A quote (from AB) and comments re AR's journals


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Thanks for the replies.

From the bits and pieces that I've read in comments online about PARC, I understand that Rand's thoughts were directed toward grappling with the mixed signals that she was receiving, but I was expecting that there would also be some self-examination: Rand seriously confronting her own errors, lies or deceptions, and pondering how they may or may not have contributed to the problems that she faced with NB.

The righteous tone of Rand's views on topics such as cowardice, second-handers, appeasement, social metaphysics, courage, independence, betrayal, sacrifice, etc. keeps ringing in my ears (just one example: "It is understandable that men might seek to hide their vices from the eyes of people whose judgment they respect. But there are men who hide their virtues from the eyes of monsters.") I have a difficult time imagining that, when marshaling her thoughts and constructing "case studies" about her relationship with NB, the woman who repeatedly scolded the world on the moral depravity of caring what nameless, faceless others think would not contemplate her need to hide one of her highest values not only from the eyes of "monsters," but also from the eyes of her closest friends and associates, and what effect that might have had on her relationship.

I really can't imagine myself being a famous, deeply philosophical novelist, loving my supremely valuable, ideally heroic wife, having an affair with another, much younger woman who, although supremely valuable and ideally heroic enough for me to love passionately, intimately and perhaps risk the possibility of damaging my ideal marriage over, was not quite supremely valuable and ideally heroic enough to be worthy of my willingness to face negative public opinion, and then, when pondering my lover's problems, mixed signals or possible lies, not asking myself why, if I truly loved her and believed that what we were doing wasn't wrong, I was behaving as if the affair was something shameful. What kind of signal did that send, what effect might it have had on our relationship? Regardless of what reasons or excuses my lover was giving me, I can't imagine not making it a priority to seriously examine how my role in creating a secretive, deceptive, mixed-signal atmosphere may have resulted in my receiving mixed signals.

Regarding James Valliant, I don't doubt that he was meticulous in putting together PARC, but it seems that he can be a bit slippery or lawyerly with the truth, including on this thread. Does anyone here understand what his answer to me means? When he claimed that my questions are all answered in PARC, did he mean that if I read his book I'll discover that the answer to my questions is "No, Rand doesn't address those issues, therefore you didn't need to read the book since the only type of entries you expressed interest in are not in it"? Or does it mean that he thinks that ~he~ addresses those issues in the book, which is not what I asked? Instead of answering my questions with a simple, honest "no," it appears to me that he's trying to mislead me into believing that the book contains what it doesn't. Is that the type of maneuvering that I can look forward to in the book?

J

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Jonathan, in the introduction to The Passion of Ayn Rand, I described her remarkable eyes. At the end of the description, I wrote:

"But I never saw those eyes without the light of a vast, consuming intelligence, the light of a ruthless intellect that was at once cold and passionate; this was the core of her life, the motor of her soul.

"There was something I never saw in Ayn Rand's eyes. They never held an inward look -- a look of turning inside to learn one's own spirit and consciousness. They gazed only and always outward. It was many years before I was to understand the absence of that inward look, and what it revealed. It was to require all the knowledge of all the years to understand it."

Barbara

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Jonathan,

Summarizing your inability to imagine yourself doing as described: You can't imagine yourself being AR.

It was just about axiomatic with her that whatever she was doing was of course rational. (Thus the cancer diagnosis was a big shock, since she believed that cancer was caused by bad premises, and since she couldn't have bad premises...).

Ellen

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BB:There was something I never saw in Ayn Rand's eyes. They never held an inward look -- a look of turning inside to learn one's own spirit and consciousness

Barbara, what if she did?

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Ciro, about my statement that Rand's eyes "never held an inward look -- a look of turning inside to learn one's own spirit and consciousness -- you asked: "Barbara, what if she did?"

Barbara, when you say that Ayn Rand never learned her own spirit and consciousness, what do you exactly mean?

Wasn’t her own spirit expressed trough her heroes in her novels.?

