Nathaniel Branden response to Sidney Hook NYT BOok Review attack on FTNI


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Does anybody know of an online copy of Nathaniel Branden's ad he took out in the New York Times (full-page) in response to Sidney Hook's review of For The New Intellectual? The ad is briefly mentioned in MYWAR, page 248.

Bill P (Alfonso)

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I forgot to mention that the reason the ad had to be brought was the NYT refused to print Nathaniel Branden's long letter is reply to the review.

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I forgot to mention that the reason the ad had to be brought was the NYT refused to print Nathaniel Branden's long letter is reply to the review.

NB indicates in MYWAR (page 248) that "I knew it would be too long for the Times's Letters to the Editor column, so I raised money from Ayn's friends and admirers and took out a full-page Times ad."

Are you indicating that you know that NB actually submitted it as a letter and was turned down by the NYT?

Bill P (Alfonso)

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Bill P., I thought there was something in the ad about the Times refusing to print the letter. I don't think the Times would allow an ad which said something that the Times knew was not true, ie. that the letter had not been submitted to them.

Edited by Chris Grieb
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Bill P., I thought there was something in the ad about the Times refusing to print the letter. I don't think the Times would allow an ad which said something that the Times knew was not true, ie. that the letter had not been submitted to them.

I'm hoping a copy will turn up to resolve this in addition to seeing what the discussion is. I don't have access to physical archives of the NYT here in Shanghai. I'm presuming it's just one page, possibly in paper form, possible microfilm, . . .

Bill P (Alfonso)

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  • 10 years later...

Hello,

Sorry to dig up this old thread, but I'm looking for this article by Nathaniel Branden. Is it available somewhere on the Internet? In the archives of the New York Times website?

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1 hour ago, gio said:

Hello,

Sorry to dig up this old thread, but I'm looking for this article by Nathaniel Branden. Is it available somewhere on the Internet? In the archives of the New York Times website?

Not a clue. I looked in my files. Sorry. Peter

Question: Well then, Dr. Branden, how would you answer the argument of these anarchists that, since government necessarily entails a monopoly on the use of force, such a monopoly can be maintained only by force and, hence, government always involves some violation of individual rights?

Branden: This, of course, is their favorite argument and their stock argument. In briefest essentials, I would answer as follows. Let's imagine, to make it very simple, that we--this group in this room tonight-- form a society and agree on the principles to be operative in the society in a political sense. We agree upon a constitution and a government is created for the purpose of carrying out the principles laid down in this constitution. Now, let us say that somebody new is born into the society or enters it from some other country, and he says: ‘Look. I wasn't consulted, I wasn't asked my opinion about this system of government. I want to set up a competing system of government. How can you justify forbidding me from doing so and threatening me with jail if I don't go along with the present political order of things?’

And my answer is the following. And remember we are talking here about a free system, about a government which is limited in its function to the protection of individual rights. Suppose that I am the spokesman for this hypothetical government. Then I would say to this person as follows: In this society, nobody is forbidding you anything so long as you do not violate the rights of anybody else in this society. That means, more specifically, if you want to form private arbitration agencies to settle disputes among people who will become your clients, you may do so. That happens even in our present society. You can form a private club or a private organization and lay down any kind of rules you want for your members. You will not be stopped until and unless you attempt to use physical force or fraud or some derivative against some fellow member of this society. That you have no right to do.

If you ever attempt to use force, let us say, in retaliation against a criminal, which you may have to do if the police are not available, you will be obliged to justify later your use of force and to demonstrate that it was, in fact, necessary. If you can justify it, you're in no trouble, any more than any other citizen of a free country is in trouble. So that so long as you don't infringe somebody else's rights, you can form any kind of organization you want. You can have your own arbitration committee, you can have your own system of penalties and fines and so long as the people who go along with your organization voluntarily agree to pay them, you have no problem. Your problem begins when you attempt to use force to get your way.

