Guyau

Atlas Summit 2014

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Excellent link. Apropos is how Rand was a great story teller and how that did so much to power her ideas. Once the ideas are more closely examined the more tentative many of them become. The philosophy of Ayn Rand--Objectivism--is a tremendous story. But a philosophy of objectivism doesn't even have a capital letter to show itself off. I personally couldn't continue to call myself an Objectivist without using a lower-case "o", which I couldn't stand, so I stopped calling myself an Objectivist. I'm simply not willing to have a personal philosophy that's as much a myth as truth. Truth gets the short stick in such a combination.

--Brant

Very wise post Brant...I think you are correct about the small "o" objectivist usage.

I am going to cease referring to myself that way.

Thanks.

A...

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David,

You should have gone farther for strange.

Will Thomas seemed like he was on the verge of crying as he wound up the last part. You can catch that part starting at around 58:41.

It was odd.

It's so odd that I'm wondering if Thomas has some sort of medical/neurological condition. My first thought was to laugh at his being choked up, and then suddenly not, and then suddenly choked up again, and not, without his offering any explanation. But then I started to worry that there might be something seriously wrong, which he doesn't want to share publicly. I hope he's okay.

There are some undercurrents going on in this talk I can't put my finger on.

Me too.

I've been thinking about it, and the vibe that keeps coming back to me is that the behavior of these people makes me feel like I'm listening to cheap copies of the character David Drumlin (Tom Skerritt) from the movie Contact. It's just this big authority pose, and a sort of "let's act as if it would be uncouth and intellectually unprofessional for anyone to acknowledge any of the large elephants in the room which we're pretending aren't there." It's such an aesthetic clash to see this style being employed by people who are promoting Objectivism.

It makes me wonder if the style was a conscious decision, or if the Drumlin Authority Pose is just something of a default method that ivory tower types subconsciously absorb and learn to use for themselves after having been beaten by it throughout their careers?

J

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One could not watch that video (or half of it) without concluding that the Obectivist Movement is a spent force.

These guys have actually managed to make Objectivism boring--not just the factionalism and warring--but Objectivism itself.

If anybody thinks I'm being harsh, take another look at the 40-person audience in the video. They are barely awake.

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Yeah, it was like listening to a Peter Schwartz lecture without the intellectual content.

I don't know if David Kelley's coughing is the result of his smoking -- or just a nervous tic. And I don't know if Will Thomas's intermittently *sounding* choked up is just sporadic, transient emotionality -- or some sort of neurological issue. (I first noticed it back in 2011.)

Kelley's lecture on "objectivity" was billed as "intermediate," and I guess it was. Intermediate between boring and irrelevant. Perhaps he's working on some really cool "advanced" stuff that isn't ready for prime time. If so, it's a carefully guarded secret.

David Harriman, who is way more on the cutting edge of philosophical output in the movement (agree or disagree with his ideas), sounded like he could barely muster up enough energy to straddle the fence.

There was no *inspiration,* no rousing *call to action.* Just a plea for money, and a wistful hope that the two factions will reconcile. And do what?

This is a sad low point for an organization I had once held such high hopes for.

REB

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You knew I'd be back after that pathetic performance, didn't you?

Jonathan says:

What a clown show.

I hope Irfan comes back and busts a nut. How many posts will be allowed before the discussion is shut down again by TAS?

Yeah, "clown show" about says it, except that clowns are supposed to be entertaining. No need for me to bust a nut, though, since my main message is: I saw it coming, I called it, my sources confirmed it, and I've now been proven right.

I do hope people will go back and re-read David Kelley and Will Thomas's pompous evasions from the original thread at the TAS site back in May:

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

Remember Will Thomas's line, "Come to the Summit and find out!" So what did we all find out? We found out that when people desperately feel the need to evade an issue, and lack the self-knowledge to grasp what they're doing, they'll evade it in public, and put it online. Then they'll ask for money and expect to be taken seriously. Perhaps Will is on the verge of tears because he realizes how grotesque it is to be making a request of that kind under the circumstances.

