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Post 100

Friday, September 30, 2005 - 9:29pmSanction this postReply
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Michael,

===========
Ed,
You selfish bastard. You quoted only yourself.
===========

But Michael, Daniel's dig was with me (and my thought-by-him-to-be-lacking-here reasoning). Yes, it's true, Daniel couldn't see the forest for the trees -- but it was specifically MY trees in the way, which he was complaining about.

Ed




Post 101

Friday, September 30, 2005 - 9:32pmSanction this postReply
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Ed... Ed... Ed... Ed... Ed...

You're apologizing for being selfish on Solo, an Objectivist site?

//;-)

Michael




Post 102

Friday, September 30, 2005 - 9:52pmSanction this postReply
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Michael!

You sarcastic fu@# (you 'got' me)!

;-)

Ed
[how ... HOW ... how did I FALL for that one?]




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Post 103

Friday, September 30, 2005 - 11:04pmSanction this postReply
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Ed, great points.

Those who disagree openly with Objectivism can be accorded some respect for stating their views openly and offering their criticisms up for open debate. But, like moths to the flame, a different type of critic of Objectivism has flocked to this thread. These are the ones who wish to question the philosophy without offering (and defending) specific criticisms of it.

This thread is a great example. Instead of coming out and saying, "Objectivism promotes cultism because of elements A, B, and C," they just point to such phenomena as Randroidism and say, "Hmmmm, isn't that interesting?" And if you protest that Randroidism is a psychological -- and not a philosophical -- problem, they will ostensibly agree with you, and immediately follow up this concession with, "But still, it is interesting that Objectivism produces Randroids, no?" It's an obnoxious form of argument via passive-aggressiveness, and because it is such a vague and shifty style of non-debate, it's impossible to make any headway with such people.

(Perhaps what I am speaking about could be made clearer by analogy. If you see someone poring over crime statistics, and he points to a figure stating that blacks are responsible for a disproportionate amount of violent crime and says, "Hmmmm, isn't that interesting?", it's clear what his real meaning is. He doesn't mean that he is truly curious about how such a statistic came about. He means that he's concluded that being black makes one more likely to commit violence, and he's covertly trying to get you to reach the same conclusion by highlighting hand-picked facts which bolster his case.)

All that can be done is to offer airtight responses that may be read and accorded their just credit by others who peruse the thread. Just as you have done, Ed.




Post 104

Saturday, October 1, 2005 - 12:02amSanction this postReply
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Andrew writes:
>But, like moths to the flame, a different type of critic of Objectivism has flocked to this thread. These are the ones who wish to question the philosophy without offering (and defending) specific criticisms of it.

Andrew, if you're talking about me here, I'm suprised. If you don't know what my specific criticisms of Objectivism are by now...sheesh, I thought I'd been boring and repetitive over the past year or more, but clearly not enough! And I thought I'd been pretty clear even on this thread - the cult-like problem may be partly rooted in Rand's misleading use of language (although I don't discount the power of her personality too)

Happy to restate them clearly for you if you'd like, even at the expense of vast groans from the likes of Cap'n Ed, who's heard it all a few times now.

Andrew:
>And if you protest that Randroidism is a psychological -- and not a philosophical -- problem, they will ostensibly agree with you, and immediately follow up this concession with, "But still, it is interesting that Objectivism produces Randroids, no?" It's an obnoxious form of argument via passive-aggressiveness, and because it is such a vague and shifty style of non-debate, it's impossible to make any headway with such people.

If this too is referring to my comments, this is incorrect, as I *don't* agree that Randroidism is merely "psychological" - I suspect, as I have said, that it is at bottom philosophical.

Of course, if you meant neither comment to apply to me, then no problem.

- Daniel



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Post 105

Saturday, October 1, 2005 - 12:06amSanction this postReply
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This is funny! Tom, I don't have a theory of propositions. However, I'm flattered that you consider me philosophically sophisticated enough to develop one and are interested enough to see it! I was just using that as an example. Don't read too much into it. :) However, David Kelley is working on such a theory.

You wrote, "What I said was that the premise that 'Objectivism (and/or ARI) is a business looking for customers.' is a premise you need to check. They are not. Objectivism is a philosophy that is soliciting agreement. ARI is an advocacy organization promoting that philosophy." I was using "customers" in a broader sense. ARI is selling a philosophy, are they not? That's the sense in which I meant it.

You wrote, "You have to decide, therefore, whether you agree with that philosophy and you have to decide whether you agree that ARI is promoting it. And then you have to be a mensch -- a human being with a spine -- about it. That means, saying so and accepting the consequences."

