Is Peikoff's "Analytic Synthetic Dichotomy" necessary reading?


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Unfortunately the difference in language used by Skinner and those influenced by him is, simply, an unassailable obstacle for Objectivists in understanding his work.

Actually this is inaccurate.

The problem is not semantic.

But from what I see, Mr. Ravana came here to preach, not discuss.

I suggest he procure disciples among disciple material, i.e., insecure seekers of a direction in life or similar, not among people who are philosophically unfriendly to mind-control. (I do agree that Skinner gets oversimplified in Objectivist discussions, at least the ones I have followed, but as Dennis pointed out with a quote, Skinner could get downright creepy.)

I remember reading Walden Two back in my college days (Skinner's novel). The part I remember most because it was such a weird image in a book of that nature (which went on and on about science) was the protagonist, who spent a lot of time discussing the utopia he made, laying down on the ground and positioning himself in the form of a cross as if he were a Jesus-like savior of mankind--and the narrator character being embarrassed by it. (I think I remember that right. I probably should look it up to be accurate. Maybe, or maybe not... If I get time and it nags at me...)


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I've tried to explain Skinner to Objectivists in the past, but always with disappointing results. Unfortunately the difference in language used by Skinner and those influenced by him is, simply, an unassailable obstacle for Objectivists in understanding his work. Ah well, such is life.


First of all, you are not addressing "Objectivists" here.

Second, and I am going to use short simple words so you can follow what I am saying, you selectively distorted Skinnerian "philosophy."

Third, you selectively distorted the responses of the non-Objectivists, myself being one of them.

Finally, when I was in graduate school I studied with two (2) professors who where directly trained by Skinner. You might have found out more than you

could handle had you proceeded with a less dogmatic, true believer gestalt.


hope you did not leave your rose colored glasses behind because the world out there will blind you worse than you are now...


oops, be careful, you left them behind

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Look at all the stimuli this dude received and look at the response.

This dude is an organism set to respond to one thing, but not the other. The organism responds to negative, but not positive stimuli.


I hate to go all pop psychology and stuff, but it looks to me like this dude came here seeking performers in a script that was already in his head (similar to the I'm OK You're OK stuff).

Once he got what he needed to act on the script, he played out the rest--i.e., he made his gesture of his perceived superiority (with emphasis on perceived) over "Objectivists," then departed in search of another set of actors.

I wonder who the script really is for. "Objectivists" is merely a symbol for that person.

Until he resolves that issue, he's going to be like a hamster in a running wheel, looping endlessly in the same script.

I wish him well, though. He sounds like he's in a tough place.


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I hate to go all pop psychology and stuff, but it looks to me like this dude came here seeking performers in a script that was already in his head (similar to the I'm OK You're OK stuff).

We had a Scientologist pop in not too long ago, and she was gone almost as quickly. Oh well.

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Here is a classic debate between Brand Blanshard (one of my favorite modern philosophers) and B.F. Skinner. I first read this debate back in the early 1970s, in an anthology of modern philosophy, and I was delighted to find it online.


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2. "Thinking", to Skinner, was not "denied", it was simply re-evaluated as a "Private behavior", observable only by the individual.

You misunderstand Skinner. As he says in his debate with Blanshard, "No major behaviorist has ever argued that science must limit itself to public events.... As a behaviorist, however, I question the nature of such events and their role in the prediction and control of behavior. "

In questioning the "nature of such events," Skinner argues that what we call mental events, or states of consciousness, are nothing but physical events. Physical events are all that exist. As Skinner says:

The organism is not empty, and it is important to study what goes on inside it, but most physiologists are looking for the wrong things. No matter how much they may improve their techniques, they will never find sensations, thoughts, or acts of will.

In other words, thoughts, sensations, etc., do not exist at all, qua mental events.

In philosophy this position is known as reductive materialism. This is the position that Blanshard focuses his criticism on, and it is diametically opposed to Rand's position. As Dennis correctly pointed out, Skinner's position amounts to a outright denial of consciousness.

For the record, I have read a number of books by Skinner, though not in many years. I found him to be crude and simplistic, and at times nearly incomprehensible, on matters relating to philosophy.

Again, for the debate, see: http://www.anthonyfl...innerdebate.htm


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I followed the link to your YouTube Channel, impressive in terms of appearance...

As you explained, Ethan's philosophy...

