STUDY GROUP ON "AYN RAND"


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Update on the study-group. Josh was able to catch up despite being delayed due to OCON. Greg has been very disciplined. Three active participants overall, apart from me.


Yesterday I answered the questions that were posted on Monday. Here is the link to the answers - http://forum.objectivismonline.com/index.php?showtopic=28351&p=336972#entry336972


And here is sample answer for wider audience


Q4. What is a “theme” and “plot-theme”? Explain “theme” and “plot-theme” of Atlas Shrugged, working title of which was “The mind on strike”? How and why did scope evolve overtime?


Ans:


Meaning of Theme and Plot-Theme : A theme is the summation of a novel’s abstract meaning.


The link between the theme and the events of a novel is an element which Ayn Rand called the plot-theme. It is the first step of the translation of an abstract theme into a story, without which the construction of a plot would be impossible. A “plot-theme” is the central conflict or “situation” of a story—a conflict in terms of action, corresponding to the theme and complex enough to create a purposeful progression of events.


Theme : Theme of Atlas Shrugged was the relationship of the mind to reality, objectivity that is. More specifically, it was about logical relationship between facts of reality and ideas in the mind. Reason being the faculty that establishes that relationship. So the theme of Atlas Shrugged can be summarized as role and importance of reason.


Plot-Theme : What would happen if the most creative – that is rational people, in a society went on strike against demands that they devote their lives to the service of others.


Evolution of scope of the plot : Initial purpose of “The Mind on strike” was to show economic consequences of the philosophy implicit in her previous novel. Given the limited scope, she expected to complete the novel in 2 years. However, on proceeding she realized that she needed to integrate and demonstrate metaphysics and epistemology, along with ethics and politics.


Metaphysics of this world, epistemology of reason, ethics of rational self-interest, and politics of lassiez-faire capitalism.


Given this wider scope, the development of novel took fourteen years.


[References:


a.) For the meaning of theme, Ayn Rand lexicon referring from “Basic Principles of Literature,”The Romantic Manifesto, 81


b.) For the meaning of plot-theme, Ayn Rand lexicon referring to “Basic Principles of Literature,”The Romantic Manifesto, 85


c.) For origin of “The Mind on strike”, and evolution of the novel. Ayn Rand by Britting, p73]


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We completed the fiction part of Ayn Rand's career last week. Today we start studying the non-fiction part. As always, I posted the questions covering the section. Participants can answer those, or pursue other methods for studying the section.

Here is the section for this week :

Link - http://forum.objectivismonline.com/index.php?showtopic=28351&p=337022#entry337022

Week 4

NON FICTION WRITINGS AND INTELLECTUAL ACTIVISM (PART 1)
(Works other than Epistemology)

Monday, 20th July - Sunday, 26th July

- Changing vehicles
- A Philosopher's provisional summary
- Opening and Closing channels
- Branch Books
(Pg 233-241)

Questions

CHANGING VEHICLES

Q1. What factors contributed to her decision to enter non-fiction?

Q2. Apart from writing books, what means Ayn Rand used to spread her ideas in the initial years of nonfiction phase?

Q3. While writing about fiction writing, how did Ayn Rand present the fundamentality of connection between conscious and sub-conscious mind, along with the relationship between abstract and concrete?

Q4. Summarize / Describe content and significance of her lecture titled “Faith and Force : Destroyers of the Modern World”? Also specify connections she made between various branches of philosophy in this lecture?

Q5. What lesson can “New Intellectuals” learn from latter phase of Ayn Rand's life?

A PHILOSOPHER'S PROVISIONAL SUMMARY

Q6. What is the content and significance of her book For the New Intellectual : The Philosophy of Ayn Rand”?

Q7. Who are four primary philosophers in the history of philosophy? Why didn't they integrate their philosophical product into one volume? What we can infer about philosophy from this part of “history of ideas”?

Q8. How are philosophical ideas disseminated?

