Peter

objectivism's earlier days

Recommended Posts

Tolerationism verboten! Ah, gee. I can’t help it. The following letters are just to cool to keep to myself. Who coined the term ‘randroid?” I don’t know. In one of the following someone admits that they “dated” Leonard Peikoff. Peter

Some old letters.

Barbara Branden wrote: The question has often been raised on Atlantis: What is wrong with Objectivism that it attracts so many true believers -- people with a psychological need to accept every word Ayn Rand said on any issue as gospel, and who wield Objectivism like a club over the heads of those who do not. end quote

Objectivism transcends True Believers. As with Science, Objectivism is demonstrably and repeatedly true. The only faith we require is good faith. (And this is precisely why we should retain the traditional view that knowledge is justified *and* true belief. Justification is relative, whereas truth is absolute. Ghs)

Without faith a philosophy needs truth at its core, and to discover truth we need inquiring and open minds, which is why we argue so much. Gradually a consensus is reached in areas of contention, because one answer is usually best, with the current exception of human psychology. Psychology is the most complex issue Objectivism addresses, yet even human psychology should eventually yield to Contextual Certainty. (Note the advances in “Profiling” criminals and targeted advertising.) The study of Consciousness is in its infancy but it is growing :O) Live long and prosper, Peter Taylor

From: "M. Shane DeVault" To: atlantis, BBfromM Subject: A personal story... (was: Re: ATL: Re: Barbara's "Humanoids") Date: Sat, 11 Aug 2001 10:17:38 -0500

When I was 16, my high school English teacher handed me a flier about an essay contest. The prize was $1000 for an essay about some woman named "Ayn Rand" I'd never heard of (and mispronounced Ann Rand). But hey, it was a short book (“Anthem”), and a thousand bucks is a thousand bucks. So I went home and started to think about if I'd do it or not.

At this point in the story, I must digress.  My younger brother had been diagnosed with Leukemia a year or so before this, forcing my mother to virtually move to Memphis TN and St. Jude's Hospital. (Send them money!

Great group. A cancer cure will probably come from there. But anyway....) This left me, at 16, living alone in the big house. Enter Woody, my next door neighbor. Older man and his wife, had raised two kids, typical White Urban Professional family. Woody and his wife had practically adopted me over the last two years.

I asked Woody if he knew anything about a writer called "Ann Rand". "You mean INE Rand?" I said "I dunno...maybe." He asked me why I'd ask and I passed him the flier from school. He could barely contain his excitement, running down the hall to the study and grabbing a little green book off the shelf. "Here. Read this," he said. It was “Anthem”.

I went home at about 9:00PM and sat down to start reading. An hour later, I got up, having finished the book, and then went back to Woody's house, woke him up, and said "I want more." The next day, I finished “We The Living”.

Interestingly enough, though, Woody didn't exactly encourage my pursuit of Ayn Rand--more discouraged it than anything, precisely because of the reasons Barbara states. He noticed in me the typical teenager desire to "belong" to a group and "fit in" somewhere, coupled with a fairly dangerous desire to be outside of the norm. Objectivism might not be the best thing to introduce to me at that time, and he constantly reminded me (and even still does today) that that one was "all you kid. I had nothing to do with it."

Barbara is right. The power of Objectivism is an intoxicating and dangerous thing, something that can cause serious "blind followship" (my word) rather than genuine 'discipleship'. (I use this term not because of the religious connotations but because of it's meaning: A disciple is a student--a lifelong student--who learns with the expectation of eventually becoming a teacher/master. In other words: those who study Objectivism long enough will begin to teach it. If not in word, in deed.) Too many times in discussions, I've heard "Well Rand said..." (this is true even here) and that is the end of the discussion. While in a limited conversation about her writings or beliefs specifically this would be an adequate response, in a deeper philosophical discussion it does not answer the necessary "Why" questions.

E

g. Party A: "Is the death penalty a moral/ethical/just/good thing?"

Party B: "No."

Party A: "Why?"

Party B: "Rand says...<insert apropos Rand quote here>."

Then the discussion ends. That should never ever, ever be the end of the argument since it does not answer the WHY it is morally/ethically unjust or not a good thing. It simply says that Rand said it wasn't. While that might be good enough for some, I still want to know how she arrived at her conclusions because I might disagree with her or (God forbid!) she might be wrong!

Anyway...that's my two cents--which puts me at about $.98. (Only another two cents and I got a buck!) M. Shane DeVault

----- Original Message ----- From: <BBfromM To: <atlantis Sent: Saturday, August 11, 2001 6:21 AM Subject: Re: ATL: Re: Barbara's "Humanoids"

Ellen Moore wrote: Your persistent description of "true believers" among students of Objectivism is a disservice to all.  I object to your characterization, and I speak from experience.  The only "true believers" are mystics of "mind and muscle", and these are the antithesis of objectivity. . . . I have associated with hundreds of students interested in Objectivism in Canada and US since early in 1964.  I have never yet met anyone serious about Objectivism who fits your characterization.

