David Kelley's meeting with Yarron Brook


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re the assertion from the ARIans that they "want to teach Objectivism as Rand understood it." Of course, that is what they claim. But what they actually do is teach Objectivism as dogmatically interpreted by Peikoff, Binswanger, and Schwartz. But there is no need to reiterate here what has been said by many others in this forum, and by David Kelley in his Contested Legacy of Ayn Rand.

What I was hoping to hear, considering the current economic crisis - and the emergence of a real "Mr. Thompson," was that the current leadership of ARI was willing to consider some sort of rapprochment to fight a common enemy.

Apparently not.

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Actually, I think Objectivism was infiltrated by Cointelpro (counterintelligence program of FBI) a long time ago (Peter Schwartz has the perfect attitude of an asset.) They recognized Objectivism as a

Ed,

There's much more to the doctrine of the arbitrary assertion than the onus of proof principle, or the criteria that we all need to rely on in order to judge which assertions are worthy of further inquiry.

According to Leonard Peikoff, arbitrary assertions are neither true nor false; they are contextless, have no place in the conceptual hierarchy, and are, in effect, meaningless; one and the same proposition can be asserted arbitrarily by some people, and non-arbitrarily by others; putting forward an arbitrary assertion makes you dumber than a parrot; uttering an arbitrary assertion is a direct affirmation of The Zero; and making an arbitrary assertion is wronger than wrong and worse than bad.

Dr. Peikoff further claims that uttering an arbitrary assertion will inflict a state of cognitive paralysis on every rational person in the audience. And he regularly issues conflicting injunctions about what to do with an arbitrary assertion—either you are not required to respond to it, or you are required not to respond to it.

I also found it interesting, when I researched the history of the doctrine, that there is virtually no textual support for it in anything that Ayn Rand published during her lifetime. Prior to Leonard Peikoff's 1976 lectures, the only published references to the doctrine (by Nathaniel Branden and Robert Efron) were much milder. For instance, Nathaniel Branden thought that arbitrary assertions were either true or false.

My article also addresses Ayn Rand's skepticism about evolution. In her last Ford Hall Forum address, she actually said that the theory of evolution was "the only scientific theory in its field" and that there was a lot of "valid evidence" that supported it. She vehemently condemned all religious objections to it. Yet she still suspended judgment on it.

According to Leonard Peikoff's teachings about the possible, the probable, the certain, and the arbitrary, Ms. Rand was guilty of agnosticism, and was therefore being irrational.

Could this be why "The Age of Mediocrity" has never been anthologized?

Robert Campbell

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Ed,

According to Leonard Peikoff, arbitrary assertions are neither true nor false; they are contextless, have no place in the conceptual hierarchy, and are, in effect, meaningless; one and the same proposition can be asserted arbitrarily by some people, and non-arbitrarily by others; putting forward an arbitrary assertion makes you dumber than a parrot; uttering an arbitrary assertion is a direct affirmation of The Zero; and making an arbitrary assertion is wronger than wrong and worse than bad.

Wolfgang Pauli, the physicist, coined the phrase "not even wrong". Which is to say totally meaningless nonsense. A declarative sentence is either true or false provided its substantial elements (subject, object and verb) have referents known to the speaker and listener.

For example in order that the sentence "God exists" to be either true or false, one must know to what (if anything) the subject "God" refers. No one has yet produced a referent that is meaningful to all listeners, so the proposition hangs in mid-air.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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Wolfgang Pauli, the physicist, coined the phrase "not even wrong". Which is to say totally meaningless nonsense. A declarative sentence is either true or false provided its substantial elements (subject, object and verb) have referents known to the speaker and listener.

For example in order that the sentence "God exists" to be either true or false, one must know to what (if anything) the subject "God" refers. No one has yet produced a referent that is meaningful to all listeners, so the proposition hangs in mid-air.

Bob K,

In an article published in the Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, Adam Reed argued that a whole slew of theistic propositions are arbitrary. See "Not Even False: A Commentary on Parrish and Toner," Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, Volume 8, no. 2, pp. 361–394 (Spring 2008), where Reed cites Pauli in his response to two articles defending Christian theism against Objectivist critiques.

Leonard Peikoff hasn't made it easy for Adam Reed, though. In Chapter 5 of OPAR, Dr. Peikoff dismisses a whole slew of theistic propositions as arbitrary. But in Chapter 1 of the very same opus, he claims that many of the same propositions contradict metaphysical axioms—which would imply that they are false.

Robert C

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Robert,

I believe Valliant has a similar problem, alleging that the Branden books are "arbitrary" but also saying that they are false.

Peter Schwartz seemed to get the ball rolling with his claim that Passion was arbitrary and comparing what was said in it to someone claiming he went to Buddhist religious ceremonies with Rand every Friday night, if I recall.

-Neil

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Baal - I thought the “not even wrong” quote was from Niels Bohr.