OPENING AND CLOSING CHANNELS

Q9. Describe various communication channels of Ayn Rand in 60s? Also describe how they evolved overtime?

BRANCH BOOKS

Q10. Briefly describe the books of Ayn Rand in different branches of philosophy(apart from the book on branch of epistemology, which is discussed in next section)?

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Today I posted answers to Monday's questions.

http://forum.objectivismonline.com/index.php?showtopic=28351&p=337123#entry337123

Sample answer is as follows

Q1. Describe various communication channels of Ayn Rand in 60s? Also describe how they evolved overtime?

Ans: In 1960 she experimented with speaking at length on New York city radio stations. In 1961 she presented paper, “Art as Sense of Life” at a yearly Harvard University meeting of American Society of Aesthetics. She corresponded with contemporaries like Philosopher John Hospers and historians like John Herman and Brand Blanshard.

Further, her associate Nathaniel Branden offered courses on various subjects like principles of Objectivism, economics, psychology, and history of philosophy. These lectures were offered on media like audiotape. These programs were managed by Nathaniel Branden Institute. The institute also had book services by non-objectivists on subject of humanities like economics. The relationship with Nathaniel Branden however closed around 1967. Reason for closure given is his deceptive behavior in relations with her and his students. On withdrawal of Rand's endorsement it closed.

After closing of the relationship, she started “The Objectivist” magazine. This magazine succeeded the magazine “The Objectivist Newsletter” in 1962.

[References:

a.) For Rand's radio appearances, correspondence with Hospers, and meetings with philosophical writers, Ayn Rand by Britting, pages 94 and 99.

b.) For “Nanthaniel Branden Institute” page 95 of Ayn Rand by Britting.

c.) For starting “The Objectivist Newsletter” and later “The Objectivist”, Ayn Rand by Britting, page 95.

d.) For documented details of relationship with Nathaniel Branden, Passion of Ayn Rand's Critics by Valliant]

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Today is Monday 27th July. Today we begin last section for study. Next week we will conclude.

Link - http://forum.objectivismonline.com/index.php?showtopic=28351&page=2&p=337167#entry337167

Here are the questions for this week.

Questions

A DEFINITION OF REASON

Q1. What was central theme of the book on Epistemology? Whats the significance of this book?

Q2. Why is the central theme mentioned in (A1.) the most central issue of philosophy as a whole?

Q3. What was the answer offered to the problem of universals?

Q4. Give content and background of the 2nd edition of Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology?

SHIFTING GEARS

Q5. What was the scope of “The Ayn Rand Letter”?

Q6. Apart from “The Ayn Rand Letter”, what were her other intellectual engagements in the 70s?

Q7. How were ideas of Ayn Rand disseminated immediately after her death?

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Good Morning, today is Saturday, August 1st. Monday's questions were answered today.


Details here - http://forum.objectivismonline.com/index.php?showtopic=28351&p=337313#entry337313


Sample answer


Q2. What are the various functions of reason?

Ans: Reason performs induction, deduction, reduction, and proof.


Induction is forming universals from particulars, starting with percepts. Deduction is classifying new particulars under known universals. Reduction is tracing the induced universal back to its origin in perception. And proof is proving a conclusion step by step using available data. In general, reason includes the whole process of knowing reality.


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Q2. What are the various functions of reason?

Ans: Reason performs induction, deduction, reduction, and proof.

What about abduction, or do you believe it is part of induction? I believe they are different enough as explained here to be distinguished.

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Q2. What are the various functions of reason?

Ans: Reason performs induction, deduction, reduction, and proof.

What about abduction, or do you believe it is part of induction? I believe they are different enough as explained here to be distinguished.

Thanks Merlin.

Very instructive.

A...

