100 Critics: Understanding Objectivism

Richard Goode's picture
Submitted by Richard Goode on Mon, 2011-01-10 02:50

#1 The Maverick Philospher (Bill Vallicella)
#2 CPXB (Christopher Bradley)
#3 Happy (The Non Prophets)
#4 Chris Wolf
#5 Eliezer Yudkowsky (The Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence)
#6 Denis Dutton (The Art Instinct)
#7 aporiaaporia (an abundance of inanities)
#8 Whittaker Chambers (National Review)
#9 Butler Shaffer (LewRockwell.com)
#10 Daniel Barnes (Ayn Rand Contra Human Nature)

...


( categories: )

Callum

Richard Goode's picture

In the unlikely event of an emergency, follow the instructions of your crew.

They know what to do.

Richard

Callum McPetrie's picture

"If the person to be saved is a stranger, it is morally proper to save him only if the risk to one's own life is minimal; when the danger is great, it would be immoral to attempt it; only a lack of self esteem could permit one to value one's life no higher than that of any random stranger."

As per Daniel's example, do you believe that Airlines are actually advocating absurdities when they advise that, in an emergency, to put on your own oxygen mask before helping those around you?

Perhaps they aren't acting on quite a strong moral principle as this one, but the principle of acting in self-preservation before helping others in the event of an emergency is a commonly accepted one. This might not make the man who acts with serious danger of losing his own life grotesquely immoral, but it would advise against it.

Selfish or self-interested?

Rosie's picture

Is there a major difference between the two, do you think?

self-interested

versus

selfish

Oh! I get your joke - a bit late! You mean I have paid her a compliment in saying that! She would consider this a virtue! LOL!

But she would not think it a compliment that that she was literally a hater of the good for the good. She admired talents and trading only. Not pure goodness. I don't mean the Marilyn Monroe sort. I mean the sort that concerns itself with the welfare of others and seeks nothing in return. I.e. altruism. I suspect that both the act and the accompanying emotion, compassion, must have been alien to her for her to consider it, altruism, "immoral" and "evil".

LOL!!!

Richard Goode's picture

She was, in short, completely self-interested

Don't you mean, completely selfish?

Oh!!!!

Rosie's picture

I hadn't read this before! Thanks.

It makes the same point that came to my mind on Doug's Altruism thread but so much better. The absurdity is made perfectly plain. As is the immorality and complete lack of understanding and appreciation for the best of humanity - goodness - of Ayn Rand also made plain.

It seems to me that what she was incapable of, she decried. She was not a parent. She was not a faithful wife. She did not forgive readily. She did not fully understand all the wider implications of love. She was, in short, completely self-interested (but had a good mind and a better imagination than many).

With altruism, she is a hater of the good for the good. Only she lacks the insight to see it in, and the truth of, herself.

#10 Daniel Barnes

Richard Goode's picture

Rand's Anti-Heroic Ethics

ARCHN's chapter on Rand's morality thoroughly explores its various fallacies, especially Nyquist's thoughtfully argued sub-chapter on altruism. However, perhaps the most clearcut example of the highly unrealistic nature of her ethics occurs in her "The Ethics of Emergencies", in The Virtue Of Selfishness.

"The Ethics of Emergencies" comes as standard with the usual Randian features, such the opening arguments from intimidation, wiggy, evidence-free psychological speculations, and the retro-fitting of standard terms, such as "sacrifice", with entirely opposite meanings to the usual ones (Rand often reminds me of something someone once said about Gertrude Stein: "she doesn't seem to know what words mean"). And as always, she maintains her habit of saying something on one page, and then taking it back on the next.

But despite this typical thicket, we can eventually struggle through to find Rand stating an interesting and original ethical position, and stating it clearly.

She takes what she calls the "altruist's favourite example: the issue of saving a drowning person." She then recommends the following:

"If the person to be saved is a stranger, it is morally proper to save him only if the risk to one's own life is minimal; when the danger is great, it would be immoral to attempt it; only a lack of self esteem could permit one to value one's life no higher than that of any random stranger." (emphasis DB)

That's right. If you endanger your life to save a stranger, you are immoral. Not just immoral, but psychologically damaged, in that you lack self-esteem.

