|"Just lookin' for a little respect...R-E-S-P-E-C-T" - Aretha Franklin.|
If the current problems between key people at SOLO were one of someone losing their temper, having a few drinks, being insulting, then immediately apologizing, they would probably be quickly resolved and forgotten. But it seems as though words have been said, more than once in the past, which indicate a lack of respect and a questioning of peoples' honesty. If so, the underlying error would *not* be that of losing one's temper, but of one party's - or more than one party's - cold sober process of making (and then publicly pronouncing) an erroneous moral judgment.
It is an error of failing to perceive that disagreements and mistakes are not always moral ones but can be honest error or honest misunderstanding.
Let me give a hypothetical example: Suppose I were to read Barbara Branden's and Nathaniel Branden's books on Ayn Rand cover to cover (I have not done so, have only read portions) and conclude that Barbara unjustifiably portrays Ayn Rand as neurotic, power-lusting, insecure, with deep character or at least psychological flaws. And I were to conclude that her book does this in a way that the evidence does not support. Or that Nathaniel Branden does this in his book.
Suppose that I think one or both of the books goes way over the top in these ways: Are there alternatives to my concluding that the Brandens are being dishonest? Trying to build themselves up at her expense? That errors of this magnitude cannot be made innocently? As a matter of fact, it is quite possible to be 'too close' to a subject. People deeply emotionally involved with each other can often be either too harsh or too forgiving...or even both. They are blinded by their emotions and have a blind spot. So when they talk about their former relationship, you learn that they are not fully objective.
But, and here is the key point, you don't jump to the most extreme conclusion, deliberate dishonesty, without *a great deal of evidence ruling out many other possibilities* such as: honest error, lack of psychological insight, an emotional 'seeing red' or a blind spot in a particular sphere or regarding a particular person. All of these are extremely common in human cognition. Outright dishonesty or evasion is more rare. (And still one more step is needed in pronouncing a moral judgement: when you are about to draw a conclusion about someone's character as opposed to error you need to integrate it with everything else you know about the person.)
From Ayn Rand herself, then passed on to Peikoff and most of the present leaders of Objectivist movements, including Perigo, there is a gut-level tendency to assume that huge errors or errors you yourself would avoid, whether within your own movement or among your adversaries, must reflect badly on the character of the person making them.
After all, errors of this magnitude are not made innocently. Am I a psychologist? How do I know? Ayn Rand said so.
So the problem between Linz and BB and JK is this: Once someone shows that he does not respect you in such a fundamental way, that he calls your character, your honesty into question, it is understandable that you don't want to work with them any more.
If I were Barbara Branden and my effort to write a book about Ayn Rand and the details of my relationship with her resulted in my having been vilified and had my honesty and character constantly called into question for decades, a painful experience, I might first try to correct it, but ultimately I would be very unlikely to be willing to accept such treatment from those I had considered associates or allies.
The error is not in being passionate but occasionally insulting and having poor judgment. The error is the same as the one Peikoff makes in "Fact and Value": It is consciously and on principle believing one sees moral flaws rather than honest error in cases where the evidence does not support jumping to that conclusion.
This is the central error of judgment and of understanding of human beings which has sabotaged every Objectivist movement from Ayn Rand's own errors in this regard to as recently as this weekend in SOLO. It is at the center of the lack of success of the Objectivist movement and of the personal unhappiness and lack of success of Objectivists.
They think they are living in a darker universe than actually exists and are unaware that the darkness is in large part of their own making.
If this error is not corrected .... and corrected fully, consciously, and explicitly as priority #1 ... Objectivism has no chance.
PS, The present blow-up was utterly predictable as long as the error continues to be made. As is the fact that it is the -best- people, the most articulate ones who put effort and passion into their writings, who would be the least likely to accept not being treated with the presumption of honesty.
And with R-E-S-P-E-C-T for their selves and character on a rather basic level.
(Edited by Philip Coates
on 7/30, 3:19pm)