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We interviewed Jason Hill about cancel culture and people attacking him over his views on Israel and "trans" issues. We get into his new book which deals with the history of slavery and calls for reparations. We discussed his history in the Objectivist movement, as well as his current views on Democrats vs Republicans. Check it out!

 

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Scott and I had a great conversation with Roger Bissell about many philosophical subjects such as free will versus determinism, the nature of music, and the fallacy of frozen abstractions. He also explained how he was introduced to Objectivism and described some of his experiences in the movement. Check out our latest episode!

 

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Determinism is a self-fulfilling prophecy, it seems to me. If you believe everything you are and do was due to antecedent factors, that's what will be manifested in reality. You will act as a product of the past and your personal, direct past. Thereby, validating determinism, apparently. So determinism is met with delight by e.g. the persecuted 'victims' or predators. I was made that way, I had no choice.

Two areas (and that comes from Rand) make for free will and I think equally validate it: Your knowledge and your character. Gathering/evaluating the first and building the latter were not a given, or automatic, nor pre-determined. They need conscious effort and observance of reality to initiate and continue and implement.

What you know, and what values-virtues you choose to live by become the prime 'self-determining' factors for what you choose to do next and onwards, and how, by what standards, you do it. And will 'determine' the life-values you choose to seek. A volitional consciousness too is self-fulfilling. 

The things which happened in the past, did they have no importance? Of course they do. What takes the wind out of determinists' sails is to freely acknowledge that the prior events and circumstances, genetic, developmental, biological, environmental, etc., have influence. Right down to what you saw and who you met, what you ate (etc.) yesterday or one minute ago.

They are one's experience, an integral part of one's knowledge. Like all other conceptual knowledge, at any moment can be volitionally re-examined for relevance and priority to and in your knowledge structure. That can all be reduced to one question: what do I think about, and can now do, with that? Free will. 

Drop the conceptual consciousness and objective values-virtues, then determinism rules.

 

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On 2/4/2022 at 6:56 AM, anthony said:

Like all other conceptual knowledge, at any moment can be volitionally re-examined for relevance and priority to and in your knowledge structure.

It's interesting how many people fail to re-examine their knowledge, retain their erroneous value hierarchy and make the same mistakes over and over. They don't actually see how previous choices influence the way their mind works. 

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21 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

It's interesting how many people fail to re-examine their knowledge, retain their erroneous value hierarchy and make the same mistakes over and over. They don't actually see how previous choices influence the way their mind works. 

Now where have I come across that... oh yes, all over. 

To admit the existence of my "previous choices", is accepting I had some thoughts and judgments which had an outcome in reality. A "choice" - and I alone am responsible.

Oh gosh! - I, the determinist have admitted to free will and volition universal to all.

Poor determinist, he's in continuous conflict to deny his and others' volitional consciousness: even he senses the inconsistency in taking credit for and pride in his (and their) correct and good choices as that would equally mean he/they are wholly responsible for false and bad ones.

 

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10 hours ago, anthony said:

To admit the existence of my "previous choices", is accepting I had some thoughts and judgments which had an outcome in reality. A "choice" - and I alone am responsible.

Choice. I had no choice. I looked for a letter that contained the most of the word, “choice. That might be an excuse. I had a choice, don’t I? That implies being worried about coercion. Here is George H. Smith explaining Aristotle’s use of “choice.”   

From: "George H. Smith" To: "*Atlantis" Subject: ATL: Aristotle on choice. Date: Thu, 2 Jan 2003 11:09:06 -0600: As I have noted before, one of the best treatments of "choice" ever written appears in Book III of Aristotle's "Nicomachean Ethics.* The following sketch of his basic points is from the translation by W.D. Ross in *The Basic Works of Aristotle,* ed. Richard McKeon (Random House, 1941). This summary is taken from Aristotle's introductory remarks on pp. 967-71, after which he explains and defends his views in more detail -- so please don't take this as a comprehensive statement. I encourage everyone to read Aristotle's discussion in its entirety, for two reasons. First, it exerted an enormous influence on subsequent advocates of "free will." Second, it is filled with insights, distinctions, and arguments that every volitionist (including Objectivists) will find of value, even if they take exception to some points.

Summary: Choice does not pertain to what is impossible. We can wish for something impossible (e.g., immortality), but we cannot choose it. An agent chooses "only the things that he thinks could be brought about by his own efforts." Wish relates the end of action, whereas choice relates to the means. For example, we can wish to be healthy but we cannot choose to be healthy per se, because this does not lie directly in our power. Instead, we choose *means,* or specific actions, that we think will make us healthy.

Choice "involves a rational principle and thought." This means that choice is preceded by deliberation. This distinguishes the realm of choice from the realm of the voluntary. All chosen actions are voluntary, but not all voluntary actions are chosen. Something is voluntary if "the moving principle is in the agent himself, he being aware of the particular circumstances of the action." Hence if we act spontaneously from a strong passion, this action is voluntary (i.e., it was not compelled by an external agent) but not chosen per se, because it was not the result of deliberation.

The same is true of habitual actions. These are voluntary but not chosen, since to act from habit is to act without conscious reflection or deliberation. We can, however, choose means that we believe will alter our habits; and it is also the case that our habits are the result of earlier choices. This notion of indirect choice (which is my characterization, not Aristotle's) plays a crucial role in Aristotle's treatment of virtues and vices, which are essentially good and bad moral habits.

