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.


Anton P. said...

Well, here's an interesting close reading, by, let us say, an amateur.
"Ayn Rand Plagiarized Adolf Hitler"

Anonymous said...

I didn't read the whole text, only the beginning. I had to laugh when I read this passage: "4] The term fountainhead is rarely used. I’ve used the term fuel injector more than a few times in my life, but I never used the term fountainhead.

"Here is Hitler, the architect, using the term fountainhead in Mein Kampf.[...] Therefore, early marriages should be the rule, because thus the young couple will still have that pristine force which is the fountainhead of a healthy posterity with unimpaired powers of resistance"

Of course Hitler never used the term "fountainhead", after all he wrote in German: "Daher schon ist die frühe Heirat richtig. gibt die doch der jungen Ehe noch jene Kraft, aus der allein ein gesunder und widerstandsfähiger Nachwuchs zu kommen vermag."

The English translation is not bad, but it is necessarily somewhat free. A more literal (but clumsier) translation would be: "Therefore, an early marriage is a good thing, as only that can give the young marriage that force that makes a healthy and resistant offspring possible."

As you can see, nothing resembling a "fountainhead", so the insinuation that Rand plagiarizes here Hitler ("the architect", hint! hint!) is rather absurd.

"Hitler used the term fountainhead 18 years before Rand. Incredible." Sure, incredible, as he didn't do anything like that.