Thursday, July 31, 2008

Hoisted from Comments: Greg Nyquist Quote of the Day

"Now when pointing this out, I am not criticizing Rand. I disagree with the object of Rand's religious-like emotions. But I regard Rand's incorporation of such emotions as a positive thing, something she can be praised for. Indeed, it is an important source of whatever merit Rand has a philosopher. If Rand is still read and appreciated 100 years from now as a philosopher (rather than just as a novelist), it will not be for her technical philosoph[y] (which was always rather shoddy and has become increasingly dated), but for her ability to project a philosophy that has a vision of things. This is something that only a handful of philosophers have managed to pull off, so it's no mean feat. Now I don't happen to agree with Rand's vision: I think it's in many respects profoundly mistaken. But it's only her ability to project a vision that makes her worth the trouble of criticizing." - Greg Nyquist, in comments, Objectivism and Religion Pt 18


Anonymous said...

Well. I am of course a romantic, which means: I project the vision of an ideal man. It is from this ideal that, as Nyquist puts it in his latest sniveling rant, "religious-like" emotions and my ability to project a vision of things spring. Yet to acknowledge my success in arousing emotions is to acknowledge that the ideal I portray, the object of such reverent feelings, the rational man -- is not merely romantic but rooted in the facts of reality. For the first time in history, a philosopher offered not merely subjectivist whim-worshipping bromides, but a rational ideal, an ideal inspiring precisely because man is a rational animal, a being who survives by reason, who freely chooses his own course of action. That such a philosophy is, ought to arouse passionate emotions, reverence, joy, love, and admiration (for its author).

In this context, reason is the reason that Nyquist finds my philosophy "worth the trouble of criticizing": it is reason that Nyquist scorns. It is reality that Nyquist despises. It is man's life -- and the philosopher whose singular achievement made it possible -- that Nyquist curses, teeth-clenched. He is, in all essential respects, anti-life, anti-reason, anti-reality (as proof, I offer any post on this website). Yet we need not be concerned: Nyquist is impotent, his mindless prattling self-immolating; he does not arouse strong emotions in others. His cowardly criticism is not worth criticizing, merely pitying.

Daniel Barnes said...

Hey, I thought Objectivists weren't into ghost-worshipping...;-)

Anonymous said...

And now we know that ego endures in the afterlife.

Anonymous said...

The ghost of ayn rand? Really? This is a whole new level of objectivist argumentation. I'm awed.

Anonymous said...

I'm astonished about the evident contradiction. Objectivism does not admit to the supernatural yet a supposed supporter claims to be a ghost. That flies in the face of Objectivist beliefs. I certainly hope this moment of hypocrisy isn't indicative of the general character of Objectivists.

Anonymous said...

It is an odd, perverse fact that no real world Objectivist heroes exist. Even vile ideologies like Fascism and Communism have their heroes such as Hitler and Stalin & Castro respectively. But a belief structure supposedly designed to favour the intellectual elite has drawn none of the intellectual elite to its corner. All of Objectivism's heroes are firmly from the world of Fiction.

gregnyquist said...

capt. Kal: "It is an odd, perverse fact that no real world Objectivist heroes exist."

This largely stems from Rand's impossible standards. The hero not only must accomplish great things, but he also must be a "fully integrated" personality who experiences no inner conflicts. And of course he can't believe in anything irrational (which he must be an Objectivist). Well that pretty much narrows it down to nobody.

It is said that Rand's Howard Roark was partially inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright. When Rand actually got around to meeting Wright, she was disappointed because, outside of his architectural ingenuity, there was nothing heroic about him. Real heroes are human like the rest of us. They have flaws, shortcomings, even inner conflicts (as horrible as that might be for Rand to contemplate). George Washington was a man of no great intellectual gifts who had a nasty bad temper; even worse (from an Objectivist point of view) he believed in God. Take any hero and there bound to be things about him that Rand would have strongly objected to.

Anonymous said...

Noted comic creator genius Alan Moore had this to say about Objectivism.

Alan Moore: "I had to look at The Fountainhead. I have to say I found Ayn Rand's philosophy laughable. It was a "white supremacist dreams of the master race," burnt in an early-20th century form. Her ideas didn't really appeal to me, but they seemed to be the kind of ideas that people would espouse, people who might secretly believe themselves to be part of the elite, and not part of the excluded majority."

IMHO, the Objectivists I've encountered are all wannabe Masters of the Universe not realizing that their probable place in a true Objectivist world is amongst what Moore calls the 'excluded majority' since none of them come even close to being the Objectivist creators and leaders.

The true elite creators and leaders either ignore Objectivism or outright denounce it, as Moore has done.

John Donohue said...

Hey Ghost of Miss Rand, how do you like this silly place. Nyquist and his sycophants can't be touched by any of your rejections of them, I must warn; they are orthodox true believers in....well we don't really know! They never say! But they are completely flatline believers in something, anything but you.

