Open Objectivism?

You must be logged in to create new topics.

Open Objectivism?

  • Cameron T. Belt

    From my readings of objectivism I’ve come to the conclusion that objectivism is not a closed system of knowledge but in fact open and subject to change. This is due to the fact knowledge is in fact open which is a core tenet of objectivist epistemology. Also if a contradiction is found somewhere in the philosophy we need to adhere to reason and not dogma.

    You must be logged in to reply to this topic.

  • Youliy Ninov

    @cameron

    Try explaining the above to the objectivists. They will claim that they support your point but when you try contradicting their ideas  and offering new ones, which are 100% compatible with Ayn Rand’s ideas, they will turn against you. Every system has a status quo and objectivism is no exception. So, the real statement would be not “Question everytning!” but “Question everything but our beliefs”.

    You must be logged in to reply to this topic.

    • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.

      Cameron T. Belt

      I agree, I’ve tried to have discussions on youtube about Anarcho-Objectivism which in my view is more consistent with objectivism than minarchism. Ive been really diving into the non-fiction lately and its been such an enlightening journey that i now consider myself an Anarcho-Objectivist (although like i said in my opinion objectivism is already anarchical but i have to make that distinction in todays world.) Its just sad to see supposed upholders of reason and independence of mind, follow dogmatically and shun those who question and bring reason to the table.

      You must be logged in to reply to this topic.

      • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.

        Youliy Ninov

        Cameron,

        We seem to be on the same page. I also consider myself an objectivist, but do not feel obliged to take everything Ayn Rand has said for granted. She contradicts herself on many points. Actually, if one starts with her principle that no agression is allowed one gets directly to anarchism, not to her system, which by the way is extremely obscure. Here are some examples I have already discussed in the blog:

        1. Ayn Rand wants a state. However how do you keep the people inside it? If we accept the no-agression principle then the state is just a guardian of the private property. This means that the state can not force somebody to come or stay under its protection. So, if I am  a land owner, then I can secede whenever I wish. I do not even need to inform the state about it. And this alone gets us to anarchy.

        2. She insists that the state be supported voluntarily, i.e. people just give money away for police, courts, etc. The problem is not however that they will pay voluntarialy, but why they do it. And they would pay because they are under the very credible threat of being robbed, mugged, killed, etc. if police and courts do not exist. So, they would pay because there is a threat of physical violence. However: a market on which one of the sides is forced to pay (threat inclusive) is not a free market. In short: she  has offered a conter-free market solution.

        3. She needs a govrment to rule her state. How is she going to guarantee that the all the  people in the state will agree  with what the government does?  She can not. But if not, then the government will be forcing its subjects to do things against their will, i.e. initiating violence. Contradiction.

        4. Her state needs centralized control. We have the money which has been obtained voluntarily. How do we divide it between the police/courts/army? No answer, because there is no market solve this problem. She would need a ministry of economics for instance. Her police and courts would be controlled centrally, which means: problems. Actually her system would repeat the situation today.

         

        The above is just an example of the problems she has not solved.

        You must be logged in to reply to this topic.

        • Andrew David

          As a student of objectivism, I find myself having to defend Rand everywhere, mostly against academics but also against anarchists. I will try to respond to your points:

          1) Its not splitting hairs to say “Rand ‘wants’ a state” is not right. She thinks humans need a state to function in any positive long-range way. An objectivist state’s purpose is the protection of individual rights, including private property. I dont know what it would mean to ‘take’ your property (land) out of a state. It doesn’t make sense. Do you mean out of a state’s jurisdiction, and thus out of its governing laws? First its not possible to move land, and second its not possible for an individual to simply decide they are not subject to laws. This is why Rand called anarchists ‘whim-worshipers’. However, emigration is always possible.

          2) Your first sentence is correct and then you seem to forget what you wrote. No one is forced to pay. Think of courts and police as insurance in an Obj/Lib society. As near as you could get to ‘forced to pay’ would be ‘it would be wise to pay for them’. But not forced. The consequences are yours if you do not. That isn’t force. A lot of anti-capitalists try to argue this way: that corporations force people to work at minimum wage. It is not force. Force is when you cannot say no without violence perpetrated on you by another human. If you choose not to work and starve to death as a result, no force was used on you.

