Why all this infighting?


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Just a general question. Why do I see so much infighting among Objectivists or people who claim adherence to Objectivism? Objectivism is supposed to be a philosophy of reason and reason should be able to resolve the disagreements or clarify the issues. But what do I see? Not only disagreement (which is inevitable) but some rather nasty sniping and people making very personal remarks. It has the appearance of an Argumentum of Homiem cluster f**k. For advocates of reason that seems mighty strange. Why do people get so personal? To quote the great Rodney King --- Can't we all just get along?

Ba'al Chatzaf

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Just a general question. Why do I see so much infighting among Objectivists or people who claim adherence to Objectivism? Objectivism is supposed to be a philosophy of reason and reason should be able to resolve the disagreements or clarify the issues. But what do I see? Not only disagreement (which is inevitable) but some rather nasty sniping and people making very personal remarks. It has the appearance of an Argumentum of Homiem cluster f**k. For advocates of reason that seems mighty strange. Why do people get so personal? To quote the great Rodney King --- Can't we all just get along?

Ba'al Chatzaf

Minor correction: it's not "in" fighting since there is no "in" here. When I get sniped repeatedly then I tend to make a conclusion about the nature of a particular worm who slithers around this site and thus make the kind of remarks I just made. That would be my reason to get personal -- somebody persistently attacking me, behind my back in random threads, and in-thread attacking while pretending he's innocently doing nothing (like a snot-nosed little brother who keeps poking big brother to get him in trouble with mom and dad). I think the worm should be expelled from OL.

Shayne

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To Whom It May Concern:

That’s obviously a dishonest question, and you are evil and contemptible for asking it. In fact, you are probably a Kantian fellow traveler trying to imply that Objectivists are just as prone to subjectivism as everyone else and only pretending to be able to see things-in-themselves. I hereby repudiate and condemn you irrevocably and terminate any and all relationship with you. Blah-blah-blah

(This is a joke. No offense, Bob.):P

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I really don't appreciate your disingenuous question, Ba'al. You've made thousands of posts on Objectivist sites so you either know the answer or don't actually care to know.

--Brant

Wrong. I want to know. What is the reason for all this bad behavior, and by adults too. Do you have a theory?

Ba'al Chatzaf

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Wrong. I want to know. What is the reason for all this bad behavior, and by adults too. Do you have a theory?

Ba'al Chatzaf

If you’re speaking specifically about Peikoff, I would say it’s a combination of low self-esteem, authoritarian power lust and his personal delusion that he can somehow “channel” Ayn Rand. No doubt he would be much more reluctant to condemn dissenters if Rand had not exhibited this same idiosyncrasy. But since she often trashed people who offended her and used the excuse of moral corruption, he thinks he can do the same with impunity.

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Tired of repeating the same points and not getting the slightest bit of respect or acknowledgement when I do.

But I suppose I will muster energy to answer Baal later on (and be treated like dog shit again):

It's a very reasonable question.

Edited by Philip Coates
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Just a general question. Why do I see so much infighting among Objectivists or people who claim adherence to Objectivism? Objectivism is supposed to be a philosophy of reason and reason should be able to resolve the disagreements or clarify the issues. But what do I see? Not only disagreement (which is inevitable) but some rather nasty sniping and people making very personal remarks. It has the appearance of an Argumentum of Homiem cluster f**k. For advocates of reason that seems mighty strange. Why do people get so personal? To quote the great Rodney King --- Can't we all just get along?

Ba'al Chatzaf

Ba'al:

Is your question above directed at our OL group, or the Objectivist sub-culture, as Michael and others are want to describe it?

Adam

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Tired of repeating the same points and not getting the slightest bit of respect or acknowledgement when I do.

But I suppose I will muster energy to answer Baal later on (and be treated like dog shit again):

It's a very reasonable question.

I agree that you usually get more flak than you deserve, and you usually make reasonable points, but even granting that you are completely correct in all your views, in fact you're pushing a chain. People simply do not *want* what you are offering, regardless of whether it is true. That is the risk that anyone who is genuinely concerned with the truth faces. Compounding that problem is the fact that the particular truth you are advocating isn't, in the big picture, of monumental consequence.

Shayne

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Why do I see so much infighting among Objectivists or people who claim adherence to Objectivism?

How about because “turn the other cheek” didn’t make it into Objectivism? Do you think the offences of Valliant, Hsieh, and above all Peikoff should be borne gracefully by their targets?

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Just a general question. Why do I see so much infighting among Objectivists or people who claim adherence to Objectivism? Objectivism is supposed to be a philosophy of reason and reason should be able to resolve the disagreements or clarify the issues. But what do I see? Not only disagreement (which is inevitable) but some rather nasty sniping and people making very personal remarks. It has the appearance of an Argumentum of Homiem cluster f**k. For advocates of reason that seems mighty strange. Why do people get so personal? To quote the great Rodney King --- Can't we all just get along?