(Aristotle's distinction between the voluntary and the chosen – which he discusses in far more detail than indicated here -- is relevant to the topic of soft determinism. He would maintain that the soft determinist confuses voluntary actions with chosen actions. Suppose that all of our actions are necessitated by antecedent causes. Although these determined actions can be described a "voluntary" (because the source of action lies within the agent), they are not a matter of choice. This is because choice presupposes deliberation, and we deliberate only about *alternatives* that we regard as both possible and within our power to do or not to do. )

Aristotle asks: "Do we deliberate about everything, and is everything a possible subject of deliberation, or is deliberation impossible about some things?" We do not deliberate about things that occur necessarily or by nature, nor about chance events. (These are other ways of saying that we do not deliberate about things that lie outside of our control.) For instance, we do not deliberate about solstices, droughts or rains, nor about the accidental finding of a treasure. Nor do we deliberate about every human action, but only about those things that "can be brought about by our own efforts."

In short, "we deliberate about things that are in our own power and can be done." This means that we do not deliberate about the conclusions of the exact sciences in which conclusions follow with logical necessity from evident premises. Nor do we deliberate about how the letters of the alphabet shall be written, for such matters have already been determined (by convention, in this case) and present no options. Deliberation is possible only when (1) alternatives are possible, and (2) these alternatives lie within our own power to do or not to do. "Deliberation is concerned with things that happen in a certain way for the most part, but in which the event is obscure, and with things in which it is indeterminate."

"We deliberate about ends but not about means." A doctor qua doctor does not deliberate about whether he shall heal, for this purpose is a defining characteristic of his profession. This end is assumed -- it is accepted as a given by the doctor qua doctor -- who deliberates only about the means appropriate to healing, when different options present themselves and a course of action is not absolutely dictated by logical necessity. (Aristotle obviously does not deny that one can deliberate about becoming a doctor, but in this case the profession is viewed as a *means* to some other end, e.g., a fulfilling way of life, a good living, or happiness.)

All deliberation is a type of investigation; to deliberate is to consider various means and to assess their relative desirability vis-à-vis a given end. And if, during the course of this investigation, we encounter an impossibility, we "give up the search" because we realize that something is not within our power. (e.g., "if we need money and this cannot be got; but if a thing appears possible we try to do   it.") Deliberation "is about the things to be done by the agent himself, and actions are for the sake of things other than themselves."

The object of deliberation in a particular case is the same as the object of choice, "except that the object of choice is already determinate, since it is that which has been decided upon as a result of deliberation that is the object of choice."  Again: "The object of choice being one of the things in our own power which is desired after deliberation, choice will be deliberate desire of things in our own power; for when we have decided as a result of deliberation, we desire in accordance with our deliberation."

(The term "deliberate desire" is very important. Aristotle denies that our choices are necessitated by our desires. True, we don't choose something unless we desire it in some sense, but can generate, and thereby control, our desires through deliberation, which is an intellectual process that a person has the power to initiate and direct. To put the same point in Randian terms, feelings are not a primary.) Ghs

 

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Here are a few more snippets from searching for the word, “choice.” Peter

[Nathaniel Branden, _The Psychology of Self-Esteem_, p. 49 HB] Determinism is the theory that all actions, including those of human beings, are necessitated by antecedent causes.  To agree with this view is per force to deny free will, at least in the Objectivist sense of that term.  According to Objectivism, "Free will" -- in the widest meaning of the term -- is the doctrine...that man is capable of making choices which are not necessitated by antecedent factors."

Nathaniel Branden. In the nature of reality, sometimes there is no choice but to act instantly with no time for reflection. It is an act of consciousness to recognize such moments and take your chances-and know that you will live (or possibly die) with the consequences of your actions.

Diana Mertz Hsieh. From In his discussion of Fact 6, free will, Binswanger argues for the “startling but inescapable conclusion” that “consciousness must have the power to move matter around in our brains.”  In particular, the choice to focus or not must impact our brain states.  Given this thesis, Binswanger speculates that scientists will eventually find “a new force of nature”, i.e., “the physical force exerted by consciousness on its own brain.”  The only alternative to his hypothesis, Binswanger claims, is epiphenomenalism.

George H. Smith. I am becoming even more convinced that Bills soft determinism – wherein a person somehow "chooses" even though is choice was "determined" by other values, etc. -- has vitiated his general view of ethics, and has left him no appreciation for the role of deliberation and judgment, which involve far more than the rote application of mechanical principles. And I think this determinism, which Ayn Rand repudiated, has caused him to twist the Objectivist ethics into a shape that bears little resemblance to Rand's own conception.

From OPAR. "Philosophy is not a bauble of the intellect, but a power from which no man can abstain . . . Your only choice is whether your principals are true or false, rational or irrational, consistent or contradictory. The only way to know which they are is to integrate your principals . . . What integrates them? Philosophy. One must recognize that philosophy is a system of ideas. By its nature as an integrating science, it cannot be a grab bag of isolated issues."

From: allen To: OWL Subject: OWL: Re: Rights Date: Wed, 19 Nov 2003 10:06:16 -0500 The issue of “rights” raises fundamental questions about man. We seek to enhance man, but what will accomplish this? Are there necessities (which impose obligations), or only preferences (to be obtained by agreements)? It is desired that man be happy, but are there inviolable requirements for happiness or only meeting his chosen aims? Allow me to present my view on these matters.

