bradbradallen

Christian Objectivist

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Is it an oxymoron for one to identify themselves as a Christian Objectivist?

(I apologize for not elaborating much on the question. It is a fairly strait forward question that I have been trying to figure out myself, figure I'll ask the OL community and get some feedback on it.)

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Is it an oxymoron for one to identify themselves as a Christian Objectivist?

(I apologize for not elaborating much on the question. It is a fairly strait forward question that I have been trying to figure out myself, figure I'll ask the OL community and get some feedback on it.)

Not if you can come up with a rational explanation that invalidates atheism. Otherwise its worse than an oxymoron; it's an insult and assault on the philosophy and Objectivists. Bad manners for sure. There is nothing wrong with saying one is a Christian who agrees with parts of the Objectivist philosophy, however, for if it's true it's true and you are just being honest. Anyway, the answer to your question is "Yes."

--Brant

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Is it an oxymoron for one to identify themselves as a Christian Objectivist?

(I apologize for not elaborating much on the question. It is a fairly strait forward question that I have been trying to figure out myself, figure I'll ask the OL community and get some feedback on it.)

q

bradbradallen,

It might be a matter of definition. If one can envision someone who is for example an atheist who does not believe in an afterlife, believes in evolution and that man is part of the animal kingdom, does not accept any part of supernaturalism nor the infallibility of the Pope, nor that Jesus rose from the dead, however considers himself or herself a Christian because he or she is altruistic, would you call such a person a Christian?

Even if you would, still altruism, not to be confused with the benevolence which Objectivists, or the more humane among them, feel towards other members of the species, is incompatible with Objectivism which holds that each person has a right from birth to his or her own life and has no unchosen obligations towards others.

Altruism despite its positive image and press holds, fundamentally that no one has a right to his or her own life, rather one's sole justification for existence is the benefit others, or the state, derive from his or her sacrifice or enslavement.

So one wonders why you are struggling to enable one to be both a Christian and an Objectivist? When i confront my wife with an either or question her answer has usually been, "BOTH!"

If you can identify just what aspect of being a Christian is appealing to you to hold onto that might help to solve the problem. Objectivists do help others for example, just that they do so because they want to not out of a sense of duty or unchosen obligation. They try never to engage in self sacrifice by always being loyal to their highest values. At least thats what it says in the book!

www.campaignforliberty.com 13May 4AM 152257

which is up quite a bit for the wee hours of the morning. Admittedly our goal seems to be unattainable but that is analogous to George Washington at Valley Forge or fleeing from the British from his first encounter at Brooklyn Heights where his army lost half its strength. So far our losses have been from natural causes and we still benefit from the ideas some of them have written down. I would include Ayn Rand, Leonard Reed, founder of the Foundation for Economic Education, Murray Rothbard, and others from our era but keep in mind the Founders and Framers and all those who fought in the first American Revolution and those who gave them inspiration such as Thomas Paine. It is not too late to experience that inspiration if one simply reads Thomas Paine now. In fact our whole movement is one of personal enlightenment and encourages each of us read the works of all our heroes and heroines, Rand, Ruwart, Isabel Paterson, Rose Wilder Lane, Bastiat, Brand Blanshard, Henry Hazlitt, Ludwig von Mises, Hayek, Sennholz, the list goes on and on.

gulch

Edited by galtgulch

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Hi Bradley,

I can’t buy that one is a Christian who never turns to faith in contradiction of reason.

I can’t buy that one is a Christian who never turns to mercy opposed to justice.

I can’t buy that one is a Christian who pursues monetary riches for himself.

I can’t buy that one is a Christian who never sacrifices his own judgment to a higher-than-human intelligence in the universe.

I can’t buy that one is a Christian who in no way believes he and his loved ones will arise from the grave and live forever in happiness

in the presence of Jesus Christ (the son of God and savior of the world) in the kingdom of God.

A Christian can’t be any those five ways. An Objectivist must be all those ways, except the third is elective in degree.

An Objectivist may elect to pursue monetary riches for herself, provided she understands the rightness of it.

One cannot be a Christian and an Objectivist.

Stephen

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One cannot be a Christian and an Objectivist.