Ba'al Chatzaf

It's because 'reason' is such a vague notion that you can't build a system on it.

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[....]I want to know. What is the reason for all this bad behavior, and by adults too. Do you have a theory?

Here's an article which might be helpful to you, by someone who has a theory, name Chris Wolf. The article is titled "What's Really Wrong with Objectivism?." I'm not sure how long back it was written, except that it was after the Reisman/Packer explusion from ARI, which was in 1995. I'd heard of the article a number of times but had never seen it until yesterday when there was a link provided from a different piece I was reading. I've only read the last two pages myself, so I don't know how much I'd agree with his whole thesis, but I thought the last two pages were astute.

Ellen

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Chris Wolf is rather critical of Leonard Peikoff's "Fact and Value."

I'm rather critical of Leonard Peikoff's "Fact and Value," too.

As you might remember, I cheered David Kelley at the time of that split, and I've been a financial contributor to IOS/TOC/TAS through its history -- although I have become definitely disgruntled in recent years. I never supported ARI, except just enough to receive the publication.

Ellen

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I really don't appreciate your disingenuous question, Ba'al. You've made thousands of posts on Objectivist sites so you either know the answer or don't actually care to know.

--Brant

Wrong. I want to know. What is the reason for all this bad behavior, and by adults too. Do you have a theory?

A mild form of road rage. However, I'm not saying which post(s) represent "bad behavior."

--Brant

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I really don't appreciate your disingenuous question, Ba'al. You've made thousands of posts on Objectivist sites so you either know the answer or don't actually care to know.

--Brant

Wrong. I want to know. What is the reason for all this bad behavior, and by adults too. Do you have a theory?

A mild form of road rage. However, I'm not saying which post(s) represent "bad behavior."

--Brant

Maybe it's just laziness!

Seriously, "all this bad behavior" is a lot easier than rolling up one's sleeves and trying to fight productively for reason and freedom. If your posts here help you to clarify your own thoughts, or to enjoy some fellowship, or to be playful, or as a brief diversion from your real work and relationships, that's great. But when I see how many posts are sent up each day by some people, I wonder if they have considered whether this is the most rational and productive use of their time? Not a question -- just a suggestion for occasional reflection and self-monitoring, so as not to be too deeply ensnared in the potentially hypnotic pull of online discussion/combat. I personally have had to seriously limit my online discussion time in the past couple of years, after realizing how deeply it drained my available time for getting done things I really want to do. As a result, I have accomplished some things that are VERY important to me, including my CD project, my family history book, and a very difficult relocation from California to Tennessee. Time now to recalibrate, pick new goals, and plan how to accomplish them...

REB

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> Maybe it's just laziness! Seriously, "all this bad behavior" is a lot easier than rolling up one's sleeves and trying to fight productively for reason and freedom.

I think that's part of it.

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...If your posts here help you to clarify your own thoughts, or to enjoy some fellowship, or to be playful, or as a brief diversion from your real work and relationships, that's great. But when I see how many posts are sent up each day by some people, I wonder if they have considered whether this is the most rational and productive use of their time? Not a question -- just a suggestion for occasional reflection and self-monitoring, so as not to be too deeply ensnared in the potentially hypnotic pull of online discussion/combat. I personally have had to seriously limit my online discussion time in the past couple of years, after realizing how deeply it drained my available time for getting done things I really want to do. As a result, I have accomplished some things that are VERY important to me, including my CD project, my family history book, and a very difficult relocation from California to Tennessee. Time now to recalibrate, pick new goals, and plan how to accomplish them...

REB

So, Roger, let me get this straight. Your decision to cut back on the time you spend posting here helped you accomplish the move from California to Tennessee? Man, that is scary! I'm going to be posting more than ever now!

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Without his faith in Pope Leonard's ex cathedra pronouncements, "Fact and Value" chief among them, would James Stevens Valliant ever have been motivated to produce PARC?

I addressed -- although of course it's impossible to answer -- Robert's typically loaded question in post #81 on the "For the Record re PARC" thread.

Ellen

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I addressed -- although of course it's impossible to answer -- Robert's typically loaded question in post #81 on the "For the Record re PARC" thread.

Ellen

Now, if we admit for a moment that in every man there is one of the animal species, it will be easy for us to describe the guardian of the peace Javert.

The peasants of the Asturias believe that in every litter of wolves there is one pup that is killed by the mother for fear that on growing up it would devour the other little ones.

Give a human face to this wolf’s son and you will have Javert.

Victor Hugo, Les Miserables

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Just a general question. Why do I see so much infighting among Objectivists or people who claim adherence to Objectivism? Objectivism is supposed to be a philosophy of reason and reason should be able to resolve the disagreements or clarify the issues. But what do I see? Not only disagreement (which is inevitable) but some rather nasty sniping and people making very personal remarks. It has the appearance of an Argumentum of Homiem cluster f**k. For advocates of reason that seems mighty strange. Why do people get so personal? To quote the great Rodney King --- Can't we all just get along?