And they seemingly show no respect that you descended from heaven to visit them. Still, great to hear your voice again.

By the way, you'll be glad to hear that your books are still selling like hotcakes. Your followers and disciples are giving them away by the millions. You keep infecting generation after generation of young people. Sure, lots of them fold when they get smashed over the head by their college instructors with radical skepticism, and sure there are still plenty of people willing to scare the wits out of them with threats of Eternal Burning In Hell for not believing in God.

You should smile though. Just as in your day, most never reject the flame you've put in their minds and hearts.

A true apostle of your teachings and a member of your Collective....

John Donohue
Pasadena, CA

Anonymous said...

Astonishing! 'Anonymous' poster was sadly right: At least two objectivists don't even understand that their own belief structure does not allow for the supernatural, as in ghosts.

Objectivism rejects any notion of the supernatural as incompatible with the objectivity and regularity of nature as identified by reason. There is no credible evidence of miracles, magic, or other supernatural phenomena in nature.

Yet, this "John Donohue" not only gets this wrong but further aggravates it by casting aspersions on religion which is equally supernatural. Newsflash: Ghosts and God are both supernatural, and therefore verboten to objectivists.

While wrestling with the above, here's a tip: John's first sentence should end with a question mark as in '?'.

As I stated earlier, the intellectual elite are not drawn to Objectivism. Case in point.

John Donohue said...

Well I do apologize for missing that question mark. If that leaves me out of the intellectual elite, I am very very sad. I guess I'll just have to settle for common sense everyday person status. But don't I have a right to my opinion, even if my tremendous failure as a punctuationalist puts me in the gutter? I must have fallen very low because of that error, since you put my name in scary quotes, as if I hardly deserve to have a name.

However, in my opinion you are wrong about other things. I was taught in college that here is no right or wrong, only what is right for me. I choose to believe the ghost of Miss Rand could come back and speak to us. She speaks to me ever since I read Atlas Shrugged. Her spirit is watching over everything, and guess what, I pray to her for guidance, and that's what Objectivism means to me. She told me that if I had said that to her in New York when she was alive, she would have spit in my face, but now that she is in heaven, her views have softened.

John Donohue

P.S. is it okay to put 'very very' together like that and do I need any punctuation between them?

Anonymous said...

Punctuation was the least of your errors which is why I spent only one small sentence noting it. Three paragraphs and the bulk of my post dealt with your not understanding even your own belief system; IOW, you missed the point entirely. Ayn Rand was very specific about what was and wasn't 'Objectivism' and allowed no dissension nor interpretation on the subject. If she were alive today, she'd kick you to the curb for (1) getting Objectivism wrong and labelling it to be whatever you want it to be (objectivists, again do not believe in the supernatural), and (2) worshipping her as even in her lifetime she frowned upon and dissuaded followers from doing so.

It's sad that an opponent of Objectivism is better versed on the subject than a supposed objectivist.

On the matter of the supernatural and your references to ghosts, heaven, and other clearly supernatural elements in your post, you clearly don't understand what Objectivism is about. For this reason, it might be a good idea to be armed the next time in engaging in a battle of wits. It is for this reason that your previous post and the current one is a case in point for not belonging to Rand's supposed intellectual elite.

John Donohue said...

Well, it's not fun anymore.

This is the third time, literally, that attempts at irony have fallen flat. Last time, I swore not to do it again, but the post of ironically named "the ghost" of ayn rand being attacked because of the word "ghost" was just too rich to pass up.

Don't you people get it? I mean, Mr. Barnes at least put an ironic wink next to his comment, but then all the rest of you took the "ghost" part of it straight. Then, this kal person missed the irony in my 'carry forward' of the absurdity and proceeded to enjoy squashing my reverse straw man as if he were the proud king of the mountain. I will honestly state I felt I had dropped enough clues into that mockup so no one would take it for real.

Here Kal, let me help you. Objectivists are used to being called names, since smears and ad hominem attacks are about the best most people can level at the actual ideas of Ayn Rand. So, sometimes for fun we take on the labels idiots throw at us, like "disciple" and "follower" and "acolyte" and 'true believer". Do you REALLY think any actual Objectivist would LITERALLY use the word 'ghost' as if there would or could be a ghost? Or that my posts were not exaggeration for fun? You and others constructed that an Objectivist (I don't know mr. ghost, but he is doubtless an Objectivist) believed in a ghost, so I became a post-modernist religious Objectivist to shame you out of your tunnel vision. It was a joke.

My opinion of this blog is very low, as I have expressed many times here. But if the devotees can't discern the tongue in the cheek of the opposition, it becomes a rather dreary trudge.

Now that that flyspeck is out of the way, here's the annihilation of Mr. Nyquist's absurd excerpt.

