Guyau

Atlas Summit 2014

Recommended Posts

The Atlas Summit this June includes an intriguing presentation by Walter Donway on differences in temperament and the value of our awareness of them for social relationships and self-understanding. I have recently been reading Jerome Kagan’s The Temperamental Thread (2010) and found a good joke. Kagan mentions a New Yorker magazine “illustrating two men talking on the lawn of a large mansion with a luxury car, swimming pool, and horse in the background. The caption had one man saying, “I could cry when I think of the years I wasted accumulating money, only to learn that my cheerful disposition is genetic’.”

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Atlas Summit this June includes an intriguing presentation by Walter Donway on differences in temperament and the value of our awareness of them for social relationships and self-understanding. I have recently been reading Jerome Kagan’s The Temperamental Thread (2010) and found a good joke. Kagan mentions a New Yorker magazine “illustrating two men talking on the lawn of a large mansion with a luxury car, swimming pool, and horse in the background. The caption had one man saying, “I could cry when I think of the years I wasted accumulating money, only to learn that my cheerful disposition is genetic’.”

That is very witty. It reminds me of the Question: What good is happiness? It can't buy money.

Ba'a Chatzaf

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • David Harriman, apparently erstwhile/former associate and collaborator with Leonard Peikoff and with ARI, is now to be a featured speaker at The Atlas Society's Summer seminar (which they now label, somewhat pretentiously, as The Atlas Society "Summit").

  • "Nauseating," is a word that comes to mind. .Why? David Harriman was the editor of The Journals of Ayn Rand and is responsible for the inclusion of material that Ayn Rand, herself, did not publish during her lifetime because she did not consider it to either be representative of her thought, badly written, or she did not approve for other reasons. , Harriman included material unknown even to exist by many members of Rand's Inner Circle (Nathaniel Branden, Barbara Branden, Henry Holzer, and Phyllis Holzer. - I know this from personal conversations with them. Think what that means! Material not even shared with her closest confidants) . I am referring to Rand's previously unpublished and unfinished short story, The Little House, and her notes about the horrendous torture and murder of a little girl. Rand's notes indicate some sympathy with the murderer Hickman, although in later notes she withdraws any admiration and did not finish or publish this story. The reason why is obvious. Yet, Harriman blithely includes it all anyway; and thus gives Rand's enemies material to smear the rest of her published writings. You can see their glee in many anti-Rand articles describing her as admiring the acts of an axe murderer. So now, admirers of Rand will be required to laboriously explain why she should not be judged by the Hickman material.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Jerry,

The material in The Journals of Ayn Rand is not represented there to be anything but nachlass. Because of its chronological order, it is helpful for further insight into the evolution of Rand’s thought and literary ability beyond what one can learn of that evolution by close study of her published works in their chronological order.

There is no attempt in The Journals of Ayn Rand to diminish the elevation of what Rand chose to publish over what she chose not to publish. Then too, Peikoff’s publication of Rand’s original version of Anthem (1938) does not diminish the elevation of her more mature thought and ability (Anthem 1946) over her earlier stage.

The Journals of Ayn Rand is represented to be only nachlass, and this is squarely not distorting or misleading, such as occurred when Nietzsche’s sister pulled together nachlass and published it under the title of a book he had projected but not composed at the time of his mental collapse: The Will to Power.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Stephen,

The Journals of Ayn Rand, as edited and published, do not meet the criteria of a nachlass. Not even close. Whole sections of some of the documents are omitted (edited, to use the polite term)

.

The ARI Archives may meet the definition of a nachlass, but it is hard to tell because it is not open to inspection, except for a select few. Also, ARI has been noted in the past for attempting to re-write the history of the development of Objectivism, by leaving out or implying that certain articles and concepts be attributed to sources different from those already identified and published in The Objectivist Newsletter and The Objectivist.This has been documented at great length elsewhere in Objectivist Living. I presume that you are aware of this.

A nachlass is generally conceived to be an archive of a scholars work. When portions or whole documents that were not previously published are released, there is usually an attempt to make sure that they are representative of the whole of the author's published work. That is clearly not the case with Harriman's edited Journals. That is, unless you wish to maintain (as many of Rand's most strident opposers have, see the attacks on her written in the Alternet, and now quoted or copied extensively) that the sections on Hickman and The Little House are representative of the origin of Rand's thought, and were instrumental in her derivation of her whole system, as her enemies gleefully conclude from those sections of The Journal..

