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galtgulch

Passing the torch!

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I also realize that I put much more into studying this philosophy than I remember and it's harder than Dragonfly has indicated.

It isn't hard at all if you compare it with studying a real science.

Sounds like apples and chickens to me. A would-be philosopher studying philosophy has a lot more work in store for himself than a would-be physicist studying physics, assuming both have the brains for what they are doing. Just Objectivism is relatively very easy. Edward Teller once said that a properly structured education in physics would have the students getting their doctorates by the age of 18 or 19.

It is one thing to advocate logic and quite another to master it and know logical fallacies. Objectivism does not teach logic, it only refers to it.

I suggest that the real hard part is using what you have learned whatever your profession. It has to do with interests, brains and passion and the perceived problems to be solved or situations investigated.

I would agree with the statement that one is much more likely to need genius in physics than philosophy. One can study Objectivism pretty well with a very modest IQ.

I guess that your education in physics effectively taught you more about true objectivism than most people who have been exposed to the philosophy, leaving them with a higher mountain to climb. Maybe that is where some of the missing "hard" is for you.

--Brant

Edited by Brant Gaede

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Speaking of digressions, I'll use this thread to announce that I'll be away from the web for the next eight days. I figure that most of those who might have any reason to want to contact me are reading this thread.

Cheers,

Ellen

___

I'll see if I can get George Smith to post his theory of Freud's superiority to Jung right away. -- Mike Hardy

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Possibly most of the OL regulars do not believe either that the world is in need of "saving" or that Objectivism would represent "salvation" if the world were in dire straights of doom.

Ellen,

Amen. We live in a wonderful world.

I make your words mine for your entire post. You stated exactly how I think.

(btw - "Make your words mine" is a Brazilian expression meaning I am in full agreement with you. It does not mean I intend to plagiarize you. :) )

... it is Objectivism itself that makes it impossible to become a major philosophy. Rand's novels may continue to inspire people, but that doesn't make the philosophy viable, an inspiring message doesn't necessarily make a good philosophy.

Dragonfly,

I agree with half of this and disagree with half. If by "philosophy" we mean "substitute for religion" and "an integrated whole to be taken all or nothing," I fully agree with you. I don't believe Objectivism will spread very far and I agree that the problem is internal to some of the premises of the philosophy (especially as it is based on a partial view of human nature, not a full view). There is also the problem of the constant nasty bickering between the leaders and by adherents.

However, as a basic training manual for how to use your mind, it is a wonderful tool.

For instance, it makes clear that facts are absolute and knowledge of them is contextual. That concepts are integrated from sensory input and from themselves. That concern with one's self is not evil. That productive achievement is a moral good. That initiating force against others is evil. That wealth is produced. It provides some basic axioms to build on. And so on.

It also offers a magnificent challenge to centuries-old religious dogmas. It provides an intellectual background to build on. Seen as a tool for providing methods and prompts for independent thinking, it is very powerful and I believe it will spread in this sense.

People who consider Objectivism to be an all-or-nothing integrated whole do not like this approach because some of the ideas will inevitably be replaced or their scope will be delimited. Yet that is the only way I see it spreading far and wide in concrete terms.

I also realize that I put much more into studying this philosophy than I remember and it's harder than Dragonfly has indicated.

It isn't hard at all if you compare it with studying a real science.

Boy did you ever hit the nail on the head! Objectivism is a hell of a lot easier to learn than architecture, for example. (I'll take The Fountainhead any day over a college textbook on the basic principles of architecture.) And it is even more fun to learn (once you get away from those with sour and hostile dispositions—and I do not mean that as a swipe at Phil, I mean it in general).

Michael

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Speaking of digressions, I'll use this thread to announce that I'll be away from the web for the next eight days. I figure that most of those who might have any reason to want to contact me are reading this thread.

Cheers,

Ellen

___

I'll see if I can get George Smith to post his theory of Freud's superiority to Jung right away. -- Mike Hardy

I'm not out of here yet, Michael Hardy; not till tomorrow. And George Smith doesn't have a theory of Freud's superiority to Jung. And I'm amazed that you didn't comment on my writing "dire straights of doom" instead of "straits." I fixed it, but not before MSK quoted the original. The word "straights" didn't look right when I posted, but I couldn't think why not until I saw that passage picked up by MSK.

E-

___

Edited by Ellen Stuttle

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... my writing "dire straights of doom" instead of "straits." I fixed it, but not before MSK quoted the original.

Ellen,

I admit I missed this too, but in a funny way, I kinda like it. I like my doom straight, no chaser. I tried doing the opposite as a mental exercise and came up with:

Tremendous twists of triumph

Whacha think? Whacha think?