 > I wish I could agree with you. But I have met too many true believers, especially among young Objectivists -- including a young person who attended Peikoff's taped lectures in Winnipeg under your auspices -- to be able to do so. But as I said, I believe that attitude on the way out, although it certainly is taught by Peikoff (not in so many words, of course, but by implication). Nor do I think it a hanging offense; it is to some extent understandable -- so long as it is not permanent -- in young people who are overwhelmed by their first encounter with Objectivism.  It is especially unfortunate because such people give an impression of Objectivism to those who are not familiar with it, that is totally unwarranted. Barbara

From: SANDRAMEND To: AKathleen76 at wetheliving Subject: Re: ATL: 1959: *Nathan and Barbara are...most likely to be irrational in an e... Date: Sun, 14 Oct 2001 11:26:06 EDT

In a message dated 10/14/01 6:16:58 AM, AKathleen76@aol.com writes: << Perhaps I'm missing something but why do you think it's relevant to bring this to the list?  It proves nothing.  >>

Nathaniel Branden did me more harm than any individual I've ever met. In those days, in order to attend the lectures at Ayn's Saturday nights, and Greenspan's lectures, and Leonard's and Barbara's and Nathan's, all generously offered free by the way, we HAD to see Nathaniel as a psychologist, all of us, even, Frank O'Connor. Nathan weighed in on the Israel debate with disdain for the debate so far on this list. And much as I like Barbara on the one issue of Israel she reverts to accusations that someone is *evading* or *understands nothing about Objectivism* I've seen a lot of that kind of thing on another list and somewhat on this list.

It was Barbara who told me about this list. She suggested I read the archives and lurk for a while. I read her posts because I didn't know anyone else and knew she had a good epistemology.  She asserted in one post that Ayn Rand had been a Zionist but gave no evidence or proof. On October 5, I sent her a post asking when Ayn had become a Zionist and expressing my growing doubts about Israel. The post was never answered. As I reluctantly got into the debate on Israel, she finally responded that she hadn't had a chance to read past posts but did ask me questions about how I found time to post so much. Where, in other words, was I getting my money. I replied: You first.  She then told me and I was amazed at the similarities and told her my situation.

Barbara's hot button issue is Israel. My hot button issue is Nathaniel. After I saw Barbara again in the mid-1970's and was amazed at how much she'd mellowed, I called Nathaniel. Brrrrrrrr!   I had to call an Objectivist psychologist friend, the only session we ever had, and she helped me get past it. She had been in groups with Nathaniel. That was the '70's.  In the mid 80's, I advertised in The Intelligencer that I was starting a book discussion group and the first book we would discuss would be THE FOUNTAINHEAD. One of the people who called had also attended seminars with Nathaniel and he had the same impression as my friend. Nathaniel would go after people in the seminars and almost try to break them.  These were the impressions of only two people, but it bore out my experience with Nathaniel. There was a passive-aggressive wimp of a girl whose appointment with Nathaniel preceded mine and he would yell his head off at her.  Nathaniel never yelled at me, yet I developed a stutter. I'd never stuttered in my life.

I had had some difficult years after I ran away from home. I had survived a mother who also had tried her mightiest to break me so she could remake me more to her liking.  She had failed.  Nathaniel came closest. Those years were exhilarating and terrifying. I also bought the complete works of Aristotle and read them to get a sense of a stable, orderly, rational sense of the universe, unlike the terrifying, taut world of Objectivism in which everyone was afraid of being deemed *irrational* *out of focus* or an *evader.

I went on a date with Leonard ONCE. Towards the end, he asked me what I would do if offered the job of dictator of the US. I had not read any part of ATLAS SHRUGGED. He had. I immediately thought of what laws I would change. For starters, abolish the 16th amendment which would get rid of the IRS.  Wrong answer. The right answer was to refuse. Who knew?

But there was worse to come. I had during the course of the evening asked him about something that was troubling me. A brassy, social metaphysician I worked with had become Nathaniel's patient and was paying for private tutorials with Leonard. She was a middle-aged woman, self-deluded about her attractiveness to men.  She smugly had told me that in one session with Leonard, he'd had to adjust his trousers. Her implication was that it was because he was sexually aroused by her.  I was horrified that Leonard would find her attractive. But I did a reality check. I asked.

I get to the Brandens a few days later and Barbara stiffly calls me into Nathaniel's office. She was in a white rage. Her eyes had become tiny, and her cheeks swelled like a chipmunk and she was ready to take my head off. How dare I ask such a question of a man like Leonard??? I didn't accuse Leonard of anything.  All I did was ask a question. All I did was a reality check. That was the world of Objectivism. That was the world I had to leave even though it was exciting and exhilarating.

In a message dated 10/14/01 5:42:27 AM, AKathleen76@aol.com writes: << I had that same question as I've been disturbed with the interpretation of "tolerance" that has seemed to pervade Objectivist circles influenced by David Kelley (who I do not have a basic argument with on that point).  What I've found is that it has been interpreted to mean that one speaks with anybody, regardless of indications of rationality, about anything (including the merits of pedophilia, for example), and all standards are lost...I'm sure this is not what Kelley meant and I've found it disturbing to come across. >>

I have not yet read David Kelley, but I think there is a powerful connection between his urging *tolerance* if that is what he in fact does, and the fact that he has written a highly lauded book on the Art of Reasoning. As I said in a private email, it's not for the sake of David or Greg that I debate their views. It's for my own, to strengthen my own arguments, to be able to persuade others of the wrongness of those views. I talked to a longtime friend after 9/11 who opposes the war. And I wasn't able to persuade him he was wrong. I was mortified.

Sending people to Coventry (shunning them) won't persuade people that they're wrong. It didn't work with Galileo. Yes, he recanted. But then he murmured to himself, *but I still believe the earth circles the sun.*

You can shut down debate on certain subjects. And to my horror I've discovered that it's done not only in the black ghetto where you win an argument by shouting longer and louder, the argumentum ad baculum, but to our universities where free speech is not given to both sides of issues.

