Jacob Western

An Objectivist view of History?

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Hi Iv'e heard a few Objectivists say that History is a bit of a hit and miss in regards to what actually happened. I was wondering what Objectivists view as great History books. I know on Lennards website a fellow Im assuming an (Objectivist Historian) reccomended A World History William H. Mc Neill. This will be the first History book I have ever read. Thanks for helping me in the process. I'm really happy to have found Ayn Rands works as they are very valuable for living ones life and you guys too with your recommendations. :)

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The Story of Civilization by Will and Ariel Durant. This is not my recommendation but Jack Wheeler's. Note, it's in 11 volumes.

--Brant

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The Story of Civilization by Will and Ariel Durant. This is not my recommendation but Jack Wheeler's. Note, it's in 11 volumes.

--Brant

Did I mention that this is will be the first History book I've ever read lol. :)

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The Story of Civilization by Will and Ariel Durant. This is not my recommendation but Jack Wheeler's. Note, it's in 11 volumes.

--Brant

Did I mention that this is will be the first History book I've ever read lol. :smile:

When you read your first and find something more interesting than is being covered, cross reference by looking it up on Wikipedia.

--Brant

for US history its history by Presidents will tend to over-state the importance of US Presidents respecting US history except for Lincoln and then it's likely to be completely wrong--that is, he was the worst President, not the greatest, and there was no "Civil War;" it's just called that

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Welcome, Jacob! You should look to actual Objectivist sources for the answer. The Ayn Rand Institute (www.aynrand.org) and the Atlas Society (www.atlassociety.org) are the only two that are consistent with the original works of Ayn Rand. The ARI offers a free online class in the history of philosophy.

This discussion board is one of several that we call "objectivish." In point of fact, the works of the Durants were not recommended by Ayn Rand in her newsletters.

She recommended Tragedy and Hope by Carroll Quigley; and she recommended The Triumph of Conservatism by Gabriel Kolko.

I have not read the former. I did read the latter. Quigley was a conspiracy theorist who influenced many of our leaders while teaching at Georgetown, among them Bill Clinton. (See his Wikipedia biography). Kolko was a communist. (Read his biography on Wikipedia.) Rand knew that Kolko was a communist, of course.

If you read For the New Intellectual by Ayn Rand, the introductory (and eponymous) essay gives an outline of western history. It is not surprising in any way.

Myself, I prefer to do my own reading. Objectivists dislike the Middle Ages because of the importance of the Church. I know that before he became Pope Sylvester II, Gerbert d'Aurillac studied mathematics and philosophy among the Arabs in Spain. Medieval astronomers worked hard and well because timing Easter requires close measurements and intense computing. (They knew that the Earth-centered model was problematic because their predictions for Easter far into the decades and centuries always had to be corrected.) Galileo's books cited the works of 14th century calculators (people, not devices) at Oxford who studied the mechanics of falling bodies. (See "Science in the Middle Ages" on my blog.)

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Where did Rand recommend the Quigley and Kolko books? I don't remember her mentioning them.

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Where did Rand recommend the Quigley and Kolko books? I don't remember her mentioning them.

Pete -- I, too, am curious. This is the first I have heard of it.

Michael M -- Can you provide this information? I would be interested to see the context and what she said around such recommendations.

Michael

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Welcome, Jacob! You should look to actual Objectivist sources for the answer. The Ayn Rand Institute (www.aynrand.org) and the Atlas Society (www.atlassociety.org) are the only two that are consistent with the original works of Ayn Rand. The ARI offers a free online class in the history of philosophy.

This discussion board is one of several that we call "objectivish." In point of fact, the works of the Durants were not recommended by Ayn Rand in her newsletters.

She recommended Tragedy and Hope by Carroll Quigley; and she recommended The Triumph of Conservatism by Gabriel Kolko.

I have not read the former. I did read the latter. Quigley was a conspiracy theorist who influenced many of our leaders while teaching at Georgetown, among them Bill Clinton. (See his Wikipedia biography). Kolko was a communist. (Read his biography on Wikipedia.) Rand knew that Kolko was a communist, of course.

If you read For the New Intellectual by Ayn Rand, the introductory (and eponymous) essay gives an outline of western history. It is not surprising in any way.

Myself, I prefer to do my own reading. Objectivists dislike the Middle Ages because of the importance of the Church. I know that before he became Pope Sylvester II, Gerbert d'Aurillac studied mathematics and philosophy among the Arabs in Spain. Medieval astronomers worked hard and well because timing Easter requires close measurements and intense computing. (They knew that the Earth-centered model was problematic because their predictions for Easter far into the decades and centuries always had to be corrected.) Galileo's books cited the works of 14th century calculators (people, not devices) at Oxford who studied the mechanics of falling bodies. (See "Science in the Middle Ages" on my blog.)

