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BaalChatzaf

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16 hours ago, BaalChatzaf said:

No, but its course was affected by  quantum processes which are not deterministic.   

How do you--we--know this is a true statement?

--Brant

determinism follows ignorance?

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Just now, Brant Gaede said:

How do you--we--know this is a true statement?

--Brant

determinism follows ignorance?

Loads of experimental evidence.  Look up corroboration of quantum physics.  Hundreds of thousands of responses. 

Quantum electrodynamics is the best corroborate theory in physics since physics began  The Standard model for Fields an Particles is well corroborated. 

Virtually all electronics applications  are guided by quantum electrodynamics. 

This conversation we are having would not have taken place w.o.  quantum electrodynamics. 

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14 minutes ago, BaalChatzaf said:

Loads of experimental evidence.  Look up corroboration of quantum physics.  Hundreds of thousands of responses. 

Quantum electrodynamics is the best corroborate theory in physics since physics began  The Standard model for Fields an Particles is well corroborated. 

Virtually all electronics applications  are guided by quantum electrodynamics. 

This conversation we are having would not have taken place w.o.  quantum electrodynamics. 

So, the universe could have been different? Ice sinks instead of floats?

--Brant

the affects the affects, the affects--how does that micro cause the macro?

once the universe is set what role is there for QM for different results therein?

comes the arbitrary?

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9 hours ago, Brant Gaede said:

So, the universe could have been different? Ice sinks instead of floats?

--Brant

the affects the affects, the affects--how does that micro cause the macro?

once the universe is set what role is there for QM for different results therein?

comes the arbitrary?

No.  Without the quantum physics we never would have developed the kind of electronics we now enjoy. 

Compare the Victorian electrical age  (say from 1880-1930)  with the quantum electronic age (say 1947-present).  In between 1920-1947 we had electrical machines and networks using vacuum tubes.  Vacuum tubes lit up like light bulbs,  glowed dull orange and generated gobs of heat.  They burned out frequently. The computers we had period from 1938-1947  were slow, expensive used gobs of electrical power and ran hot.  In those days computer rooms had to be cooled with heavy duty air conditioners.  

If you did not live during that era, you simply cannot appreciate the (dare I say it, the quantum leap)  from vacuum tube technology based on classical electrodynamics to  transistor based technology  based on quantum physics.  It was like a different world.  I had the good fortune to be in the computer business during the transition from  vacuum tubes to discrete transistors  to  integrated solid state circuits consisting a millions and then billions of transistors all on a small silicon disc.   The transition was ultra rapid and enough to make one dizzy trying to track it.  

If you are under 50 years of age  you missed one of the most dazzling technological  transformations  in the history of mankind.  The leap was comparable to Man before  fire  and Man  after fire.  The technological scene of the past 100 years  is totally unlike anything developed in the previous 5000 years.  That is how revolutionary it is.  And none of this would have happened without quantum physics. 

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What makes a person look intelligent? I usually can't tell until they speak. I am reading "Charcoal Joe" by Walter Mosely a black writer. He depicts blacks in 1968 Watts in that manner. If you didn't know this or that person you would think they were an ignoramus. But lo and behold they have read great works and have a degree in Physics. Just about every character in the book is intelligent or has some special ability.  It is a bit over the top, but I am enjoying the book.

 

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9 hours ago, BaalChatzaf said:

No.  Without the quantum physics we never would have developed the kind of electronics we now enjoy. 

Compare the Victorian electrical age  (say from 1880-1930)  with the quantum electronic age (say 1947-present).  In between 1920-1947 we had electrical machines and networks using vacuum tubes.  Vacuum tubes lit up like light bulbs,  glowed dull orange and generated gobs of heat.  They burned out frequently. The computers we had period from 1938-1947  were slow, expensive used gobs of electrical power and ran hot.  In those days computer rooms had to be cooled with heavy duty air conditioners.  

If you did not live during that era, you simply cannot appreciate the (dare I say it, the quantum leap)  from vacuum tube technology based on classical electrodynamics to  transistor based technology  based on quantum physics.  It was like a different world.  I had the good fortune to be in the computer business during the transition from  vacuum tubes to discrete transistors  to  integrated solid state circuits consisting a millions and then billions of transistors all on a small silicon disc.   The transition was ultra rapid and enough to make one dizzy trying to track it.  

If you are under 50 years of age  you missed one of the most dazzling technological  transformations  in the history of mankind.  The leap was comparable to Man before  fire  and Man  after fire.  The technological scene of the past 100 years  is totally unlike anything developed in the previous 5000 years.  That is how revolutionary it is.  And none of this would have happened without quantum physics. 

If QM is indeterminate why isn't reality fluctuating along with QM? A is A becomes A was A?

--Brant

I know I can't ask a dumber intelligent question

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On 7/1/2017 at 2:16 AM, BaalChatzaf said:

Content is the electrochemical  state  of neurons. We are walking organic  computers. 

The nonsense of skepticism, blind to the reality we can see. You have no idea of consciousness, can only regurgitate a biological fact as though it's insight. Your materialist construction has about as much to do with what makes man tick, as a hole in the head. You won't know, since you clearly haven't experienced it, that "action" and "content" of consciousness is how men individually and volitionally form character, create concepts and choose goals. In your world the "smart" scientist ~had to~ achieve what he did ~because~ he was "smart". Outright determinist b.s.

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36 minutes ago, Brant Gaede said:

If QM is indeterminate why isn't reality fluctuating along with QM? A is A becomes A was A?

--Brant

I know I can't ask a dumber intelligent question

QM  predicts the odds precisely.  And classical mechanics and electrodynamics is the limiting case for quantum theory when dealing with large mass, slow speed and medium scales.   Which explains why it took so long to develop quantum theory.  It is only at atomic and subatomic scales that classical physics  stopped working.  

