|Luke, thanks for the link. I'm sure OPAR has great insights, but I just couldn't see myself trying to slog through another 430 pages of Peikoff's writing. When you keep having to reread a paragraph over and over because your mind keeps wandering to other stuff that's more interesting to you, it's kind of a sign that the book in question isn't right for you, however much it worked for the people who recommended it to you.|
Luke, your summary of OPAR is WAY more interesting and readable (for me, at least) than OPAR itself. Perhaps an "OPAR for Dummies" should be written using this summary and a lot of easy to understand illustrations, or at least have a summary like this put at the beginning of the OPAR so people like me who find it tedious can read a Cliff Notes version and walk away understanding the essence of Objectivism.
Some specific points in your summary I had questions about (Bill Dwyer or whoever else is reading this, feel free to jump in with your own thoughts about these items):
Chapters 1 through 4: No questions. Agree with everything there.
Chapter 5: Re this: "Any appearance of conflict between mind and emotion is, in fact, a clash between conscious and subconscious ideas." It seems possible for a conflict between mind and emotion to be a clash between two conscious ideas or values that are mutually irreconciliable. For example, a married person might have an emotional response to another person he (or she) knows, and at an emotional level want to have an intimate relationship with them, but their mind might say that acting on that emotion would end a marriage they value. It seems that both the mind and emotions can have both conscious and subconscious aspects, unless you try to paper over the problem by defining mind to be strictly conscious thought and emotion to be strictly subconscious, in defiance of what most would consider reality.
Re this: "An arbitrary claim is one for which there is no evidence, either perceptual or conceptual." This definition seems a bit fuzzy to me. For example, the foundation of the Mormon church is an alleged incident called the First Vision, where Joseph Smith claims he saw God and Jesus as corporeal beings who spoke to him. There is no objective evidence that any of us can sift through to prove 100% whether or not this event actually happened, but it is based on a claim of a physical event occurring, a claim that is either true or an utter fabrication. So, by the definition above, is this an arbitrary claim because people currently living have no hard physical evidence to prove or disprove it, and can thus be dismissed out-of-hand, or is it a non-arbitrary claim because it is based on an alleged one-time non-repeating physical act that was allegedly perceived, and thus we can use reason to assign an (extremely low) probability to it being true?
Re this: "skepticism claims that knowledge of reality is impossible to man by any means". This appears to be a redefinition of skepticism that is at odds with the common useage, where a Venn diagram would show skepticism to be a circle with Objectivism as a subset within it -- that is, skepticism in common useage is basically the rejection of mysticism, including both those who say reality is impossible to know and those who say it is possible to know. This is similar to the Objectivist definition of altruism, which is at odds with the common useage where altruism includes both the bad kind obhorred by Objectivists, versus helping certain selected others because that is a value you think is more important than not helping them.
I'll stop here for now, since I'd like to get these items clarified before proceeding further through Luke's summary of OPAR.
Let me just add that, reading through this thread, clearly I'm not the only one who feels that OPAR isn't for everyone, and especially for someone fairly new to Objectivist philosophy, and that quite possibly someone talented will come up with a book that does a better job of engaging people like myself in Ayn Rand's philosphy.