Now, let’s try to imagine just such a situation, but in a world where almost everyone has adopted Rand’s moral code. A lone young girl is swept out to sea on a dangerous surf beach. The crowd stands by, doing nothing, as they have too much self-esteem to risk their own life for the young girl, who is after all a ‘random stranger.’ A man plunges in after her. Both nearly drown in the attempted rescue, but eventually after a great struggle he brings the both of them into shore alive. They both lie exhausted, gasping on the beach. Eventually he lifts his head only to be greeted by grim faces and contemptuous stares from the surrounding crowd. One woman eventually speaks, voice brimming with emotion: “That was the most immoral thing I’ve ever seen. You ought to be ashamed of yourself.” The crowd nod fiercely, and turn away in frank disgust.

Or alternately: as the girl is swept out to sea, a man walks to the edge of the churning surf. As she cries for help, he stands there, assessing the situation. Then, having decided it’s just too dangerous, he steps back, and returns to his towel by the shore. A wave of spontaneous applause breaks out among the beachgoers, in appreciation of a truly moral act; a woman says to her young son, “Look at that man just did. I hope you grow up to be just like him.”

While this seems absurd, it is actually perfectly consistent with her general stance of the morality of only acting in your own self-interest. Clearly then, by Objectivist standards, people such as lifeguards, or firefighters, are not heroic as they are usually considered, but pursuing fundamentally immoral professions due to their "lack of self-esteem". But of course, while they repeat her rhetoric, Objectivists stop well short of actually living by it. Having just watched Oliver Stone's "World Trade Centre", where two trapped policemen are rescued by Marines (one a committed Christian) at considerable risk to their own lives, I wondered where the ARI's fierce condemnations of the "immorality" these and other voluntary actions on Sept 11 were.

Because absurd as this seems, this is just what Rand is advocating.

Richard

Leonid's picture

"That's not me mentioning that Rand doesn't explain why action should be goal-oriented."

I aware of it, but you quoted it affirmatively. I understand that this is also your position. Correct me if I'm wrong.

Leonid

Richard Goode's picture

"To begin with, why we should look to goal directed action to understand the nature of value is never explained. She seems to just pluck an area of inquiry out of the air, pick a term that has some intuitive relation to it and claim that she has somehow arrived at an empirical understanding of value. "

That's not me mentioning that Rand doesn't explain why action should be goal-oriented. (I mentioned no such thing.) That's someone else (viz., aporiaaporia) mentioning something else (viz., that Rand never explained why we should look to goal directed action to understand the nature of value).

"I mentioned no such thing"

Leonid's picture

"I mentioned no such thing"

I understand that given the volume of your posts it is difficult for you to remember everything you said or affirmative quoted. So allow me to remind you:

"To begin with, why we should look to goal directed action to understand the nature of value is never explained. She seems to just pluck an area of inquiry out of the air, pick a term that has some intuitive relation to it and claim that she has somehow arrived at an empirical understanding of value. "

Leonid

Richard Goode's picture

For example you mentioned that Rand doesn't explain why action should be goal-orientated.

I mentioned no such thing.

Free your mind from the albatross of Objectivism.

Leonid's picture

And substitute it with your subjectivism?

As a matter of fact you don't deal with Objectivism at all. Quite uselessly you spend your time and great deal of effort to criticize some non-existent philosophy which you for some obscure reason attribute to Ayn Rand. For example you mentioned that Rand doesn't explain why action should be goal-orientated. However, everybody with even mere rudimentary knowledge of Objectivism would point out to you that Rand explained this issue times and again.

if you are really interested in constructive discussion of Objectivism, try to read Ayn Rand instead her critics who employ more or less your biased tactics. If you prefer academic discussion, read "Metaethics, Egoism, and Virtue" edited by Allan Gotthelf and James G. Lennox.

Then, maybe, we could have some meaningful conversation.

Leonid

Richard Goode's picture

Free your mind from the albatross of Objectivism.

Another failure

Leonid's picture

For years I'm searching for any meaningful and honest critique of Objectivism without any success.