Therefore, in conclusion, I argue that in the system we are advocating, the individual is not having his rights violated because he is not allowed to set up a competing government. end quote

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I’m not trying to mess with you . . .  but I looked again for FTNI and could not find it. More from the cookie jar. Hey I still have two more days of rent paid on my condo, and an old letter from BB is cool. Look how she signs it. Peter

From: "William Dwyer" To: <Atlantis Subject: ATL: Rand's Definition of Reason (Was "Re: Bissell") Date: Tue, 15 May 2001 16:54:12 -0700. Ellen Moore wrote, "There is no evidence in Bissell's list of "possible(s)" that proves Branden changed Rand's definition.  It is more likely that Rand taught Branden the fallacy because she changed her definition, and then he discussed it in the early 60's."

The evidence is contained in Nathaniel's lecture, "Objectivism:  Past & Future", in which he mentions the change in Rand's definition of reason that occurred in 1961, four years after the publication of _Atlas Shrugged_.

He says that, during a question and answer period, a young man asked why Ayn Rand defined reason as the "faculty that perceives, identifies and integrates the material provided by the senses".   The questioner said that he didn't understand what the word "perceives" was doing in her definition, and that he thought reason should be defined simply as the faculty that identifies and integrates the material provided by the senses.

According to Branden, Rand responded that "perceives" is an important part of the definition, because all knowledge is grounded in the evidence of the senses and because you cannot have knowledge without a sensory base.  Branden said that the man's question prompted him to reexamine Rand's definition.

So a month or two later, he approached her, and said: "Ayn, I was thinking about the way we define reason, and, you know, we don't perceive the evidence of our senses; we perceive reality by means of the evidence of our senses." He reported that there was a long pause, after which she said, "That's true".

Branden then said to her, "Think about it, Ayn.  Taken literally, what does it mean to say you perceive the evidence of your senses?  No, you don't.  You perceive chairs and tables and smoke and mirrors by means of the evidence of your senses."

To which Rand responded, "That's right, I don't need the word 'perceives' in my definition of reason; it doesn't belong there; it should be 'identifies and integrates'."

Unfortunately, Rand never publicly acknowledged the change, even though Branden asked her pointedly: "Shouldn't you have a footnote or something for your more careful readers explaining that you've changed the definition slightly from Galt's Speech and you've corrected it, because some people really read you very, very carefully and will be puzzled by this change of language."  Branden said that he had the feeling, which he couldn't prove, that she didn't want to say in print that she'd made a mistake.

Consequently, many students of Objectivism may be unaware that there are two different definitions of reason:  the original one appearing in _Atlas Shrugged_ (1957), and the revised definition which appears in _For the New Intellectual_ (1961).

Without speculating on Rand's motives, I would say that she erred in not notifying her students of the change.  If the definition of reason in _Atlas Shrugged_ contains an error, then it does not serve the cause of Objectivism for Rand's students to be repeating the old definition, on the mistaken assumption that it continues to be part of her philosophy. Bill

From: NRoarkofConn To: Atlantis Subject: Re: ATL: Rand's Definition of Reason (Was "Re: Bissell") Date: Tue, 15 May 2001 20:21:54 EDT. Ellen Moore wrote:  >"There is no evidence in Bissell's list of "possible(s)" that proves Branden changed Rand's definition.  It is more likely that Rand taught Branden the fallacy because she changed her definition, and then he discussed it in the early 60's."

I appreciate very much Bill Dwyer's comments following:  > The evidence is contained in Nathaniel's lecture,  "Objectivism:  Past & Future", in which he mentions the change in Rand's definition of reason that occurred in 1961,  four years after the publication of “Atlas Shrugged. . . .”

Bill, I will let you handle Ellen M's probably objections to this evidence that you have offered. Since it's testimony by Nathaniel whom (along with me) she brands an unreliable liar, you will have to figure out how to assure list members that it really does count as evidence.