Slightly paraphrasing my earlier post, "Harriman included material unknown even to exist by many members of Rand's Inner Circle (Nathaniel Branden, Barbara Branden, Henry Holzer, and Phyllis Holzer. - I know this from personal conversations with them regarding the material in question. Think what that means! Rand did not want even her closest confidants to know about her material on Hickman!.) Nor was this material even known to exist prior to the publication of Harrimann's Journal.

If an Ellsworth Toohey had been hired to find and publish information damaging to Rand's reputation, his inclusion of the Hickman notes, would certainly be number one on his list.

You state, "There is no attempt in The Journals of Ayn Rand to diminish the elevation of what Rand chose to publish over what she chose not to publish.....The Journals of Ayn Rand is represented to be only nachlass, and this is squarely not distorting or misleading," WWhether Peikoff and Harriman intended to do this damage, or were just incredibly naive as to what they have done, I do not know.

As for Nietzsche's sister editing his Will To Power posthumously and distorting it for her own ends, Nietzsche's reputation survived that attempt. But what Harriman and Peikoff chose to include in Rand's Journals, may be more damaging than anything a crazed sister could do.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Jerry,

Any work Rand did not want to possibly become part of an archive, she could have simply destroyed (and perhaps did). It is not the case that Rand’s early unpublished writings have diminished Rand’s reputation. Likewise, it is not the case that Rand’s affair with Branden has diminished her reputation as a thinker and artist. That these facts of her life and of her intellectual and artistic development are used for smear by her opponents who are of low morals or incompetent to compose serious criticisms of her philosophy of Objectivism (and heaven knows, there are plenty of serious criticisms that should be made) does not mean the same smearing would not be taking place without those facts being available. As you know, the smearing was taking place as soon as Fountainhead gained notice, then all the more after Atlas. The distortions and ad hominem of what was written in the books were common, as they are today. Then and to this day the young are sho-shoed away from reading Rand, from allowing the possibility that she might be a serious writer or philosopher, and from mentioning Rand under a serious aspect, shoed, that is by intelligentsia opposed to her philosophy (their main concerns turning out really to be politics or religion for the most part). This continuing “We decent smart people don’t read or favorably mention Rand” ploy has proven to be an abysmal failure. Rand’s mature philosophy will continue to be read and accurately appreciated by thousands of other bright, many highly educated, people. How far her philosophy will prosper or fade will continue to depend firstly on the substance of the philosophy and informed serious assessment of it. Both ARI and David Kelley’s institution have fortified accurate and fulsome understanding of Rand’s philosophy and her four novels, and they continue to do so.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"Nauseating," is a word that comes to mind.

I think it's a good thing that the Atlas Society is going to have Harriman appear. I don't think he should be ruled out because of his ARI work, and now he's going to have to adapt to a different environment. It might turn out very well. Or not, time will tell.

You're saying the Little Street should have been what? Hidden away for all time? Destroyed? I think it's an interesting artifact from Rand's Nietzschean period, and the really objectionable thing is that some low caliber critics routinely make hay of it, rather than taking aim at her mature writings and thought. Besides, I doubt Harriman made some kind of unilateral decision to include it in the book.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In one sense, you are right. It is now too late to "call back" the published Journal. So admirers of Rand's philosophy will have to defend her, particularly in academia, where professors are not reticent to use ad hominem attacks rather tan argue the specifics of her philosophy. It is not necessary to supply them with more mud to throw.

Is there a difference between the Rand-Branden affair and now the charge (not entirely unjustified) that she was an admirer of the perpetrator of a particularly horrendous crime (this incident is also covered in some detail where Heller and does attach significance to it, but not nearly to the degree what has since appeared in Alternet and in other internet or hard copy journals. in Ayn Rand and the World She Made. It is also briefly discussd by Joanna Burnes in Goddess of the Market, where Barnes is willing to cut her some slack by comparing it to similar actions by Norman Mailer and Truman Capote)?

To say one has an illicit affair (hardly unusual) is not as damnable as praising a kidnapper who taunted the police and the child's parents, and then murdered and dismembered the child.Rand praised his bravado and had a draft of a story praising someone who models Hoffman's acts.

I totally disagree with the assertion that Rand wanted the story published for which would have had little trouble doing.