"Now when pointing this out, I am not criticizing Rand. I disagree with the object of Rand's religious-like emotions. But I regard Rand's incorporation of such emotions as a positive thing, something she can be praised for. Indeed, it is an important source of whatever merit Rand has a philosopher. If Rand is still read and appreciated 100 years from now as a philosopher (rather than just as a novelist), it will not be for her technical philosoph[y] (which was always rather shoddy and has become increasingly dated), but for her ability to project a philosophy that has a vision of things. This is something that only a handful of philosophers have managed to pull off, so it's no mean feat. Now I don't happen to agree with Rand's vision: I think it's in many respects profoundly mistaken. But it's only her ability to project a vision that makes her worth the trouble of criticizing." - Greg Nyquist

First, Mr. Nyquist thinks he is in a position to judge Ayn Rand, one of the great intellects of modern times. We are supposed to hang on his criticizing or not criticizing, approving of this or that aspect, discovery of some partial positive, withholding of agreement with another.

Except Nyquist is no one. He has provided no bona fides. He has posted no axioms, system, belief mission statement, no value whatsoever. We are given no grounding for has attacks; he simply launches missiles from mid-air. This blog is a zero, therefore. Just as being an atheist says absolutely nothing proactively about the root of one's beliefs, only a minor descriptive of what one will not find in them, a blog "Contra Ayn Rand" says nothing whatsoever about the blogger. Running one's intellectual life as a fly buzzing around the head of a giant is very sad. One hopes there is actually something in there that has no reference to Ayn Rand.

So now, let's parse this paragraph. Mr. Nyquist says Rand is praiseworthy for incorporating religious-like emotions and projecting a philosophy that has a vision of things, and that only this aspect of her work makes her worth the trouble of criticizing.

First, there is no justification for putting religion-sourced emotion first. Exaltation, pride, excitement, courage...these things are above God, do not need God or religion. They are human. So that phrase is an attempted steal of the value from where it belongs over to a source alien to Ayn Rand. Second the self-summary of having supposedly proved Rand's technical philosophy as shoddy and dated (I am deliberately leaving out the Nyqistian waffle adjectives) is null. Mr. Nyquist has done no such thing. His followers perhaps equate the blatant and frequent claims of his refutations of Rand as a fait accompli, but so many Objectivists have torn apart the analysis for what it is: diversion, misdirection and context dropping in the pursuit of a red herring that outside the circle: another null.

But then lastly...Mr. Nyquist 'disagrees' with the things Miss Rand gets excited about. He thinks it is profoundly mistaken. But he is worried about her charisma. He should be. Ever since I mentioned that "100 years" thing in a response here a while back, I've seen it crop up once or twice. He knows, with a chill in the heart, that her philosophy, her ideas, will be gigantic in 100 years.

John Donohue

Anonymous said...

As only objectivists, certainly not the majority, are the only ones who see Rand as a 'great intellect', and the rest of the intellectual community largely doesn't even deign to acknowledge her or her works, perhaps it's a bit self-serving and less-than-credible to claim Ms. Rand is the one of the 'great intellects of modern times'. Your own statement is lacking in substantiation as her ideas have left no lasting effect in actually changing the world for good or ill. At least all the other philosophies have made real as opposed to theoretical or even fictional effects on world history. The otherwise best and least regarded of ideological systems can point to real world people as their heroes and not rely exclusively on fictional heroes as Objectivism must do (which makes one wonder about the consistency of rejecting a supposedly nonexistent God only to be entranced by definitely nonexistent heroes).

Authoritarianism of any kind not only is a weak argument, but Rand herself advocated reason over authority/reputation. What's important isn't Nyquist's or anyone else's 'reputation' but is he right? I mean, if we're going to go the authoritarian route, who is Ayn Rand to just Albert Einstein as being a less credible hero and intellect just because his belief structure was firmly rooted in a belief in God and how he believed his God would order the universe? And Einstein definitely did change the world.

If you truly are a regular on this blog, 'annhilating' this single excerpted quote is known as selective referencing and taking his statements out of context. Elsewhere on this blog and his book he supplies all the 'missing elements' you denounce him for in this once quoted section. Even a casual visitor such as myself could glean that much.

FYI, I've used excerpts of Rand's books for dramatic oratory presentations, not for their supposed intellectual insights, but precisely because I've found them emotionally stirring. Mr. Nyquist isn't entirely wrong in his assessment of the emotional flavour of Rand's works. That's not to say I entirely disagree with her. Certainly bits such as honour needing to be earned not a self-entitled right does resonate as true to me. But one cannot deny either one feels strongly for or against Objectivism. I'm not sure anyone actually is ambivalent on the matter who even knows about it. The fact that most if not all people have strong feelings about Rand's work cannot be an accident of statistics but must be related to its content and the way it's presented.

John Donohue said...