And what about David? On the one hand, in the May discussion, he complained that I didn't bring my questions about Harriman directly to him. In the last paragraph of the same note, he tells anyone with questions like mine to take their agenda "elsewhere." So much for getting the procedure straight!

Then he speculated that I wasn't interested in "facts." He was all about "facts." So what "facts" has David brought to light about the questions I asked? After all that wind-up, and bluffing, and throat-clearing, what do they have to say about anything I asked about? In other words: what is their position on David Harriman's past complicity in ARI's 24-year-long campaign of defamation and fraud? They don't have one. They didn't mention it. It just didn't come up. Ex nihilo nihil fit.

It gets better, though. My favorite moment is when Harriman tries pre-emptively to distance himself from ARI. He basically just comes out and says with a straight face that he wasn't associated with them because he wasn't an employee; he wasn't on the payroll. He got grants. Two paths diverged at ARI--employment or grant-recipient status--and that made all the difference. Put another way: his job was a matter of collecting ARI checks without having to punch a time card. So why should he have cared what their policies or principles were? I mean, the checks were rolling in, weren't they? Isn't that what matters? And why should he have cared about their decades of defamations of other people, or their disrespect for intellectual freedom? He was close enough to Leonard Peikoff to be high up in the pecking order, and close enough for his intellectual freedom to be perfectly secure. So none of their malfeasances were going to touch him, and that's what matters. "We never had to take any of it seriously, did we?" David Harriman whispered to David Kelley. "No, we never had to," David Kelley rejoined.

Harriman disclaims being in the official inner circle of ARI, but no one bothered to ask how he reconciles that with his having co-signed a letter, with Leonard Peikoff, denouncing Allan Gotthelf in TIA. "Co-authorship," David Kelley writes in Contested Legacy, "is a fairly intimate form of collaboration" (p. 35). There's a thought for you. Nor did anyone bother to read "Fact and Value" back to Harriman and point out that in it, Peikoff invites only those who agree with his and Schwartz's denunciations to remain in the movement. No, Harriman sits there and rambles on and on like a kind of self-induced Admiral Stockdale of Objectivism, struggling, twenty-four years after the fact, to figure out what the issues were or are. Earth to Harriman: it's called reading comprehension. You have to read the relevant texts to be able to discuss what they say. You won't get far as an "epistemologist" until you master the skill. And pretending not to know what the issues are doesn't do you any credit. It only adds stupidity to the original charge of dishonesty. What an asshole!

The one genuine revelation in the video was Lapeyere's confession (in response to Ray Raad's question) that the phrase "Open Objectivism" was a committee decision, and principally motivated by the desire to appease ARI and work with them. That worked out well, didn't it? I always love when these practical CEO types try to get involved with ideas, get in over their heads, and then end up bewildered when none of their ideas work. How can that be? He runs a company. Can't you run ideas the same way?

Jesus, what a lost cause. They're beyond criticism or even laughter at this point. They deserve to sink in the mire, where they belong.

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The one genuine revelation in the video was Lapeyere's confession (in response to Ray Raad's question) that the phrase "Open Objectivism" was a committee decision, and principally motivated by the desire to appease ARI and work with them.

Maybe it was a committee decision for the The Atlas Society to use the term "Open Objectivism" for itself, but the precedent was set by Kelley 25 years ago in A Question of Sanction: "Ayn Rand left us a magnificent system of ideas. But it is not a closed system. It is a powerful engine of integration. Let us not starve it of fuel by shutting our minds to what is good in other approaches. Let us test our ideas in open debate" (link).

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What happened to Objectivism since 1968 may have a lot to do with eschewing the money-making model of NBI. Give us money so we can advance Rand's ideas isn't dynamic to say the least. It's charity, after all, at the root. The givers have to front run the production then take what they can get in satisfaction. Maybe nothing. No home for "the money making personality" is also the curse of modern academia.

--Brant

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After all that wind-up, and bluffing, and throat-clearing, what do they have to say about anything I asked about? In other words: what is their position on David Harriman's past complicity in ARI's 24-year-long campaign of defamation and fraud? They don't have one. They didn't mention it. It just didn't come up. Ex nihilo nihil fit.

