I remember people remarking that the vehemence of Objectivism's opposition to religion came more from Brandon than from Rand. Sh took the position that religion was wron but did not spend a lot of time on it, seeing other things as more important. Brandon was later on embarassed by his previous vehemence and said that it had been wrong.Arguably the cult like aspects of Objectivism were partially his unintended creation. Not really Rand's intention either. She could not see the clash between the ideals that she espoused and the behaviour that she demanded of those around her.Without Brandon she would probly been surrounded by a smaller informal clique. Because of him she had a larger group of acolytes. In the zealotry that he had at the time I think Brandon aggravated the cultish tendencies that were there. That was another thing that he regretted later.
I'm conflicted with N. Branden; yes, he made Ayn Rand worship into a mass movement, but he was cast out. Yes, he ruined Rand's marriage to Frank O'Connor along with his own marriage, BUT....I have nothing positive to rebut that. And that's my problem; what good Nathaniel Blumenthal/Branden did in his life is just buried by the bad, so it is impossible to speak calmly about "the son of Rand."RIP N. Branden; you got off easy.
I don't know what to say.Barbara passed away last year and now Nathaniel. We are entering "a generation that knew not God" as the Book of Judges says.Perhaps there will be a time when we can discuss Objectivism for its value and not its personalities.
Thank you for the link to Chris Sciabarra's memorial post. It is a splendid, moving tribute.One point of interest. Sciabarra writes that Nathaniel Branden "also conducted, with the late Barbara Branden. . . a series of interviews that have formed the basis of nearly every biographical work that has been published" on Rand.These interviews are frequently cited in the collections of essays on Ayn Rand's novels that were published some years back with the approval of ARI.However, even though the Brandens conducted the interviews, they are never named in the footnotes, where the only citation given is: "Biographical Interviews (Ayn Rand Archives)".Poor scholarly practice. Petty vindictiveness. One wonders if and when this kind of thing will ever stop.
A question, how much influence will his psychological work since the break with Rand have? I have not read a lot of what he did since the splitHe talked a lot about self-esteem. I can see dangers in this. Mostly I see the danger or unintentionally encouraging a brittle inflated self-image. But not necessarilly. Does enyone know much about his later work?
According to The Ayn Rand Cult, by Jeff Walker, Branden got his "doctorate" in psychology from an unaccredited diploma mill called the California Graduate Institute. Apparently when he had to rebuild his life in California after Rand cursed his penis, he didn't want to bother trying to get a real Ph.D. for his counseling practice from an accredited university, even a mediocre state school. As for the enduring value of Branden's work as a pop psychologist, we'll probably read similar accolades of men in the self-help hustle like Tony Robbins when they die. That just shows these men had fans, not that they had any deep insights into human psychology that you couldn't find elsewhere and better established scientifically.
I read several of Branden's self-esteem books in the 1990's, which I no longer possess to refer to. But I recall a recurring subtext of hostility towards one's parents in these books. In Branden's world view, parents exist as hostile presences in the child's life; they can sabotage the child's self-esteem, his struggles towards independence and autonomy, his emerging sexuality and so forth. Perhaps Branden had a troubled relationship with his own parents, and Rand reportedly did with hers. But these two turned their unrepresentative experiences with family life into damaging systems of pop psychology and pop philosophy. You really have to wonder how Branden and Rand would had turned out if they had better relationships with their respective parents.
@ Mark Plus:I'm inclined to agree about the level of NB's books. I read two or three of the early ones, found them to be pretty light stuff, and moved on.They don't really atone for the damage done by the whole concept of psycho-epistemology - which is one of the most destructive notions developed within Objectivism. It has screwed a lot of people up and has contributed in a major way to ARI ghettoizing itself against the rest of the culture.Having said that, the story of NB's own growth beyond the dogmas of Objectivism is useful and extremely helpful. He became a much better person as he went along.However, I haven't seen much evidence that his pop psych is going to last for long. I'm inclined here to quote Jimmy Buffet:"Therapy is extremely expensive,Popping bubble wrapping is radically cheap.Do whichever one helps with your problems -I'm gonna get some sleep."
I did a very brief search. The California Graduate Institute is accredited. Looks like someone did some sloppy research because they bwere looking for ammunition to use against Branden.That said I have read some of Branden's work and agree that it was lightweight stauff.
According to the Wikipedia page on Branden, the California Graduate Institute apparently received some kind of accreditation a few years back by merging with another school. It lacked accreditation of its own when Branden used it over 40 years ago.You know, that sounds so stereotypically "Californian" that it could have come from a sitcom: Use a diploma mill for credentials so you can set yourself up in counseling practice and listen to affluent Californians tell you about their troubles, and pay you generous fees for the privilege, when our ancestors generally dealt with these problems well enough through a combination of common sense, spiritual disciplines and just toughing them out. BTW, the letter of Rand's writings implies the existence of what I call Operating Objectivists, namely, individuals who have unusual powers activated by adherence to Rand's philosophy, like Hank Rearden's ability to design a new kind of railroad bridge in his mind to exploit the properties of his new metal; John Galt's ability to take control of Dagny's unexpected intrusion into Galt's Gulch despite his crush on her, his adult virginity and his lack of an adult man's skill set for dealing with women; and also Galt's ability to withstand torture and do none the worse for it. Nathaniel Branden claimed that Rand said that she thought he came closer than anyone else to the state of an Operating Objectivist like the heroes in her novels, so what powers did Branden display to justify Rand's assessment of him before their alienation?
Mark, "Operating Objectivist" sounds very close to "Operating Thetan" from that other personality cult started by a mid-century writer, Scientology. Intentional?
In other words Rand's desire for heros made her create a greatly exaggerated and grossy inaccurate picture of Brandon and some others in her mind. What does it say about Brandon that he let her do it? Did he belive her?
"In other words Rand's desire for heroes made her create a greatly exaggerated and grossly inaccurate picture of Branden and some others in her mind. What does it say about Brandon that he let her do it? Did he believe her?"- Lloyd FlackIt was a mutual admiration society between two people with expanding egos, a feedback loop of narcissism.
Which says something about the potential effect of Objectivism on someone's character. Not that they can't happen without Objectivism or that Objectivism makes them inevitable, but it makes them more likely.
My condolences and sympathy go out to his family and friends.
"What does it say about Brandon that he let her do it? Did he believe her?"Branden was quite young at the time. When you're a young person, and a woman you idolize starts telling you that you're her intellectual heir, and that you're uniquely qualified to advance her movement and save the world ... well, how many of us could resist? By all accounts Rand could be spellbinding in person (though this quality doesn't really come across on TV), and she was much older than Branden, much more accomplished, already famous and controversial. I can't really blame either Nathan or Barbara (or Bob Hessen, Alan Greenspan, et al.) for being somewhat blown away by the chance to gather at the feet of a writer they regarded as a once-in-a-millennium genius. And as with any tightly closed circle, there would inevitably be issues of status and power, with Nathan and Barbara enjoying privileged positions. The situation was toxic, but it was also understandable. It played out pretty much the way one would expect.
One should simply let their sympathy and well wishes go out to his family and leave it at that.Just for the sake of rectitude and common decency.
His death is a time to reflect on his life, both the good and the bad that was both done by him and done to him.
@FlackLooks like a better time, consistent with decency, to send one's condolences and leave the man be in peace. At least for a reasonable/respectable time.Since he has been dead a mere 4 days.
Lloyd, let it go.We have a couple hundred postings to prove that debates with this guy (or gal?) on any subject whatever is pointless.And yes, I'm guilty too. It's so hard to resist going after someone who is this delusional.I seem to remember that Dan pointed this out about 130 posts ago.
Oh, I have no intention of making any further comments to him on this thread unless he does something completly obnoxious here. I don't think he will and even then I would be as brief as possible.On the other thread I just summarized what it was all about.
I should add that my sympathy for Branden is somewhat reduced by reports that he conducted "trials" of erring Objectivists in Rand's apartment. He would have been extraordinarily obtuse not to see how cruelly he was abusing the psyches of his victims. There's an unmistakable element of sadism in these episodes, as well as an element of groupthink that should have been wholly out of place in a movement devoted to individualism. In Jeff Walker's book, Roy Childs is quoted as saying: “Remember the young ballerina who had some irrational this or that, and they tore her apart, Nathaniel strutting back and forth in the apartment, Ayn applauding, and she was reduced to tears and gave up her career?”The relevant part of Walker's book can be found here: http://goo.gl/1CX5RtWendy McElroy, a libertarian, defends the trials, saying that people participated of their own free will and no real harm was done: http://lfb.org/name-your-favorite-ayn-rand-flaw/But I think this underestimates the extent to which Rand's admirers were caught up in the mythology of Ayn Rand as the Greatest Human Being Who Ever Lived. Rand had achieved the status of a cult guru for these people, and an indoctrinated cultist is caught in a psychological snare that largely incapacitates free will. That's why it's so difficult to break out.
More about the ballerina incident here: http://mcclernan.blogspot.com/2013/11/the-quintessential-ayn-rand.htmlThe victim wrote down her thoughts about the "trial," which are quoted in Barbara Branden's book: "I began to see the pattern as Nathan went through example after example of what I had done. It was when he said 'and your self-esteem is tied to what other people think of you,' that I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt what was being said to me - the worst degradation, the worst muck. I had betrayed everything that has ever meant anything to me ... He said I could work to correct it and become a proper human being, or be like the people I hate for the rest of my life ... I don't know any longer what I want in a career, in anything - it doesn't seem to matter, and I'm afraid of the day when it is going to matter ... Yet I will always remember the day I met Ayn as one of the happiest days of my life ..." In fairness to both Brandens, they expressed great remorse later in life for having participated in these demeaning episodes.
@Gordon"someone who is this delusional"Delusional about what? LOL! That appears to be simply insult backed by bluff and bluster.Which is shown by the fact that the insult is just put out there with nothing to back it up. No reference of what it is even referring to.
@Michael:Many Objectivists claim that a focus on the relationship between Branden and Rand is an irrelevancy designed to draw attention away from the philosophy. But theirs is a case where the personal and the intellectual are inextricably intertwined. Neither aspect can really be understood without the other.Beyond question, Objectivism as a systematic philosophy and as a movement would not exist today if NB had never met Rand. He pushed her into systematizing her thinking - to a degree that she probably would never have done herself. And he had the administrative talent to set up the NBI Lectures - and administrative flair was something which Rand entirely lacked.Unfortunately, they also brought out some really toxic things in each other. You can't read the biographies of Rand without seeing someone who had discovered the crueler uses of power and started to revel in them. She also had a chance to act out her own romantic fantasies of the passionate affair with the Young Lover - and ended by producing a flood of suffering for herself and those closest to her.As for Branden, he was a kid in his 20's - and he was showing off. Proving that he could be passionate and sensual, but just as ruthless and implacable as the heroes of Atlas Shrugged. One shudders to imagine what sort of monster he would have grown into if the two of them hadn't reached the parting of the ways. I'm sincerely happy for him that he managed to grow out of so much of it.
