Mike11

Is Objectivism Philosophy?

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Hello,

Long time lurker, first time poster and I have a question about what Objectivism really is. Feel free to ban me, I'm used to it from the other Objectivist groups, so I'll make this quick in case I'm wasting my time and yours.

When Ayn Rand wrote her early stories, as recorded in her Journal, the main emotional ideals - strong determined men and the evil depraved hordes of humanity were already present. These ideals were further entrenched with the Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. The belief in human achievement, the key virtues, and the decrying of the depraved hordes of the rest of us are there largely in full; "Man Qua Man" is already entrenched in the fiction. Atlas of course did poorly causing Nathanial Branden and Ayn Rand to give the fictional ideals some justification (this great labour I recall was mentioned at the beginning of FTNI). Because Man Qua Man came into existence as a fiction the philosophy of "Objectivism" is largely a cover, something invented to crop up this Ideal. This is why Rand's slogan about not eing a proponant of egoism but of Reason is a joke, historically the Egoism came first and the "philosophy" was built toward that end. This is why those who attack "Man Qua Man" are seen as so depraved, reason free from myth is free to attack fictional ideals, Rand didn't see rational discourse as something free to doubt and to grow but a myth destroying monster that needed containment.

You can see Rand's anti-reason attitude most greatly in "philosophical detection" in which she asks "if X were true, could Man Qua Man survive?, if he can't attack the belief as it is designed to attack your reason, by which I mean attack Man Qua Man".

So, here is my question, do you see Objectivism as a philosophy or as a valuable myth?

Edited by Mike11

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Hello,

Long time lurker, first time poster and I have a question about what Objectivism really is. Feel free to ban me, I'm used to it from the other Objectivist groups, so I'll make this quick in case I'm wasting my time and yours.

When Ayn Rand wrote her early stories, as recorded in her Journal, the main emotional ideals - strong determined men and the evil depraved hordes of humanity were already present. These ideals were further entrenched with the Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. The belief in human achievement, the key virtues, and the decrying of the depraved hordes of the rest of us are there largely in full; "Man Qua Man" is already entrenched in the fiction. Atlas of course did poorly causing Nathanial Branden and Ayn Rand to give the fictional ideals some justification (this great labour I recall was mentioned at the beginning of FTNI). Because Man Qua Man came into existence as a fiction the philosophy of "Objectivism" is largely a cover, something invented to crop up this Ideal. This is why Rand's slogan about not eing a proponant of egoism but of Reason is a joke, historically the Egoism came first and the "philosophy" was built toward that end. This is why those who attack "Man Qua Man" are seen as so depraved, reason free from myth is free to attack fictional ideals, Rand didn't see rational discourse as something free to doubt and to grow but a myth destroying monster that needed containment.

You can see Rand's anti-reason attitude most greatly in "philosophical detection" in which she asks "if X were true, could Man Qua Man survive?, if he can't attack the belief as it is designed to attack your reason, by which I mean attack Man Qua Man".

So, here is my question, do you see Objectivism as a philosophy or as a valuable myth?

A philosophy.

--Brant

Edited by Brant Gaede

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I think "myth" is a very inaccurate word to describe Rand's pre-philosophical viewpoint. I think a better word is "vision." Rand has always been a visionary. From her earliest days, she saw man as a heroic being who needs to be rational and productive and free in order to survive and be happy. This perspective became clearer and clearer in her novels, and emerged in full form in Galt's Speech (Atlas Shrugged) well before For the New Intellectual.

REB

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I think "myth" is a very inaccurate word to describe Rand's pre-philosophical viewpoint. I think a better word is "vision." Rand has always been a visionary. From her earliest days, she saw man as a heroic being who needs to be rational and productive and free in order to survive and be happy. This perspective became clearer and clearer in her novels, and emerged in full form in Galt's Speech (Atlas Shrugged) well before For the New Intellectual.

REB

A marvelous vision Rand had. How well does it conform to reality?

Hume supposed that human reason (he never denied reason's existence, ever) was subordinate to human passion. Was Hume closer to the truth?

Or perhaps Darwin was closer still.

Ba'al Chatzaf

Edited by BaalChatzaf

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Mike11,

Welcome to OL.

I always find posters who start out saying they will probably be banned a very interesting thing to look at. As owner of what I think and do, having a person who knows very little about me tell me what I am going to do obviously prompts an automatic negative emotional reaction inside me. It would be the same as if I said, "Well, this poster is probably going to act like an asshole."

:)

The fact is that I don't know enough yet to speculate on what you are going to do or not do.

