|There are a number of posts here that I intend to get to commenting on. For now, a couple things. Thanks for lighting a fire under my ass with that last one, Hong. If we want to speak about analytical thinking ability, I'd urge people to carefully read what I say in my caption to the NoodleFood link. I already brought up the question how TOC is particularly deserving of mention as a beacon of open inquiry and tolerance.|
Maybe I need to back up a bit. For years my links section there was un-updated, as I was on something of a haitus from strong interest in Objectivism and philosophy (during which time I boned up on movies). Compared to what it is now, it was a weak links section, and pointed only to TOC-friendly sites. I think things have evolved in more recent years. It was occasional posts by Diana to HPO that eventually led me, about a year or so ago, to read up more on why she considered it necessary to depart from TOC. In the meanwhile, I also ended up finding her blog to be one of the most interesting places to visit on a regular basis. I have come to find "what Diana says" to be some pretty high-impact stuff on the direction that Objectivism and Objectivist studies is heading in. I think that the people at TOC ignore her at their peril -- and I say, once again, that TOC looks to be headed in the direction of less and less relevance, as if reinforcing a prophecy that Diana keeps hitting us with over and over. I remember some 10 years ago, TOC (then IOS) was much more on the forefront and cutting edge, and was attracting some big names to speak there -- e.g., Eric Mack (probably the most important scholar influenced by Rand along with Tara Smith and/or the Dougs) and John Hospers. I'm not big on spending big dough to go to conferences, but that was one year ('97, maybe?) that I had more interest in going than any. Now, the biggest names to appear on their list of speakers are the Brandens, and this accompanied by the news that the Brandens as well as TOC prefer to remain silent about PARC. I don't consider it good news for TOC that a big-impact book is now more or less off-limits. Couple that with what I simply take to be an overall air of ineffectuality about the way that Kelley and those around him decide that they want to promote the Objectivist message -- one of watered-down, feel-good language and "outreach," like some attempt at bridge-building between Objectivism and the culture, as opposed to an all-out assault on the irrational premises of the culture. I remember getting the Navigator magazine and being all-too-often uninterested and unimpressed with the empty-sounding feel-good rhetoric. It seems now that this has become the dominant theme at TOC. I'm just not impressed with what I've been seeing coming out of there nowadays. In the meantime, it's an ARI-supported scholar who's been the first in the race to the moon, figuratively, putting out a work by the Cambridge Press. I think it shows that it's about time to reconsider strategies, priorities, and most importantly, ideas. I don't see much evidence in recent years of the TOC approach working -- and meanwhile, it's devoting its remaining resources in seemingly amazingly disproportionate fashion, to funding appearances by the Brandens. This just doesn't look right at all.
Now, as to Diana's website replacing the TOC one on my links list. I'm actually not friends with her as someone suggested. I actually have major misgivings with her denunciation of Chris Sciabarra. There's probably plenty on her website that I have problems with. I'll name one: I'm not impressed by the, ahem, claquish supporters that her blog comments sections have attracted. I won't lay that at Diana's feet; that's really the doing of the claquers. The claquers there are less interested, I think, than Diana herself is and has shown herself to be, to address issues on the strength of the substance of the arguments. I'm not even saying that I approve in full of the way that she addresses them, but she'll address them -- and she'll address them in a way that gives lie to the dichotomy that you can't be firm and resolute in your judgment and be open and tolerant at the same time -- when you have the full context behind your judgments as applies in each case. She is one of those, as an aspiring academic, who doesn't consider it appropriate or necessary to interact with academia while accepting the bad premises of discussions that go on there -- but does understand the importance of advocating and defending Objectivism in such strong terms that the academy can't rule out as unacceptable. To do that, of course, you need to be well familiar with the way academics do things -- you know, knowing thine enemy so as to better subvert it. With Tara Smith is a leading example so far, I see the ARI folks as finally getting around to doing an effective job at this. So I'm seeing a large shift in recent years in strength, effectiveness, etc., away from TOC and towards ARI. The top-notch works of non-ARI'ers like Mack and the Dougs has been, if you haven't noticed, quite independent of any of the efforts or help of TOC. Has TOC been doing something comparable to what ARI has been doing in grooming a new generation of professionals that can effectively KASS in academia while not selling out on or watering down Objectivism?
Maybe what I'm asking in the end is, just what exactly has TOC been accomplishing towards the end of advancing the best case for Objectivism and changing the culture? What exactly does it have to show for the past 15 years? I've been seeing more substantive results towards this end in non-TOC venues (whether ARI-affiliated or not). And why does TOC deserve any special marks for being about open inquiry and tolerance? I'm not saying that the ARI has had the best track record on this, either (in fact, I regard it as pretty bad, when someone like Peter Schwartz was all but the name and face of the ARI for years), but I'm definitely seeing better in recent years -- and we are now seeing some major substantive products of a much better approach, as evidenced by the example of Prof. Smith. I think that if you give other up-and-coming people like Diana some time, you may well see more of the same.
If you haven't noticed, I can sometimes be long-winded. :-)