Stephen

True. But one can be a "muscular Christian" and exhibit some hard headed tendencies in the pursuit of love and mercy. Jesus, himself, was portrayed as a Hard Head. He said : Some of you will call to me Lord, Lord, but I never knew you. Jesus, in his career as carpenter, banged in the nails by using a hammer, not by invoking miracles.

For Jews, it is easier. The first call to a Jew is to be just. One of the prophets wrote: The Lord requires that ye be just, love mercy and walk straightly in the was of God.

Translated this means.

1 Be Just

2 Be Merciful

3 Keep the Commandments.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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There emerged, sometime ago, those that identified themselves as such, most people that have hung around on the O-related forums know this.

It was a very whacky, over-layered juxtaposition. Let's just say the nearly encylopedic knowledge required of both O and Xstianity require quite a bit of head time, for one.

And then, to live that...to live what? It's just another tagline. Why make a new camp?

And, why even ask this question? It usually ends up as baiting Christians (which is like saying "bread," including Wonder all the way to home-made on the Italian Riviera).

Do they "exist?" Yeah, I guess they do because they say so.

Usually others on both sides of things get some wind of this and the throwdown starts. No one knows what they are fighting about.

Goofiness, bad idea. And, you end up having to spend a lot more money.

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I don't think this is an important point at all except that it tends to promote tribalism.

There are oodles of people who call themselves Christian Objectivists. There's a thread somewhere here on OL about one such group.

If all "Christian Objectivists" mean is that they are people who loosely follow the Bible and loosely follow Objectivism, I say go for it. They don't do me any harm and they are certainly no threat to me. May they go in peace. I won't be joining them, but I won't be throwing stones at them, either.

I am vastly more uncomfortable knowing there are people like Lindsay Perigo prancing around calling themselves Objectivists and that there is a real threat of the general public thinking that his fundamental values are mine and that his bullying and irrationality are what I endorse and practice just because we both use the same word as description.

What's worse, there are people truly interested in Ayn Rand's Objectivism who accept him as an Objectivist. I don't see how they can create such a distance between jargon and actions to the point of calling Perigo an Objectivist, but calling a person who has done nothing against them "evil" or "misguided" or whatever just because such person is working through ideas, seeking the good, and finding it both in the Bible and in Objectivism.

(I won't continue this line of thought because I will start insulting folks, and some of them are good folks but with a blind spot...)

I distinguish people inside myself into those who think for themselves "qua individuals" and those who prefer tribal structures. Give me a dyed-in-the-wool Christian individual any day over an Objectivist boot-licker.

(I personally prefer true individuals who like Objectivist ideas.)

Michael

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It might be a matter of definition. If one can envision someone who is for example an atheist who does not believe in an afterlife, believes in evolution and that man is part of the animal kingdom, does not accept any part of supernaturalism nor the infallibility of the Pope, nor that Jesus rose from the dead, however considers himself or herself a Christian because he or she is altruistic, would you call such a person a Christian?

Gulch,

I don't think altruism is a defining characteristic of Christianity. Yes, Christians preach mercy, but the altruistic version of Christianity is more a product of Kant than of Christianity per se.

In Christianity, each person is precious in the sight of God. This is not quite the same as saying that each person is an end in himself, but it is clear that Christianity places a high value on human life --- each individual human life. A person is not a means to the ends of others. The ends do not justify the means.

In addition, each person must struggle to achieve his own personal salvation through the struggle to achieve his own moral perfection and by belief in God and the tenants of the church. Although great emphasis is placed on believing --- whoever believeth in me shall have eternal life -- Jesus --- it is expected that anyone that truly believes will also attempt to follow the doctrines of the church and live a moral life.

So, Christianity is much more individualistic than the altruistic code. Altruism per se is not required by Christianity. Mercy, kindness, compassion, etc., are all virtues, but so is justice.

Darrell

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Is it an oxymoron for one to identify themselves as a Christian Objectivist?

(I apologize for not elaborating much on the question. It is a fairly straightforward question that I have been trying to figure out myself, figure I'll ask the OL community and get some feedback on it.)

Let's put it this way: The question boils down to answering: Is it possible to be an Objectivist and not be absolutely, 100% consistent with each and every consequence of Objectivism?

I think that the answer to that is . . . obviously, yes it is possible (and hence, no - not an oxymoron). Otherwise, anybody who thinks of themselves as an objectivist, but then changes their mind on learning something new which contradicts something they had thought earlier, either wasn't an Objectivist before or isn't after.