No, that was not an appeal to authority or reputation. It was a direct summary statement that Mr. Nyquist's blog is zero because he has proved or refuted nothing.

It was a summary judgment. But his statements in this excerpt are summary judgements. Tit for Tat. In other comments I have made here I have been quite specific in proportion.

As for Miss Rand's influence only being fictional, your are deeply mistaken about that. Remember that I [and I proffer an assessment that the same goes for most Objectivists] do not care that any religious, collectivist, post-modernist, Marxian intellectuals, indeed any neo-Platonists, notice her at all let alone are swayed by her.

So, if that is your evaluation: that the current crop of world intellectuals currently running education and philosophy departments are not influenced, you are fairly -- but not completely -- correct. We care not. Yet. We intend to aid the gradual replacement of those lost causes with neo-Aristoteleans and Objectivists.

Without elaboration today I will simply and summarily state that the influence outside that rarified air is tremendous.

John Donohue said...

I will add that my specific objection to the 'emotional content' issue was that Mr. Nyquist attempted to form up Rand's inspirational flights as "...religious-like..." which is and attempt theft of value, as explained. You will notice that Mr. Ghost did not abide that attempted theft either.

John Donohue

Anonymous said...

It isn't just a matter of recognition in the intellectual community, of which objectivists are a marked minority. Majority opinion does not determine truth or falsehood, that's true.

Certainly you did not address the absolute absence of any objectivist leaders and scientists actually having changed or are changing the world. Where are the objectivist senators, candidates for president, captains of industry, creators of cures for diseases, and so forth? Roar, Galt, and their fellows look splendid until one realizes they're all fictional. Results count more than sophistry and the other ideological systems have made real differences, good and ill, on the world. A group of like-minded individuals slouching around feeling superior to everyone else doesn't really count as changing the world.

As for Nyquist's and your summary judgement, I accept that in this context you and he are on equal ground.

Considering Objectivism has elements of cults such as including slavish adherence to unprovable doctrine and extreme adulation of the founder, Nyquist isn't entirely wrong to characterize Objectivism as involving religious-like feelings. Ms. Rand herself sought to be the sole arbiter of what was and wasn't acceptable for the movement, as if she alone had the reasoning faculties to do so and all else were irrelevant. If that doesn't spell blind faith in the infallibility in one individual, maybe I've missed something. It does seem an act of faith (as in believing something in the absence of factual evidence) that Objectivism will dominate the world eventually given the absence of that evidence around us today. Blind faith seems pretty much the definition of any religion.

John Donohue said...

Your last paragraph voids any merit gained by sober excnange in the prior two. That is just slavish reguritated pap.

I won't deconstruct it line by line. You've discredited yourself by spewing the usual cliches. I guess that's your form of declining debate.

Also, I did not claim Objectivism will dominate the world (unless that's what you think was meant by "Ayn Rand will be gigantic in 100 years"). I am pessimistic that the world will reject collectivism/Platonism within 100 years. Rand will be huge, however. It took Christ 400 years to get traction, and another 400 to dominate the West, right?

John Donohue

Anonymous said...

John: "Your last paragraph voids any merit gained by sober excnange in the prior two. That is just slavish reguritated pap."

Considering you've twice avoided the hard questions of real world Objectivist heroes and champions, I'm not the one avoiding anything. I'm not even counting my initial posts on the matter when we weren't talking to each other directly yet.

I mean, even in Rand's time, Freud's evidence of the subconcious and unconscious minds were well-known (slips of the tongue, and dreams) which indicated human do not have full conscious knowledge of themselves nor their motivations. It's a bit of a stretch for Ms. Rand, with her vast scientific research and peer evaluated papers in respected scientific journals, to contradict what was known then and has been learned since than by real scientists.

Bias is like saying, if the evidence lets me choose a certain way to see things, I'll see it that way. But I'm willing to see it another if the evidence forces me to do so.

Prejudice means no matter what the evidence, I choose to see it my preferred way and let's just disregard the evidence.

If you believe I've somehow erred, I have not closed the door to you stating your possible corrections. Your call.

Yes, I thought you meant Objectivism would dominate the world so mea culpa if I read more into it than you intended. Just the same, it is more a matter of faith than fact that you believe Objectivism will be big in the future. Unless you have precognitive or other oracular powers, I put more stock in tomorrow's weather report than any grandiose claims of success for any ideology that far down the line.

Anonymous said...

Too bad we can't edit our posts so...
For the record, Communism and Fascism made better headway in less than a century.

Though I find them both repellent, they still didn't need 400 years to leave their mark.

If you want to hedge your bets on Objectivism with that 400 year timeline, go for it. But it does seem odd that a philosophy so inspired by Capitalism is taking so incredibly long to gain any kind of traction in the society that supposedly should've embraced it completely from the get-go. 100 years seems too long given its origins and inspiration.