@Michael:Amusingly, Mike Wallace, in describing a meeting he had back in the '60's with Rand, described Branden as "that owl on her shoulder". Wow.
Somewhat off-topic, but Knapp has completed her draft of her Ayn Rand "biography" (from her webpage at VTech) I have completed the draft of my book-length study of the life of Ayn Rand up to 1957 (i.e., from her birth in St. Petersburg, Russia, to the publication of her final novel, Atlas Shrugged); my project, which is based on access to primary sources, presents her vision of the human ideal—the individual, rational mind in triumphant action—as the integrating principle of her public and private life.
@Parille:Under her maiden name of Shoshana Milgram, Knapp contributed no less than eight papers to the collections of essays on Rand's novels which I referenced above. The titles of the 4 collections are: "Essays on Ayn Rand's We the Living/Anthem/The Fountainhead/Atlas Shrugged." All these essay collections are edited by Robert Mayhew, who was presumably responsible for the shabby editorial decision to cite the Brandens' taped interviews of Ayn Rand without naming either of them. Those familiar with Mayhew's editorial tampering in books such as "Ayn Rand Answers" will not be surprised.I hope that Jennifer Burns will review this bio when it comes out. She had access to the Ayn Rand archives and is therefore well-positioned to judge its reliability.
I've suspected for awhile that the sales of Ayn Rand's novels in recent years partly derive from astroturfing by the Ayn Rand Institute (ARI). ARI apparently buys bulk quantities of the novels from the publisher and gives them to high schools as part of its essay contests. You have to wonder how the Rand phenomenon in American culture would fare without this private command-and-control economy to subsidize it. And wouldn't the effort to prop up artificially the sales of Rand's novels distort the allocation of scarce resources, send bad price signals and cause economic chaos? By contrast, Nathaniel Branden, despite his faults, at least published his own self-help blather in a competitive market without this phony system to inflate his book sales. Though if the people who wind up running ARI after Peikoff's departure from the flesh decide that some of Branden's books promote "sound Objectivist doctrine," as David Kelley called it, they might decide to buy up bulk quantities of those books and give them away to teenagers as well.
Speaking of Branden's contributions to psychology, Roy Baumeister, who has a real Ph.D. in psychology, came to some different conclusions about the value of "self esteem":https://medium.com/matter-archive/the-man-who-destroyed-americas-ego-94d214257b5
I've read Baumeister's book Evil: Inside Human Violence and Cruelty. I very highly recommend reading it.He does a study of the origin of evil finding its origins in the failure of control of necessary but potentially dangerous drives. Inflated self-esteem was one of the four main causes of evil that he found. The others were sadism (the comparatively rare one), what could be called greed (using evil means to obtain something that it is not wrong to want) and idealism.He also dealt with the Myth of Pure Evil, the belief that evil is done by people fundamentally different from you or I.
To be fair to Branden he was talking about high earned self-esteem. Baumeister is talking about inflated unrealistic self-esteem and what happens when it is challenged.
It's a tricky thing to judge, isn't it, because one's own self isn't always the best judge of whether one has actually earned their self-esteem.Certainly the thing that led me to investigate Rand and Objectivism in the first place was encountering abusive, hostile Objectivists "in the wild", as it were, and wondering what it was about O-ism that led them to become such undeservedly self-important jerks. Whether Branden himself came to differentiate between deserved and undeserved self-esteem, I'm not sure Rand did at all, and I'm positive many of her modern-day followers and admirers have few such reservations about wallowing in their own self-esteem.
One of the biggest mistakes of Objectivism is to grossly, grossly overestimate the power of introspection. They underestimate how hard it is to avoid rationalization. And theirs is a philosophy the expects following it to lead to joy. It sees pride as a major virtue. I think it unintentionally encourages people to avoid recognizing their flaws. And they also encourage people to disregard others opinions of themselves.It's not surprising that a lot would have inflated opinions of themselves.
@Jzero:>Certainly the thing that led me to investigate Rand and Objectivism in the first place was encountering abusive, hostile Objectivists "in the wild", as it were, and wondering what it was about O-ism that led them to become such undeservedly self-important jerks. This makes sense if Rand set up an impossible standard for becoming an Operating Objectivist which ordinary, struggling Objectivists simply can't reach: Based on an awareness of their inadequacies as defined by Rand, they express their anxieties, hostility and likely depression by treating others harshly.From what I've read about ancient Stoicism, apparently the Stoic philosophers set up a binary division in the human race with no gradation between the two states, based on their view of the unity of virtue: Either you become a completely wise man, or else you remain a fool. Confronted with this unreasonable standard, I have to wonder if ordinary men in antiquity who struggled to reach the Stoic ideal acted like boorish Objectivists.
@Mark Plus & JzeroRe the obnoxious manner and apparent hypocrisy of a lot of Objectivists: I think I can offer an explanation. Well, sort of.I remember someone saying to me during the peak of my Randian phase: "You act as if all the people around you are either dupes or scoundrels." I didn't like to hear it - but it was pretty much true.My own experience suggests that your diagnosis of anxiety and insecurity is not really accurate.The key point is that convinced Objectivists believe that they have The Truth - rationally and irrefutably demonstrated. Someone who believes that - and I did, God help me - is of course going to be patronizing to those who don't recognize The Truth. And anyone who greets The Truth with anger or ridicule must clearly be an evil person who recognizes The Truth and is trying by foul means to prevent The Truth from being recognized. Such people are "haters" or "evaders".On the other hand, reacting strongly or even abusively to such patently evil persons is viewed as a quite different thing: it is righteous anger. . . . :) I hope this goes some way towards explaining the exchanges you've had to endure for the last few months. . . . ;)
All sides of politics attribute motives to their opponents which make anyone who actually knows the other side go "Huh! That's not what they're about at all." Objectivism is hardly unique in this matter.But it is a worse offender than most. And I think some of this is because Objectivism unintentioally but actively sabotages the the ability to understand others. It does so partially to defend inflated self images. But it also tries to sideline the empathic parts of the mind which people primarilly rely on for understanding of others. So they can end up trying to logically understand others' motives using less information than most people do. And I think it tends to make them less aware of their own biases because they think what they do is logically justified.
@ Lloyd:NB's "Benefits and Hazards" piece goes a long way towards explaining much of this.
Ayn Rand and Nathaniel Branden might have had better reputations if they hadn't implied that Operating Objectivists would acquire superhuman powers.Interestingly enough Rand seems to make a disclaimer about that in Atlas. The philosophy professor character Hugh Akston says of his star students, Ragnar Danneskjold, John Galt and Francisco d'Anconia:"Don't be astonished, Miss Taggart," said Dr. Akston, smiling, "and don't make the mistake of thinking that these three pupils of mine are some sort of superhuman creatures. They're something much greater and more astounding than that: they're normal men—a thing the world has never seen—and their feat is that they managed to survive as such. It does take an exceptional mind and a still more exceptional integrity to remain untouched by the brain-destroying influences of the world's doctrines, the accumulated evil of centuries—to remain human, since the human is the rational."But then look at what Rand shows these allegedly "normal men" can do as Operating Objectivists:Hank Rearden, a kind of self-trained Operating Objectivist who never studied under Akston, can design a new kind of railroad bridge in his mind which exploits the characteristics of his new alloy, even though he has never built a bridge before.Francisco d'Anconia can deceive the whole world as he depletes his inherited fortune while making everyone believe that he spends his days as a playboy pickup artist, when he in fact he has lived without sex since his youthful sexual relationship with Dagny.John Galt can build a motor which violates the conservation of energy and the laws of thermodynamics. And as I pointed out above, he can also confidently master Dagny's unexpected intrusion into Galt's Gulch despite his secret crush her, his implied adult virginity and his generally cloistered life. (You need life experience for success with women, not expertise in philosophy and physics.) On top of that, he can survive torture without suffering from post-traumatic stress symptoms.So despite Rand's disclaimer, if you view Atlas Shrugged as "advertising" for the abilities Rand's philosophy promises you could have after it unlocks your potentials as a "normal man," then the Objectivist organizations which work with this idea implicitly do seem to offer to turn you into a "superhuman creature."
"They're something much greater and more astounding than that: they're normal men—a thing the world has never seen"And there's a perfect case of the Objectivist style of redefining things to suit one's doctrine. That sentence implies that the entire human race up to that point was not normal. Logically, that's idiotic. Instead of examining the state of men as they exist in the world and building a definition of "normal" to reflect the facts of the average human, Rand imagines an ideal that is difficult if not impossible to attain and tries to establish that as the baseline for "men" - as if these three outweigh the average of the billions of other men who are not so gifted.Which is more sensible: That men simply are imperfect beings, with good and bad characteristics, or that despite calling ourselves "men", everyone has been some kind of sub-men all along and it took Rand to see this "truth"?Contra Human Nature, indeed.
"Francisco d'Anconia can deceive the whole world as he depletes his inherited fortune while making everyone believe that he spends his days as a playboy pickup artist, when he in fact he has lived without sex since his youthful sexual relationship with Dagny."It's been years since I read the novel, but as I recall, Francisco also independently invented differential calculus as a youngster. He also siphoned his allowance into stock purchases and ended up making a small fortune because, as he told his astonished father, "It is not difficult to assess which commercial enterprises will succeed." He was also apparently a first-rate tennis player and an exceptionally talented lover even on his first try.Of course, the book is Romantic fiction, and Francisco is not really any more exaggerated than, say, Enjolras in Les Miserables (whom Rand greatly admired). There's no harm in creating a larger-than-life characters; where would the world be without James Bond, Hercule Poirot, or Sherlock Holmes (among many others)? The only problem for Rand is that she seemed to lose sight of the considerable divide between her engaging fictional creations and the more intractable world of actual human behavior. When asked if real people could live up to her fictional ideals, she would say yes, absolutely, and treat the question as indicative of a moral defect. A more realistic answer would have been that Roark, Galt, et al. are simplified creations, exaggerated for dramatic effect, who personify certain admirable traits in extreme form - traits that, within limits, can indeed be found in real people, though not in such pure isolation. If she had been content to draw a clear boundary between her fiction and fact, there would be no grounds for complaint.