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There was one major, and two minor errors in my previous posts. Corrections here - http://forum.objectivismonline.com/index.php?showtopic=28351&page=2&p=337345#entry337345


And finally, the conclusion was posted here today - http://forum.objectivismonline.com/index.php?showtopic=28351&p=337370#entry337370


Part text is as follows


This study-group, like all the prior study-groups, has sharpened my thinking, planning, execution, collaborating, and marketing skills. The reason for improvements I think was the study process and also the content we were studying. In this fast paced world of hi-tech information feed, undivided attention is the most difficult feat to achieve. By mandating focus to particular section, I think we can improve psychological processes that require deep thought, and therefore help participants improve their thinking and execution skills. If I compare this study to the normal readings I did just after buying the book, there are many more positives in structured study. By studying Introduction in detail, I could connect content of chapter to a larger theme of "how ideas are developed and disseminated". I can better appreciate different forms of mediums like recorded lectures, fiction and non-fiction books, and news letters. Also methods like abstraction, induction, deduction, reduction are better appreciated, because now these are explicitly connected to "central purpose of Ayn Rand's life". In short, this study has helped me to develop standards that I think will enable me to direct my intellectual activism more purposefully and cause greater impact.


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Q2. What are the various functions of reason?

Ans: Reason performs induction, deduction, reduction, and proof.

What about abduction, or do you believe it is part of induction? I believe they are different enough as explained here to be distinguished.

From description of abduction, it looks like a candidate for sub-section within induction. More specifically, it would be like an ante-room to induction, a preliminary analysis before induction starts.

My views on induction are reported in detail here - http://forum.objectivismonline.com/index.php?showtopic=27497

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RG,

Just a couple of quibbles.

1. Reason starts and ends with observation. Reason without observation at the root is nothing but mental games. And I don't just mean observation as percepts. I mean observation when the mind is in full conceptual awareness.

2. About evaluation. Rand referred to "normative abstractions" in The Romantic Manifesto. Evaluation on the abstract level is just as much a part of reason as logic is. Note, there's this, too: evaluations must have observation at root to be valid.

You could say observation and evaluation are implied in the four you mentioned to varying degrees (including Merlin's abduction), but I believe they are so important, leaving them unmentioned as something reason performs implies rationalization.

ITOE was Rand's theory of concepts, not her theory of reason.

One other point. I don't see how modern findings of neuroscience and modern psychology can be excluded from the philosophy of mind (epistemology). I used to think philosophy was one thing and science was another, but the more I studied, the more I had to change that view. Too many philosophical assumptions about how the mind works are currently, in the labs, being severely delimited, refined beyond recognition or outright refuted.

Michael

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In past two centuries Western thought has witnessed greatest intellectual decline in the history of mankind.

Really? Heh. That sounds really kookypants to me. But anyway, practice Objectivism and prove your statement. Objectively show how you've objectively measured and evaluated the intellectual status of the past two centuries compared to that of the entire history of mankind.

The ideas that led to science of Newton, technology of Edison, and politics that ended centuries of feudalism have been discredited.

Again, WTF? Where are you getting these doom fantasies? Are you twelve?

The decline has impacted education, government, corporate and medical institutions, news media, movies, and mental well-being of mankind in general.

Why are you interested in Objectivism yet you don't actually practice it, but instead just make up panicky, overblown nonsense? I think that maybe you're letting the romanticism of Rand's fiction distort your thinking. Where you should be thinking rationally, you're thinking romantically and emotionally. You're having fantasies of doom and destruction, and of superhero Rand and her mighty followers swooping in to save the day.

The ideas of Ayn Rand promise not just resurrection of ideas that make good things possible, but also build them further.

When supper had ended, Rand took the cup and said, "Take this all of you and drink from it; this is the cup of my blood, the blood of the new and everlasting covenant..."

J

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Generally things are getting better and better for the human race on planet Earth. Practically speaking this is the over-arching context. Injecting better philosophy into the mix is an attempt to make things better faster even if the injectors don't know they're really swimming with the current, albeit heroically.

