Sunday, July 31, 2022

Objectivist Round-up, August 2022

1. An expanded version of the Letters of Ayn Rand is now online. According to Jennifer Burns, this is one of the few pieces of Rand’s posthumous material that hasn’t been rewritten to any significant extent. When I read the volume years ago, I thought that the correspondence to John Hospers was particularly interesting. To print those parts of Rand’s letters that quote Hospers’ correspondence with her, the editor needed Hospers’ permission. They agreed to print Hospers’ statement:

“The letters were interstices between oral conversations; they were written only when Ayn and I were at different geographical locations and could not meet in person. Almost all of the significant material in our communications with each other was in oral, not written, form. The letters may thus give a distorted view of the content of our conversations.”

"You rightly have a great interest in reproducing everything that Ayn said; and you have no particular interest in whatever it was that I said, either to initiate a discussion or to respond to her. The result is that my thoughts just don’t appear in these pages—not that you wanted them to, of course. But sometimes I thought that Ayn had not correctly apprehended a point I had made, and her summary of what I said sometimes did not reproduce what I really did say. Whether what I said was mistaken or not is beside the point here; I was often more interested in clarifying a point than in presenting it for acceptance. I am afraid the reader who read what Ayn wrote to me, and not what I wrote to her, would gather that I was a bloody fool. I daresay that in some ways I was, yet not so much as one would get the impression of from the letters. The trouble is, from her letters one gets only one side of a dialogue. And that isn’t quite fair, is it?”

2. The Ayn Rand University has a new course on comparing Rand’s ethics to the “virtue ethics” of Philippa Foot and G. E. M. Anscombe. I wonder what Rand would have thought about this kind of compare/contrast approach to her work. Anyway, while the course seems a bit expensive at $1,200, you can aways audit it for a mere $900.

3. Speaking of compare/contrast, Harry Binswanger has an interesting video discussion comparing Rand’s philosophy to “academic philosophies.” See here, here and here. Harry says he hasn’t followed academic philosophy since 1990 but he’s been told that philosophy has gotten better since then. He mentions John Searle and Phillipa Foot. Searle’s Mind, Language, and Society is a good introduction to philosophy that sounds like Rand at times. Foot’s best known work is Natural Goodness.

4. The Atlas Society has a You Tube channel with many interviews.

Sunday, July 03, 2022

Objectivist Roundup, July 2022

1. Once it became likely that the United States Supreme Court would overturn Roe v. Wade, it’s been all abortion all the time for the Ayn Rand Institute. They have even published a free Kindle book, Why the Right to Abortion is Sacrosanct, not knowing apparently that the “primary dictionary definition” of sacrosanct is, “most sacred or holy.”

2. Speaking of abortion, it’s not clear what Rand’s views were. The ARI’s claim that she supported legalized abortion until birth is debatable. See here and here.

3. This is an interesting (and unusual) discussion with a critic of Objectivism by the Ayn Rand Centre UK. I had never heard of Paul Crider before, but as an Objectivist turned libertarian turned conventional left winger, his criticisms of Objectivism and Atlas Shrugged are much more informed than most critics.

4. Speaking of Objectivists turned liberals, Dr. Diana Hsieh took her website down stating that it no longer reflects her current beliefs. Based on her Twitter feed it seems that she is more or less a left winger. She actually has become a union organizer. I don’t know of any studies, but most Objectivists who leave the movement seem to turn libertarian or conservative.