Objectivists seem to generally confuse Rand having a strong opinion on an issue with her solving it. While she talked a lot about 'rejecting the mind/body dichotomy' on examination she says little that is interesting or original on the subject. In fact, it closely resembles little more than double-talk. For, oddly, despite her strenuous rejection of any "mind-body dichotomy," we find her elsewhere strongly embracing a obviously dualist position without so much as batting an eyelash. For example, from the ITOE p166:
"I want to stress this; it is a very important distinction. A great number of philosophical errors and confusions are created by failing to distinguish between consciousness and existence -- between the process of consciousness and the reality of the world outside, between the perceiver and the perceived."Further, from Diana Hsieh's handy survey, "Mind in Objectivism" we find Harry Binswanger avowing:
"So, yes, I'm a dualist. Or as Leonard [Peikoff] says in OPAR, because the term dualism is not one we have to fight to save and it's so associated with Descartes, the proper word for it is: Objectivism, not dualism."Of course, a dualism without a dichotomy is rather like a grin without at cat - and we find ourselves again, as we do so often with Randian theorising, in the realm of mere word play. (incidentally, Binswanger's comment stands as yet another excellent if unwitting example of a verbalist philosophy in action; he admits he is a dualist, but apparently what is most urgently required is to change the terminology from "dualism" to "Objectivism"!)
Via such wordplay Rand can, as she does in her epistemology, both accept and deny the same position with equal vehemence. Adding further confusion, Rand sometimes even denies that the issue is a philosophical problem, and tries to fob it off onto science. As Hsieh notes:
"When asked whether “the relation of conscious activity to brain activity” is “a scientific question,” Rand simply replies “Yes” (Rand 1990, 290)."Well, if the mind/brain problem isn't a philosophical question, then what is she on about then? According to Rand, the philosopher's proper role is only to "define the terms in question." Never mind the problem, worry about the words! Who needs philosophers, one wonders, when you've got dictionaries. Objectivism's verbalist priorities and scholastic method are once again obvious.
Further, as Hsieh's survey shows, what Rand does say on the subject is so vague and provides so little clear guidance that her followers have merely ended up arranging themselves all over the map of the historically pre-existing dualistic positions on the subject, with little more agreement among them than currently exists anywhere else. For example, Nathaniel Branden has tentatively plumped for panpsychism. Roger Bissell holds what appears to be a version of identity theory, with hard-deterministic implications. Binswanger has the above causal substance dualism, which is apparently "controversial" among Objectivists. But it is hardly any "spookier" than Rand and Peikoff's position, which from what can be made out, is a vague but interactionist position. In other words, nothing particularly new here, and certainly nothing like a solution to this ancient question. Hsieh's survey conclusion says it all:
"The precise nature of a theory of mind compatible with Objectivism...has yet to be established."