Richard's diatribe is another failure. It is just very long list of objections, distortions and misrepresentations without shred of proof. What a shame!

#9 Butler Shaffer

Richard Goode's picture

The Libertarians' Albatross

I have long had mixed feelings about Rand and her ideas. On the one hand, she has undoubtedly been a major figure in the development of modern libertarian thinking, even though she would not have identified herself with any philosophy for which Objectivism was only a part. Her greatest contribution, I believe, was to confront the underlying assumptions of collectivist thinking at a time when it was considered unsophisticated to entertain such a challenge. Furthermore, she helped to rescue philosophy from the Byzantine labyrinths of academia, encouraging ordinary people to regard principled inquiries into the nature and meaning of life. She helped to give wider meaning to what Socrates praised as the need for the "examined life."

While I found her questions quite refreshing, I had numerous doubts as to her conclusions. Had she confined her life's work to writing novels — with their important messages about the role of the individual in collective societies — her work would have had a far greater impact on the cause of liberty. Men and women could then have incorporated her fictional accounts into their own experiences, and used both to synthesize a powerful personal philosophy. But Rand insisted on putting together an abstract philosophic system — cobbled together from varied sources — which she declared to be objectively "true" principles.

Her epistemology — the base of her philosophy — is wholly untenable to anyone with an understanding of how the mind actually functions...

Rand's belief in objectively determined "values" is equally unsupportable, as any first year student of microeconomics will quickly attest...

Rand's attempt to extend her sense of "objective" values into the realm of aesthetics became a give-away to the fallacy upon which her philosophy was built. What she extolled as "objective" artistic taste came down to nothing more than the kinds of music, paintings, literature, sculptures, and architecture, that appealed to her eyes and ears. She apparently even elevated a popular dance step to the realm of objective correctness. That she could delude herself into believing that her subjective preferences equated with objective truth should have been a red flag to her ardent followers, who were busily buying up Victor Hugo and Mickey Spillane novels, Rachmaninoff recordings, and miniatures of Michelangelo's statue of "David."

By far, the greatest voice for the irrelevance of Objectivism to the cause of peace and liberty has come from the founder of the Ayn Rand Institute, Leonard Peikoff....

If libertarians are to become catalysts for the further decentralization of society, and are to help transform destructive and murderous social systems into those based upon peace and liberty, they must free their minds from the albatross of Objectivism, whose moralistic self-righteousness has turned it into everything it purported to oppose: irrationality, collectivism, state violence, and disregard for truth. Its absolutist doctrines no longer inspire, but only embarrass, those whose minds and spirits insist upon individual liberty; men and women who are unable to rationalize the dehumanized and violent political models willingly embraced by so many leading Objectivists.

#8 Whittaker Chambers

Richard Goode's picture

Big Sister Is Watching You

Atlas Shrugged... appears to be slowly climbing the best-seller lists.

The news about this book seems to me to be that any ordinarily sensible head could possibly take it seriously, and that, apparently, a good many do. Somebody has called it: “Excruciatingly awful.” I find it a remarkably silly book. It is certainly a bumptious one. Its story is preposterous. It reports the final stages of a final conflict (locale: chiefly the United States, some indefinite years hence) between the harried ranks of free enterprise and the “looters.” These are proponents of proscriptive taxes, government ownership, Labor, etc. etc. The mischief here is that the author, dodging into fiction, nevertheless counts on your reading it as political reality. “This,” she is saying in effect, “is how things really are. These are the real issues, the real sides. Only your blindness keeps you from seeing it, which, happily, I have come to rescue you from.”

Since a great many of us dislike much that Miss Rand dislikes, quite as heartily as she does, many incline to take her at her word. It is the more persuasive, in some quarters, because the author deals wholly in the blackest blacks and the whitest whites. In this fiction everything, everybody, is either all good or all bad, without any of those intermediate shades which, in life, complicate reality and perplex the eye that seeks to probe it truly. This kind of simplifying pattern, of course, gives charm to most primitive story-telling. And, in fact, the somewhat ferro-concrete fairy tale the author pours here is, basically, the old one known as: The War between the Children of Light and the Children of Darkness. In modern dress, it is a class war. Both sides to it are caricatures.