I understood your message as if she was not in touch with reality.?

CD

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Sorry I wasn't clear, Ciro. Yes, of course you're corect when you say that Rand's spirit was expressed in her novels -- in all of her work, for that matter. But it is particularly in writing fiction, which necessarily relies to an enormous extent on one's subconscious, that the writer's soul, whether he wishes it or not, is clearly evident in his work.

But what I meant -- and this is illustrated and explained in my biography -- is that Rand never looked inward in the sense that a psychologist would do, and that in fact most people do at least some of the time. She never looked to see if there might be problems buried inside her, such as emotions that clashed with some of her conscious convictions, or ideas that contradicted other ideas she held, or subconscously held values that she might no longer sanction. She very rarely questioned the validity of whatever she felt, of any of her actions or reactions, of whatever she wanted to do, of any of the conclusions she reached.

She assumed that she always knew the precise meaning of every emotion she felt, and that the meaning was almost always a positive one. For example, when Nathaniel and I would argue with her about her anger with students in question periods, she might for a moment or two grudgingly agree that it was unfair, that she should not react that way. But then almost immediately she would say to us, indignantly, "But I'm a moralist, first and foremost! And those damn questions were evil!. That's why I get so angry. Why do you want me to stop being a moralist?"

Or, another example. She believed that cancer resulted from what she called "bad premises" -- meaning, contradictory ideas one held and/or ideas that were "anti-life." When she developed cancer, she was upset because, she said: "I don't have any bad premises." It did not appear to occur to her to look inward now in the face of this contradiction, to see if perhaps she did have some irrational ideas that were making her sick (assuming, which I do not, that there is a direct relationship between one's ideas and the development of cancer).

For good and for bad, the world that was really of interest to her was the world outside of herself. "Who is Ayn Rand?" was a question it would not have occurred to her to ask, because it was a question to which she was convinced she had always known the full answer.

Does this make it clear, Ciro?

Barbara

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> She very rarely questioned the validity of whatever she felt, of any of her actions or reactions, of whatever she wanted to do, of any of the conclusions she reached.

Barbara, I'm wondering if she'd done most of that years before she met you? (Or for example, in her journals where she is telling herself she doesn't know something, find the answer to X, etc...)

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I wrote:" She very rarely questioned the validity of whatever she felt, of any of her actions or reactions, of whatever she wanted to do, of any of the conclusions she reached."

Phil wrote: "Barbara, I'm wondering if she'd done most of that years before she met you? (Or for example, in her journals where she is telling herself she doesn't know something, find the answer to X, etc...)"

Phil, what I said and what you asked, if I understand you, are two different issues. Rand often was very good about recognizing that she needed more information or understanding about something before coming to a conclusion. There seemed no element in her psychology of pretending, to herself or to others, that she had final answers where she did not have full knowledge. An example of this that I especially love and admire, is that at the age of seventy-six, she began studying algebra with a tutor, because she believed there were fascinating connections to be discovered between philosophy and algebra. After Frank's death, she told me, "I realized that I needed to do something that would be only for own personal pleaaure, something purposeful that I would do only because I enjoyed it." She was always eager for new knowledge about subjects of interest to her. (I've often thought that that tutor must have thought he had died and gone to heaven, having a pupil like Rand.)

And if you read her journal entries that were published about Nathaniel, you can see the tenacity of her determination to understand him. Although in that instance, sadly, seeking knowledge was anything but pleasurable, And perhaps those entries are the clearest instance possible of her failure to look inward, her failure to so much as raise the question of whether she might have contributed to the mutual agony she and Nathaniel were enduring.

Another example: she had never decided whether Darwin's theory of evolution was correct or not, and she said she had no means of deciding because she had not studied the subject sufficiently.

But her endless joy in understanding new subjects and in gaining new knowledge, which to me was one of the most attrractive qualities about her, always pertained to knowledge of the world. It did not pertain, as far as I could see, to gaining knowledge of Ayn Rand. And from her conversations with me about her life, beginning with her early childhood, it appeared that this dichotomy had always existed.