Well, sure. I was not contesting that.

You continue, "Yeah, some people can be really annoying. That goes both ways. Some people jump to conclusions. That goes both ways. Some people can feel badly when they do, some people can't seem to muster the necessary words. That goes both ways. So, if I misunderstood your tone of 'benevolance', 'good will,' and 'understanding' for 'malevolance', 'bad feeling' and 'overwrought crushed hutspa' please accept my apology."

Apology accepted! ;-)

"But lumping all the behaviors you name with words like 'bizarre', 'ridiculous' and 'uptight' seems to indicate that the second set of descriptive words is more accurate."

Oops! Short apology, huh!

"Not only that, but your primary gripe about Diana's throwing you off her site, and of the behaviors you name, is that they display an intolerance of 'DISSENT' Now that means an attitude of debate and disagreement and, in a word, 'Dissent.' Not one of 'study', 'honest questioning with a desire to understand a position.' My guess is that your attitude of dissent and was as obvious on those occasions as it eventually became on Diana's blog."

My point was that it's absurd to expel someone from an Objectivist study or discussion group, simply because he or she happens to question a position or express disagreement with it. If the person honestly doesn't see it as valid, what's he supposed to do? Keep his mouth shut? I'm not saying, by the way, that it's always appropriate to voice your disagreement, but then neither is it never appropriate to so. One has to use a little common sense here, but that's true in any social situation. You seem to be saying that one can question, but not disagree. Well, how exactly are you supposed to examine a philosophy critically with the goal of understanding whether or not it is valid if you're never free to express disagreement? You would have to be walking on eggshells, lest you convey the impression that you don't think that one or another of its ideas makes sense.

You write,

"1. If you dissagree with a point in Objectivism you can find a place (like SOLO, or the Ayn Rand Society...

The Ayn Rand Society is reserved for professional philosophers.

"...or by publishing your own blog or your own magazine, or by publishing a book) to express it, and attempt to prove it and invite dessent if you want."

Of course! I'm not suggesting that Objectivist bloggers and study groups don't have a ~right~ to expel dissenters. What I'm saying is that it ~can~ be inappropriate to do so; nevertheless, people have a right to act inappropriately. Nor am I complaining about a lack of venues for expressing disagreement. I'm just saying that the Objectivists I've encountered have been a pretty strange bunch with a suspicious attitude and an inability to tolerate even civil and reasonable disagreement.

You continue, "Then it is apparent that you are not 'correcting' Objectivism, you are disagreeing with it on a platform that is designed for that." Sure, if we assume that Objectivism is a closed system that does not admit of any correction or change.

Then you ask, "But what is the point of bringing up such an issue at an obviously Objectivist event. Is it not to solicite agreement?" Not so much to solicit agreement as to solicit an explanation, correction or simple recognition that there's an issue that needs to be addressed. Objectivism is not a religion with a dogma that is based on faith and is therefore impervious to critical evaluation.

"And if it is, is that not an effort to correct Objectivism? [No, as I said] To embarrass the hosts with your 'proof' that what they are preaching is wrong?"

"Embarrass the hosts??" Come on!

"Would you get up in church and ask the preacher in front of his congregation if he really thinks that transubstantiation actually takes place at the Eucherist? (Man, I know what some of you guys will make of this example so please don't)."

No, I would not. But neither would I interrupt someone in the middle of a speech or debate, unlike Ayn Rand, who did exactly that in a debate between Nathaniel Branden and Albert Ellis. But if you were in a catechism class, for example, and the priest gave you the first-cause argument for the existence of God, as he did to me when I was 9 years old, then I think it's entirely appropriate to question it if it doesn't make sense.

You continue, "There seems to be some disagreement between you and various and sundry hosts about whether your or your friends behaviour meets THEIR criteria rather than yours."

That's not the disagreement. Obviously, their behavior did not meet our criteria, otherwise we wouldn't have disagreed with it. However, I would imagine that it met theirs; otherwise they would not have done it. Hello!

Then you say, "That you even object to their acting on their judgement is hubris enough for me."

I am not objecting to their ~acting on their judgment~; I am objecting to their ~actions~. Are you seriously suggesting that I cannot properly criticize someone's actions if the person acts on his or her judgment? By that criterion, you couldn't criticize even the most outrageous behavior, if the behavior proceeded from the person's judgment.

You continue, "3. 'Dissagreement' is not an attempt to understand. It assumes that you do understand and, well, dissagree! Disagreement implies debate. Find a platform and debate. NOBODY IS STOPPING YOU."

