Monday, August 23, 2021

How I Became a Critic of Objectivism 4

Rand's epistemology constitutes the most intimidating part of the Objectivist philosophy. Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology is a difficult book, even for Objectivists. By the time Ayn Rand wrote it, she had already secured herself in an echo chamber from which no criticism could ever reach her. IOTE was accepted by her disciples as a gospel that could not be questioned. But how much of the theory does the typical Objectivist actually understood or care about? Other than a few Rand nerds, I don't think most Objectivists give a fig for IOTE. They may be pleased it exists, allegedly serving as a base for Rand's ethics and the politics. But they could care less about the largely technical issues raised in IOTE.

Critics have often ignored Rand's epistemology as well. The fact is, it's Rand's ethics and politics that stirs up the animals on both sides, pro and con. Those critics that have tried to analyze the Objectivist epistemology have either gotten lost in the thickets or have become consumed by purely technical issues that most people don't care about. For me, Rand's epistemology could be reduced to two salient points: a denial (or at least mis-characterization) of the unconscious, intuitive phases of human thought; and the insistence that every word has an "objectively correct" definition. Those are the most important, or at least the most relevant, points of Rand's epistemology. By importance I mean: they are the most fundamental to what Rand was trying to accomplish in her overall philosophy. Admittedly, this is not obvious at first glance, so some explanation is in order.