There were signs and portents that classical  physics was deficient even before Planck introduced the notion of the quantum of energy  or quantum of action.  Maxwell was aware that heat capacity calculations were not quite right for cooled off gasses.   Black body radiation did not have a correct description with classical physics.   The spectral lines that showed up in spectrographic images of hot gasses had no classical explanation.  And the interaction between light and electrical discharge had no classical explanation (the so called photoelectric effect).  Roentgen's X-rays had no classical explanation either.  That did not stop physicists and doctors from using X-rays however   At no time did the deficiency of classical mechanics and electrodynamics  stop physicists from digging ever deeper. 

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2 minutes ago, anthony said:

The nonsense of skepticism, blind to the reality we can see. You have no idea of consciousness, can only regurgitate a biological fact as though it's insight. Your materialist construction has about as much to do with what makes man tick, as a hole in the head. You won't know, since you clearly haven't experienced it, that "action" and "content" of consciousness is how men individually and volitionally form character, create concepts and choose goals. In your world the "smart" scientist ~had to~ achieve what he did ~because~ he was "smart". Outright determinist b.s.

The world consists of facts.  We are physical beings and operate according to physical laws. It is philosophers who ignore biology that are regurgitating nonsense. Every last thing about us is physical.  Descartes and his mind-body  or matter-mind dualism held up brain science for hundreds of years. 

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10 hours ago, BaalChatzaf said:

The world consists of facts.  We are physical beings and operate according to physical laws. It is philosophers who ignore biology that are regurgitating nonsense. Every last thing about us is physical.  Descartes and his mind-body  or matter-mind dualism held up brain science for hundreds of years. 

Fine. A simple representation of Empiricism, the philosophy:

" ... direct perception of immediate facts with no recourse to concepts"... "[Empiricists] those who clung to reality by abandoning their mind". (AR)

I think David Hume was entirely correct in one thing, Empiricism must give rise to skepticism.

So mind-body dualism gave way to (I'll call) body-singularity--and you believe this was ... progress? Have you heard of a false alternative, (e.g. Rationalism-Empiricism) of which this one may be the first and most primary?

At the least, it may be said the dualists offered some budding version of the concept of consciousness, although a supernatural one in conflict with the body. Your materialists, obversely, hit an intellectual dead end, with no way out. Not that they could avoid mysticism, they simply substituted and elevated a judgment by emotions.

Along the way man's consciousness was sacrificed, baby and bathwater, all because some philosophers were hung-up on or struggled with ousting "the immortal soul".  One well-known, confessed to compromising reason to "make room for Faith". From them and their various skepticisms of mind, it follows what is obvious today - loss of volition, reason, individualism, personal integrity and courage. His authority is given away or taken from an individual and vested in 'the collective mind' (and the authority of scientists).

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1 hour ago, anthony said:

Fine. A simple representation of Empiricism, the philosophy:

" ... direct perception of immediate facts with no recourse to concepts"... "[Empiricists] those who clung to reality by abandoning their mind". (AR)

Pertaining to John Locke, that's complete hogwash.

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39 minutes ago, merjet said:

Pertaining to John Locke, that's complete hogwash.

And un-pertaining to John Locke...?

(Berkeley, Hume.)

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3 hours ago, anthony said:

Fine. A simple representation of Empiricism, the philosophy:

" ... direct perception of immediate facts with no recourse to concepts"... "[Empiricists] those who clung to reality by abandoning their mind". (AR)

I think David Hume was entirely correct in one thing, Empiricism must give rise to skepticism.

So mind-body dualism gave way to (I'll call) body-singularity--and you believe this was ... progress? Have you heard of a false alternative, (e.g. Rationalism-Empiricism) of which this one may be the first and most primary?

At the least, it may be said the dualists offered some budding version of the concept of consciousness, although a supernatural one in conflict with the body. Your materialists, obversely, hit an intellectual dead end, with no way out. Not that they could avoid mysticism, they simply substituted and elevated a judgment by emotions.

Along the way man's consciousness was sacrificed, baby and bathwater, all because some philosophers were hung-up on or struggled with ousting "the immortal soul".  One well-known, confessed to compromising reason to "make room for Faith". From them and their various skepticisms of mind, it follows what is obvious today - loss of volition, reason, individualism, personal integrity and courage. His authority is given away or taken from an individual and vested in 'the collective mind' (and the authority of scientists).

The brain and nervous system are one subsystem among many  that operate in the human body.  And empiricism does NOT give rise to skepticism.  It is because we perceive and experience that we know anything at all.  Skeptics claim to know nothing except that they know nothing.  Socrates was a skeptic. He claimed to be the wisest Athenian of them all because he knew nothing.  Of course he was exaggerating.  Socrates knew enough to ask annoying questions.  And scientists,  at least the top rank scientists, live for the day they can blow current theories to smithereens and replace them with better theories.  That takes both gall and ego. Look at the greatest of the scientific breed.  Einstein,  Schrodinger,  Dirac,  Feynman and their like.    They were as uncollectivist as you will find in the human race.   If you want to see collectivists at work  look at a gathering of Orthodox  Objectivists. Didn't  Ayn Rand  refer to her  group of "cub scouts"  as The Collective?

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38 minutes ago, BaalChatzaf said:

 Didn't  Ayn Rand  refer to her  group of "cub scouts"  as The Collective?

I don't think so re "cub scouts." Do you or anyone have a reference?

The "collective" was the ironically self-described inner circle around and about her, the Brandens, Greenspan, Peikoff, the Blumenthals, etc.

She didn't like the "Randians."

She seems to have used the world "children," but I doubt if it was for the collective as opposed to people generally as in a world of children.

Times change and so do contexts. What worked in the 1960s gets little traction today.

The complaint about the lack of individualism in Objectivism is valid all the way back to the almost Objectivist world of Atlas Shrugged and John Galt at the top of Rand's hierarchy of values. "The Strike" only made sense by the time compression of generations or the heroes would never have lived long enough to have seen any significant result of their work. Francisco gives up Dagny (for John)? Sorry, it doesn't real-world fly. It doesn't really fly in the novel and requires massive suspension of belief by the reader. Rand got trapped in her own created artificial matrix and never got out, not that she ever tried. She celebrated the artificial all the way back in her first novel and that's fine, for an artist, but not a philosopher. Qua science, you don't even get into the foyer.

