Recommended Posts

Hi all,

I discovered this site recently after Google searches prompted by rereading PAR, which piqued my curiosity about Rand and the Brandens.  I must say that this forum is a breath of fresh air, after getting the idea for so long that Objectivism is defined by the grim authoritarian stance of the people at ARI.

My initial exposure to Rand was in my mid 20s.  A libertarian friend told me about her, and I ate up TF and AS.  In subsequent years, I watched the Italian We The Living film, and read shorter Rand books such as Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, Philosophy Who Needs It, Capitalism The Unknown Ideal, For The New Intellectual,  and The Virtue Of Selfishness, so I have a good grasp of What Objectivism is all about.  I've never really thought of myself as an Objectivist, because Objectivist "apostles" constantly reiterate that it's a closed system, the totality of which MUST be accepted, at least as they define it.  That's always been off-putting to me.  Over the years,  I've been exposed to plenty of other "individualist" thinking--Reason magazine, Murray Rothbard, Tibor Machan, Von Mises, Hayek, Hazlitt, Albert Jay Nock, and others.  I do think Rand made the best moral case for capitalism.

Even though I hesitate to call myself a big O Objectivist, I've always viewed life in objectivist terms.  I became a mechanical engineer partly because it deals with objective reality.  If one tries to ignore objective reality, the bridge will fall down, the motor won't start, or the rocket will explode.  In the world of audiophiles, I've always been firmly in the objectivist (as opposed to subjectivist) camp.  Fictional works where reality is shaped at will by consciousness annoy me.  And so forth.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Robert,

I’m hardly in a position to extend a welcome because the administrator of OL periodically bans me for promoting ideas found at Vdare.com.
 
If you want to know anything about the Ayn Rand Institute, I’m behind ARIwatch.com – a critical review of it.  The latest article was introduced in the thread here.

A “closed system” is OK as long as the enclosure surrounds Rand’s Metaphysics, Ethics and (most of anyway) Epistemology.  Changing what’s inside that enclosure would only traduce her philosophy.  As for certain of her applications, evaluations, opinions, etc. Rand was wrong.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
16 minutes ago, Mark said:

Robert,

I’m hardly in a position to extend a welcome because the administrator of OL periodically bans me for promoting ideas found at Vdare.com.
 
I’m behind ARIwatch.com – a critical review of the Ayn Rand Institute.  The latest article was introduced in the thread here.

I think a “closed system” is OK as long as the enclosure surrounds Rand’s Metaphysics, Ethics and (most of anyway) Epistemology.  Changing what’s inside that enclosure would only traduce her philosophy.  As for certain of her applications, evaluations, opinions, etc. Rand was wrong.

 

Thanks Mark, but internecine conflict at ARI doesn't really interest me.  I'm just happy knowing that there are people interested in Objectivism who don't swallow the idea that everything must revolve around what ARI thinks or says.  I like the idea of treating ARI the way Howard Roark treated Ellsworth Toohey when Toohey demanded to know what Roark thought of him.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I wonder if “internecine” is quite the right word.  I’m completely outside the orbit of ARI.  If you are interested in promulgating the best in Objectivism you will be interested in ARI.  Their Internet presence is huge and they claim to present Rand's philosophy and it’s application to current events. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, Mark said:

I wonder if “internecine” is quite the right word.  I’m completely outside the orbit of ARI.  If you are interested in promulgating the best in Objectivism you will be interested in ARI.  Their Internet presence is huge and they claim to present Rand's philosophy and it’s application to current events. 

I'm aware of ARI, and I've watched a number of Yaron Brook's lectures on Youtube.  I think he does a fine job of explaining Rand's philosophy to people, although it does get repetitive hearing him use the same talking points in all his lectures.  I've also listened to Peikoff's appearances at the Ford Forum.  I liked his address concerning socialized medicine.  However, I find Peikoff to be very unlikeable, and some of his statements along the lines of "if you don't agree with my conclusions about everything, you are objectively evil/irrational" etc. make him not worth listening to.  I also think his treatment of the Brandens is inexcuseable and unforgiveable.  ARI is not some oracle of flawless Objectivist wisdom, even though they sometimes act like they are.  They tend to violate the idea that one should think for oneself.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

After reading over what I last wrote I was surprised at how ambiguous it is.  It could be taken to mean that ARI promulgates the best in Objectivism, and nothing could be further from the truth.  For the most part ARI either perverts Rand’s ideas or repeats her errors.

Leonard Peikoff lets ARI use the “Ayn Rand” trademark.  Because of that, and the added financial backing of Barney (since dried up), Koch, Allison and a few others, its Internet presence has become huge.  Those interested in spreading Rand’s better ideas need to counter it.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Robert3750,

Welcome to OL!