She did not. She never even mentioned its existence to her closest confidants in her Inner Circle.The claim is made here that she must have really wanted it to be published after her death or she would have destroyed it. There is no mention made of any introduction or preface which she most likely would have made (as she did with all of her books starting with Atlas Shrugged)to be added to the story. In fact, Harriman and Peikoff apparently published the "journal" without any authorization from Rand, herself (written, of course, prior to her death).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Rand's notes indicate some sympathy with the murderer Hickman, although in later notes she withdraws any admiration and did not finish or publish this story.

She approached the trial from the other direction. She saw a crowd of reporters hating one man, saw one man going through the motions of self-confidence. And because she was on hair-trigger to see hatred in any group that opposed an individual, she mistakenly thought the reporters hated the man not primarily because the man was an axe murderer, but primarily because he was acting self-confidently. She focused on that to the exclusion of all else, including the real character of the man.

Using the trial as the springboard for a story makes sense, if you accept the initial blunder about the reporters’ motivation.

The blunder is hard to understand. Which is more probable, hating the man for being a psychopathic murderer and, to top it off, acting self-confidently, or hating the man for just acting self-confidently? But she was lately from Soviet Russia, was as the result of her experience jaundiced, on hair trigger to see evil in a crowd.

(By the way, among that crowd of reporters was Edgar Rice Burroughs, yet to write his novels about Tarzan of the apes and John Carter of mars. And she accuses them of lack of imagination!)

At the end of her journal entry is a brief note, apparently written somewhat later, telling herself to cool down. I forget the exact words and don’t have the book handy, but it sounded like she realized she had gone off half-cocked.

Yes, Harriman and Peikoff were both stupid to have made this public. I suspect, because there was not an adequate apologia before the entry, that they were too lazy to look up Hickman. If they had they would have found the details because the trial was one of those "trials of the century" that get written up in histories of crime, like the Lindbergh kidnapping.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Jerry,

To say that if Rand did not want records of her thought passed on in her estate she could have destroyed them is not to say she wanted them published and without touchups. Rand was in a position to publish anything she pleased, as you noted, and there were reasons (known to her) for not publishing any of her ideas that she did not publish. She did not publish her views about imaginary numbers and the nature of numbers more generally. Peikoff and Binswanger chose after her death to include her oral remarks on those issues in an Appendix to ITOE, but with caveats given in the Foreword by Peikoff:

The questions dealt with highly technical subjects, which demand rigorous precision; Ayn Rand’s answers were completely extemporaneous. She said as much or as little on a given point as the company required for its own clarity. Miss Rand did not speak with an eye to publication or consider the needs of a future audience.

. . . . If she had decided to publish the workshops, Miss Rand would have edited the material extensively, weighing every word choice. . . .

. . . . Nor does my decision to publish this material make it “official Objectivist doctrine.” . . . “Objectivism” is the name of Ayn Rand’s achievement, and her theory of concepts is presented in the book she herself published, i.e., the present edition minus the appendix.

Peikoff made a squarely appropriate caveat in this Foreword. Readers who discuss the material ignoring the caveat deserve the demerit, not Peikoff nor Binswanger for choosing to make the material available in print (and presumably choosing to preserve the tapes).

In the Foreword to Journals of Ayn Rand, Peikoff writes:

The Journals contains most of AR’s notes for her three main novels—along with some early material, some notes made between The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, and some notes from her final decades. . . .

Some pieces important to this volume have been lost. I refer to eight or ten scenarios for the silent screen, written in the twenties. . . . They exemplified an extravagant romanticism bubbling over with the excitement of living. I first came upon these scenarios in the eighties, after AR’s death. Had I been able to include them here, they would have brought a sorely needed balance to some other items, such as The Little Street, a bitter novelette from the same period. Mysteriously, these scenarios have disappeared from the Estate warehouse. If they should reappear, I promise to publish them.

Aside from occasional pieces, identified by the editor, the AR material in this book was written for herself, for her own clarity. No one, apart from her husband and a few associates, was ever shown any of this material, nor did AR intend to publish it. Obviously, therefore, nothing in the book may be taken as definitive of her ideas. On the contrary, most of these preliminary formulations were dropped, and a few were even contradicted, in her published works. In several cases, though hardly all, the editor points out such discrepancies.

. . .

David Harriman has done an excellent editorial job. He has brought order to dozens of large cardboard cartons filled with scattered papers and momentos. He has selected the best of the notes, organized them chronologically, offered explanations when these were available and helpful, and edited the wording, especially for grammar, of the early pages, when AR had not yet fully grasped English. For all this work, I am grateful to David Harriman, as all fans of AR should be.