Atlas Shrugged can be called a novel only by devaluing the term. It is a massive tract for the times. Its story merely serves Miss Rand to get the customers inside the tent, and as a soapbox for delivering her Message. The Message is the thing. It is, in sum, a forthright philosophic materialism. Upperclassmen might incline to sniff and say that the author has, with vast effort, contrived a simple materialist system, one, intellectually, at about the stage of the oxcart, though without mastering the principle of the wheel. Like any consistent materialism, this one begins by rejecting God, religion, original sin, etc. etc. (This book’s aggressive atheism and rather unbuttoned “higher morality,” which chiefly outrage some readers, are, in fact, secondary ripples, and result inevitably from its underpinning premises.) Thus, Randian Man, like Marxian Man, is made the center of a godless world.

[T]he book’s dictatorial tone... is much its most striking feature. Out of a lifetime of reading, I can recall no other book in which a tone of overriding arrogance was so implacably sustained. Its shrillness is without reprieve. Its dogmatism is without appeal. In addition, the mind which finds this tone natural to it shares other characteristics of its type. 1) It consistently mistakes raw force for strength, and the rawer the force, the more reverent the posture of the mind before it. 2) It supposes itself to be the bringer of a final revelation. Therefore, resistance to the Message cannot be tolerated because disagreement can never be merely honest, prudent, or just humanly fallible. Dissent from revelation so final (because, the author would say, so reasonable) can only be willfully wicked. There are ways of dealing with such wickedness, and, in fact, right reason itself enjoins them. From almost any page of Atlas Shrugged, a voice can be heard, from painful necessity, commanding: “To a gas chamber — go!” The same inflexibly self-righteous stance results, too (in the total absence of any saving humor), in odd extravagances of inflection and gesture... At first, we try to tell ourselves that these are just lapses, that this mind has, somehow, mislaid the discriminating knack that most of us pray will warn us in time of the difference between what is effective and firm, and what is wildly grotesque and excessive. Soon we suspect something worse. We suspect that this mind finds, precisely in extravagance, some exalting merit; feels a surging release of power and passion precisely in smashing up the house. A tornado might feel this way, or Carrie Nation.

We struggle to be just. For we cannot help feel at least a sympathetic pain before the sheer labor, discipline, and patient craftsmanship that went to making this mountain of words. But the words keep shouting us down. In the end that tone dominates. But it should be its own antidote, warning us that anything it shouts is best taken with the usual reservations with which we might sip a patent medicine. Some may like the flavor. In any case, the brew is probably without lasting ill effects. But it is not a cure for anything. Nor would we, ordinarily, place much confidence in the diagnosis of a doctor who supposes that the Hippocratic Oath is a kind of curse.

An apology

Richard Goode's picture

I'm not an Objectivist, so I'm not a case in point.

I mistook you for an Objectivist. I apologise.

Consider yourself lucky I didn't mistake you for a creationist!

Why do so many Objectivists

Richard Wiig's picture

Why do so many Objectivists insist on attacking the honesty, integrity, and character of their opponents?

First off, I am not an objectivist, but I do have an interest in Objectivism.

You're a case in point.

I'm not an Objectivist, so I'm not a case in point. What I see is you misrepresenting Rands ideas. What options do I have in the face of that? You're either innocently mistaken, or you are dishonest. It's one or the other.

I do know dishonesty when I see it. It's a shame that you can't be honest.

The argument I impute to Peikoff (and, by Papal promulgation, to Rand) is this.

1. Existence exists, and only existence exists.
2. God is an existence beyond existence, ergo
3. God does not exist.

They ask where is the proof while at the same time pointing out the logical fallacies in certain claims about the nature of this god that people say exists.

You think I'm being dishonest. I think I'm being charitable.

The onus is not on me to present the missing links in Rand's chain of reasoning.

No. The onus is on you to present to me what she actually said and to critique it honestly. She may be wrong, and you may be the one who enlightens me to that, but you haven't enlightened me yet.