Robert – While reserving judgment until I read your piece, it seems the question is, “What qualifies as ‘arbitrary’?” If Aristotle sees a need for some force to get motion in the universe started, he might postulate an unmoved mover. He’s formulating a hypothesis to solve a certain perceived problem. In this sense he’s not asserting the arbitrary. He might be right or wrong. Upon analysis it might turn out that his hypothesis contains stolen concepts, contradictions, etc.

A quantum physicist might propose a Higgs boson to explain mass in light of current quantum theory. CERN and FermiLab might or might not find one. If they don’t perhaps parts of the theory are simply wrong. But the assertion of a Higgs boson doesn’t seem arbitrary.

However, consider an example that Bertrand Russell, I believe, offered when criticizing certain religious beliefs. What if someone postulates a Chinese teapot in orbit around the sun? Is there any evidence for it? Is there any way (at that time) to discover the truth or falsity of the claim? In such cases we shouldn’t concern ourselves with such assertions.

But it is also true that all scientists and, for that matter, all individuals must hold in their minds provisional claims if they are not completely absurd or without any foundation or function whatsoever as they look at evidence, think through issues and implications, and test theories.

Thus Rand rightly rejected creationism but could have reasons, perhaps in the back of her mind, perhaps unanalyzed, that caused her to ask whether there are alternatives to Darwin. Was this arbitrary? (She might not have thought of it at the time but one could observe that dinosaurs had 200 million years to mutate into intelligent creatures but did not, yet mutations and natural selection in a mere 6 million years produced us.) Looks like she worked through her doubts and concluded there wasn’t an alternative to Darwin.

I’m not sure whether Peikoff or you would disagree with me on these observations which probably means I should not be so arbitrary and should read Peikoff as well as your analysis!

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Not even wrong.

See

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wolfgang_Pauli

Wolfgang Pauli was super smart, super smart ass and his sarcasm cast fear into the hearts of lesser mortals.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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A quantum physicist might propose a Higgs boson to explain mass in light of current quantum theory. CERN and FermiLab might or might not find one. If they don’t perhaps parts of the theory are simply wrong. But the assertion of a Higgs boson doesn’t seem arbitrary.

The existence of the Higgs Boson is required to make the Standard Model work. It is both a theoretical derivative and a testable (possibly falsifiable) hypothesis. Time will tell. If the LHC does not find the Higgs, it does not mean it doesn't exist, but it might motivate people to find an alternative theory that does not require its existence.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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  • 3 years later...
Protocols of the Elders of ARI?

smile.gif

(Oh gawd... I don't believe I just wrote that...)

Michael

Actually, I think Objectivism was infiltrated by Cointelpro (counterintelligence program of FBI) a long time ago (Peter Schwartz has the perfect attitude of an asset.) They recognized Objectivism as a radical movement far better than Objectivists did, and certainly without naivete about the benevolence of the US Gov't. The pattern of schisms was very easy to amplify. Given his ties to the Mossad, Yaron Brook is likely an asset, too.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I think this is as good a place as any to put this. Brook says he thinks Christopher Hitchens was "honest". Hitchens of course was a Marxist, and continued to identify himself as such all the way to the end. One of the major points of contention in the Fact and Value vs. Truth and Toleration imbroglio was over whether academic Marxists can be honest. Hitchens taught journalism at a University, I forget which one, but suffice to say he was an "academic". So now we have academic, Marxist, and honest all together in one package, per an Orthodox Objectivist...

http://www.peikoff.com/2013/02/18/ybrook-do-honest-prominent-liberals-exist-should-we-be-focused-more-on-bringing-liberals-over-to-the-objectivist-cause/

Is it time at last to start calling for Brook's excommunication? How much deviation are we going to have to stand for? As Dean Wormer once said: the time has come for someone to put his foot down, and that foot is me.

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I think this is as good a place as any to put this. Brook says he thinks Christopher Hitchens was "honest". Hitchens of course was a Marxist, and continued to identify himself as such all the way to the end. One of the major points of contention in the Fact and Value vs. Truth and Toleration imbroglio was over whether academic Marxists can be honest. Hitchens taught journalism at a University, I forget which one, but suffice to say he was an "academic". So now we have academic, Marxist, and honest all together in one package, per an Orthodox Objectivist...

According to The Los Angeles Times, Hitchens ... also taught as a visiting

professor at the University of California, Berkeley, the University of

Pittsburgh and the New School of Social Research.

No doubt a helluva professor. I can only imagine the night classes. Clink.

Is it time at last to start calling for Brook's excommunication? How much deviation are we going to have to stand for? As Dean Wormer once said: the time has come for someone to put his foot down, and that foot is me.

That foot is indeed you. You have crossed the Is and dotted the Ts and I think the machinery of excommunication can be primed and oiled, ready for a trial ...

Edited by william.scherk
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