Barbara's lectures on the Principles of Efficient Thinking


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Fascinating story. Thanks for sharing it.

Ghs

Thanks, George. :)

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Haider,

I found your insight on afterlife-based morality versus here-and-now-reality-based morality very interesting. You went straight to a fundamental at the outset. I suspect you will not have much trouble understanding Objectivism.

But with respect to the afterlife, it is good to question: Is there an afterlife? Many people say there is and many people say there isn't. The only constant with all of them is that you cannot check to see for yourself (until you die, that is). You have to rely on what someone else says. And that goes for both sides (that is, if you are seeking hard fact).

It's like the holy books (in all religions). The writer claims that God (through whatever mechanism) told him to write the book, but there is no way we can see anything for ourselves other than the fact that the author wrote a book. We can ask God if the dude really wrote it under His prodding, but so far He ain't answering.

Or it's like hard atheism (those who claim as fact that God does not exist). All we can claim is that there is no evidence of the God that has been presented so far in religions other than sporadic unexplained phenomena people report or the fact that there is so much we do not know. But that is not proof of anything one way or another. It is only proof that we do not know some stuff.

What will it be once we humans find out? Who knows? I hope it's something good... :)

So basing morality on the afterlife is essentially basing morality on what someone claims with no way to verify that claim. But you can verify reality. In reality you can observe things for yourself with your own eyes (or ears, etc.). You can check and repeat what you check. You can uncover errors and correct an idea until it works on producing controllable and repeatable results. On a primary level, you experience your own life and that awareness is your proof that you exist. You wake up every new day with the same awareness. That is your standard on which to base everything else.

There is no such awareness with respect to the afterlife, although there are some people doing a lot of documenting of near-death experiences. Still, that is in its infancy.

Rand defined morality as a code of values to guide man's choices. That pretty much covers it, whether the code comes from a person claiming he got it from a divine source or from someone using reason--the same reason you can use. I don't see a contest. I can either accept someone's claim that I cannot verify or I can use my own mind. I have to go with my own mind. Outside of the fact that my own mind is all I've really got in terms of my awareness, I have been misled by too many people making unwarranted claims to trust anyone on a giving-up-my-own-thinking level.

And that, to me, does not make considering the existence of an afterlife evil (as some people in our neck of the woods hold), but it does make it irrelevant for structuring morality, at least at this stage of human development.

btw - How are the people around you in Kuwait taking your new ideas? Do they think you're a crackpot? :)

Michael

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Haider,

I found your insight on afterlife-based morality versus here-and-now-reality-based morality very interesting. You went straight to a fundamental at the outset. I suspect you will not have much trouble understanding Objectivism.

But with respect to the afterlife, it is good to question: Is there an afterlife? Many people say there is and many people say there isn't. The only constant with all of them is that you cannot check to see for yourself (until you die, that is). You have to rely on what someone else says. And that goes for both sides (that is, if you are seeking hard fact).

It's like the holy books (in all religions). The writer claims that God (through whatever mechanism) told him to write the book, but there is no way we can see anything for ourselves other than the fact that the author wrote a book. We can ask God if the dude really wrote it under His prodding, but so far He ain't answering.

Or it's like hard atheism (those who claim as fact that God does not exist). All we can claim is that there is no evidence of the God that has been presented so far in religions other than sporadic unexplained phenomena people report or the fact that there is so much we do not know. But that is not proof of anything one way or another. It is only proof that we do not know some stuff.

What will it be once we humans find out? Who knows? I hope it's something good... :)

So basing morality on the afterlife is essentially basing morality on what someone claims with no way to verify that claim. But you can verify reality. In reality you can observe things for yourself with your own eyes (or ears, etc.). You can check and repeat what you check. You can uncover errors and correct an idea until it works on producing controllable and repeatable results. On a primary level, you experience your own life and that awareness is your proof that you exist. You wake up every new day with the same awareness. That is your standard on which to base everything else.

There is no such awareness with respect to the afterlife, although there are some people doing a lot of documenting of near-death experiences. Still, that is in its infancy.