I submit that man has a built-on nature, with inviolable necessities. Isaac Newton could have been a mathematician or a physicist, but he could never have been content with being say an entertainer or a salesman. Conversely, someone who would be content as an entertainer or salesman would never have been pleased to be a mathematician or a physicist. Individuals can choose to live in a given way, but if it goes against their nature, they will become frustrated. This pertains to their relationships as well. Albert Einstein and Ernst Shroedinger ran through women as though they were Kleenex; Alan Turing similarly ran through men, while Thomas Hardy was said to be a non-practicing homosexual; and Paul Erdos could not abide sexual pleasure. The point is not that there might have been environmental influences on their choices, or that their choices might not have been optimal. It is that these individuals could not have lived by exchanging their lifestyles with one another. There are primary and secondary aspects of man that are as built-in as the instincts of animals.

I have found this the case in my life, and I presume the reader has also found some things that he must or must not do, which differ from person to person. Now if each of us has personal imperatives, can we survive if others stop us from following them? Can Socrates learn or educate if prohibited from dialog (let alone be forced to drink the hemlock)? Our nature demands an environment where each is free to exercise his choice, no matter how well others would choose for him.

From: John Enright To: objectivism Subject: OWL: Volition, axiomatic and falsifiable aspects Date: Wed, 21 Apr 2004 08:37:42 -0700 (PDT) William Dwyer on April 20 asked about evidence for volition being axiomatic.

I think the central piece of evidence is that we experience ourselves as making choices, including choices about how we think. Determinists often grant that we have this experience but call it an illusion.  But some determinists, i.e., compatibilists, believe that choice is real but that choice itself is determined. So, then the axiomatic argument turns on whether the human experience of choice carries an implication that the choice didn't have to go the way it did.

I can imagine a thought experiment for this.  It requires developing a Star-Trek style "replicator" and applying it to humans under highly controlled conditions. So, you replicate me, down to the exact spin, etc., of every sub-atomic particle.  You then put both of me in a room of identical physical conditions, and you start giving me choices via computer.  If both of me make the same choices every time, then free will is in trouble.  If the two of me make different choices at times, then determinism is in trouble. This technology is not on the horizon, unfortunately.

Another technology that is not on the horizon is an ability to consistently and correctly *predict* what a human being will do in a given situation. If such a technology was developed, it would mean trouble for the free will position. Behaviorists at one time foresaw technology that would reliably *control* what choices a human would make. Again, this would mean trouble for the free will position.  But, again, this technology has not been forthcoming.

Finally, determinists often maintain that an omniscient being would be able to reliably predict all of a human's actions.  But we are not omniscient.  So, we will go on arguing. John Enright

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There can be the tendency, in invalidating determinism, to propose free will to mean - one can be and do anything one chooses.

Ghs wrote: "Summary: choice does not pertain to what is impossible".

Even among that which is humanly possible, are many areas one may not succeed at, or especially - *want* - merely by invocation of one's "choice" and free will.

Free will isn't axiomatic or absolute, as is reality. Your will is free but reality isn't, to be brief.

"...free will entails the choice to be rational or to be irrational--which ultimately means the choice to respect reality or to defy it. Our freedom is neither absolute nor unlimited, however. [...] We are free to try; there is never a guarantee of success". N. Branden HTS

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On 2/7/2022 at 7:09 AM, anthony said:

Free will isn't axiomatic or absolute, as is reality. Your will is free but reality isn't, to be brief.

I believe you develop free will, you're not born with it, like you're born with consciousness. You learn to control yourself voluntarily by first observing your involuntary, reflexive actions as a newborn.

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Scott and I welcomed a new guest and friend of the podcast, Allie Welch, to help us analyze Rand's article "What Can One Do?" Check it out!

 

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On 2/14/2022 at 8:19 AM, MisterSwig said:

I believe you develop free will, you're not born with it, like you're born with consciousness. You learn to control yourself voluntarily by first observing your involuntary, reflexive actions as a newborn.

Yes indeed. An omission, I should have said free will isn't axiomatic as is reality -and - consciousness. A feedback-loop of those early self-observed acts, develops and affirms the effectiveness of your, an infant's, free will. "I did that. Can I do it again -on purpose?"

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We spent nearly two hours discussing Peikoff's politics with Dave Goodman, and I didn't even get to all my prepared points. Still we covered the last couple decades of Peikoff's political evolution since he formed the DIM theory. We talk about his endorsement of John Kerry, his debate on immigration versus Brook, his voting for Trump, and his most recent support for the Freedom Convoy. Check it out!

 

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For our latest episode we interviewed the co-creator of the "Healthy Debates" group on the Clubhouse app, Robert Mayhem. He is a Rand fan and "unapologetic capitalist." His debating community has over 17k members. We discuss all that and more with him. Check it out!

 

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We talked with Alexandra York who has written many fiction and nonfiction books. Our focus was on her latest book Soul Celebrations and Spiritual Snacks, which presents her idea of secular spirituality and ways to practice it and reach heightened states of being. We then discussed her articles at Newsmax, working with conservatives and engaging in the battle of ideas, especially against the woke left. Check it out!

 

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On 3/24/2022 at 10:55 AM, MisterSwig said:

We took our time analyzing ARI's new article on schisms.

MS,

I listened to this (as I have several of your and Scott's videos ).

Since I participated in a minor O-Land schism (the splitting of SoloHQ), I feel I should say something.

The problem is I don't know what to say from the way you guys did this one. (I'm not trying to bash or be cute. So please don't take it that way.)