You did mention that you have been banned on other Objectivist forums. I don't know what part of this came from you, but I do know the lamentable intolerance and lack of attempt at understanding that is present on many of these boards. Frankly, the issue I most see is the site owner or moderator delighting in wielding power, not in promoting reason. You will not find that here. Before we continue, I suggest you take a look at the posting guidelines in Objectivist Living Posting Guidelines and Legal Notice and Basic Objectivist Living stuff. If you and I have any problems, it will be due to you infringing these conditions (and I make no apology for setting them—it is my place and Kat's). They are reasonable and flexible, so if you are reasonable, there should be no problem. I personally get no pleasure in banning anyone and I do enjoy a good intellectual challenge and good-natured banter. (I loathe being baited, however.)

Now, to the substance of your post. Objectivism is a philosophy, but you seem to have something different in mind when you use the term "philosophy," otherwise the question of whether Objectivism is a philosophy or not would not even come up. So what do you understand by the term "philosophy"?

(This is getting a bit ahead, but for the record, here goes. Some myths are presented in the literature, but "man qua man" is not one of them as I understand the term "myth." We can also discuss what myths are if you like.)

The next point is about style. Rand often resorted to harsh rhetoric when presenting her case. I find harsh rhetoric good for antagonizing people and calling attention to something, but I do not find it good for convincing anyone except those who succumb to crowd psychology manipulation. Setting up a scapegoat as the so-called enemy and crucifying him/her is the easiest way to gather a following. This is not a practice encouraged on OL. Here we try to foster independent thinking and it is OK to disagree, even about fundamental issues. I try to contain wholesale preaching, however. This is not a proper venue for those seeking followers.

I also find harsh rhetoric a turnoff for learning. I mean that literally. The mind turns off to new knowledge and goes into ballistic mode. Like it or not, in order to understand something, you have to learn it properly. No learning is possible when offensive names and words like "depraved" are slung about freely. That is why you will find so little of this kind of language on OL. In general, we prefer the ideas. Some of the discussions even get quite technical and require a high degree of concentration. Playing rhetorical games only distracts from what we really value.

So I am curious. I noticed that you imitated Rand's harsh rhetorical style at the outset, calling her ideas "a joke" and so forth. That sounds like a person with a chip on his shoulder. Is that the image you want to convey to us as to who you are? Also, are you interested in understanding Objectivism on an idea level, or are you merely interested in some kind of payback for the harsh words Rand used?

Michael

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I think "myth" is a very inaccurate word to describe Rand's pre-philosophical viewpoint. I think a better word is "vision." Rand has always been a visionary. From her earliest days, she saw man as a heroic being who needs to be rational and productive and free in order to survive and be happy. This perspective became clearer and clearer in her novels, and emerged in full form in Galt's Speech (Atlas Shrugged) well before For the New Intellectual.

REB

A marvelous vision Rand had. How well does it conform to reality?

Hume supposed that human reason (he never denied reason's existence, ever) was subordinate to human passion. Was Hume closer to the truth?

Or perhaps Darwin was closer still.

Ba'al Chatzaf

Agreed.

As I see it, where Rand and Darwin (post-Darwin evolutionary theory at least) differ, IMHO the weight of evidence and reality is very clearly on the Darwin side of things. Essentially this renders large chunks of Rand's ideas obsolete and erroneous. Reading between the lines I suspect she knew this and avoided evolution like the plague.

Bob

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I think "myth" is a very inaccurate word to describe Rand's pre-philosophical viewpoint. I think a better word is "vision." Rand has always been a visionary. From her earliest days, she saw man as a heroic being who needs to be rational and productive and free in order to survive and be happy. This perspective became clearer and clearer in her novels, and emerged in full form in Galt's Speech (Atlas Shrugged) well before For the New Intellectual.

REB

A marvelous vision Rand had. How well does it conform to reality?

Hume supposed that human reason (he never denied reason's existence, ever) was subordinate to human passion. Was Hume closer to the truth?

Or perhaps Darwin was closer still.

Ba'al Chatzaf

Agreed.

As I see it, where Rand and Darwin (post-Darwin evolutionary theory at least) differ, IMHO the weight of evidence and reality is very clearly on the Darwin side of things. Essentially this renders large chunks of Rand's ideas obsolete and erroneous. Reading between the lines I suspect she knew this and avoided evolution like the plague.

Bob

First of all, welcome Bob. I am not understanding what you are implying when you stated:

"...Rand and Darwin (post-Darwin evolutionary theory at least) differ..."; and

"Reading between the lines ...", as a teaher of rhetoric/argumentation, that phrase confuses me as to what you mean.