Rand defined morality as a code of values to guide man's choices. That pretty much covers it, whether the code comes from a person claiming he got it from a divine source or from someone using reason--the same reason you can use. I don't see a contest. I can either accept someone's claim that I cannot verify or I can use my own mind. I have to go with my own mind. Outside of the fact that my own mind is all I've really got in terms of my awareness, I have been misled by too many people making unwarranted claims to trust anyone on a giving-up-my-own-thinking level.

And that, to me, does not make considering the existence of an afterlife evil (as some people in our neck of the woods hold), but it does make it irrelevant for structuring morality, at least at this stage of human development.

btw - How are the people around you in Kuwait taking your new ideas? Do they think you're a crackpot? :)

Michael

Sounds like Kierkegaard in a lot of ways - except he tried to keep God too.

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Hi Michael,

Just to be clear: I don't consider belief in the afterlife evil, nor am I waging a crusade against religion. I'm only critical of trends within religious communities and ways in which beliefs can become destructive. I still consider myself a Muslim, although my understanding of Islam is very unconventional.

Basing moral values on the afterlife is extremely destructive, because it overlooks the very purpose of morality: to guide man's actions on earth for his well-being and happiness. When the afterlife comes into the equation, you will fail to make rational judgments based on reality (i.e. the factors that set the proper context for determining what the moral thing to do is).

I wrote an article a long time ago on how the afterlife is used by Muslim preachers to promote morality, and why it's destructive, which you might find interesting: http://www.afilsforyourthoughts.com/blog/2008/08/28/the-ethics-of-death/ (the comments are interesting, too!).

As far as people's acceptance of my beliefs goes, I was a Muslim extremist when I got married and changed my views about 2 years into my marriage. My wife is now concerned about my religious well-being, even though she sees the logic in most of my arguments when it comes to specific topics (my criticism of the Iranian government, why I no longer adhere to the teachings of Muslim scholars, why I'm pro-America, pro-liberalism, etc.). It helps to have liberals here in Kuwait, but the sad thing about the liberals here is that they believe people can do whatever they want, as long as they're not hurting anybody, whereas I believe the government shouldn't dictate what moral values we live by, but that we must live by a rational moral code in order to experience happiness on a personal level and strengthened relationships on a social level.

There are still a lot of misunderstandings surrounding capitalism, selfishness, altruism, sacrifice, etc. that exist in every corner of the globe, and Kuwait is no exception. :)

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Hi Michael,

Thank you for your warm welcome. smile.gif

My journey to Objectivism was an interesting one.

My cousin was living in Canada when I was at university in London (UK). He was an Objectivist and I was a Muslim extremist, who believed Ayn Rand was the anti-Christ, because she seemed to promote everything I stood against (selfishness, capitalism, America, etc). My cousin and I had long discussions about a variety of subjects, and I started to read some of Ayn Rand's works to get a better understanding of his views. I couldn't find fault in her reasoning.

To cut a long story short, I began to evaluate my beliefs in light of reality and the impact they were having on my psychology and social relationships. I realized that a morality based on an "after-life" was extremely destructive and what I should be focusing on was a moral code I can use for this life to experience happiness right here, right now.

I have an understanding of both the religious/selfless mindset as well as the rational/selfish mindset. I try and promote Objectivist values here in Kuwait based on my understanding of both mindsets.

Anyways, that's a snippet from my life, and I hope to be sharing more around here, and getting to know you fine people a little better. smile.gif

Welcome to Objectivism Land. Thank you for your story. I have one question though. You described your pre-Objectivism self as a "Muslim Extremist". Could you explain what that meant in terms of behaviour, ideas, feelings, etc.?

Mary Lee

Edited by Mary Lee Harsha
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> It helps to have liberals here in Kuwait, but the sad thing about the liberals here is that they believe people can do whatever they want, as long as they're not hurting anybody, whereas I believe the government shouldn't dictate what moral values we live by, but that we must live by a rational moral code in order to experience happiness on a personal level and strengthened relationships on a social level.

