of thing I recall, imagine a course on writing where the person says you have to have an introduction where you introduce your material, a body where you elaborate on it, and a conclusion.

It was that kind of thing. Not wrong, but you get it all in high-school.

Even with all the suspicious editing, Rand's book on nonfiction writing is far superior, just from her discussion of theme alone. She used the term "theme" in the same way people say "slant" these days, but it was a pretty good discussion of how to incorporate it.

Later I'm thinking of doing an item-by-item discussion of her writing books. I think this would not only be interesting to people in our subculture, maybe it would help some budding writers ignore Rand's overbearing intimidation right at the moment they are most vulnerable, i.e., during the early imagining process, when the ideas are finally starting to flow, or during writer's block.

Rand's stuff is great for revision and polish, but it can be quite stifling for getting the first draft out. This, to me, is the greatest drawback in going through her books on writing.

Peikoff's course, on the other hand, does not have this problem (from what I remember). But it's more like a high-school refresher course.

Maybe his communication course is better. I'll see when it comes out.

Similar to Ginny, I have heard others say good things about his grammar course. You can get it here (https://estore.aynrand.org/p/72/principles-of-grammar-mp3-download) for a little over 7 bucks. I might just do that.

Michael

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Anyway, I was going on the presumption that, since Rand reportedly (in the bios.) requred that Leonard rewrite drafts of his The Ominous Parallels, multiple times for several years, that he must have had some grammatical problems that Rand kept pointing-out to him. As I said, a wild guess. Thanks [to Ginny] for the real story [about the grammar course].

Regarding The Ominous Parallels, Rand's dissatisfaction, as a result of which Peikoff had to keep re-writing, pertained to tone and content.

Peikoff wasn't natively inclined toward the polemicism and slashing generalizations Rand employed, and he wasn't skilled enough to satisfy her at what she called "philosophic detection," especially at finding ways to pin blame on Kant.

A passage from his memoir talk at the Ford Hall Forum, "My Thirty Years with Ayn Rand," is instructive.

He was talking about Rand's analysis of the Academy Award streaker. The full section of Peikoff's talk can be found in an early OL post of mine - here. * The post comes from before OL's software had a quote function, so the quoted material is set off by "start excerpt" and "end excerpt."

I take it that the material Peikoff went home and wrote that night satisfied Rand.

[my emphasis]

Listening to Ayn Rand that evening, I felt that I was beginning to understand what it means really to understand an event. I went home and proceeded to write the chapter in my book The Ominous Parallels about Weimar culture, which develops at length Ayn Rand's analysis of the modern intellectual trend.

Ellen

* Edit: The link isn't going to the post, but instead to a spot farther down the page. Maybe just a temporary glitch.

The post is #5 on the thread.

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* Edit: The link isn't going to the post, but instead to a spot farther down the page. Maybe just a temporary glitch.

The post is #5 on the thread.

Ellen,

On my computer it goes to Post 5.

That misbehavior might be your cookies or some leftover temp file causing trouble.

Michael

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I cannot forbear to add, that what Piekoff meant was "I finally saw what Ayn was trying to pound into my head and could write what I thought she would like.Probably. Maybe".

That is how I understand this event.

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Daunce. he repeated several times (I would say over and over, but then Jerry would want the dates cited :tongue: that even though he studied for 30 years, it took him those years to understand Rand. Now, I'm not commenting on his mental capacity, but considering the above, how can he tell a questioner, who asked how anyone can understand all of this that it was mandatory to alwaysc study. Phyhlosophy was his job, and he studies for 30 some odd years at Rand's feet, and he still doesnt understand. How about the rest of us.

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Daunce. he repeated several times (I would say over and over, but then Jerry would want the dates cited :tongue: that even though he studied for 30 years, it took him those years to understand Rand. Now, I'm not commenting on his mental capacity, but considering the above, how can he tell a questioner, who asked how anyone can understand all of this that it was mandatory to alwaysc study. Phyhlosophy was his job, and he studies for 30 some odd years at Rand's feet, and he still doesnt understand. How about the rest of us.

Don't you sometims feel, that Rand should have left her estate to somebody else, and set him free?

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Just every day. Damn, Obj. could have made such an impact with the right person.

Binswanger.

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