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Tuesday, December 28, 2004 - 3:30amSanction this postReply
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A very interesting article.  In fact, many conservatives also see Rousseau as evil.  Christopher Dawson, for example, sees in Rousseau's rejection of original sin and his belief in the perfectability of society the origins of revolutionary thought.



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Tuesday, December 28, 2004 - 6:06amSanction this postReply
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Lindsay says:
"...my present purpose is not to undertake that exercise, which I believe to be pointless and incapable of resolution, but to concur with Rand to this extentóthat we are fully entitled to treat Kantís teachings as essentially and seminally vicious irrespective of comparisons..."

Bravo! I cannot endorse this statement enough. The amount of time and energy wasted by objectivist on this pointless exercise is monumental. What is important is to acknowledge, as Linz says, "Kant's teachings as essentially vicious...". Trying to whitewash Kant and re-interpret his debased ideas reminds me greatly of the historical revisionist.

Lindsayís linking of Rousseau with Kant is accurate. Unlike Kant, Rousseau was far more direct and obvious in the exposition of his ideas. Kantís dialectical approach tends to easily obfuscate his philosophy.  To use a political analogy, the Fascist tended to write in a manner that left little doubt about their worldview and their tyrannical intentions, while those of the Communist intellectuals tended to be buried under a barrage of complicated expressions and a veneer of benevolent intentions. Ironically, it is Kantís ideas that are usually associated with the extreme right, while Rousseauís (as Linz pointed out) are more in tune with the modern extreme left.  

 

A wonderful article Lindsay, the quote I highlighted above, that alone makes me wish I could sanction this article twice.

 

George

(Edited by George W. Cordero on 12/28, 6:09am)




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Post 2

Tuesday, December 28, 2004 - 11:09amSanction this postReply
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As Rand said, "evil philosophies are systems of rationalization." Kant may not have intended, and may not have directly occasioned, the horrors, but his tortuous self-deception served to abet that of others.

In the same way, if the laws of the land fail to impose proper penalties on certain crimes, the situation is partially responsible for the spread of suffering even though it is the criminals who ultimately choose to destroy.

Kant allowed many to fool themselves or to believe they could get away with fooling everyone else.



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Post 3

Tuesday, December 28, 2004 - 12:03pmSanction this postReply
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Unquestionably, Kant and Rousseau left, on the balance, a deeply corrupting legacy. I am wary of a blanket condemnation of either, because each also left some valid and useful ideas on the positive side of the ledger. This is not the occasion to go into bloody details, but just as Rousseau would have been impossible without Kant, so Nietzsche would have been impossible without Rousseau, and Rand would have been impossible without Nietzsche. Just read and understand, keep the good, and discard the evil.



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Tuesday, December 28, 2004 - 5:46pmSanction this postReply
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Adam makes a great point. (Must be due to the new, looser underwear he got for the holidays.) It proves why the good contributions of any sincere thinker must be acknowledged and learned, and not discarded due to whatever "faulty premises" they may have emerged from.

It's eery, but true: "Rand would have been impossible without Nietzsche."




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Post 5

Tuesday, December 28, 2004 - 9:00pmSanction this postReply
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Adam Reed wrote: "This is not the occasion to go into bloody details, but just as Rousseau would have been impossible without Kant..."[post 3]

Maybe you should go into details. Kant published "Critique of Pure Reason" in 1781, "Critique of Practical Reason" in 1788 and "Critique of Judgement" in 1790.

Rousseau died in 1778. He published "Discourse on Arts and Sciences" in 1750 and the "Social Contract" in 1762.




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Tuesday, December 28, 2004 - 9:55pmSanction this postReply
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OK, I got Kant and Rousseau reversed. Sorry!