--Brant

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54 minutes ago, Brant Gaede said:

I don't think so re "cub scouts." Do you or anyone have a reference?

The "collective" was the ironically self-described inner circle around and about her, the Brandens, Greenspan, Peikoff, the Blumenthals, etc.

She didn't like the "Randians."

She seems to have used the world "children," but I doubt if it was for the collective as opposed to people generally as in a world of children.

Times change and so do contexts. What worked in the 1960s gets little traction today.

The complaint about the lack of individualism in Objectivism is valid all the way back to the almost Objectivist world of Atlas Shrugged and John Galt at the top of Rand's hierarchy of values. "The Strike" only made sense by the time compression of generations or the heroes would never have lived long enough to have seen any significant result of their work. Francisco gives up Dagny (for John)? Sorry, it doesn't real-world fly. It doesn't really fly in the novel and requires massive suspension of belief by the reader. Rand got trapped in her own created artificial matrix and never got out, not that she ever tried. She celebrated the artificial all the way back in her first novel and that's fine, for an artist, but not a philosopher. Qua science, you don't even get into the foyer.

--Brant

I use "cub scouts"  because  Ayn Rand  functioned  as a Den Mother over a group of somewhat maladjusted intellectuals who were merely "students of objectivism"   An analog to cub-scout.  

The 1960's.  For me, it seems almost like yesterday. 

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I could not find much about the collective but these few snips illustrate some “cult like” thinking.

Peter

 

Review of The Ayn Rand Cult, by Jeff Walker.  Open Court, 1999, xvii + 396 pages.

Ayn Rant R.W. Bradford. If there ever was any doubt that the movement that Nathaniel Branden built around Ayn Rand was a cult, it was removed by the publication of Nathaniel Branden's Judgment Day (1989). In this basically sympathetic portrait of Rand and those around her, one can see ample characteristics of a cult: the beliefs that "Ayn Rand is the greatest human being who ever lived, . . . Atlas Shrugged [Rand's masterwork] is the greatest human achievement in the history of the world, . . . that Ayn Rand, by virtue of her philosophical genius is the supreme arbiter of any issue . . . no one can be a fully consistent individualist who disagrees with Ayn Rand on any fundamental issue . . . since Ayn Rand has designated Nathaniel Branden as her 'intellectual heir,' and has repeatedly proclaimed him to be an ideal exponent of her philosophy, he is to be accorded only marginally less reverence than Ayn Rand herself . . ." (Judgment Day, pp 258-9).

 

Now there is a book devoted entirely to the phenomenon. In The Ayn Rand Cult, Jeff Walker provides a guided tour, but alas, he is so hostile toward Rand and those who admire her that his own intemperance comes through on nearly every page. Worse, he colors virtually every aspect of Rand's life and the behavior of her followers so as to suggest that it supports his thesis, whether it really does so or not. And, apparently on the theory that anything bad about Rand must strengthen his case, he tosses in all sorts of material that has little or nothing to do with the cultishness of her movement, one way or another. The mere fact that something reflects badly on Rand is enough for Walker; it needn't even be credible. The result is a book so lacking in prudence that it leaves one wondering whether its author is trying to put something over on the reader . . . .

 

From: "George H. Smith" To: "*Atlantis" Subject: ATL: The sinking of the Good Ship Leonard (was A word on Larry) Date: Fri, 7 Sep 2001 18:53:26 -0500. I noted that Leonard Peikoff helps to "destroy" Objectivism by "defending it badly." And Ben Lipstein replied: "While a relative newcomer to the list, I have been part of and around Objectivism for over 35 years. George Smith's comment on Peikoff's negative sell is on the mark. Peikoff's influence still is effecting Objectivism in a negative way. Yet, I think there is tendency to overkill Peikoff. He just carried over many of the negative traits established by Rand. He is and was a messenger of the Ayn Rand cult, and not the creator."

 

I agree with Ben that Peikoff's "negative sell" is main problem here. Peikoff is an accomplished philosopher, as well as an excellent speaker and writer, so my curt remark was not intended to denigrate his technical abilities. It is Peikoff's orthodox mind set, along with the corresponding hatred of heretics over infidels (e.g. condemning libertarians more than socialists and fascists) that is the major problem. .

 

After Rand's death, Peikoff crowned himself both Pope and Prince of orthodox Objectivism, in an effort to exercise absolute control over both its ideological and practical developments. It might be said that this was a continuation of what Ayn Rand did, but I think this is a misleading way to look at it.

 

Rand, aside from her originality and genius, was a highly charismatic figure. Charismatic leaders, especially when they espouse unusual or unpopular ideas, are often necessary, or at least useful, in the formative stages of an ideological movement like Objectivism. But when these ideas catch on and spread exponentially (as Rand's ideas did), a movement can sometimes leave its pioneers behind, as their charismatic appeal becomes less essential to the movement's survival.

 

Indeed, the same charisma that was originally beneficial can later prove harmful, even disastrous, as the best followers who were originally drawn to the strong personal characteristics of a leader later find those same characteristics too constraining. As these original followers begin to accomplish things in their own right, as they acquire a sense of independence and "who they are" intellectually, they will no longer be content to play the role of disciples.

 

Rand's charisma thus had both good and bad results, in my judgment. But the case is different with Peikoff. Although highly intelligent and perhaps even interesting, he is not in Rand's league. (To ward off the inevitable misrepresentations by a certain mendacious quack on this list, I should note that I do not see myself in Rand's league either.)

 

Peikoff lacks the originality and personality of Ayn Rand, so his efforts to sustain the charismatic wing of the Objectivist movement have become increasingly strained and artificial, and liable to break apart at the seams. Thus, whereas Rand's charisma at least played a useful role (to some degree) in the early stages of the movement, Peikoff's second-hand "charisma" has no good consequences whatsoever, but is merely silly and destructive.

 

There is much more involved here, granted, but my point boils down to this: If an ideological movement stresses the autonomy of reason, while emphasizing that each person must act as a sovereign judge in matters of knowledge, then there is no way that such a movement can long maintain the orthodox demands of a charismatic movement. To demand this is to demand the impossible, especially if a movement attracts a significant number of first-rate thinkers who refuse to be clones. .