I finally watched it. What I find disappointing is that there was an open question period, and no one asked anything challenging. There was even an invitation, at the beginning, to bring up Harriman's editing of the Journals. Its too bad Irfan, or Jerry, or someone willing and capable, didn't attend and turn this into something memorable.

It was a great non-event. And boooooring.

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OK, you guys have persuaded me to not make myself bored by watching that table discussion with Mr. Harriman. Two pennies I’ll add from outside. It was my experience from David Kelley’s summer conferences that many of the people, even ones all grown up and old, stay up to all hours of the night talking to each other, as if they were back in college. That might well have contributed to dozing in the audience. Second penny is only that this fall, Will Thomas posted on his Facebook page that he had begun teaching an Econ course at SUNY in Albany, where he has lived for many years now (and where his wife is professor in another realm altogether).

About the state to which the Objectivist movement has come, I’ve fifty cents. The important one for me among Objectivist-friendly social activities after Rand is intellectual work concerning substance of the philosophy and commitment of that work to print. That such work reaches presses and turns a profit for those presses is a sign of the continuation of the Objectivist-friendly subculture. (Or in the case of journals or subsidized books, at least to have a rewarding number of subscribers or purchasers is a sign.) No, Objectivism is not an intellectual movement making big waves in academic philosophy. But there has been and continues to be serious intellectual work concerning the philosophy that reaches readers such as me. That such connection of minds does little to remake the culture is just tough. Many of us who study such publication have been, way back to before we discovered Ayn Rand, making a mind and enjoying other minds with interest in philosophy, and gaining finer and higher vista of the world. And that, beyond the effect of the philosophy in our own making a life, is the precious thing of it.

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OK, you guys have persuaded me to not make myself bored by watching that table discussion with Mr. Harriman. Two pennies I’ll add from outside. It was my experience from David Kelley’s summer conferences that many of the people, even ones all grown up and old, stay up to all hours of the night talking to each other, as if they were back in college. That might well have contributed to dozing in the audience. Second penny is only that this fall, Will Thomas posted on his Facebook page that he had begun teaching an Econ course at SUNY in Albany, where he has lived for many years now (and where his wife is professor in another realm altogether).

About the state to which the Objectivist movement has come, I’ve fifty cents. The important one for me among Objectivist-friendly social activities after Rand is intellectual work concerning substance of the philosophy and commitment of that work to print. That such work reaches presses and turns a profit for those presses is a sign of the continuation of the Objectivist-friendly subculture. (Or in the case of journals or subsidized books, at least to have a rewarding number of subscribers or purchasers is a sign.) No, Objectivism is not an intellectual movement making big waves in academic philosophy. But there has been and continues to be serious intellectual work concerning the philosophy that reaches readers such as me. That such connection of minds does little to remake the culture is just tough. Many of us who study such publication have been, way back to before we discovered Ayn Rand, making a mind and enjoying other minds with interest in philosophy, and gaining finer and higher vista of the world. And that, beyond the effect of the philosophy in our own making a life, is the precious thing of it.

Precisely.

That segment of the movement has been the most viable because of that intellectual mind set that makes Objectivism a magnet for a particular intellectual discipline and dedication.

In building a movement, that segment is critical.

The present crisis confronting freedom has provided a potential political army that can advance the applications of elements of the philosophy.

It is my hope that we have all contributed to the advancement of those elements.

We are now poised at a point wherein a political force can influence selected local races that can create that farm team that can make significant local challenges and provide the foundation for decentralization of power closer to the individual.

A...

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OK, you guys have persuaded me to not make myself bored by watching that table discussion with Mr. Harriman. Two pennies I’ll add from outside. It was my experience from David Kelley’s summer conferences that many of the people, even ones all grown up and old, stay up to all hours of the night talking to each other, as if they were back in college. That might well have contributed to dozing in the audience. Second penny is only that this fall, Will Thomas posted on his Facebook page that he had begun teaching an Econ course at SUNY in Albany, where he has lived for many years now (and where his wife is professor in another realm altogether).