Linz

Richard Goode's picture

I'm wondering what specific values Baade would identify as "humanity-affirming"

A more specific answer than the one I gave is in the essay I linked to below. I urge you to read it.

Kasper

Richard Goode's picture

You were asked "what specific values".. You answered generically "Christian values"... That's not specific at all.

Specificity is a matter of degree.

Yes, The Singularity is the Biggest Threat to Humanity

Richard Goode's picture

Yes, The Singularity is the Biggest Threat to Humanity

Why is the Singularity potentially a threat? Not because robots will “decide humanity is standing in their way”, per se, ... but because robots that don’t explicitly value humanity as a whole will eventually eliminate us by pursuing instrumental goals not conducive to our survival. No explicit anthropomorphic hatred or distaste towards humanity is necessary. Only self-replicating infrastructure and the smallest bit of negligence.

Why will advanced AGI be so hard to get right?

Brant

Richard Goode's picture

It's right to respect [individual] rights and wrong to initiate force and violate them.

I agree.

I eschewed studying the Objectivist catechism

You set a good example.

Orthodox Objectivism has consequently wasted over 50 years going nowhere politically... the horse [Peikoff] rides has been and is a complete disaster.

Orthodox Objectivism must die, and here's why.

Richard

Brant Gaede's picture

This is not a criticism of your Peikoff-Rand criticism.

Objectivist epistemology embraces individualism because a mind thinks alone. Hence rational self interest in ethics and individual rights in politics. It is off these basic principles that we deal with the complexities of social existence. That's the way I see it.

Nearly 40 years ago I eschewed studying the Objectivist catechism so I'm not saying Objectivists would agree with this or not and I don't care. That's the way I do it.

I think Objectivists, starting with Rand, made a major mistake with the heavy emphasis on morality--Objectivist ethics--instead of individual rights. If they had focused on rights the way America's founding fathers did they'd have had a natural commonality with libertarians and rights' respecting conservatives. It's right to respect rights and wrong to initiate force and violate them. There's your morality tightly wound up in rights themselves. Orthodox Objectivism has consequently wasted over 50 years going nowhere politically. I'm not saying it's been a complete waste as I think millions have benefited personally from Rand's ideas. The heck with Peikoff, however; the horse he rides has been and is a complete disaster.

--Brant

#7 aporiaaporia

Richard Goode's picture

A Partial Critique of the Objectivist Metaethics

My Objectivist phase was one of the more shameful periods of my intellectual development. I'm offering this by way of penance for that unfortunate year and a half. I feel compelled to atone somehow after hearing that an old friend of mine that I'd recommended Atlas Shrugged to long ago actually followed up on my suggestion - and has become a full blown Objectivist since I last saw him. This essay will examine Ayn Rand's metaethics and some fundamental aspects of her normative ethics. The clearest articulation of her views on these subjects I have at hand is Leonard Peikoff's Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand, and it is on the account given there that I will base my criticism...

Peikoff/Rand begins OPAR's consideration of the good with the question, "...does man need to judge and select values at all? Is morality necessary or not, and if it is, why?" (207). For Rand the term, "value," is defined empirically on the basis of, "the fact of goal-directed action," as, "that which one acts to obtain or keep" (208). Peikoff goes on to claim that this understanding entails that values are always relative to agents and to specific goals.

Already we are confronted with controversial and unquestioned premises. To begin with, why we should look to goal directed action to understand the nature of value is never explained. She seems to just pluck an area of inquiry out of the air, pick a term that has some intuitive relation to it and claim that she has somehow arrived at an empirical understanding of value. Rand says that she derives her definition of value from observation of goal directed action, but doesn't expand on what she means by such action. Action is understood broadly in her work as a feature of causation, defined earlier in OPAR as the fact that, "an entity must act in accordance with its nature" (14). What exactly constitutes an entity is extremely unclear, and Rand's ontology is left extraordinarily vague both by her and her posthumous devotees. At the very least, most of the things in our usual day to day perception are entities on her view, so people, plants, pebbles, hydrogen gas and light bulbs are all entities and therefore capable of action. So what is meant by goal-directed? "Action toward an object," (209) is the closest we get, though this isn't terribly illuminating. Without a rigorous account of what it means for action to be goal directed, Rand threatens to let in a lot of things that are fatal to her analysis. Is water flowing downhill goal-directed action? It's certainly action under her view of causation, and it seems oriented towards attaining some equilibrium state. Is the melting of ice at room temperature goal directed action? Is the process of biological evolution? The accretion of galaxies? While Peikoff claims that, "one does not observe desks or pebbles pursuing goals," the simple orientation of action towards some object or state of affairs doesn't provide the isolation of the qualitative features from which Rand attempts to generalize a claim about the nature of value.