 

Peikoff is like the captain of a sinking ship who, rather than appealing to the passengers to help plug-up the holes in a cooperative endeavor, throws them overboard instead, hoping thereby to lighten the load and cut down on complaints and criticisms. But the ship, though it may sink more slowly, will nevertheless sink eventually, leaving our brave captain the absolute master of a row boat, barking orders to those faithful hands, however few, who remain.

 

In conclusion, we could say that Ayn Rand was a classical tragic figure in some respects, inasmuch as the same strengths that made her achievements possible also contributed to some unhappy aspects of her life. Although I may have some minor disagreements with Ben, I think his post is very insightful. Ghs

 

From: BBfromM To: atlantis Subject: Re: ATL: Re: Whoa! A sea change on ATL? And apologies to BB. Date: Mon, 13 Aug 2001 19:40:16 EDT

Morganis wrote: << Rand certainly didn't see O-ism as being an eclectic collection of beliefs re separate "issues." Being a system, the REAL essence of O-ism is not merely it's conclusions about varied "issues," but what so many have chronically called it's *integration.* This integration is the set of reasons involved in the logical connectivity amongst the otherwise-handled disparate "issues." O-ism, per se, has only 1 "issue": it's a totally and validly connected SET of beliefs (re Metaphysics through Aesthetics)...or...it isn't. >>

 

But some of the issues Ayn Rand dealt with, apart from specifically philosophical issues, can be considered as not part of Objectivism, although they were part of her convictions. For instance, her belief that no woman should be President of a country -- or many of her strictly psychological tenets, some of which are contained in her theory of sex -- or her view of the necessity of moral judgment. Clearly, if one opposes Objectivism in its essential metaphysics, epistemology, or ethics, one cannot reasonably call oneself an Objectivist; but about other issues, not so clearly linked to these three, one may find room for disagreement without opposing the crucial tenets of Objectivism.

Barbara

 

From: "George H. Smith" Reply-To: "George H. Smith" To: "*Atlantis" Subject: ATL: Re: Ellen Moore and Cultishness (was: I object...from George S.) Date: Sat, 20 Oct 2001 14:04:09 -0500

Jeff Olson wrote: "Though I often share George's frustration with Ellen Moore the Philosopher, I think it unfair to classify her as a "cultist" – to confuse her, by implication, with individuals such as Peter Schwartz or even Leonard Peikoff.  First, contrary to cultists and dogmatists that I've read or encountered, "EL&M" is willing to engage in philosophical dialogue with those who sharply disagree; second, despite her "prickliness," I find her to be a basically benevolent person; third -- and this, in my opinion, is very significant -- she has a sense of humor."

 

None of the characteristics mentioned by Jeff has anything to do with adopting a religious attitude in regard to one's beliefs. Indeed, a willingness to engage in arguments about philosophical matters, far from being absent in religious people, is very common, as we see in Protestant evangelicals, Jehovah's Witnesses, etc.

 

As for benevolence and a sense of humor, I have met many, many religious people with these character traits.

 

Jeff wrote:

"My basic criticism of Ellen qua philosopher is that she appears to prefer "making judgments" about things to critical analysis; that is, she underemphasizes the role of dispassionate inquiry in support of her desired conclusions."

 

Ellen's method of critical analysis resembles what we find in many medieval theologians when they investigated matters like the Trinity. No matter how sophisticated or complex their arguments may appear, you know in advance that they will come down on the side of orthodox doctrine. In thus defending an orthodox creed, they function as theologians, not as philosophers.

 

Of course these theologians, like Ellen Moore, will tell you that they are simply using reason to defend the truth. But they let the cat out of the bag in (1) their method of defense and (2) their method of dealing

with adversaries.

 

(1) A revealed religion typically begins with a sacred scripture that is deemed infallible, and which therefore serves as a benchmark to judge all other knowledge claims. Of course, no religious Objectivist will explicitly declare that Rand was infallible, but *in practice* this is how her writings are treated.

 

If Rand, like the rest of us, was a fallible human being, then it highly likely that she committed errors from time to time -- unless she was the first fallible being in the history of the world who managed to avoid this. Yet if you ask a religious Objectivist to point out some errors in Rand, what response are you likely to receive? He will either be unable to locate any at all, or he will concede some minor "personal" errors that don't relate (i.e., are not "essential") to her overall philosophical system. In other words, in everything that really counts, Rand never erred and was to all intents and purposes infallible.

 

When someone declares that Rand never committed any significant philosophical mistakes, we can interpret this statement in one of two ways.  First, this statement, however unlikely, might be true. Second, the statement is false, but it appears true to the religious Objectivist because he refuses to analyze Rand's philosophy in the same critical spirit that he applies to other writers. In other words, whatever Rand wrote enjoys a privileged status; her writings constitute a "sacred scripture" in practice, if not in theory.

 

This reflects a basic attitudinal difference between philosophers and theologians. Philosophers go looking for errors in other philosophers, however much they may admire them, because this is the best way to improve on what went before. The first concern of a theologian, in contrast, is to defend holy writ against all comers -- and this brings us to the second category mentioned about, namely, how religious Objectivists deal with adversaries.

 

(2) Religionists typically inject a strong strain of moralizing in their arguments. In Christian fundamentalism, this sometimes takes the form of claiming that only someone who has been "saved" can possibly understand and appreciate the scriptures. In other cases it is said that unbelievers are blinded by sin, etc., etc.

 

Just plug "rationality," "focusing," or some other Objectivist buzz word into the equation, and there you have the religious Objectivist.

 

Ellen Moore's posts are saturated with moral admonitions for her adversaries to "focus," to "integrate," etc., etc. Many veterans on Atlantis have grown accustomed to this incessant moralizing, and we have learned to ignore it, so we are apt to lose sight of how it strikes others, such as Mona and Kathleen, who immediately picked up on its religious overtones.