Barbara

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Jonathan,

A Rand excerpt for your reading pleasure.

Michael

The Ayn Rand Letter

Vol. II, No. 11  February 26, 1973

An Untitled Letter--Part III

Is A Theory of Justice likely to be widely read? No. Is it likely to be influential? Yes—precisely for that reason.

If you wonder how so grotesquely irrational a philosophy as Kant's came to dominate Western culture, you are now witnessing an attempt to repeat that process. Mr. Rawls is a disciple of Kant—philosophically and psycho-epistemologically. Kant originated the technique required to sell irrational notions to the men of a skeptical, cynical age who have formally rejected mysticism without grasping the rudiments of rationality. The technique is as follows: if you want to propagate an outrageously evil idea (based on traditionally accepted doctrines), your conclusion must be brazenly clear, but your proof unintelligible. Your proof must be so tangled a mess that it will paralyze a reader's critical faculty—a mess of evasions, equivocations, obfuscations, circumlocutions, non sequiturs, endless sentences leading nowhere, irrelevant side issues, clauses, sub-clauses and sub-sub-clauses, a meticulously lengthy proving of the obvious, and big chunks of the arbitrary thrown in as self-evident, erudite references to sciences, to pseudo-sciences, to the never-to-be-sciences, to the untraceable and the unprovable—all of it resting on a zero: the absence of definitions. I offer in evidence the Critique of Pure Reason.

Mr. Cohen gives some indications that such is the style of Mr. Rawls's book. E.g.: "...the boldness and simplicity of Rawls's formulations depend on a considered, but questionable, looseness in his understanding of some fundamental political concepts." (Emphasis added.) "Considered" means "deliberate."

Like any overt school of mysticism, a movement seeking to achieve a vicious goal has to invoke the higher mysteries of an incomprehensible authority. An unread and unreadable book serves this purpose. It does not count on men's intelligence, but on their weaknesses, pretensions and fears. It is not a tool of enlightenment, but of intellectual intimidation. It is not aimed at the reader's understanding, but at his inferiority complex.

An intelligent man will reject such a book with contemptuous indignation, refusing to waste his time on untangling what he perceives to be gibberish—which is part of the book's technique: the man able to refute its arguments, will not (unless he has the endurance of an elephant and the patience of a martyr). A young man of average intelligence—particularly a student of philosophy or of political science—under a barrage of authoritative pronouncements acclaiming the book as "scholarly, .... significant, .... profound," will take the blame for his failure to understand. More often than not, he will assume that the book's theory has been scientifically proved and that he alone is unable to grasp it; anxious, above all, to hide his inability, he will profess agreement, and the less his understanding, the louder his agreement—while the rest of the class are going through the same mental process. Most of them will accept the book's doctrine, reluctantly and uneasily, and lose their intellectual integrity, condemning themselves to a chronic fog of approximation, uncertainty, self-doubt. Some will give up the intellect (particularly philosophy) and turn belligerently into "pragmatic," anti-intellectual Babbitts. A few will see through the game and scramble eagerly for the driver's seat on the bandwagon, grasping the possibilities of a road to the mentally unearned.

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Mr. Cohen gives some indications that such is the style of Mr. Rawls's book. E.g.: "...the boldness and simplicity of Rawls's formulations depend on a considered, but questionable, looseness in his understanding of some fundamental political concepts." (Emphasis added.) "Considered" means "deliberate."

Like any overt school of mysticism, a movement seeking to achieve a vicious goal has to invoke the higher mysteries of an incomprehensible authority. An unread and unreadable book serves this purpose. It does not count on men's intelligence, but on their weaknesses, pretensions and fears. It is not a tool of enlightenment, but of intellectual intimidation. It is not aimed at the reader's understanding, but at his inferiority complex.