Poetic or what?

:)

Michael

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I'm not out of here yet, Michael Hardy; not till tomorrow. And George Smith doesn't have a theory of Freud's superiority to Jung. And I'm amazed that you didn't comment on my writing "dire straights of doom" instead of "straits." I fixed it, but not before MSK quoted the original. The word "straights" didn't look right when I posted, but I couldn't think why not until I saw that passage picked up by MSK.

If you want some more corrections: on 18 March you wrote "guage".

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> Possibly most of the OL regulars do not believe either that the world is in need of "saving" or that Objectivism would represent "salvation" if the world were in dire straits of doom...A number of us don't even consider ourselves Objectivists. So I expect that Phil would find a more receptive audience elsewhere for his programs and recommendations than he finds here.

Thanks, Ellen, that's very clarifying. I think you are probably right. Let me just say that I respect your differences with me on these issues. And I have no problem with the fact that you, Robert Campbell, Robert Jones, Rich Engle, and perhaps others here don't consider yourselves Objectivists. (I think you are fine people nonetheless and we can continue to disagree and debate philosophical differences.)

Phil

[i'm not responding to MSK's last two "attack posts" aimed at me last night and this morning for two reasons: because I'll let my actual posts speak for themselves in regard to his exaggerated criticisms and, more fundamentally, because I've rapidly lost respect for him in the areas of objectivity and fairmindedness and perhaps elsewhere as well.]

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[i'm not responding to MSK's last two "attack posts" aimed at me last night and this morning for two reasons: because I'll let my actual posts speak for themselves in regard to his exaggerated criticisms and, more fundamentally, because I've rapidly lost respect for him in the areas of objectivity and fairmindedness and perhaps elsewhere as well.]

Phil,

That's one hell of a "non-response" and I am not attacking you. Please stop offending me. Enough already. I do not believe in sanction of the victim.

What on earth are you doing here if you are so unhappy?

Michael

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Phil,

I am definitely interested in the details of your proposed Objectivist training curriculum and will go read it over on RoR if you post it there and don't cross-post it here.

I think Joe Rowlands is more inclined to share your view of the unique qualities of Objectivism than are some of the regulars here on OL.

But that doesn't mean that we don't think Objectivism should be taught. Nor does it mean that we believe that the current methods of teaching it are adequate.

Meanwhile, I hope you'll rethink cross-posting any of it to SOLOP. Talk about pearls without pork chops...

Robert Campbell

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Phil;

This is a logical fallacy:

[i'm not responding to MSK's last two "attack posts" aimed at me last night and this morning for two reasons: because I'll let my actual posts speak for themselves in regard to his exaggerated criticisms and, more fundamentally, because I've rapidly lost respect for him in the areas of objectivity and fairmindedness and perhaps elsewhere as well.]

I'm sure you understand why.

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That which I think has been most harmful to the Objectivist movement:

Objectivists who think that Objectivism must be accepted in its entirety, that it is a perfect, integrated system, and that to disagree with any "essential" aspect of it is to reject Objectivism, and, therefore, to become an "enemy of Objectivism."

This view seems to cause people to behave in self-limiting and self-destructive ways. It causes them to publicly declare things like, "If you're not purely Objectivist (as defined by us), we don't want you, we don't need you, so fuck off." (Attractive slogan, no?)

Those who think that Objectivism must be accepted in its entirety often seem to think that it also must be promoted in its entirety, which means that formal educational programs must be the primary means of spreading Objectivist ideas. It seems that even conversations must come as close as possible to resembling a lecture: an Objectivist Crusader usually can't discuss, say, a current political event or a work of art without mentioning Objectivism, quoting Rand, quizzing his opponents on their knowledge of Objectivism, and making suggestions about how they might study Objectivism better.

One can't "leave them hungry and begging for more" - one can't be clever and original in an argument, inspiring his opponents with new ideas and new ways of looking at things, and wait for them to ask what his intellectual influences were. No, in all intellectual discussions, a proper Objectivist Crusader must tie the issues and arguments to the whole of Objectivism immediately. In effect, he must change the subject of every conversation to Objectivism. (And from what I've seen, he must also lecture his opponents about Objectivism even after they've repeatedly told him that they are bored out of their freaking minds, no longer listening, and sick and tired of his intrusive, pompous, condescending behavior.)