 

In short, I honestly don't think I have ever encountered any Objectivist who is more imbued with a religious spirit than Ellen Moore. She has truth on her side, as set down in the Gospel of Rand, and the rest is a mechanical problem of imparting this truth to others.

 

In theory, of course, Ellen will freely concede that Rand was a fallible human being (since this stress on fallibility is itself part of the Objectivist credo), but in practice she is unable or unwilling to point to a single error, or at least a significant one, that Rand ever committed. This tells us little about Rand, but much about Ellen Moore.

 

(In Ellen's defense, I would *not* say she is an Objectivist Borg -- "That is irrelevant," "Resistance is futile" --such as we find in Peter Swartz and some others affiliated with ARI, but the Borg gives even religion a bad name.)

 

One last thing: For centuries Christians debated over the essential and non-essential beliefs of Christianity. What exactly do you need to believe in order to qualify as a "Christian"? It was during these ongoing debates that some beliefs came to be regarded as "fundamental" to Christianity, whereas others were dubbed "indifferent," or non-essential. Although you could differ in matters deemed "indifferent," not so in matters deemed "fundamental." Someone who adopted unorthodox views about an essential doctrine was condemned as heretical and excluded from the ranks of Christendom altogether.

 

There was at least a comprehensible reason why this matter was important to Christians, since only authentic Christians were destined to spend an eternal afterlife in heaven. But Ellen Moore, like every other religious Objectivist I have ever encountered, is similarly obsessed with preaching which doctrines are "essential" to Objectivism – and therefore who does and does not qualify as a *true* Objectivist.

 

Why would this issue of labels matter to any rational person? Why would any freethinker care whether or not he is admitted into the fold of the faithful? This Chevy Chase business of "I am a true Objectivist, and you're not," aside from its obvious childishness, reeks of religiosity. One also finds this phenomenon throughout the history of Marxism,  which has many religious adherents. In this respect Marxism differs not at all from Objectivism. Indeed, a number of atheistic writers who have stressed the supremacy of reason have given rise to cults and religiously-minded followers. (The atheistic positivism of Auguste Comte, which actually spawned churches and rituals, is a good example of this.)

 

This cultish mentality is most likely to occur in movements that began with a highly charismatic figure, such as Ayn Rand. Anyone one who thinks that secular and reason-oriented movements are exempt from this charismatic religiosity are either or fooling themselves, or they know virtually nothing about the history of such groups. Objectivists, even well-intentioned ones, are not exempt from this tendency.

 

To someone who claims they are unable to find any mistake, weakness, or flaw in any of Rand's philosophical arguments, I say -- "Keep looking." On the day you find one, but not before, you will have graduated from the ranks of Objectivist theologians and become a philosopher. Ghs

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6 hours ago, Brant Gaede said:

Yeah, but that's your appellation, not hers.

--Brant

True.  Whether she called herself such or not  she was a "den mother".  Anyone who was ever a cub scout  and also knew of Ayn Rand  would agree. 

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6 hours ago, Peter said:

I could not find much about the collective but these few snips illustrate some “cult like” thinking.

Peter

 

Review of The Ayn Rand Cult, by Jeff Walker.  Open Court, 1999, xvii + 396 pages.

Ayn Rant R.W. Bradford. If there ever was any doubt that the movement that Nathaniel Branden built around Ayn Rand was a cult, it was removed by the publication of Nathaniel Branden's Judgment Day (1989). In this basically sympathetic portrait of Rand and those around her, one can see ample characteristics of a cult: the beliefs that "Ayn Rand is the greatest human being who ever lived, . . . Atlas Shrugged [Rand's masterwork] is the greatest human achievement in the history of the world, . . . that Ayn Rand, by virtue of her philosophical genius is the supreme arbiter of any issue . . . no one can be a fully consistent individualist who disagrees with Ayn Rand on any fundamental issue . . . since Ayn Rand has designated Nathaniel Branden as her 'intellectual heir,' and has repeatedly proclaimed him to be an ideal exponent of her philosophy, he is to be accorded only marginally less reverence than Ayn Rand herself . . ." (Judgment Day, pp 258-9).

 

Now there is a book devoted entirely to the phenomenon. In The Ayn Rand Cult, Jeff Walker provides a guided tour, but alas, he is so hostile toward Rand and those who admire her that his own intemperance comes through on nearly every page. Worse, he colors virtually every aspect of Rand's life and the behavior of her followers so as to suggest that it supports his thesis, whether it really does so or not. And, apparently on the theory that anything bad about Rand must strengthen his case, he tosses in all sorts of material that has little or nothing to do with the cultishness of her movement, one way or another. The mere fact that something reflects badly on Rand is enough for Walker; it needn't even be credible. The result is a book so lacking in prudence that it leaves one wondering whether its author is trying to put something over on the reader . . . .

 

From: "George H. Smith" To: "*Atlantis" Subject: ATL: The sinking of the Good Ship Leonard (was A word on Larry) Date: Fri, 7 Sep 2001 18:53:26 -0500. I noted that Leonard Peikoff helps to "destroy" Objectivism by "defending it badly." And Ben Lipstein replied: "While a relative newcomer to the list, I have been part of and around Objectivism for over 35 years. George Smith's comment on Peikoff's negative sell is on the mark. Peikoff's influence still is effecting Objectivism in a negative way. Yet, I think there is tendency to overkill Peikoff. He just carried over many of the negative traits established by Rand. He is and was a messenger of the Ayn Rand cult, and not the creator."

 

I agree with Ben that Peikoff's "negative sell" is main problem here. Peikoff is an accomplished philosopher, as well as an excellent speaker and writer, so my curt remark was not intended to denigrate his technical abilities. It is Peikoff's orthodox mind set, along with the corresponding hatred of heretics over infidels (e.g. condemning libertarians more than socialists and fascists) that is the major problem. .

 

After Rand's death, Peikoff crowned himself both Pope and Prince of orthodox Objectivism, in an effort to exercise absolute control over both its ideological and practical developments. It might be said that this was a continuation of what Ayn Rand did, but I think this is a misleading way to look at it.