:)

Are you connected with VDare? Nothing against, but I haven't read that much over there. I've seen Ann Coulter, who I like and respect (with a few disagreements) reference it at times, so I doubt it is devoted to white supremacy as it is constantly portrayed in the fake news mainstream media. I ask because I didn't see you reference it, but the way Mark did made it seem like there was a connection. 

At any rate, for the sake of clarity, here is the fundamental Randian difference between OL and other sites where Objectivism is discussed.

The vast majority of other online places (both pro and con) treat Objectivism as an end point and their purpose is to clarify what that end point is. At OL, Objectivism is a starting point. Interest in Rand and Objectivism, to varying degrees, is the common ground, the reason people come here, but then people use their best thinking to go in their independent directions from there. 

In other words, when Objectivism is the end point, you end up molding your life to it. Objectivism is the shape and your life is the raw material to make yourself into one more unit. Your mental and moral value is measured by your ability to do that.

When Objectivism is the starting point, it's more like a general foundation, a guide to using your brain to grok reality so to speak, but you have to build the rest, which means you may even find it necessary for your own life to replace part of that foundation. (I doubt anyone other than Rand-haters would replace the entire foundation.)

We all need a frame that makes sense to filter the world through. Objectivism is wonderful as a frame. It allows you to look at a whole lot of different issues--almost anything really--and still keep your bearings as an individual without having to use a tradition or tribe (like a traditional religion) as a frame. I find it wonderfully liberating.

People who think this way trust you to do your own thinking and establish your own mental and moral value because they believe you are sincerely trying to do the best you can with what you've got, including understanding what life is all about. 

Over time, I, myself, have found certain elements in the philosophy I disagree with when Objectivism is approached as an end point, especially after learning a bit about neuroscience, modern psychology and evolutionary psychology, persuasion, story, and so on. But as a starting point or frame, I have no beef with any of Objectivism.

About the Brandens, I love and miss Barbara. I became close to her starting around 2005 up until she passed away in 2013. Also, I became friendly with Nathaniel, but did not interact with him all that much. (My dirty little secret about this is that I am interested in writing and I think Barbara was a much better writer than NB. :) I think he was a good writer, though.)

When OL was founded, there were many attacks on the Brandens, especially by a small group that trolled any discussions about them everywhere online, so I made it an OL policy that Branden bashing qua Branden bashing was not welcome here. That's worked out OK.

Anyway, enough rambling.

I hope you enjoy being here.

There are many wonderful people to interact with and you sound like a wonderful person, too.

Once again, welcome.

Michael

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you Michael.  I like what you said about Objectivism being a starting point rather than an end point.  I'm reminded of a well known book in libertarian circles titled It Usually Begins with Ayn Rand.   After rereading PAR and seeing some Youtube videos of Barbara, I wish I had had a chance to meet her.  Hers was not a perfect life, but neither is anyone else's.  PAR helps me understand who Ayn Rand was better than any other book, and I'm grateful to her for that.  BTW, I've never heard of VDare.

Robert

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 hours ago, Robert3750 said:

Hi all,

I discovered this site recently after Google searches prompted by rereading PAR, which piqued my curiosity about Rand and the Brandens.  I must say that this forum is a breath of fresh air, after getting the idea for so long that Objectivism is defined by the grim authoritarian stance of the people at ARI.

My initial exposure to Rand was in my mid 20s.  A libertarian friend told me about her, and I ate up TF and AS.  In subsequent years, I watched the Italian We The Living film, and read shorter Rand books such as Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, Philosophy Who Needs It, Capitalism The Unknown Ideal, For The New Intellectual,  and The Virtue Of Selfishness, so I have a good grasp of What Objectivism is all about.  I've never really thought of myself as an Objectivist, because Objectivist "apostles" constantly reiterate that it's a closed system, the totality of which MUST be accepted, at least as they define it.  That's always been off-putting to me.  Over the years,  I've been exposed to plenty of other "individualist" thinking--Reason magazine, Murray Rothbard, Tibor Machan, Von Mises, Hayek, Hazlitt, Albert Jay Nock, and others.  I do think Rand made the best moral case for capitalism.

Even though I hesitate to call myself a big O Objectivist, I've always viewed life in objectivist terms.  I became a mechanical engineer partly because it deals with objective reality.  If one tries to ignore objective reality, the bridge will fall down, the motor won't start, or the rocket will explode.  In the world of audiophiles, I've always been firmly in the objectivist (as opposed to subjectivist) camp.  Fictional works where reality is shaped at will by consciousness annoy me.  And so forth.

greetings and welcome...

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...