So Rand is judging the style of a book she didn't read herself on the basis of one single sentence by mr. Cohen. Further, if I read that sentence, I don't see how Rand could arrive at that conclusion: Cohen mentions the boldness and simplicity of Rawls' formulations. Further he says that these depend on a "considered looseness in his understanding of some fundamental political concepts", at which Rand comments: "considered" means "deliberate". But that doesn't make sense: how can you have a "deliberate" looseness in understanding something? I think the point Cohen wants to make is quite the opposite of Rand's interpretation: he seems to suggest that Rawls style is so simple while his understanding of those issues is limited. And let us not forget that this is only Cohen's opinion, probably while he doesn't agree in everything with Rawls; Rawls himself would probably have vigorously denied that he had a (deliberately?) loose understanding of fundamental political concepts. So Rand's conclusion about the style of the book is not warranted by the example she gives. She suggests there are more "indications", but she doesn't give them. Now for all I know it may be a dense and murky book, but that doesn't take away that Rand's reasoning here is quite sloppy.

More often than not, he will assume that the book's theory has been scientifically proved and that he alone is unable to grasp it; anxious, above all, to hide his inability, he will profess agreement, and the less his understanding, the louder his agreement—while the rest of the class are going through the same mental process.

I find this passage rather ironic, as it perfectly describes the attitude of many Objectivists about Rand's works.

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Dragonfly, you quoted a passage from Rand's "review of a review" of Rawls "A Theory of Justice":

More often than not, he will assume that the book's theory has been scientifically proved and that he alone is unable to grasp it; anxious, above all, to hide his inability, he will profess agreement, and the less his understanding, the louder his agreement—while the rest of the class are going through the same mental process.  

And you said:

I find this passage rather ironic, as it perfectly describes the attitude of many Objectivists about Rand's works.

Not that I disagree with you, but I am curious as to what specific ideas and/or works of Rand you are referring to. Could you please concretize your comment with two or three examples of works that many Objectivists have this attitude toward? (And thanks in advance.)

REB

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> [1]Rand often was very good about recognizing that she needed more information or understanding about something before coming to a conclusion...There seemed no element in her psychology of pretending.

> [2] her failure to look inward, her failure to so much as raise the question of whether she might have contributed to the mutual agony she and Nathaniel were enduring... her endless joy in understanding new subjects and in gaining new knowledge... did not pertain, as far as I could see, to gaining knowledge of Ayn Rand [barbara]

Barbara, would it be an accurate brief summary of your total view of her that she was eager to gain new knowledge and was unprecedentedly successful at it in most extrospective areas, but that she had particularly a huge blind spot in some areas of knowledge which revolved around psychology? And that blind spot was in certain areas of introspection, emotional understanding, emotional self-control, and judgement of people? But that does not mean she had -no- profound insight in these areas (as her clear view into her own writing processes indicates). Or am I over-simplifying?

In other words, there were areas where she objectively did need to gain further self-knowledge (say, to improve the quality of her life and personal relationships), but she just honestly didn't see that? There is a difference between an honest blind spot (such as thinking you have already figured out something in a certain introspective area when you are mistaken) and a willful refusal to see. No genius sees everything.

Phil

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Phil, you wrote: "Barbara, would it be an accurate brief summary of your total view of her that she was eager to gain new knowledge and was unprecedentedly successful at it in most extrospective areas, but that she had particularly a huge blind spot in some areas of knowledge which revolved around psychology? And that blind spot was in certain areas of introspection, emotional understanding, emotional self-control, and judgement of people? But that does not mean she had -no- profound insight in these areas (as her clear view into her own writing processes indicates). Or am I over-simplifying? "

That's a very good summary. Yes, it is my view of Rand. However, it's when you attempt to state it in other words that I run into trouble and am not certain of the answer. You wrote: 'In other words, there were areas where she objectively did need to gain further self-knowledge (say, to improve the quality of her life and personal relationships), but she just honestly didn't see that? There is a difference between an honest blind spot (such as thinking you have already figured out something in a certain introspective area when you are mistaken) and a willful refusal to see. No genius sees everything."