Haider, that's the age-old battle. People who rebel against intrinsicism think that the only alternative is to do what Rand called "play it deuces wild" and go to the opposite extreme of subjectivism. The middle alternative of objectivism is never thought of, was never clearly explained in all the major branches of philosophy - metpahysics, epistemology, ethics, politics, esthetics - before Rand.

(Your point was about intrinsicism vs. 'liberal' subjectivism in ethics, but it applies in the other branches of philosophy as well.)

Edited by Philip Coates
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@Mary Lee: Thank you for welcoming me to Objectivism Land. :)

I think I'll write an elaborate post in the "Mideast" section of this forum about my experience with Muslim extremism and coming to Objectivism, since I don't feel too comfortable diverting this thread in my direction, when it's about Barbara's lectures (which I still haven't gotten an update about!) :(

But to give you a feel of what I mean by Muslim extremism: I basically developed the desire for higher truth, and developed the impression that people, in general, were oblivious to spiritual pursuits and weren't inclined to pursue them. While others may seek to conform to social standards, I used society as a benchmark for what not to do. If people were doing it (and I thought people were materialistic and ignorant), then I wouldn't do it. That's why I label it extremism (in relation to social norms, even Muslim ones).

I was deeply concerned and troubled by people's interest in carnal desires and their neglect of spirituality, as well as the state of affairs in the Muslim world (the oppression of the Palestinians, the invasion of Afghanistan, etc). I felt responsible to somehow "fix" the world, which was a huge burden to bear. I constantly felt overwhelmed and always in confrontation mode (since people thought what I was doing was wrong, and I reciprocated their views).

I thought the US was the Great Satan and so boycotted everything American (which strained my social relationships and fueled confrontations).

The literature I was reading condemned the evil of selfishness, so I was giving my money and possessions away, and didn't want to experience material comforts (e.g. I started sleeping on the floor, didn't purchase new clothes for over 2 years, etc).

It wasn't a pleasant experience, but the feeling that I was doing the right thing pulled me through it.

I'll write some more on the subject in the "Mideast" section... So stay tuned! ;)

@Philip: This is one of the main reasons why I would like to promote Objectivism here in Kuwait. The hedonistic attitude liberals have is sickening and goes against the nobility of rational selfishness I believe in. No wonder why Islamists are gaining popularity when the liberals don't have an intellectual backbone.

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  • 9 months later...

Roger, I have an audio book by Barbara Branden - 19 discs and titled "Efficient Thinking". Given that you were instrumental in bringing "The Vision of Ayn Rand" to book form, I was hoping to see you announce a similar project for ET. The discs of ET are of very good quality, so I am able to listen and learn without the struggle that I had with "The Basic Principles of Objectivism". Still, it would be very helpful to have ET in book format.

Hi, Mary Lee. I share your wish that there were a similar project underway for Barbara's POET lectures. The transcriptions have been completed for over a year now, and they await Barbara's decision to have them published essentially "as is," or to incorporate them into an expanded book on how and how not to think. If Nathaniel's book of lectures does well, as it appears it will, Cobden Press may have a definite interest in publishing Barbara's lectures as well. We will see.

Best for the New Year,

REB

Roger, the last time we were here was back in May, 2010. Any word about Barbara's publishing plans? Does she think that the book needs a lot of updating? If so, can she get some help from her friends to get it done?

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Roger, I have an audio book by Barbara Branden - 19 discs and titled "Efficient Thinking". Given that you were instrumental in bringing "The Vision of Ayn Rand" to book form, I was hoping to see you announce a similar project for ET. The discs of ET are of very good quality, so I am able to listen and learn without the struggle that I had with "The Basic Principles of Objectivism". Still, it would be very helpful to have ET in book format.

Hi, Mary Lee. I share your wish that there were a similar project underway for Barbara's POET lectures. The transcriptions have been completed for over a year now, and they await Barbara's decision to have them published essentially "as is," or to incorporate them into an expanded book on how and how not to think. If Nathaniel's book of lectures does well, as it appears it will, Cobden Press may have a definite interest in publishing Barbara's lectures as well. We will see.