If you would be so kind as to expound on these two (2) themes, I would appreciate it.

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So I didn't really get many replies, which I deserved. I did have a chip on my shoulder when I wrote that having just gone through a strenuous 2 hour arguement with a number of ARI Randroids, I should not have taken that agression and used it to fuel my first post here. My posts in the future will not be written in the same tone of hostility, arrogance or self righteousness.

At this point I'll flesh out more of what my definitions and arguement are-

To me there are essentially 2 different Objectivisms', one which is her fictional work, her prephilosphical "Vision" as Roger Bisell called it, the second being the system of abstract metaphysics, epistemology, ethics and politics; the "Philosophy". After reading most of Rand's fiction, her Journals, and layman's philosophy tracts (Virtue of Selfishness, Return to the Primitive, Philosophy: Who Needs it? and For the New Intellectual) it is my belief that the the second "Objectivism" is an attempt to prop up and defend the Vision of Ayn Rand and therefore Objectivism is not a legitimate Philosophy but a usefull and inspiring work in the field of Literature.

The best way for me to explain my rationale for this position is to look at the development of Objectivism historically.

When Ayn Rand wrote her screenplays she already solidified in her mind what a hero was and developed a profound attachment to this figure (as seen in the aura that surrounded him), she also laid down her disgust toawrd the evil anti-men whose depraved nature causes them to attack these Heroes. Further in her evolution of this Vision in the Fountainhead and Atlas she lays in down in stark relief what Heroism is in her mind aswell as the creation of Man Qua Man. No real work of philosophical abstraction has been done, no metaphysics or epistemeology has been laid down but Man Qua Man exists as a compelling vision.

It is a Vision that, like Michaelangelo's David, I agree with. Man's possible Heroism, our possible virtue and independance I think strikes a chord in everyone who loves Liberty.

It was after Atlas that Rand and the Branden's started thier philosophical endevours but I believe thier endevour to have been essentially corrupt. Let me explain what I mean by this as it is a central point in my beliefs about Objectivism. For philosophy to be authentic it must be guided by an unhindered rational faculty. Reason must be free to explore, challenge, contradict and doubt, to be open ended without a specific destination in mind; and when it doubts our most cherished, sacred, and needed beliefs a true lover of wisdom will follow it to its end.

It is this dispassionate rationality Rand and the early Objectivists feared. As laid out in "Philosophical Investigations" and later in Pope Peikoff's "Fact and Value" any rational inquiry or statement which attacks the Vision of Man Qua Man simply Must be false and those who state it Must be motivated by malice in the same way as Toohey and the other Randian villains. In Investigations and Fact and Value we are often reminded to ask "Could I be Man Qua Man if X is true?" if not, the idea is false, if yes, the idea is true or at least not of malicious origin. Piekoff and the ARI take this to an extreme whereby Global Warming must be false as Man Qua Man requires industry and the like. This is also why, according to my understanding, "tolerance" is not a "virtue in the cognitive realm" according to the ARI, such would mean reason is free to challenge our values and our deepest beliefs, including Man Qua Man.

Further, I would bet that the reason Kant is so villified for being intentionally corrupt (in Investigations Rand goes as far as to claim Kant literally intended to destroy our reason and leave us in evil Nihilism) is because they lacked any understanding of reason unchained by ideological or Visionary commitment. Because reason is not independant but servant to a Vision, Kant must have ben at root motivated by an anti-life vision. All philosophers, from Hesiod to Derrida, are assumed not to have simply followed thier ratioanl inquiry but expressed thier sense of life through thier philosophy.

Reason was deployed exclusively toward the end of establishing Man Qua Man as a reality not as a free agent as such I am extremely skeptical of the truth of the abstract system laid out in places like OPAR or ITOE as everything I have read makes me believe it is about "proving" literature.

The ARI gives the best examples of the kind of word games used to swing Objectivism's Vision as philosophical truth so here are two - Man Qua Man requires Free Will so Peikoff created a series of arguements about how free will is "axiomatic" and how if we are determined we could never know - unless we are free. He sidesteps the basic propostions of biological determinism in making this point (firing of nerves, chemicals etc) it seems like he is verbally running. Man Qua Man has rights becaus he is rational, but that means non-rational humans (down syndrome for example) have the same non-rights as animals. The ARI and people like Diane Hsieh come up with "Broken Units" to prove rights are dependant on speicies membership not an individual's faculties; odd logic for an individualist philosophy.