The only way around this that I see is to maintain that there is a short list of essentials without which one is not an Objectivist. If so, what is that short list, and on what is that list based? When Rand did the "standing on one foot" characterization of her philosophy, she didn't explicitly mention atheism.

Bill P

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In Buddhist thought (just to remind, Buddhists are atheists), the highest value is compassion.

Compassion is different than altruism.

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If all "Christian Objectivists" mean is that they are people who loosely follow the Bible and loosely follow Objectivism, I say go for it. They don't do me any harm and they are certainly no threat to me. May they go in peace. I won't be joining them, but I won't be throwing stones at them, either.

Exactly.

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If all "Christian Objectivists" mean is that they are people who loosely follow the Bible and loosely follow Objectivism, I say go for it. They don't do me any harm and they are certainly no threat to me. May they go in peace. I won't be joining them, but I won't be throwing stones at them, either.

Exactly.

Agreed.

Bill P

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If all "Christian Objectivists" mean is that they are people who loosely follow the Bible and loosely follow Objectivism, I say go for it. They don't do me any harm and they are certainly no threat to me. May they go in peace. I won't be joining them, but I won't be throwing stones at them, either.

Exactly.

Agreed.

Bill P

Let me throw the first stone.

--Brant

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"Christian Objectivist" sounds to me a bit like "vegetarian tiger". Probably there also exist socialist Objectivists or communist Objectivists, nothing can surprise me anymore.

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Nathaniel Branden once stated that he had met as many admirable people who were not religious as who were religious, and he has met as many unrespectable atheists as unrespectable religious individuals.

I think the point is that there are many ways to see the world and many ways to carry one's beliefs. What's most important is how one acts. Awareness and reason are not values unto themselves, they are guidance for appropriate behavior.

Therefore, I believe that one can claim to be both Objective and Christian, and as an independent I would say ignore the group members from either camp who demand you conform to their ways of thinking within the collective. No one is omniscient or infallible, least of all the people who demand you fit their categorizations. After all, you're going to have your interpretation of both Objectivism and Christianity, and it may have nothing to do with how others define it. I may not be a Christian, but Rand pulled so many quotes from the Bible and interpreted them in a way I would never have done. She was seeing totally different messages in the same words, and from her point of view Christianity and Objectivism were not integrative. However, my interpretation of those few Biblical quotes suggested that they could in fact be integrated. I wouldn't say either of us were wrong. I think instead it is more important to extend understanding than to prematurely revert to judgment.

And just to say one last thing: there are not that many people on this forum who conform exclusively to Rand's views of Objectivism (we've shot many holes through her view of epistemology). If we're still Objectivists, then it makes sense that the same selective approach to Christian assertions can be pursued and one can still call oneself a Christian.

Christopher

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I can’t buy that one is a Christian who never turns to faith in contradiction of reason.

I can’t buy that one is a Christian who never turns to mercy opposed to justice.

I can’t buy that one is a Christian who pursues monetary riches for himself.

I can’t buy that one is a Christian who never sacrifices his own judgment to a higher-than-human intelligence in the universe.

I can’t buy that one is a Christian who in no way believes he and his loved ones will arise from the grave and live forever in happiness

in the presence of Jesus Christ (the son of God and savior of the world) in the kingdom of God.

I've just been doing some reading on the history of early Christianity, including a number of Bart Ehrman's books. It's amazing how many beliefs have come under the umbrella of "Christianity". A number of diverse beliefs do now in different parts of the world; don't assume that Christianity is limited to Roman Catholicism and Bible Belt fundamentalism. I for one would not limit the definition of "Christianity" so tightly.

Judith

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I can't buy that one is a Christian who never turns to faith in contradiction of reason.

I can't buy that one is a Christian who never turns to mercy opposed to justice.

I can't buy that one is a Christian who pursues monetary riches for himself.

I can't buy that one is a Christian who never sacrifices his own judgment to a higher-than-human intelligence in the universe.

I can't buy that one is a Christian who in no way believes he and his loved ones will arise from the grave and live forever in happiness

in the presence of Jesus Christ (the son of God and savior of the world) in the kingdom of God.