Best for the New Year,

REB

Roger, the last time we were here was back in May, 2010. Any word about Barbara's publishing plans? Does she think that the book needs a lot of updating? If so, can she get some help from her friends to get it done?

Mary, since my family and I moved from SoCal to Tennessee last summer, I have heard very little from Barbara, and nothing in several months. I have not heard that she is seriously ill, and my wife spoke with her a few weeks ago, and she seemed all right over the phone.

SO FAR AS I KNOW, there is nothing to report about Barbara's publishing plans. If I hear anything about which I am not sworn to secrecy, rest assured that I will post it here!

The original lectures have all been transcribed, so it is really up to Barbara whether she wants to publish them as is, or to revise them first, as well as whether to add some additional material on new, but related topics. She ~was~ interested in having Cobden Press publish her book, since Cobden also published Nathaniel's Vision of Ayn Rand book last year.

I don't know what she would need in the way of help we might give her. Becky (my wife) and I discussed several lectures with her, offering suggestions and seeking clarification on some points. But I think that she is simply working on her own time frame, and we will just have to be patient.

REB

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Roger, I have an audio book by Barbara Branden - 19 discs and titled "Efficient Thinking". Given that you were instrumental in bringing "The Vision of Ayn Rand" to book form, I was hoping to see you announce a similar project for ET. The discs of ET are of very good quality, so I am able to listen and learn without the struggle that I had with "The Basic Principles of Objectivism". Still, it would be very helpful to have ET in book format.

Hi, Mary Lee. I share your wish that there were a similar project underway for Barbara's POET lectures. The transcriptions have been completed for over a year now, and they await Barbara's decision to have them published essentially "as is," or to incorporate them into an expanded book on how and how not to think. If Nathaniel's book of lectures does well, as it appears it will, Cobden Press may have a definite interest in publishing Barbara's lectures as well. We will see.

Best for the New Year,

REB

Roger, the last time we were here was back in May, 2010. Any word about Barbara's publishing plans? Does she think that the book needs a lot of updating? If so, can she get some help from her friends to get it done?

Mary, since my family and I moved from SoCal to Tennessee last summer, I have heard very little from Barbara, and nothing in several months. I have not heard that she is seriously ill, and my wife spoke with her a few weeks ago, and she seemed all right over the phone.

SO FAR AS I KNOW, there is nothing to report about Barbara's publishing plans. If I hear anything about which I am not sworn to secrecy, rest assured that I will post it here!

The original lectures have all been transcribed, so it is really up to Barbara whether she wants to publish them as is, or to revise them first, as well as whether to add some additional material on new, but related topics. She ~was~ interested in having Cobden Press publish her book, since Cobden also published Nathaniel's Vision of Ayn Rand book last year.

I don't know what she would need in the way of help we might give her. Becky (my wife) and I discussed several lectures with her, offering suggestions and seeking clarification on some points. But I think that she is simply working on her own time frame, and we will just have to be patient.

REB

Roger and Mary Lee: My work on the Efficient Thinking lectures has been slowed up both by illness and by other projects that I couldn't pass up.. But part of my brain is always working on the lectures, and as soon as I can, I'll get back to them.

Barbara

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Roger, I have an audio book by Barbara Branden - 19 discs and titled "Efficient Thinking". Given that you were instrumental in bringing "The Vision of Ayn Rand" to book form, I was hoping to see you announce a similar project for ET. The discs of ET are of very good quality, so I am able to listen and learn without the struggle that I had with "The Basic Principles of Objectivism". Still, it would be very helpful to have ET in book format.

Hi, Mary Lee. I share your wish that there were a similar project underway for Barbara's POET lectures. The transcriptions have been completed for over a year now, and they await Barbara's decision to have them published essentially "as is," or to incorporate them into an expanded book on how and how not to think. If Nathaniel's book of lectures does well, as it appears it will, Cobden Press may have a definite interest in publishing Barbara's lectures as well. We will see.