Peikoff tries to rein this in by limiting the scope of what behaviors can be considered goal-directed, though still not providing necessary or sufficient conditions for it. "Goal directed behavior is possible only because an entity's action, its pursuit of a certain end, can make a difference to the outcome. 'Alternative' does not imply choice; it means that the entity is confronted by two possible results: either it acts successfully, gaining the object it seeks, or it does not (and thus fails to gain the object)" (208). First, this claim by Peikoff is completely unsubstantiated. Second, it doesn't mesh with our intuitions on goal directed actions. Consider the case of Christians who pray for a cancer patient's health. Their actions appear goal directed, even though they don't affect whether the patient will be healed of their terminal illness or not. Alternately, consider a female applicant for a job who sends in her resume. That action seems goal directed even if one stipulates that she has ignorantly applied to a firm run by a misogynist who refuses to hire women. Third, this verges on incoherence if we continue to take seriously Rand's account of causation. What an entity does just is a result of its nature. That means that whether or not an entity achieves a given goal just is a result of its nature. This would imply that all supposed alternatives are merely apparent. Since my achievement of some goal is solely a result of my nature, it cannot be the case that I could have the same nature and fail to achieve the goal, ceteris paribus. The supposed alternative can only come to pass if things are not as they are, but as Rand insists on noting on seemingly every page, OMG CONTRADICTIONS CANNOT EXIST. Rand's view of causation is incompatible with the existence of any genuinely goal directed action on Peikoff's account, and thus incompatible with her analysis of value.

Having defined values, Rand/Peikoff's next step is to consider who possesses them. She says that the very concept, "presupposes an entity capable of generating action towards an object," (209). This may be true given her definition, but it's far from some sort of discovery about the nature of value in any interesting sense. It seems at best an artifact of her choice to limit the question of value to the actions of entities in pursuit of goals. That value should then be agent and goal relative given her arbitrary, unmotivated starting point should come as no surprise. The sorts of entities she thinks have values are living organisms, as they are, "capable of self-generated, goal directed action - because they are the conditional entities, which face the alternative of life or death" (209). The self-generated bit is snuck in, and only mentioned this once. It doesn't appear to be a part of her definition of goal directed action and isn't connected by anything else in this section to her understanding of value. It also makes little sense given the account of causality already discussed, as it isn't clear in what sense an action taken by an entity as a result of its nature could be anything but self-generated, that is, a result of its nature. Also, recall that as noted before lots of things other than living organisms - ice, stars, heat - seem capable of acting (in Rand's sense of action) in ways that are directed at certain outcomes. She can't escape her problems by arbitrarily limiting goal directed action to life, as that would simply make her definition of value question begging.

Peikoff gives one reason to think that only living organisms can undertake goal directed action: they are the only entities which face the alternatives of life and death, which Peikoff understands as synonymous with existence and non-existence in this context. "The alternative of existence or non-existence is the precondition of all values" (209). Notably, it is left unspoken how living organisms face the possibility of non-existence in a sense which planets and pebbles do not. Peikoff proceeds to justify the claim that existence is the only end it itself by offering Rand's example of an immortal robot. We are told that such a robot couldn't possibly have any needs, desires or goals. The idea that removing the alternatives of life and death removes the possibility of need satisfaction or need frustration is motivated here almost solely by an appeal to the unstated intuition that all of our physical and psychological needs reduce to our need to survive. But consider a slight alteration of the scenario, where the aforementioned robot is ignorant of his own immortality. He thinks he is destructible and builds up some set of values on the Randian account. His creators then tell him that he is immortal. It hardly seems right to think that our robot will suddenly freeze like some old fashioned sci-fi robot laid low by some circular request or a demand to compute pi, but this is precisely Rand's prediction. To bring the example closer to home, imagine your answer to the question, "what would you do if you were immortal?" If your answer is anything other than, "lie inert," you can't possibly find Rand's attempt to draw out your intuitions convincing. Having certain pleasurable or painful mental states and acting to experience the one and not experience the other lacks the sort of necessary connection to survival that she postulates.