The problem is that, since Rand's death, ARI has been the initiator of every major schism in O-Land. Not the minor schisms, though. (We managed to fight amongst ourselves without any guidance. :) )

Now ARI is coming out with a weird article about schisms and you guys discussed it as if it were something important. It's not. I'm not being flip. The fact is, to almost everyone I can think of inside ARI and out, this article will change nothing and explain nothing. Nor will the people at ARI change their behavior. That's their right, of course, but that doesn't mean it is rational or reasonable or, at the very least, something I would want to be involved with. I bet you anything more people share my view than don't.

 

A different angle

A much more productive discussion, I believe, would be about schisms in general, starting with when they destroy a movement or not. From that lens, so long as ARI has millionaire donors, no schism it initiates will destroy it. The glue holding it together is money, not intellectual adherence, nor even its power over AR archives. 

Don't believe me? Do this thought experiment. Imagine all the deep pocket donors at ARI left and it had no real operating budget anymore for lectures and so on. Then it did a schism by excommunicating, say, Yaron Brook.

Would O-Land rally to save ARI or would ARI wither away and become a boutique operation at best operating on a few thousand dollars a year? Is there any doubt about its demise?

So money is the glue when talking about ARI and schisms, not integrity, attraction, intellectual whatever. Money insulates ARI from the consequences of bad choices.

And when there is no penalty for bad behavior, especially when the people doing the bad behavior are the official judges of what is good/bad behavior and what the consequences are, can anyone make a guess about whether the bad behavior will repeat?

Heh... 

Of course it will repeat.

:) 

 

Community

That, to me, means the minor schisms are much more interesting than the major ones. Human nature rules the minor schisms in O-Land just like money rules the major ones.

So what do people gain or lose in a schism? Any schism anywhere? I hear a lot of talk about intellectual alignment and power, but I think the real issue is community. People get shunned from a community, not from an ideology or religion or whatever. Anyone is free to pick up a book irrespective of excommunication. But they are not free to participate in a group of they are outlawed from it.

Granted, adhering to a particular version of an ideology--or at least not speaking against it in public--can be a condition of belonging to the community (or any other condition the leaders demand), but the fundamental issue at stake is compliance, not reason.

And that leads to a question. Are you guys interested in discussing this? Or is your interested limited to what ARI says and does?

 

More on community

In my view, if you want Rand's ideas to spread for real--population-wide--in different countries all over the world, ARI is not going to do much. Neither is TAS for that matter.

One thing will help, though. Get the community qua community thing straightened out and you will be able to watch it grow.

NBI is the only time I believe O-Land got a Rand community right. And even then, it wasn't great. But it was good enough to survive and grow all over the world until the Rand-Branden break made it untenable.

What exists these days are small pockets of people. One can call them communities, I suppose, but take a look at any medium-sized religion and you will see what a community is as opposed to those small groups.

Without fellowship, missionaries, tithing, get-togethers for sermons, lectures, rituals for births, deaths, weddings, and so on, or relevant replacements for them that actually work, I don't see how a community in O-Land can grow beyond a small band of people. 

And without a bunch of communities based around an ideology growing, how is one to change the world with that ideology? Relying on tiny groups of academics or artists/entertainers? Or worse, publishers? Not going to happen. Not even on social media.

 

There is one major reason I believe this will be hard to develop in O-Land even under a black swan event. And oddly enough, it is not that Objectivism is a philosophy of individualism, not community. That part can be solved.

The impediment I see is the WIIFM factor. WIIFM is a marketing term meaning What's In It For Me? People have to be able to go to an Objectivist meeting because there is something they believe is in it for them, not just what others say is in it for them. But the idea of looking though the eyes of the customer to see what they really want is repugnant to many in O-Land. They think this is being second-hand and so on.

To boil this down to a really ugly truth, when community comes up in O-Land, I mostly see people more interested in bossing others around than in serving their interests (which, literally, can be formed as a trade of values). Heh. Try to get people in O-Land to see this...

That means something is missing. I could go on (a lot) about this, and we can discuss it if you like, but this big-ass hole exists and it is not going away. That is the gist of just one insurmountable obstacle I have seen so far.

 

The hunger for community in O-Land

But does that mean the opportunity is not there? Not at all.

I recall an O-Land event Kat and I went to with Barbara Branden (I remember it being in California). Barbara and Nathaniel were panel speakers on a theme around Galt's Gulch. My memory is vague on this and I am too lazy to look it up in old papers that are God knows where in my materials, so I don't recall the exact title of the talk, or even the year of the event, for that matter.

Apropos, this kind of event is the closest thing O-Land gets to an idea of community. People came from all over to attend. Not a gigantic lot of people, but it was a nice crowd. 

You could feel the hunger for a community out in the audience. Everybody was on the edge of their seats wondering if some kind of Galt's Gulch would be announced. Finally, during the Q&A, someone asked Nathaniel and Barbara if they ever thought about creating a new NBI or something similar. Both looked surprised at the question and said, "Of course not."

I swear, you could have cut the disappointment in the audience with a knife.

 

Off into Objectivist blasphemy 

I have some thoughts on later building an Objectivism-oriented community, or maybe not. I haven't made up my mind. Imagine, for example, a culture where people are able to learn to write stories before they try their hand at Romantic Realism. And finding their own voice without aping Rand. There are a lot of things like that I would love to see exist. 

One thing buzzing around in my head--that won't leave me alone--is to make such a community be open to O-Land people who are not hostile to religion and people from different religions who want to explore the rational side of their faith. I see a huge market for this.

But ask any O-Land expert and he or she will tell you this is impracticable because Objectivism does not mix with religion.

Is it impracticable? Hell, I know a lot of religious people who are fans or Ayn Rand and might love a place to get together with others who share Rand's basic worldview without becoming an atheist. And I know a lot of Rand people who don't mind religion.