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Wednesday, December 29, 2004 - 12:59amSanction this postReply
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A degree of nonsense has crept into this discussion. No one can *know* that philosopher Y could not have developed his/her ideas without philosopher X. That's the same kind of determinism as the Hitler-couldn't-have-happened-without-Kant fallacy. I doubt very much that Rand would have accepted that Objectivism would have been impossible without Nietzsche. In fact, I wouldn't want to be in the same room with her when someone made that suggestion. But I repeat - we can't know, since what happened, happened the way it happened, period. I also repeat - we are fully entitled to make the judgements I made in my article. I've no idea what the point is of saying, "Well, we should remember their positive points too." Whoever (apart from barking mad ARIans) said we shouldn't? And so what?

Actually, I left out the worst part about Rousseau - he believed women should rule over men. *What* a calamity *that* has turned out to be!

Linz (groaning in advance)
(Edited by Lindsay Perigo on 12/29, 1:55am)




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Wednesday, December 29, 2004 - 1:13amSanction this postReply
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Oh, & thank you George for your comments. You truly got it - *and* its import. Much appreciated.

Linz



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Post 9

Wednesday, December 29, 2004 - 4:33amSanction this postReply
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I enjoyed the article, Linz.
 
As for this comment:  "I doubt very much that Rand would have accepted that Objectivism would have been impossible without Nietzsche. In fact, I wouldn't want to be in the same room with her when someone made that suggestion. But I repeat - we can't know, since what happened, happened the way it happened, period."
 
I think that's quite right.  The only thing I would add, however, by way of obvious qualification is this (in the words of writer Andrew Collier):  "No philosophy exists in a vacuum; there are always particular opposing philosophies which coexist in any historical period, and every philosophy engages, implicitly or explicitly, in controversy with its opponents. Philosophy may seek truth, but it seeks it in an adversarial as well as in an investigative manner."
 
If a thinker is to develop a philosophy based on the primacy of existence, all he or she has to do is observe the world and think in an integrated fashion.  So, in that sense, Objectivism was certainly possible without Nietzsche. 
 
But the views that exist in any particular historical period are also part of the objective terrain, so-to-speak, and the adversarial process---the process of responding to those views, implicitly or explicitly, positively or negatively---is also part of that terrain.  Even for those thinkers who are fortunate enough to understand the world objectively, what eventuates is very much the product of a unique constellation of influences, both positive and negative.  I don't think Rand's writing would have had the shape that eventuated if it were not for the impact of Aristotle, Nietzsche, the Romanticists, and even her dialectical Russian teachers. 
 
That's not a determinist claim as much as it is an acknowledgment that she stood on the shoulders of giants---and could see beyond the horizon because of it.




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Wednesday, December 29, 2004 - 5:33amSanction this postReply
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Even for those thinkers who are fortunate enough to understand the world objectively, what eventuates is very much the product of a unique constellation of influences, both positive and negative.
 
Agree or disagree with Chris, you have to admire the way the man expresses himself.
 
George




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Wednesday, December 29, 2004 - 10:17amSanction this postReply
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I think many of the assumptions in this article are good ones and can be backed up. Since I am living in Europe, I have a lot of contact with these ideologies (which are widely acknowledged and spread by schools in Europe to the present). However, they also teach in schools/universities the dangers inherent to the ideology of Rousseau, while in the same moment regard Kant as a rational critic. My own examinations of Kant are not that deep as I'd give a statement regarding him.

However, I want to make a comment to the last sentences of the article, where the author criticises the Green movements. I acknowledge that there are extremist elements in the Green movement who really want to return to the pre-civilisation era of Gaia-worshipping, but they are minority. However, you can easily criticise the approach Green movements take, that they appeal to government authority to enforce their ideology on all people.
On the other side, recent accumulations of natural catastrophes (like the hurricaines in Florida, the increasingly hotter summers and so on.) show that we have left a way in which to consider nature and isn't the assumption that A is A and reality has to be obeyed a core element of Objectivism?
So, what makes us think that nature can be neglected, that we can throw away the signs in reality just to please our own agendas? I don't intend to justify all of the believes of the Green movement, but i still think that liberitarianism or Objectivism are not incompatible to some of the facts and ideas the Green movement advocate. For example, it is not a bad idea to try new energy ressources, that could help us minimize the use of nuclear power plants or coal power plants, who pollute our air (and health-care is something we should think about) in order to make our world more sustainable for ourselves. Of course, this is not a advocacy of government restrictions, but rather an appeal to private thoughts and considerations. The government can't do anything (they tried here in Europe for years and only made everything worse in some areas) to indoctrinate people to make our lives healthier, however, the individuum can help and this does not mean to abolish new technologies, but rather trying to determine if current technologies could be improved or changed to be more environmental friendly.