I've just been doing some reading on the history of early Christianity, including a number of Bart Ehrman's books. It's amazing how many beliefs have come under the umbrella of "Christianity". A number of diverse beliefs do now in different parts of the world; don't assume that Christianity is limited to Roman Catholicism and Bible Belt fundamentalism. I for one would not limit the definition of "Christianity" so tightly.

Judith

I would second Judith's caution.

Further, one need not oppose justice and mercy.

Mercy can be defined as the relief of unnecessary suffering. It is merciful to put a suffering animal to sleep, to give a man dying of cancer morphine, to execute a criminal swiftly. There are, of course, circumstances under which one might not wish to show such mercy. But it is not necessary to define mercy itself as injustice.

Nor is it necessarily a mercy not to punish one who needs punishment - spare the rod and spoil the child. It would have been a mercy to Saddam (and the world) to remove him and put him in exile in 1991 rather than to hang him in 2006. Justice often is the greatest mercy.

One of the projects of Objectivism is to redefine and reclaim such concepts as selfishness and pride and there is no reason not to redefine such words as mercy in a way acceptible to the Objectivist ethic.

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Judith:

Excellent observation about the marketing team that Jesus had moving around the "known" world. It was certainly not Roman Catholic. Not familiar with Bart Ehrman's books, but will check into them.

Ted:

Good points. I do and did believe in 1991 that, as Patton stated clearly, I do not like to pay for the same ground twice, therefore. it is really quite simple, we should have told the UN that we changed our mind and we were going through to Baghdad now.

"...1991 rather than to hang him in 2006. Justice often is the greatest mercy."

Always tough calls. The European Holocaust was etched in man's mind.

The other holocaust was in Asia. The Japanese Army systematically killed approximately 250,000 Asians per month.

The Curtis LeMay strategy that basically won the war in Europe and then won the war in the Pacific ended the tally of death at 17,000,000 human beings in the "other" holocaust.

War should only be totally waged to end it.

Adam

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Is it an oxymoron for one to identify themselves as a Christian Objectivist?

(I apologize for not elaborating much on the question. It is a fairly straightforward question that I have been trying to figure out myself, figure I'll ask the OL community and get some feedback on it.)

Let's put it this way: The question boils down to answering: Is it possible to be an Objectivist and not be absolutely, 100% consistent with each and every consequence of Objectivism?

I think that the answer to that is . . . obviously, yes it is possible (and hence, no - not an oxymoron). Otherwise, anybody who thinks of themselves as an objectivist, but then changes their mind on learning something new which contradicts something they had thought earlier, either wasn't an Objectivist before or isn't after.

The only way around this that I see is to maintain that there is a short list of essentials without which one is not an Objectivist. If so, what is that short list, and on what is that list based? When Rand did the "standing on one foot" characterization of her philosophy, she didn't explicitly mention atheism.

Bill P

Bill, I strongly disagree with your statement of what the question boils down to. It is not whether, to be an Objectivist, one must accept each and every consequence of its basic principles claimed by Rand. It is whether one can be an Objectivist while denying its most fundamental principle. And its most fundamental, principle is the absolutism of reason. Rand wrote:

"I am not primarily an advocate of capitalism, but of egoism; and I am not primarily an advocate of egoism, but of reason. . . . This -- the supremacy of reason -- was, is and will be the primary concern of my work and the essence of Objectivism."

Religion -- any religion--requires a belief in the supernatural, in a realm unknowable by reason. In The Art of Living Consciously, Nathaniel Branden defines mysticism as follows:

"Mysticism is the claim that there are aspects of existence that can be known by means of a unique cognitive faculty whose judgments are above the authority of sensory observation and reason."

One does not have to accept the idea that a woman should not be president of the United States to be an Objectivist; one may quarrel with many of the concepts that Rand claimed logically followed from her basic principles and still be an Objectivist. But just as one cannot, for instance, claim to be a Christian while denying the existence of God -- one cannot claim to be an Objectivist while denying the absolutism of reason.

And -- not incidentally -- when Rand characterized her philosoophy while standing on one foot, it is true she did not mention atheism, but she most certainly named the absolutism of reason as essential to her philosophy. Her rejection of theism was implicit in that statement.

Barbara

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Is it an oxymoron for one to identify themselves as a Christian Objectivist?

(I apologize for not elaborating much on the question. It is a fairly straightforward question that I have been trying to figure out myself, figure I'll ask the OL community and get some feedback on it.)

