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Post 100

Tuesday, September 27, 2005 - 9:38pmSanction this postReply
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Scott DeSalvo: Perhaps the Brandens and Rand will be linked for the good things too. It is much easier to provide a list of negativity--and it sticks so well in the mind--but the positive has greater staying power even if a lot of it is sub rosa. Of course, some prefer opera.

--Brant




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Post 101

Wednesday, September 28, 2005 - 4:17amSanction this postReply
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Prof. Campbell,

I agree with your comments about OPAR.  There doesn't seem to be any attempt to interact with other ideas or philosophers on a serious level.  This was Rand's greatest weakness.  I recall that at one place in OPAR Peikoff says something to the effect that St. Augustine would have opposed blood tests because anything that comes from the senses is sinful.  I did some research on the web and apparently Augustine had a high opinion of science and the pagan contribution to it.  Why not let other thinkers speak for themselves and criticize the ideas they actually hold?




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Post 102

Wednesday, September 28, 2005 - 7:07amSanction this postReply
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How'd we get here? In any event, and as your research much have shown you, Peikoff is far from being alone in this view of Augustine (see, e.g., one of Peikoff's favorite sources, W.T. Jones, A History of Western Philosophy, vol II, chapter 4). My reading of Augustine, who successfully resisted even learning Greek, the language of learned men in his day (as Russell notes in his history of philosophy), is similar. Augustine's approach to heresy, for instance, is just one example of his truly "closed-system" of "intolerance." But do consider reading Auggie himself for yourself.




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Post 103

Wednesday, September 28, 2005 - 9:19amSanction this postReply
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Also "Brandites" say we should take the Brandens word on Ayn Rand on faith. But if you quote NB on BB about something not pretty, then your accused of smashing idols in their church.

I've never heard an accusation like that. But then, I don't know these "Brandites" either.

Hint: This stopped being about the Brandens a long time ago for a significant number of people.  In fact, for many of us, it never was about them, the other two participants, or the whole interpersonal mess. Instead, it is about things and people in the here and now.  




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Post 104

Wednesday, September 28, 2005 - 10:37amSanction this postReply
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Casey,

With respect to your Post 90, you most definitely are owed a retraction. I have been occupied with the "rich tapestry of life" (to quote a very dear friend), and I have not been posting anything.

So as to rewriting history on Solo, as I stated in Post 53, I will take you at your word on the content of your edit and completely retract what I said about that with apologies. I was wrong.

This does not imply that I grant a sanction to your nasty small town gossiping about Barbara's sex life while she was single, though, gleefully proclaiming to any and all that she was married when it occurred.

That seems to me to cut a bit deeper in terms of malice than proclaiming that one is an alcoholic when you do not have proper evidence. In your case, you did have proper evidence. You just didn't read it.

So there is one part of my Post 53 I will keep:
(walking off in deep thought, thinking about double standards...)
Michael



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Post 105

Wednesday, September 28, 2005 - 11:20amSanction this postReply
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James,

I simply want to second your post re: Augustine, and to widen its scope to include most if not all of the disputes  about Rand's scholarly methods. Most, if not all (and I can't name one that isn't), of her salvos and arguments against Hume and Kant are based on one side of an already existing controversy about which it doesn't take a lot of scholarship to be aware. The Kant flap, for example, depends very much on whether one emphasises the Idealism or the Realism in Kant's work. This issue has plagued Kant studies since Kant's day and is not unique to Rand.

Tom

A great deal also depends on what one considers essential in a philosophy.




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Post 106

Wednesday, September 28, 2005 - 12:50pmSanction this postReply
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"But since when is self-effacement an Objectivist virtue?"

It isn't. I guess we disagree about whether he was being honest about what he considered Objectivism to be, or whether he was being self-effacing.

"Problem is, Peikoff did have ideas of his own, some of them good and some not so good. "

Okay, but without Ayn Rand, he probably would not have written any books with 1/100,000 the distribution. He would be another Philosophy professor with some good, and some bad, Philosophical theories that not many care about. That's why I laud him for his honesty.

"... his own claim to intellectual, if not moral, authority"

Okay, maybe he HAD to do it this way to maintain his moral authority. Or maybe he did it because he wanted reader to be clear the Ayn Rand's philosophy is Objectivism. Maybe I'm naive, but when someone gives me a clear, reasonable statement, I tend to believe them and not look for reasons for ulterior motives.

"I also disagree with your evaluation of The Ominous Parallels as "brilliant." "

That's okay, I guess this is more a matter of esthetics.

"some of its dire predictions lack credibility today."

You mean the taking of private property via eminent domain and a move towards a more far reaching and paternalistic Federal government? Seems to me that these 'dire predictions' are alot closer to fruition now than they were in the 1980's.

I have often thought about getting my hands on some of the old lectures, and I definitely should. Thanks for motivating me, and for your insight on the issues.



