Monday, May 29, 2023

Objectivist Roundup, May 2023

1. The debate on Open versus Closed Objectivism between Biddle and Hicks was posted.  I analyzed it in the post below.  There hasn’t been any discussion of this from the ARI side, but considering that James Valliant likened debating Open Objectivism to debating Holocaust denial or slavery, to discuss this debate would be even worse, I suppose.  

2. Objectivist Conference 2023 will be held next month.  Shoshana Milgram will present a three-part “biographical mini-course” on Rand which utilizes new sources.  According to the program, she’s working on a life of Rand up to 1957.  No word on whether it will be authorized, when it will be published, and whether there will be a part two.  It looks like she is working at a pace of 2.5 years of Rand’s life for every one year spent writing the book.  

3. Following Rand’s death, the Ayn Rand Institute began publishing a number of books using material in Rand’s archives.  As long-time readers of this blog know, Jennifer Burns first revealed in 2009 what many suspected: much of this material has been so heavily edited as to be essentially worthless.  Burns named two books “edited” by Robert Mayhew among them: Ayn Rand Answers and The Art of NonFiction.  Mayhew also edited Ayn Rand’s Marginalia (jottings she wrote in the margins of books she read).  While Burns doesn’t discuss this book, one has to wonder whether the book has been “Mayhewized.”  In any event, this book doesn’t make Rand look good.  She seems intent on misunderstanding what the authors say and her rantings (“God damn bastard,” “cheap driveling non-entity,” etc.) aren’t particularly edifying.  Michael Prescott also notes that Mayhew’s summary of C. S. Lewis’s The Abolition of Man is suspect.  In light of the problems in the book, I was somewhat surprised to see the ARI’s publication The New Ideal praising the book recently.  Fortunately, the article links to the Amazon page where one can read the critical reviews of Neil Parille, Greg Nyquist and others.

Saturday, May 20, 2023

Neil Parille Breaks Down the Recent Debate Over Closed Versus Open Objectivism

The debate between Craig Biddle and Stephen Hicks concerning Open versus Close Objectivism took place last month in Belgrade, Serbia.  Biddle took the Closed position and Hicks the Open position.  I enjoyed the debate and thought each side presented his position well.  There wasn’t the rancor that one might expect for what has often been a contentious issue.  For background on the Open versus Closed controversy see here.

Biddle took a reasonable approach.  Ayn Rand died in 1982 and the positions she set forth in her books and essays constitutes Objectivism.  He conceded that there are philosophical topics that Rand didn’t discuss – such as propositions and the problem of induction – but what she did discuss constitutes Objectivism. Any extension of Objectivism outside of this is not part of Objectivism no matter how consistent it might be with Objectivism.  He also said that if Objectivism were open, then one would never know what precisely Objectivism is.  Is it Rand’s Objectivism plus Peikoff’s extensions or Objectivism plus Hicks’ extensions?