The is also a tendency for Orthodox Objectivists to squash the Dark Ages and the Middle Ages into one lump. Also these is little recognition of just how enlightened the early phases of Islam were. In Andalusia (al Andalus) Muslims, Jewish and Christian scholars lived and studied and often collaborated. Also the fact the Europe got back a good part of Aristotle from the Muslim domains is not properly recognized. It was also during the Middle Ages that trade routes to China and the Middle East were established. Many Chinese inventions moved westward as a result. See the writing of Marco Polo on this matter.

As you pointed out recognition of certain of the members of the Catholic Church is not duly given. One of Galileo's early mentors and helpers was Father Clavius (Galileo wrote and spoke well of him). Clavius was responsible for the Church acquiring one of Galileo's telescopes (the founding of the Vatican Observatory) so that the time of Passover and Easter could be more accurately determined. There is also little recognition that it was under Pope Gregory that the calendar was corrected, an 11 day correction was made because the Julian calendar was 11 days out of whack with the solar year. In the English speaking countries (which were Protestant) this calendar reform was not accepted until the 18 th century.

P.S. There is a crater on the Moon named after Father Clavius in recognition of the value of his efforts to modernize astronomy.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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One of Galileo's early mentors and helpers was Father Clavius (Galileo wrote and spoke well of him). Clavius was responsible for the Church acquiring one of Galileo's telescopes (the founding of the Vatican Observatory) … P.S. There is a crater on the Moon named after Father Clavius in recognition of the value of his efforts to modernize astronomy.

Ba'al Chatzaf

See Wikipedia for his biography. His name might have been Klaue or Schluessel, both of which mean "key" for which "Clavius" is the Latin form.

About 900 AD a community of astronomers (male and female) established an observatory in Germany with a charter as a religious community. (See Astronomies and Cultures in Early Medieval Europe by Stephen C. McCluskey. Cambridge University Press, 1997.)

“Measurements by clepsydras prove … that although the earth is at the center of the universe, it is eccentric to the sun's orbit. At times the sun is borne at a greater distance from the earth than at other times. When the sun is climbing upwards in Cancer and Gemini, in the steeper tracts of its course, it takes longer, lingering 32 days in Gemini; but it requires less time in the lower tracts, 28 days in Sagittarius, the elapsed time for the other signs varying between those extremes (848-849) . “Dominant Traditions in Early Medieval Latin Science” by William H. Stahl, Isis, Vol. 50, No. 2 (Jun., 1959), pp. 95-124.

They knew by observation that the orbits of the planets could not be perfect circles. If Galileo had been born during the Middle Ages instead of the Counter-Reformation, our world might be more rational today.

Bob Chatzaf wrote: P.S. There is a crater on the Moon named after Father Clavius in recognition of the value of his efforts to modernize astronomy.

Not "a" crater http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clavius_(crater)

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Where did Rand recommend the Quigley and Kolko books? I don't remember her mentioning them.

Pete -- I, too, am curious. This is the first I have heard of it.

Michael M -- Can you provide this information? I would be interested to see the context and what she said around such recommendations.

Michael

Citing my sources will require a trip to the UT Library. So, for now, let me explain what I remember. The Triumph of Conservatism was sold by the NBI Bookstore. Tragedy & Hope was an inline reference in an article in the Objectivist Newsletter that did not get into an anthology. That's the best I can do for now. Campus is always a zoo. Spring break is coming March 20. I have books out now due on the 24th, so that will all work out.

Incidentally, allow me to point to "Defending Capitalism Against Ayn Rand" by Steven Farron in Liberty Unbound http://www.libertyunbound.com/node/858. Despite the catchy title, Farron makes a good case, following the thesis offered by Chris Matthew Sciabarra in Ayn Rand: the Russian Radical. She said that her greatest enemy was Immanuel Kant. If you have read Capital by Karl Marx, then you know that she could have made a career out of ripping it to shreds. I believe that her love-hate relationship with Marxism was similar to her engagement with Catholic Scholasticism: love the method; hate the conclusions.

While von Mises was a Kantian idealist, Marx "turned Hegel on his head" and presented a materialistic (factual) account of history. Lenin's Imperialism is a slim book with many tables of economic measurements. Schumpeter's Imperialism is a slim book with many strong arguments based on broad observations.

It is not discordant for Rand to accept factual history prima facie even when presented by an ideological opponent. She disagreed with she premises and conclusions, of course. She also said that she admired the liberals for defining social problems and offering solutions - even though the disagreed with both - while conservatives only wanted to preserve traditions.

​Just saying'… there's more to Ayn Rand than most people care to find out about.