Don't be surprised if you don't see any more posts by me on this list. I don't feel like contributing to a list when I am continually branded a deceiver, a liar, and a sophist. Best regards, Roger Bissell

From: BBfromM To: atlantis Subject: Re: ATL: EMBS, chapter 1--the arbitrary Date: Sat, 19 May 2001 02:38:39 EDT. Roger B wrote: << . . . it is ~much more~ than barely possible that Nathaniel actually did recommend this change in Rand's definition [of reason]. Indeed, it is ~highly likely ~ that he did. The fact that we have no direct testimony beyond his own word to go on is unfortunate.  >>

You now have direct testimony beyond Nathaniel's own word. I was present at the discussions between Ayn Rand and Nathaniel, and I can attest to the fact that he did recommend that she change her definition of reason in precisely the way that she later changed it. Barb

From: Ellen Moore <ellen_moore To: Atlantis Subject: ATL: Re: Barbara's direct testimony, and questions Date: Sat, 19 May 2001 13:01:36 -0500

Barbara, You were "present ... and can attest to the fact that he [NB] did recommend that she change her definition of reason in precisely the way that she later changed it."

Wonderful!  Now we know that NB discussed with Rand the suggestion made by that unknown man of the Q&A period that NB identified as the one who originally offered Rand the idea that her definition of reason should be changed to, "the faculty that identifies and integrates the material provided by man's senses."  We can certainly agree that all three discussed her definition.  And she changed her definition later.

To whom should the credit for the Objectivist definition of reason be due, to the unknown man, Nathaniel Branden, or the philosopher, Ayn Rand?  Pick your own preference(s) - one, two, or all three.

Now, I hope that Barbara can answer two other questions for us.  We see that in editions of VOS the copyright date by Ayn Rand given for her essay 'The Objectivist Ethics' was 1961, and 1964 is also stated.

Here is the first question: As Bill Dwyer stated, the first edition hardcover of VOS published in 1964 included Rand's revised definition of reason.  By what circumstance did the first edition paperbacks, published in Dec., 1964, still contain the early definition with "perceives"?

It appears that both 'The Objectivist Ethics' and 'For the New Intellectual" were copyrighted in 1961, but only the FTNI first edition was published in 1961.  Then in 1964, when VOS was first published with her revised definition, according to Bill, the paperback first edition, Dec., 1964, still included the early definition.

In which ~paperback~ edition which publishing date, 1961 or 1964, or later, changed the definition of reason to her new revised definition?  If Barbara, or anyone, can offer us testimony from the books on these events I, for one, would appreciate knowing the facts about this piece of publishing history. Ellen M.

From: "George H. Smith" Reply-To: "George H. Smith" To: "Atlantis" Subject: ATL: Re: Barbara's direct testimony, and questions Date: Sat, 19 May 2001 14:48:14 -0500  Ellen Moore wrote: "It appears that both 'The Objectivist Ethics' and 'For the New Intellectual" were copyrighted in 1961, but only the FTNI first edition was published in 1961.  Then in 1964, when VOS was first published with her revised definition, according to Bill, the paperback first edition, Dec., 1964, still included the early definition."

Ellen is working from the assumption that the hardcover version of VOS was published *before* the paperback version, but this was not the case. The paperback was published first.

In the "Objectivist Calendar" of "The Objectivist Newsletter" (Nov., 1964), we find the announcement: "In December, New American Library will publish *The Virtue of Selfishness* by Ayn Rand --- and this blurb continues, "In paperback only."

This clearly indicates that the paperback version of VOS was the authentic first printing, and that the hardcover version appeared later. As to why the change (in Rand's definition of "reason") was not made until sometime after the *second* printing of the paperback version -- this is probably because NAL was anticipating brisk sales and so ran off the pages for several printings at the same time. (Publishers are typically quite free in how they use terms like "first printing," "second printing," etc.)