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Post 107

Wednesday, September 28, 2005 - 1:40pmSanction this postReply
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Scott,

"You mean the taking of private property via eminent domain and a move towards a more far reaching and paternalistic Federal government? Seems to me that these 'dire predictions' are alot closer to fruition now than they were in the 1980's."

Examples of egregious government behavior are not difficult to find, but as to how things stand in general, or as a trend, I suggest my article, Good Happens, in Free Radical. I outline a dozen or so objective measures suggesting things in general are significantly better than they were 35 years ago and heading in a positive direction.

Jeff

P.S. Even the example you cite has, after all, been going on for a long time and doesn't indicate much about a trend.





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Post 108

Wednesday, September 28, 2005 - 9:36amSanction this postReply
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How can this be possible? a liar, a rapist, is recognized as one of the ten top

Thinker? I am confused :-)



 

 

 

The Best Practices Institute recognizes 10 Top Thinker

Nathaniel Branden. The name Nathaniel Branden has become synonymous with the psychology of self-esteem, a field he began pioneering over thirty years ago.  In that time, he has done more than any other theorist to advocate the importance of self-esteem to human well-being, a mission which began with his involvement in Objectivist philosopher Ayn Rand’s “Inner Circle.” His work has been translated into 18 languages and has sold over 4 million copies, and includes such titles as Taking Responsibility, The Six Pillars of Self Esteem, and My Years with Ayn Rand.


(Edited by Ciro D'Agostino on 9/28, 2:41pm)




Post 109

Wednesday, September 28, 2005 - 3:08pmSanction this postReply
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Mr. Valliant,

I have read a fair amount of Augustine and haven't come across anything that indicates that he held a view of the senses that Peikoff claims he had.  I haven't read Jones' History of Philosophy, but Russell's History is very inaccurate.

"Do the pagan poets teach nothing but evil, so that they should be cast our? Or do they teach some good, so that they can be accepted and fitted into the pattern of Christian education?  St. Augustine though their beauties were not all bad, and their widsom not all deceit, so that they could be used to broaden the mind and enlarge the soul of Christians."  [G. Highet, The Classical Tradition, p. 263]
 
"But far from deprecating the senses, Augustine is robust in giving the senses their due." [F. Seddon, Ayn Rand, p. 43.]
 
"Augustine goes on to say, 'far be it from us to doubt the truth of what we have learned  by the bodily senses; since by them we have leared to know the heaven and the earth.'" [Copleston, History of Philosophy, Vol. 2, p. 55.]




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Post 110

Wednesday, September 28, 2005 - 4:06pmSanction this postReply
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Neil,

I have, too, and couldn't disagree with you more. With all due respect to Father Copleston, St. Augustine would only have been giving the senses their "due" if he had thought them a necessary basis of his belief in God and Christ (at least via logical inference.) Also, I don't read Peikoff as saying that Augustine claimed the senses to be invalid, but a worldly distraction. For this there can be little doubt. Augustine is on all fours with St. Paul here about the secular as such.

But we could argue Augustine all day, and this is all totally beside your point. Peikoff, too, has read Augustine, and I don''t much care for Russell either, but you were criticizing Peikoff's position as being unfounded, unscholarly, and/or not based on any reading of the theologian himself.

This is wrong.

P.S. It is Augustine himself who admits to never really applying himself to Greek.

(Edited by James S. Valliant
on 9/28, 4:27pm)




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Post 111

Wednesday, September 28, 2005 - 5:20pmSanction this postReply
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Mr. Valliant,

The quote I have in mind is from pages 154-55 of OPAR.  Peikoff says imagine a situation in which 6 men are looking at medical slides of bodily tissue on a screen.  "Then we bring St. Augustine to look at the screen; he understands only that this is a product of a blasephemous science of the pagans, and he feels anger, even outrage, in the presence of such 'lust of the eyes.'"

Now this goes beyond saying that the senses are a "worldy distraction" doesn't it?  Science is the product of the pagans and Augustine is against it.  What proof does Peikoff have?

According to this article, Augustine believed that the interpretation of the Bible could be corrected by a correct understanding of science:

http://www.asa3.org/ASA/topics/Bible-Science/PSCF3-88Young.html

In addition, Rod Long has pointed out that Augustine wasn't the bad guy that Objectivists portray him as:

"Augustine, incidentally, is by no means the despiser of reason depicted in Objectivist lore; indeed, we all owe an incalculable debt to Augustine for championing the Greek philosophical tradition against those Christians who sought to jettison all pagan thought. Without Augustine, there would have been no Aquinas."

http://solohq.com/Articles/Long/Two_Cheers_for_Modernity.shtml

Finally, I don't see what your point about Augustine and Greek is.  As I understand it, he was a native speaker of Punic, learned Latin well enough to be a master stylist and could read a fair amount of Greek.  Not too bad. 




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Post 112

Wednesday, September 28, 2005 - 6:41pmSanction this postReply
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"Lust of the eyes" are Augustine's words -- Peikoff was quoting him.