I honestly don't know why they would bother. Literature speaks to the sense of life, not to our higher level abstractions. It should be as unnessecary to "prove" Objectivism as to "prove" that life is worth living, that Satie is moving etc. But to try to base an official abstract system on this sense of life and then announce others as evil for disagreeing (an idea laid down by Rand herself) is a corruption of reason and philosophy.

I can give qoutes to "Philosophical Investigations" and "Fact and Value" as needed but I assume you are familiar with them.

Edit for spelling and examples of ARI verbal gymnastics.

Edited by Mike11

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So I didn't really get many replies, which I deserved. I did have a chip on my shoulder when I wrote that having just gone through a strenuous 2 hour arguement with a number of ARI Randroids, I should not have taken that agression and used it to fuel my first post here. My posts in the future will not be written in the same tone of hostility, arrogance or self righteousness.

At this point I'll flesh out more of what my definitions and arguement are-

To me there are essentially 2 different Objectivisms', one which is her fictional work, her prephilosphical "Vision" as Roger Bisell called it, the second being the system of abstract metaphysics, epistemology, ethics and politics; the "Philosophy". After reading most of Rand's fiction, her Journals, and layman's philosophy tracts (Virtue of Selfishness, Return to the Primitive, Philosophy: Who Needs it? and For the New Intellectual) it is my belief that the the second "Objectivism" is an attempt to prop up and defend the Vision of Ayn Rand and therefore Objectivism is not a legitimate Philosophy but a usefull and inspiring work in the field of Literature.

The best way for me to explain my rationale for this position is to look at the development of Objectivism historically.

When Ayn Rand wrote her screenplays she already solidified in her mind what a hero was and developed a profound attachment to this figure (as seen in the aura that surrounded him), she also laid down her disgust toawrd the evil anti-men whose depraved nature causes them to attack these Heroes. Further in her evolution of this Vision in the Fountainhead and Atlas she lays in down in stark relief what Heroism is in her mind aswell as the creation of Man Qua Man. No real work of philosophical abstraction has been done, no metaphysics or epistemeology has been laid down but Man Qua Man exists as a compelling vision.

It is a Vision that, like Michaelangelo's David, I agree with. Man's possible Heroism, our possible virtue and independance I think strikes a chord in everyone who loves Liberty.

It was after Atlas that Rand and the Branden's started thier philosophical endevours but I believe thier endevour to have been essentially corrupt. Let me explain what I mean by this as it is a central point in my beliefs about Objectivism. For philosophy to be authentic it must be guided by an unhindered rational faculty. Reason must be free to explore, challenge, contradict and doubt, to be open ended without a specific destination in mind; and when it doubts our most cherished, sacred, and needed beliefs a true lover of wisdom will follow it to its end.

It is this dispassionate rationality Rand and the early Objectivists feared. As laid out in "Philosophical Investigations" and later in Pope Peikoff's "Fact and Value" any rational inquiry or statement which attacks the Vision of Man Qua Man simply Must be false and those who state it Must be motivated by malice in the same way as Toohey and the other Randian villains. In Investigations and Fact and Value we are often reminded to ask "Could I be Man Qua Man if X is true?" if not, the idea is false, if yes, the idea is true or at least not of malicious origin. Piekoff and the ARI take this to an extreme whereby Global Warming must be false as Man Qua Man requires industry and the like. This is also why, according to my understanding, "tolerance" is not a "virtue in the cognitive realm" according to the ARI, such would mean reason is free to challenge our values and our deepest beliefs, including Man Qua Man.

Further, I would bet that the reason Kant is so villified for being intentionally corrupt (in Investigations Rand goes as far as to claim Kant literally intended to destroy our reason and leave us in evil Nihilism) is because they lacked any understanding of reason unchained by ideological or Visionary commitment. Because reason is not independant but servant to a Vision, Kant must have ben at root motivated by an anti-life vision. All philosophers, from Hesiod to Derrida, are assumed not to have simply followed thier ratioanl inquiry but expressed thier sense of life through thier philosophy.

Reason was deployed exclusively toward the end of establishing Man Qua Man as a reality not as a free agent as such I am extremely skeptical of the truth of the abstract system laid out in places like OPAR or ITOE as everything I have read makes me believe it is about "proving" literature.

The ARI gives the best examples of the kind of word games used to swing Objectivism's Vision as philosophical truth so here are two - Man Qua Man requires Free Will so Peikoff created a series of arguements about how free will is "axiomatic" and how if we are determined we could never know - unless we are free. He sidesteps the basic propostions of biological determinism in making this point (firing of nerves, chemicals etc) it seems like he is verbally running. Man Qua Man has rights becaus he is rational, but that means non-rational humans (down syndrome for example) have the same non-rights as animals. The ARI and people like Diane Hsieh come up with "Broken Units" to prove rights are dependant on speicies membership not an individual's faculties; odd logic for an individualist philosophy.