This Foreword includes adequate caveat on the situation of the contents of this book with respect to Rand’s eventual philosophy Objectivism for which she is famous. The Foreword is followed by a Preface by the editor, David Harriman:

. . .

Explanatory comments. In general, I thought it best to leave the reader alone with the journals, and therefore I have kept my interruptions to a minimum. Many of my comments simply introduce the topic. . . .

Sometimes it was necessary to comment on a philosophical passage that is clearly inconsistent with AR’s mature views. In such cases, I do not attempt to explain the inconsistency; I simply cite the published work where the reader can find her definitive view.

Harriman’s transcription of Rand’s sketches for The Little Street, he prefaces by four pages of remarks providing balance and intellectual/artistic context in the development of Rand and her creations. The follow-up notes of Rand to herself on this aborted project, the follow-up mentioned by Mark, include:

Try to forget yourself—to forget all high ideas, ambitions, supermen and so on. Try to put yourself into the psychology of ordinary people, when you think of stories. Try to be calm, balanced, indifferent, normal, and not enthusiastic, passionate, excited, ecstatic, flaming, tense.

Learn to be calm, for goodness sake!

. . .

Not so straight and crude. The same things can be more complicated and different, as they usually are in life.

(I smiled over a rhetorical question Rand asked herself in this follow-up note, in the portion urging herself on in her craft: “Do you live for action or for rest?” A few days ago, Walter asked me “when will you ever rest?” and I replied “when I’m dead.”)

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

Noble Soul lists some reviews of Journals of Ayn Rand, the following: Kendall, Walter Olson, Chris Sciabarra.

Chris’ criticism, concerning one passage, about elision of duty and Nock and the absence of ellipsis points to indicate elisions are good. Criticism of the elision of whole from the passage is in order too, though not for the reason of implausible connection of interest to Chris, rather, simply because its elision leaves out some of the roughness and rambunctiousness of such writing of Rand to herself. And of course, there should have been ellipsis points where whole was omitted, and like Chris, I’m serious about that.

David Kelley reviewed this book in Navigator, but unfortunately the review is no longer available online.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A couple of facts come to mind about the Q&A sessions:

1. Rand recorded them.

2. She announced them in The Objectivist.

This does not harmonize with the story that she didn't want the public (the same public that read The Objectivist) to see them. The estate did the responsible thing by publishing, and it did the responsible thing by noting that these were not finished writings.

Destroying the writings and audios she wanted to keep secret was not her only option. Somerset Maugham found his first draft of Of Human Bondage an embarrassment, but he figured it would have some scholarly interest. So he donated the manuscript to Harvard with the provision that they could show it to credentialed researchers but neither the university nor the scholars could publish its contents. Rand didn't make use of this option either. I have this vision of her, in later years, enjoying the thought of setting off debates like this one.

I almost feel sorry for Peikoff and the people around him. They take abuse when they suppress, rewrite or exclude. Now they take abuse when they don't.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • David Harriman, apparently erstwhile/former associate and collaborator with Leonard Peikoff and with ARI, is now to be a featured speaker at The Atlas Society's Summer seminar (which they now label, somewhat pretentiously, as The Atlas Society "Summit").

Oh, shit. But for entirely different reasons from Jerry's, with which I don't agree. See my posts on this thread ("Harriman/ARI and/or Peikoff rift?") for an indication of my reasons.

As to "The Little Street" and Rand's Journal entries about the Hickman case, I'm very glad that those were published because of the insight they offer on Rand's literary development, specifically artistic background for The Fountainhead and major plot features of that work, especially the criminal trial climax and Roark's courtroom speech.

Ellen

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I almost feel sorry for Peikoff and the people around him. They take abuse when they suppress, rewrite or exclude. Now they take abuse when they don't.

Pete,

My vote goes to full disclosure.

The moment you decide to suppress unpleasant facts about a public personality, the big question becomes: Who decides?

We have already seen the mess this has caused with several publications of Rand's unpublished writing. They are literally unusable for scholarship purposes because there is no way to verify what is Rand's and what is the editor's, and even worse, why did Rand not include this or that? A missing discussion can lead to all kinds of inaccurate inferences. If Rand discussed something, the editor should not suppress it.

Truth does not have an agenda.

