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Post 160

Saturday, July 23, 2005 - 3:01pmSanction this postReply
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Just a bit of clarification on the typical behavior associated with personality traits. I'll be using the descriptions as per the Big 5 personality model, which is currently the "gold standard" of personality measurement. A summary of the Big 5--extroversion (low extraversion = introversion), neuroticism, conscientiousness, agreeableness, and openness to experience--can be found here:

http://www.wilderdom.com/personality/traits/PersonalityTraitsBig5.html

 A self-test on the Big 5 here:

 http://personality-project.org/

Using the Big 5 definitions, a typical behavior for an extrovert would not include "taking things personally." This would be more likely typical of a person high in neuroticism because of low self-esteem. People high in neuroticism also tend to be more emotionally unstable in that they are prone to being angry, depressed, and/or anxious. Another facet of neuroticism is impulsivity. Basically, most of the traits we think of as pathological can be found in the neuroticism personality trait.

An extrovert's behavior would be characterized by such things as being emotionally expressive, assertive, and sociable.

Walter 




Post 161

Saturday, July 23, 2005 - 4:01pmSanction this postReply
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Walter, did I miss something or are you on the wrong thread?

--Brant




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Post 162

Saturday, July 23, 2005 - 4:10pmSanction this postReply
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Phil,

In post #66 you criticized Nathaniel Branden for, among other things, brushing off your request to take a picture of him. Then in post #120 you wrote that he had later sent you a cordial note that went "some distance toward starting to alter [your] impression [of him.]"

On the subject of Branden and picture taking, I can relate the following: During the TOC Sponsor's Dinner in Vancouver last year, I was at one point talking with him, Robert Poole, and Stephen Hicks. Realizing what a rare privilege it was for an unpublished individual like myself to be in the simultaneous presence of such giants, I stepped back for a moment to grab my (rather large and obtrusive) 35mm camera from its bag in order to record the moment. I snapped the picture and no one said anything. I will try to scan it in and email it to the three subjects. If they approve, I will be happy to post it here.

At the Schenectady conference last week I spotted an interesting group of smokers conversing outside one evening. I sat down to join them and deployed a pair of computer speakers and my iPod to play some Latin jazz. Then Nathaniel came out to join us and, as it happened, sat down next to me. He was perfectly friendly and said that for his interview with Duncan Scott all questions would be on the table.

At the interview the next day, though, he passed on a question Fred Cookinham wanted to ask concerning the accusations made against him in the Walker book. (To be fair, Fred had politely prefaced his question with a statement that Branden could pass on it if he chose.) He also said that he would be happy to answer any questions we might ask him individually at the conference after the interview. But I promptly heard of a case in which someone asked him such a question only to be rebuffed.

I am writing this as someone who has long been mystified by the whole Affair situation, the subsequent Branden split, its aftermath in the ARI/TOC split, etc. I recognize the many positive accomplishments the Brandens have achieved both inside and outside of Objectivism, but nevertheless am unwilling to let them off the hook of partial responsibility for the rancorous tone of much Objectivist internal discourse and for the uncritical adulatory tone of much Objectivist commentary on Ayn Rand. (I am not willing to let Rand herself off the same hook either.)

After idolizing scientists my whole life, I went to MIT where I found that undergraduates in general and me in particular were often not treated all that well by the faculty. It was at MIT that I became an Objectivist, and my experiences with certain faculty members and staff members there left me with a somewhat jaundiced view of anyone with pretensions of being an intellectual leader.

I have always taken this with me, including in trying to make sense of evidence concerning the Break and other Objectivist schisms. On the one hand, I am now inclined to shrug off with an application of the _de minimis_ principle pecadillos that other might find weighty moral import in. On the other hand, I am not inclined to trust things the Brandens said when they were running NBI or things the leaders of ARI say now.

-Bill
(Edited by William A. Nevin III
on 7/23, 4:32pm)

(Edited by William A. Nevin III
on 7/23, 4:34pm)




Post 163

Saturday, July 23, 2005 - 8:37pmSanction this postReply
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That's one hell of a first post, Walter Foddis.

Care to elaborate on the oblique meaning you are driving at, if any? I'm kinda slow sometimes. I have a lot of trouble understanding where new people are coming from when they don't state what they want to say clearly - at least at first.

