Liar, Liar, Binswanger's Pants on Fire

Neil Parille

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A recent interview with Harry and Ben Bayer.  I'm not good at time stamping.  It starts at 46:20


Hi Ben,
Enjoyed the discussion, interesting anecdotes and observations.
I wanted to point out that Harry misrepresents Barbara's biography on her final meeting and phone call with Rand.  As Harry says, Rand and Barbara met in Rand's New York apartment in 1981.  According to Barbara, after the meeting, she sent Rand a letter stating that she was writing Rand's biography.  When Rand didn't respond, Barbara called her.  Rand refused to talk.  Barbara says she was certain that this was most likely due to Rand's disapproval of the prospective biography.  
Harry doesn't mention the letter and implies Barbara first sprang the idea of the biography in the phone call and asked for Rand's assistance.  He says Barbara claims that the final conversation was of a ""I'm sorry that things didn't work out" variety.  That's not what she writes.  (The existence of the post-meeting letter telling Rand about the biography is confirmed by Cynthia Peikoff in 100 Voices)
Feel free to share this with Harry.  I don't think he'd open one of my emails.
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I watched the video from the point you indicated until the end.

I was fascinated by Binswanger's description of rationalism, which I normally call deducing reality from a principle. He called it deducing reality from castles in the sky or something like that.

He is able to describe the essence of rationalizing, and describe it well, but when I look at his writings, I find him constantly rationalizing.


A perfect example (and not--by far--the only one) is how he blanks out how much good Christianity brought to the world. How do you observe that in reality? Easy. Look at all the good people, including top geniuses, who are Christians. That's just in the present. Now look at them throughout history. Look at how much good they did.

(Apropos, I had this reality pointed out to me in Brazil by a man visiting from Africa. I think he was from Ghana, but that might not be accurate. If not Ghana, it was a country like it. This man had been a big shot in the government, then imprisoned, then released. He said one of the reasons the African nations cannot get their acts together is the sheer number of tribal religions. He said look at nations that have evolved and developed from nothing and you will see Christianity. There's a lot to argue about there, but in observation terms, it is something anyone can look at and see.)

I already know the argument against using that observation. The standard argument is that one does not cause the other. In other words, Christianity does not cause large-scale goodness. But to be consistent, we would have to apply that same logic when looking at bad examples where Christianity is in play. In other words, we would have to say one does not cause the other, that Christianity does not cause large-scale badness. And people like Binswanger never do that because they are too busy saying it does.

There is no curiosity in him to ask about why there is so much good that he--and anyone--can observe in the same neighborhood with Christianity. Good things, rational things, things that anyone with eyes can point to.

(I don't want to go into the pros and cons of Christianity right here. Leave it to say there are lots of pros and cons and they can be observed.)

From what I gather from Binswanger's words, Rand hated Christianity, so he hates Christianity. And he deduces everything from there.

In other words, he uses rationalism.

But instead of deducing reality from a principle or from a story, in this case he deduces reality from an opinion of a leader. This denomination of rationalism can be called Suck-up Epistemology. :) 


Right here on OL somewhere, there is a link to a place where Binswanger said that it is rational and good to cover-up Rand's shortcomings, at least for a time. Cover-up means denying people at large (including scholars) the opportunity to observe those shortcomings in Rand's own works and writings. 

And why did he want to do that? So that people like him can tell the public a fantasy of what Rand was about based on a faked reality. Look at how much the ARI people have altered her texts and published their efforts.

Leaving out Barbara's letter is a good example of using this kind of thinking. In this case, it made it easier for him to throw rocks at a demon Branden. (Demon in his eyes, of course.)


The lesson is, if reality does not corroborate your opinion, blank it out.

Blank it out, I say!

If thine eye offend thee, pluck it out!



I have other areas where I disagree with Binswanger, but I don't want to waste too much time on him. I do not believe history will be kind to him, precisely for his constant rationalizing and acting like a cult enforcer. Arguing against some of his ideas is like dissecting the essence of phrenology when the discussion gets complicated. Why bother?

If it becomes important one day, I will do it (and I can--especially when we go from how his ideas in natural philosophy contradict what can be observed by neuroscience and in repeatable trial-and-error tests).

Just like finding that link above. If anyone really wants to see Binswanger talk about how great it is to fake reality when defending Rand is at stake, let them use OL's search function. But if someone can't find it and lets me know, I will look it up and present it again.


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