Next question. Is Objectivism so incompatible with religion, no community can be developed because the different people will not get along? Or going even deeper: Is atheism fundamental to Objectivism, or is it simply a conclusion within the context of man's knowledge right now that can change later? Who knows? Rand herself bounced back and forth between these two views.

I have other thoughts on this, too. I used to be a hard atheist. I no longer am. There are too many unknown unknowns I keep coming across, so I reached a point one day of saying to myself, "Damned if I know anything certain about any of this." (Even Rand had such a moment. She once wrote--in her notes, I believe--that cosmology should be blasted out of philosophy. :) That quote may be off since I am going from memory, but the gist is correct.)

After that point, I redefined myself as ignorant on this issue, fine with the fact that my human capacity would probably not allow me to know anything certain about it in my lifetime, and then I found a serenity I did not know I was missing. Stating as fact that God did not exist was causing me cognitive dissonance because I couldn't prove it or justify it as fact (and, believe me, I know all the arguments). In other words, I concluded that that statement as fact is nothing but a pure statement of faith.

Er... don't get me started.

:) 

 

Back to schisms

To get back to schisms, I agree that no organization will ever be exempt from schisms. But some organizations will remain severely limited when they arise and other organizations grow and flourish despite them.

If one wants to study schisms, I believe that identifying the group fundamentals of these different communities is the proper context to use if one wants something practical to result. Otherwise, this merely becomes one more of the countless discussions about schisms in O-Land that never result in anything except tut-tut-tutting and momentary entertainment. 

 

Some fun

To put a cherry on top of these schism musings, here is a thread from 2006 you might like to look at. OL itself was created as a result of a schism in a forum that used to be called SoloHQ. Two other forums spun off at that time, too: Solo Passion and Rebirth of Reason. 

Official SoloSchism Form Letter

Barbara even posted on that thread.

There's a bunch of other stuff around here on schisms, too. including the major schisms.

 

Evolution and gossip

One final thought. If you do a lot of posting on forums or social media, you will inevitably have to notice the long-ass threads that develop whenever the rules of the place get discussed. I have seen this in ALL discussion places everywhere, even on black hat forums. And schisms are generally right in the middle of the discussions in some manner or other.

That says something about human nature that gets totally ignored here in O-Land. There is speculation among evolutionary biologists that language and parts of the neocortex developed from gossip--of all things. This happened when living in large groups became a super-favorable survival and reproduction resource. I think that theory is reasonable, at least up to a point. (Too long to discuss right now.) But that would explain why there is the constant train wreck of schisms and huge interest whenever group rules are up for public discussion. Those with the highest status will obviously get more favorable rules in place, thus get more goodies and sex. And gossip strengthens or diminishes status like nothing else.

Michael

 

PS - I have wanted to discuss your transhumanism video with Gennady Stolyarov II (and your other discussions with Scott on aging, etc.) for a long time, but I haven't had time to study it enough to make informed comments.

This used to be a benign issue for me, but after I began to come across this and that, and I actually read some of the transhumanism stuff by Kurzweil, Harari, etc., confused it with transpersonal stuff for the longest time, and watched a lot of videos, I began to develop my famous cognitive dissonance.

Something was not grokking in my grokker.

Living longer excited me. Greater mental capacity excited me. Having a surveillance master or group of master who could pull the plug did not. As to immortality, I never could understand how one make such a fundamental change to life when one cannot create life in the first place. I think the priority of the transhumanists is backward.

Then along came Steve Bannon as an outright enemy of it. He hired a specialist in transhumanism, Joe Allen, who he promotes. So for now, take a look here and here to see some of what I will be studying before I want to get into the weeds. I believe any rational discussion of transhumanism has to start with what it is and the different paths it has taken. From watching quite a few of Steve's interviews with Joe in the War Room, I know for sure that he is very good at explaining it.

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As clarification, when I mentioned community as I see it in O-Land, I did not have in mind social justice crap, community organizing and so on. Or worse, the bane of O-Land, a tribe.

I think more in terms of a super-organism as laid out by Howard Bloom. It's more biological in structure than social, but has the advantages of social structures. And it is bolstered by teamwork (there are five archetypes) and growth around a center. Also, in this super-organism, individuals are free to join and leave as they please.

Leaving would be the equivalent of a biological process called apoptosis (cell death). The fundamental part is that the death (or withdrawal) of an individual cell (or person) is decided and performed by the individual, not by other individuals or the center.

On top of that structure is where I see taking on the elements in religious groups I mentioned earlier (missionary work, tithing, etc.) or similar. I am definitely not talking about sacrificing the individual to the group.

Michael

 

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OK.

To be more thorough, I looked and spent more time this morning than I should have.

I read the article by Onkar Ghate and Harry Binswanger:

Of Schisms, Public and Private

ARI_Logo_Yellow_on_black_1280x640_Image_
NEWIDEAL.AYNRAND.ORG

Why does the Objectivist movement experience conflicts and schisms? Why do some Objectivists and Objectivist organizations refuse to work with one another? Why is there infighting? Why can’t we all just get...

 

And I watched a video of an online discussion of this article between Onkar Ghate, Harry Binswanger and Elan Journo.

 

Since I tend to view information in context as my default (rather than what I call a gotcha mentality), going through this material was like seeing a person scratch their fingernails across a blackboard with chalk on it.

All that nitpicking, role-playing as if they were in a court looking at evidence, and so on. It made me want to yell at the computer screen, "Do you want to understand what happened so you can judge it, or do you just want to be right according to some mental construct?"