Kasper

Richard Goode's picture

my contention is that Objectivism offers this "logical proof".

I accept Objectivism's offer of this "logical proof".

Thanks in advance.

Ah!

Richard Goode's picture

Do we take it Baade is now denying Gobby?

Do we take it Perigo is now denying Objectivist ethics?

Ooooooo!!!!

Lindsay Perigo's picture

If you want to have true beliefs, and not have false beliefs, then you should deny that for which there is no logical proof or material evidence.

Do we take it Baade is now denying Gobby?

Richard

Kasper's picture

Deal with what I have said so far.

I agree with what you've said and you know my contention is that Objectivism offers this "logical proof". We've been over this before. You didn't engage the argument enough on your part to get any headway.

Kasper

Richard Goode's picture

If you want to have true beliefs, and not have false beliefs, then you should deny that for which there is no logical proof or material evidence.

Do you agree?

Onus

Kasper's picture

Richard, it is your objective to destroy objectivism's basis, don't forget. You're the one asserting that the philosophy has gaps in its reasoning. You've raised the argument so the onus, if you want to make your argument, is to present the missing links... In your case one must always emphasize that you do so with honesty and clarity simply because you appear to be incapable of demonstrating both in formulating your onslaught. Never too late to make a start, however Eye

Although you may find my accusation a personal insult to your character, which it is, it's demonstrably true. Anyone looking at your posts will see that you've neglected to answer questions in a full, clear and honest manner starting your argument with exposed premises and leading it to a conclusion via explicit detail.

Eg: Case for Objectivist Ethics - blank. Therefore, it's all based on faith, delusion or nihilism.

Goode

Kasper's picture

You were asked "what specific values".. You answered generically "Christian values".

That's not specific at all. How did you manage to do a thesis when you struggle to answer a direct question appropriately?

The onus

Richard Goode's picture

The onus is on it (and to present the chain of reasoning honestly and accurately), if it's going to say there are links missing.

The onus is not on me to present Rand's chain of reasoning. It's on you.

In particular, the onus is on you to present the case for Objectivist ethics.

Christian values

Richard Goode's picture

I'm wondering what specific values Baade would identify as "humanity-affirming"

Christian values.

Ignoble activity

Richard Goode's picture

Rand had a concept of man as a heroic being, with productive achievement as his noblest activity.

For the most part, my time spent on SOLO is not time spent on productive achievement.

Objectivism must die. That's my mission objective. I will not be distracted.

Decisive proof (if such were needed) ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

... of Baade's dishonesty.

We've suddenly gone from "Existence exists, therefore gobby doesn't exist," reiterated in Baade's fearsome "open challenge to all SOLOists" as:

1. Existence exists, ergo
2. [Your substantive metaphysical conclusion goes here.]

to:

1. Existence exists, and only existence exists.
2. God is an existence beyond existence, ergo
3. God does not exist.

The two-step has suddenly become a waltz.

Then it says:

The onus is not on me to present the missing links in Rand's chain of reasoning.

The onus is on it (and to present the chain of reasoning honestly and accurately), if it's going to say there are links missing.

What's always instructive

Lindsay Perigo's picture

What's always instructive about Baade is what it ignores. I challenged it:

If Baade has an instance of her doing so [proceeding from "existence exists" to a specific conclusion, as in "existence exists, therefore honesty is a virtue"], it should furnish it.

No response.

Baade persists:

Are you claiming that when Rand said "proceeds from" she actually meant "rests on"? It appears so.