Let's put it this way: The question boils down to answering: Is it possible to be an Objectivist and not be absolutely, 100% consistent with each and every consequence of Objectivism?

I think that the answer to that is . . . obviously, yes it is possible (and hence, no - not an oxymoron). Otherwise, anybody who thinks of themselves as an objectivist, but then changes their mind on learning something new which contradicts something they had thought earlier, either wasn't an Objectivist before or isn't after.

The only way around this that I see is to maintain that there is a short list of essentials without which one is not an Objectivist. If so, what is that short list, and on what is that list based? When Rand did the "standing on one foot" characterization of her philosophy, she didn't explicitly mention atheism.

Bill P

Bill, I strongly disagree with your statement of what the question boils down to. It is not whether, to be an Objectivist, one must accept each and every consequence of its basic principles claimed by Rand. It is whether one can be an Objectivist while denying its most fundamental principle. And its most fundamental, principle is the absolutism of reason. Rand wrote:

"I am not primarily an advocate of capitalism, but of egoism; and I am not primarily an advocate of egoism, but of reason. . . . This -- the supremacy of reason -- was, is and will be the primary concern of my work and the essence of Objectivism."

Religion -- any religion--requires a belief in the supernatural, in a realm unknowable by reason. In The Art of Living Consciously, Nathaniel Branden defines mysticism as follows:

"Mysticism is the claim that there are aspects of existence that can be known by means of a unique cognitive faculty whose judgments are above the authority of sensory observation and reason."

One does not have to accept the idea that a woman should not be president of the United States to be an Objectivist; one may quarrel with many of the concepts that Rand claimed logically followed from her basic principles and still be an Objectivist. But just as one cannot, for instance, claim to be a Christian while denying the existence of God -- one cannot claim to be an Objectivist while denying the absolutism of reason.

And -- not incidentally -- when Rand characterized her philosoophy while standing on one foot, it is true she did not mention atheism, but she most certainly named the absolutism of reason as essential to her philosophy. Her rejection of theism was implicit in that statement.

Barbara

I would frame this as: A so-called "Christian Objectivist" is obviously inconsistent. That is not questioned by anyone on this thread, that I have noted. And of course reason is the fundamental - no dispute there, either. The discussion is not on either of these matters.

I am saying that some may not see that they are overturning the absolutism of reason in their embrace of theism. I know more than a few such people who do not see that when they admit "other modes of knowledge" (the mystical) they are in fact overthrowing reason. The problem is that ultimately, an acceptance of reason drives to the entire Objectivist system - so where do we stop, since as a result denying a part of Objectivism ultimately entails denying the absolutism of reason. For me, the tough part is tied to the "ultimately" - - - some people will take a long time to see the consequences of a mistaken premise.

You are right to call me on the "each and every consequence" - that was clearly rhetorical overkill on my part.

Bill P

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Barbara:

Understood. The argument that can be made is that reason can reach the proof that there is a greater power than the individual and do a reason = God equation.

Adam

Another Happy Birthday

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Bill: "I am saying that some may not see that they are overturning the absolutism of reason in their embrace of theism. I know more than a few such people who do not see that when they admit "other modes of knowledge" (the mystical) they are in fact overthrowing reason."

Quite true.

Bill: "The problem is that ultimately, an acceptance of reason drives to the entire Objectivist system - so where do we stop, since as a result denying a part of Objectivism ultimately entails denying the absolutism of reason."

If I understand you, here we disagree. Rand stated that Objectivism is a totally integrated system, such that each aspect of it follows logically and inevitably from its fundamentals. But is that so? I do not believe it is. I do not believe that every statement Rand considered part of Objectvism is true or is consistent with its basic principles. One rather blatant example is many of her views of psychology; for instance, her insistence that most philosophers were evil men with evil motives, or that homosexuality is a neurosis. or her oversimplified concept of the relation between reason and emotions, or her again oversimplified presentation of the nature of romantic love. Ths realm of psychology is only one area in which Rand gave us a great many assertions but little evidence for those assertions. In such areas, one therefore may adhere to the fundamentals of Objectivism while questioning and/or denying aspects of her system that Rand believed flowed from those fundamentals.