Look, if you're trying to understand an idea and it doesn't make sense to you, then you'll necessarily disagree with it. The disagreement ~may~ be due to your failure to understand what's being said, or it may be due to the idea's simply being incorrect. You'll never know, if you don't voice your disagreement and elicit some kind of response from the idea's proponents. Understanding is an active, critical process, not a passive reception of whatever is being presented. For further details, see Rand's essay "Philosophical Detection" in _Philosophy: Who Needs It_.

- Bill




Post 106

Saturday, October 1, 2005 - 12:19amSanction this postReply
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Andrew,

Thanks, again, for your diligent and obvious value-seeking commentary. As to your acknowledgment of my virtues, I can only, shamelessly, say this: You are so right -- about me being so right!

;-)

For as long as I can, I will fight the good fight against the sandal-wearing, tree-hugging, clever-dick, pomo wankers. Your sanctions fuel my fire -- my aspirations to the "what is possible" to mankind, my indignation against those who merely serve as hurdles blocking the obtainment of real human value, and my love of human life as it could and should be lived.

Acknowledgment of the good for being good, is at least half the battle,

Ed

p.s. Thank you, Andrew. Your intellectually-honest presence, your innate sense of justice, makes me feel that this is a life worth living. It is guys like you (who are willing and able to validate value wherever it's found), that bring hope to us all -- to bring, into existence, something better than what has been, something revolutionary.





Post 107

Saturday, October 1, 2005 - 1:20amSanction this postReply
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Andrew, you bring up some valid points.

Is there a cult-like element? No.

Is there a tendency to use Objectivism as an elitist social position to puritanically pass righteous judgement? Oh yeah.

I know I was a little droidish when I first "got it". When you know deep down that something just isn't right, and then have the reason for your uneasiness explained to you, it was akin to a religious experience. This can cause a powerful anger that can be morally justified.



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Post 108

Saturday, October 1, 2005 - 2:15amSanction this postReply
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Ed:
>Some folks get drunk with finality. Objectivism -- like fundamentalist religions -- offers up some finality. And there's certainly no shortage of ReligiRoids out there. With regard to Objectivism though, those folks susceptible to this drunkeness are simply the bad apples, they don't spoil the bunch (and they definitely don't spoil the basket --ie. the philosophy -- that carries the apples to different places in life).

OK. I can see your first point which is: some of the "finalities" of Objectivism - ultimate Truths, absolute certainties etc - appeal to some people who have a particular mindset - the mindset that typically also finds fundamentalist religion appealing. These people could just as easily be ReligRoids as RandRoids - that's what you're saying right?

Well I guess I partly agree. But then if you're going to argue that way, does this mean fundmentalist religions bear no responsibility for their fanatical elements either? That it is *all* just a matter of a particular psychological temperament, and not a particular doctrine? I would have to disagree if this is the case.

- Daniel




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Post 109

Saturday, October 1, 2005 - 7:37amSanction this postReply
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Daniel,

=============
But then if you're going to argue that way, does this mean fundmentalist religions bear no responsibility for their fanatical elements either? That it is *all* just a matter of a particular psychological temperament, and not a particular doctrine?
=============

Both ReligiRoids and Randroids are -- every one of them -- morally responsible individuals. It doesn't matter if you've surrendered your mind to a schematic -- the bad actions you perform will be damning to you. The bad actions you perform ought to be punished -- because you "earned" punishment -- that's what justice means (retribution to all).

What does it mean to say that fundamentalist religion bears 'responsibility'? How do we get to justice from there? Do we put Scripture in jail? Do we torture holy books by repeatedly setting them to the flame, and then putting them out, before they've had a chance to be extinguished by the flames? Do the printed words on these pages deserve punishment?

Individuals deserve punishment. Blame the individual -- that is the key. Every individual caught up in fundamentalist religion is morally wrong and blameworthy for it. We can only metaphorically 'blame' a religion -- it was, is, and always will be, individuals' choice to revere it.

Ed



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Post 110

Saturday, October 1, 2005 - 8:41amSanction this postReply
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Ed,

You are on to something with that last post.

Objectivism is a philosophy for living on earth. It is not a new set of rules with the sanction of reason for the kind of person who wants to give his life to a cause.

This last kind of person does exist (Randroids, etc.) and, unless he was raised in an Objectivist household, he had this problem way before coming to Objectivism. It was not the philosophy that corrupted him. He was that way already.