Talk about a Kantian view of how to look at the world. Not Kant's conclusions, of course, but definitely his method...

However, all was not lost. I did get some value from it. 

I came up with three points (among many) I want to share here on OL.

 

Conformity enforcers and diversity generators

1. This, I believe, is the most important point for anyone who wishes to spread Objectivism and is in despair at the constant schisms--at how these schisms sabotage Objectivists getting organized enough to spread the ideas to people unfamiliar with them or in disagreement with them, etc. 

Enter Howard Bloom and his idea of a super-organism (as given in Global Brain). Rather than discuss that now, you can understand it a bit more here on OL: here and here for starters. Search for more if you are interested, or buy the book. :) 

There are five archetype-like categories in a super-organism according to Bloom (conformity enforcers, diversity generators, inner-judges, resource shifters and intergroup tournament participants). Of these, two are hugely relevant to this discussion: conformity enforcers and diversity generators.

If we consider the world of Objectivism as a super-organism trying to come into existence as one way to change the world, it becomes clear that ARI has set itself up as a conformity enforcer. It has established Rand's canon as The Law and it's role as caretaker of the way The Law is presented to the public. They push away from anyone who goes off-script for whatever reason.

Oh, they have their justifications, and these justifications vary, but the outcome never varies. Since I hold that a person's deeds reveal what a person's intentions are more then their words, ARI's deeds, i.e., a constant moving away from people who stray from The Law, are consistent enough to indicate a consistent intention. (There's a little more to this, but that's below in Number 3.) The point is, the ARI people are quintessential conformity enforcer archetypes.

On the other hand, David Kelley is a diversity generator. He holds to the basic fundamentals of Objectivism, but wants a lot of discussion to open new paths, applications and even principles. 

You can see both archetypes clearly reflected in the position of the two regarding Objectivism. The conformity enforcer (the ARI side) says Objectivism is a closed system. The diversity generator (Kelley and his people) say Objectivism is an open system.

(Apropos, in my own view, both are valid. Open any dictionary on earth and there will be more than one definition for any word. You just have to see what each side means by "Objectivism" and the open-closed dispute goes away.) 

Part of the reason that the Objectivism super-organism doesn't grow is that, on this major-player level, the conformity enforcer's policy has been to eject the diversity generator from the super-organism, and, as Bloom illustrates (from single cell species on up to the most complex webs of living things), a super-organism needs both to survive.

 

The elephant in the room

2. The focus of these gentlemen on words as opposed to a full observable contextual view led me to think about how similar their system is to fake news when dealing with omissions. 

Take the case of David Kelley's excommunication. I get it that people who were not present at private meetings don't know what really happened because they weren't there, that Peikoff & Co. were pissed about David's manifesto, etc. If that were the whole story, man would they sound reasonable.

But what about the elephant in the room? What about the affair between Ayn Rand and Nathaniel Branden?

Here's how to fit that in.

David Kelly was excommunicated not too long after Barbara Branden's book, The Passion of Ayn Rand, was published (in 1986). That's where the whole world found out about the affair. It took 2 to 3 years after that for tension to build up, but then it finally exploded and David was out. You can see a lot of what happened in a timeline I made back in 2006. I believe most of the links are still good.

Selective timeline and links of the Kelley-Peikoff schism

So why the tension build-up? Was it just a disagreement over how to promote Objectivism? 

Heh.

During the time before Barbara's book came out, on the ortho side, there was outright denial of the Rand-Branden affair. That could not happen. It was a lie. Word is even Peikoff believed it didn't happen. After all, he was her legal heir and she would have told him.

But she didn't. Peikoff learned about it from Barbara's book just like the rest of the world and, around that time, had a literal heart attack. The ortho side went into immediate damage control and denunciations. 

So for a while, Barbara's book became a litmus test of who was inside and who was outside. This is where the tension with David happened. He received a huge amount of pressure to denounce Barbara's book and he would not. I don't recall him endorsing it either. He just didn't want to take a stand on a personal matter of Rand's.

Human nature never changes, though, not even for people within the Randian orbit. Hatred grows. Hatred explodes. That's universal. And when the boiling point arrived, David got tossed out.

I say that's one hell of a context to drop in a discussion of the biggest schism in O-Land since Rand's death. But it is perfectly understandable when I look at those ARI people as conformity enforcers.

 

Oopsie

3. As I stated in an earlier post, I believe money from rich donors is the glue that holds ARI together and keeps it fully intact during schisms. I got a glimpse of this in the video. There were probably other indications since I wasn't looking for them, but one by chance jumped out at me as I was watching the video.

First, let's set the table.

In the article, Ghate and Binswanger clearly defined ARI as an educational institution, not as a leader of an Objectivist movement. Here's a direct quote--and I could give a long quote since they discussed it, then discussed it some more, then some more, but how about just a title?

Quote

ARI is not the leader of an organized Objectivist movement

Is that clear? Is there any doubt?

To me it's clear. 

If there is still any doubt left by anyone , there won't be if you read the full discussion in the article. They hammer this point over and over.

The main reasoning is that, as an educational institution of high integrity, ARI cannot allow Objectivism to be corrupted by ideas that mischaracterize Rand's ideas, that pass off other ideas as Rand's. This is why they have to excommunicate people. (Pure conformity enforcer.)

But is that all?

How about the dog that doesn't bark? The money?

Well, maybe it did bark a little. 

if you go to 1:07:15 of the video, you will hear Elan Journo say the following (my bold).