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Post 113

Wednesday, September 28, 2005 - 7:25pmSanction this postReply
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Neil,

By Augustine's time, Greek was already fading in the West, no doubt. I was merely showing that in this instance, Russell wasn't in error.

It was my fault, but please don't mistake the mildness of my use of the word "distractions." Augustine was capable of serious anger when it came to those worldly distractions. Just ask the Pelagians (a group of Christians trying to preserve that pagan notion that sin requires volition.)

Augustine thought the senses, and even secular learning, had their PLACE. He was, among early Christians, relatively philosophical and relatively pro-pagan, with a HEAVY emphasis on the word "relatively." Like many Christian philosophers, he was endeavoring to reconcile the completely other-worldly ideas of Paul with the more practical considerations that the Greeks had confronted. I will agree with you there.

But, like just about any early Christian he held the secular in "contempt," quite literally.

Reason cannot know the good, of course. City of God, Book XIX, "It is written, 'the just live by faith,' for we do not as yet see our good, and must therefore live by faith; neither have we the power ourselves to live rightly" but only by the help of God to live by faith.

And, for him, that's all that really mattered. Like Paul said, we don't deserve salvation -- any of us. This world is almost nothing but pain and agony -- any pleasure or wealth here is vain and idle -- and our only real hope is in the next life. Science is definitely among the earthly distractions which pave the way to Hell. The focus of our attention should be on getting there, not fixing or understanding this world.

In City of God, after going on about how it is far better for a man to know the means of salvation rather than being able to "measure the heavens," after warning us repeatedly about the sin of intellectual arrogance, Augustine gives us my favorite example:

"With a cruel zeal for science, some medical men, who are called anatomists, have dissected the bodies of the dead, and sometimes even of sick persons who have died under their knives, and have inhumanly pried into the secrets of the human body to learn the nature of the disease and its exact seat, and how it might be cured..." (City of God, Book XXII, 24)

(Edited by James S. Valliant
on 9/28, 8:42pm)




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Post 114

Wednesday, September 28, 2005 - 7:30pmSanction this postReply
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Let me also add that Augustine did have many interesting ideas, e.g., about slavery, consciousness, and other things. But, by my standards, he was hostile to science.



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Post 115

Wednesday, September 28, 2005 - 7:42pmSanction this postReply
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> "Then we bring St. Augustine to look at the screen; he understands only that this is a product of a blasephemous science of the pagans, and he feels anger, even outrage, in the presence of such 'lust of the eyes.'" [Neil quoting Peikoff]

When you are reading Peikoff (and often Rand for that matter), they are taking a philosopher ***as if he were consistent with his fundamental premises or attitudes***.

He may not be. There may be early Augustine before he converted and then City of God Augustine and then old Augustine when he started to have second thoughts.

Same for Plato. In his later dialogues, many read him as questioning the Theory of Forms.

Yet in a brief, essentialized history of philosophy you HAVE TO treat Plato as an advocate of the theory of forms, Kant as an advocate of the mind being separated from reality, Hume as an advocated of complete and total skepticism.

Even though Kant and Hume, for example, are inconsistent in being classical liberals.

You have to allow for and understand the spirit of what they [Peikoff and Rand] are trying to do: It is really not that hard to figure out.

And I'm getting tired of Peikoff and Rand taking so much crap from "scholars" when all they have to do is grasp that they are trying to essentialize!

(When you read a writer, be accepting of what they intend, not literal-minded or nitpicky.)

Philip Coates
(Edited by Philip Coates
on 9/28, 7:45pm)




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Post 116

Wednesday, September 28, 2005 - 7:48pmSanction this postReply
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> Rod Long has pointed out that Augustine wasn't the bad guy that Objectivists portray him as: "...we all owe an incalculable debt to Augustine for championing the Greek philosophical tradition" [Neil]

Yeah, but which one?

Was it the Platonic tradition, the Skeptics, the Sophists?



Post 117

Wednesday, September 28, 2005 - 8:18pmSanction this postReply
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Phil-
Your post 115 was KASS.  It was anything but 'boring old fart'.  It was succinct and it cut like hell against some of those here.  Sanction.




Post 118

Wednesday, September 28, 2005 - 8:27pmSanction this postReply
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And whatever young or old was - the essence of Augustine was "City of God"...



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Post 119

Wednesday, September 28, 2005 - 9:24pmSanction this postReply
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Yay, Phil, that's more like it. KASS! :-) Show us what you're made of! Bring that trichotomy into play!

Linz

(Though we may have to moderate you for "crap." Verging on uncivil, there, Phil. Hahahaha!)

Actually, *very* good point about dealing with the *essential* philosopher, whatever his own inconsistencies. In all the histories of philosophy I've read I've encountered no significant differences as to what the major figures actually propounded. I suspect the revisionists are just jerking off.



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