Best for the New Year,

REB

Roger, the last time we were here was back in May, 2010. Any word about Barbara's publishing plans? Does she think that the book needs a lot of updating? If so, can she get some help from her friends to get it done?

Mary, since my family and I moved from SoCal to Tennessee last summer, I have heard very little from Barbara, and nothing in several months. I have not heard that she is seriously ill, and my wife spoke with her a few weeks ago, and she seemed all right over the phone.

SO FAR AS I KNOW, there is nothing to report about Barbara's publishing plans. If I hear anything about which I am not sworn to secrecy, rest assured that I will post it here!

The original lectures have all been transcribed, so it is really up to Barbara whether she wants to publish them as is, or to revise them first, as well as whether to add some additional material on new, but related topics. She ~was~ interested in having Cobden Press publish her book, since Cobden also published Nathaniel's Vision of Ayn Rand book last year.

I don't know what she would need in the way of help we might give her. Becky (my wife) and I discussed several lectures with her, offering suggestions and seeking clarification on some points. But I think that she is simply working on her own time frame, and we will just have to be patient.

REB

Roger and Mary Lee: My work on the Efficient Thinking lectures has been slowed up both by illness and by other projects that I couldn't pass up.. But part of my brain is always working on the lectures, and as soon as I can, I'll get back to them.

Barbara

I am very glad that you responded so quickly. I have been talking about your lectures quite a bit lately and have started actively waiting for the book. Don't ask me what that looks like - it just means that I think about it quite a bit. I understand about new projects grabbing your attention. I hope that all is well with you, now.

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Barbara,

A very humble request:

You might want to have the audio program available through Audible.com.

That way it gains more exposure, and those of us who have the program and wish to recommend it to others can easily do so.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Roger, I have an audio book by Barbara Branden - 19 discs and titled "Efficient Thinking". Given that you were instrumental in bringing "The Vision of Ayn Rand" to book form, I was hoping to see you announce a similar project for ET. The discs of ET are of very good quality, so I am able to listen and learn without the struggle that I had with "The Basic Principles of Objectivism". Still, it would be very helpful to have ET in book format.

Hi, Mary Lee. I share your wish that there were a similar project underway for Barbara's POET lectures. The transcriptions have been completed for over a year now, and they await Barbara's decision to have them published essentially "as is," or to incorporate them into an expanded book on how and how not to think. If Nathaniel's book of lectures does well, as it appears it will, Cobden Press may have a definite interest in publishing Barbara's lectures as well. We will see.

Best for the New Year,

REB

Roger, the last time we were here was back in May, 2010. Any word about Barbara's publishing plans? Does she think that the book needs a lot of updating? If so, can she get some help from her friends to get it done?

Mary, since my family and I moved from SoCal to Tennessee last summer, I have heard very little from Barbara, and nothing in several months. I have not heard that she is seriously ill, and my wife spoke with her a few weeks ago, and she seemed all right over the phone.

SO FAR AS I KNOW, there is nothing to report about Barbara's publishing plans. If I hear anything about which I am not sworn to secrecy, rest assured that I will post it here!

The original lectures have all been transcribed, so it is really up to Barbara whether she wants to publish them as is, or to revise them first, as well as whether to add some additional material on new, but related topics. She ~was~ interested in having Cobden Press publish her book, since Cobden also published Nathaniel's Vision of Ayn Rand book last year.

I don't know what she would need in the way of help we might give her. Becky (my wife) and I discussed several lectures with her, offering suggestions and seeking clarification on some points. But I think that she is simply working on her own time frame, and we will just have to be patient.

REB

Roger and Mary Lee: My work on the Efficient Thinking lectures has been slowed up both by illness and by other projects that I couldn't pass up.. But part of my brain is always working on the lectures, and as soon as I can, I'll get back to them.