David Horowitz went through horrific experiences you associate with the Soviet Union or Nazi Germany on his lecture tour at universities discussing his book HATING WHITEY. I was reviled, and circled and threatened for holding unpopular views about films. I knew I would love GOOD WILL HUNTING, and DirecTV offers all day pay per view. I watched the film at 8am and watched it all day till 8pm. Especially the therapy sessions with Robin Williams which did me more good than all my visits to therapists put together. For one thing, Williams gave feedback, which makes him different than too many therapists. And many people told Williams how much good he'd done them. I then went online to a film newsgroup and said in the subject heading: GOOD WILL HUNTING is a terrific movie.!!!!!  What a storm!!! How dare I? The thread went up to 60 posts.  I said I had not liked DOCTOR STRANGELOVE. More of a storm. Who do you think you are not to like the great Kubrick. Luckily, I had Pauline Kael's very perceptive review of the type of people who liked Strangelove. But, what a brouhaha.

In today's intellectual climate, you are not allowed to disagree with political correctness. You are not allowed to observe that there's a lot of reverse racism out there. You are not allowed to love a movie unless Roger Ebert has given it his imprimatur. Roger Ebert, screenwriter for a sequel to VALLEY OF THE DOLLS, who spent a whole year dissing another film I liked: DEAD POET'S SOCIETY . . . . Sandra

From: "George H. Smith" To: "*Atlantis" <atlantis Subject: ATL: Re: 1959: *Nathan and Barbara are...most likely to be irrational in an e... Date: Sun, 14 Oct 2001 11:39:48 -0500

Sandra wrote: "My hot button issue is Nathaniel.  After I saw Barbara again in the mid-1970's and was amazed at how much she'd mellowed, I called Nathaniel. Brrrrrrrr!   I had to call an Objectivist  psychologist friend, the only session we ever had, and she helped me get past it.

"She had been in groups with Nathaniel. That was the '70's.  In the mid 80's, I advertised in The Intelligencer that I was starting a book discussion group and the first book we would discuss would be THE FOUNTAINHEAD. One of the people who called had also attended seminars with Nathaniel and he had the same impression as my friend. Nathaniel would go after people in the seminars and almost try to break them.  These were the impressions of only two people, but it bore out my experience with Nathaniel. There was a passive-aggressive wimp of a girl whose appointment with Nathaniel preceded mine and he would yell his head off at her.  Nathaniel never yelled at me, yet I developed a stutter. I'd never stuttered in my life."

From 1971-4, I attended Nathaniel's group sessions on a regular basis, and I must say that your friend has given a very distorted account of what went on there. She may have had her own issues with Nathaniel, which is not unusual in that kind of relationship, but it is manifestly unfair to blame Nathaniel for everything. And to say that Nathaniel tried to "break" people in his therapy sessions is simply absurd.

As for your remarks about Nathaniel from the NBI days, I didn't know him then -- but I do know that he would often express sincere and spontaneous regret for some of his actions during that time. Indeed, in a therapy group I once heard him say that he had "harmed" some people with his earlier approach to therapy, which is a remarkable statement for any professional to make. I think it's time to move on and forget about what happened 35 years ago. People change, and the environment of the early "inner circle," with the extraordinarily charismatic figure of Ayn Rand at its head, generated a lot of peculiar behavior among teachers and students alike. But it also did a lot of good.

If, as you claim, "Nathaniel Branden did me more harm than any individual I've ever met," then you must have lived a very sheltered life. And the kind of "harm" you refer to is impossible unless the "victim" willingly participates in the undesirable relationship in question. If we must assign blame in such circumstances, then it should be applied evenly to both sides. Indeed, more often than not, we are the architects of our own problems; and if those problems had not manifested themselves in one situation, they would have arisen somewhere else. Perhaps you expected Nathaniel to be something more than a human being, complete with the foibles and flaws that we all have. This was a common expectation among early students of Objectivism, who sometimes had trouble distinguishing real people from the characters in *Atlas Shrugged.* Ghs

From: SANDRAMEND To: smikro, atlantis Subject: Re: ATL: Re: 1959: *Nathan and Barbara are...most likely to be irrational in an e... Date: Sun, 14 Oct 2001 14:29:43 EDT

In a message dated 10/14/01 9:40:44 AM, smikro@earthlink.net writes: George:<< If, as you claim, "Nathaniel Branden did me more harm than any individual I've ever met," then you must have lived a very sheltered life. And the kind of "harm" you refer to is impossible unless the "victim" willingly participates in the undesirable relationship in question.>>

Sandra: My choice was to forego lectures with Ayn on writing, Nathaniel on psychology and the psychology of sex (listeners to the original Psychology of Sex tapes told me it sounded like a dialogue. i was the other part of that dialogue) Leonard on History of Philosophy and Logic, Barbara on Psycho-epistemology, Alan Greenspan on Economics and Mary Ann Rukavina on aesthetics if I chose not to see Nathaniel as a psychologist.

George: If we must assign blame in such circumstances, then it should be applied evenly to both sides. Indeed, more often than not, we are the architects of our own problems; and if those problems had not manifested themselves in one situation, they would have arisen somewhere else. Perhaps you expected Nathaniel to be something more than a human being, complete with the foibles and flaws that we all have. This was a common expectation among early students of Objectivism, who sometimes had trouble distinguishing real people from the characters in *Atlas Shrugged.*

Sandra: No, actually it was the reverse. I was never a *hero-worshipper where he was concerned. I thought his persona weird: a combination of Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer and a much more interesting Austrian psychiatrist, complete with accent. It was the bounce between the two that first baffled and then amused me. Of course, since you were SUPPOSED to find such a great hero terribly sexy, Nathaniel thought less of me for not being attracted to him. Reread his Psychology of Self- Esteem and you'll get why.

Nathaniel in Ayn had a *my heir, the genius* relationship. His mother had a *my son, the genius* attitude. Years later, I saw Nathaniel on TV say something and wait for applause which didn't come. I gave up reading his books when my friend, a psychology major, ordinarily very non-judgmental, picked up a book of Nathaniel's and went through it naming psychologist after psychologist (I remember only the name Piaget coming up) whose ideas he'd reframed for Objectivists. I never saw the great leap forward psychologically in changing the term *secondhander* to *social objectivist*

Obviously, on the subject of Nathaniel Branden, I have very negative views, and, other than an angry defense from a very good friend and former wife of his, have seen little reason to change my mind.  Subject closed. Unless reopened by others.