The characters in the Fountainhead were mostly larger than life but felt real. You sympathized with Roark's aspirations and he feltg real. And some or the characters such as Reardon in Atlas Shrugged also felt real.But the supposed central character in Atlas Shrugged, Galt felt unreal, like a shadowy abstraction, not a person. Some of it was because to Rand he was a pure form of the ideal man, so pure that he comes across as uninteresting to others. But I think part of it was that Rand tried to make hime into two incompatable things. She wanted him as the presence manipulating everything. The mastermind behind it all. But she also wanted him as the charismatic leader of his community. A clash between leading from in front and manipulating events. So he falls between two stools, not being convincing in either role. This is a character who with the right actor and director might work better on the screen than on the page.
"And some or the characters such as Reardon in Atlas Shrugged also felt real."Well, not so much to me. Sure, some were more "real" than others, but to my mind all of them would be exposed as fictional characters the moment any of them expounded on any philosophical viewpoint, like a bad puppeteer jerking on the strings of a puppet and reminding you that what you're looking at isn't a person, but a collection of strings and pieces of wood put together in the shape of a person. To me, her enthusiasm for this philosophical debate the book was supposed to embody overrode good storytelling practices. (Galt's speech, of course, is a prime example of part of the book that is absolutely tedious to anyone who isn't enraptured with the philosophy itself.)(And then there's weird storytelling choices Rand makes that seemingly are there to deny characters happiness who aren't Galt and Dagny. James Taggart's wife who I can't remember the name of is an example.)
Going back to Branden: later in life he became enamored of certain quack notions, like TFT and similar "energy" therapies.
@Dragonfly"Going back to Branden"LOL! Yeah, being such a nasty person, you have to make sure to bring the conversation back to trashing a man that just died.Can't have it stray too far from not bashing Objectivsts, since this is a hate site after all, so you made sure to go back to Branden....and say something disparaging.No wonder Greg Perkins and Diana Hsieh ignore this site and avoid it like the plague.
@ all but 1: ignore.
@ Dragonfly:Yes, NB broke free of Rand's distrust of new developments in the sciences. But he seems to have had trouble answering the question: okay, where I we go from here?That's because Objectivism gives one a good grounding in criticizing rationalistic arguments - but doesn't help much when it comes to evaluating facts - or theories, scientific or otherwise, designed to explain those facts.
I think Branden gradually morphed into a typical 1970s-1980s California therapist - very big on "self-esteem," and broadcasting a touchy-feely vibe. To some extent this may have been his way of overcompensating for his earlier rationalistic tendencies.He may also have been the type of person who tends to blend in, chameleon-like, with his environment. In Rand's circle he became the quintessential Objectivist; in southern California he became more of a New Ager. My impression of him is that he was always more glib than deep, and that a lot of his life was given over to performance. He still deserves kudos for breaking out of Rand's groupthink and becoming more self-aware.
"My impression of him is that he was always more glib than deep, and that a lot of his life was given over to performance."Interesting. In her biography of Rand, Jennifer Burns mentions that during his adolescent years Branden was passionate about the theatre and had read nearly 2,000 plays.
>during his adolescent years Branden was passionate about the theatre and had read nearly 2,000 plays.Well, that sheds some interesting light on Branden's behavior. We already have a cultural stereotype for the sort of guy who grows up reading 2,000 comic books, and they show up as characters on TV series. By contrast we don't encounter guys with a similar obsession with plays that often.
@Quant___________since this is a hate site after all, so you made sure to go back to Branden....and say something disparaging.No wonder Greg Perkins and Diana Hsieh ignore this site and avoid it like the plague.___________Stuff like this make me wonder how much you know about Objectivism.Orthodox Objectivists do not interact with criticisms of Objectism or engage with anti-Objectivist blogs. Their blogs are generally moderated.If Diana Hsieh thought Objectivism was defensible then why doesn't she publish articles defending it in philosophy journals instead of posting videos of cats with hyperthyroidism playing Parkour?
"Stuff like this make me wonder how much you know about Objectivism."Welcome to the club, Neil. Just about everyone else has already found that out - repeatedly.
@Neil, Interestingly one could make a good case for Objectivism being a hate-philosophy if one was so inclined.There's what it preaches of course: sweetness, light, supreme values, creative productivity and no conflicts between rational men.Then there's what actually happens in practice: endless schisms, denouncements, anathemas and purges - the only notable things the movement has produced in the 50 years since Atlas Shrugged.The hysterically overwrought language Objectivists use about their opponents is far worse than anything you'll find at the ARCHNblog. For example, calling Kant "the greatest criminal in mankind's history" and claiming, weirdly, that he was knowingly complicit in the Holocaust. in fact the only thing worse is what they say about other Objectivists. Let's take, for example, James Valliant's assessment of Nathaniel Branden as a man "with the soul of a rapist". Or over at Objectivist site Solopassion, owner Lindsay Perigo summarises Branden's death as "no loss to anything decent". (A commenter on that site quotes the ARI's Edwin R Thompson as calling Branden "the most evil man who ever lived".) We might also consider the Ayn Rand Institute, which has not even acknowledged either Branden's death (a search for either Branden on their site also produces no results - they are unpersons to be deleted from history, clearly). At least we at the ARCHNblog acknowledge Branden existed! And at a trivial level, we observe typical O-ist mediocrities like Diana Hseih, whose main intellectual contribution appears to be the documentation in infinite detail of the moral corruption of all the other Objectivists she's ever fallen out with. Yep, we at the ARCHNblog may be meanies but we must admit when it comes to big time hatin' we are completely outclassed.
"Yep, we at the ARCHNblog may be meanies but we must admit when it comes to big time hatin' we are completely outclassed."In this regard, the acolytes are faithfully following the example of The Lady herself.There is for example, Rand's description of Hubert Humphrey as "an aging kewpie-doll". And during the Watergate hearings, she was moved to comment on John Dean's "rodent-like jaw structure." When it comes to hating, stuff like that is pretty hard to beat.
I mean, here's Hsieh's collected hatin's on other Objectivists:http://www.dianahsieh.com/ff/It's a vast grab bag of pathetic, mostly personal disputes inflated to epic "philosophic" proportions. As I say, makes us at the ARCHNblog look like mere amateurs.
@Daniel:Personally, I think the Rand ones I cited are even worse than the stuff by Hsieh. In the cases I mentioned, Rand chose to focus on the physical appearance of people she disliked - which is surely the lowest kind of personal attack.
Rand set great store by people's appearance. Her fictional heroes are tall and handsome. Her fictional villains are stunted and grotesque. She was devoted to her husband, in part, because he resembled her "ideal man," and probably she was drawn to Branden for the same reason. Her last recorded public comment was a slap at creationists, whom she described as physically resembling the missing link. Even in her early journals, she was apt to criticize people for their looks. She excoriated the jurors in a celebrated trial: "Average, everyday, rather stupid looking citizens. Shabbily dressed, dried, worn looking little men. Fat, overdressed, very average, 'dignified' housewives. How can they decide the fate of that boy? Or anyone's fate?""That boy" was Ed Hickman, who hacked a 12-year-old girl to pieces with an ax. Rand was weirdly attracted to him, in part because of his good looks and sex appeal: "The fact that he looks like 'a bad boy with a very winning grin,' that he makes you like him the whole time you're in his presence ..."I think Rand rationalized this sort of thing by saying that there is no dichotomy between mind and spirit, and therefore one's physical appearance reflects one's moral character. In a similar vein, she was known to speculate that cancer and other diseases arise from moral failings. She seems to have interpreted her doctrine of mind-body unity in a rather simplistic way. Perhaps some of this had to do with her need for control and judgment. It's easier to feel in control if you can avoid illnesses by thinking the rights thoughts. And the messy business of judgment is greatly simplified if you can judge people by their looks.
Rand's infatuation with Hickman doesn't seem so strange these days, considering how young women in recent years have gushed on the internet gush about dreamy murderers and terrorists like Joran van der Sloot, Anders Breivik and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. On a political level, the progressives who bring up Rand's Hickman obsession to try to discredit her have to explain why leftists' admiration for sociopaths like Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, Mao, Castro and that Stalin aspirant, Che Guevara, doesn't say something damaging about their judgment and character. Che's image appeared all over those Occupy derelict camps a few years ago, so this behavior has stayed current.
"On a political level, the progressives who bring up Rand's Hickman obsession to try to discredit her have to explain why leftists' admiration for sociopaths like Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, Mao, Castro and that Stalin aspirant, Che Guevara, doesn't say something damaging about their judgment and character."I don't see why.Granted, it may not say much good about any leftists who have such idols, but it's Rand who begins with the assertion that her philosophy is innately superior to all others, and that thusly she herself is far more rational and moral than the rest. It's not Rand being discredited as much as it is her claims.To have such an infatuation with a killer as Rand did calls into question that presumed moral superiority, regardless of any similar lack of morality of any of her critics - the latter does not somehow excuse the former. If both sides have questionable infatuations, the worst this proves is that Rand, in her own way, was no better than any Che-smitten lefty.
This infatuation with Hickman was while she was young. Would she have had a similar infatuation with that type when she was older? Probably not.And she had not formed her philosopy at that time. There would have been things present which developed into it but Objectivism was in the future.While it shows a flawed side of her I would not read too much into this infatuation.
"While it shows a flawed side of her I would not read too much into this infatuation."Fair enough, Lloyd. I think the Hickman thing was over the top, even for Rand. However, she doesn't seem to have ever stopped believing in a link between physical appearance and moral character: when she was comparing John Dean's face with that of a rat, she was over 65 years old. So it doesn't look like much changed on that front during the intervening 40 years.
@Michael: the only mention of a "missing link" by Rand that I know is when she suggests that the "anticonceptual mentality" might be the missing link between humans and animals (The Ayn Rand Letter Vol II 16/17). Do you have another reference?
But did her antipathy and nastiness towards Humphrey and others come from appearance or did she dislike them anyway and was just looking for ways to put them down? Or did appearance just aggravate a pre-existing disdain? It looks like appearance did matter too much to her butn this is something that could get exaggerated easily.
DF,In 1980 I believe Rand was asked about evolution at the Ford Hall Forum.She gave her most pro-evolution statement at that time.
Dan,And lets not forget that Rand had a particular dislike of retarded people.
“And she had not formed her philosophy at that time. There would have been things present which developed into it but Objectivism was in the future.”If you’re suggesting that Rand ever dropped a previous preference or evaluation of anything as her philosophy developed, I can only answer that there is no evidence of this.The biographies of Rand show pretty convincingly that she was absolutely convinced that ALL her moral, philosophical and aesthetic judgments were correct and had always been correct, all the way back to the age of five. And furthermore, that anyone not sharing ALL those judgments was wrong – and fundamentally flawed in one way or another, especially if Rand didn’t succeed in changing their views.In short, her philosophy purports to be objective and to rely on factual evidence and rational argument. But in practice, Rand puts this whole system to work with the overriding purpose of showing that all her moral, philosophical and aesthetic judgments were correct and had always been correct. This is an intensely subjective and almost solipsistic stance protected by layer after layer of philosophic rationalization.Any actual changes in Rand’s philosophical position are smoothly explained away. It’s plain that Rand went through a Nietzschean phase; but she managed to convince herself after the fact that really no such phase had ever existed. ARI still goes along with such fictions: it will be interesting to see how Milgram-Knapp negotiates these issues in her long-delayed intellectual biography of Rand.The same rationalizations of Rand’s personal art preferences are clearly on display in her aesthetic theory. The whole Romantic movement marks a subjective turn in Western art, leading to many of the artistic and political trends that Rand utterly despised. But you’d never know that if all you went by were the absurd rationalizations to be found in The Romantic Manifesto. In short, I don’t think Rand ever got past believing that looks matter. She never “got past” much of anything. She just got more and more skilled at “proving” that she had been right all along.