About certain introspective issues, I would certainly agree with you. There were many such issues pertaining to her own life where I am convinced she simply did not see and did believe she had suffiicient knowledge, even if I think she sometimes was mistaken. Certainly, not even a genius sees everything, and I do not want to employ a standard in analyzing Rand that I would not use for others. In Passion, I stress that despite the view of some of her more robotic admirers, she was a human being, and thus she had a right to make mistakes, as do we all. Genuis is not synonymous with omniscience.

But there are certain issues about which her supposed lack of knowledge creates a problem for me And let me give you two examples that I witnessed first hand.

In the early 50's, after Nathaniel and I had moved to New York and Rand decided that she, too, would move there, it was clearly evident that Frank did not want to leave the ranch, that he hated the fact that they were to move, that he did not want to live in New York. Yet Ayn kept remarking on how much "they" hated California and would be so happy to leave it. And for many years after, she would make similar comments about California and New York and "their" view of the two. In her defense, I have to say that Frank, so far as I know, did not tell her his feelings; but they were nevertheless evident to all of us who knew him.

Again, consider her view that Nathaniel was the only one to blame for the disaster of their love affair. By everything I could see, she never so much as considered the possibility that she, by some of her actions and demands, have been even a minimal source of their difficulties -- and this is borne out by her journal entries about the affair. I truly don't know how it is possible for one of the parties in such a situation not to do some soul-searching. I truly don't know how it is possible for one of the parties to decide that the other is the only one to blame.

But I want to add something. I've never believed that "evasion" -- I loathe that term, it's the Objectivist equivalent of cancer -- is all-of-a-piece; that is, that one simply evades or one doesn't. It's often difficult for any of us to always be certain whether or not we have looked at everything we should have looked at with regard to an issue; the most honest introspection sometimes can leave us without a clear answer about our own functioning. Surely this means that we must bend over backwards not to accuse others of evasion. There are many levels of evasion -- from the most unlikely, which is "I know I should examine X, but I refuse to do so" -- to a faint blurring of an issue which, like mist, clouds what we might otherwise examine. Therefore, I am not accusing Rand of evasion. But I am stating my own puzzlement over issues such as the latter two.

Barbara

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A last word from me on all this, since my eye-related troubles are getting to the place where I truly can't even continue attempting to keep current with reading elists, let alone with posting thereon:

If Nathaniel Branden really was the Svengali-type figure those who want to paint him as rotten to the core would have us believe he was, then Ayn Rand really was naive to such an extent she looks like an utter fool ever to have placed any value on him at all. The irony is that the worse they paint him, the more naive they make her look (and in my opinion her journal entries make her look pretty naive without needing help).

Ellen

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Roger:

Not that I disagree with you, but I am curious as to what specific ideas and/or works of Rand you are referring to. Could you please concretize your comment with two or three examples of works that many Objectivists have this attitude toward? (And thanks in advance.)

If you want exact references, it'll take some time, as I have to look them up, but there are many examples: her definition of causality, the "problem" of free will and determinism, her definition of life as ultimate value, her shift from "life" to "life qua man", her derivation from "ought" to "is", her theory of concepts, which are all defended by many Objectivists with empty slogans like "A is A", "existence exists", "a thing is itself", etc. which all prove exactly nothing. It's very tiring to try to direct the discussion with them to the essential points of her argument. The funniest example I once saw on a forum was something like: Objectivism can't be an open system as it is true! Well, you can't argue with that, can you?

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I just read the concluding pages of PARC (I still haven't yet read Part I or the commentary interspersed between Rand's Journal entries).