Since no two people will ever agree precisely on what is "essential" to Objectivism, I think that the "Objectivism must be accepted in its entirety" approach is a major cause of the movement's extreme sectarianism and sycophancy. Objectivists often seem to see everyone beyond their insular little cliques as attacking Rand and Objectivism (even strictly personal conflicts are treated as attacks on Objectivism). The movement is full of petty, abusive and manipulative behavior, lies, "airbrushing," public excommunications, denouncements and betrayals -- usually over minor, esoteric differences or purely personal issues -- and ridiculously overblown senses of self-righteousness and self-importance. All of it very public, all of it in the name of "defending" Objectivism, and all of it seen as highly heroic only by those indulging in it.

J

PS - This (which I've posted elsewhere a few times) is what I think that radio commercials would sound like if businesses borrowed the Objectivist movement's theory of marketing:

"The McDonald's on 3rd and Maple is evil. They don't understand or practice the true McDonald's methods and recipes. They are false friends of McDonald's. For one thing, they don't correctly arrange the reconstituted onions on their Big Macs. And their Special Sauce applicator is totally inconsistent. Sometimes the amount of sauce it squirts out is too much or too little by up to 8 percent! If you want a ~real~ Big Mac, eat at our McDonald's out on Highway 18. We are the only true defenders of Ray Kroc's vision. Be forewarned that before ordering, we will expect you to sign an oath that you will never eat at the evil 3rd and Maple McDonald's. They are piece of shit lying scumbag fuckheads who are trying to destroy the purity of of the McDonald's name. We will not sanction your sanctioning them."

Edited by Jonathan
  • Haha 1

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Jonathan,

If this is aimed at Phil, it is misplaced. I think Phil is looking for what's effective. If you advertize having a training program, you have metrics concerning whether you are succeeding in that program. If you succeed in training happy experts and innovators, you have a successful program. If you have lots of people simply disappear, say Objectivism is a load of manure or write angry blogs for years on end, maybe there's something that could be improved.

I think that people should absorb Objectivism at their own pace and with their own first hand judgment, but when they are ready for and choose to study a formal program, that's what they should get.

Jim

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Jonathan,

If this is aimed at Phil, it is misplaced. I think Phil is looking for what's effective. If you advertize having a training program, you have metrics concerning whether you are succeeding in that program. If you succeed in training happy experts and innovators, you have a successful program. If you have lots of people simply disappear, say Objectivism is a load of manure or write angry blogs for years on end, maybe there's something that could be improved.

I think that people should absorb Objectivism at their own pace and with their own first hand judgment, but when they are ready for and choose to study a formal program, that's what they should get.

Jim

No, it wasn't aimed at Phil. I guess that some of the criticisms in my post could apply to Phil sometimes, but I don't see him as someone who has hindered the spread of Objectivism. He seems like a nice, intelligent person, and I have a very positive opinion of him.

J

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Jonathan,

What just happened here is a good example of what happens often in Objectist exchanges. You made a general comment, or observation of fact, and it was interpreted by James as a swipe at Phil—as a normative statement about his character. (I am not picking on James, merely using this since it just happened to happen.)

Normally a person takes an observation of fact, when it disagrees with his conclusion, and interprets it as a swipe against himself, like what Phil has done on this thread.

I find this behavior curious and often tiring. It is a huge distraction and constantly pops up wherever Objectivists are found. If Objectivism is ever to spread, this is something that needs to be worked on. It is an enormous turn-off to most people. I know that I start getting indifferent. I used to get very irritated, but now just a sad weariness comes over me and I usually let things slide. (Sometimes I will see one through.)

In former times, people used to duel with pistols and literally kill each other over questions of honor. Often this simply meant one person disagreed with another, and then this degenerated to "Are you calling me a liar?" The emotional attitude behind this reminds me a great deal of the way Objectivists take things personally right at the get-go.

I wonder if this propensity to be thin-skinned stems from the fact-value thing, where one school of Objectivism teaches that all knowledge of facts have value judgments built in. Or maybe this defensiveness stems from making (or observing others make) so many moral condemnations all the time. Whatever the reasons, they should be unpacked, categorized and understood, and this behavior put away.

One final note. I believe that tolerance of several Objectivists for the low-level obnoxiousness constantly present on Solo Passion is simply overcompensation for being thin-skinned. Maybe a subconscious attempt at finding emotional balance.

Michael

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Jonathan,

I remember a time when ARI had a difficult time with their training program in the early '90s and had a head in the sand approach to it. This was part of the background for the Reisman split. Not until 1999 or so did they really get it turned around in terms of output and placing people. If you think that the people they place in universities do any kind of indoctrination, having taken a course from one of their professors, it simply isn't true ( they probably wish I had been indoctrinated :-)). They turn out terrific teachers and are making a difference. The institution has some really bad policies and probably kill some innovation in people and do a number of things I disagree with, but at the end of the day they are placing a good number of people in academia now. I have no real view into what goes on at OGC, but I don't have the sinister view some do.