@ Dragonfly, see this Google Books link:http://goo.gl/LXK1IgIt's the last paragraph of the page that comes up at the link, beginning with "Nathaniel Branden notes ..."Rand doesn't actually use the the "missing link," but that's what she's talking about. BTW, I don't think insulting people's appearance is the worst sin in the world. It's juvenile, but it has a long history. Opponents compared Abraham Lincoln to an ape, and George W. Bush to a chimp. They compared Jimmy Carter to Howdy Doody. People have made fun of both Clark Gable and Barack Obama for having big ears. Etc. So it goes.
@MP:>BTW, I don't think insulting people's appearance is the worst sin in the world. No, I've got nothing against that sort of thing. In fact I think civility is overrated - in the 18th century unless you insulted each other it was not considered that you were even arguing. So I run a very liberal comments policy, and in general expect most people to be fairly thick-skinned. As Keynes used to say, "words should always be a little wild, as they are the assault of thoughts upon the unthinking." I've really got little against Rand's rhetorical flights - some of them are actually quite imaginative. It's the fact that she has no actual arguments that is my complaint against her.That's why little Miss Prissy Pants type complainers like Hsieh, or our very own Quan, obsess over trivial slights -they're compensating for their lack of contribution or insight into any substantial issues.
"In fact I think civility is overrated."Fair enough, if everybody gives as good as they get and both sides have something to say. But that's a big if. As we have seen, shouting matches get pretty boring.
". . . the only mention of a 'missing link' by Rand that I know is when she suggests that the 'anticonceptual mentality' might be the missing link between humans and animals."This passage is not unique; there are a number of passages like it; and they represent Ayn Rand at her most disturbing. Persons opposing one's philosophical convictions are not simply wrong: they are presented as sub-human. We've seen this movie before.
"If you’re suggesting that Rand ever dropped a previous preference or evaluation of anything as her philosophy developed, I can only answer that there is no evidence of this.The biographies of Rand show pretty convincingly that she was absolutely convinced that ALL her moral, philosophical and aesthetic judgments were correct and had always been correct, all the way back to the age of five."Which, I imagine, is why the Hickman notes were excised from later editions of the books in which they first appeared. Because it is a massive contradiction of Rand's entire "life as the ultimate value" standpoint. Objectivists like to make a big point about how anti-violence they are (though many are quick to proclaim how ready they will be to inflict violence in self-defense or retribution), and moreover few would claim that some 12-year-old deserved death or that Hickman was somehow defending himself from her. So how could Rand admire someone who was directly more "anti-life" than any of her targets like, say, Kant?You can't have all these things logically fit together, so something has to go. You could claim her views evolved for the better, but that would put the lie to the "unchanged since age 5" canard. If you maintain that story of constancy, then having the Hickman incident floating around calls into question whether life truly is Rand's ultimate value. So to maintain life as ultimate value and a story of lifelong constancy, the Hickman infatuation has to disappear - sadly for the ARI, the Internet has a long memory for things that have been published and they can't ever fully pull that moment back under cover.
"Which, I imagine, is why the Hickman notes were excised from later editions of the books in which they first appeared."Are you sure of this?The Hickman material in my copy of the Journals takes up most of pages 36-44. Are you saying that something different is there now?
"The Hickman material in my copy of the Journals takes up most of pages 36-44. Are you saying that something different is there now?"You know, I may very well be mistaken. I had thought I had read an essay noting a difference between older and newer editions of the Journals, but I cannot seem to find it to confirm that impression.Of course, if it hasn't been deleted, then the 3-way of conflicting ideas I mentioned in that post stands all the more starkly out.
Speaking of Rand's infatuation for a man who murdered a little girl:For some reason the passage in Atlas Shrugged about the girl who got braces under the 20th Century Motor Company's health care plan doesn't receive much notice as an insight into what Rand thought about little girls who don't grow up into into Operating Objectivists like Dagny:"Then there was an old guy, a widower with no family, who had one hobby: phonograph records. I guess that was all he ever got out of life. In the old days, he used to skip meals just to buy himself some new recording of classical music. Well, they didn't give him any 'allowance' for records-'personal luxury,' they called it. But at that same meeting, Millie Bush, somebody's daughter, a mean, ugly little eight-year-old, was voted a pair of gold braces for her buck teeth—this was 'medical need,' because the staff psychologist had said that the poor girl would get an inferiority complex if her teeth weren't straightened out. The old guy' who loved music, turned to drink, instead. He got so you never saw him fully conscious any more. But it seems like there was one thing he couldn't forget. One night, he came staggering down the street, saw Millie Bush, swung his fist and knocked all her teeth out. Every one of them. Now,not only does Jeff Allen, the narrator in this passage, gratuitously have to call this girl mean and ugly. He also describes her assailant sympathetically. And Dagny, the audience in this passage, doesn't respond with horror as a normal woman would do when hearing about harm to a child, but just listens in silence, as if Millie had this assault coming as a matter of justice.
Michael,I seem to recall her insult of creationists as being better phrased (i.e., even cattier) than the Walker quote at your link. I believe Walker is merely paraphrasing, but within quotes. (His book has been criticized as being rather sloppy.) I definitely recall LOL'ing in astonishment when I first read this insult, in The Objectivist Forum of June 1981, as well as my mother's expression of disappointment and disapproval when I read it aloud to her.If I wanted to spend another $2 on Things Rand, which I don't, then I would check her phrasing by ordering the relevant speech from here:https://estore.aynrand.org/p/19/the-age-of-mediocrity-mp3-downloadIt would be nice to find a link to the full text of "The Age of Mediocrity." I searched, but no luck. Thanks.
"Now,not only does Jeff Allen, the narrator in this passage, gratuitously have to call this girl mean and ugly. He also describes her assailant sympathetically. And Dagny, the audience in this passage, doesn't respond with horror as a normal woman would do when hearing about harm to a child, but just listens in silence, as if Millie had this assault coming as a matter of justice."It's fairly clear Rand means to show that socialism leads to hatred and social disintegration. An 8-year-old's teeth getting punched out is the sort of thing that goes on in a particularly bad government housing project like the defunct Caprini Green in Chicago, for example. I don't believe she would put such a scene in Galt's Gulch. In other words, she regards the whole saga of Millie Bush as a horror example, an example of why the Starnesville experiment was a disaster.
@Parille"Stuff like this make me wonder how much you know about Objectivism."You are confused in your thinking, similar to Jzero and Flack.What you have highlighted is not an issue of Objectivism, since it's not philosophy, but an issue of the behavior, or lack there of, of the people who espouse and self identify as Objectivists."Orthodox Objectivists do not interact with criticisms of Objectism or engage with anti-Objectivist blogs"You blundered pretty bad here, similar to the blunders of Jzero.Your claim is straight ignorant and wrong.Dawson Bethrick interacts with criticisms of Objectivism, and has done so for years, and he is, if I'm not mistaken, an orthodox Objectivist.Another example is the Objective Standard. They interact with criticism's of Objectivism. I am not sure if they are orthodox Objectivist, but if they are, there is another example proving you wrong.And Diana Hsieh also does so to some extent on Noodlefood, and of course they do so on Objectivist Answers as well."If Diana Hsieh thought Objectivism was defensible then why doesn't"She must think it's defensible, which is why she defends it on Noodlefood.(Facepalm's Neil Parille.)
Now Peikoff can cross off the final item on his bucket list. I don't believe in vulgarity, so I won't spell out what that item is, but it involves the Brandens' graves.
Quant,You are the one who is ignorant.The Objective Standard's blog is moderated. Biddle and his poodle Ari Armstrong won't allow any criticism of their positions.Has Diana Hsieh submitted any essays to philosophy Journals defending Objectivism?
@ParilleBased on your most recent post, and the one before, you appear to have very poor intellectual and argumentative capacities, similar to Burkowski and Jzero."The Objective Standard's blog is moderated. Biddle and his poodle Ari Armstrong won't allow any criticism of their positions."For example, this above was just stupid, since I never said otherwise. You appear to have simply focused on that as a way to evade the fact that you were proven flat and unquestionably wrong on your claim that Orthodox Objectivists do not interact with criticisms of Objectivism or engage with anti-Objectivist blogs."Has Diana Hsieh submitted any essays to philosophy Journals defending Objectivism?"The above was also stupid as it was irrelevant, to the point of arguably being a fallacy of ignoratio elenchi.It is irrelevant whether Hsieh submits essays to philosophy journals defending Objectivsm.If she thinks it's defensible, then the issue is whether she does defend it somewhere, and she does, via Noodlefood.That claim is as stupid as someone saying to you, if you really thought Objectivism was wrong, you would be submitting essays about its erroneous nature to philosophy journals, rather than spending time on, or submitting critiques to some fringe blog that has barely any traffic.
"Based on your most recent post, and the one before, you appear to have very poor intellectual and argumentative capacities, similar to Burkowski and Jzero."He's just trying sooo hard! Isn't that cute?
The Oxford English Dictionary offers the following as one definition of “noodle”:“a simpleton, a stupid or silly person”So “Noodlefood” is spot on. As we can see from The Man that’s Known as Quan. Or perhaps - The Lady that’s Known as Q?
@GordonYour last post is a perfect example of the stupidity you have now displayed several times.The thrust of your childish post is simply fallacious, as you fallaciously cherry picked the definition that facilitated your disparagement.Without such self serving cherry picking, one can see that, as you yourself implied, there is more than one definition for the word noodle.Noodle is also slang for head, or mind. So Diana's website simply means mind food. Intellectual nourishment.Your apparent inability to get that is not only stupid, but as obtuse as Greg Nyquist having such a laughable time over-complicating and trying to figure out what the word is means in Existence is identityGordon, please look at this video and take its words to heart:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yqBKV0IXlDo
You go, girl!P.S. Thanks for explaining that "noodle" has more than one meaning. Gee, are you ever smart!