Chalk it up to genes or maybe a personality trait...

Michael



Post 164

Saturday, July 23, 2005 - 8:56pmSanction this postReply
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Walter,
An extrovert's behavior would be characterized by such things as being emotionally expressive, assertive, and sociable.

No. An extrovert's behavior would simply involve having people around when he wants to relax. Although outgoing people are often extroverts, extroverts are not always outgoing people.

Sarah

P.S. I don't know what he's getting at either.

(Edited by Sarah House
on 7/23, 8:57pm)




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Post 165

Saturday, July 23, 2005 - 9:27pmSanction this postReply
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Michael S.K.,

I have a theory as to why the journal entries stopped after Rand discovered the truth about Nathaniel's affair.   As I see it, Rand was writing that particular journal to help her resolve her relationship with Nathaniel, with the hope that it would lead to a resumption of their affair.  The journal reflects moments when she believed that resuming their relationship would not be possible, but these were always followed by entries that suggested she was reconsidering that conclusion.

The journal served that one specific purpose--to work out her feelings and to help her see the relationship as clearly as possible.  When she discovered the affair with Patrecia, she knew that was it.  It was over and there was no possibility of ever resurrecting it.  There was no longer any reason to try to sort out her thoughts and feelings, so there was no point in continuing it.

Speaking for myself, I have often used a diary of this kind to help clarify my feelings about a difficult relationship.  Another footnote based on my own personal history: once a troublesome relationship ended, the anguish I was going through wiped out all concern for clarity, and any further entries reflected this total loss of perspective.  Later on, once the pain and anger subsided and I could see the obvious distortions in my thinking, that part of the journal went straight into the shredder.  It would not surprise me if Ayn Rand herself destroyed any subsequent writng she did on the subject of Nathaniel Branden.

So that's my two cents.  And thanks for your insights on the other recent issues on this thread.

Dennis 




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Post 166

Saturday, July 23, 2005 - 10:44pmSanction this postReply
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Michael,

Walter is a Ph.D. candidate in clinical psychology at the University of Waterloo, with an interest in psychological measurement. He was the recipient of a TOC graduate scholarship in Vancouver last year based in part on a number of research papers that he has written or co-written on subjects such as the measurement of self-esteem. He was the founder and moderator of the psychology list on WeTheLiving.com. So when he writes about extroversion vs. introversion, he brings a little bit more to the table than do most of us. Plus he plays rhythm guitar in a band called Intransition and is an all-around really nice guy.

You might try being a little more friendly to people you don't know on SOLO. Even the ones who are new here might not be new to some of us. And it is a good habit for life in general.

-Bill



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Post 167

Sunday, July 24, 2005 - 12:41amSanction this postReply
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Bill, dear friend—no doubt Walter's credentials are impeccable, but the relevance of his post on his thread is kinda baffling. Michael is not being inhospitable here, simply echoing the puzzlement we're all feeling: Did Walter somehow post on the wrong thread? :-)

More generally, I want to say here that I haven't read the Valliant book and don't intend to, unless it's to read Rand's journal entries. Several people whose judgement I respect have said to me in effect: Valliant seeks to draw cosmically damning conclusions about the Brandens on the basis of the most numbingly trivial minutiae. I've seen plenty of evidence in the to-ing and fro-ing that this is so. I believe Chris Sciabarra just wasted 18,000 words and months of his precious time. The thing doesn't begin to deserve that kind of attention from such an esteemed source. Valliant next to the Brandens is as a dust speck on a space capsule.

Linz



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Post 168

Sunday, July 24, 2005 - 6:28amSanction this postReply
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Linz wrote that "Chris Sciabarra just wasted 18,000 words and months of his precious time. The thing doesn't begin to deserve that kind of attention from such an esteemed source."

Let me make one thing clear:  My essay may have been about Valliant's book, but in a larger sense it was not about Valliant's book at all.  I wrote the essay because I have a profound reverence for the art of interpretation and the science of historiography.  My wide-ranging criticisms of the Valliant book served the larger purpose, of showing, specifically, where I believed Valliant went wrong interpretively and methodologically. And given my long-term engagement with Rand studies, I thought it was necessary to go "on the record" with these thoughts, especially since other writers and reviewers had already been referencing me.

