My first gripe with ayn rand


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Any new deep thoughts? Within the objectivist community of thinkers there are plenty of heads butting together. As an example I looked at O Online and the ARI several months ago and was interested in the varying views on President Trump. How can this be? Anyone care to make a statement that you truly think is “true,” but that contradicts objectivism? And first, explain how you came to your conclusion.  Peter

Notes. From: "George H. Smith" To: "*Atlantis" Subject: ATL: Re: The facts of reality - Bill Date: Fri, 18 May 2001 11:38:21 -0500. Ellen Moore wrote: "I am aware of the passages you quote.  But I do not understand them to say that you think they mean.  Somewhere in the seminars, Rand said, " 'fact' is an epistemological tool."  Your quotes reinforce that meaning, i.e., when we say that something is a "fact", we are saying that our epistemological statement corresponds to the concretes in existence."

It has long been my understanding that Ayn Rand regarded "fact" as metaphysical concept, and "truth" as an epistemological one. A "fact" is that which is, regardless of anyone's knowledge. A "truth" is the identification (or "recognition") of a fact, and is therefore contextually dependent of a given state of knowledge. I believe Ellen is confusing the two concepts, as Rand used them. Ghs

From: "Peter Taylor" To: objectivism Subject: Re: OWL: Testing the truth of claims Date: Wed, 24 May 2000 18:59:25 -0600 (MDT). Walter Foddis wrote about James Lett who sets out 6 guidelines or principles for establishing the truth of claims. One principle was:

S - Sufficiency: If the evidence offered in support of any claim must be adequate to establish the truth of that claim, with these stipulations: 1. the burden of proof for any claim rests on the claimant, 2. extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence, and 3. evidence based upon authority and/or testimony is always inadequate for any paranormal claim . . . .

From: Ellen Stuttle To: atlantis Subject: ATL: Re: The facts of reality - Bill and George Date: Sat, 19 May 2001 19:26:35 -0400. Ellen Moore says: >Perhaps this post will annoy you both [Bill and George]:

Perhaps this post will annoy everyone concerned. Insofar as I think I understand the view of "fact" which EM is presenting (and, Ellen M., I usually do have trouble understanding your posts, make of this whatever epistemological sins on my part you will), I think I agree with *her* viewpoint -- though I disagree that there aren't ambiguities in what Rand said during the seminar. Indeed, I have some additional evidence for believing that Rand herself viewed "fact" as metaphysical, indirect evidence: At about the same time as her epistemology seminar, I guest-attended a seminar on the philosophy of science which Leonard Peikoff was giving at Brooklyn Polytechnic (he was on the faculty there at the time).  To the best of my recollection -- and Larry, who also attended LP's seminar, has the same recollection -- Peikoff presented "fact" as metaphysical, and I doubt that he'd have enunciated a view which he thought was at variance with Rand's. Ellen S.

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From 2018. “Excerpts only and not verbatim” from SOLO, closed up for brevity, and to get at the core ideas I liked: From SOLO about Israeli American, Yaron Brook. The chief intellectual error in this thing, of many, is Brook's gross over-generalizations. The repetition of his delivery is very tiresome. The message is clear within five minutes: multinational corporations (especially tech companies) can do no wrong and Donald Trump is the Devil - he's even worse than Obama. He seems to approach his topics from a Manichean perspective. Complex organizations or individuals are presented as wholly good or evil. There is no grey or people of mixed premises in Brook's world . . . . Of course, the president has never said that trade is bad. He has said that certain trade deals have been bad for America and he will renegotiate them. It's not surprising that Brook doesn't want to have an "argument" about trade policy. He apparently believes that sweetheart deals between corrupt cronies on one hand and Red China's People Liberation Army (PLA) on the other are both "free trade" and good for America. Brook doesn't see any downside to funneling more $trillions into the coffers of the PLA. Seriously, what could go wrong with financing the ChiComs hegemony in East Asia? Brook sees none.

After spending the better part of an hour castigating the president as a pathological liar with no concern for truth, Brook goes full Russian conspiracy. By the way, Brook views Russia as the greatest potential threat to American security, not Islam and certainly not his ChiCom pals. Anyways, at nearly the end of the show, Brook provides this bit of wisdom, "Do I buy that Trump colluded with the Russians? Yeah, I believe that ... I don't have any evidence to support this." He then hedges, then concludes, "It doesn't strike me as science fiction." Trump Derangement Syndrome means never having to cite any actual evidence for anything.

In any event, the Ayn Rand Institute would be well served by severing all connection with Brook. A most thorough housecleaning of all Brook's comrades at ARI is also needed. Maybe then, ARI can again become a philosophical organization promoting Objectivism instead of an adjunct to the CATO Institute.

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  • 1 year later...

Who ya gunna call? Ghostbusters? From an old letter of mine back in 2003 from Atlantis or OWL . . . . Dan wrote: “Isn't it possible that Objectivism is incomplete and might even have some errors in it?  Isn't it possible that more work needs to be done here -- not just in applying Objectivism, but also in working out just what should stay, what should be modified and what should go in the core philosophy (ontology, epistemology, and theory of value)?” end quote

That is an interesting point Dan. Objectivism is a “contextual philosophy,” and MUST be amended if new knowledge contradicts something within its Philosophy. Reality is all. Objectivism requires it, but how is change to be accomplished? Ayn Rand is not here to do the amending. Who proves there is a contradiction now?

Leonard Peikoff will not change a word Rand wrote and that is right. When he has expanded on Objectivism he has had many critics who questioned his judgment. And he has been very slow in producing or at least publishing anything he has written. He is the logical choice to be an arbiter or judge, as her closest confidante in her last days and as her heir. Rand did place the mantle in his hands, and as much as some may loathe the thought, he has the moral authority to officially “add” or change Objectivism.