I honestly don't know why they would bother. Literature speaks to the sense of life, not to our higher level abstractions. It should be as unnessecary to "prove" Objectivism as to "prove" that life is worth living, that Satie is moving etc. But to try to base an official abstract system on this sense of life and then announce others as evil for disagreeing (an idea laid down by Rand herself) is a corruption of reason and philosophy.

I can give qoutes to "Philosophical Investigations" and "Fact and Value" as needed but I assume you are familiar with them.

Edit for spelling and examples of ARI verbal gymnastics.

The only real problem here is that you are in an Objectivist pot stewing in Objectivist this and that juice. Try some reality juice. Imagine a world without Objectivism, you in it. Now do what you can do to do the best for you, all considered.

--Brant

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Further, I would bet that the reason Kant is so villified for being intentionally corrupt (in Investigations Rand goes as far as to claim Kant literally intended to destroy our reason and leave us in evil Nihilism) is because they lacked any understanding of reason unchained by ideological or Visionary commitment. Because reason is not independant but servant to a Vision, Kant must have ben at root motivated by an anti-life vision. All philosophers, from Hesiod to Derrida, are assumed not to have simply followed thier ratioanl inquiry but expressed thier sense of life through thier philosophy.

In my opinion Rand vilified Kant more than anything else for his moral theory. It is entirely drained of self-interest, which is pure anathema for an egoist like her. Kant's moral theory is critiqued in Peikoff's Kant and Self-Sacrifice in The Objectivist - Sept 1971. Unlike much criticism from Rand and Peikoff, this article has numerous citations from Kant, so the reader can ascertain the correctness of what Peikoff says about Kant.

Regarding metaphysics and epistemology, Kant was little more than warmed-over Plato.

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Further, I would bet that the reason Kant is so villified for being intentionally corrupt (in Investigations Rand goes as far as to claim Kant literally intended to destroy our reason and leave us in evil Nihilism) is because they lacked any understanding of reason unchained by ideological or Visionary commitment. Because reason is not independant but servant to a Vision, Kant must have ben at root motivated by an anti-life vision. All philosophers, from Hesiod to Derrida, are assumed not to have simply followed thier ratioanl inquiry but expressed thier sense of life through thier philosophy.

In my opinion Rand vilified Kant more than anything else for his moral theory. It is entirely drained of self-interest, which is pure anathema for an egoist like her. Kant's moral theory is critiqued in Peikoff's Kant and Self-Sacrifice in The Objectivist - Sept 1971. Unlike much criticism from Rand and Peikoff, this article has numerous citations from Kant, so the reader can ascertain the correctness of what Peikoff says about Kant.

Regarding metaphysics and epistemology, Kant was little more than warmed-over Plato.

??!!

You think that Kant's "Copernican Revolution in Philosophy" is "little more than warmed-over Plato??!!

In metaphysics, Kant was a one-world philosopher, whereas Plato was a two-world philosopher.

In epistemology, Kant held that our cognitive faculties determine the nature of the world we experience, while Plato held that we simply view some sort of reflection of the "real world" and are not actively creating it.

Kant was pure Primacy of Consciousness of the "personal" variant, while Plato held the "cosmic" variant, where God's mind or the Form of the Good creates everything. The big difference is that Plato viewed human consciousness as metaphysically passive, as not creating the world we perceive, whereas Kant saw it as metaphysically active, the world of experience being generated by the human mind.

I suppose it doesn't take Kant's kind of epistemology and metaphysics to lead to some sort of total non-self-interest morality -- just some false premises along the way! Still, I think it is Kant's undercutting of the human mind's grasping of an independent reality that underlies his ethics. If you undercut man's confidence in his tool of survival, you undercut his means for obtaining happiness, which is the purpose of his life and his ethics--leaving him wide open for a non-self-interested ethics. I would think that, more than anything, is the fundamental source of Rand's hostility toward Kant.

REB

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In metaphysics, Kant was a one-world philosopher, whereas Plato was a two-world philosopher.

Huh? "According to Kant, it is vital always to distinguish between the distinct realms of phenomena and noumena. Phenomena are the appearances, which constitute the our experience; noumena are the (presumed) things themselves, which constitute reality. All of our synthetic a priori judgments apply only to the phenomenal realm, not the noumenal. (It is only at this level, with respect to what we can experience, that we are justified in imposing the structure of our concepts onto the objects of our knowledge.) Since the thing in itself (Ding an sich) would by definition be entirely independent of our experience of it, we are utterly ignorant of the noumenal realm." http://www.philosophypages.com/hy/5g.htm

In epistemology, Kant held that our cognitive faculties determine the nature of the world we experience, while Plato held that we simply view some sort of reflection of the "real world" and are not actively creating it.