" mine own, and is still in development. I have been significantly influenced by a number of college professors, and specific authors/ideologists who have influenced me being (chronological order): Stephen King,
Malcolm X,
Richard Dawkins, Bill Hicks, Ayn Rand, B. F. Skinner, and several artistic works, particularly that of various filmmakers, authors (Asimov, Bradbury), and particularly several video game franchises: Silent Hill, the Ico Series, and Bioshock.

I'm a bisexual with a strong male preference, atheist ("agnostic atheist" to be specific, "atheist" for brevity's sake), influenced by Radical Behaviorism, Objectivism, Empiricism, Probabilistic Determinism, Nihilism, and
politically ambiguous at the moment, although leaning toward temporary, immediate planned society, and eventual anarcho-capitalism.

To contact me, please PM, or email me here:

or add me on skype:


River Falls, Wisconsin; Eden Prairie and Chanhassen, Minnesota

United States

Jimmy Johns.

University of Minnesota

Reading about philosophy, religion, psychology, cooking, video games (I don't like most video games, I like only games that have valuable aesthetic appeal, games that possess story and plot, and atmosphere, thus I only like certain franchises, such as Silent hill, Bioshock, The Ico Universe, GTA San Andreas, Enter the Matrix, Resident Evil 4, Halo 1,2, Reach, and the Star Wars Battlefront series. I also enjoy Gears of War, Madden, and ATV Offroad Fury. The only sport I care for is football; I'm big fan of th NFL, I usually root for the Packers, Patriots, Steelers, Broncos, Raiders, Chargers, Lions, and Rams.
I am an aspiring filmmaker. Indeed, filmmaking is the only future that I can envision myself pursuing.

I love movies of aesthetic value, I dislike most mainstream productions, as most of them lack any variability, and genuine substance. I love anything by: M. Night Shyamalan (although everything after The Village is terrible), Steven Spielberg, Ridley Scott, Charlie Kaufman, Christopher Nolan, David Lynch, Darren Aronofsky, Alfred Hitchcock, David Fincher, Martin Scorsese, Roman Polanski, Ron Howard, The Coen Bros, Gore Verbinski, Tim Burton, Mel Brooks, Denzel Washington, Mel Gibson, Russel Crowe, Leonardo Dicaprio, Will Smith, Christian Bale, Jim Carrey (his serious work, such as The Truman Show, Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind, is amazing). Specifically: Synecdoche, Requiem for a Dream, A Beautiful Mind, The Matrix trilogy, The original Star Wars trilogy (the new ones are mediocre advertising vehicles for George Lucas' action figures), The original Indiana Jones trilogy, Citizen Kane, The Silence of the Lambs, The Blair Witch Project, Signs, The Sixth Sense, most independent films. TV SHOWS: The Twilight Zone, The X-Files, Lost, The first 3 seasons of 24, Dexter, Rick Steve's Europe and various PBS productions, QI, The Boondocks, It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia, and my own personal favorite, The Complete Guide to Everything, the greatest podcast ever:

I enjoy several different genres, but I usually prefer music that is a blend of several different genres. My pet favorite is film scores. SPECIFIC ARTISTS: Trent Reznor,
, Coil, Akira Yamaoka/Melissa Williamson, Maynard James Keenan, Deftones, The Veils, Saul Williams, Immortal Technique, Jonathan Davis, Filter,
Marilyn Manson
, Tom Waits, Evanescence,
, VNV Nation, Black Light Burns, Wes Borland, Limp Bizkit, Placebo, Tricky,
Beethoven, Bach, Vivaldi
, Sigur Ros, Slipknot/Corey Taylor, Ice Cube, Massive Attack, Portishead, Radiohead, Nas, Mobb Deep, The Notorious B.I.G., The Wu-Tang Clan, and various others. John Williams, James Newton Howard, Hans Zimmer, Howard Shore, Angelo Badalamenti,
Enya, Yanni
, Martin O'Donnell, Michael Giacchino, Clint Mansell, Don Davis, etc.

Currently reading B. F. Skinner, Ayn Rand, Albert Camus, Richard Dawkins, Stephen King, other various literary and philosophical works (I plan on studying Nietzsche and Wittgenstein soon), and textbooks for classes.
profile image violation


You display intelligence and creativeness.

It would have served you well had you approached the members on OL with intelligence and creativeness.

You would have discovered that many of us had personal experiences with some of the persons that you claim influence you.