          3) A core set of rights would reside in a solid constitution that would protect individual rights. If these are constituted correctly, it would not be possible to say they are in any way forced. Otherwise, emigration is always possible and thus it cannot be said to be forced if a person were to disagree. The only way your “point” would be possible is for someone to be unwillingly caged. This scenario would not resemble an Obj/Lib state. However you may be arguing here that a person who violated someone’s rights in which the violator believed was not a true/correct right and was punished, this would be an injustice. But this would not be because a person’s rights are not based on whim or how someone feels or believed is their rights. Rights are grounded in philosophy, not in opinion. More needs to be said here but I’m trying to be brief.

          4) The state would need centralized control as much as any hierarchy does, whether a business or even some traditional families. Your “point” would seem to suggest large charity organizations like the WWF or United Way, each of which accept donations and coordinate global initiatives, could not function.

          Overall, I do think we can improve Objectivism – Aristotle was not right about everything but set a very unique and influential path in which encouraged fellow travelers including Rand to pave better or deeper paths. In the same way, Rand also set a path which in the future will be a basis for innovation and better, deeper thought. However, the greatest setback is to not spend the time to understand, charitably, past thinkers in order to most productively move forward. I encourage everyone to not be a label (like an anarchist), but only an advocate of reason, wherever it may take you. If all of us only remained an ideologue, we would never have changed from the first political position absorbed from our parents. I say this because so often I run into people who disagree with Rand because they heard she did not accept their conclusions, and thus believe there must be something wrong with Rand and seek out criticism rather than assessing her arguments for themselves. You cannot learn from criticism unless you understand what is being criticized.

          You must be logged in to reply to this topic.

        • Youliy Ninov

          Andrew,

          1. Yes, by secede I mean exactly : “out of a state’s jurisdiction, and thus out of its governing laws”

          About:”..second its not possible for an individual to simply decide they are not subject to laws.”  If this individual is a land owner then he is a private property owner.  On a private property one has the right to define his own laws (according to how I understand Rand). So, if the laws of the state do not fit well with me any more, then I have the right to get out of state’s jurisdiction (I am a private property owner). That is why I claim that Rand’s definitions get us to anarchy.

          2. About :”The consequences are yours if you do not. That isn’t force.”

          What you just explained to me is that the threat of physical aggression is not equal to “initiation of force”. Is that what you want to say?

          About “A lot of anti-capitalists try to argue this way: that corporations force people to work at minimum wage. ”

          The last is not a valid contra-argument.  Force can be initiated only by people. So not having something to eat is not equal to “force initiation”. Your example is irrelevant to the problem we discuss.

          3. About “Otherwise, emigration is always possible and thus it cannot be said to be forced if a person were to disagree. ”

          If emigraton is possible, along with your possesions, including your land (opting out) then there is no aggression.  However a state is defined through its land. And what happens when the state can not impose its laws and has not land to exist and rule?

          4. About :”Your “point” would seem to suggest large charity organizations like the WWF or United Way, each of which accept donations and coordinate global initiatives, could not function.”

          My point is that such organizations function ineffectively, the same way as todays police or courts. Her system would mimic the contemporary state of events (police structure, court structure, etc.). As you agree (I hope) they are grossly inefficient.

          You must be logged in to reply to this topic.

              • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.

        Jorge Trucco

        Agreed, Cameron.

        You must be logged in to reply to this topic.

        • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.

    Anonymous

    The scientific method hold that everything has to be open to revision…I can’t see why this would be any different

    You must be logged in to reply to this topic.

    • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.

      Cameron T. Belt

      Exactly, and like I mentioned about her epistemology (which is the base of science) knowledge is never fully formed there is always some new piece of information that will come along and need to be integrated or something may need to be re categorized or redefined based on new evidence or data.

      You must be logged in to reply to this topic.

    • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.

      Jorge Trucco

      I agree, Tom.

      You must be logged in to reply to this topic.

      • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.