About the state to which the Objectivist movement has come, I’ve fifty cents. The important one for me among Objectivist-friendly social activities after Rand is intellectual work concerning substance of the philosophy and commitment of that work to print. That such work reaches presses and turns a profit for those presses is a sign of the continuation of the Objectivist-friendly subculture. (Or in the case of journals or subsidized books, at least to have a rewarding number of subscribers or purchasers is a sign.) No, Objectivism is not an intellectual movement making big waves in academic philosophy. But there has been and continues to be serious intellectual work concerning the philosophy that reaches readers such as me. That such connection of minds does little to remake the culture is just tough. Many of us who study such publication have been, way back to before we discovered Ayn Rand, making a mind and enjoying other minds with interest in philosophy, and gaining finer and higher vista of the world. And that, beyond the effect of the philosophy in our own making a life, is the precious thing of it.

Well said, but I might quibble just a bit because you really haven't said anything about the Objectivist movement per se. My guess is that you would have succeeded intellectually in the manner you have even if ARI or TAS or whatever had never been started, let alone turned into major cluster-farks.

What you say is certainly true, but I give most of that credit to the strength of Ayn Rand's ideas, not any momentum created by the Objectivist movement. In that sense, Rand's ideas has succeeded in the manner you have described despite any such movement, not because of it. Now, as a thought experiment, imagine the wind at Objectism's back (caused by a serious movement not prone to shooting itself in the foot) rather than the wind in its face.

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I can’t trust you guys after all. I watched the video of the panel discussion with Mr. Harriman. I was not bored for one minute. I did not find anyone dozing in the audience (Shawn was looking down at something below table level, probably a screen). David Kelley’s summary of the split between him and Peikoff and his brief of the ensuing open-closed debate was excellent. The difficulty of making the closed conception specific and coherent was interesting, as were his counterexamples of the concepts of self-esteem and of induction and their pedigrees applied to the controversy. That is the first 21 minutes.

On DK’s remarks, between 30:30 and 36:30 on toleration and the “nut file,” amen.

Ed Hudgins asked David Harriman a specific question, in which it was natural for DH to mention what was his window on ARI education. DH answered the question. He was not answering some question of moral import that some here might wish were asked. That one’s own questions were not asked is not a show of evasion of them by the audience. One’s own burning questions may not, and rationally may not, be the more important questions for the various attendees.

Delighted to hear DH say that he does not think of his Logical Leap as part of Objectivist epistemology per se. Delighted with material quality of the video. Very weak attendance, at least by time of this session.

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

PS - Note for further check

DK mentioned a difference with Rand on relation of sensations to percepts in ES (by way of earlier no-big-deal to LP et al.) Is this the same difference with Rand that Binswanger has taken in this area in HWK, called out in footnote? (By my lights, Rand was right and HB wrong on this; he should have assimilated Treisman's preattentive elements of visual perception, research since Rand, to be sure.)

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David, re #137,

Principals in both ARI and TAS have written things helpful to my understanding. (Not about politics, of course; not rocket science and no need of help from others to figure out what to do in protection of individual rights.) The monographs from IOS (earlier name of TAS) are excellent, and some of David Kelley’s substantive essays in newsletters/magazines of the organization likewise. I expect book(s) he will issue in the future* will continue the excellence of Evidence of the Senses. There are books that have been sponsored by ARI very worthwhile. Harry Binswanger’s Biological Bases . . . is such, and I expect Andy Bernstein’s forthcoming one on heroes in literature to be insightful. ARI has sponsored much work time of academics writing papers or books concerning Rand’s philosophy.

The publications of ARS are worthwhile for me.

But basically you are right. David Kelley and Leonard Peikoff have advanced my understanding of Rand’s philosophy, as was mentioned also by Jay Lapeyre for his own understanding. But by far, most of my understanding of Rand’s philosophy is directly by her own texts and by my study of her competitors from Greece to now. The organizations have not stood in my way of reaching the vistas I have reached. True, they and their associated writers are silent (in print) on existence of my writings.* * * That is a nastiness of competitors not peculiar to Objectivist or quasi-Objectivist intellectuals. I’ve had my ways of reaching other minds with mine.

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Atlas Summit 2016, in Las Vegas –  July 11 through July 13

 

Marsha & David.jpg

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