Sadly, you chose to interact with a mirage of your own creation and the result is that you gained nothing positive or productive from some folks who are exceptional people and would have freely interacted with you to all of our benefits.

When you decide to return, you will be welcomed back by most of the members.


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It's really just pointless to continue arguing this point, I've tried to explain Skinner to Objectivists in the past, but always with disappointing results. Unfortunately the difference in language used by Skinner and those influenced by him is, simply, an unassailable obstacle for Objectivists in understanding his work. Ah well, such is life.

I didn't see much evidence that Ethan understood anything that Skinner wrote.

Oh well...

Robert Campbell

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  • 5 weeks later...


I am new to this site, and to be honest, I'm here rather to read than to write, but I couldn't keep myself out of it. And that because you are so far from where the discussion started.

Dear Ravana,

Any sort of text that is in some way related to anything you're interested in is necessary reading. I understand why you dislike Peikoff, I feel the same way as you do, but first of all, you must always remember that he was very close to the mind that made this discussion here possible and she influenced a lot of his writings. Also, do not forget that people change with time, there are a lot of people who, just like him, were attracted to the "personality cult" after a long time of being valuable persons, and the present doesn't change something great that was done in the past. It's like saying some piece of art doesn't mean anything because the artist went insane when he grew old. I will also mention, hoping it won't come out in a rude or anyhow wrong way, that it's a bit ignorant to say you dislike someone so deeply before actually studying his work, his life and what might have caused some of the decisions he took. If you don't read him, there is no way you can have a complete view on him and further more, an intelligent documented opinion. Shorter, what you are doing is judging him (in a very not-objectivist way).

I dearly recommend you read anything, at least if only for the sake of your own precious mind.

Please excuse the grammar mistakes, English is not my first language.

-Silvana Maria

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  • 2 years later...

“Analytic statements have come to be disparaged. They shouldn’t be. We should bring them back, strip them of their association with a priori, and build up theories of inductively acquired analytic truths.” -- John McCaskey (November 2014)

Analytic Statements and Organic Concepts

See also my studies ( a chapter in my book will be on this issue):

Analytic-Synthetic Distinction

. . I. Quine

. ..II. White and Rand-Peikoff

. . III. Objective Analyticity

In #3 I linked to Greg Browne’s comments here on the synthetic-analytic distinction. Some readers may like to read the following review of Dr. Browne’s book Necessary Factual Truth.

Reference and Necessity: A Rand-Kripke Synthesis?
Roderick T. Long (2005)

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  • 2 months later...

This may be a good spot to record some of the studies of Leonard Peikoff in composing his PhD. dissertation The Status of the Law of Contradiction in Classical Logical Ontologism (1964). From this dissertation, one easily sees Dr. Peikoff’s good preparation to be in position to address the analytic-synthetic distinction (1967) in concert with Rand’s metaphysics and theory of universals as well as his good preparation for composing lecture series for Objectivists on the history of philosophy and on logic.

In the Selected Bibliography to his dissertation, one finds, as one would expect, works by and about principal philosophers including Plato (Origen), Aristotle (Theophrastus, Proclus), Aquinas, Ockham, Descartes, Locke, Leibniz, Hume, Reid, Kant, Mill, Spencer, Bradley (Joachim, Blanshard), and Dewey. One finds here a number of works on the history of philosophy and more particularly the history of logic. But one finds here also the Port-Royal, Hamilton, Bain, Moore, Joseph, Maritain, Reichenbach, Ayer, Veatch, Nagel, and Pap, which are also highly pertinent to the Peikoff-Rand position on the analytic-synthetic distinction.

. . .

[Peikoff] was and is very knowledgeable in that philosophy [Objectivism], and to some extent, in some other philosophies. He delivered the good presentation of Rand’s philosophy I had hoped for, for many years, in his book Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand. Other good systematic books laying out and defending the philosophy could be crafted, from other angles, by gifted appropriately trained minds, such as that of David Kelley. There are serious errors in that philosophy, in my view, and these were all promulgated by Rand, Branden, and Peikoff. I noticed today that I have been writing pieces, many very substantial, on these internet posting sites for ten years now. However much I have and shall point to their errors in philosophy and its history, not for a moment do I think those three were not all exceptionally bright and diligent thinkers, who had great wrestling and understanding of the philosophy Rand developed and further refined partly in communication with Branden, Peikoff, and likely Gotthelf (judging from interactions in Rand’s epistemology seminar).

. . .

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