"Influence" or "shape", not "determine" and "actively create." Kant's pure concepts of the understanding provide the required connections to establish synthetic a priori judgments. "Unless these concepts are systematically applied to the sensory manifold, the unity of apperception cannot be achieved, and no experience can be made intelligible" (ibid).

The metaphor was rosy-colored spectacles, not a kaleidoscope.

Edited by Merlin Jetton

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I suppose it doesn't take Kant's kind of epistemology and metaphysics to lead to some sort of total non-self-interest morality -- just some false premises along the way! Still, I think it is Kant's undercutting of the human mind's grasping of an independent reality that underlies his ethics. If you undercut man's confidence in his tool of survival, you undercut his means for obtaining happiness, which is the purpose of his life and his ethics--leaving him wide open for a non-self-interested ethics. I would think that, more than anything, is the fundamental source of Rand's hostility toward Kant.

REB

Did Kant do this from malice, or was he just plain wrong?

By Kant's own declaration, he was jolted by the philosophy (and skepticism) of David Hume. Perhaps Hume made Kant nutsy Fagin.

I reject Kant on technical grounds. His notion of the Synthetic a priori is just plain bogus. The existence of non-Euclidean geometry which is provably just as consistent as Euclidean geometry is a major counter example to Kant's claim of the Synthetic a Priori.

I have no idea what Kant's motivations were beyond finding a way around Hume.

Even if Kant was off base on matters of morality, he is in no way responsible for the errors of those who took his moral philosophy seriously. No one was ever threatened with death for not following the categorical imperative as an abstract principle. I think Peikoff's approach of blaming the evils of the world on Plato and Kant is just plain silly. With or without Plato, Hegel or Kant the Nazis and the Commies would have found a way to do wicked things.

I found one troubling thing about Rand was her inclination to read the minds of people long dead. Was she a spirit medium? Her Pronouncements of Bethoven's Sense of Life, for example, are ludicrous. I would have a shitty sense of life if I were a musician in the process of going stone deaf. A musicians hearing is more precious to him than sight. In addition to which Ludvig von carried a lot of baggage by being a brutally abused child. His father was a beastly man who flogged Ludvig von mercilessly. I suspect anyone so treated would have a dreadful "sense of life".

Ba'al Chatzaf

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I suppose it doesn't take Kant's kind of epistemology and metaphysics to lead to some sort of total non-self-interest morality -- just some false premises along the way! Still, I think it is Kant's undercutting of the human mind's grasping of an independent reality that underlies his ethics. If you undercut man's confidence in his tool of survival, you undercut his means for obtaining happiness, which is the purpose of his life and his ethics--leaving him wide open for a non-self-interested ethics. I would think that, more than anything, is the fundamental source of Rand's hostility toward Kant.

REB

Did Kant do this from malice, or was he just plain wrong?

By Kant's own declaration, he was jolted by the philosophy (and skepticism) of David Hume. Perhaps Hume made Kant nutsy Fagin.

I reject Kant on technical grounds. His notion of the Synthetic a priori is just plain bogus. The existence of non-Euclidean geometry which is provably just as consistent as Euclidean geometry is a major counter example to Kant's claim of the Synthetic a Priori.

I have no idea what Kant's motivations were beyond finding a way around Hume.

Even if Kant was off base on matters of morality, he is in no way responsible for the errors of those who took his moral philosophy seriously. No one was ever threatened with death for not following the categorical imperative as an abstract principle. I think Peikoff's approach of blaming the evils of the world on Plato and Kant is just plain silly. With or without Plato, Hegel or Kant the Nazis and the Commies would have found a way to do wicked things.

I found one troubling thing about Rand was her inclination to read the minds of people long dead. Was she a spirit medium? Her Pronouncements of Bethoven's Sense of Life, for example, are ludicrous. I would have a shitty sense of life if I were a musician in the process of going stone deaf. A musicians hearing is more precious to him than sight. In addition to which Ludvig von carried a lot of baggage by being a brutally abused child. His father was a beastly man who flogged Ludvig von mercilessly. I suspect anyone so treated would have a dreadful "sense of life".

Ba'al Chatzaf

"His father was a beastly man who flogged Ludvig von mercilessly." Well maybe he was a submissive male in a BDSM scene?

