About
Content
Store
Forum

Rebirth of Reason
War
People
Archives
Objectivism

Post to this threadMark all messages in this thread as readMark all messages in this thread as unreadBack one pagePage 0Page 1Page 2Page 3Page 4Page 5Page 6Page 7Page 8Page 9Page 10Page 0Forward one pageLast Page


Sanction: 3, No Sanction: 0
Sanction: 3, No Sanction: 0
Post 200

Tuesday, July 26, 2005 - 8:15pmSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
Gee, Glenn, if you keep posting like this I'm going to start getting good feelings about James Valliant. I have to give him credit for civil discourse on SOLO and Notablog. Not to say I'm at all keen on his book which isn't at all civil.

--Brant




Sanction: 11, No Sanction: 0
Sanction: 11, No Sanction: 0
Sanction: 11, No Sanction: 0
Post 201

Tuesday, July 26, 2005 - 9:45pmSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
What James Lennox has to say about Chris Sciabarra's work deserves an answer.  For the most part, however, it has already gotten one.  It's worth noting, too, that Lennox's objections to The Russian Radical required him to doubt Ayn Rand's own recollections of Professor Lossky and his impact on her.

But as far as Glenn Heppard's contributions are concerned, the best advice is "Don't feed the trolls."

Robert Campbell




Sanction: 3, No Sanction: 0
Sanction: 3, No Sanction: 0
Post 202

Wednesday, July 27, 2005 - 12:49amSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
A reviewer recently said the following about a biography of a famous politician:

After I finished the book, I felt soiled, like I need a long hot shower...

 
I think those following recent comments on this thread know exactly what he means... 

(Edited by Dennis Hardin on 7/27, 1:04am)




Sanction: 4, No Sanction: 0
Sanction: 4, No Sanction: 0
Post 203

Wednesday, July 27, 2005 - 12:57amSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit

Nathaniel Branden said the following a while back:

 

“About ten years ago, I came across a saying from the Talmud that impressed me profoundly.  I have not been able to stop thinking about it.  I have often wondered what might have happened if I’d had the chance to discuss the idea with Ayn—if there would have been any way to break through.  Who knows what might have been different in the years that followed?

 

“The line that so impressed me was: ‘A hero is one who knows how to make a friend out of an enemy.’ “

 

I haven’t changed my mind about the appropriateness of withholding moral judgment on this issue—the book is thoroughly contemptible and anyone commenting on it should say so--but I will acknowledge that Chris has shown the true meaning of heroism in the sense described. 

 




Sanction: 7, No Sanction: 0
Sanction: 7, No Sanction: 0
Post 204

Wednesday, July 27, 2005 - 1:50amSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
You're right, Robert, best not feed trolls.
(Edited by Joe Maurone
on 7/27, 1:59am)




Sanction: 45, No Sanction: 0
Sanction: 45, No Sanction: 0
Sanction: 45, No Sanction: 0
Sanction: 45, No Sanction: 0
Post 205

Wednesday, July 27, 2005 - 2:56amSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
Glenn has been placed under moderation. We've no objection to robust debate, & I most certainly have no objection to verifiable epithets, since I traffic in them regularly myself, but I'm not going to stand idly by & allow anyone to call Barbara a liar. (This, notwithstanding my fury with her for calling my candour into question on a different thread.) Nor will we allow carte blanche for the kinds of gratuitous insults of Barbara & Chris that Glenn has introduced here.

I hate doing this, & as everyone who's been around for a while knows, it happens rarely. It doesn't constitute banishment or excommunication—it does constitute concretisation of the fact that, for all that SOLOHQ is ultra-liberal in what it allows to be posted, there are limits, within which Glenn must now post if he wishes to post at all.

More broadly, speaking as someone who wasn't around, or at least was very young, when the events at the centre of the Valliant book were taking place, I want to say to all who remain, or have allowed themselves to become, grandstandingly fixated on those events:

Move on, people!!!!! Quit jerking off over your own places in history & focus on actually trying to change it. Changing the culture does not hinge on whether Rand's name was inspired by a Rand-Remington typewriter. It does hinge on what was written on one. Those who think this is all about them, not that ... get over yourselves! Sheesh!!!!!!

Linz



Sanction: 16, No Sanction: 0
Sanction: 16, No Sanction: 0
Sanction: 16, No Sanction: 0
Post 206

Wednesday, July 27, 2005 - 4:03amSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
Someday, it would be interesting to consider how it was that James Lennox got to write virtually the same review in both REASON magazine and the IOS JOURNAL.  But I'll leave that discussion for another day.

For the benefit of those who are interested, however, Lennox has been answered, and then some.  Lest I be accused of overloading the "crow," see here, here, here, and here.

Note that the individual who had no reply to what he found was so lacking in my review of the Valliant book has now resorted to attacking the reviewer.