    Scott McRae

    I absolutely agree with you Cameron and I think what you are bringing up is profoundly important. I was a dogmatic objectivist for many years and found myself closed, angry, judgmental and arrogant.  The epistemological commitment to open knowledge should translate into the psychological commitment to open living, meaning:  being excited and willing to learn from others, embracing new experiences, and enthusiastically diving into the possibility of our ideas being changed, shaped and reborn.  That doesn’t mean, as many objectivists might argue, not thinking in principles – it means being open to new evidence, being willing to reconsider cherished ideas in the light of new arguments and facts.

    I’ve found that openness to be more present with the neo-objectivists, those that sprang out of David Kelley’s world. In fact, Kelley’s book “Truth and Toleration” went a long way toward saving objectivism for me for those very reasons.  And, as I recall, that book addresses the very idea you’re sharing.

    I, too, would consider myself an anarcho-Objectivist, and at this point, it’s difficult for me to see how anyone committed to individual liberty can defend the existence of the state.

    You must be logged in to reply to this topic.

    • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.

      Cameron T. Belt

      That’s a great point about being open psychologically, I’m reading an article by Nathaniel Branden about the problems with objectivism and that’s one point he mentions is the fact that there is no deep understanding of psychology in objectivist thought. I think also that objectivist need to remember the whole reason the philosophy exists in the first place, it’s useful because it seeks to increase the happiness in your life, and if it’s not doing that then what’s the point? Great reply thanks!

      You must be logged in to reply to this topic.

      • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.

    Marsha Familaro Enright

    I was flabbergasted from the beginning to hear that anyone was towing a party line, since it seemed to me that the fundamental tenet of Rand’s ideas was: make your own, independent judgments using reason and evidence.

    The Atlas Society in all its incarnations has done a great deal to follow that way of embodying Rand’s ideas.

    Regarding Branden’s point that Rand had no deep understanding of psychology, I think that’s patently false. She didn’t examine psychopathology or any number of branches of psychology, but she was brilliant when it came to motivational psychology. She, herself, was very subtle in her thinking about psychology, if you look at what she wrote (and look at her journals) carefully.

    People don’t always do that, because she was such a great rhetorician, they get swept up in what seems to be the obvious point she’s making, and don’t pay attention to the actual, careful qualifications she makes (my husband calls it her “weasel words.” 😉

    My best advice to anyone about Rand is: read her carefully yourself and use rigorous examination on all her ideas. Don’t use the secondary sources. And always try to understand her abstract writing, her essays, using her novels as a backdrop or instantiation of what she means.

    You must be logged in to reply to this topic.

    • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.

      Youliy Ninov

      Marsha,

      “..the fundamental tenet of Rand’s ideas was: make your own, independent judgments using reason and evidence.”

      It is one thing to claim something like the above and a completely different one to implement it in reality. Practice shows that people tend to cling to their convictions no matter what. Their convictions can be outright wrong/contradictory but it does not matter. As an example, lets take the above statement. If we accept it then this means that Ayn Rand’s views are open to discussion, so Ayn Rand herself is under scrutiny. The last is not accepted typically. So, the statement is transferred from “Question everything” to “Question everything except our own beliefs”. By the way if Branden is correct (I have read his book) then Ayn Rand has done exactly the above. She has organized a cult around her ideas. And she has throwns him (Branden) out of her society once she understood that he did not want her but other women.

      “Regarding Branden’s point that Rand had no deep understanding of psychology, I think that’s patently false. ”

      I agree with Branden. Take for example the main charachter in “The Fountainhead”. He is not normal in my personal opinion. He does not seem to need human contact, affection, appreciation, etc. Humans are not like that. We are gregarious. By the way, have you noticed that the familiy theme is not well discussed in Ayn Rand’s novels? All her main charachters are single. The last is not a conicidence. For some reason she tends to favour the personal achievements in production/science/art/etc. Families are a burden in this respect, so she avoids discussing the topic at length. In general: human interaction gives us much joy/fulfullment and this is important to the people. She has neglected it. In fact she has come short of saying that a person who just enjoys staying at home tending to his flowers is a bad one.

      “My best advice to anyone about Rand is: read her carefully yourself and use rigorous examination on all her ideas.”

      That is what I do actually. And I find out that ,with all due respect her ideas contradict themselves many times. She is a great thinker. I accept her idea about freedom being the lack of initiated violence 100%. However she is not impeccable. But the last is what most objectivists do not want to accept. In my personal view people need idols. They refuse to admit that their idols are not 100% but just 90,80 or 70%  right. So, objectivists are not some new spiecies of man but the same one. It is just that their ideas are a little bit more coherent than these of the rest of the mankind.

