Robert Campbell biography

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Robert graciously furnished me with the following information.


Robert Campbell

Born in Dubuque, Iowa, on July 31, 1953, Robert Campbell graduated from The Kinkaid School (Houston, Texas). He received his BA in Social Relations from Harvard and his PhD in Developmental Psychology from the University of Texas. From 1985 to 1991, he was a human-computer interaction researcher at the IBM T. J. Watson Research Center; since 1991 he has been a faculty member at Clemson University. He and Heidi Friedberg were married in 1992; their daughter Kyla is 13.

He has written articles in several different areas of psychology. In 1986, he and Mark Bickhard published a book of theoretical developmental psychology titled Knowing Levels and Developmental Stages. In 1996, he and John Christopher anticipated the rise of Positive Psychology with a target article and reply to critics in Developmental Review that urged psychologists to adopt eudaimonism as their framework for inquiry into moral development. Robert Campbell’s translation of Studies in Reflecting Abstraction by the Swiss developmental psychologist Jean Piaget appeared in 2001.

His interest in Ayn Rand’s ideas goes back to 1968, when a high school friend encouraged him to read Atlas Shrugged. He wrote for the MIT-based student newspaper Ergo from 1971 to 1973. In 1996, after some years away from Objectivist circles, he began speaking at Summer Seminars for what was then called the Institute of Objectivist Studies. In 1999, he was invited to join the Editorial Board of the Journal of Ayn Rand Studies; in 2002, he became the Associate Editor.

As a jazz fan and critic, he wrote reviews for Cadence from 1992 to 1998. With British Sun Ra expert Christopher Trent, he published The Earthly Recordings of Sun Ra in 2000. Since 1997, he has maintained the Red Saunders Research Foundation website, which focuses on jazz and R&B musicians in Chicago during the post-World War II period.

November 2006

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  • 9 months later...

As a jazz fan and critic, he wrote reviews for Cadence from 1992 to 1998.

I would love to read Robert's reviews for Cadence; what are the chances of of these reviews showing up on OL in the Robert Campbell Corner?

I know that a new semester has begun at Clemson, but I'd love for Robert to come out of retirement as a jazz critic and share his thoughts on the state of jazz today.


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I shall contact the formidable Bob Rusch, coordinating editor of Cadence, and see whether he has any objections to my posting some old reviews here.

Bob is not a huge fan of the Web, but I've been able to persuade him to let me use part of a discography that I published with Cadence Jazz Books.

Just so you have some idea what these will be like: Cadence reviews are generally short and to the point; the magazine doesn't publish feature articles.

Robert Campbell

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There seems to be almost nothing on the Web about Ergo, though I see that it rates a short article in Wikipedia.

Ergo was founded in 1969 by Russell Seitz--most famous to Techies, I believe, for acquiring all of the parts to an Atlas missile (minus the warhead) as a stunt. Seitz thought MIT needed a conservative newspaper. Once he'd launched it, he moved on to other things, and within a couple of years it had become an Objectivist rag.

When I was with Ergo (1971-1973), our regular writers included Dave Schneider, Erich Veyhl, Frank Peseckis, Steve Wright, Mark Frazier (for a little while), Nick Bykovetz (always under pseudonyms, such as "Ed Raine"), and Warren Ross. Steve Wright's music columns were generally high in quallity. We also had a young fellow you might have heard of named Robert James Bidinotto writing for us. I don't know how Robert B evaluates his Ergo output nowadays, but I recall that it was already pretty good. My stuff, on the other hand, would come across as immature today (it's been years since I reread any of it).

I have a few yellowing Ergos stashed away in my file cabinet.

I met a guy from MIT at the IOS Summer Seminar in 1996 who wanted to put old Ergos on line and such--I don't think anything came of that.

Robert Campbell

PS. Even when it was run by rather dour Objectivists, Ergo always published an April Fool's Day edition. The masthead read: "Ogre Is Always Rihgt."

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Robert, THAT was a trip down Memory Lane.

I recall, vaguely, some articles I did thumping Richard Nixon and George McGovern with equal glee. Interesting times...and it got me in the habit of writing regularly.

I have no idea what I'd think of my early output. But I do recall, equally vaguely, that you wrote very interesting stuff.

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Chris, what's most interesting to me is to see my growth in understanding over the years.

When you're young and enamored of a new philosophy, you tend to simply throw your principles back at the news headlines, in blunt, cliched, summary formulations. You say the obvious things in response to events, statements, and ideas, often regurgitating the language of your mentor or some seminal text.

As you age, you acquire a lot more background information and learn how to apply your principles contextually, with much more subtlety and nuance. And when you look back at your early writing, you wince or laugh at times, because your ideas had been germinal and your manner of expressing them primitive.

It's not that you have altered or rejected your principles, becoming cynical with age. It's that you've learned that people and events are very complicated "mixtures" of premises, and that to do them justice in an analysis requires a more careful sorting out of the elements in the mixtures -- much more careful sorting than can fit on a bumper sticker.

I'm sure I'd laugh at the old ERGO articles -- both from encountering the young Me, but also at some of the things I said. The old line from the sixties was "don't trust anyone over 30." From today's vantage point, I'd say: "Don't trust anything said by someone UNDER 30."

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  • 1 year later...

Speaking of trips down memory lane, Mark Frazier (long known for his work in promoting free enterprise zones) spoke at Free Minds 09.

We hadn't seen each other in 35 years.

Robert Campbell

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