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Even if Kant was off base on matters of morality, he is in no way responsible for the errors of those who took his moral philosophy seriously. No one was ever threatened with death for not following the categorical imperative as an abstract principle. I think Peikoff's approach of blaming the evils of the world on Plato and Kant is just plain silly. With or without Plato, Hegel or Kant the Nazis and the Commies would have found a way to do wicked things.

You know, even before Kant lived people did wicked things, perhaps on a smaller scale while they didn't have the technology, but no less wicked than the Nazis and the Commies.

I found one troubling thing about Rand was her inclination to read the minds of people long dead. Was she a spirit medium? Her Pronouncements of Bethoven's Sense of Life, for example, are ludicrous. I would have a shitty sense of life if I were a musician in the process of going stone deaf. A musicians hearing is more precious to him than sight. In addition to which Ludvig von carried a lot of baggage by being a brutally abused child. His father was a beastly man who flogged Ludvig von mercilessly. I suspect anyone so treated would have a dreadful "sense of life".

But where is the evidence that he did have a dreadful "sense of life"? Certainly not in his music!

BTW, it is Ludwig van Beethoven.

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But where is the evidence that he did have a dreadful "sense of life"? Certainly not in his music!

Wrong, Dragonfly.

I just did a Google image search, and in mere seconds found an example of Beethoven's horrible sense of life as revealed in music written by his own hand.

Here's a part of his Sonata Op. 111 in C Minor:

2004621367_b060b0ca4a_o.jpg

I've added red arrows to point to the frowns and a green arrow to point to the only smile. The frowns by far outnumber the smile, and I probably even missed some of the frowns. They're all over his music! Clearly Beethoven was malevolent, anti-life and liked to wallow in frowning.

J

Edited by Jonathan

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Mike11:

First, I will say that I would normally adore a debate about the value (or lack thereof) of Kantian philosophy, but I think it is prudent to go back to the original question.

Mike,

Welcome to OL. I appreciate your frustration with Randroids. Dogmatism can be an ugly thing, regardless of the belief system behind it. As well, your second post was much more civil and well worth my time reading and responding to -- so, thank you.

It seems to me that you are, putting it simply, asking which came first, the chicken or the egg? :)

First, let me point out that (although they were published by the Peikoff brigade) the notes Rand kept during her writing of Atlas Shrugged are available in print, and they are an interesting insight into her thinking process. She was able to use broad philosophical concepts, which she clearly delineated in her notes, to create characters representative of these concepts. Therefore, the philosophy came first -- even if she had not expounded upon it in a treatise before then.

Secondly, you stated: "Literature speaks to the sense of life, not to our higher level abstractions." Is it correct to say, then, that literature must be divorced from philosophical thought? (I wish to be clear on this point so that my future responses are on point).

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Mike11:

First, I will say that I would normally adore a debate about the value (or lack thereof) of Kantian philosophy, but I think it is prudent to go back to the original question.

Mike,

Welcome to OL. I appreciate your frustration with Randroids. Dogmatism can be an ugly thing, regardless of the belief system behind it. As well, your second post was much more civil and well worth my time reading and responding to -- so, thank you.

It seems to me that you are, putting it simply, asking which came first, the chicken or the egg? :)

First, let me point out that (although they were published by the Peikoff brigade) the notes Rand kept during her writing of Atlas Shrugged are available in print, and they are an interesting insight into her thinking process. She was able to use broad philosophical concepts, which she clearly delineated in her notes, to create characters representative of these concepts. Therefore, the philosophy came first -- even if she had not expounded upon it in a treatise before then.

Secondly, you stated: "Literature speaks to the sense of life, not to our higher level abstractions." Is it correct to say, then, that literature must be divorced from philosophical thought? (I wish to be clear on this point so that my future responses are on point).

Excellent! "Is it correct to say, then, that literature must be divorced from philosophical thought?"

Good question.

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Excellent! "Is it correct to say, then, that literature must be divorced from philosophical thought?"

Good question.

Might be a good question, but "must" means the answer is "No." The plasticity of literature excludes "musts."

--Brant

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Excellent! "Is it correct to say, then, that literature must be divorced from philosophical thought?"

Good question.

Might be a good question, but "must" means the answer is "No." The plasticity of literature excludes "musts."

--Brant

"...the plasticity of literature excludes 'musts'." <<< Really, and "plasticity" means what in relation to literature?

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Excellent! "Is it correct to say, then, that literature must be divorced from philosophical thought?"

Good question.

Might be a good question, but "must" means the answer is "No." The plasticity of literature excludes "musts."