I will be posting my rejoinder to Valliant on my own blog and, as far as I am concerned, that will be that.  The discussion will conclude at Notablog.  Officially.  I hope that some have profited from the exchange, but I've got only a few hundred other essays and articles to author and edit. 

And precious little time to do it all, indeed.




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Post 169

Sunday, July 24, 2005 - 6:39amSanction this postReply
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Walter (in his post about introversion, extroversion and the "Big Five" theory of personality) was replying to Sarah's post #74 on this thread.

It was a few pages back...

Robert Campbell




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Post 170

Sunday, July 24, 2005 - 10:59amSanction this postReply
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Ah, well, it's a good thing I decided to respond to him then. I missed the "taking things personally" quote in there.

My rationale for saying that extroverts tend to take things personally was partly based on my own experience. Every time I decline a night out on the town my extrovert friends feel somewhat offended. I know this because if I decline too often they confront me with accusations of bitchness. I also based it on my readings.

Regarding that test, there are some glaring inaccuracies regarding introversion/extroversion:
"[Extroverts] tend to be enthusiastic, action-oriented, individuals who are likely to say "Yes!" or "Let's go!" to opportunities for excitement. In groups they like to talk, assert themselves, and draw attention to themselves."

"Introverts lack the exuberance, energy, and activity levels of extraverts."

As I said before, outgoing is not synonymous with extroversion. While I may not be as active as an extrovert, I hardly lack energy or exuberance. Similarly, I have an extrovert friend who says little in large crowds, but likes being with them nonetheless. I know, anecdotal evidence, but pick up a psychology book and you'll find it in there.

Sarah



Post 171

Sunday, July 24, 2005 - 11:17amSanction this postReply
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Linz,

OK. After returning from the TOC conference I got caught up on this thread all at once, so the earlier discussion of extraversion was fresher in my mind than in those who have been following it day by day.

On the Valliant book we are largely agreed. I have read on the net some of his earlier scribblings on the same subject, and thus have no desire to inflict more on my brain. I would very much like to read Chris's work, though, since it deals with the larger issues of evidence and intellectual historiography.

Marsha Enright, however, told me that Rand's journal entries were interesting and, as one might naturally expect, cast the Affair in a different light from the one the Brandens have presented. (Though how much I can trust the textual integrity of alleged excerpts from Rand's unpublished works contained in a book from an ARI sycophant like Valliant I do not know.) When I read them, I will try to find a way to do it that does not involve royalty payments to him. From the dismal reception his book has apparently received, it might be tricky to find a library that will deign to stock it.

Michael,

Sorry to jump down your throat.

-Bill
(Edited by William A. Nevin III
on 7/24, 11:20am)

(Edited by William A. Nevin III
on 7/24, 11:28am)




Post 172

Sunday, July 24, 2005 - 11:36amSanction this postReply
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In regard to the appropriateness of the introversion-extroversion posts, Joe Maurone stated on 7-12-05:

 

I just realized that this thread is about Valiant, so I will stop hijacking, sorry...

 

Joe was right. Particularly in view of the potential value of the insights offered, it would have been better to have placed further commentary on this matter on a new thread, where those most interested would be sure to see it.

 

As for wasting energy on the subject of this book, I indicated in my review that it acquired significance from the fact that ARI and Peikoff gave it their imprimatur.  Valliant may be a speck, but this implicit sanction made his book something that had to be addressed, both from the perspective of defending the values (i.e., the Brandens) under attack and derailing the potential damage resulting from the stupidity of those at the helm of the “official” wing of the Objectivist movement. 

 

Not to beat a dead horse, but I will repeat once again that I also consider it a mistake to discuss this topic without indicating, however discretely, that the book is morally reprehensible, thereby withdrawing, at the outset, any potential sanction that might be implied by referencing it.

 

 

 

 

 

 




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Post 173

Sunday, July 24, 2005 - 11:52amSanction this postReply
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Seems I owe Walter an apology. I stopped by my local book store to look in as many psychology books as I could find that talked about extroversion and lo and behold, I haven't picked up enough psychology books.

But that then makes me wonder, if simple observation so blatantly contradicts these books, what the hell have they been teaching you?