However, I think that given what Nathaniel Branden did to spread Objectivism, I think it was spiteful of Ayn Rand not to leave him a large chunk of her fortune in her will. She owed him. Big time. Sandra

From: "George H. Smith" <smikro To: "*Atlantis" <atlantis Subject: Re: LOGIC:  The Straw Man Fallacy (Was: Re: ATL: Re: Shooting  and Looting: It's what warriors do. Date: Wed, 14 Nov 2001 22:39:31 -0600

Sandra wrote: "What I learned from Barbara's principles of efficient thinking was not to deal in floating abstractions -- a lesson not always learned by members of this group -- and to *think outside the square* which panics the orthodox in this group because sometimes they can't find what Ayn Rand thought on an issue and that seems to make them feel anxious. Once they find something in the Ayn Rand literature they can connect my principle to, they relax and then attack me for daring to disagree with Rand.  It does get boring."

Who has attacked you for "daring to disagree with Rand"? I think you are being unfair to the vast majority of Atlantis list members, who do not adhere to the Eastern Orthodox Church of Objectivism, but to the Western Reformed branch of heretics. I, for one, have never even called myself an "Objectivist," primarily because I think my anarchism puts me too fundamentally at odds with Rand's perspective. Moreover, my disagreements with certain features of Rand's philosophy, such as the criticism of her contextual theory of knowledge that appeared in my last book (*Why Atheism?*), are a matter of public record.

Over the years I have subscribed to a number of philosophy e-groups, and I regard Atlantis as the best by far. There have been very detailed, thoughtful, and sometimes heated debates over philosophical issues like free will, rights, and egoism. A number of the more prominent posters, such as Bill Dwyer, are "soft determinists" who have no trouble expressing serious disagreements with Rand. Such cases are the rule rather than the exception.

Atlantis is not a haven for Randroids, as you seem to think. Believe me, no one around here (with a few possible exceptions) cares in the least whether you disagree with Rand. What unites Atlanteans is not an orthodox credo, but the conviction that Ayn Rand was a serious thinker whose ideas are worthy of serious consideration. Even Kirez Korgan, the founder and owner of Atlantis, has recently said that he does not regard himself as an "Objectivist," however sympathetic he is to many of Rand's ideas.

In fairness, I think you should give your critics the benefit of the doubt and not assume that their disagreements with you have anything intrinsically to do with your disagreements with Rand. It is not a matter of thinking "outside the square." Around here we construct our own squares. Meanwhile, our high regard for Ayn Rand, whether we agree with her or not, gives us a common basis for discussion -- a shared community of ideas, so to speak, that serves as a foundation for dialogue and debate. Ghs

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

FROM The Objectivism Reference Center. Whatever Happened to ... ? Over the years there have been a variety of websites and mailing lists that discussed Ayn Rand and Objectivism. A number of these have moved, stopped being updated, or simply disappeared. If you've been searching for a site you used to visit or a mailing list you read about somewhere, and can't find it, check below to see what may have happened to it.

Websites: Diana Mertz Brickell's Applied Objectivism site -- Also sometimes referred to as the "Objectivism on the WWW" site. Brickell (now Diana Mertz Hsieh) is still involved with Objectivism, but this site no longer exists. Interested readers can visit her homepage for more information on Hsieh.

Hans Schantz's Atlas Shrugged Homepage -- This site no longer exists. The California Institute for Applied Objectivism -- Although found on some link lists under a couple of different URLs, this website (and presumably the organization behind it) is defunct. Betsy Speicher's Cybernet -- This online newsletter service appears to have been replaced with postings to The Forum for Ayn Rand Fans. The Daily Objectivist -- Although the site was available for some time after new material was no longer published there, it has now been taken down and the domain is being used for an unrelated site. The site's former editor, David M. Brown, has a website featuring his own writings.

The Institute for Objectivist Studies -- This organization renamed itself The Objectivist Center in 1999, and then renamed itself again to The Atlas Society (but kept the same website address) in 2006.

The John Galt Line -- This site no longer exists. Lyceum International Conferences -- This conference service merged with Second Renaissance Books and Second Renaissance Conferences to form The Ayn Rand Bookstore. In February 2003, the Bookstore was acquired by the Ayn Rand Institute, which continues to operate the website. Paul Vixie's Objectivism (and Ayn Rand) WWW Service -- This site still exists (although it has changed domains), but has had no updates in years. J. William Pierce's Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand -- This site moved a to a new URL more than once, stopped being updated, and finally disappeared. Mark Gardner's Objectivism Resource Guide -- This site ceased to exist in 1998. The domain is now used for an unrelated website. Objectivity -- This journal got a new publisher and a new website address. Unfortunately for it, the new publisher was Enlightenment, which subsequently went out of business. Second Renaissance Books -- This book service merged with Lyceum International Conferences and Second Renaissance Conferences to create The Ayn Rand Bookstore. In February 2003, the Bookstore was acquired by the Ayn Rand Institute, which continues to operate the website.

Second Renaissance Conferences -- This conference service merged with Lyceum International Conferences and Second Renaissance Books to create The Ayn Rand Bookstore. In February 2003, the Bookstore was acquired by the Ayn Rand Institute, which continues to operate the website.

"A Subjective Look at Objectivism" by Aaron Clements -- This bibliographic survey of websites related to Objectivism has been removed from the site where it once appeared.

