One of the basic functions of Peikoff's later (post-1970s) lecture courses is to teach people methods of thinking (i.e., the how as distinguished from the what) about Objectivism as well as about any other subject. The essential core of Objectivist method - a responsible (context-appropriate) approach to checking premises - makes Objectivism itself essentially impervious to refutation. Like induction itself, you couldn't even attempt to refute it without implicitly accept and affirming it. Induction is the essence of rational, reality-oriented thought; Rand identified basic principles of inductive reasoning - the most notable achievement being her theory of concepts - and those basic principles are the very basic principles of Objectivism itself. Objectivism is the method of induction applied to the fundamental issues of man and his relationship to existence.
(I'll also note that Rand had the most perfectionistic thought processes for a philosopher since Aristotle. Same basic idea: check premises responsibly, spiral progression of knowledge, respecting the hierarchy of knowledge, etc. As perfectionism is essentially related to virtue in ethics, so it is in epistemology; Rand's definition of intellectual virtue is her way of establishing a Virtue Epistemology. [Hell, is there any other kind of sound epistemology?] The academic mainstream is, like, totally in the dark on this stuff - and why is that?)...
Cognitive clarity and efficiency are central aspects of successful functioning in life.... Familiarity with this course also makes for a good head start as our culture moves in the Randian direction in the coming years....
In the Utopia I envision for humanity's not-too-distant future, familiarity with Peikoff's courses or something of comparable caliber would be an essential qualification for university professors - hell, all university professors, and not just those in the Humanities. There's really no excuse for educators and intellectuals not to be familiar with this stuff.... Their minds might well be blown at just how insidiously, damagingly rationalistic (or emotionalistic, or otherwise dysfunctional) their thought processes were all along. Then they, too, will thank Rand for showing them the way.
The future enlightenment of humanity depends on it.
Saturday, January 14, 2012
Disorganizing Brains: New Book on Objectivism
If all goes well, we will soon be graced with yet another tome on Objectivism: namely, Understanding Objectivism: A Guide to Learning Ayn Rand's Philosophy. This is yet another rehash of lectures: to be specific, a lecture series of the same name delivered by Leonard Peikoff in 1983 and sanitized for publication by no less an authority than the eminent Michael S. Berliner. Back in the halcyon days of Objectivism, just after Rand had passed from the scene and before things began to fall apart with the publication of Barbara Branden's The Passion of Ayn Rand, this lecture series was regarded as kind of holy grail among the Objectivist faithful. It was Peikoff's first major effort without the presence of Rand, who, during the seventies, had served as kind of philosophical training wheels to the future heir to her estate, and had kept a close eye on him during his most important lectures. There were some among the Objectivist cognoscenti who considered this lecture series Peikoff's very best effort. It undoubtedly is strong stuff, reputed to be among the highest-octane Objectivism one is likely to ever run across. Indeed, it's so strong that (to paraphrase Schopenhauer) it may in fact be capable of thoroughly and permanently disorganizing the brains of at least some who have listened to it. Consider, as evidence, the effect these lectures had on the mind of the self-proclaimed "Ultimate Philosopher." In terms of brains thoroughly and permanently disorganized by Rand, Peikoff, and Objectivism, it doesn't get any better (and hopefully not any worse) than what we find in the Ultimate Philosopher's review of Peikoff's "Understanding Objectivism":