Sarah



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Post 174

Sunday, July 24, 2005 - 12:27pmSanction this postReply
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While it is true that Chris's review of Valliant's book gives it a status it doesn't deserve and its author a chance to reply on Natablog pretending therein to be the scholar he really wasn't in his book, which is only an attempt to destroy the credibility of the Brandens and thereby reapply luster supposedly lost because of them to the Ayn Rand image, everything has a price. This is a small price.

What we have now is a well researched piece of the historical record of the events surrounding the "Break" in 1968. I don't like it, but Valliant's book and Notablog rejoinder are now part of that, albeit subservient or derivative, even though the book came first. What is still lacking is the broad overview.

Objectivists who are not fans of the Ayn Rand Institute are going to have to own up to the fact that it basically and mostly represents Ayn Rand's views and attitudes carried forward--that Objectivism, the Philosophy of Ayn Rand as opposed to Objectivism per se are two different things altogether. The former should have been buried with her in terms of practical philosophy. The latter is her proper legacy. The former is authority figures telling you and me, et al, what is what in regards to Objectivism, the latter is figuring it out for oneself and acting accordingly. This doesn't mean stomping on the philosophy's basic principles. It does mean that "Total passion for the total height" is not Objectivism in the general sense, but the attitude of some Objectivists, not necessarily others. Etc.

Please note that what I have written here is basically in shorthand. I am not attacking Linz's personal attitude, for instance, but looking at it from the correct perspective. I myself am much more egalitarian. I never could get why, for instance, Dagny would give up Frisco for Galt except Rand cut the shoulders off his character, making him defer to Galt out of being sane and rational. Well, it was never sane and rational for Frisco to have given her up in the first place and go off on Galt's crusade. (This is one reason why Barbara Branden's idea of combining the two characters in a movie version is brilliant.) He went for plot reasons. The entire structure of Atlas Shrugged is artificial. The story is plot, not character, driven except as the characters occupy the appropriate places and have room to seemingly do the driving.


--Brant

(Edited by Brant Gaede on 7/24, 7:38pm)




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Post 175

Sunday, July 24, 2005 - 4:16pmSanction this postReply
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Brant,

You wrote "Objectivists who are not fans of the Ayn Rand Institute are going to have to own up to the fact that it basically and mostly represents Ayn Rand's views and attitudes carried forward--that Objectivism, the Philosophy of Ayn Rand as opposed to Objectivism per se are two different things altogether."

Firstly, I don't have to own up to any such thing until I or people I trust who are independent of ARI (sorry for the redundancy there) are given access to the archives and can confirm that the alleged excerpts are not doctored and were kept in context. You can consult Chris Sciabarra's website for further information about why I am skeptical of ARI on this issue.

Secondly, if Ayn Rand later in life despaired at the treatment she had received from Nathaniel Branden and in a fit of pique made some false statements of a personal nature, they remain just that: false statements of a personal nature. They are not part of Objectivism.

As Robert Bidinotto has observed elsewhere, Objectivism is not a doctrine like Buddhism where enlightenment is brought about by devout association with a particular holy teacher or guru. The facts justifying Objectivism are open for contemplation by all. The idea that Objectivism consists of everything that Ayn Rand ever said and nothing else is a bit of ridiculous ARI tripe that puffs out Peikoff's feathers as keeper of the keys to her unpublished works - while contradicting her own published statements that demonstrably are part of Objectivism.

I apologize if my tone here seems heated. I'm not being critical of you. I just want to put an end to this ridiculous Peikoff/Schwartz/Valliant/ARI effrontery once and for all.

Objectivism is like Euclidean geometry or Aristotelianism. It consists of the parts of the philosophy Rand wrote that are true, and of anything else that anyone later contributed to the field that is true. There will be room for debate about what is and is not true and about what is and is not part of the field. It won't be the case that everything is cut-and-dried and can be found neatly summarized in a book with Leonard Peikoff's grim visage adorning the back cover. This is in accordance with the nature of the human conceptual consciousness. It is in accordance with Objectivism. It is not in accordance with a certain parochial view of reality popularized by a quaint little alternative institute in Orange County, California.

