Harry Binswanger and James Valliant discuss Rand and homosexuality for 2 hours


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Neil,

I embedded it for you.

I might get surprised, but I don't expect this to get much traction.

There was a time when I cared about what Brook and Binswanger thought. I no longer do.

There's no strong emotion involved in this judgment. I find them irrelevant to my life and, in general, irrelevant to the culture. They are relevant to parts of O-Land, I guess, but these are parts I hardly frequent.

(We don't even need to mention what I think of the other guy. :) )

Good on you for keeping on top of them, though. I'm glad you find this important enough to expend time and energy on it.

From my view, meaning in terms of the value I personally get from it, it's a hobby like llama breeding fads in Peru or keeping up with croquet tournaments.

:) 

I'm happy others find it interesting, and one day I might (once again), but right now it's remote.

Please don't take this as discouragement. It's just feedback from the perspective of one person, me, in terms of my own personal values.

Others may find more value in this than I do.

Michael

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On 12/31/2020 at 12:51 PM, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

There was a time when I cared about what Brook and Binswanger thought. I no longer do.

There's no strong emotion involved in this judgment. I find them irrelevant to my life and, in general, irrelevant to the culture. They are relevant to parts of O-Land, I guess, but these are parts I hardly frequent.

. . .

From my view, meaning in terms of the value I personally get from it, it's a hobby like llama breeding fads in Peru or keeping up with croquet tournaments.

I don't want to give the impression that I am simply dismissing this based on an opinion. So here is a concrete example of what I mean.

The following happened yesterday and, although it is not specifically about homosexuality, it is a tangent within the same general conceptual universe of the topic.

(For later readers, today is January 2, 2021, so nothing is official yet about who the president is.)

If this actually happens under a Biden administration, the cultural impact will be toxic and create an intellectual and practical mess that will take a huge effort by a large number of people to clean up. This is a direct attack on family--an attack that involves great influence and the coercive power of the government to back it up.

Now look at that discussion in the video. Does anyone think anything said by these gentlemen (in the video or elsewhere) makes a dent in this potential disaster? Before or after? No. They are like the men playing chess on the Titanic who were so engrossed in the game, they don't even look for a lifeboat as the ship approaches the iceberg. Ultimately, they are fish-food and doomed to obscurity before their time.

OK, to be fair, since their discussion is about what Rand thought, imagine what Ayn Rand would have thought of removing gendered terms from the approved language used by Members of Congress in the House. Does anyone have any doubt about what she would have thought? Is that even worth discussing other than a passing comment with a quip? I mean, that would be like discussing whether birds fly or not. :) 

Culture-wise, it would not be an issue. Hell, the only reason her thoughts on homosexuality are interesting within the subcommunity is due to the cognitive dissonance created from her calling it disgusting while defending the rights of homosexuals.

As a hobby, I'm fine with these gentlemen discussing whatever they want. We all have hobbies. God knows I do.

But as cultural influence, or even cultural importance for posterity, I just don't see any relevance. I'm not snarking. Nor am I criticizing the merits of what these gentlemen's thoughts are. I'm trying to situate what a discussion like that is and means.

Is it philosophy, or politics, or gossip, or just some dudes opining on what Rand said?

In other words, I'm in identification mode right now, not judgment.

Michael

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Michael,

I listened to it because I was curious how the dynamic duo would explain why disagreeing with Rand (if they did) was not a version of "open Objectivism."  Here is my takeaway:

1. Valliant pretty much admits he's bisexual. Binswanger is mildly critical of homosexuality and says its hard to integrate with Rand's views of masculinity and femininity.

2. They both imply that Rand's comments on homosexuality were limited to her Q and A. I don't think that's true. They mention Branden's early views of the psychology of homosexuality but don't say he presented his theory in The Objectivist, which Rand approved of.

3. Binswanger says he discussed the topic with Rand and she "walked back" her harsh criticism of homosexuality. I don't trust Binswanger, but who knows.

4. They had almost a complete separation between psychology and philosophy which seems un-Objectivist to me. However, I haven't read the relevant essays in a long time.

5. When the moderator introduced Valliant, he didn't mention that he was the author of PARC. There was no mention of the book, the diaries published in it, or the Rand/Branden affair (which might have been relevant to the viability of a person being bisexual). I recall that the gossip was Binswanger didn't like the fact that Valliant published the diaries. I can't imagine that he's a fan of the book.

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