Again, I'm struck by a sense of irony: You see, there was a psychotherapist in the post-split New York Objectivist world who did have the "soul of a rapist" which James Valliant ascribes to Nathaniel Branden: Lonnie Leonard. Yet I believe that for all Rand's naivety, she'd never have been fooled by the likes of Lonnie. (Just being in a room with Lonnie made my skin crawl. Several times in late 1970/early '71 I was in a room with him, at a course being given by Allan Blumenthal. Then, to my relief, Allan and Lonnie went their separate ways and Lonnie quit attending the course. This was some years before the extent of Lonnie's nefarious activities was revealed.)

(For those who haven't heard of him: Lonnie was engaged in systematic undercutting of his clients' self-esteem. He was eventually brought to trial and lost his license to practice in New York on grounds of sexual malpractice -- that is, enticing female clients into having sexual relationships with him. Ellen Plaisil, one of those who instituted the suit, wrote a book about her experiences -- a book titled, notice the pun: Therapist. Unfortunately, the book's out of print. There was more to the story, however, than Plaisil told: Lonnie also had techniques that he used with male clients, such as discouraging their pursuit of the career choice they actually wanted, attempting to deflect them from good romantic choices into bad ones, and a lot of other stuff, for instance at one point giving a loaded gun to a client who, though he loved Lonnie, was angry with him and taunting the client to shoot him. Also he orchestrated a sort of musical chairs of sexual partners amongst his clients. He expounded the LL theory of "maximizing" one's "scorecard" romantic desiderata by testing with various partners, keeping score, and then testing with further partners. And speaking of lying, he had a convoluted web of stories he told to keep each of the clients with whom he was messing around from finding out about the others. In sum, Lonnie was a for-real version of what PARC presents Nathaniel as having been.)

Ellen

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Ellen:

Summarizing in a sentence: If he was a monster, then she was an idiot. You can't properly argue for the first contention without implying the second.

Exactly. That's why all those endless rants by the nutcasies are so self-defeating. They want to improve Rand's image, but they achieve in fact the opposite effect.

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Dragonfly,

Let's move a topic over to Epistemology one day. I am curious about something. The purpose of an axiom is to indicate a starting point for thinking - in the case of reason, to affirm the validity of existence, identity, consciousness, et. For some reason, those who have read Popper belittle fundamental axioms. They don't dismiss them. They belittle them. I find this behavior curious. (But please, let's do this over there in Epistemology.)

Ellen,

The case of Lonnie Leonard has been held up by many of Rand's enemies as SOLID PROOF that Objectivism is a cult, that it is not practical, yada yada yada. Frankly I have read more about Mr. Leonard in terms of affirming such proof than I have read about the affair with NB.

The similarity with that hapless spiritual rapist thing didn't strike me until you just mentioned it. Thank you.

Michael

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>I've never believed that "evasion" -- I loathe that term, it's the Objectivist equivalent of cancer -- is all-of-a-piece; that is, that one simply evades or one doesn't. [barbara]

Rather than say there are degrees of evasion, I would limit the concept itself very strictly to: willful failure to look when you know you should, know how to do it, and know that it is necessary right at that time. I would put it that there are -more- possibilities than total evasion vs. full focus. So I think evasion is a valid concept but one often too quickly or broadly applied in the real world, regardless of whether it applies to Rand...so it seems we agree on that.

> It's often difficult for any of us to always be certain whether or not we have looked at everything we should have looked at with regard to an issue; the most honest introspection sometimes can leave us without a clear answer about our own functioning.

I agree with both of your points, Barbara: i) not always knowing that we've looked at everything, ii) not always getting good results.

But I think I'd add a third aspect -- iii) not choosing to focus on an issue and not knowing for sure that one needs to, or not at that time: There are various psychological mechanisms of 'selectiveness': attention (we can't attend to every impinging sense perception or thought or event or even emotion which comes in; repression and suppression of emotions; etc. There is also a deflection of issues that you think you already have under control and so you are impatient about thinking further about something or you are busy and postpone. (There is even just lack of energy and procrastination or "I don't want to get into it, I can't deal with it right now...but I will.")