Barbara

I am a student at Vassar College studying Barbara Branden's Principles of Efficient Thinking. The distributor of the audio tapes is giving me access to the lectures because I have agreed to create a student question/study list for each lecture. I am starting a Vassar Values Reason project, affiliated with the Ayn Rand Institute, for which I am undertaking this work on my own. I am willing to use any Objectivist work, especially high quality, classic, seminal work like Barbara Branden's Thinking lectures, which is why I sought them out. I too have been slowed down by illness due to a car accident, in which I sustained head and bodily injury, so I am taking this semester off from school to recover. However, I am continuing my small contribution to the academic use of the lectures, because it's good for my mind and my thinking!

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Jules,

Good for you - that you are willing to keep doing your work on Barbara's lecture series in spite of your injuries. I have used it and used it and used it. Please let us know if we can access your work after you publish it.

Mary Lee

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  • 4 years later...

Michael:"Unless you were there, little is known about when and how these lectures were given. Were they ever offered on tape like Nathaniel's lectures were? How and when were they recorded?"

Yes, they were offered live in New York and on tape to NBI students across the country. They were originally recorded in 1959 or 1960 -- I'm not certain which -- then rerecorded several years later with some updates.

The portion of Principles of Efficient Thinking that is transcribed in The Vision of Ayn Rand includes discussion of the nature of concepts, definitions, and their relations (166–72). This much and more is covered in Rand’s chapter on definitions of ITOE. Barbara Branden’s discussion of the growth of the concept of man as held in the mind of a young child to the adult concept of man (168–69) is very like the notable account given by Rand in the Definitions chapter of ITOE. Within Visions there is no notice I have found acknowledging that any of these ideas in the span 166–72 were originated by Rand.

Does anyone know if the social setting in which these lectures were originally delivered had a background presumption that everything in the lectures was original with Rand or under Rand’s step-by-step guidance, unless a statement were made to the contrary on some idea? The default rule could not plausibly have been, “everything I say here is my own original idea, unless otherwise noted.”

Dos anyone know if the material on definition’s from B. Branden’s lectures as transcribed in Vision was in the lectures prior to Rand’s issue of her ITOE in 1966–67? Was any of this portion of the lectures added when the lectures were rerecorded in the early ’70’s?

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P of E Thinking is completely Ayn Rand sanctioned because it was given at NBI and because of Rand's statement in the May 1968 Objectivist sanctioning all of the Brandens' work prior.

All of their work obviously came out of the intellectual stew pot all the major players were involved with back then in innumerable bull sessions going back to Nathaniel Branden's first meeting with Ayn Rand just before his 20th birthday in 1950. Prior, NB had spent years reading The Fountainhead.

I wish I could be more helpful beyond this obvious stuff.

--Brant

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1. Stephen, I don't have a definitive answer for any of your questions. Sorry. My best recollection is that Barbara re-recorded her lectures in 1969 or 1970, at which time they were being prepared for marketing as LP's by Academic Associates. But as to what material was added, subtracted, or altered, I do not know...I do know that no lawsuits were ever brought against Barbara for misrepresenting Rand's ideas as her own. She and Nathaniel both frequently credited and cited Rand, and Rand praised both of them for their contributions. So I think it's a wash - and that POET is completely sanctioned, as Brant put it. But more importantly than that - just read the lectures and use your own independent judgment as to whether they make sense and are valid! Sanctioned errors are little more than GIGO, IMHO.

2. Good news: Barbara's estate is negotiating with a publisher to put out a book of her efficient thinking lectures that will include additional transcripts of three lectures she gave on the subject between the mid-90s and mid-00s. The transcripts will be *triple* checked against the recordings to ensure maximum accuracy. And someone competent will be providing an index for the book. :-/ I would not expect the book to be published before 2016. I'm hoping they will use the title I suggested and that Barbara enthusiastically embraced in 2011: "Think as if Your Life Depends on It - Because it Does! (subtitle: Principles of Efficient Thinking).

REB

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The lectures as taped couldn't have been before 1960, as both the full course and the single lecture in the NBI basic series allude to the Quemoy-Matsu debate in the 1960 election.

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Thanks, Brant and Roger, concerning my questions.