Well, I'd like to thank Dennis Hardin for the sentiments about "heroism."  I have a high tolerance level for just about anything.  What I don't have any tolerance for is rudeness.

Fortunately, "heroism" doesn't require that one become an imbecile.

This discussion is at an end.

Added PS:  I join Robert in the "Bravo" he gave to Linz's words.

(Edited by sciabarra on 7/27, 8:52am)




Sanction: 7, No Sanction: 0
Sanction: 7, No Sanction: 0
Post 207

Wednesday, July 27, 2005 - 6:36amSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
Linz writes:
Changing the culture does not hinge on whether Rand's name was inspired by a Rand-Remington typewriter. It does hinge on what was written on one.

One of those wonderful turns of phrase that I wish I had written myself. And dead on.

Bravo, Linz.




Post 208

Wednesday, July 27, 2005 - 9:06amSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
I think that a certain credibility is lost if questions of evidence, etc. are brought up in a sarcastic way.



Sanction: 3, No Sanction: 0
Sanction: 3, No Sanction: 0
Post 209

Wednesday, July 27, 2005 - 9:36amSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
I missed most of this thread (been busy), but Chris: I'm standing here applauding :-)

MH




Post 210

Wednesday, July 27, 2005 - 2:50pmSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
Changing the culture does not hinge on whether Rand's name was inspired by a Rand-Remington typewriter. It does hinge on what was written on one.
 Yes, I forgot: mega-props, Linz.

 I can understand why Chris commented back on the dreaded issue (henceforth to be referred to as "The Rand-Remington Affair"). But using it for a strong lead? I'm not even sure they get into that kind of minute picky-ass ka-ka at Trekkie conventions. Even by the standards of this turbo-thread, the RRA is so far into the who-gives-a-fuck category that people are in danger of starting to give a fuck. Who's got that typewriter, and why isn't it on &%*$ e-bay? I want to start ghost writing with it. After I pry the emblem off.




Sanction: 3, No Sanction: 0
Sanction: 3, No Sanction: 0
Post 211

Wednesday, July 27, 2005 - 3:34pmSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
Rich, I assume Chris discussed the "RRA" because in PARC it is one of the first examples Valliant gives of erroneous information found in the Brandens' books. In turn, I assume Valliant used it as an example because the story is so clearly wrong -- there is overwhelming evidence that the story isn't true, and it is a question of pure fact, not subject to much interpretation.

In a way, this story has become a test for measuring people's response to the Brandens. On the one hand, attempting to defend it as true in the face of the evidence suggests an irrational bias in favor of the Brandens. On the other hand, labelling it as a case of intentional deception on the Brandens' part suggests a bias against them, since there are other plausible explanations and they have no apparent motive to lie about this type of trivia. A reasonable view (IMO) is that the story is wrong, but that the Brandens believed it to be true when they circulated it.

In turn, the disputes over this relatively unimportant story raise a bunch of questions about historiography: What obligations do biographers have to research claims that they are repeating? How much trust should we place in individual memories, as opposed to other types of sources? Etc.

So I guess it turns out that trivia isn't quite so trivial after all!

--
Richard Lawrence
Webmaster, Objectivism Reference Center




Sanction: 3, No Sanction: 0
Sanction: 3, No Sanction: 0
Post 212

Wednesday, July 27, 2005 - 4:14pmSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
The point about the Remington-Rand story is that, as Chris shows, Gotthelf and the ARI apparently had no problem with it as late as 2000. 

Why then does Branden reporting it in her bio in 1986 indicate malice toward Rand or a lack of objectivity?




Sanction: 9, No Sanction: 0
Sanction: 9, No Sanction: 0
Post 213

Wednesday, July 27, 2005 - 11:35pmSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit

As it happens, I was around when the events chronicled in PARC were taking place.  I first saw Nathaniel Branden lecture at NBI in 1964, when I was sixteen.  Ayn Rand answered questions that night, and was often in the audience during other lectures I attended.  I will never forget the day that I walked into the new NBI offices in the basement of the Empire State Building in 1968 and saw a notice on the desk that began: “An irreconcilable break has occurred between Ayn Rand and Nathaniel Branden…” I remember the feelings that washed over me that morning--as I walked out of the Empire State Building and wandered the streets of New York--like it was yesterday.

 

I grew up in Tennessee, in the Bible Belt.  Reading the novels of Ayn Rand and making the long trek to New York to attend lectures made life bearable—and gave me a sense of the possibilities of what life could be.  Together, they gave me the strength to survive.

 

I’m sure that’s one reason that defending the Brandens is so important to me.  What may seem like a waste of energy for some people is—to me—a deeply personal battle in the name of some  very precious values. 