Quote

So let me ask, building on the last comment from you, Onkar, about the attitude someone on the outside should take looking at this... and I think there are people who will be more concerned at [having been] invested in Objectivism, invested in the movement and its success, I remember conflicts where...

Oopsie...

I thought I just read the following:

"ARI is not the leader of an organized Objectivist movement."

So what's this stuff about movement?

As they say when criticizing the fake news, did Journo just say the silent part out loud?

:) 

Listen to it and you will hear that it does sound like a throw-away comment. An aside. That, to me, indicates that the normal defenses were down at that moment. So it was an aside with a screw-up. This is how they talk amongst each other. not talk in public. That wasn't supposed to come out in public.

I admit that the part I put in brackets "[having been]" might be a little different, but that's the best I could do since Journo was mumbling at that moment. I am pretty sure I got the gist right.

So, pray tell, what does "invest in Objectivism" mean within an ARI context? Who "invests in the movement and its success" within an ARI context? Would it be rich donors with deep pockets? Nah... That couldn't be it... They wouldn't even think about schisms, nor be "concerned" at all, so, actually there wasn't even any need for the article...

:)  

Do you want the principle? The rational principle derived from observation-based epistemology taken to a conceptual level?

It's easy.

Follow the money...

 

Believe me, there is plenty to go on and on about. But why? Nothing will change. Not really. So this is enough for now as food for thought.

One thing is for sure. If Objectivism is to spread throughout the world like, say, Christianity did, it will not happen this way.

Michael

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On 3/25/2022 at 12:22 PM, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Now ARI is coming out with a weird article about schisms and you guys discussed it as if it were something important. It's not. I'm not being flip. The fact is, to almost everyone I can think of inside ARI and out, this article will change nothing and explain nothing. Nor will the people at ARI change their behavior.

Thank you for your robust response. I was unplugged in the mountains for three days, so I have some catching up to do. I'll begin with a quick note. There are different ways to consider something important. The article might or might not change anyone's behavior. But it's still important to study the arguments of your opposition when they are addressing an issue of primary concern to you. As I said in the podcast, I think there is value in attempting to form some general view of these schisms, but I don't agree with how they went about doing that.

On 3/25/2022 at 12:22 PM, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

A much more productive discussion, I believe, would be about schisms in general, starting with when they destroy a movement or not. From that lens, so long as ARI has millionaire donors, no schism it initiates will destroy it. The glue holding it together is money, not intellectual adherence, nor even its power over AR archives.

It's not only money but also power that can destroy a movement. If all the ARI intellectuals including Peikoff pulled out and started condemning ARI, the institute wouldn't last very long after that. As an intellectual movement, the intellectuals have great power over the institutions, seemingly more power than the millionaires, considering how Peikoff had McCaskey removed, and Yaron had Barney removed.

On 3/25/2022 at 12:22 PM, Michael Stuart Kelly said:

Are you guys interested in discussing this? Or is your interested limited to what ARI says and does?

I think we've demonstrated that we have a wide range of interests. I'm fairly confident that human nature rules both minor and major schisms. But at the top level of any intellectual movement, human nature will involve major donors and popular intellectuals.

I'll respond to more points in the next few days.

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5 hours ago, MisterSwig said:

It's not only money but also power that can destroy a movement. If all the ARI intellectuals including Peikoff pulled out and started condemning ARI, the institute wouldn't last very long after that. As an intellectual movement, the intellectuals have great power over the institutions, seemingly more power than the millionaires, considering how Peikoff had McCaskey removed, and Yaron had Barney removed.

MS,

1. I don't think I said only money can destroy a movement. I was talking specifically about ARI, which I do not consider as a movement, but instead as a kind of think-tank. An organization.

2. I fully disagree with this: "If all the ARI intellectuals including Peikoff pulled out and started condemning ARI, the institute wouldn't last very long after that." So long as there was a lot of money, the ARI administration would simply get other people and continue as before. Its success would not depend on the sanction of the intellectuals condemning it. Instead, its success would depend on the decisions and actions of the people working there.

3. I can't help but notice that when "Peikoff had McCaskey removed, and Yaron had Barney removed," there were some deep pockets still around. That's how power works. Without the backup, I doubt these situations would have happened. When there is nothing to rule over, power cannot be exercised.

In other words, I don't see Peikoff or Brook as suicidal or of a nature to tank ARI on purpose.

If McCaskey were the only main donor and Peikoff had a hissy fit about him, Pekkoff would simply leave.

As to Brook and Barney, I can't imagine with any kind of clarity what Brook would do if Barney were the only main donor and Brook found Barney's continued presence intolerable. Brook is so emotional when he hates, I think he would be more of a loose canon. I imagine he would seek a replacement donor, then pull his power play. I can't imagine him doing the power play before other money was in place. And if all else failed, he would leave--or maybe not.

 

But when I think about money and movement, I can't help but see the following. Why does Scientology still exist as a movement? Answer. Because its system includes a strong emphasis on getting money. After all the scandals that have happened within Scientology, without money, even with the power plays of Miscavage, I am sure it would have died or become a tiny fringe thing. But with money, they keep chugging right along.

Michael

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There should never have been an Ayn Rand Institute. That was Rand's published opinion. ARI was an attempt to keep Objectivism as a movement going with Peikoff replacing Rand.

--Brant

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7 hours ago, Brant Gaede said:

There should never have been an Ayn Rand Institute. That was Rand's published opinion. ARI was an attempt to keep Objectivism as a movement going with Peikoff replacing Rand.

--Brant

Do you have a direct quote? Not that I doubt it, I've just never heard it before...