--Brant

"...the plasticity of literature excludes 'musts'." <<< Really, and "plasticity" means what in relation to literature?

Art.

--Brant

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I think "myth" is a very inaccurate word to describe Rand's pre-philosophical viewpoint. I think a better word is "vision." Rand has always been a visionary. From her earliest days, she saw man as a heroic being who needs to be rational and productive and free in order to survive and be happy. This perspective became clearer and clearer in her novels, and emerged in full form in Galt's Speech (Atlas Shrugged) well before For the New Intellectual.

REB

A marvelous vision Rand had. How well does it conform to reality?

Hume supposed that human reason (he never denied reason's existence, ever) was subordinate to human passion. Was Hume closer to the truth?

Or perhaps Darwin was closer still.

Ba'al Chatzaf

I think this misses the point of my comment. When I said that Rand was a visionary about human beings and human life, I did not mean that she had a certain view of what humans ~are~, but about what humans ~could~ and ~ought~ to be.

Yes, many people subordinate their rational faculty to their passions. But they have the capacity to do otherwise. Rand's vision was that men can and should do otherwise, rather than conforming to the typical subjective, emotionalistic behavior patterns prevalent in society.

As Rand's perspective evolved philosophically, she supported her vision of the good life for human beings by identifying that reason is man's fundamental means of survival, and that emotionalistic behavior undercuts his good and happiness. So, her vision was supported by ideas that conformed to the facts about man's need and potential to be rational.

Hume, in his atomistic tallying of human behavior, never got the point about the essential nature of human beings. He was no more successful inductively at grasping human nature than he was at grasping anything else. Enumeration is not induction! And counting what is, is not identifying what can and should be.

I think we should avoid confusing the human race with the Humean race!

REB

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Mike11:

First, I will say that I would normally adore a debate about the value (or lack thereof) of Kantian philosophy, but I think it is prudent to go back to the original question.

Mike,

Welcome to OL. I appreciate your frustration with Randroids. Dogmatism can be an ugly thing, regardless of the belief system behind it. As well, your second post was much more civil and well worth my time reading and responding to -- so, thank you.

It seems to me that you are, putting it simply, asking which came first, the chicken or the egg? :)

First, let me point out that (although they were published by the Peikoff brigade) the notes Rand kept during her writing of Atlas Shrugged are available in print, and they are an interesting insight into her thinking process. She was able to use broad philosophical concepts, which she clearly delineated in her notes, to create characters representative of these concepts. Therefore, the philosophy came first -- even if she had not expounded upon it in a treatise before then.

Secondly, you stated: "Literature speaks to the sense of life, not to our higher level abstractions." Is it correct to say, then, that literature must be divorced from philosophical thought? (I wish to be clear on this point so that my future responses are on point).

Excellent! "Is it correct to say, then, that literature must be divorced from philosophical thought?"

Good question.

Virginia;

As always good points.

Isn't one of the problems that when literature has dealt with philosophical thought the literature has not been done well. I am thinking of Thomas Mann's Magic Mountain for example. I agree that all fictions has a philosophy but it may not be an innovative philosophy.

I think Rand wrote philosophy but she deepen her philosophy as she approached different issues. Her goal as she herself said was not to create a new philosphy it was to create an ideal man.

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Mike11, you are factually mistaken when you state that Rand came to espouse reason as a means of justifying her concept of the ideal man. For one thing, the ideal man, in her view, was always the rational man. Further, the importance and necessity of reason was a crucial issue for her even in childhood.

However, it wouldn't matter if you were correct. Of what importance is it how a philosophy came into existence or was developed? What is important is whether it is true or false. I wouldn't particularly care if Aristotle arrived at his laws of logic in a dream; I care only whether they are valid or not. And similarly with Objectivism.

I think you go too far when you begin reading Rand's mind -- saying such things as that she (and the early Objectivists, of whom I was one) feared dispassionate rationality. I say this not because it is Ayn Rand, or because it includes me, but because it is an unfair method of argument. Say, if you like, that certain ideas are not valid or reasonable, but don't become the all-knowing psychologist of the people you disagree with. You rightly object when this is done to Kant; don't do it to others.

I agree that Peikoff's "Fact and Value" is a disgraceful piece of pseudo-argumentation. And clearly one of the things you most dislike about it, as do I, is that he attributes the most dishonest of motives to whomever he disagrees with.

Barbara

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However, it wouldn't matter if you were correct. Of what importance is it how a philosophy came into existence or was developed? What is important is whether it is true or false.

Philosophy will never be "true or false", even our most exact sciences cannot simply be "true or false". The best we can strive for is "similarity of structure".

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