Ba'al Chatzaf

Infighting is not peculiar to Objectivism; far from it. Infighting can be found in every ideological movement one cares to examine, from early Christianity to Marxism.

Ever spent much time around Marxists? I did in my college days, and Marxists make the infighting among Randians look like a stroll in the park. In the early days of Christianity dissenters were branded as heretics and punished in various ways, including executions.

Why does this seem to be a universal phenomenon? Why are heretics (internal dissenters) typically more hated than infidels (outsiders)? I think there are three major reasons.

First, heretics should know better. Unlike infidels who may be totally unfamiliar with the tenets of a belief system, heretics understand the basic principles but dissent from some of them nonetheless. And there can be no excuse for this. The problem must lie in a willful refusal to accept the truth. Heretics are morally culpable in a way that infidels may not be; they are essentially traitors to a cause. (Thomas Aquinas emphasized this point in calling for the execution of heretics after their second relapse.)

Second, heretics pose more of a threat to an orthodox belief system than do most infidels, for they eat away at the belief system from within -- and they can speak with some authority, given the common framework they share with orthodox members.

Third, heretics create a number of serious problems for the spokespersons of orthodoxy. If a belief system is presented as rigorous and internally consistent, then how are knowledgeable heretics even possible? The very existence of heretics must be explained away by the establishment, and this is often not easy to do. Heretics, moreover, compete for the allegiance of novitiates, so they constitute a threat to the growth of an orthodox movement.

Ghs

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Infighting is not peculiar to Objectivism; far from it. Infighting can be found in every ideological movement one cares to examine, from early Christianity to Marxism.

Ever spent much time around Marxists? I did in my college days, and Marxists make the infighting among Randians look like a stroll in the park. In the early days of Christianity dissenters were branded as heretics and punished in various ways, including executions.

Why does this seem to be a universal phenomenon? Why are heretics (internal dissenters) typically more hated than infidels (outsiders)? I think there are three major reasons.

First, heretics should know better. Unlike infidels who may be totally unfamiliar with the tenets of a belief system, heretics understand the basic principles but dissent from some of them nonetheless. And there can be no excuse for this. The problem must lie in a willful refusal to accept the truth. Heretics are morally culpable in a way that infidels may not be; they are essentially traitors to a cause. (Thomas Aquinas emphasized this point in calling for the execution of heretics after their second relapse.)

Second, heretics pose more of a threat to an orthodox belief system than do most infidels, for they eat away at the belief system from within -- and they can speak with some authority, given the common framework they share with orthodox members.

Third, heretics create a number of serious problems for the spokespersons of orthodoxy. If a belief system is presented as rigorous and internally consistent, then how are knowledgeable heretics even possible? The very existence of heretics must be explained away by the establishment, and this is often not easy to do. Heretics, moreover, compete for the allegiance of novitiates, so they constitute a threat to the growth of an orthodox movement.

Ghs

Excellent points. Ultimately, mankind needs to become more rational about himself but it is a "long and winding road". Objectivism is just one of countless attempts to achieve this.

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Infighting is not peculiar to Objectivism; far from it. Infighting can be found in every ideological movement one cares to examine, from early Christianity to Marxism.

Ever spent much time around Marxists? I did in my college days, and Marxists make the infighting among Randians look like a stroll in the park. In the early days of Christianity dissenters were branded as heretics and punished in various ways, including executions.

Why does this seem to be a universal phenomenon? Why are heretics (internal dissenters) typically more hated than infidels (outsiders)? I think there are three major reasons.

First, heretics should know better. Unlike infidels who may be totally unfamiliar with the tenets of a belief system, heretics understand the basic principles but dissent from some of them nonetheless. And there can be no excuse for this. The problem must lie in a willful refusal to accept the truth. Heretics are morally culpable in a way that infidels may not be; they are essentially traitors to a cause. (Thomas Aquinas emphasized this point in calling for the execution of heretics after their second relapse.)

Second, heretics pose more of a threat to an orthodox belief system than do most infidels, for they eat away at the belief system from within -- and they can speak with some authority, given the common framework they share with orthodox members.

Third, heretics create a number of serious problems for the spokespersons of orthodoxy. If a belief system is presented as rigorous and internally consistent, then how are knowledgeable heretics even possible? The very existence of heretics must be explained away by the establishment, and this is often not easy to do. Heretics, moreover, compete for the allegiance of novitiates, so they constitute a threat to the growth of an orthodox movement.

Ghs

Excellent points. Ultimately, mankind needs to become more rational about himself but it is a "long and winding road". Objectivism is just one of countless attempts to achieve this.

GHS: your analysis of this is one of the best I've seen. I would another point, at the risk of ruining the momentum: heretics are also (usually) personally known to the Orthodox in some way, thus creating the "hell hath no fury" factor.

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