Objectivism does have features that attract this kind of person, however. Starting with the rugged individualist image projected in Rand's fiction. There are nice individualists too - even Objectivists. The rugged variety is not a moral imperative - just a great dramatic image.

I think I hit upon most of the danger points that we all have to look out for (in ourselves and others) with your list - in an earlier post on this thread - in order to keep our individualism healthy and not corrupted by the sacrifice of self to a cause.

Robert Ringer had a cute term for this kind of person - Absolute Moralist. These people are out to save the world and are control freaks. Notice how a rabid Environmentalist can be easily exchanged for a flaming Randroid. Only the cause and style are different. All the essentials are the same (including unending long-winded rationalizations that simply don't convince).

Michael

(Edited by Michael Stuart Kelly on 10/01, 9:23am)




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Post 111

Saturday, October 1, 2005 - 8:57amSanction this postReply
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Tom,

RE your Post 84, I find something Don Quixote-like in the attempt to control the public use of a term like Objectivism. We have discussed this before. The term in my mind for Rand's system in the strict sense - the one you describe - is... um... well...

Ayn Rand's System.

She called the philosophy she devised Objectivism. The term "took" with the general public. Other writers have and do adopt her premises and elaborate on them (some even more Don Quixote-like trying to "save" it as you ironically mention and others merely adding to it from the same premises). They all call themselves Objectivists. It's too late to call the term back. It is now going the way of a term like "Christianity" and there are and will be different schools of Objectivism.

You can't control that. Neither can anybody else. It's a few billion people too big. History and mankind's behavior in these things is a reality. Mankind has behaved this way (using a core term with differing branches) for religious/philosophical movements ever since recorded time. Reality, not wish. And we all know what Objectivists call those who evade reality.

//;-)

Michael




Post 112

Saturday, October 1, 2005 - 9:43amSanction this postReply
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(Edited by Ciro D'Agostino on 10/01, 2:21pm)




Post 113

Saturday, October 1, 2005 - 10:06amSanction this postReply
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Ed:
>What does it mean to say that fundamentalist religion bears 'responsibility'? How do we get to justice from there? Do we put Scripture in jail? Do we torture holy books by repeatedly setting them to the flame, and then putting them out, before they've had a chance to be extinguished by the flames? Do the printed words on these pages deserve punishment?

Actually, we usually *criticise* them! As comprehensively and ruthlessly as possible.

>We can only metaphorically 'blame' a religion -- it was, is, and always will be, individuals' choice to revere it.

Of course. As I wrote in Post 66:

>DB: So fundamentally it comes down to an *individual moral choice* - to question, or not to question? That is the question.

However, I would temper that by saying some very, very persuasive doctrines can turn out to be *entirely false*, and individuals can get intellectually trapped within them. Popper referred to Marxism, for example, as "the mousetrap" for this reason. That is why one needs to be highly *critical of one's own beliefs* too - perhaps more so than any other.

- Daniel



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Post 114

Saturday, October 1, 2005 - 11:27amSanction this postReply
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Re: Ed/Daniel Fundamentalist discussion...

I criticize them, endlessly. I have lampooned them, I have cruelly vivisected them. None of this means anything, save for moments where I have simply brought their agenda into bright sunlight. The basic issue is church/state. I feel separation is under dire threat, and I will not stand for it, to the point of participating in activism. The opponent has power, influence (both populus and political) and is meticulously organized. So, it involves having to fight smart, and make alliances. That is why even though I'm not a Christian, I work with organizations like the Christian Alliance for Progress, in addition to my own network. It's the ony way to get anything done on the ground. The other side of it is writing, and that writing needs to be powerfully persuasive, and truthful.

Jason-

I have not been "sniping" at you ("us") about anything. I don't snipe, I discuss. Occasionally, I will lampoon, but I  find myself less and less interested in such things.  I have been sniped at, but it is infrequent and does not trouble me. The whole ad hominem thing makes me yawn, even if it's a dandy firefight.

So, with all due respect, you can blow that one out  your ass- that wasn't nice.

As to mysticism, this is not the thread for it- I only mentioned it in passing because mysticism had been brought into it at a certain point, and I was making it clear that I disagreed with most of what I have read here about it, the main point being that the material was clearly light and unresearched down to the level of even definition. I will no doubt be writing specifically about mysticism, with the purpose of delineating it further than it normally is here on SOLO. And, I'll do that when I please, so,  I guess I must disappoint you again today, and not acknowledge your command.