Leonard could have created a Foundation like the old NBI and enlisted the people currently at ARI, TOC, or Jars to be writers in residence. There could have been a *super* “Intellectual Activist Magazine” much like the old “Objectivist Newsletter,” expanded lecture series, etc. I can imagine Chris Matthew Sciabarra writing for that imaginary journal. But that is not to be.

So, what contradicts Objectivism? Anything? Speak up. Anyone is free to discover something and perhaps reach a consensus. It will be a slow process for now, but I imagine the pace will quicken. And Atlantis and OWL are a great place to begin the discovery. Semper cogitans fidele, Peter Taylor

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  • 3 months later...

From: Steve Reed  To: Atlantis Subject: ATL: From one of Rand's mentors Date: Wed, 04 Jul 2001 15:24:45 -0500

From "The Discovery of Freedom," 1943, by Rose Wilder Lane ===== The ancient world is more than six thousand years old. Americans began this revolutionary attack upon it not two centuries ago. And in every American there are remnants of pagan superstitions and unquestioned old assumptions, and a taking-for-granted of barriers of race and class and creed and color and nationality between human beings. Americans must learn how to be free. Of the twenty-two hundred million men and women living on this earth, only a few have ever understood the Revolution. Not even all Americans understand the fact that individuals control the only energy that makes the human world. ...

World Revolution is a revolutionary change in men's minds, in their view of the nature of this universe and the nature of man. The Revolution is a struggle of knowledge against blind superstition; it is the American revolutionary recognition of the fact that individuals are free, pitted against the ancient pagan superstition that Authority controls individuals. ... It is not to be expected that World Revolution will not be affected by reactions. Forty years after this Revolution began, the English people were enduring what their historians call The Terror; all their liberties were taken from them. Yet forty years later, the English Reform Movement had repealed hundreds of restrictive laws, had thrown British ports open to free world trade, and had given Englishmen more liberties than any people in the Old World had ever before enjoyed.

Individuals control human energy; they make all forms of human association, according to their individual beliefs. No law and no force that exists in Government has ever stood, or ever can stand, against the belief or the knowledge that is in individual minds. ... The Revolution has been causing upheavals in almost every country on earth, for a hundred years. Now the counter-revolutionists come out of Germany, determined to end it. New tyrants, defending the ancient tyranny, intend to destroy utterly this new idea that men are free. They do not believe it. As firmly as Lycurgus or Nebuchadnezzar, they believe that all men are naturally subject to Authority (all but themselves). Government, they believe, is Authority; they are Government. They accept that responsibility. They believe that they should, and that they do, control the inferior masses. And by the use of the real power, force (permitted by the false beliefs of their wretched subjects), they intend to make their imaginary static world orderly, as it was before the Revolution began. ...

Fanatic reactionaries, counter-revolutionists, defenders of a tyranny older than history, they imagine that they can go back to the past before America was discovered. And they dare to claim that -they- are creating a new world! And now they are armed. The Revolution has armed them as tyrants never were armed before.

The caterpillar tractor that Americans invented to plow the peaceful fields and multiply the farmer's productive energy as if by magic, now armored and armed it charges in battalions of tanks over the bodies of men. The submarine, that an American invented to rescue a broken man from imprisonment on St. Helena, now it lurks hidden under all the seas to kill men. The machine that two brothers invented in their bicycle shop, to give all men wings, now it makes the moonlit sky a terror that drives men underground. This is what Authority does with the tools of the Revolution.

Blind, ignorant, bestially unable to understand this New World, these counter-revolutionists use free men's discoveries, their inventions, their techniques and their tools, to tear this earth-encircling network of dynamic, productive energies to pieces and to destroy the freedom that creates it. Idiots who would kill the living thing they want, by clutching it.

This is war around the whole earth -because- human energy, working under its natural individual control and therefore working  naturally and effectively to satisfy human needs, has created this New World encircling the whole earth. This is war in the air and war under all the seas, because for the first time in all known history, individuals have used their energy freely to explore the depths of the sea and to rise to the farthest heights of air. Americans are fighting a World War now because the Revolution is World Revolution. Freedom creates this new world, that cannot exist half slave and half free.

It will be free. As Thomas Paine wrote in -The Rights of Man-: "Ignorance is of a peculiar nature; once dispelled, it is impossible to re-establish it. It is not originally a thing of itself, but is only the absence of knowledge; and though man may be -kept- ignorant, he cannot be -made- ignorant.

"There does not exist in the compass of language an arrangement of words to express so much as the means of effecting a counter-revolution. The means must be an obliteration of knowledge; and it has never yet been discovered how to make a man -unknow- his knowledge." Americans know that all men are free. All over the world there are men who know it now. The pigmy Republic has become a colossus. And too late and too little, the Old World tyrants attack this Revolution with its own tools.

Win this war? Of course Americans will win this war. This is only a war; there is more than that. Five generations of Americans have led the Revolution, and the time is coming when Americans will set this whole world free.


I re-read the final brilliant chapters of The Discovery of Freedom every year on the Fourth of July. (Portions of the last chapter appear above.) It doesn't matter that nearly sixty years have passed. What Lane calls the "World Revolution" has the same enemies and the same superstitions, under different names, as it did in 1943. And the reactions still persist and hold sway in the mass media. Yet new tools still come from free men and women, such as the computer you're reading this on now. And her long-range hope is still as valid as it ever was.

Some wars have been won. More will yet be won. Submitted for your approval, as Rod Serling would say, on Independence Day in this glorious year 225 Anno Liberatis. -- * *

"Timid men prefer the calm of despotism to the boisterous sea of liberty." -- Thomas Jefferson

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