--Brant

can't say the same for Mars and Venus

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In past two centuries Western thought has witnessed greatest intellectual decline in the history of mankind.

Really? Heh. That sounds really kookypants to me. But anyway, practice Objectivism and prove your statement. Objectively show how you've objectively measured and evaluated the intellectual status of the past two centuries compared to that of the entire history of mankind.

The ideas that led to science of Newton, technology of Edison, and politics that ended centuries of feudalism have been discredited.

Again, WTF? Where are you getting these doom fantasies? Are you twelve?

The decline has impacted education, government, corporate and medical institutions, news media, movies, and mental well-being of mankind in general.

Why are you interested in Objectivism yet you don't actually practice it, but instead just make up panicky, overblown nonsense? I think that maybe you're letting the romanticism of Rand's fiction distort your thinking. Where you should be thinking rationally, you're thinking romantically and emotionally. You're having fantasies of doom and destruction, and of superhero Rand and her mighty followers swooping in to save the day.

The ideas of Ayn Rand promise not just resurrection of ideas that make good things possible, but also build them further.

When supper had ended, Rand took the cup and said, "Take this all of you and drink from it; this is the cup of my blood, the blood of the new and everlasting covenant..."

J

My answer to all this - Read DIM Hypothesis and judge.

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Today I closed the study-group, sharing my experiences with study-groups in past 4 years.


Complete post here - http://forum.objectivismonline.com/index.php?showtopic=28351&p=337550#entry337550


Here are the final lines -


"……Next summer we did study-group on "Reality" chapter from "Objectivism : Philosophy of Ayn Rand". Most rewarding study-group has been the one on "DIM Hypothesis". Almost any cultural event I now relate to DIM, and even my own thoughts and emotions.


To summarize, in past 4 years I have actualized potentialities that I thought would take a lifetime. Study-groups eventually gave me confidence to do great things in life…. Hope others can get that too…!


"


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The ideas of Ayn Rand promise not just resurrection of ideas that make good things possible, but also build them further.

When supper had ended, Rand took the cup and said, "Take this all of you and drink from it; this is the cup of my blood, the blood of the new and everlasting covenant..."

J

Wow...he/she/it is a Peikovian!!!!

Obviously foreign born and English is not his native tongue.

The DIM hypothesis...http://www.peikoff.com/books/the-dim-hypothesis/

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In past two centuries Western thought has witnessed greatest intellectual decline in the history of mankind.

Really? Heh. That sounds really kookypants to me. But anyway, practice Objectivism and prove your statement. Objectively show how you've objectively measured and evaluated the intellectual status of the past two centuries compared to that of the entire history of mankind.

The ideas that led to science of Newton, technology of Edison, and politics that ended centuries of feudalism have been discredited.

Again, WTF? Where are you getting these doom fantasies? Are you twelve?

The decline has impacted education, government, corporate and medical institutions, news media, movies, and mental well-being of mankind in general.

Why are you interested in Objectivism yet you don't actually practice it, but instead just make up panicky, overblown nonsense? I think that maybe you're letting the romanticism of Rand's fiction distort your thinking. Where you should be thinking rationally, you're thinking romantically and emotionally. You're having fantasies of doom and destruction, and of superhero Rand and her mighty followers swooping in to save the day.

The ideas of Ayn Rand promise not just resurrection of ideas that make good things possible, but also build them further.

When supper had ended, Rand took the cup and said, "Take this all of you and drink from it; this is the cup of my blood, the blood of the new and everlasting covenant..."

J

My answer to all this - Read DIM Hypothesis and judge.

Yeah, that's what I thought, you're a DIMwit rather than an Objectivist.

Stop following Peikoff and his nutty, half-baked judgments, and start applying reason and rationality to reality.

How is it that you can study Objectivism so passionately and then turn on a dime and abandon it? Objectivism is supposed to be about observing and judging reality, where what you're practicing is the act of ignoring reality in favor of obeying an authority figure and his kooky, frantic theories.

J

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