You also seem to be getting at some kind of thing that implies that I draw people in by acting like I'm an Objectivist, and then not being one. That I am deploying some kind of psyop. This is nonsense, and I take issue with your accusation, but do not require any further from you on this. If you feel the need to provide some kind of public service by "outing" me, you have my blessing- literally.  All I can say is that I have never seen any signup sheet in the lobby, so even if I were in the market to "join," I wouldn't have been able to. It is ponderous and perplexing enough to still have my LP party card. See MSK's talk on using the term "Ayn Rand's System". 

The other thing that puzzles me about your statement is that I can't imagine how I could be some enigma- it is abundantly clear through my postings and even my first article who I am and where I am coming from. I have put this straight down on the table many times.

In any event, no, I will not and cannnot comply to your orders.

rde




Post 115

Saturday, October 1, 2005 - 11:45amSanction this postReply
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In any event, no, I will not and cannnot comply to your orders.

You see, people, this is innate heroism!
I don't trust though, that guitar in Rich's hands, looks like a lupara :-)

Derek! no! I don't want to be a comedian, I am just happy that's all.

(Edited by Ciro D'Agostino on 10/01, 11:50am)




Post 116

Saturday, October 1, 2005 - 1:08pmSanction this postReply
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Actually, that one I'm holding there is a Reverend with a guitar synth pickup attached to it. Aside from sounding great, it only weighs six pounds, which makes me happy. :)



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Post 117

Saturday, October 1, 2005 - 1:14pmSanction this postReply
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Rich, you are master of sidestepping questions about your assertions and at this point I suspect you are incapable of defending them.  The mysticism thing is a case in point.  You have been attacking the general SOLO position on religon for months now with comments infering that we do not have a deep enough understanding of it. Yet whenever you are questioned about your position and your subsequent sidestepping you SIDESTEP AGAIN with something like : "I don't care what you think of my post and I choose not to answer you"   In another current thread you were asked to elaborate on your position on this same topic and you used some kind of sidestepping tactic twice.

I suspect this will be the same regarding the comments in your previous post inferring that the rest of us would be better off if Ayn Rand would not have published non fiction works about technical philosophy because taking distinct, methodical philosophical positions makes us "credal thinkers" which you believe "is unhealthy from a growth perspective, both personally and socially."  This is quite an assertion to make on SOLO and it was a direct attack against a good number of SOLO's users.  But again, I don't think you are interested in discussing this at length.  You simply wanted to get in another little snipe at our logical, reality oriented approach in order to justify your pragmatist "I believe whatever I feel is ethical and useful" philosophy.

 - Jason




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Post 118

Saturday, October 1, 2005 - 2:07pmSanction this postReply
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Alright, that's about enough.

First off, it is true that several times (mainly, recently) in my writing that I saw and mentioned a lacking in how mysticism is talked about. That is why I came to the conclusion that, having said that, it might be a good idea for me to write some things about it, as I have some insight and information on it that might initiate further discussion. When you clearly see things missing, a lot of times you decide to try and bring something to the table.

If you consider someone saying that to be sidestepping, then you are not listening. As far as an "official Solo position" on it, I'm not sure where that is in the operations manual, and quite frankly I don't give a rat's ass. I do not believe there is a fixed level of conformity that is required at SOLO in order to write about something. Is there some oath or thing I was supposed to sign? What is that all about? You speak collectively, and considering where you are doing so, that really fucks with my head. Do we elect press secretaries or spokesmodels here? Jeezus..

Again, for reinforcement that you desperately seem to need: I am saying that I see grounds to do some writing on mysticism, purely from the fact that there are a lot of things that I have not seen addressed. Period.

As far as the other thread, go read my reply to Landon that you suddenly have developed a peaked interest in. I responded to it before I saw this thing of yours here.

As to my comments about the novels vs. the philosophical works, I said that sometimes I find myself thinking that. This you turned about yay close into me advocating a book burning, or lord knows what. It was an observation pertaining to the effects the novels create versus everything else. Big goddamn deal.

You, my friend, are on a witch hunt, and that is very unfortunate. You are also turning and twisting my words, and assuming motives. I take issue with that.

Further, you barked out orders and instructions to me like you were some little SOLO capo. I believe there is no internal thought policing unit in a place like this, and that includes you. Stay out of my face with that kind of stuff, please- you do me offense. And if you say "snipe" one more time, it's going to make you look very silly.




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Post 119

Saturday, October 1, 2005 - 2:34pmSanction this postReply
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You're right, Jason - does seem like a 'having cake and eating it' syndrome running here...
(Edited by robert malcom on 10/01, 2:35pm)




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