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While looking for a quote where Rand said there should be no ARI, I came across this, in the meantime; shared via Dr. Michael Hurd on his website:

The Ayn Rand Institute: An Institute, Perhaps, But NOT Ayn Rand

The following (I agree with it 100 percent) is written by Susan Hanson at The American Thinker:

The Ayn Rand Institute (ARI) has turned against Ayn Rand. Our medical system is now completely under the thumbs of the government, and ARI, named for an inveterate enemy of socialism, is explicitly supporting it.

Onkar Ghate, ARI’s Chief Philosophy Officer, wrote a paper called ‘A Pro-Freedom Approach to Infectious Disease’ which he claims is “based on Rand’s conception of liberty.” This paper is a mishmash. He admits that healthcare is heavily controlled by government on the one hand, and then says this fact imposes different responsibilities on the government such as spending more money on hospital capacity. Why is he talking about what the government should do in a government-controlled health care system? Why isn’t he talking about why those controls should be eliminated instead? Ghate states: “In sum, government should not have the power to lock us down in our homes even during a widespread, uncontained outbreak of an infectious disease… But there are valid steps our government should take to increase the capacity of our government-controlled healthcare system…” (Italics added.) He also states that during a pandemic, the controls that cripple doctors, hospitals, etc. should be “suspended.” Why not permanently removed? Why no support for the doctors who want controls removed, but have been silenced and vilified, and face the looming threat of losing their jobs and removal of their medical licenses for resisting government controls?

The government should never be involved in medical decisions between doctor and patient — it is always a violation of individual rights. Before any medical procedure can take place, the patient must give informed consent. Is the Rand Institute fighting the threat of forced vaccine mandates? This year the employees working at ARI’s annual Objectivist Conference (OCON) were required to be vaccinated. Attendees were required to either show proof of vaccination or bring proof of a negative result from a COVID-19 test. Since information about alternate treatments is being suppressed, how can anyone who gets the vaccine be said to have been informed before consent? And if not, then how can anyone morally pressure/require anyone to be vaccinated? ARI actually did the immoral thing by requiring the vaccine for their staff. Does this give aid and comfort to those who would require vaccine passports and mandatory medicine for all citizens? It does. What is needed is a robust rejection of this sort of requirement, not a moral collapse in the face of cultural pressure. Has ARI been in California too long?

ARI promotes as their COVID expert, alleged Objectivist … [for the rest of the article go to the American Thinker]

Ayn-Rand-1962.jpg
DRHURD.COM

The following (I agree with it 100 percent) is written by Susan Hanson at The American Thinker: The Ayn Rand Institute (ARI) has turned against...

 

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Just now, ThatGuy said:

While looking for a quote where Rand said there should be no ARI, I came across this, in the meantime; shared via Dr. Michael Hurd on his website:

The Ayn Rand Institute: An Institute, Perhaps, But NOT Ayn Rand

The following (I agree with it 100 percent) is written by Susan Hanson at The American Thinker:

The Ayn Rand Institute (ARI) has turned against Ayn Rand. Our medical system is now completely under the thumbs of the government, and ARI, named for an inveterate enemy of socialism, is explicitly supporting it.

Onkar Ghate, ARI’s Chief Philosophy Officer, wrote a paper called ‘A Pro-Freedom Approach to Infectious Disease’ which he claims is “based on Rand’s conception of liberty.” This paper is a mishmash. He admits that healthcare is heavily controlled by government on the one hand, and then says this fact imposes different responsibilities on the government such as spending more money on hospital capacity. Why is he talking about what the government should do in a government-controlled health care system? Why isn’t he talking about why those controls should be eliminated instead? Ghate states: “In sum, government should not have the power to lock us down in our homes even during a widespread, uncontained outbreak of an infectious disease… But there are valid steps our government should take to increase the capacity of our government-controlled healthcare system…” (Italics added.) He also states that during a pandemic, the controls that cripple doctors, hospitals, etc. should be “suspended.” Why not permanently removed? Why no support for the doctors who want controls removed, but have been silenced and vilified, and face the looming threat of losing their jobs and removal of their medical licenses for resisting government controls?

The government should never be involved in medical decisions between doctor and patient — it is always a violation of individual rights. Before any medical procedure can take place, the patient must give informed consent. Is the Rand Institute fighting the threat of forced vaccine mandates? This year the employees working at ARI’s annual Objectivist Conference (OCON) were required to be vaccinated. Attendees were required to either show proof of vaccination or bring proof of a negative result from a COVID-19 test. Since information about alternate treatments is being suppressed, how can anyone who gets the vaccine be said to have been informed before consent? And if not, then how can anyone morally pressure/require anyone to be vaccinated? ARI actually did the immoral thing by requiring the vaccine for their staff. Does this give aid and comfort to those who would require vaccine passports and mandatory medicine for all citizens? It does. What is needed is a robust rejection of this sort of requirement, not a moral collapse in the face of cultural pressure. Has ARI been in California too long?

ARI promotes as their COVID expert, alleged Objectivist … [for the rest of the article go to the American Thinker]

Ayn-Rand-1962.jpg
DRHURD.COM

The following (I agree with it 100 percent) is written by Susan Hanson at The American Thinker: The Ayn Rand Institute (ARI) has turned against...

 

Here's the original article Dr. Hurd quoted from. I should put this on the Coranavirus thread, too...

September 18, 2021

Ayn Rand vs. the Mandate

By Susan Hanson


https://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2021/09/ayn_rand_vs_the_mandate.html

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