I have to admit, I'm secretly pining for QuantumHaeceity to insult me. I mean, I've said lots of mean things about Ayn Rand over the years. I wrote an essay highlighting her infatuation with Ed Hickman. I once wrote a blog post discussing the debt owed by the Satanic Bible to Rand's writings. I even publicly questioned whether or not Rand was a sociopath.Don't I deserve a few rhetorical jabs? What's a fellow gotta do to get trolled around here? Signed, Feeling Ignored on ARCHN :-(
@Prescott"Don't I deserve a few rhetorical jabs?"Uh, the reason I haven't insulted you, is until this post, you haven't insulted me. I deeply believe in fairness and justice and thus what a man receives should be because of what he gives.You never gave me insult till now, so you never got it from me. Though you did just insult me by calling or implying that I am a troll."What's a fellow gotta do to get trolled around here?" I see no warrant for your label of "trolled". is there reasoning for that, or are you simply using that out of bias?"I mean, I've said lots of mean things about Ayn Rand over the years"I don't like Ayn Rand for the most part, so saying negative things about her is not going to move me too much. Though it is rather telling that you admit you've been mean towards her. Which doesn't make you look too good, as it doesn't with Greggy.
Ahhhhhh, finally I got me some of that sweet, sweet, trollish abuse. And it hurts so good. Thanks, Quantum. I needed that. Signed, Forlorn No More on ARCHN
" I deeply believe in fairness and justice"No you don't.
@Forlorn No More:Glad for your moment. No longer need you linger wistfully on the bridge, listening eagerly to every incoherent gurgle from the waters below.The Troll Cometh. He/she comes, with all the pomposity and total lack of self-awareness that all of us know so well. Enjoy. A moment to be savoured.
@Prescott"finally I got me some of that sweet, sweet, trollish abuse"(looking at you blankly and perplexed) Uh....how was that trollish or abuse?It was absolutely nothing of the kind, and again you are leveling labels or accusations without the least bit of justification or substantiation.Do you really want to behave in the irrational, childish, foolish manner of Jzero, Burkowski Nyquist Dragonfly, Flack and Barnes?Do you really think there needs to be more clowns like those? I don't think anyone wants that.
I admit I was hoping for a little more invective, but I'll take what I can get. After all, it's bad form to look a gift troll in the mouth.For the record, anyone who shows up on a site and starts accusing the site's administrators and regular commenters of being "irrational, childish, foolish ... clowns" is obviously a troll. It's like weighing in on a baseball site simply to insist over and over that anyone who likes baseball must be a cretin. The intent is to ruffle feathers and raise hackles, not to intelligently advance the discussion.From the Wikipedia entry titled "Troll (Internet)": "A troll is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a newsgroup, forum, chat room, or blog) with the deliberate intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion."The term "sea lion" also comes to mind ... http://wondermark.com/sea-lion-verb/Cheerio!
You have admitted seeking revenge for slights to yourself and objectivists. That makes you a troll. Not seeing that reveals a lack of self awareness.
Michael,Thanks for putting the matter so concisely.Not that it will do any good, short of a Road to Damascus moment. What's that expression about tinkle going off a duck's back? :)
Having a little too much time on my hands tonight, I went back to the Sept. 16 post about the box-office failure of the third Atlas Shrugged movie and took a look at QuantumHaecceity's contribution to the discussion. I hope this makes clear why, by any reasonable standard, he must be regarded as a troll (see Wikipedia definition in an earlier comment). In just one thread — a thread about a movie! — QuantumHaecceity refers to those who disagree with him as:childishcatty little shrewclowns not only petty and childish, but seriously ignorantignorant of movie economicsobtusepetty, childishstupida liar or just obtusepetty, vindictive, and childishignorant and bigoted dishonestamazingly stupid and bigotednot honest or competentsome biased, hater buffoona biased coward snottyanimalisticstupidstupidcoward biased snob the other clowns in this cliqueliarhardheaded and a liarcatty little shrews childish silly little sycophantsbiasedstupidlow classthe regular drones on herepretty stupid dishonestcowardlysycophantic like dronesbiasedworthless and childish He describes the arguments made against his position as: stupidity hypocrisyall your stupidity your pathetic behavioryour silly B.S.your snobby, self-righteous blatheryour self righteous whiningHe characterizes the site itself this way: hate sitethis site is a hate site like I always knew it wasthis hate site a hate siteyour stupid hate site hereHere is how he directly addresses other commenters: you idiotyou are an idiot you are a liaryour dishonest naturebeing a liar and dishonestyou are an ignorant, bigoted clownyou're an idiotI'm just humoring your foolish attempts to try and save faceyou silly clownyour biased, cowardly behindsyou are a liarsince you are a liar, you are not to be trustedthe hater-drones on here like yourselfyou don't really mean anything to meyou are a cowardyour whiny, self righteous buttget some ballsyou're just another coward to meshut the hell upyou foolhow narrow-minded and bigoted you are you're a weak ass coward. shove it sonyou clownyou're just making crap upa bunch of cowards like yourselfyour bigotry and stupidityyou being a dishonest personyour dishonest attemptyou clownyou are a dishonest personyou talking crap hereyour cowardly butt you are a bad personyou're a childish catty shrewyou are dishonest and a liaryou clownsyou clownsBarney-boyBarneySparky(The last three were directed at Daniel Barnes, the site admin.) I realize that some insults flew in QuantumHaecceity's direction also, but no other commenter unleashed such a sustained volley of over-the-top abuse. As it happens, this style of "argument," if it can be called that, is self-defeating. In real life and online, people are much more likely to be perceived as the winners in a debate if they are polite, moderate, reasonable, and calm, with a pleasant (not sarcastic or caustic) sense of humor and a willingness to seriously engage with the other side. There's a reason why Dale Carnegie didn't include a chapter called "Spewing Invective" in How To Win Friends and Influence People! ;-)
Getting back to Branden, I wonder what Objectivists who ignored Rand's excommunication saw in the guy. I think age tends to sort out the worthwhile individuals from the ones who had fans early in life among people who lacked the life experience at the time to know better. I met Timothy Leary a couple times in the early 1990's, for example, and I just didn't see the charisma, despite his reputation in the 1960's and 1970's. Of course by that time age, illness and years of irregular living had taken their toll. I've heard similar bafflement recently regarding the appeal of Hugh Hefner to a lot of people back in the 1960's and 1970's. And I suspect that when Fidel and Raul die and Cuba reverts to something like a normal country again, people will wonder why Fidel had rock star appeal among leftists for decades, and what all that Communist revolutionizing really accomplished in the long run. (Funny how these Western progressives don't admire the Kim family's North Korea.)By contrast Warren Buffett seems to have aged well. He has solid accomplishments, he knows valuable stuff and people still respect him at his advanced age. I would jump at the opportunity to meet him if it came up. And people will still probably study his advice on investing long after he dies. I just didn't get that kind of impression of long-term value from what I've read of the lives of Ayn Rand and Nathaniel Branden. They seem to have more in common with Leary, Hefner and Castro than with Buffett.
I don't know about that, Mark. Rand died in 1982 - more than 30 years ago - and she still has a following and an influence. Two Rand bios came out in the last few years, and she's often cited by libertarians and Tea Party conservatives. There's a substantial Objectivist presence online. Even if the sales figures of her books are inflated, they're still selling quite well, especially considering their age. I don't see any parallel to Hugh Hefner, at least for Rand herself. The story with Nathaniel Branden, Leonard Peikoff, et al. may well be different.
Re "long-term value": somewhere Norman Mailer once defined literary survival as still being read 30 years after one's death.That's a stiff but accurate test. Remember John O'Hara? John P. Marquand? Atlas Shrugged was published in 1957. The literary sensation of that year was - By Love Possessed, written by James Gould Cozzens. Try reading it. Just try it.Amusingly, I seriously doubt that Mailer is going to pass his own test. He died seven years ago and I suspect that he's failed the test already.Of course, the question with Rand is: is she lasting because of her politics or because of literary merit? This point was made 15 years ago by Claudia Roth Pierpont in a book profiling 12 female authors, including Rand. She perceptively described them all as literary women of influence - but not women of literary influence.It's a point to keep in mind when evaluating Atlas Shrugged. In spite of its surreal length, it's a novel with a passion and narrative drive that still pulls people in - very much like the nineteenth century novels that were so central in Rand's own life. It's also a rhetorical, hectoring piece written by a women with a tin ear. I dipped into it the other day. It worked a lot better for me when I was 13 years old.
I think The Fountainhead has real literary merit. Atlas is more problematic from a literary standpoint. Rand's other novels and plays would probably have been forgotten by now if not for her rabid fanbase.
"Rand's other novels and plays would probably have been forgotten by now if not for her rabid fanbase."I'd put in a word for We the Living. . .
Rand will endure for few reasons.1. She writes what are essentially self-help manuals in potboiler form - two perennial genres. Most people read her at that level, and that's as far as they go.2. To the extent that her books are politically/philosophically influential, they summarise a number well-known threads of classical liberal/libertarian thought in an EZ-2-Read format. It's the Classic Comix version, so there'll always be a readership at that introductory level too, though I expect they will migrate upwards eventually.3. Further to the above, I've noticed that a great many Objectivists come from intellectually oppressive collectivist backgrounds - fundamentalist churches etc. I can't help but think that Rand is a useful tool to help escape such repressive, anti-individualistic cultures. As I've said before, I think this is one of the benefits of Ayn Rand, though I would describe it as jumping out of the frying pan into a frying pan on "simmer."4. Finally, there's her lasting, original philosophical contribution that adds to the sum of human knowledge in some important way. This I would rate at zero. There is no such contribution discernible in her work, despite her loud claims to the contrary. She and her groupies are simply deluded on this score. That's why I welcome her work's greater profile - it will also give greater profile to the vacancy at the centre, which the cultists will no longer be able to conceal, even from themselves.What will remain, I think, will be the popular summariser rather than the great thinker - a little like the English writer Colin Wilson perhaps.
Rand offers the possibility of a moral code that can be proven to be justified. And a lot of non religious people would like there to be an ethical code which could be logically justified. She offers a basis which sounds plausible. This is a very strong temptation and a lot of people will hope she has succeeded. This is one thing which will keep her ideas around.
"Rand offers the possibility of a moral code that can be proven to be justified."I think for some it goes a little further than that: Rand offers the justification of a moral code that absolves behavior that other moral codes find to be immoral (or at least less moral). Thus, "selfish" becomes a virtue, not a flaw. Do people call you a rude, judgmental jerk? Why, with Objectivism, not only is that a good thing, you're pretty much supposed to be that way!If you are told that not only can you do all those things people don't like you to do but there's a philosophy that says it's really great if you do it, and can kind of "prove" you should through some jargon-loaded sleight-of-hand, that's going to be a mighty attractive prospect, and I think that's a large component of her ongoing appeal.