At the very least, the suppressed stuff should be included in footnotes or an appendix if readability is the issue.

I am curious about that material that disappeared from the warehouse...

Michael

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I thought I'd post here thoughts of Will Thomas, my colleague who sets up the Atlas Summit, on inviting Harriman:

------

William Thomas

Several people (Jerry Biggers, @Irfan Khawaja, @Mitch) have asked why TAS would feature David Harriman on the Atlas Summit program.

David Harriman has long been a significant Objectivist intellectual and speaker. His book, The Logical Leap, is by far the most notable piece of work on induction from an Objectivist perspective yet published. Read my review and David Ross's sidebar at http://www.atlassociety.org/tn... to see both praise and criticism of that book.

The Atlas Society stands against the in-group-out-group fighting and even cultish behavior that have sometimes shown their face in the Objectivist movement. We are pleased to work with any talented Objectivist intellectual who deals with us honestly and rationally. We would be happy to have many other intellectuals that have long worked with the Ayn Rand Institute contribute to our events and other programs.

There is certainly a history here. See my sidebar to my review, called "The New Open Objectivism," for some of it: http://www.atlassociety.org/tn....

At the Atlas Summit the faculty are accessible and any attendee is welcome to engage them in conversation. I urge anyone who has questions for David Harriman to come to the Atlas Summit and ask him. I would also emphasize that he will appear on a panel discussing the state of "The Objectivist Movement Today."

Justice is always relevant in our dealings with others. Justice does not consist in solely, or even mostly, making denunciations and requiring penances. David Harriman deserves praise for being willing to openly take steps to heal the breach in the Objectivist movement. I can think of other Objectivist intellectuals who have not had the courage to do that.

And, for those planning to attend the Atlas Summit, I note that none of the three posters I mentioned appear to have registered for the Atlas Summit as yet. It's clear that at least some of them had no intention of considering attending at all.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I thought I'd post here thoughts of Will Thomas, my colleague who sets up the Atlas Summit, on inviting Harriman:

------

William Thomas

Irfan Khawaja is really fired up over this! I posted a reply in the TAS comments that I'm reproducing here, since this is where most of my fans gather:

Irfan:

Diana Hsieh was associated with TAS for years, then transitioned to ARI. Before her transition she wrote some disgraceful denunciations of the people who had helped her along and of TAS as an institution. She rose to a certain level of prominence among the ARIans before getting the boot a few years ago. That last part was wonderful poetic justice, but I digress.

What I'm reading here, and please clarify if I'm wrong, is that you expect Harriman to do something comparable, and to do it before he may appear at a TAS conference. I note that Will Thomas hints that he might be planning to use the conference to make such a statement, and I just hope it's not going to be as tawdry a spectacle as Comrade Sonia (er, DH, sorry I always call her that) put on 10+ years ago. Is this right? He has to publicly burn his bridges before he may be heard? IMO that's the ARI way.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Irfan Khawaja is really fired up over this! I posted a reply in the TAS comments that I'm reproducing here, [...].

What specifically is Irfan Khawaja fired up over? Anything to do with Harriman's spinning physics and the history of physics to suit Peikoff's induction thesis? Or just over ARI/TAS politics?

Can you post a link to Khawaja's comments?

Ellen

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What specifically is Irfan Khawaja fired up over? Anything to do with Harriman's spinning physics and the history of physics to suit Peikoff's induction thesis? Or just over ARI/TAS politics?

Can you post a link to Khawaja's comments?

Ellen

Nothing about physics, just intra-movement politics. I think he's backed off a bit, following my next post where I said: "does he have to publicly explain himself before being admitted to the ideal public forum in which to explain himself?" That's pretty much unanswerable. Not that I would put money on Harriman saying anything that will satisfy Khawaja.

BTW, and FWIW, if TAS ever invites Comrade Sonia back to speak, for me that would be beyond the pale.

Ed provided the link, and I quoted that part of his post above, just click on it, where it says William Thomas.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's nice to see, in the comments section, that Phil Coates is alive and well, and that he's still totally Phil in lacking reading comprehension, going off half cocked, and practicing the vices that he falsely accuses others of committing. Once a douchelord, always a douchelord.

J

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I read the whole set of comments. (I, too, noticed that Phil Coates is still up to Philishness.)

I don't see a way to link to an individual post. Here, again, is a link to the announcement.

Khawaja does appear to be aware of the physics issue, though that isn't his focus.