 

But perhaps Linz is right.  Everything that needed to be said, has been said.  And Ayn Rand did say that evil should never take up one more ounce of one’s energy than is needed to fight it.  

 

The road is cleared. Let’s get back to the real world and the business of changing it.

 

 




Post 214

Thursday, July 28, 2005 - 9:55amSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
Richard-

No, the whole thing is stupid, because anyone that's had a modicum of life experience knows how this works. It's a story, and kind of a romantic, fitting one that's been around for a long time. It came 2nd hand to Barbara, who talked about it. What it represents is a tactic that lawyers can use very successfully to discredit a witness, under certain circumstances. Trying to pin credibility issues to it is asinine. What would the motive be? To leverage your existing position because you know a story about a pen name? It's goddamn ridiculous to bring someone up on charges over something like this. Also, it just looks stupid. This is like attacking Jimi Hendrix's guitar tech because he said he thinks Jimi used Ernie Ball strings at the Royal Albert Hall performance, and later on it turned out he replaced his top "E" with a Gibson one. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Someone passes a story and suddenly they know nothing about anything else. It made him look ridiculous to lead with something like that- it's tabloid, and it's cheap. Mostly cheap. The alternative would involve him actually believing his own bullshit, and I'm hoping that isn't the case, because then someone has to bury him out back.

"After I finished the book, I felt soiled, like I need a long hot shower"
 
Still the best quote reference in this whole thread.

(Edited by Rich Engle on 7/28, 10:00am)

(Edited by Rich Engle on 7/28, 10:02am)




Post 215

Thursday, July 28, 2005 - 9:29amSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
Chris, "had no reply to what he found was so lacking" I don't need to repeat Valliant's review if I agree with it do I. 


But based on your comments about your own work.

James Lennox has tenure at one of the top philosophy departments in the country. He gets his scholarly work published by the most prestigious journals and book publishers. This is his speciality that he know the world over for. 

But your response to his review is he doesn't have the "foggiest" idea what your talking about?  


David Kelley got his Phd from Princeton (in record time and under Richard Rorty)and is knowledgeable on your subject. He read Lennox's review, agreed with it and published it in his newsletter.

Allan Gottfelt a well respected Aristotelian scholar who also studied with Ayn Rand. He agrees with Lennox paper.

And so on.


The question is, are there any well respected philosophers, in this field of study, who have published that they agree with your thesis or
methodology.

You saying you agree with your own work is kind of self evident.








Sanction: 3, No Sanction: 0
Sanction: 3, No Sanction: 0
Post 216

Thursday, July 28, 2005 - 3:38pmSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
Rich,

While your comments were quite vehement (surely one or two 'stupid's would have gotten the point across?), I found them difficult to parse or relate to my earlier post. I think I was clear that I don't agree with Valliant's position that this story is an intentional lie by the Brandens. So at best it is an example of mixed usefulness for Valliant. That does not mean, however, that rebutting the story itself is a stupid activity (since it is an untrue story), or that it was foolish for Valliant in particular to mention it. The example does reinforce some of his themes (that the Brandens' books contain errors, for example) -- just not the strongest and most controversial one (that is, the claim that they engaged in intentional deception in their books). So perhaps it was not the best example for him to lead with, but not an entirely ridiculous one as you allege.

--
Richard Lawrence
Webmaster, Objectivism Reference Center




Sanction: 3, No Sanction: 0
Sanction: 3, No Sanction: 0
Post 217

Thursday, July 28, 2005 - 4:18pmSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
I'm wondering specifically about the claim that Barbara and Nathaniel Branden engaged in intentional deception in their books.  The typewriter story isn't really malicious and appears to be more of an urban legend, which is probably why people got stuck on such a silly issue.  Can you give some specifics and examples?



Sanction: 7, No Sanction: 0
Sanction: 7, No Sanction: 0
Post 218

Thursday, July 28, 2005 - 4:36pmSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
I know I said that the Valliant discussion was at an end... but I don't want that to imply that I'm not willing to talk about my work.  Let me reply briefly here, and simply ask you, Glenn, to hold off on a discussion of my work in this thread.  My recent Free Radical essay marking the tenth anniversary of Marx, Hayek, and Utopia and Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical, will be published here on SOLO HQ in mid-August, and you can take part in the discussion at that time.  I just don't want this thread to be hijacked by a discussion of the merits of Russian Radical.

James Lennox and Allan Gotthelf agree on many things; they have known each other for many years and they co-edited a book on Aristotle's biology.  I respect their work in that area and have cited both of them in my own work.  And David Kelley is also a fine philosopher, and I have cited his work too.

That doesn't mean I always agree with Lennox, Gotthelf, and Kelley---far from it; nor does it mean that Kelley agreed with Lennox's review of my book simply because he published that review in the IOS Journal.  In fact, Kelley went out of his way to sponsor a live IOS discussion of Russian Radical before it was published, and he also published a Roundtable discussion of my book after he published Lennox's review.  He also made a number of very positive comments about Russian Radical at the time.
 