@Prescott"is obviously a troll."Not at all. Those in my view, are rather accurate observations."It's like weighing in on a baseball site simply to insist over and over that anyone who likes baseball must be a cretin."The above doesnt work as it's looking at that comment in isolation."Having a little too much time on my hands tonight,"I was actually shocked and amused that a grown man such as yourself actually wasted your time culling all that. That was not only exceedingly pathetic but the level of bias it entails is rather disturbing.There is a reason why you are the only person that actually pulled something like that. Not only because very few people would bother to waste their time that badly, but the people on here are well aware of how many times they have insulted me. And thus such a culling can exactly be done with them, making any such attempt null and void, since they simply got what they gave.In fact, you yourself exonerate me from any accusation of being a troll. LOL!When you behaved like a troll by baiting me and provoking me and insulting me into trying to insult you, the very fact that I had not done so till that point, is support for not being a troll. And then even after you insulted me, I tried to reason with you, and still did not insult you, is again not the behavior of someone who is a troll. Rather the opposite.Ironically, and with superb irony and hypocrisy, your behavior was the very definition of a troll. Congrats! That's failure on the level of Jzero and Burkowski.By your very own childish, and pathetic troll behavior, you unwittingly disproved your point. LOL!"by any reasonable standard, he must be regarded as a troll"Again, not a game you want to play. By any reasonable standard, both Anonymous people(probably the same person though), Dragonfly, Flack, Barnes and Burkowski, based on their behavior, would have to be considered as trolls.The only ones I would consider not to be trolls, as far as their behavior is Jzero, Strelnikov and Parille.Now, if you would like to stop being a troll and engage the issues, I'm more than willing to do so. I asked these nasty fellows to do so, and they clearly wanted to stay with the abuse and personal garbage.In my view, I have already shown this is a hate site and that the people on here are cowards and hateful/mean-spirited; the latter of which, is something even Barnes has admitted to by the way. The only thing left is whether the site's intellectual critiques are actually on the money and disproves Objectivism, or whether I and Greg Perkins are correct in saying that the criticism is low grade, and in my view seriously misses the mark in showing Objectivism is intellectually false or bankrupt. And if I remember correctly, Greg Perkins considers this site to be dishonest, in for example, attributing things to Objectivists or Objectivism that Nyquist does not name who said it, or that Objectivism does not entail.I recently rendered an excellent refutation of Nyquist's attack on the Objectivist position on philosophy of perception.You can engage with that, or we can disengage this altogether, since I've taken on all comers and proved everything I needed to prove, and backed up everything I've said saliently. So we can be done here as far as I'm concerned.
Oh, and just to be fair and thorough, Mark Plus is not a troll either, based on the behavior I have witnessed from him thus far.Just to be fair and thorough about it.
"Now, if you would like to stop being a troll and engage the issues, I'm more than willing to do so."No you're not.
"I've taken on all comers and proved everything I needed to prove, and backed up everything I've said saliently."If you really believe this, QH, you're beyond help. You've proved nothing, and your "arguments" are weak at best. To give just one example, you claim that Galt's speech cannot be taken as an authoritative statement of Objectivism, because it appears in a novel. Go on any pro-Objectivist site and try out that claim. See what Objectivists you admire, like Greg Perkins and Diana Hsieh, think of it.Rand explicitly declared that Galt was Objectivism's "best representative" and that Galt's speech was the definitive statement of her philosophy, at least until such time as she wrote a full-length treatise on Objectivism (which she never did). This is Objectivism 101, and you are unaware of it. "... a grown man such as yourself actually wasted your time culling all that."It didn't take long; I just copied each insult to the clipboard as I found it. What's more interesting, I think, is the amount of time and energy you invested in that one thread (not to mention all the others), when you have little or nothing of substance to say.If you want to know my motive for writing the post, it was the (faint) hope that if you saw all your invective laid out so baldly, you might realize how you're coming across. That's why the last part of the post was a suggestion on how to argue more effectively. I'm not surprised my suggestion fell on deaf ears, but I thought I'd give it a try. ".. the very fact that I had not done so till that point, is support for not being a troll."Sorry, but no. You'd been trolling the site for weeks, and personally attacking other commenters and the site administrators. Objectivism teaches that we should judge by the full context, right? The full context of your participation on this blog is that you consistently behave like a troll. And everybody knows it except you.Bored now ...
"Bored now."Well, yes. So are we all. A long time ago. Your listing of that tidal wave of epithets would have embarrassed most persons into silence. But not all. After all, the shortest book in the world is the list of self-confessed trolls. As we see here.Bored now indeed. Q has that effect. One progresses from an attempt at debate - to exasperation - to contemptuous dismissal. That's the effect which he/she has.Incidentally, you are at least the third person who has pointed out that his/her view of Galt's speech would not be shared by a single spokesperson for Objectivism. It did no good, and won't do so this time.
"It did no good, and won't do so this time."True. I'm an incurable optimist about some things. I always like to believe this is a teachable moment. But about Q, I have no such illusions anymore.
Daniel wrote, "She writes what are essentially self-help manuals in potboiler form."Personally, I think The Fountainhead rises considerably above the level of a potboiler. Whatever my disagreements with Rand, I still think The Fountainhead is a work of real literary merit, certainly not inferior to (and arguably better than) the best work of Sinclair Lewis and Upton Sinclair. Howard Roark is a vivid and memorable character, highly original in conception, and believable enough within the context of Romantic fiction. Toohey and Wynand are also memorable characters; some might say Toohey is a caricature, but I don't know if he's that far removed from the reality of some self-styled "elite" intellectuals. Dominique is the most problematic character, but she works within the story; anyway, there's no rule that says a great novel can't have a few problematic elements.Atlas Shrugged is more of a mixed bag. The melodramatic plot, the didacticism and polemicism, and the clunky style (not nearly as smooth or graceful as The Fountainhead) are all difficult to deal with. On the other hand, it's a work of great ambitiousness, presenting the fall of civilization and arguing for a comprehensive worldview, and the plot, while (intentionally) sensationalistic, is also quite gripping and exceptionally well constructed. Every major theme of Galt's speech is dramatized in action somewhere in the plot; this is not easy to do. And it takes a certain admirable chutzpah to write an 1100-page philosophical novel about a hidden valley, a sci-fi weapon developed under the codename Project X, and a motor that runs on static electricity. These can be the elements of a potboiler, no doubt; but Rand, who was no fool, was well aware of this fact, and had fun throwing these easy-to-criticize plot ingredients in the face of her critics, just as she enjoyed telling them that Mickey Spillane was a better writer than Thomas Wolfe. Rand's unwillingness to kowtow to the standards set by her critics is a feature, not a bug. It's one of the things I like about her, and even try to emulate in my small way.
“Every major theme of Galt's speech is dramatized in action somewhere in the plot; this is not easy to do.”Yes. This is the most impressive thing about Atlas Shrugged.Ayn Rand once said that the three most important elements of fiction were: plot, plot and plot. Atlas exemplifies this focus in its most extreme form. No novel has ever been written – and none is ever likely to be written – which dramatizes and interconnects as many philosophical issues, all within the context of an action plot.Unfortunately, most critics just don’t see fiction and plot in these terms. So the main achievement of Atlas Shrugged is literally invisible to them. That’s too bad. The plot structure of the novel would repay a sophisticated critical dissection.But there is a price to be paid for this kind of philosophical integration. We see that price being paid in the indifference to deep characterization, the long-winded speechifying and perhaps above all in the utter flatness in the character of John Galt. Take a look at the love scene between him and Dagny. It is the least erotic coupling in world literature.But after all, Rand’s concern was with – plot, plot and plot. And if people really believe that a novel should be assessed based on what it sets out to achieve, then she should be receiving far more credit than she usually gets.
@Michael,I would also say that Dickens wrote potboilers, and he's one of my favourites, so I'm not damning Rand with this, merely trying to explain some of her enduring appeal.
Jzero, yes objectivism is very narcissistic jerk friendly. But what is interesting is that it doesn’t just blind its adherents to narcissism on their own part but also to narcissism in its opponents.It encourages narcissism about their own self-perceived productivity. But in attributing altruism to anti-life motives I think it fails to spot narcissism about benevolence on the part of much of the left. That is what I think is behind much of the self-sacrificing excesses.
And QH continues to provide a source of guilty, if intermittent, entertainment, rather like how people used to visit Bedlam to laugh at the lunatics. I was wondering how he was going to deny that he was a troll. With his blindness to how his behaviour look to others he was going to of course.He did it by avoiding any mention of what a troll is and how well his behaviour does or does not match that description. Yet he had claimed that he had driven posters such as Barnes into silence. Now the claims were false of course but they were what he was trying to do. And trying to do that was trying to disrupt the site which is trollish behaviour by definition. Seeking revenge for slights is trollish behaviour. Coming to a site to upbraid is trollish behaviour. I await his further evasions.
"But what is interesting is that it doesn’t just blind its adherents to narcissism on their own part but also to narcissism in its opponents."The curious thing to me is that many Objectivists I've encountered seem to be utterly unable to comprehend the viewpoints of other people in general. Rand included.Rand's villains are implausibly-motivated for the most part, with zero depth and no sense of understanding of how they came to have their viewpoints. James Taggart seems to just be irrational all the way through. Why should he resent the accomplishments of others? Rand doesn't say, only that he does, and that he - and anyone else who isn't Objectivist - is somehow simply against life.Which is neat and pat but completely wrong. Even the worst criminal or dictator does not see themselves as evil for the sake of being evil - even if they recognize their actions as being wrong, they have reasons they feel justify their behavior.And I've wondered if this glib "anti-life" label has kept Objectivsts from even attempting to understand the viewpoints of their opponents - why bother, if Rand has understood things for you? More than once I've heard Objectivists describe the motivations of others in wildly implausible and exaggerated terms, as if they have no concept of the things that might actually motivate people who don't share their own specific points of view.
Its been a long time since I read Atlas Shrugged so I don't remember just what Rand said about what made James Taggart tick. But there are plenty of motivations around that could have explained bis behaviour. Jealousy and feeling that he could never measure up to the standards of his ancestors or his sister would have been believable motives. But I suspect her ant-life rubbish leads to her not dealing with obvious explanations.Elsworth Toohey is an attempt to portray someone driven by power lust. He is not convincing to me. He is someone completely motivated by the desire to manipulate and control people for the sake of manipulation and control. His altruism is merely excuses. That rings false.Having is real but also a rationalization for other nastier things would have been realistic. But Rand diss not understand rationalization in her opponents. It all had to be something more consciously malicious.