Email Lists: Moderated Discussion of Objectivist Philosophy -- This list no longer exists. Paul Vixie's objectivism@vix.com List -- Vixie's website (see above) still allows subscriptions, but there is no discussion on the list. Kirez Korgan's Objectivism-L -- This list was renamed Objectivism@WeTheLiving and continued to be active for several years, but is not defunct. J. William Pierce's Gay Objectivists List -- This list no longer exists. Chris Cathcart's objectivism@whitman.edu -- This list no longer exists. Wetheliving.com -- This domain offered several email lists, including once-popular lists called "OWL" and "Atlantis." All lists from this domain are defunct as of June 2005. Robert Stubblefield's Objectivism Study Group (OSG) -- The website for this list appears to have disappeared sometime in 2005.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When is the next Supreme going to be voted on? What if Rand had written “The Fountainhead” and “Atlas Shrugged” in the 1920’s? Some things from Jimbo Wales the founder of Wikipedia too. Peter

From: Chris Matthew Sciabarra To: Atlantis* <atlantis Subject: ATL: Rand and Christ Date: Thu, 26 Dec 2002 15:01:07 -0500. I happen to look at the current threads on Christianity and just wanted to offer these interesting quotes from Ayn Rand herself. In two superb articles for THE INTELLECTUAL ACTIVIST, "Artist at Work:  Ayn Rand's Drafts for THE FOUNTAINHEAD" (August, September 2001), Shoshana Milgram explains that in Rand's early drafts, she "originally had Roark provide a list of creators and an inventory of their suffering."  (The drafts are currently held in the Madison Building of The Library of Congress.)

Rand writes: "Socrates, poisoned by order of the democracy of Athens.  Jesus Christ against the majority of [indecipherable] crucified.  Joan D'Arc, who was burned at the stake.  Galileo, made to renounce his soul.  Spinoza, excommunicated.  Luther, hounded.  Victor Hugo, exiled for twenty years.  Richard Wagner, writing musical comedies for a living, denounced by the musicians of his time, hissed, opposed, pronounced unmusical.  Tchaikovsky, struggling through years of loneliness without recognition.  Nietzsche, dying in an insane asylum, friendless and unheard.  Ibsen [indecipherable] his own country. Dostoevsky, facing an execution squad and pardoned to a Siberian prison.  The list is endless."

For a var

iety of reasons, Rand eliminated this list from Roark's speech, but the list is interesting in any event.  Rand also says, quite provocatively, in her early drafts that "Christ proclaimed the untouchable integrity of Man's spirit [stating] the first rights of the Ego.  He placed the salvation of one's own soul above all other concerns.  But men distorted it into altruism."  She expands on this in her LETTERS (July 9, 1946), where she tells a fan (Sylvia Austin) that "Jesus was one of the first great teachers to proclaim the basic principle of individualism---the inviolate sanctity of man's soul, and the salvation of one's soul as one's first concern and highest goal; this means---one's ego and the integrity of one's ego."  She states, however, that "Jesus (or perhaps His [Rand capitalizes "His"] interpreters) gave men a code of altruism, that is, a code which told them that in order to save one's soul, one must love or help or ~live for~ others."

So, yes, Rand recognizes an internal contradiction here (even if she's not ready to place all the responsibility on Jesus himself)---but this does not come at the expense of an historical appreciation of the importance of early Christian thought in advancing the individualist message.

Happy holidays, a healthy and happy new year to all, Chris

From: Jimmy Wales To: atlantis Subject: ATL: Objectivism and judicial ethics Date: Thu, 14 Nov 2002 06:34:18 -0800. You are a brilliant legal mind who has been appointed to the Supreme Court. A case comes before the court in which you think that a particular outcome is the right outcome.  That is, a majority decision in favor of your position would protect individual rights as you see them.  A majority decision in favor of the opposing position would be damaging to individual rights as you see them. But, in this particular case, you think that the Constitution is wrong.  (I can supply specific examples of what I have in mind if anyone would like to work with something more specific.)  A long line of court precedent upholds the Constitution.  The original intent is clear. But, the court is evenly balanced.  You are the deciding vote. Whichever way you vote, you will have to write an opinion justifying your decision, or at least you will have to join in someone else's opinion. What do you do?  What are the ethical considerations involved in doing one thing or the other? If you're an anarchist who would refuse the job in the first place, don't bother answering in detail.  We're not talking about that right now.  :-) --Jimbo

From: "Peter Reidy" To: atlantis Subject: Re: ATL: Objectivism and judicial ethics Date: Sat, 16 Nov 2002 01:29:41 +0000. I don't think this would pose much of a problem for a judge who is serious about ethics and his oath of office.  At the appellate or Supreme Court level, state or federal, the judge's job is to figure out what the constitution means, resolve ambiguities and spin out non-obvious consequences and applications.  This can be difficult, but what the judge thinks of a particular provision isn't one of those difficulties, any more than a judge's opinion of a particular piece of legislation is.  The Warren / Brennan / Bird type of judge would simply rationalize a conclusion that fits what he wishes the constitution said. I suspect that this situation comes up a lot more often than judges ever say publicly. Peter

From: "Mike" <mikegil To: "atlantis" Subject: ATL: Re: Objectivism and judicial ethics Date: Sun, 17 Nov 2002 10:51:37 -0800. Jimbo, Based on the assumed facts as you presented, I would state those facts pro and con for both positions in my concluding opinion. I would express my ethical concerns as to taking the oath of office to uphold the Constitution and acknowledge the difficulties for me to violate my understanding of the Constitution in this or any particular case. I would point out the precedent decisions that have supported the Constitution as written on the specific issue. I would also point out the arguments supporting a decision in favor of  individual rights and overturning this provision of the Constitution.