I'd like to get contrary statements or supportive ones.




Post 12

Wednesday, December 29, 2004 - 12:26pmSanction this postReply
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Oy, Diabolical & George! I hope you didn't think I was arguing that philosophy just occurs in a vacuum. By "what happened, happened, period" I didn't mean to suggest that it happened causelessly - rather that it didn't happen mechanistically. I was concerned to debunk the deterministic notion that Philosopher Y couldn't have developed his/her philosophy without Philosopher X, or that Philosopher Y would not have been possible without Philosopher X, or that Philosopher X made Philosopher Y inevitable. To be sure, philosophers generally respond to whichever fellow-philosophers have just been speaking (more's the pity, oftentimes!) but that fact doesn't dictate an inexorable outcome. Kant *could* have reacted differently to Descartes, Locke, Hume, Rousseau et al. Would his philosophy have been possible without them? Well, don't forget that the whole rationalist/empiricist divide that he was concerned to straddle goes back to Heraclitus & Parmenides. Elements of his context were in place way back then. And while we're in the world of what-if, imagine if dichotomy-buster Rand had been around then to tell both gentlemen they were each half-right & half-wrong. Boy, would *that* have saved the world a shitload of hassles! But it didn't happen that way. What did happen, happened, period ... in a context, of course, but not with mechanistic inexorability - we are dealing here with the man-made, remember. That means volition and the possibility of error.

Someone made the blanket statement that without Nietzsche, Rand was not possible. We can't know, of course, but we can assess the evidenceówhich still would include Aristotle & Aquinas & her brilliant innovative mindó& conclude that in all probability she would still have got to Objectivism!

Linz



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Post 13

Wednesday, December 29, 2004 - 12:52pmSanction this postReply
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Good points, Linz, and agreed:  Philosophy surely is not one great inexorable Hegelian march toward Truth.  




Post 14

Wednesday, December 29, 2004 - 1:19pmSanction this postReply
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Of course, the ARI thinks *you* think it *is*. You diabolical dialectician you! Hahahaha!



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Wednesday, December 29, 2004 - 1:24pmSanction this postReply
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Actually, I'm just waiting for Fred to jump on this thread & tell us that Rousseau was really a proto-Objectivist. Now that *would* be a stretch! Fred, where are ya?!



Post 16

Wednesday, December 29, 2004 - 3:01pmSanction this postReply
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Linz,

To clarify what I meant by agreeing with Adam's statement -- I was agreeing with it in its obvious context. And I should've rephrased it to the much-less-absolute: "Rand would not have happened without Nietzsche." It's obviously not a sure statement, and no endorsement of determinism, past the obvious effects of influence. (Objectivism would not have happened with Neitzche, either, if it wasn't for the mind of Rand.)

And my hackneyed conclusion that we should accept the good and discard the bad of any thinker was not said in opposition to you. I said it because the Rand-Nietzsche connection is a unique and particularly damning proof of it, which nobody can deny.




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Post 17

Wednesday, December 29, 2004 - 11:28pmSanction this postReply
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Hello Max.  This discussion probably belongs in a different message thread, because I don't think it is relevent to the topic of the original article which dealt specifically with Rousseau.  Your message had several problems and so I decided to reply anyway.  Sorry to the rest of the people involved in this thread.

"I acknowledge that there are extremist elements in the Green movement who really want to return to the pre-civilisation era of Gaia-worshipping, but they are minority."