"But Rand did not understand rationalization in her opponents. It all had to be something more consciously malicious."Rand's grasp of psychology is faulty, to be sure. But I think she did understand that rationalization plays a big role in immoral behavior; look at Dr. Robert Stadler in Atlas, or Gail Wynand in The Fountainhead. Her criticism of evasion and "blank-out" is aimed squarely at the policy of rationalizing one's darker motives. For the most part, she chose to make her villains' motives explicit, not because she thought people actually hold such views consciously or express them in words, but because she wanted to show (what she saw as) the philosophical roots of their actions. She wasn't a Naturalist, remember; she was depicting people as "they might be," which includes depicting villains as more self-aware and open about their intentions than their mealy-mouthed real-life counterparts. Besides, are we so sure that, say, Michelle Obama does not have the psychology of Lillian Rearden? I'm not.
"Besides, are we so sure that, say, Michelle Obama does not have the psychology of Lillian Rearden? I'm not."Are we so sure that anyone has any particular psychological makeup? After all, if you take him at face value, QH sees us as "cowards" and "animalistic" and such-like. He appears to be certain of this, though of course, his credibility on that front is damaged by his lack of substance in other issues. None of us can do more than speculate and assume about what goes on in other peoples' heads. The best we can hope for is a more informed speculation.And still, Rand showing fictional characters "as they might be" doesn't exactly explain her declaring other real life people (such as that perennial example Kant) to have this or that motivation for which there is no real evidence. I'm still convinced that something about Objectivism breaks the ability to put oneself "in another person's shoes", as it were - or perhaps it simply attracts people who lack that ability.
@Prescott"To give just one example, you claim that Galt's speech cannot be taken as an authoritative statement of Objectivism, because it appears in a novel."You've screwed up here. To the best of my recollection I never said Galt's speech cannot be taken as an authoritative statement of Objectivism because it appears in a novel. Rather I said quote:"If it's just a summary, it's not a rigorous and in-depth philosophical exposition of the issues at hand, so not a good explication of it. Certainly I don't think it wise to come to conclusions about psychology off a speech by a character in a novel."If you can quote me specifically saying what you claimed I said, then you can be exonerated, as I might have forgotten; otherwise, you screwed up there."It didn't take long"Even one minute wasted on that was too long. Not to mention the bias it entails was seriously pathetic and transparent."when you have little or nothing of substance to say."This would be flat false. I just rendered substance on Nyquist's critique of the Objectivist philosophy of perception."hope that if you saw all your invective laid out so baldly, you might realize how you're coming across."But that would be stupid, since they have laid out just as much invective if not more. Certainly at the very least, a lot of it.Which they know full well, which is why no one bothered to try that junk but you."Sorry, but no." We'll have to agree to disagree on that one. Also, coming from a person who unequivocally acted like a troll, you really are in no position to talk, and your judgement has little to no credibility because of your behavior. On top of your clear bias in their favor.
"I just rendered substance on Nyquist's critique of the Objectivist philosophy of perception."Invisibly, one presumes. It's certainly not in view here.
Yes. Hearing lectures on trolling from this guy is like getting lectures on chastity from a prostitute.
@Jzero"Invisibly, one presumes. It's certainly not in view here."You presume incorrectly, as usual.Here you go:http://aynrandcontrahumannature.blogspot.com/2012/08/ayn-rand-epistemology-9.htmlIt's the most recent comment on there, and has been there for almost a week, unrefuted.
"It's the most recent comment on there, and has been there for almost a week, unrefuted."It's most likely unrefuted mostly because the previous last comment was in August of 2013, and likely nobody has been paying any attention to it. Just because you dropped a comment with minimal fanfare on an over-a-year-old post doesn't make the resulting lack of response any kind of concession.Just skimming it, it looks like for some of it you fall back on the old trick of "oh, how wasteful and useless and hate-filled all this is, why oh why is Nyquist wasting his time", which is not in any way an effective rebuttal.And then there's beauts like this:"If a person says the Sun doesn't shine light, because the senses deceive us,"--only nobody actually says that, ever. Nobody really claims that because the senses are imperfect, the sun does not shine. This may be an example of a "stolen concept" fallacy, but if nobody ever has proposed such a thing, it's an example only of someone's fantasy. And it has little to do with the argument at hand. Which makes the statements directly following fairly meaningless.Then you rely on Peikoff to do your heavy lifting for you. Only you completely miss the point. When Peikoff says, "It is the task not of the senses but of the mind to analyze the evidence and identify the causes at work", he is, in fact, pushing things "up the cognitive chain", by handing it off to "the mind" to process. But he still hasn't really sorted out the issue of how one knows when his perceptions are accurate or when they are mistaken, just that it's the mind's "job". If he does, you didn't quote it. Finally:"Also, the word valid is simply used to mean the senses are a sound or effective or justified way to know reality."Only that's the whole issue: they aren't, not 100% always. There are many ways the senses can be fooled, from visual and auditory illusions to outright mental hallucinations. So your definition does nothing to clarify the matter; that definition of validity is just as problematic as whatever it is you think Nyquist was saying regarding the word.And that's way too much off-topic writing on this issue: I'll leave it to others to rebut you further on that. But again, leaving new comments on years-old posts is not by itself refuting much of anything. Even if your arguments were flawless (they aren't), they can't be effective if nobody knows they're there.
Quan wrote, "To the best of my recollection I never said Galt's speech cannot be taken as an authoritative statement of Objectivism because it appears in a novel."Here's Quan's part of comment in the thread about the Atlas Shrugged movie. Time and date stamp: 10/16/2014 at 5:30 AM."And I could be wrong, but I don't think you can say Rand said this and said that, when it wasn't her that said it directly, but it was one of her bloody characters in her fictional novels."I could be wrong, but I don't think fiction works that way."I've never heard anyone, at least with me, say Stephen King said this and that, when it was actually his character Jack Torrance that said it."The author is writing for a character, so you cant, as far as I know, say it was the author saying this. It's the character since it's fiction."For example, say Stephen King writes for one of his characters to say homosexuality is evil."You cant necessarily say that is what Stephen King is saying or rather believes since it's bloody fiction. Stephen King the person could actually think homosexuality is fine and moral."That's why it's best to refer to the nonfictional statements of the person to make sure there is no misunderstanding about their position or beliefs."This might be why you clowns have such a problem with Objectivism. You are going off of fictional novels. Not sure."
QH, I think you don't realize that Rand was writing her novels in a Russian rather than Western tradition. As I understand it there is a tradition of Russian novels that are written to portray philosophical and political points. In one of her essays she talks about the importance of theme in a story, the idea that the story is meant to convey. She did not regard it as essential that every story had a theme but thought that the greatest ones had to. To her a novel could be just as much an exposition of a philosophy as a treatise. You arfe applying to her the same sort of expectations that you would to an American writer such as King. And this is a big mistake.
"Her criticism of evasion and 'blank-out' is aimed squarely at the policy of rationalizing one's darker motives."I have to disagree with this, Michael. Evasion and rationalization are two very different things. "Evasion" consists in not admitting what you know to be true. It occurs - usually, not always - in the course of debates with others. To real Randroids, it is the alleged explanation of all disagreements with Ayn Rand."Rationalization" is a much more insidious problem. It consists in interpreting our own actions in a way that may seem perfectly valid to ourselves and which we may sincerely believe to be true - but which is in fact misguided or incomplete.Objectivism's theory of emotions - the idea that all emotions are the frozen form of previous evaluations - makes rationalizations on a grand scale not only likely but inevitable. Rand herself famously boasted that she had never had an emotion she couldn’t account for. But of course, a person can sincerely account for everything and still be rationalizing on the grand scale.If you want the best example of this, take a look at Rand's own Journal entries at the time that her relationship with Branden was falling apart. They are hard to read: the self-imposed blindness of them is pitiful to see. The relationship had died, she said, because “I was and am too much for him. This is my full conviction.” Anyone with a modicum of common sense will not have trouble figuring out why a man might prefer a beautiful and worshipful young blonde to an unattractive, censorious, ill-tempered harridan 25 years his senior. Pathetic.Incidentally, Atlas Shrugged shows far less psychological penetration than The Fountainhead does. As her own philosophical views took firmer and firmer shape, they gradually subverted her talents as a writer. It’s no accident that she never wrote another novel.
In 1961, Rand published her anthology For the New Intellectual.It contains Galt's speech in full. Rand writes, "This is the philosophy of Objectivism."
"This is the philosophy of Objectivism."I guess it depends on what the meaning of "is" is. . . :)
"The only ones I would consider not to be trolls, as far as their behavior is Jzero, Strelnikov and Parille."Interesting. Here are some of the epithets which QH lavished on jzero in some of his/her posts: Silly sycophants like you snobby, self-righteous blather you are a coward whiny, self righteous butt get some bails just another coward to me. What a stupid questionthe manner of an elementary child you’re a weak ass coward shove it son you clown You're just making crap Worthless, and childishNo I don't think so you fool.you're a punk and a hypocrite. on the level of an animal. grade school crapignorant and patheticthe type of bad person you arewhining and self-righteous trashridiculously naiveirrational and hypocriticalSo welcome to our club, jzero. You may not be a troll - but you've been slimed just as comprehensively as the rest of us.
Gordon, you're probably right about Rand and rationalization, at least as far as her mature viewpoint is concerned. In The Fountainhead she seems to have more of an understanding of rationalization; as I recall, Peter Keating's interior monologues show a lot of rationalizing on display - stuff like (I'm paraphrasing), "I can't help what I did, it's a dog-eat-dog world, a fellow's got to do whatever it takes to get along, no one can blame me, everybody does it," etc. As you say, by the time of Atlas, her psychological insights have been undermined by her rationalistic philosophy. And her literary prowess has been compromised - although this may also have been the result of not taking input from editors and friends, as she did in earlier years. Another factor in her literary decline is that she increasingly made her characters into quasi-symbols for philosophical points she wanted to make. Rearden's puritanical view of sex and marriage is not realistic even for a character of the 1950s (as Nathaniel Branden once pointed out); it was imposed on him in order to dramatize Rand's point about the perniciousness of mind-body dualism. The characters also increasingly become mere cogs in the plot; both Rearden and Dagny seem remarkably obtuse in their inability to fathom what the strikers are up to. The reader figures it out by p. 100, though admittedly we have an advantage, since the title basically gives it away. Even once she's in Galt's Gulch, Dagny remains bewildered until her hosts finally spell it out for her ... all of this so Rand can orchestrate the proper dramatic moment for the unveiling of the grand design. (And it is dramatic, but also quite forced.)
@Michael:In an earlier post, you mentioned Dr. Robert Stadler - who is certainly the most interesting villain in Atlas Shrugged.Significantly, her Journals seem to indicate that the character of Stadler was patterned after Dr. Robert Oppenheimer, rather than being constructed simply to illustrate a philosophic point.