 

Rand, aside from her originality and genius, was a highly charismatic figure. Charismatic leaders, especially when they espouse unusual or unpopular ideas, are often necessary, or at least useful, in the formative stages of an ideological movement like Objectivism. But when these ideas catch on and spread exponentially (as Rand's ideas did), a movement can sometimes leave its pioneers behind, as their charismatic appeal becomes less essential to the movement's survival.

 

Indeed, the same charisma that was originally beneficial can later prove harmful, even disastrous, as the best followers who were originally drawn to the strong personal characteristics of a leader later find those same characteristics too constraining. As these original followers begin to accomplish things in their own right, as they acquire a sense of independence and "who they are" intellectually, they will no longer be content to play the role of disciples.

 

Rand's charisma thus had both good and bad results, in my judgment. But the case is different with Peikoff. Although highly intelligent and perhaps even interesting, he is not in Rand's league. (To ward off the inevitable misrepresentations by a certain mendacious quack on this list, I should note that I do not see myself in Rand's league either.)

 

Peikoff lacks the originality and personality of Ayn Rand, so his efforts to sustain the charismatic wing of the Objectivist movement have become increasingly strained and artificial, and liable to break apart at the seams. Thus, whereas Rand's charisma at least played a useful role (to some degree) in the early stages of the movement, Peikoff's second-hand "charisma" has no good consequences whatsoever, but is merely silly and destructive.

 

There is much more involved here, granted, but my point boils down to this: If an ideological movement stresses the autonomy of reason, while emphasizing that each person must act as a sovereign judge in matters of knowledge, then there is no way that such a movement can long maintain the orthodox demands of a charismatic movement. To demand this is to demand the impossible, especially if a movement attracts a significant number of first-rate thinkers who refuse to be clones. .

 

Peikoff is like the captain of a sinking ship who, rather than appealing to the passengers to help plug-up the holes in a cooperative endeavor, throws them overboard instead, hoping thereby to lighten the load and cut down on complaints and criticisms. But the ship, though it may sink more slowly, will nevertheless sink eventually, leaving our brave captain the absolute master of a row boat, barking orders to those faithful hands, however few, who remain.

 

In conclusion, we could say that Ayn Rand was a classical tragic figure in some respects, inasmuch as the same strengths that made her achievements possible also contributed to some unhappy aspects of her life. Although I may have some minor disagreements with Ben, I think his post is very insightful. Ghs

 

From: BBfromM To: atlantis Subject: Re: ATL: Re: Whoa! A sea change on ATL? And apologies to BB. Date: Mon, 13 Aug 2001 19:40:16 EDT

Morganis wrote: << Rand certainly didn't see O-ism as being an eclectic collection of beliefs re separate "issues." Being a system, the REAL essence of O-ism is not merely it's conclusions about varied "issues," but what so many have chronically called it's *integration.* This integration is the set of reasons involved in the logical connectivity amongst the otherwise-handled disparate "issues." O-ism, per se, has only 1 "issue": it's a totally and validly connected SET of beliefs (re Metaphysics through Aesthetics)...or...it isn't. >>

 

But some of the issues Ayn Rand dealt with, apart from specifically philosophical issues, can be considered as not part of Objectivism, although they were part of her convictions. For instance, her belief that no woman should be President of a country -- or many of her strictly psychological tenets, some of which are contained in her theory of sex -- or her view of the necessity of moral judgment. Clearly, if one opposes Objectivism in its essential metaphysics, epistemology, or ethics, one cannot reasonably call oneself an Objectivist; but about other issues, not so clearly linked to these three, one may find room for disagreement without opposing the crucial tenets of Objectivism.

Barbara

 

From: "George H. Smith" Reply-To: "George H. Smith" To: "*Atlantis" Subject: ATL: Re: Ellen Moore and Cultishness (was: I object...from George S.) Date: Sat, 20 Oct 2001 14:04:09 -0500

Jeff Olson wrote: "Though I often share George's frustration with Ellen Moore the Philosopher, I think it unfair to classify her as a "cultist" – to confuse her, by implication, with individuals such as Peter Schwartz or even Leonard Peikoff.  First, contrary to cultists and dogmatists that I've read or encountered, "EL&M" is willing to engage in philosophical dialogue with those who sharply disagree; second, despite her "prickliness," I find her to be a basically benevolent person; third -- and this, in my opinion, is very significant -- she has a sense of humor."

 

None of the characteristics mentioned by Jeff has anything to do with adopting a religious attitude in regard to one's beliefs. Indeed, a willingness to engage in arguments about philosophical matters, far from being absent in religious people, is very common, as we see in Protestant evangelicals, Jehovah's Witnesses, etc.

 

As for benevolence and a sense of humor, I have met many, many religious people with these character traits.

 

Jeff wrote:

"My basic criticism of Ellen qua philosopher is that she appears to prefer "making judgments" about things to critical analysis; that is, she underemphasizes the role of dispassionate inquiry in support of her desired conclusions."

 

Ellen's method of critical analysis resembles what we find in many medieval theologians when they investigated matters like the Trinity. No matter how sophisticated or complex their arguments may appear, you know in advance that they will come down on the side of orthodox doctrine. In thus defending an orthodox creed, they function as theologians, not as philosophers.

 

Of course these theologians, like Ellen Moore, will tell you that they are simply using reason to defend the truth. But they let the cat out of the bag in (1) their method of defense and (2) their method of dealing

with adversaries.

 

(1) A revealed religion typically begins with a sacred scripture that is deemed infallible, and which therefore serves as a benchmark to judge all other knowledge claims. Of course, no religious Objectivist will explicitly declare that Rand was infallible, but *in practice* this is how her writings are treated.

 

If Rand, like the rest of us, was a fallible human being, then it highly likely that she committed errors from time to time -- unless she was the first fallible being in the history of the world who managed to avoid this. Yet if you ask a religious Objectivist to point out some errors in Rand, what response are you likely to receive? He will either be unable to locate any at all, or he will concede some minor "personal" errors that don't relate (i.e., are not "essential") to her overall philosophical system. In other words, in everything that really counts, Rand never erred and was to all intents and purposes infallible.