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I subscribed to The Objectivist Newsletter and got mailings from NBI Book Service, and read them all repeatedly. I don't recall mention of either of these books. (If you have the Newsletter citation I can probably look it up, as I have all but a few issues.)

People in rank-and-file Objectivist circles talked favorably about The Triumph of Conservatism, but I'd have to see documentation for any stronger claim. Maybe you are thinking of The Decline of American Liberalism by Ekirch, which Hessen reviewed.

According to the Amazon listing and preview for Tragedy and Hope, it was first published in 1966; the Newsletter last published in 1965. The blurb

Tragedy & Hope: A History of the World in Our Time by Carroll Quigley is the ultimate insider admission of a secret global elite that has impacted nearly every modern historical event. Learn how the Anglo-American banking elite were able to secretly establish and maintain their global power. This massive hardcover book of 1348 pages provides a detailed world history beginning with the industrial revolution and imperialism through two world wars, a global depression and the rise of communism. Tragedy & Hope is the definitive work on the world's power structure and an essential source material for understanding the history, goals and actions of the New World Order.

(emphasis added) suggests a cranky, conspiracy-mongering message, something the Objectivists never bought into.

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Rand never recommended Kolko, and I doubt if she ever recommended Quiqley. Kolko was a Rothbardian revisionist favorite, one that first gathered widespread attention in the libertarian community through Roy Childs, especially in an article he wrote during the early 1970s for Reason Magazine. The article was titled "Big Business and the Rise of American Statism."

The NBI Book Service, however, did carry Ekirch's Decline of American Liberalism. It's an excellent book. In the history of philosophy, it carried W.T. Jones, A History of Western Philosophy, an excellent introduction. It also carried the more advanced 2-volume work by Wilhelm Windelband, A History of Philosophy. Ironically perhaps, Windelband was a Kantian, His work is brilliant but quite difficult. I would not recommend it for beginners.

As I have said many times before, orthodox O'ists tend to be very weak in the area of history. Some are downright ignorant. I wouldn't take any recommendation by a contemporary orthodox O'ist very seriously.

I usually don't recommend that beginners read a general overview of European or world history. Unfamiliar names, events, and dates fly by so quickly that they don't mean much and are soon forgotten. It is much better to focus on a particular area of interest--say, medieval Europe, the Renaissance, the Reformation, 18h century America or 19th century Britain--and then read some reliable books that deal with that field. Histories that deal with ideas are typically more interesting and useful than conventional histories that focus on political events.

The set by Will and Ariel Durant is very good, though it's not something I would cite as a source. Will Durant was an atheist and a left-libertarian, so his work does not contain any genuflections to church and state.

Ghs

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Hi Iv'e heard a few Objectivists say that History is a bit of a hit and miss in regards to what actually happened. I was wondering what Objectivists view as great History books. I know on Lennards website a fellow Im assuming an (Objectivist Historian) reccomended A World History William H. Mc Neill. This will be the first History book I have ever read. Thanks for helping me in the process. I'm really happy to have found Ayn Rands works as they are very valuable for living ones life and you guys too with your recommendations. :smile:

If you are interested in American history, you might take a look at the three lectures on American history that I used to give for Cato Summer Seminars. I covered the revolutionary period through the progressive era. This is part one, given in 1983. I mention a lot of sources throughout the three lectures.

Ghs

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I subscribed to The Objectivist Newsletter and got mailings from NBI Book Service, and read them all repeatedly. I don't recall mention of either of these books. (If you have the Newsletter citation I can probably look it up, as I have all but a few issues.)

People in rank-and-file Objectivist circles talked favorably about The Triumph of Conservatism, but I'd have to see documentation for any stronger claim. Maybe you are thinking of The Decline of American Liberalism by Ekirch, which Hessen reviewed.

According to the Amazon listing and preview for Tragedy and Hope, it was first published in 1966; the Newsletter last published in 1965. The blurb

Tragedy & Hope: A History of the World in Our Time by Carroll Quigley is the ultimate insider admission of a secret global elite that has impacted nearly every modern historical event. Learn how the Anglo-American banking elite were able to secretly establish and maintain their global power. This massive hardcover book of 1348 pages provides a detailed world history beginning with the industrial revolution and imperialism through two world wars, a global depression and the rise of communism. Tragedy & Hope is the definitive work on the world's power structure and an essential source material for understanding the history, goals and actions of the New World Order.

(emphasis added) suggests a cranky, conspiracy-mongering message, something the Objectivists never bought into.

I would reccomend reading the book as a conspircay is only a group of individuals working together with a similar agenda. If you judge the book before reading you are essentially putting Logic before Grammar (What you think you know about it vs the content in the book itself). Also everyone check out the site that the book is based on https://www.tragedyandhope.com/also John Taylor Gattos book Dumbing Us Down. I would like to hear from Objectivists there take on this matter.