Since the assumed facts are my opinion is that the Constitution is wrong on this issue and that a decision to uphold would violate and damage individual rights, I would stick to my own opinion and decide in favor of protecting individual rights and explain why. Briefly my arguments would be along the lines that individual rights are supreme under our Constitution and must not be violated by the government nor the Constitution. I would also use other parts of the Constitution and Supreme Court precedents that support individual rights that were used in the past to modify the Constitution to protect individual rights. Best, Mike

From: Jimmy Wales To: atlantis Subject: Re: ATL: Re: Objectivism and judicial ethics Date: Mon, 18 Nov 2002 04:33:46 -0800. >Since the assumed facts are my opinion is that the Constitution is wrong on this issue and that a decision to uphold would violate and damage individual rights, I would stick to my own opinion and decide in favor of protecting individual rights and explain why.

My concern is that judges who proceed in this manner have been with us for many decades now.  They decide what they believe to be the morally correct solution, and then cast about for a Constitutional excuse to decide that way, ignoring the plain language of the Constitution in favor of their own views of right and wrong.

>Briefly my arguments would be along the lines that individual rights are supreme under our Constitution and must not be violated by the government nor the Constitution. I would also use other parts of the Constitution and Supreme Court precedents that support individual rights that were used in the past to modify the Constitution to protect individual rights.

Let's say that the constitutional provision in question is the 16th Amendment, which authorizes an income tax.  Would you rule that the income tax is unconstitutional, despite the plain language of the 16th Amendment?  (Let's assume that you have studied the history of the amendment and are convinced that it was passed correctly and that the intention of the people who framed and ratified it is correctly expressed in the law in question.) That seems very dangerous to me. --Jimbo

From Ayn Rand...

PLAYBOY: What about force in foreign policy? You have said that any free nation had the right to invade Nazi Germany during World War II.  . . .

RAND: Certainly.

PLAYBOY: . . . And that any free nation today has the moral right -- though not the duty -- to invade Soviet Russia, Cuba, or any other "slave pen." Correct?

RAND: Correct. A dictatorship -- a country that violates the rights of its own citizens -- is an outlaw and can claim no rights.

From: Monart Pon Reply- To: Starship Forum Subject: Ayn Rand Day - February 2 Date: Sun, 02 Feb 2003 10:53:43 -0700

Stephanie (Hi, Stephanie) said that _Anthem_ "is a much more important work in my life than anything else she [Rand] wrote."

For me, Anthem was the first (though not the significant) Rand story I read (in high school). I especially like the finale, when the heroes find the house in the forest and discover the new world, golden and glorious, waiting for them to build and enjoy.

---

From Chapter 10:

"Then today, at sunrise, we saw a white flame among the trees, high on a sheer peak before us. We thought that it was a fire and we stopped. But the flame was unmoving, yet blinding as liquid metal.

[...]

"And now we look upon the earth and sky. This spread of naked rock and peaks and moonlight is like a world ready to be born, a world that waits. It seems to us it asks a sign from us, a spark, a first commandment. We cannot know what word we are to give, nor what great deed this earth expects to witness. We know it waits. It seems to say it has great gifts to lay before us, but it wishes a greater gift from us. We are to speak. We are to give its goal, its highest meaning to all this glowing space of rock and sky."

---

History and civilization is, essentially, a movement of ideas – as these ideas are enacted in and by people. Thus, the discoverers of ideas are the movers of civilization.

Rand is one of the great artistic-philosophical movers of civilization. If she had not lived, the way she did and in the country she did, the world would not be the free and rational, rational and romantic, world that it is. Fountainhead was published in 1942 and Atlas Shrugged in 1957. Imagine what post-WWII leading up to now would be like, if Rand was not the brave and honest human being that she was. Would the Berlin Wall, instead, have been torn down by Soviet tanks coming from the East?

In the everyday lives of everyday people, Rand's ideas have made a difference -- a moral and epistemological difference -- even if people don't know it, or acknowledge it, or have even heard of her. Ideas don't come out of nowhere. Directly or through intermediaries, Rand's ideas, her ~system~ of ideas, her philosophy, is the source of the rational-individualist-capitalist-romantic cultural revolution of the past 50+ years, and of the boundless future years to come.

I know that I would not be who I am -- I would, instead, be an ignorant, frightened slave -- if it weren't for Rand. No, she was not the sufficient cause, but she was a necessary, and gloriously inspiring, cause and prime mover. Vive la Ayn Rand! Monart

From: Stephanie Silberstein To: Starship_Forum Subject: Ayn Rand Day/Anthem Date: Sun, 2 Feb 2003 17:06:11 -0800 (PST)

Hi Monart (and all), First of all, happy Ayn Rand day to everybody. I think this is a nice tradition:)

Now, here are some more thoughts about _Anthem_.

I have been listening to the audio version of the novel, as some of you may know, and am therefore rediscovering the story. I don't remember when I first read it, whether it was in high school or in college, but at the time I felt inspired for the first time. I didn't have the words then to explain what I felt, though I suppose it was similar to Rand's definition of sense of life as "the wordless feeling that this is what life is about." I felt inspired by it in ways that I have never felt inspired by her other works.

Now, having re-experienced the novel, I can state more precisely what it was that struck me so deeply. First of all, this is a more youthful, idealistic story than any of Rand's other works. The "perfection" of Howard Roark or John Galt is missing here, as is the grimness of the worlds of _Atlas Shrugged_ and _We the Living_. (The former is almost unbearably grim to me--it is a story fraught with loneliness, in which the heroes are the sole beacons of light in a world committed to darkness...)