I basically agree with Khawaja's sentiment, expressed five posts from the bottom of the queue, that both groups deserve being left behind, and with his evaluation six posts from the bottom:

I was involved in IOS near the beginning, back in those heady days of the early 1990s, when David Kelley could write without irony or cynicism of the "restless ways of the explorers among us" in the ambition that those explorers would be Objectivists. What a tragic-comic devolution from those radiant days of hope to what we now see before us.

Jerry Biggers' specific comments, however, objecting to the publishing of Rand's unpublished writings, remind me of Harry Binswanger's viewpoint about Barbara's biography.

Btw, I am not the "ES" who wrote, ten posts from the bottom of the queue:

Over the past decade or so, many knowledgeable Objectivist physicists and historians have expressed disagreement with David Harriman's views. Harriman in several notable cases used his association with Leonard Peikoff - "Any enemy of David Harriman is an enemy of me and an enemy of Objectivism" - to have those people ostracized from ARI. Will part of "openly tak[ing] steps to heal the breach in the Objectivist movement" include taking some sort of steps to correct the numerous wrongs he done?

Ellen

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

David,

I don't think he'll come back.

Objectivism often attracts control freaks who are conceited inside, even though they don't come off that way because it's mixed with deep insecurity. When I deleted a couple of his whining posts, I, an inferior in his eyes, took control over others away from him.

That was unforgivable.

:)

You can call him names to kingdom come and it won't phase him. But his utterances are sacred. You can't touch them without committing the equivalent of murder.

I don't know why that logic is so clear to me, but it is.

btw - I knew that when I did it. I was pissed and just wanted him to stop the bullshit of pissing on OL and OL members regardless of why. On a personal level, I hoped I was wrong about him back then, that he was a bigger man, but I wasn't and he isn't.

Michael

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Philishness. Ha.

I will say this for PC, this last OL flounce of his has had some staying power.

'I can resist anything except temptation.'

Oscar Wilde

Phil2006-2.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The thread on the TAS site has been locked. Just as well, it had run its course, and had taken some nasty turns along the way. Here's David Kelley's post:

We have closed the comments on this page. This will be the final comment.

The Atlas Summit blog is intended as a place for Summit attendees, and those considering whether to attend, to learn more about what to expect from the various sessions. In this respect, it is different from other blogs and content pages on the TAS Web site, where content we have produced is posted and comments are invited, pro and con, on what the author says. Unfortunately, the blog item on David Harriman was taken over by people who took it as an invitation to express their opinions about Harriman, about his history with the Ayn Rand Institute, and about the propriety of our having invited him to speak.

We knew, of course, that his appearance at the Summit would cause a stir. But the opinions expressed in this thread were largely uninformed, speculative, rationalistic, and worse. Principals at TAS, including myself, have been in discussions with Harriman since early last fall. We invited him not only as a prominent and productive Objectivist intellectual, but as someone prepared to reflect on and discuss openly his past work with ARI. No one-not Irfan Khawaja, not Jerry Biggers, both of whom I have known for the better part of a quarter century-nor anyone else made any effort to contact me, or William Thomas, or anyone else at TAS, much less Harriman, to learn anything about the circumstances. But they apparently weren't interested in such facts. Instead, they vented their pre-conceived attitudes and hostilities. The worst examples were "Mitch" and "IanH," who attributed a financial motive to Harriman on the basis of completely unfounded rumor and speculation.

It never ceases to shock me-though, sadly, I am no longer surprised-that people who call themselves Objectivists have so little interest in objectivity.

We are looking forward to Harriman's contribution to the Atlas Summit. Those who have no interest in the Summit, those who merely want to get their ideological rocks off, those who are more interested in reliving the conflicts in the Objectivist movement than trying to heal them-please take your agenda elsewhere.

Note to Phil fans: he did make another appearance. And he was true to form. Here's the link again, for all you gluttons for punishment:

http://www.atlassociety.org/as/blog/2014/05/13/david-harriman-speaking-atlas-summit-2014

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We have closed the comments on this page. This will be the final comment.

The Atlas Summit blog is intended as a place for Summit attendees, and those considering whether to attend, to learn more about what to expect from the various sessions. In this respect, it is different from other blogs and content pages on the TAS Web site, where content we have produced is posted and comments are invited, pro and con, on what the author says. Unfortunately, the blog item on David Harriman was taken over by people who took it as an invitation to express their opinions about Harriman, about his history with the Ayn Rand Institute, and about the propriety of our having invited him to speak.