       

      You must be logged in to reply to this topic.

      • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.

        Andrew David

        Again I hope it is not taken personal but I need to make some comments about this post.

        Yes she did advocate discussion and thinking for one self. Its not a contradiction if it led to a fairly closed group. It is possible she did not want to engage with people she believed clearly wrong and had no counter-arguments to offer and was simply tired of hearing them. Closed-groups are not unique to Rand, consider religious groups, university publications, and even websites like this one with pay walls and some control of content (banning of trolls). You might say Rand banned trolls from her circle, although I would concede that is a bit over stated. I think she mostly just wanted focus on the issues she identified as pertinent to address, advocate, and write on in her lifetime and did not have time to listen to all dissension (and no doubt was tired of hearing common objections from those who do not read her work).

        On The Fountainhead, this is a common objection, that her characters are cardboard cutouts, etc etc. Briefly I would ask why would you be interested in a book with ordinary, contradictory, erratic people when you can run into these people everyday on the street. I think ‘Art’ should portray ideals, not the ordinary. If you want Art to simply be reality, take a photograph, or listen to the life stories of someone in the park.

        Your right about her absence of children and family in her works. I dont recall if she commented on why. It may be because she did not have kids and no extended family in the US, and thus it was not in her life context to write about. Her absence on the topic should not suggest it wasn’t important….you may know Peikoff had a child. Perhaps she would say its not ‘essential’ but may be a value for some. Its a choice. On staying at home, can you find a quote? She did a lot of that herself, staying at home.

        You must be logged in to reply to this topic.

        • Youliy Ninov

          Andrew,

          There is no problem with having a closed group. The problem is when you have a closed group while claiming that you are “open”. It is the contradiction that bothers me ( Branden too). In comparison: If I organize a closed group and say that this group is only for orthodox-cristians, then there is not contradiction. Or if I organize an open group and keep it open.

          About the Fountainhead character: By picturing such a person she has claimed,  made her followers believe that such a state of mind (perfect objectivity, no emotions, etc.) is possible. The result: From I read (Brandon) there are many objectivist who try become something which is impossible. Rand herself has not been able even to get close to  this ideal.

          About children: In my view they did not fit well with her philosophy.

          About staying at home: No I do not have a quote, but I protest because she says in fact : whoever is more productive is more worthy. The problem is that the last goes backwards also: If you are less productive, then you are less worthy. The result from  her opinion: If I undrestand it correctly many objectivists try to be productive instead of being happy (no personal experience, opinion based on Branden’s book). The problem is that one can be happy even without being productive (for instance to stay at home and be supported by somebody).

           

          You must be logged in to reply to this topic.

          • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.

    Jorge Trucco

    The Market for Liberty
    “When I began reading the Tannehills’ The Market for Liberty, I realised that what I was reading was something quite special.  Tucked in this book is a treasure trove of quotes and revelations.  This book, in addition to providing me with logical conclusions that had simply not found their way into my head previously, also answered various questions that I had not been able to figure out.  For example, while I had been wondering how a person would be brought to justice if the person had murdered a bum with no friends or family, the Tannehills had figured this out fifteen years before I was born (p. 99).

    The philosophy of this book could be described as anarcho-Objectivist.  Influenced most prominently by Objectivist philosopher Ayn Rand and anarcho-capitalists such as Murray N. Rothbard and Roy A. Childs, Jr., this book shows how anarchism is not in conflict with Objectivism at all.  If Rothbard presents the consistently-Lockean perspective that Locke himself fails to present, then the Tannehills present the consistently-Randian perspective that Rand herself fails to present.”

    – Alexander Peak
    http://alexpeak.com/twr/tmfl/

     

    You must be logged in to reply to this topic.

  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.

    Jorge Trucco

    The concept of “a government of laws, not of men” is just as mystical and meaningless as democracy. Laws must be written and enforced by men. Therefore, a “government of laws” is a government of men.

    – M &L Tannehill – (The Market for Liberty)

    You must be logged in to reply to this topic.

  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.