Instead, _Anthem_ is about a young man coming to learn what it is to be a free human being, and in so learning discovering, as he states soon after re-uniting with his true love, "what joy is possible to men on earth." This young man at first unquestioningly accepts the irrational beliefs of his society, believing himself to be "evil" because he cannot fit into this world. He longs to rid himself of the "curse" of curiosity so that he can be one with his fellow men. I believe that this is not only because his society has taught him that the many is always good and the one always evil, but because he knows somehow that he does not and cannot fit in here, and on some level wishes to belong.

I have been this young man who wants so desperately to belong that he tries to act upon his intelligence and disown it at the same time. He has lived inside me... he has been part of Jeffrey's voice.

Anyway, as I am sure those of you who are reading this post know, _Anthem_, this young man's story, is the story of how he comes to find and follow his own path. Along the way he is joined by a young woman who he first re-names The Golden One, and then Gaia, and currently this aspect of the story is the part that fascinates me. When our hero runs away to the uncharted forest, Gaia follows him:

"They raised their head, and there was a great pride in their voice; they answered, 'We have followed you.'...

Their white tunic was torn, and the branches had cut the skin of their arms, but they spoken as if they had never taken notice of it, nor of weariness, nor of fear.

'We have followed you,' they said, 'and we shall follow you wherever you go. If danger threatens you, we shall face it also. If it be death, we shall die also. You are damned and we wish to share your damnation.'

They looked upon us, and their voice was low, but there was bitterness and triumph in their voice:

'Your eyes are as a flame, but our brothers have neither hope nor fire. Your mouth is cut of granite, but our brothers are soft and humble. Your head is high, but our brothers cringe. You walk, but our brothers crawl. We wish to be damned with you, rather than blessed with all our brothers. Do as you please with us, but do not send us away.'"

I find this to be one of the most romantic passages in any love story I have ever read. I take from it my own ideal for romance: to share my life with a person whose vision of life and of integrity are as passionate as my own. To love and be loved so deeply and so strongly that nothing could tear us apart from one another, not even the cruelty of a world that does not understand.

I can see the shadows of Howard Roark et al in this passage, and yet it is different, because these two people intend to share their lives with one another, and their hopes, and their struggles. This is the only one of Rand's novels where the love story seems an integral part of the novel--sure, there is romance in her other works, but they seem to be side issues, one small part of illustrating the perfect man or the proper philosophy.

I have drifted from my major point, which is that this is a story of idealism. Prometheus almost loses his life because he foolishly believes that his world will forgive him for the "transgression" of working alone when they see what he has done. Even when he has grown apart from that world, he does not give up this idealism; in his final speech he states that he will someday return to the City in order to rescue his friends and those whose spirit is still alive. I feel sad and exhilarated at once when I read that passage, because I know that if he were to return to the City, the City would attempt to destroy him. And yet I love the spirit of a boy-becoming-man who wants to give freedom to his friends as he has given it to himself, and believes that truth and virtue will triumph, even knowing the way others have used his virtues against him.

A couple of other things strike me about _Anthem_. First, a somewhat technical point: this book is more a poem than a novel, and I think that is part of its appeal to me. I am, in part, a poet, and I feel closer to Prometheus than Rand's other heroes because he "stares at the stars too long at night" and notices the way the sky changes color. Prometheus sees beauty even in this horrible world he has been born into, and perhaps this is yet another example of his idealism: he cannot believe in the existence of pure evil.

The other point I want to make is more important, in terms of why _Anthem_ is so significant a novel to me. For several months, I suffered from a major depression based on loneliness. The details are too personal to go into here, but suffice it to say that Prometheus's speech in Chapter 11 helped save my life. I learned from it to reserve my love for those people who truly deserved it, and in so doing totally lost the need to be loved by everybody. As a result, not only am I happier and freer in general, but the friends I so desperately sought seem to suddenly be drawn to me, and my social life is blossoming. And so, here are some significant excerpts from that speech. I hope it affects or has affected others as it has me.

FROM Anthem Chapter 11: "...I wished to know the meaning of things. I AM the meaning of things.

It is my eyes which see, and the sight of my eyes grants beauty to the earth. It is my ears that hear, and the hearing of my ears gives its song to the world. It is my mind which thinks, and the judgment of my mind is the only searchlight which can find the truth.

Many words have been granted me, and some are wise, and some are false, but only three are holy: "I will it!"

Whatever road I take, the guiding star is within me, the guiding star and the lodestone which point the way.

I am a man! This miracle of me is mine to own and keep, and mine to guard. and mine to use, and mine to kneel before!

I do not surrender my treasures, nor do I share them. The fortune of my spirit is not to be blown into coins of brass to be thrown to the wind as alms for the poor of spirit.

I honor men with my love. But honor is a thing to be earned.

I

shall choose friends among men, but neither slaves nor masters. And I shall choose only such who please me, and them I shall love and respect, but neither command nor obey. And we shall join our hands when we wish,  and walk alone when we so desire.

...

What is my joy, if all hands, even the unclean, can reach into it? What is my wisdom, if even the fools can dictate to me? What is my freedom, if all creatures, even the botched and the impotent, are my masters? What is my life if I am but to bow, to agree, and to obey?"

***

I am a writer. As some of you know, I am working on a new version of the myth of Icarus, intended to be a celebration of his idealism and passion instead of a tragedy. I have dedicated the work, in part, to Ayn Rand, because _Anthem_ has had such a significant impact upon me. I only hope that I will have the ability to write as fine a novel and impact other's lives as significantly.

I often wonder what happened to Prometheus and Gaia after their son was born and their new city built. Perhaps someday I will have the honor of writing a sequel to this wonderful book. I hope, in any case, that Prometheus never lost his benevolent spirit, his idealism, or his zest for life. I hope he never gave up his belief that people were basically good and that their spirits were capable of being re-awakened.