-Bill
(Edited by William A. Nevin III
on 7/24, 8:24pm)




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Post 176

Sunday, July 24, 2005 - 4:46pmSanction this postReply
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Brant,

I found your comment about Atlas Shrugged interesting:

I myself am much more egalitarian. I never could get why, for instance, Dagny would give up Frisco for Galt except Rand cut the shoulders off his character, making him defer to Galt out of being sane and rational. Well, it was never sane and rational for Frisco to have given her up in the first place and go off on Galt's crusade. (This is one reason why Bartbara Branden's idea of combining the two characters in a movie version is brilliant.) He went for plot reasons.
It's certainly convenient for the plot to have Francisco exit Dagny's life, giving his reasons only in a form way too cryptic for her to understand, but I don't think that's all there is to it.

I think Rand intended there to be a clear hierarchy of greatness, with corresponding required responses.  Galt came up with the idea for the strike, and formulated its philosophical underpinnings, so he is greater than Francisco, his convert and disciple.  Ergo, Dagny must prefer Galt to Francisco, once she has met him...

Meanwhile, Rand appeared to find it perfectly natural that Eddie Willers would be hopelessly in love with Dagny, even though she substantially outranked him on the scale of greatness, and "therefore" could never return his love.

Are these the kinds of judgments you would want to make about real people, and defend by the cold light of day?  I certainly hope not.

Did Rand leave these notions of hierarchy entirely in the mythic realm?  Unfortunately, I suspect she didn't.

Robert Campbell




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Post 177

Sunday, July 24, 2005 - 7:43pmSanction this postReply
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Good point Bill. I was only thinking of her writings published before her death. "Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology" went from just that to a big add on of purported conversations by Ayn Rand with philosophers edited by Leonard Peikoff. I completed discounted the value of that re "Objectivism, the Philosophy of Ayn Rand." Goes for the book of that title too.

--Brant




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Post 178

Sunday, July 24, 2005 - 9:34pmSanction this postReply
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Robert: I think that Ayn Rand was deficient in a liberal arts education and that huge brain of hers rushed in to fill the void. She ended up with universal prescriptions that betrayed ignorance in psychology, sociology, history and human interactions generally. I speculate that English as a second language interfered with her ability to read fairly rapidly. If so this was made worse by her penchant of tearing the last ounce of meaning from what she did read. Her incredible work ethic that was writing didn't help in this respect.

Both Ayn Rand and Atlas Shrugged need to be constantly deconstructed to find the surplus hidden value and for others to avoid the important mistakes she made. And to properly understand those mistakes she didn't make!

Ayn Rand is made for thinking: a reference point for an important off-key consistency. There is reality and there is Ayn Rand. They don't always mesh well, but she thought they did.

--Brant




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Post 179

Sunday, July 24, 2005 - 11:29pmSanction this postReply
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Michael: "Given the nature of the constant attempts at rewriting Ayn Rand's personal history, essentially by whitewashing ugly facts, practiced over the years by ARI and presented copiously in Valliant's book, is it possible that there might be some "overlooked" journal entries, including later ones, especially ones that might have conflicted with Valliant's thesis of the Brandens being the root of all evil in Ayn Rand's life?"

I don't, of course, know whether or not there were later journal entries about Nathaniel and me. But I do know, because it was told to me by several members of the Collective who are friends of mine, that the subject of "the Brandens" did not die with our departure. For something like two years after that, Rand was obsessively concerned with discussing Nathaniel's psychology, and the Collective had to endure endless nights of conversation about it, although Rand, wanting their input, still did not reveal to them the central fact of her affair with Nathaniel. However, it is clear to me, because of my meeting with Rand six months before she died, during which she discussed Nathaniel, that her view of him did not improve over the years -- although her view of me was much improved over what one might expect from reading "To Whom it May Concern"; as I outlined in PASSION, she spent some time excusing me for not telling her of Nathaniel's affair with Patrecia for so long.

And although I saw a great many of Rand's journal entries, I simply don't recall whether or not there are "overlooked" entries during the year or so preceding the break which presented Rand's better view of Nathaniel. I rather suspect that there were such entries, but this is only a suspicion, although based on an intimate and extensive knowledge of Rand. I know that during this period there were what Rand called "honeymoon periods," during which her relationship with and view of Nathaniel was much improved, and it is likely that she wrote about this in her journal.

Barbara



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