Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Founders College Professor Writes to ARCHNblog

Under the name "Friscodog" an ARCHNblog commenter - presumably Founders College Philosophy Professor Robert Garmong - makes the following statement:

"I am the philosopher hired by Founders to teach the introduction to philosophy courses, so I believe I have some standing to comment on this school.

As long as I am at the helm of the Founders philosophy department, students will be educated on the major ideas behind the Western tradition. ALL of the major ideas, not just Objectivism.

Before you assume that my personal adherence to Objectivism will lead Founders to a bias in favor of Objectivist ideas, please do me, and Founders, the honor of checking the readily-available evidence of my fairness as a professor and a grader. There are plenty of sources available out there (e.g., pickaprof.com, ratemyprofessor.com). You might also wish to check my statement of teaching philosophy, as outlined on Founders' site.

Founders College will not hold adherence to Objectivism as its standard of right and wrong, not as long as I am involved with this enterprise. Founders expects its students to be prepared to discuss all of the philosophical tradition.

Those who want to read Founders as an "Objectivist college" are doing an enormous disservice to our students. That is not our stated goal, nor is it my goal as a professor.

To those who have raised bizarre and irrelevant criticism of Founders, based on nothing but their own bias against Ayn Rand's ideas, I would recommend that you study the fallacy of the Argument from Ignorance."(edited slightly for spelling)

Mr Garmong is referring to coverage of Founders College on this blog (here, here, here) and elsewhere (subscription required) over the past few weeks.

Once again, claims such as Mr Garmong's above seem to clash with both the historical origins of Founders - it was started by by The College of Rational Education Inc. in 2005, which by its own description exclusively applies Ayn Rand's philosophy to all its undertakings - and its current staff composition, which is composed of at least 50% dedicated Objectivists (the Chronicle of Higher Education article underreports this figure). Further, much of the course descriptions and surrounding rhetoric have a strong Objectivist character - for example, the Literature reading list. Thus, it is hardly "bizarre" and "irrelevant", as Mr Garmong writes, to raise these issues. Rather, it is a reasonable conclusion that is consistent with the facts so far.

Given the vague and even murky nature of Founders origins and mission - even CEO Tamara Fuller says on an Ayn Rand related site, there's been "a lot of mystery" surrounding it - it would be helpful if Mr Garmong was willing to answer a few direct questions. If he is, he could email me at estigon2001atyahoodotcodotnz for a short list. I will be happy to publish his answers in full.

1 comment:

Neil Parille said...

Personally, I'd be interested in knowing whether Dr. Garmong finds anything objectionable in Leonard Peikoff's "Fact and Value" essay.

Also, I'd like to know if he agrees with Peikoff that anyone who refuses to vote Democratic "does not understand the philosophy of Objectivism, except perhaps as a rationalistic system detached from the world."

--Neil Parille