Long live the spirit found in _Anthem_. Stephanie

Sorry, Brant I couldn’t resist reposting this, Airman! Same to you, Miss Once Upon a Time, Ellen Stuttle! Peter

From: BrantUSASF To: atlantis Subject: ATL: Re: Random thoughts Date: Thu, 23 Jan 2003 21:29:46 EST

There isn't going to be much problem going into Iraq and kicking Saddam's butt.  The problem is whether he has a nasty surprise.  I suspect not, but don't know.  Since his primary motivation is to stay in power I think he would have told us about it one way or another. Isn't it interesting that George II is attempting to do what his father didn't do?  Isn't it interesting that Iraq was actually our ally prior to the last war we had with him but George I sent him the wrong signals to the effect that we weren't going to interfere if he took over Kuwait?  Isn't it interesting that he is as secular a ruler as can be for a Muslin nation, apart from being a first class SOB and brutal dictator, and thus should be a natural ally of ours against Muslim jihads?  The folks who attacked us 9-11 cannot want this man to stay in power.  The more we do the more we are going to have to do to counter all the seen and unforeseen consequences of our unnecessary interventionist foreign policy.  Israel can take care of itself better than it can with the US as its friend and sugar daddy.  Scratch the latter to be the former. Of course, it could no longer afford socialism, which we subsidize.  Of course, it might have to attack Iraq as it did over 20 years ago when it destroyed that nuclear reactor.  Israel's business, not ours. Isn't it interesting how George II is more interested in expanding state power at our expense with 9-11 as the excuse instead of using his brain to pay back the terrorists in unexpected and truly damaging ways--instead of helping them win control of the Muslim world generally?Buy a little gold. Lay in some canned goods. --Brant Gaede

From: Ellen Stuttle To: atlantis Subject: ATL: RE: Rodin and Rand Date: Thu, 26 Sep 2002 23:33:44 -0400

Bill Dwyer writes: I'm left wondering whether Mary Ann Sures consulted Rand before venturing forth with an opinion on this. Had Sures' impression been different from Rand's, I'm sure her article never would have been published.

 > Roger replied, "I don't understand how your final two sentences relate, Bill. Since the article ~was~ published, their impressions ~were~ the same."

Bill replies:  I meant, I wondered if she consulted Rand to determine Rand's views before deciding what to write....Sures was an Objectivist in good standing, and could easily have feared the wrath of Rand if she expressed a contrary view.  It is a sure bet that if she wanted to get her article published, her opinions had to conform.

The likely way that article got written is this...

Once upon a time, there was a split between AR and Nathaniel Branden, in the summer of '68.  Meanwhile *The Objectivist* was months behind publication schedule.  When publication of the magazine resumed in September, the issue # was Volume 7, Number 5 -- that is, the issue for May.  There then proceeded to be a race to catch up with schedule, and Rand basically *told* various of her associates:  "Write something on such and such topic."  It wasn't a question of her associates "wanting" to get an article published, but of their being enlisted to save the ship by getting the magazine caught up.  They were back on a timely schedule by January '69.  However, the articles except those by Rand herself and by Peikoff continued to be for the most part a "filler" type of article.  From what I was told by some of those who wrote articles during that time, Rand "heavily edited" their contributions.

One article went so far as to include outright falsehood, the article by Allan Blumenthal on "The Base of Objectivist Psychotherapy," in which he says,

"(I am indebted to Ayn Rand for the definition of psycho-epistemology, and for the conception and development of this method of treatment.)"

Ellen S.

From: "George H. Smith" Reply-To: To: "*Atlantis" <atlantis Subject: ATL: Re: The facts of reality - Bill and George Date: Sat, 19 May 2001 21:11:49 -0500

The following passages are from Leonard Peikoff's "The Analytic-Synthetic Dichotomy." Since this is part of "official" Objectivist doctrine, even by Ellen's standards, I think she should give serious consideration to the following remarks (which are by no means exhaustive). Their relevance to the controversy over the  metaphysical status of "facts" should be  obvious, so I post them without comment.

"The view that facts are contingent -- that the way things actually are is only one among a number of alternative possibilities, that things could have been different metaphysically -- represents a failure to grasp the Law of Identity....

"Metaphysically, all facts are inherent in the identities of the entities that exist, i.e., all facts are 'necessary.' In this sense, to be *is* to be necessary....."

"(The problem of epistemology is: how to discover facts, how to discover what *is.*....There is no problem of grasping that a fact is necessary, after one has grasped that it is a fact.")

"When they [non-existentialist philosophers] claim that facts could have been otherwise, they are claiming that *existence* could have been otherwise.....

"Further, metaphysical facts are unalterable by man, and limit the alternatives open to his choice. Man can rearrange the materials that exist in reality, but he cannot violate their identity....

"Propositions about metaphysical facts and propositions about man-made facts do not have different characteristics *qua propositions.*...Truths about metaphysical and man-made facts are learned and validated by the same process: by observation; and, *qua truths,* both are equally necessary. Some *facts* are not necessary, but all *truths* are. "Truth is the identification of a fact of reality....A true proposition must describe facts as they are...

"If a proposition asserting a metaphysical fact has been demonstrated to be true, this means that that fact has been demonstrated to be inherent in the identities of the entities in question, and that any alternative to it would require the existence of a contradiction." Ghs

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Earl?  You ain't updated yer website in a while ...

2 hours ago, Peter said:

FROM The Objectivism Reference Center. Whatever Happened to ... ? [URL added]

ORC-peterJuly25.png

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I tried the contact button for Starship forum, Monart Pons site, the one above, and OO, and none of them responded to me. I have a different address to reach Monart though. He is doing fine and watching his grandson grow. Monart's looks remind me of Mcaffe the man who had Norton and now is the security for my computer, along with MSN. And they both remind me of a Three Muskateer.     

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

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

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

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

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

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

Loading...