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Roger Bissell

Kleenex and Objectivism--the Ominous Parallels

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Kleenex and Objectivism--the Ominous Parallels

by Roger E. Bissell

October 4, 2005

There has been much debate over whether the label "Objectivism" is legitimately applied only to those writings by Rand and those she authorized by others, or more broadly to any thinker whose philosophy is more similar to Rand's viewpoint than to that of any other philosopher. In other words, some claim that there is an ambiguity in how "Objectivism" is used, while others deny this claim, of course.

Unfortunately for those who subscribe to the Purist Proper Name Theory, there is an ambiguity in the name "Objectivism", and most people do use "Objectivism" the same way they use "Kleenex" or "Xerox." In fact, if we like, we can call this interpretation the Kleenex Proper Name Theory.

Some might even see more than a passing similarity between Kleenex and Objectivism. Consider the fact that all tissues are frequently referred to generically as "Kleenexes", and even though they are quite similar, still there are some noticeable differences between at least some of the different brands of tissue. Some tissues (LP tissues?) are more harsh than Kleenex, while others (DK tissues?) are more flimsy and less durable than authentic Kleenexes, though comforting to the skin. Yet, we call them all "Kleenexes" (unless we subscribe to the Purist Proper Name Theory).

Also, all said, I would rather have some kind of tissue (AR, LP, DK, SOLO, NB) for the purpose of blowing my nose than, say, a paper towel or a cloth towel or a piece of paper (John Locke, Immanuel Kant, Plato, Descartes, etc.). Yuk. Arrrgh.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to make a few Xerox copies of this and mail them to friends who don't have PCs. :-)

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Jokes from the June “Reader’s Digest.”

My friends Dad, a professor, travels a lot. Once, when returning from a conference in Australia, he spotted a familiar-looking man but didn’t know where he knew him from. So, he confronted him.

Friend’s Dad: You look familiar. Were you at the conference this week for international trade law?

Man: Uh, no. I wasn’t.

FD: I definitely know you. Are you in law?

Man: No, I’m not.

FD: Well, I must have seen you at a conference somewhere. Which university are you with?

Man: I don’t work at a university.

FD: Well, what’s your name, at least?

Man: Matt Damon.

The customer is not always right. A customer’s child is doing a project on dinosaurs. The customer cannot believe our bookstore doesn’t have a single book with actual photographs of dinosaurs.    

When I worked at a video store, a woman asked if we had a copy of “Three Dalmatians?” To clarify I asked, “Three Dalmatians?”

She answered angrily, “I don’t know. There could be more.”

Odd facts? The funny bone is not a bone. It is a nerve. Catgut is not made from cats. It is made from sheep. French fries were not invented in France but in Belgium. Koala Bears are not bears, but marsupials. A ten gallon hat only holds about three quarts of liquid.

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