Richard Grove - What We Can All Learn from John Taylor Gatto

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Thanks for your replies. :smile:

If you want a good, reliable single book on the history of the western world (from the later middle ages through WWII), I recommend R.R. Palmer, A History of the Modern World. I don't know how many editions of this book were written, but I use the 2nd ed, Knopf, 1964. Palmer was an excellent and highly respected historian who also wrote the 2-volume classic, The Age of the Democratic Revolution: A Political History of Europe and America, 1760-1800.

Ghs

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Thank you all for this informative thread. The following note is a sidebar.

I imagine most readers here know that Rand majored in history and minored in philosophy. The second edition of Essays on Ayn Rand’s We the Living adds the chapter “The Education of Kira Argounova and Leo Kovalensky” by Shoshana Milgram (2012). Included in that chapter are remarks of Rand on her college education. She took a course on the history of the crusades.

Although she did not provide details about this course, she did mention that, within history, she specialized in the Middle Ages. She chose this period because “it seemed more romantic” and, “above all, the most opposite from Soviet Russia and modern history.” Seeking “a broad, generalized view” and being “extremely contemptuous of anything immediate, as being short-ranged,” she thought that the Middle Ages were “far enough,” and, moreover, were “the beginnings of European history.” She was “quite a patriot for European culture—Europe as opposed to Russian.” In recalling her studies, she mentions that for the “special detailed courses in medieval history and seminars,” she “had to read even Latin documents and struggle with a dictionary.” (88)

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Thank you all for this informative thread. The following note is a sidebar.

I imagine most readers here know that Rand majored in history and minored in philosophy. The second edition of Essays on Ayn Rand’s We the Living adds the chapter “The Education of Kira Argounova and Leo Kovalensky” by Shoshana Milgram (2012). Included in that chapter are remarks of Rand on her college education. She took a course on the history of the crusades.

Although she did not provide details about this course, she did mention that, within history, she specialized in the Middle Ages. She chose this period because “it seemed more romantic” and, “above all, the most opposite from Soviet Russia and modern history.” Seeking “a broad, generalized view” and being “extremely contemptuous of anything immediate, as being short-ranged,” she thought that the Middle Ages were “far enough,” and, moreover, were “the beginnings of European history.” She was “quite a patriot for European culture—Europe as opposed to Russian.” In recalling her studies, she mentions that for the “special detailed courses in medieval history and seminars,” she “had to read even Latin documents and struggle with a dictionary.” (88)

Where did this information come from? Barbara Branden interview tapes?

--Brant

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.

That is what I presume, Brant. At that point of her text, Shoshana refers to the source simply as a transcript, which I take to mean a transcription from recorded oral remarks.

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Thanks for your replies. :smile:

If you want a good, reliable single book on the history of the western world (from the later middle ages through WWII), I recommend R.R. Palmer, A History of the Modern World. I don't know how many editions of this book were written, but I use the 2nd ed, Knopf, 1964.

Yes, I still have that same edition, purchased during my freshman year of college.

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The Story of Civilization by Will and Ariel Durant. This is not my recommendation but Jack Wheeler's. Note, it's in 11 volumes.

--Brant

Did I mention that this is will be the first History book I've ever read lol. :smile:

When you read your first and find something more interesting than is being covered, cross reference by looking it up on Wikipedia.

--Brant

for US history its history by Presidents will tend to over-state the importance of US Presidents respecting US history except for Lincoln and then it's likely to be completely wrong--that is, he was the worst President, not the greatest, and there was no "Civil War;" it's just called that

It was a war between countrymen. Both sides were American to the core. They spoke the same language and they shared the same culture and religion. It was a war between white American Protestants for the most part. One side believed in the chattel ownership of Negro slaves the other side did not. Neither side like Negroes overly much.

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The Story of Civilization by Will and Ariel Durant. This is not my recommendation but Jack Wheeler's. Note, it's in 11 volumes.

--Brant

Did I mention that this is will be the first History book I've ever read lol. :smile:

When you read your first and find something more interesting than is being covered, cross reference by looking it up on Wikipedia.

--Brant

for US history its history by Presidents will tend to over-state the importance of US Presidents respecting US history except for Lincoln and then it's likely to be completely wrong--that is, he was the worst President, not the greatest, and there was no "Civil War;" it's just called that

It was a war between countrymen. Both sides were American to the core. They spoke the same language and they shared the same culture and religion. It was a war between white American Protestants for the most part. One side believed in the chattel ownership of Negro slaves the other side did not. Neither side like Negroes overly much.

I give you yeses and a no or two on this one.

--Brant

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