This should clear up the major confusion about the sequence of events. Rand obviously made the change sometime *after* the paperback version was already in press, so it appeared in the later hardcover version. And this change was then incorporated into *later* printings of the paperback. Ghs

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  • 1 year later...
13 hours ago, Guyau said:

According to Barbara Branden Sidney Hook refused to give Leonard Peikoff a letter of recommendation which in turn according to Robert Campbell would have been academic death for a faculty position. Peikoff did teach two years at the University of Denver then at Brooklyn Polytechnic in the English department. Concomitantly he gave lectures to students of Objectivism in NYC.

--Brant

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Brant, do you know when Barbara Branden made that remark? Do you know what year was the refusal to which she was referring? In the book Ayn Rand and the World She Made (2010), the author Anne Heller implies that after grad school (1964), Hook did give Peikoff a recommendation(s) for academic teaching position.

Heller writes that Peikoff lost his teaching positions at Hunter, New York University, and Brooklyn and damaged his future prospects because “he couldn’t resist trying to ‘convert’ his students to Rand’s ideas, in spite of warnings.” She reports that in 1987 Hook received a letter from Peikoff’s second wife Cynthia pleading for help in getting her husband a post in which he could exercise “his talent and passion for teaching.” Cynthia wrote that her husband had applied to over 300 colleges for a position, had been given three interviews, and had been “explicitly rejected for his views.” Heller saw that letter and Hook’s reply in the files for him at Stanford. I imagine both reasons have been in play, but especially "his views."

The professionals having sympathies with some of the Objectivist philosophy—Walsh, Hospers, Rasmussen, Machan, Long, Huemer—would sensibly be seen as professing some other philosophies in which they were expert and only somewhat overlapping a bit in their own positions characteristic thought of Ayn Rand. The cases of Gotthelf and Lennox are special in that they were known to be in considerable synch with Rand, their primary areas of expertise were in other areas, very suitable ones for academia, and they were each top scholars, world-renowned in those primary areas.

The generation of Objectivist Ph.D. philosophers (mentored by those two) have not been successful in finding lasting university positions. Partly that may be due to the oversupply of tremendously qualified new Ph.D.’s in general in comparison to positions available. But I’m pretty sure that it is also because these younger scholars are known to be of the Objectivist persuasion pretty closely. So notwithstanding their other area of expertise, such as in parts of Aristotle or Plato, and notwithstanding their having dissertation advisors who are tops in those areas, they cannot find a permanent position in a philosophy department. (An exception would be Stephen Hicks who has had a full career at Rockford College as the sole- or co-member of the Department, which last I heard is being eliminated.) 

At my first university, there was a philosophy chair funded by some division of the Catholic Church, and I’m pretty sure that without that special backing, we would not have had the Thomist philosopher who was my first philosophy professor, despite his extraordinary preparation at Cologne. I think that sort of special backing would be required for these younger Objectivist Ph.D.’s to find a steady position at a university--I gather that's the situation for Tara Smith.

Between you and me and the fence post, I think academia naturally came into a uniformity of barring these younger Objectivist philosophers from their ranks, and this on account of (i) the circumstance that Rand was an amateur philosopher whose philosophy, though a systematic one taking up enduring issues, was not highly developed (cf. Aquinas, Hegel, Whitehead), at least beyond its ethical theory, and developed in a way seriously engaging contemporary work in academia, (ii) Rand putting forth egoism in ethics and capitalism in politics (and the latter at a level of argument not having the tools of an exceptional academic like Nozick), and (iii) revulsion over aiding advancement in development and making academically respectable Rand’s philosophy outweighing attractiveness of the expertise of these scholars in other areas and in teaching.

To Cynthia, Hook replied (1987), “not unkindly, that before recommending his former student for another teaching job, he would have to be satisfied that Peikoff would not inject, where inappropriate, Randian dogma into classroom instruction. ‘I made that a condition before giving him a couple of classes to teach at NYU many years ago’, Hook wrote. ‘He didn’t live up to the condition . . . I still recommended him in hopes he would mature and try to follow the pedagogic model to which he had been exposed in my classes . . . .” I’m just reading this in Heller via Google Books, and it does not show the next page.