Barbara

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Bill: "I am saying that some may not see that they are overturning the absolutism of reason in their embrace of theism. I know more than a few such people who do not see that when they admit "other modes of knowledge" (the mystical) they are in fact overthrowing reason."

Quite true.

Bill: "The problem is that ultimately, an acceptance of reason drives to the entire Objectivist system - so where do we stop, since as a result denying a part of Objectivism ultimately entails denying the absolutism of reason."

If I understand you, here we disagree. Rand stated that Objectivism is a totally integrated system, such that each aspect of it follows logically and inevitably from its fundamentals. But is that so? I do not believe it is. I do not believe that every statement Rand considered part of Objectvism is true or is consistent with its basic principles. One rather blatant example is many of her views of psychology; for instance, her insistence that most philosophers were evil men with evil motives, or that homosexuality is a neurosis. or her oversimplified concept of the relation between reason and emotions, or her again oversimplified presentation of the nature of romantic love. Ths realm of psychology is only one area in which Rand gave us a great many assertions but little evidence for those assertions. In such areas, one therefore may adhere to the fundamentals of Objectivism while questioning and/or denying aspects of her system that Rand believed flowed from those fundamentals.

Barbara

LOL. I have to learn to be much more precise in speaking with you. It is a good habit in general.

I would not refer to the statements you mention above (about homosexuality, about almost all philosophers evil men with evil motives, etc...) as being a part of Objectivism. I would refer to them as errors or overgeneralizations by Rand. The statement about a woman being president . . . . I can't regard that as Objectivism. I don't hold to the "oracle speaking infallibly" position. And you are certainly right about the psychology. For someone who wrote "on psychologizing" warning about the dangers in such an activity, she certainly did a lot of it!

I was in fact listening to the Q&A from some of her Ford Hall Forum talks, and was struck by an instance when she struck out rather savagely at someone who had dared to psychologize about her. I was amused but saddened at the same time. The woman was so incredibly brilliant - but her blind spots were absolute, it seems.

Bill P

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"Mysticism is the claim that there are asoects of existence that can be known by means of a unique cogntive faculty whose judgments are above the authority of sensory observation and reason."

One does not have to acceot the idea that a woman should not be president of the United States to be an Objectivist; one may quarrel with many of the concepts that Rand claimed logically followed from her basic principles and still be an Objectivist. But just as one cannot, for instance, claim to be a Christian while denying the existence of God -- one cannot claim to be an Objectivist while denying the absolutism of reason.

And -- not incidentally -- when Rand characterized her philosoophy while standing on one foot, it is true she did not mention atheism, but she most certsinly named the absolutism of reason as essential to her philosophy. Her rejection of theism was implicit in that statement.

Barbara

While I believe there has been much discussion on mysticism already under epistemology, I will make the following comments:

Mysticism merely represents knowledge derived from a realm of perceptions. Mysticism is not above judgments of reason. Mystical perceptions stands no more independent of reason than sensory input and must be dealt with as such.

Sensory experiences are considered accurate representations of reality because multiple people act to observe (ex. look, listen...) the same stimuli and describe them in the same terms. Mystical experiences can be considered accurate representations of reality when multiple people act to observe (through meditation, etc.) the same phenomenal stimuli. Individuals from different cultures might cognitively label the same sensory stimulus as a different object. Person A labels the object as a rock, person B labels the object as a brick. Similary, mystical experiences can be cognitively interpreted through a number of ways (through various cultural symbols). That does not mean that the perception was necessarily unshared, it's just that although the perception is sensed in the same way between people, it was described or interpreted differently (as was the brick). Even so, we can state reasonably that they are in fact perceptions that can be shared among people; therefore, following the same logic as treating sensory perceptions as observations of reality, so we should equally treat mystical experiences with the same logic. And then we should deal with these perceptions reasonably. I give you that most people do not treat such experiences reasonably much as most people don't treat emotions reasonably. There's a problem with people considering phenomenal experiences logically.

Anyway, if Rand was wrong about psychology, I would have to admit that her views about theistic observations (arising from the mind) are equally inadequate to handle such a realm. As such, one can take the view above and be an Objectivist as well as a (dare I use the word) mystic.

Barbara, it's a good discussion. However, no one has yet undermined this argument. At best, on other threads people just state their beliefs against mysticism and evade any epistemological assertions to the contrary.

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