 

When someone declares that Rand never committed any significant philosophical mistakes, we can interpret this statement in one of two ways.  First, this statement, however unlikely, might be true. Second, the statement is false, but it appears true to the religious Objectivist because he refuses to analyze Rand's philosophy in the same critical spirit that he applies to other writers. In other words, whatever Rand wrote enjoys a privileged status; her writings constitute a "sacred scripture" in practice, if not in theory.

 

This reflects a basic attitudinal difference between philosophers and theologians. Philosophers go looking for errors in other philosophers, however much they may admire them, because this is the best way to improve on what went before. The first concern of a theologian, in contrast, is to defend holy writ against all comers -- and this brings us to the second category mentioned about, namely, how religious Objectivists deal with adversaries.

 

(2) Religionists typically inject a strong strain of moralizing in their arguments. In Christian fundamentalism, this sometimes takes the form of claiming that only someone who has been "saved" can possibly understand and appreciate the scriptures. In other cases it is said that unbelievers are blinded by sin, etc., etc.

 

Just plug "rationality," "focusing," or some other Objectivist buzz word into the equation, and there you have the religious Objectivist.

 

Ellen Moore's posts are saturated with moral admonitions for her adversaries to "focus," to "integrate," etc., etc. Many veterans on Atlantis have grown accustomed to this incessant moralizing, and we have learned to ignore it, so we are apt to lose sight of how it strikes others, such as Mona and Kathleen, who immediately picked up on its religious overtones.

 

In short, I honestly don't think I have ever encountered any Objectivist who is more imbued with a religious spirit than Ellen Moore. She has truth on her side, as set down in the Gospel of Rand, and the rest is a mechanical problem of imparting this truth to others.

 

In theory, of course, Ellen will freely concede that Rand was a fallible human being (since this stress on fallibility is itself part of the Objectivist credo), but in practice she is unable or unwilling to point to a single error, or at least a significant one, that Rand ever committed. This tells us little about Rand, but much about Ellen Moore.

 

(In Ellen's defense, I would *not* say she is an Objectivist Borg -- "That is irrelevant," "Resistance is futile" --such as we find in Peter Swartz and some others affiliated with ARI, but the Borg gives even religion a bad name.)

 

One last thing: For centuries Christians debated over the essential and non-essential beliefs of Christianity. What exactly do you need to believe in order to qualify as a "Christian"? It was during these ongoing debates that some beliefs came to be regarded as "fundamental" to Christianity, whereas others were dubbed "indifferent," or non-essential. Although you could differ in matters deemed "indifferent," not so in matters deemed "fundamental." Someone who adopted unorthodox views about an essential doctrine was condemned as heretical and excluded from the ranks of Christendom altogether.

 

There was at least a comprehensible reason why this matter was important to Christians, since only authentic Christians were destined to spend an eternal afterlife in heaven. But Ellen Moore, like every other religious Objectivist I have ever encountered, is similarly obsessed with preaching which doctrines are "essential" to Objectivism – and therefore who does and does not qualify as a *true* Objectivist.

 

Why would this issue of labels matter to any rational person? Why would any freethinker care whether or not he is admitted into the fold of the faithful? This Chevy Chase business of "I am a true Objectivist, and you're not," aside from its obvious childishness, reeks of religiosity. One also finds this phenomenon throughout the history of Marxism,  which has many religious adherents. In this respect Marxism differs not at all from Objectivism. Indeed, a number of atheistic writers who have stressed the supremacy of reason have given rise to cults and religiously-minded followers. (The atheistic positivism of Auguste Comte, which actually spawned churches and rituals, is a good example of this.)

 

This cultish mentality is most likely to occur in movements that began with a highly charismatic figure, such as Ayn Rand. Anyone one who thinks that secular and reason-oriented movements are exempt from this charismatic religiosity are either or fooling themselves, or they know virtually nothing about the history of such groups. Objectivists, even well-intentioned ones, are not exempt from this tendency.

 

To someone who claims they are unable to find any mistake, weakness, or flaw in any of Rand's philosophical arguments, I say -- "Keep looking." On the day you find one, but not before, you will have graduated from the ranks of Objectivist theologians and become a philosopher. Ghs

This is a well constructed essay...

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13 hours ago, BaalChatzaf said:

The brain and nervous system are one subsystem among many  that operate in the human body.  And empiricism does NOT give rise to skepticism.  It is because we perceive and experience that we know anything at all.  Skeptics claim to know nothing except that they know nothing.  Socrates was a skeptic. He claimed to be the wisest Athenian of them all because he knew nothing.  Of course he was exaggerating.  Socrates knew enough to ask annoying questions.  And scientists,  at least the top rank scientists, live for the day they can blow current theories to smithereens and replace them with better theories.  That takes both gall and ego. Look at the greatest of the scientific breed.  Einstein,  Schrodinger,  Dirac,  Feynman and their like.    They were as uncollectivist as you will find in the human race.   If you want to see collectivists at work  look at a gathering of Orthodox  Objectivists. Didn't  Ayn Rand  refer to her  group of "cub scouts"  as The Collective?

The irony is that after first setting out to combat dogma, the new skeptics have become dogmatists themselves. As you may know, there are several types and degrees of skepticism  - such as - the skepticism about metaphysics - or of sense-perception - and of (conceptual) knowledge. And in combinations. The cleverer semi-skeptics appeared to realise well that the very notion is shaky, because to state "one can't know", presupposes knowledge--i.e., to commit to doubt is an implicit acknowledgment of the existence of certainty. Seems they had to twist and turn to 'validate' skepticism (and some who set out to 'disprove' it, also).

Anyhow, apart from my general interest in trying to understand the workings of philosophers' minds, I don't really feel the need to point fingers at specific empiricist-skeptics to know what is all too plain to see. The consequences - however they arrived - on many people. What we live in, increasingly, is a blight of skepticism, I maintain. The few 'certainties' that the minds of new age secularists can seize on are brought by ... other minds: I.e. those of the scientists (who sometimes give cause for doubt in their methods too).