Brant, do you think what Barbara Branden remarked was consistent with all this? Was it this 1987 exchange of letters she was referring to? Or was it that she meant Hook refused recommendation of Peikoff upon completion of the Ph.D. (1964), which is evidently incorrect?

I’ve had some marvelous professors, including ones in philosophy. I attend terrific paper presentations and book discussions at meetings of the American Philosophical Association. What is essential for me, for my mental reaches, however, is what they write. Peikoff had press outlets in his life, and if overwhelmingly his works were pitched to an intermediate level, not to the academy, I’m sure he’s had some satisfaction in some who’ve given his works some serious attention and gotten some comprehension. And his dissertation won some absorption and appreciation in recent years and likely a while beyond his own life (by an inveterate scholar outside the academy —A, B).

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1 hour ago, Guyau said:

An exception would be Stephen Hicks who has had a full career at Rockford College as the sole- or co-member of the Department, which last I heard is being eliminated.

This article says philosophy is being eliminated as a major, but Rockford College will retain offering a philosophy minor.

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Stephen, if memory serves me right it was in a lost email to me or more likely on one of these Objectivist forums over ten years ago.

My mother got her doctorate in English lit in 1970 from Brandeis when she was 56. She did teach English for some years afterwards but not out of her dissertation. Ironically, she almost got a job at James Madison U. Ironic because her father wrote a six vol. bio of Madison.

Back then 400 doctorates were given each year on Shakespeare alone. She chose pre-Shakes or English pageant wagons.

--Brant

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19 hours ago, Guyau said:

Brant, do you know when Barbara Branden made that remark?

I went looking but I could not find it. Here are some interesting things I did find from Stephen. But hey, are you claiming a unicorn is not a quadruped? This is too deep for me. Peter

From First Section of “Induction on Identity” (1990 – Objectivity V1N2) Stephen Boydstun . . . . In contrast to truths of reason, in Leibniz’s analysis, are truths of fact. Truths of fact are known by observation and induction, not by deduction. Their truth “is founded not in the essence (of things) but in their existence; and they are true as though by chance” (Leibniz 1963, 274). Truths of existence are contingent. Truths of existence are true. They have hypothetical and physical necessity, if not absolute and logical necessity (Mates 1986, 116–19; Ishiguro 1982; Wilson 1976). But denial of existential truths does not result in contradiction, at least not in the finite mind of man. Really?

From the thread “The Analytic-Synthetic Dichotomy” . . . . Rand's definition of logic is given on page 1016 of Atlas. "Logic is the art of non-contradictory identification." She remarks also on that page "logic rests on the axiom that existence exists."

It follows, I notice, that it is not logically possible that nothing exists. It is not logically possible that existence might not have been. One logician, David Bostock, remarks to the contrary in his Intermediate Logic (1997 Oxford). He maintains that "it is a possibility that nothing should have existed at all" (354). The two opposing views, Rand's and Bostock's, commend different ways of developing modal logic. I won't pursue that just now.
. . . . Sticking to Rand’s idea that logic rests on the axiom that existence exists, I would say that all logically possible worlds are relatable to the actual world and that all logically possible worlds are relatable to each other via the actual world. That is, the appropriate modal logic for broadly logical necessity is some variety of S5, which is a normal modal logic. . . . . I suggest unsurely how these identities may change when we are speaking clearly make-believe, as in the proposition “A unicorn is a quadruped.” The first particular identity coordinates the predicate with a merely posited subject. The subject is not posited as real, but as unreal. There is no direct, concretely real subject. (Perhaps horses are the subject in a roundabout way.) The subject has become only a topic. The first particular identity no longer wires a predicate and subject to a real thing; it jumpers a predicate directly to a subject. Propositions in make-believe are more analytical. Attention shifts to terms, to stipulative definitions and descriptions. The predicate still specifies. The third identity, the particular identity between the proposition and reality, does not obtain.

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