TAS can change their academic program, target it or do something else, but they need to get more bang for their buck. TAS runs a terrific summer seminar and in times past has had a terrific network of clubs. I've been a member of 6 clubs listed by IOS/TOC/TAS around the country at various times and have benefitted me greatly, so there is a lot Objectivist organizations have been doing right, but we have a huge task ahead and when the engine is sputtering, we have to fix it. That's what Phil is trying to do.

Jim

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Michael,

I don't have any problem with Jonathan and there was a time when I saw problems in the movement and simply walked away and did my own thing. It was easy enough to do and I had a lot of profitable uses for my time. At one point, I simply walked away for 5 years, getting married and doing an Intel startup.

My brother and I just met up with a friend from the 1996 IOS Seminar last night who was driving through Phoenix. He remarked about all of the people he was going to visit on the trip, all of whom he met at that seminar. So I asked him why he never came back and he said listening to lectures simply wasn't in his intellectual strike zone anymore and said the same of a friend of his in San Diego. So I think the topic of the thread is a serious one and I certainly don't claim to have all of the answers, but I think it can be solved and I think people like Phil have some good ideas about it.

Jim

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If you think that the people they place in universities do any kind of indoctrination, having taken a course from one of their professors, it simply isn't true ( they probably wish I had been indoctrinated :-)).

No, I don't think that. I just don't think that academic programs necessarily offer the best bang for the buck.

I think that the old saying, "To a hammer, everything looks like a nail," is probably appropriate here. Philosophers and teachers generally think that teaching/training/lecturing is the best way of advancing ideas. I'm an artist who has worked in advertising. I think that art and advertising, for the same effort and money, can attract, inspire and inform (and "convert," if that's what we're really talking about here) millions of more people than what teaching/training/lecturing can. Rand was a novelist. It's my impression that her fiction is probably still more effective at spreading her ideas than all of the O'ist academic programs combined. There's no single best solution. I think it's an issue of people doing what they do best (if O'ist organizations were to put resouces into attention-grabbing, gonzo media, such as, say, funding and promoting O'ist versions of Michael Moore, they'd attract people who wanted to be O'ist versions of Michael Moore, and they might be much more effective than O'ist teachers/trainers/lecturers).

J

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Check it out, Atlas Shrugged just made Business Week:

http://www.businessweek.com/bschools/under...ate/readinglist

Jim

Edited by James Heaps-Nelson

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If you think that the people they place in universities do any kind of indoctrination, having taken a course from one of their professors, it simply isn't true ( they probably wish I had been indoctrinated :-)).

No, I don't think that. I just don't think that academic programs necessarily offer the best bang for the buck.

I think that the old saying, "To a hammer, everything looks like a nail," is probably appropriate here. Philosophers and teachers generally think that teaching/training/lecturing is the best way of advancing ideas. I'm an artist who has worked in advertising. I think that art and advertising, for the same effort and money, can attract, inspire and inform (and "convert," if that's what we're really talking about here) millions of more people than what teaching/training/lecturing can. Rand was a novelist. It's my impression that her fiction is probably still more effective at spreading her ideas than all of the O'ist academic programs combined. There's no single best solution. I think it's an issue of people doing what they do best (if O'ist organizations were to put resouces into attention-grabbing, gonzo media, such as, say, funding and promoting O'ist versions of Michael Moore, they'd attract people who wanted to be O'ist versions of Michael Moore, and they might be much more effective than O'ist teachers/trainers/lecturers).

J

Jonathan,

Thanks for the thoughtful reply. My brother used to start up Objectivist Clubs and he was very effective at it through personal charisma, but his clubs always varied up activities. He used to have several games nights where people would play backgammon, chess, Trivial Pursuit and Pictionary. If people didn't know how to play we'd offer to teach them. I think some of the natural social activities for Objectivists, lectures and the like just don't cut it and you have to get creative.

I remember my best friend and roommate in college was an Objectivist, but we met through playing chess and we didn't know we were both Objectivists for about a month until i saw the books on his shelf.

Jim

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One final note. I believe that tolerance of several Objectivists for the low-level obnoxiousness constantly present on Solo Passion is simply overcompensation for being thin-skinned. Maybe a subconscious attempt at finding emotional balance.