You should keep in mind Bob, in the first and final analysis it is "man's mind" which is upheld by Objectivists, which is yours, hers, his and mine, and the singular achievers, and the non-scientists, and all those unknowns, all the men and women who have and will exist. Regardless of the exceptional brains - of anyone's (metaphysically-given) level of genius, btw. 

Temporary uncertainty and self-doubt and errors are requirements of intellectual growth, I think, as long as one has confidence that one's certain mind will prevail. But if consciousness itself is in the least belittled and compromised, if we or many philosophers do not allocate it a metaphysical identity - what does one expect the effects will be:

a). on how individuals perceive themselves b). on how one identifies others?

As nonentities, I must surmise. Physical beings - your "brain and nervous system" - and not much else.

If one can't understand the mind, one can't know reality for certain, and evidently one then can't know oneself nor the nature of man. Short of grasping its specific nature and method, the conceptual faculty must become diminished and facts of reality remain as mere perceptions, unintegrated conceptually. With little self-knowledge, how would one know to choose which goals, values and virtues to aim for and how to re-direct the actions of one's mind, and reach for this new content of mind?

Too true, collectivism must be one result of skeptical thought! A limited self-identity will definitely orientate a person away from his "self-concept", towards a collective 'identity'. 

Upheavals in politics show to us the visible part of the general, plaintive "I don't know - who can know for sure...?", but I don't believe anyone here thinks politics is anything but the consequence and symptoms of that underlying intellectual malady.

The "humanities" I suspect aren't going to be resuscitated by science-technology when the two are diverging at such a rate, with such compromised truth, thinking and ethics of peoples (and therefore our freedoms) having dropped way behind scientific achievements.

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13 hours ago, BaalChatzaf said:
11 hours ago, BaalChatzaf said:

I use "cub scouts"  because  Ayn Rand  functioned  as a Den Mother over a group of somewhat maladjusted intellectuals who were merely "students of objectivism"   An analog to cub-scout.  

The 1960's.  For me, it seems almost like yesterday. 

  If you want to see collectivists at work  look at a gathering of Orthodox  Objectivists. Didn't  Ayn Rand  refer to her  group of "cub scouts"  as The Collective?

3

Oh, that old saw. You weren't there and nor was I, not that I would wish to have been.

The Collective was an in-joke, get it?

And any student who doesn't richly repay his teacher by eventually moving past him (her) didn't learn much. More than anything else, about Objectivism.

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2 hours ago, anthony said:

The irony is that after first setting out to combat dogma, the new skeptics have become dogmatists themselves. As you may know, there are several types and degrees of skepticism  - such as - the skepticism about metaphysics - or of sense-perception - and of (conceptual) knowledge. And in combinations. The cleverer semi-skeptics appeared to realise well that the very notion is shaky, because to state "one can't know", presupposes knowledge--i.e., to commit to doubt is an implicit acknowledgment of the existence of certainty. Seems they had to twist and turn to 'validate' skepticism (and some who set out to 'disprove' it, also).

Anyhow, apart from my general interest in trying to understand the workings of philosophers' minds, I don't really feel the need to point fingers at specific empiricist-skeptics to know what is all too plain to see. The consequences - however they arrived - on many people. What we live in, increasingly, is a blight of skepticism, I maintain. The few 'certainties' that the minds of new age secularists can seize on are brought by ... other minds: I.e. those of the scientists (who sometimes give cause for doubt in their methods too).

You should keep in mind Bob, in the first and final analysis it is "man's mind" which is upheld by Objectivists, which is yours, hers, his and mine, and the singular achievers, and the non-scientists, and all those unknowns, all the men and women who have and will exist. Regardless of the exceptional brains - of anyone's (metaphysically-given) level of genius, btw. 

Temporary uncertainty and self-doubt and errors are requirements of intellectual growth, I think, as long as one has confidence that one's certain mind will prevail. But if consciousness itself is in the least belittled and compromised, if we or many philosophers do not allocate it a metaphysical identity - what does one expect the effects will be:

a). on how individuals perceive themselves b). on how one identifies others?

As nonentities, I must surmise. Physical beings - your "brain and nervous system" - and not much else.

If one can't understand the mind, one can't know reality for certain, and evidently one then can't know oneself nor the nature of man. Short of grasping its specific nature and method, the conceptual faculty must become diminished and facts of reality remain as mere perceptions, unintegrated conceptually. With little self-knowledge, how would one know to choose which goals, values and virtues to aim for and how to re-direct the actions of one's mind, and reach for this new content of mind?

Too true, collectivism must be one result of skeptical thought! A limited self-identity will definitely orientate a person away from his "self-concept", towards a collective 'identity'. 

Upheavals in politics show to us the visible part of the general, plaintive "I don't know - who can know for sure...?", but I don't believe anyone here thinks politics is anything but the consequence and symptoms of that underlying intellectual malady.

The "humanities" I suspect aren't going to be resuscitated by science-technology when the two are diverging at such a rate, with such compromised truth, thinking and ethics of peoples (and therefore our freedoms) having dropped way behind scientific achievements.

Scientists are NOT skeptics.  They know stuff.  Scientists are critical thinkers. They do not accept any premises until they have examined them and their consequences  very carefully.  A skeptic is one who claims not to know anything other than that they know nothing.   

There is a differences between "I do knot know"  and "I do not know for sure"   

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2 hours ago, anthony said:

Oh, that old saw. You weren't there and nor was I, not that I would wish to have been.

The Collective was an in-joke, get it?

And any student who doesn't richly repay his teacher by eventually moving past him (her) didn't learn much. More than anything else, about Objectivism.

No. I don't "get it".  I took it literally (as usual).  I only get jokes when I know I am dealing with a joke. 

I don't do hints.  I don't read between lines.  I don't get unstated implications.  I leave all that to "normal people".  I don't deal with what people imply.  I deal with what I infer

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5 hours ago, BaalChatzaf said:

This is a well constructed essay...

If it was, it was serendipity. I cut and pasted some letters or articles from several years ago and then cut and pasted them again just recently. I skimmed the content for broken lines and misspellings and deleted the email addresses.

 

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