I wonder what was so immoral about Robert Stadler, "the ultimate villain" of Atlas Shrugged. That he accepted government money for his research? Then it is rather ironic that Rand later waxes so lyrical about Apollo 11 and the American space program, a government program par excellence, that would never existed without government money. Sure, at the end she mutters something about that we don't need a mixed economy, but well, as long as we do have a mixed economy, well, then we should pour all the millions and billions of dollars into the space program. Apparently she wanted her cake and eat it too.
For some mysterious reason captcha is no longer visible to me, so I can't submit reactions in the usual way. With a google account you apparently don't need captcha.Dragonfly
Just click on the I'm not a robot box.
@Lloyd Flack: I see only the text "Please prove you're not a robot". There used to be a box below, but on my computer it has now disappeared. I've tried to click on the text and in the area where the picture used to be, but nothing happens. I tried it also on an old windows system, and there I see a box with text. Only is the text quite unreadable, instead of the readable street numbers that I'd seen before, so I cannot use it.Dragonfly
Yes, that was it as Rand saw it. He accepted money to fund his research that had beegathered by taxatio and she saw taxation as theft.And she was less than consistent in morality. I think the reason is that she was driven by hero worship for human accomplishments and when she saw an accomplishment that she admired her scruples got defenestrated. It was the same when she talked about the taking of land off Native Americans.
When I click on the box it disappears until I post then it comes back.
Rand's love of accomplisment was greater than her love of justice and whenever they clashed she started rationalizing on the side of accomplisment.
I think Rand no more understood why people go into science than she understood people usually get from art. She always saw art as serving other causes such as relaxation and refreshment and did not seem to value the aesthetic experience itself much. She also seemed uncurious and did not understand the desire to understand and the interest in problem solving that most scientists possess.I think some of it was a refusal to appreciate Nature either aesthetically or by understanding. She seemed to refuse to see any numinosity, any element of the sublime, in Nature because it got in the way of the sort of hero worship of humans and their accomplishments that she wanted to engage in. Which cuts her off from most artists and scientists.She also did not understand that science is not just about individual accomplishment but that those accomplishments are contributions to a collective edifice of understanding. She did not understand that a major goal of science is an explicitly collective one, the advancement of the knowledge of the human race.She also did not understand that scientists are opposed to her mania for certainty. Science is a work in progress and we have different degrees of confidence in different areas. And scientists accept this.And she did not understand that the vital testing aspects of science are done collectively. That there is no logical discipline that we can use that can remove our biases, that we have to submit our work to others for testing and evaluation. This does not fit with her myths of heroic individualism.She did not understand that science aims to serve a public good. And this does not fit into her scheme of things.
Daniel, I think it might be a good idea if you created an open thread for people to make comments on whatever topic they like. That way we can leave this thread just for comments related to Nathaniel Branden.
@Jzero"it's an example only of someone's fantasy"Are you really so obtuse, you didn't understand I was using that as an example to show how attacks on the senses lead to self contradiction? Not ascribing that to any specific person."Then you rely on Peikoff to do your heavy lifting for you."It was exceedingly silly for you to point out the above, and also exceedingly obtuse. If you don't know why it would be germane and appropriate to quote Peikoff on that matter, than let me know and I will hold your hand and walk you through it."But he still hasn't really sorted out the issue of how one knows when his perceptions are accurate or when they are mistaken"Yeah he has. It's called using reason and logic."Only that's the whole issue: they aren't, not 100% always."They are a justified way to know reality. If they were not, we would not know anything about reality empirically. Arguably at all."Even if your arguments were flawless (they aren't), they can't be effective if nobody knows they're there."The above is again silly from you. That is the very reason why someone would use the recent comments widget. So that all it takes is a quick browsing to the right, to be informed of who is saying what and where.
@PrescottAnd none of those quotes have me saying Galt's speech cannot be taken as an authoritative statement of Objectivism because it appears in a novel. So yeah, just as I thought, you screwed up there.Indeed, what I did say, even has me using several qualifiers/caveats to denote that I am not sure about that and am making statements that I do not intend to be presented as fact or conclusive.If Objectivists consider Galt's speech to be an authoritative statement of Objectivism, that's their business, and I wouldn't dispute that in and of itself, but only say I think it's a bad idea to get ones understanding of a philosophy from fictional novels. The philosophy will be skewed by the fictional narrative and can easily get misunderstood or not understood well enough because it is being buried or embedded in a make believe(fictional) scenario(s).It's a great way to inspire people to believe it and like it and learn more, but to have a sober and adult level understanding, that should come from non-fictional treatises/video.And even Objectivists seem to know that since if they thought that Atlas Shrugged was sufficient as a definitive statement and exposition of the philosophy, they would not have bothered to write all the non-fiction they have like OPAR by Dr. Peikoff, and the 2012 book Understanding Objectivism.
jzero: "Even if your arguments were flawless (they aren't), they can't be effective if nobody knows they're there."q: “The above is again silly from you. That is the very reason why someone would use the recent comments widget. So that all it takes is a quick browsing to the right, to be informed of who is saying what and where.”Time for a little fact-checking.1) The recent comments feature reports on the last 9 postings. It can be stretched to 11 if you scroll down.2) Time of q’s posting @ Ayn Rand Epistemology 9, ARCHN: December 15, 11:37 pm.3) Time of 9th ARCHN comment following: December 16, 4:49 pm.4) Comment of q about the above posting: "It's the most recent comment on there, and has been there for almost a week, unrefuted."Well, not exactly. It was showing under recent comments for a total of 17 hours, most of that in the middle of the night.Conclusion: time for a middle-level Pinocchio award. Not a whopper, but seriously misleading.
@Gordon"Conclusion: time for a middle-level Pinocchio award. Not a whopper, but seriously misleading."This is now the third time I think, I know at least twice, where you have rendered a posting towards me or about me, that has been massively stupid.When I said "It's the most recent comment on there, and has been there for almost a week, unrefuted", I was talking about it being on the blog posting itself, not the recent comments widget.Your comments like this Gordon, are so mind numbingly stupid and petty, it's almost as if you have some type of comprehension problem like dyslexia. With all due respect to dyslexic people, and I don't mean to bring that up in poor taste, but simply that I'm just thinking you can't be this dumb, so it must be some type of fundamental comprehension problem.
Typical trollish behavior from Gordon with the zzzz thing.And has gotten quite old too.
LOL! And instead of being mature and adult about it, Gordon decides to spazz out with more trollish "zzzz" behavior.Oh wow, where is Prescott with his cat calls about trolls and troll behavior. Oh, that's right, he won't be doing that with Burkey because of that thing called bias.(Rolls eyes)
Meaning of “ZZZ”:1) Nothing worth responding toand/or2) Heard this many, many times before.Please do everyone a favour by responding in kind.ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ
QH, you totally miss Gordon's point. You posted a comment on an old thread that people would seldom look at now. The only way they would be likely to know about it is by seeing it appear in recent comments. People don't look at recent comments all the time and your comment only appeared for a short while and could very easily be missed, as it was. You didn't think before writing because that would have required self-examination.
Nice. The death of a dishonest mind is conscientiously and positively marked by dishonest minds. Perfect. Oh yes, and some ten years later I stand by my comment that "ARCHN is the work of a despicable mind", which was posted with zero context, of course. ARCHN is particularly despicable for the innocents it sucks in. But,the innocent cannot remain innocent for long. At some point the innocent mind seeks to see both sides of an argument, in depth. Those who do not cease to be innocent. Their emotional rationalism drives their choices, such that they will not see ARCHN as the epistemic fraud that it is. The Straw Man Fallacy is ARCHN's Supreme Tool (i.e. misinterpret a snippet of Rand, then debunk it. Repeat ad nauseum). An honest mind reading ARCHN would choose to conscientiously read Ayn Rand to see if she actually meant what Nyquist claims. That means examining the meanings of the words she uses, double checking that other aspects of her writings expand on the same point, or enhance it, and whether those expansions are "real world" or merely contradict popular, thoughtless, trends Unless very stupid, they will see that she never meant the Nyquist interpretation, and that he should never have taken it that way... if he were honest.
What you don't seem to realize is that the posters and most of the commenters on this blog are people who have read Rand and seriously considered her ideas. Many, perhaps most accepted some or all of them for a while. But they rejected them eventually. People do understand what you believe and reject it for rational and moral reasons.
Barnes @ “A Little Ancient History”, November 13, 2014:“I certainly rate the Quanmeister as one of our most dimwitted and thin-skinned commenters, and while not up there with the Randboy greats like the demented R Bramwell and uber-troll Michael Hardesty, he's certainly another loose thread in Objectivism's crazy quilt. And as such, it has been fun for a while.”Daniel, this is beginning to look like a surrealistic class reunion. If the Uber-Troll checks in, there won’t be any room left under the bridge. . .
"QH, you totally miss Gordon's point."Thanks, Lloyd. I have to say that it's grimly amusing to be called dyslectic by someone who so consistently misunderstands and/or misrepresents everything which he/she reads.
Gordon, he/she can never admit that they were wrong no matter how innocent and understandable their initial mistake. It's an extreme case of confirmation bias, all the worse cases that I've ran into on the net were actually insane to some degree.QH seems to only remember things that fit their story and balk at remembering anything embarassing. Either that or they're lieing. Some of it is because they're here to troll and can't admit error because that would mean someone has scored a point against them.
@Flack"People don't look at recent comments all the time and your comment only appeared for a short while and could very easily be missed"I seriously doubt that people don't look at the recent comments widget all the time, but it's difficult to say as I'm not other people. I know I do. That's how to keep tabs of who is saying what, and where.But at any rate, your above comment was a mistake, since I didn't say people look at recent comments all the time.I said "That is the very reason why someone would use the recent comments widget".You didn't think before writing Flack, because that would have required self examination."QH, you totally miss Gordon's point"No, you missed Gordon's point because you are too busy whiteknighting and backing him up out of animalistic bias.If you notice what Gordon has highlighted from me, you can see the situation.He quotes me saying "It's the most recent comment on there, and has been there for almost a week, unrefuted."Then Gordon goes on to say "It was showing under recent comments for a total of 17 hours, most of that in the middle of the night."Which means he is seriously confused and has rendered another mind numbingly stupid post since what I said was talking about the blog posting itself, while Gordon is referring to the recent comments widget.On top of the fact that he didn't even have to butt in and say anything, since that was something that did not involve him, which was petty, and he was trying to attack me over something that was not that big of a deal anyway, which was also petty on his part.Then when he tries to make it out that I lied, when it really was his own stupidity that had him confused, you have one of the dumbest, most pathetic posts I've read from you lot. And that's saying quite a bit at this point.
@Bramwell"The Straw Man Fallacy is ARCHN's Supreme Tool"Yeah, indeed. I think this is probably why Dr. Hsieh and Greg Perkins dismiss this site and consider it to be dishonest, or low grade criticism.
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