I'm not interested in the sanction status. My interest in dates concerns how the text on those pages of Vision should be read. As a summary by Barbara c.1970 incorporating some of the material that Rand had not published until that chapter in ITOE? Or as text being delivered in the lectures prior to ITOE? My bet is that it is the latter, and that is the alternative having some interest. Not an interest in who said what first, but in how much was ready to say by when in the joint coordination, which is trajectory (cf.) in the development of the philosophy during the first decade after AS.

PS

Thanks, Peter, for that further limit concerning Barbara's span as far as she could remember in the quote from 2006.

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Brant,

Yes. Although I think I can make out a case that Barbara was not in this transcribed text making a rather rough assimilation of Rand's published chapter on definitions, but was telling it as far as the theory had been developed prior to ITOE. Comparison with the various writings of Rand touching on concepts and on definitions prior to publication of ITOE would be necessary, but not difficult.

I doubt this is part of Rand's intellectual trajectory that I'll include in treatment of Rand in my book. This is a small development and just a curiosity on my part.

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Stephen,

Apropos of nothing in particular, I went to NBI's offices at 120 E. 34th st. in full army khaki in May 1966 and subscribed to To the Objectivist. The woman there had to have been Elayne Kalberman. (I learned much later Barbara Branden had been on a round the world cruise, or something.) It was in a converted apartment. A year later they moved everything into the Empire State Building. I had it sent to my Mother's address in Tucson. The second issue to Tucson was the first part of ITOE. There I was, gawking at it, in Tucson on my way to Vietnam, and said to myself, 'Too tough. I'll read it when I get back in a year.' There were eight consecutive monthly installments, the last in February 1967. I came back in very early September 1967. I think the magazine was already running a little late. In any case on the back of the June 1967 issue I listed all I had to do immediately to get into the University of Arizona including "Return Ford to Hertz." I was discharged in Oakland, CA and rented a full sized Ford Galaxy and drove it to Tucson. Cost me several hundred bucks (and a $300 cash deposit), which would be easily $1500 in today's currency. Today, the same rental would cost maybe $500 and you better have a credit card. (The agency in Tucson wondered why Oakland had rented to me at all.) So there I was driving south and I saw my first hippie hitch-hiking. Didn't stop. (Hippies happened while I was in Vietnam.) Then I ran into a car with a couple of girls in it and I had fun with them in a mock chase. Next thing I knew the California Highway Patrol had pulled us both over. He let me go with a warning. So much for the girls. Nutz! If I had used critical thinking at that point I would have stayed in California and chased more girls.

--Brant

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Roger, you mentioned (#93) that the proposed book of the Efficient Thinking lectures would include additional lectures Ms. Branden gave on the subject more recently. I hope that the original lectures transcribed will be complete, no part of any lecture omitted. That is what makes such a work useful with respect to history. Selections from earlier work of a thinker aligned as a progression as if all along reaching for the position attained in later work is not helpful; selection by the criteria of such alignment is ruinous.

Brant, in association with #99, Branden uses the traditional example of humor-ability of humans as an example of a distinctive trait of the species that would be wrong to take as the defining, differentiating characteristic of humans in the genus animal (172). (Rand did not use this example in ITOE, so far as I see just now.) The reason that Branden gives for the claim that a sense of humor is not the fundamental distinguishing trait of humans: “Well, a sense of humor is blatantly a consequence of the fact that man possesses a mind—and, more specifically, it’s a consequence of certain special premises in his mind.” She did not further explain this diagnosis for this example, although she went on to indicate that a laughing animal such as an hyena does not have a sense of humor. I don’t know what she would have thought of the following at the various stages of her life, but I suggest: Our proposition of uniqueness for the human trait we mark as sense of humor is a reasonable conjecture. But it is a conjecture, one open to elaboration and some qualification with further advance of science. Less conjectural and more clearly dependent on conceptual power, it seems to me, are our abilities for language, drawing diagrams, farming, and invention. Uniqueness of our ability to make music (and its dependence on conceptual power), I expect, is conjecture in the league with sense of humor, reasonable but reasonably open to significant qualification with the advance of science.

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