Understand, however, that if we are to judge the validity of an argument by the number of scholars who object to it, then Ayn Rand's work itself would be among the most harshly judged philosophies on earth. 

As for other colleagues and professionals who engaged my work, take a look at my website and the various relevant reviews posted
here and here.  Those links include a full index of all the reviews of my work, some quite positive (see, for example, philosopher Lester Hunt's discussion).  Also take a look at the endorsements of my book by such philosophers as Tibor Machan, John Hospers, George Walsh, and Douglas Rasmussen.

But this is not about name-dropping.  It's about a fundamental divergence between Lennox and me on a number of issues, including the very meaning of dialectics.  To a certain extent, I am to blame for some of the problems that emerged in the aftermath of the publication of Russian Radical, but it was unavoidable.  The book was part two of a trilogy of books that aimed to reconstruct and reclaim dialectical method for a (small-l) libertarian social theory.  So, the full reconstruction of the history and meaning of dialectics was not published until the final (third) book in my trilogy, Total Freedom.  I couldn't reinvent the wheel in one, two, or three books---but I sure couldn't include my whole take on dialectics in a book about Rand, even if such a discussion would have clarified the points for many readers.

In fact, I have heard from many readers through the years who have said, upon reading part one of Total Freedom (TF):  "Oh! Now I know what the hell you're talking about!"  And, in fact, when I teach my trilogy, I actually begin with part one of TF before getting to Marx-Hayek and the Rand volume.

Aside from that, all of the historical speculations that I made about Rand's formative influences were based on inconclusive evidence---as I acknowledged.  But I was building an historical narrative, and each step of the narrative depended on the presumptions before it.  The initial speculations I made concerning what Ayn Rand was actually taught at Petrograd State University have now been bolstered by evidence that is as conclusive as it's going to get. The additional Russian archival material that I uncovered over the past 10 years has, in the words of William Thomas, lent "far greater warrant to [my] historical hypothesis .... successfully exploit[ing a] line of research [that] bolsters [my] key claim of a link between Russian philosopher N. O. Lossky, his followers, and the young Rand."

Let that whet your appetite, and just shelve this discussion until mid-August.  As long as we can chat with civility, I'm open to any and all points of contention.

Cheers,
Chris




Sanction: 11, No Sanction: 0
Sanction: 11, No Sanction: 0
Sanction: 11, No Sanction: 0
Post 219

Thursday, July 28, 2005 - 5:09pmSanction this postReply
Bookmark
Link
Edit
Kathy,

If your query was directed at me (I'm assuming it was), then I would have to clarify whether you want examples that Valliant attributes to intentional deception, or examples that I think are good ones for proving that claim. As best I can tell, Valliant considers most or all of the errors, contradictions, and unjustified conclusions that he identifies to be examples of malicious intent by the Brandens. So far I've identified at least 24 distinct examples from the first two chapters alone, including such issues as her capacity for enjoyment, her sense of humor, her parents' relationship, her attitude about cooking, what philosophers influenced her, her fear of germs, etc.

Whether any of the examples really serves as good evidence of intentional deception is a question I'll mostly avoid for now. I'm working on a long(ish) review for my website that will discuss these issues in greater detail, and I don't want to jump the gun on my own efforts there. (I say '-ish' because I'm hoping it won't end up as long as the one Sciabarra wrote -- 17,000 words, yikes!) For the moment I will simply summarize by saying that Valliant succeeds in demonstrating that the Brandens reach conclusions that are not supported by their factual material, and that some of the "factual" material is dubious or wrong, but his case for intentional deception is very weak, especially in the case of Barbara Branden.

If I had to name a "best case" example for Valliant, I would tentatively offer Nathaniel Branden's failure to mention that one of his deceptions of Rand was a claim of having what Rand euphemistically refers to in her journals as a "sex problem." For someone who supposedly came clean about his mistreatment of Rand in his memoirs, that's an interesting thing to omit. But note that this is at most a deception by omission, not an overt lie in Branden's memoirs. Perhaps Branden did tell some overt lies in his memoirs, but Valliant doesn't really have the goods to prove that.

I offer this example "tentatively" because for my review I'm in the process of re-reading Valliant's book systematically to catalog the specific points he raises, and it is possible that along the way I'll find a better example.

I'm sorry if that doesn't give quite the detail you wanted, but hopefully it will do until my more thorough review is available.

--
Richard Lawrence
Webmaster, Objectivism Reference Center




Post to this threadBack one pagePage 0Page 1Page 2Page 3Page 4Page 5Page 6Page 7Page 8Page 9Page 10Page 0Forward one pageLast Page
User ID Password reminder or create a free account.