So, the TAS position is that they want to encourage open discussion and debate, except on this issue, so shut the fuck up?

We knew, of course, that his appearance at the Summit would cause a stir.

If they knew that it would cause a stir, why didn't they prevent the stir by explaining their position on what's going on with TAS and Harriman? What's the big secret?

But the opinions expressed in this thread were largely uninformed, speculative, rationalistic, and worse.

Where did Kelley get "rationalistic and worse"? The opinions are definitely uninformed and therefore speculative, but that's because TAS has not informed the public, and the posts in the comments sections were written to solicit information!

Principals at TAS, including myself, have been in discussions with Harriman since early last fall. We invited him not only as a prominent and productive Objectivist intellectual but as someone prepared to reflect on and discuss openly his past work with ARI. No one-not Irfan Khawaja, not Jerry Biggers, both of whom I have known for the better part of a quarter century-nor anyone else made any effort to contact me, or William Thomas, or anyone else at TAS, much less Harriman, to learn anything about the circumstances.

What does he think they were doing on the thread that he just shut down?!!! That was their effort to contact his organization and find out what is going on!!! And Will Thomas's response was to tell them to spend good money to attend their seminar to maybe find out, and maybe not. What's so difficult about answering Khawaja's questions?

But they apparently weren't interested in such facts. Instead, they vented their pre-conceived attitudes and hostilities. The worst examples were "Mitch" and "IanH," who attributed a financial motive to Harriman on the basis of completely unfounded rumor and speculation.

Most of the commenters seemed to be very focused on the facts. They asked lots of questions. They got evasive prevarications in response, and lots of smug mischaracterization of their comments and motives.

It never ceases to shock me-though, sadly, I am no longer surprised-that people who call themselves Objectivists have so little interest in objectivity.

Wow, what a hyper-ridiculous overreaction. You know, perhaps it's better that Kelley pretty much stays cloistered and distant. He's not very good at living and conversing out here in the real world. He sounds very emotional and thin-skinned.

We are looking forward to Harriman's contribution to the Atlas Summit. Those who have no interest in the Summit, those who merely want to get their ideological rocks off, those who are more interested in reliving the conflicts in the Objectivist movement than trying to heal them-please take your agenda elsewhere.

Is Kelley admitting here that that's all that he was doing all those years ago: getting his ideological rocks off and reliving conflicts rather than trying to heal them? That's what it sounds like to me.

J

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, well. For a minute, I thought that I was reading some authoritarian missive from the ARI (or at least the early ARI). David Kelley's response (see above) is well worth reading. As are the comments that were posted for free and open discussion on The Atlas Society's website, including mine (for which I stand by) and Irfan Khawaja's much more lengthy and incisive analysis, as well as many others. But better look at it quick, since no further discussion is allowed and TAS may delete what was prevously said, and the questions raised. Dr. Kelley says it's their website and they can do as they please. And so they have, and it speaks volumes.

Note that Dr. Kelley does not respond to the substance of the criticism expressed concerning the propriety of choosing Dr. Harriman as a featured speaker. Instead, he accuses us of the impertinence of not asking these questions before Dr. Harriman's selection had been finalized. Dr. Kelley complains that "they" had been discussing the pros and cons of this issue for over a year.(where and when this was discussed and who was allowed to participate, is not addressed). Perhaps, he thinks we should have had the prescience to have asked him or other TAS officers why Harriman was chosen before they even announced it (BTW, looking forward to that lecture on the psycho-epistemology of pre-cognition)..

Both Kelley and Thomas could have easily responded to the substance of our questions. Well, maybe not so easily, considering what Dr. Harriman had written (or edited) when he was a close confidant and collaborator with Leonard Peikoff.. Will Thomas's response was simply to urge readers to plunk down the cash, and sign-up for the summer conference (excuse me, "Summit"), with the implication that everything will be explained there. Good idea, from his standpoint, being that he was the conference organizer. But from the standpoint of those who have been considering attending, shutting the door on further discussion, when TAS officers are either unable or unwilling to answer.the questions that have been raised, is more than a little disappointing, especially.coming from an organization that promotes free and open discussion of Objectivism, and from the author of "Truth and Toleration" and The Contested Legacy of Ayn Rand. Perhaps Dr. Kelley could benefit from reviewing his own works...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...