The full blown ideological underpinnings of any movement tend to be limited to the intellectuals that drive the movements.  In the case of the environmentalists, there is a strong tendency in favor of valuing "nature", and advocating human subservience to it.   The environmentalists support an ethical system that values a communal, primitive, passive "social interconnectedness" that serves the feet of the "ecosystem".   In general, this ethical system views human beings as sinful, selfish and exploitive of "nature" (sound familiar?) and thus tends to promote hatred of human beings and human progress.  While some of the foot soldiers of the movement might not be as radical, their premises are supplied by intellectuals with the above viewpoints.  I suspect most of the foot soldiers (in this, and most any ideological movement) are driven by irrational, contradictory feelings and faith based thinking.

"However, you can easily criticise the approach Green movements take, that they appeal to government authority to enforce their ideology on all people."

Yes, they are ultimately descendents of the socialists, but they extend our eqalitarian obligations to things like trees, rock formations and spotted owls.   So the tactics and view of government's role are the same.

"I don't intend to justify all of the believes of the Green movement, but i still think that liberitarianism or Objectivism are not incompatible to some of the facts and ideas the Green movement advocate. For example, it is not a bad idea to try new energy ressources, that could help us minimize the use of nuclear power plants or coal power plants, who pollute our air (and health-care is something we should think about) in order to make our world more sustainable for ourselves."

Objectivists (and all other rational people) will readily spend their money on new energy technology that makes their life easier, healthier and more economically prosperous.   I will readily purchase the stock in and buy the product made by any company that is successful in doing so.  Nuclear power plants DO NOT polute the air, and contrary to the nonsense spread by environmentalists they have never posed any health risks when run competently-- (when not run by the Soviet Union).   Global warming as a result of fossil fuel emissions is at best a hypothesis at this point.  Belief in this theory is nothing more then a politically correct fad among leftists and university scientists that to some extent hold the ideological viewpoints I described above. 

Health care is something we should think about?  In what sense? 

Our lives are FAR more sustainable then they were for people 100 years ago and if we continue along the same path our lives, and the lives of the human beings that live after us will be more sustainable in the future.   Why?  Because free enterprise will continue to develop practical, economically feasable new technology in areas like energy and health care.

 - Jason

PS.  Here is a hilarious website.  www.nazi.org.  This isn't just a neo nazi site, it is the website of the "Libertarian National Socialist Green Party".   It is an extreme example of the intellectual mess people get themselves into when they try to advocate and integrate contradictory ideas.  




Post 18

Thursday, December 30, 2004 - 12:46pmSanction this postReply
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Jason wrote:
Here is a hilarious website.  www.nazi.org.  This isn't just a neo nazi site, it is the website of the "Libertarian National Socialist Green Party".   It is an extreme example of the intellectual mess people get themselves into when they try to advocate and integrate contradictory ideas.  
Ouch!  My sides ache from laughing so hard!  I browsed the site and evidently these people do not joke but actually take themselves seriously.  Scary but funny!  This could serve as the basis for "Scary Movie 4" as a satire for the cinematic version of Michael Crichton's State of Fear whenever that gets made.


Luke Setzer




Post 19

Thursday, December 30, 2004 - 5:45amSanction this postReply
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Interesting website :P However, I think you could say that there has always be a link between communists and national-socialists in their ideology, perhaps this is the reason that they hate each other so vehemently, because they know the evil in each others agendas ;)

Well, global warming is a very difficult problem, because you can always choose facts to your position and tend to ignore others, because they don't fit to your argumentation (don't try to deny that with the root of objectivism. It is even existent within the Obectivism movement in regard to the aggressive foreign policy).
Global warming datas have been retrieved from around 1600 to now and we live in a time where global temperature is on the rise, may it be through human action or just the accumulation to a new hot period after the long ice age. In the end the reason for it is only second in priority. We still have to think about how to work a way around and if the idea is to use alternative energy sources and to recycle, well then there is no problem.
I know that our standard of living has risen since before 100 years, but this still is no reason to stop searching better ways, isn't it?
So, you shouldn't neglect those researchs who show you that you could do even more to get a longer life.

But, this isn't an integral part of the article above, so perhaps we shouldn't continue this here and now ;)
I just think that she should have elaborated her point of adding the Green movements or just leave it aside entirely, because as it stands it is just thesis without much back-up.




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