What strikes me is that people often have many reasons for not attending to something they need to explore. They can have whole sides of their personality or awareness which are undeveloped and which need to be, but they are just not able to see that at the time...or ever. Therapists try to help them, but they have elaborate defense mechanisms built up...or they don't know how to get in touch...or they simply don't see it. These mechanisms are often subconscious or were created very early in childhood and thus are not in their conscious control. (Psychologist Edith Packer once told me, if I'm not reading too much into my recollection, that the more intelligent the patient or client, the more elaborate are the unconscious structures built in to explain why everything they do makes perfect sense.)

I would say you can't call something an evasion or a moral failure unless it is clearly and consciously chosen, and there are lots of other possible explanations for dumb or insenitive or self-harmful behaviors, or else counselors and self-help books would go out of business. I would even suspect that -most- really big errors that good people make which mess up their lives are not the result of evasion but of psychological problems and blind spots (or even lack of working intelligence applied to oneself.)

Phil

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Ellen, thank you for directing our attention to the REAL "spiritual rapist" of the Objectivist movement (Lonnie Leonard). The moral shortcomings of Nathaniel and Barbara pale to near insignificance alongside those of LL. It confirms yet again the gross hyperbole that NB's and BB's enemies engage in, in order to try to discredit their testimony about the early years of the movement and the very human limitations of our Founder.

Please do take care of your eyes. Drink more carrot juice or something. We need you to be part of this community!

REB

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In answer to my request for examples of Objectivist views that were defended more by handwaving and turning up the volume than by rigorous proof, Dragonfly cited the following:

1. her definition of causality

2. the "problem" of free will and determinism

3. her definition of life as ultimate value

4. her shift from "life" to "life qua man"

5. her derivation from "ought" to "is"

6. her theory of concepts

7. the idea that Objectivism is a closed system (because it's true!)

He says these "are all defended by many Objectivists with empty slogans like 'A is A', 'existence exists', 'a thing is itself', etc. which all prove exactly nothing. It's very tiring to try to direct the discussion with them to the essential points of her argument."

I realize that O'ists sometimes fall back on some of the axiomatic slogans when all else fails, but I think that there is more to their arguments than that! Nevertheless, I agree that there are holes or weaknesses in some of these doctrines. My own take is as follows:

1. causality -- I think that the O'ist view is exactly correct, but that the vast majority of O'ists do not apply it correctly to the mind-body and freewill-determinism problems.

2. the problem of free will and determinism -- I think this is the number 1 problem area in Objectivism's metaphysics and epistemology. I think there are more shoddy arguments and hand-waving here than anywhere else in the philosophy.

3. life as the ultimate value -- is it life or happiness? if the purpose of your life is to be happy, then it would seem happiness is the ultimate. O'ists fudge on this by equating life and happiness. I think this is bogus.

4. life vs. life qua man -- this sounds like the survival vs. flourishing controversy, which is a real sticking point in O'ism. I'm not satisfied with the current thinking on it. I also think that a third factor is vital in a full, happy life: generativity.

5. deriving "ought" from "is" -- I think this is handled satisfactorily, except for establishing the basic "ought" that you ought to value life. It seems to me that this is a choice that is pre-moral, pre-ought, and that all "oughts" flow from it. If life is the ultimate value, there is nothing you ought to choose life in order to obtain (except happiness, but then why choose happiness?).

6. Rand's theory of concepts -- I think this is done well, except for the chapter on axioms, which I think is a mess. Not surprisingly, the axioms are trotted out most often for hand-waving in lieu of rigorous proof.

7. Objectivism as a closed system -- this is totally lame, and so are those who argue for it. :-)

So, I'd say that I largely agree with Dragonfly's assertion. I think there is a significant element of "Emperor's new clothes" going on in O'ist circles, and that there is a lot of work still to be done in validating some of its basic claims. Unfortunately, with as many people taking such dogmatic stances against close examination of the linkages between ideas in O'ism, that validation is more likely to take place by those not welcome in the Inner Circles of ARI and TOC.

REB

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