No, everyone is just breathing a sigh of relief that there is no high-level obnoxiousness at that moment :-)

Jim

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So I think the topic of the thread is a serious one and I certainly don't claim to have all of the answers, but I think it can be solved and I think people like Phil have some good ideas about it.

James,

Just for the record, I have never claimed that the topic of the thread is not serious and and I do agree that "people like Phil have some good ideas about it."

I want to emphasize the point of my previous post, however. People judge you by what you say and what you do. Public Objectivist manifestations have an inordinately high amount of thin-skinned people who are quick to take personal offense at each other for inoffensive comments. You used the expression "head in the sand" in another post and I believe it suits this situation quite well. While Objectivists constantly bicker over nothing, the general public notices.

I believe that many think, "If I am going to become like that with Objectivism, there are better ideas out there to live by. These people are troubled." And they move on.

I'm serious.

The behavior of Objectivists is a humongous public relations problem for spreading the ideas. Whether this is due to thin-skinned people being attracted to the philosophy or whether there is something in the ideas that fosters thin-skinnedness in people, I don't know. I am thinking about this.

However, I believe that this is a crucial issue to deal with for any plan to teach the philosophy to gain widespread acceptance. If it is ignored, Objectivists will continue to bicker and people will continue to look, say "No thanks," and move on.

Rand was a novelist. It's my impression that her fiction is probably still more effective at spreading her ideas than all of the O'ist academic programs combined.

Jonathan,

Heh. Put that in spades.

There is an objective measure for this: book sales. I once did a survey of Objectivist book sales using Ingram’s “Freddie” line: Comparative Objectivist book sales against The Passion of Ayn Rand’s Critics by James Valliant. Here are some of the figures:

High-end ranking for 2005-2006 (up to August 25, 2006) - Rand’s nonfiction published in her lifetime

CUI: 9,560

Virtue of Selfishness: 9,020

For the New Intellectual: 3,420

Romantic Manifesto: 3,370

ITOE (2nd expanded edition): 2,030

Return of the Primitive: 1,250

High-end ranking for 2005-2006 (up to August 26, 2006) - Rand’s fiction published in her lifetime

The Fountainhead: 139,930

Anthem: 137,080

Atlas Shrugged: 87,510

We the Living: 9,730

The sales totals for her fiction are lower than reality because my survey was limited only to the Signet paperback editions of 1996. Her posthumous books are given in my survey, but the figures are lower. As you can see, We the Living, her lowest selling fiction, outsold Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, her highest selling nonfiction last year.

If we go by sales, Rand's fiction reaches more people than her nonfiction by a ratio of about 13-14 to 1 at the minimum. There is a message from reality here for those who are open to it.

Michael

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Michael,

Thank you for posting the sales figures. That is important. It goes to show 3 things

1. Art plays a critically important role in man's life.

2. Most people need to be shown, not told.

3. A balance of positive and negative is important.

It also explains Rand's reaction to people's artistic tastes, however ill-advised. She felt viscerally that she was losing a sense of life battle if their taste strayed beyond the romantic. It also means that when we find a genuine romantic artist like Michael Newberry, we should really appreciate him.

Jim

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It would also be interesting to determine the level to which people who read the fiction really understood what they read.

Jim

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1) An -Atlas Shrugged- movie can do justice to the novel. However, it should be treated is if it were written as a Shakespearean play and not a fictional book. When directors approach fiction they tend to add their own innovations and cut things out to make it fit in in Hollywood. If this movie were to be filmed the director MUST have a FULL understanding of the book, the philosophy, and the small but significant pieces of the book must NOT be cut out. I say film it as close to the book as possible.

Hi Dodger

A slightly late reply to your post - forgive me.

I wonder if you've seen the film of "The Fountainhead"? The screenwriter was Rand, and I guess we can agree that she understood the material. I think the film is very successful, if now a little dated in style. (Not everyone agrees with me.) But Rand took considerable liberties with the detail of her own novel in order to produce a compelling screenplay. We get through a heck of a lot of the plot in very summary form in the first 15-20 minutes. Some of the sexual aspects are toned down a bit to suit the Hollywood conventions of the time. One aspect of the ending (the ultimate fate of Gail Wynand) is significantly altered.

I still think it's a fine rendition of the same essential theme. But it is different, and it needs to be. A film or a play is not a book.

Best regards

Adrian

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Apparently Dodger hasn't seen the new version of Romeo and Juliet with Leonardo DeCaprio as Romeo. Possibly the worst remake of Romeo and Juliet I've ever seen. Truly horrible.

I really hope that the movie holds at least a candle to the book.

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