Not "appears." It is so. I do so claim. As Rand herself put it, an axiomatic concept is "the fundamentally given ... on which all proofs and explanations rest." I'll go further and say she should not have used the term "proceeds from," but she had no way of knowing that nitpicking pomowankers with the conceptual range of a flea were as bad as Baade.

Now, notice what else Baade has evaded:

I am curious about something in one of the links to itself Baade provides. In it it says, "To stand a decent chance of survival into the next century, humans must seed the first AI with humanity-affirming values," and claims Objectivism must die before such a thing can happen. Leaving aside the nonsense of the AI thing, I'm wondering what specific values Baade would identify as "humanity-affirming" and by what standard, if not the life of man qua man? Something Gobby said? And does Baade not trust Gobby to step in and stop humanity-hostile robots from subjugating/destroying us? Or "seed" them with "humanity-affirming values"?

Of course, if "humanity-affirming values" are to flourish it is pomowankery and goblinism and all other variants of subjectivism and intrinsicism, of which Baade is such a champion, that must die.

Noted, btw, that Baade said "No thanks" in response to my invitation to it to show some evidence that Gobby is "in the company of that which exists." Wotta surprise. So does Baade still contend that Gobby does exist?

Do I take it it's another "no thanks" to all of the above?

#6 Denis Dutton

Richard Goode's picture

The Art Instinct

So what do the Ayn Rand followers make of The Art Instinct? I could have predicted the result. They may approve of the objections to postmodern relativism implied by Darwinian aesthetics, but that's about as far as the assent goes. I always have the feeling that nothing short of bowing and scraping before the hallowed image of St. Ayn will ever be enough.

In the case of Louis Torres's review, the main fault of the book is that I have not given a definition of art that fits the criteria of "definition" as described in the tenth edition of Patrick Hurley's A Concise Intrroduction to Logic (Wadsworth). Of course, I do actually defend the use of a cluster concept in the case of trying to account for such a large a difficult concept as that of art, cross-culturally understood. My entire argument is ignored in favor of an appeal to a student logic text.

I've correponded with Mr. Torres, who has sent me a chapter from his and Michelle Kamhi's book on Rand's theory of art that has this defintion: art is "a selective re-creation of reality according to an artist’s metaphysical value-judgments.” As examples of things that are not art, he happens to mention "dolls, toy cars, model ships, billboard advertisements, magazine illustrations, children’s play-acting, and celebrity impersonations." I would happily include any of the items on that list as potentially art. Does anyone think that Meryl Streep's acted version of Julia Child in the movie, Julie & Julia, is not art? Personally, I find Rand's definition of art absurdly limited. By the way, exactly what reality is "re-created" in a Bach fugue? The questions multiply.

Artists arrest and hold the attention of their audiences in endless ways, through any number of media. The skilled, expressive work of artists might now and again show up in toy shops or magazine illustrations; art isn't something found only in art galleries. I frankly don't know what Meryl Streep's "metaphysical value-judgments" were in her Julia Child performance, but I doubt if anyone needs to know them in order to appreciate her virtuoso artistry. I regard the idea that artists go around making "metaphysical value judgments" in their day jobs as so much pretentious tosh.

Richard

Richard Goode's picture

Can you answer Chris Wolf's question?

Why do so many Objectivists insist on attacking the honesty, integrity, and character of their opponents?

You're a case in point.

I do know dishonesty when I see it. It's a shame that you can't be honest.

The argument I impute to Peikoff (and, by Papal promulgation, to Rand) is this.

1. Existence exists, and only existence exists.
2. God is an existence beyond existence, ergo
3. God does not exist.

You think I'm being dishonest. I think I'm being charitable.

The onus is not on me to present the missing links in Rand's chain of reasoning.

I proceed my case

Richard Goode's picture

You say

"The rest" rests on that axiom and that choice

and that one does not sit down one day and "proceed" and that Rand is not claiming to have done so. But Rand says

"The rest" proceeds from [that axiom and that choice]

Are you claiming that when Rand said "proceeds from" she actually meant "rests on"? It appears so. Another one for the Ayn Rand Perplexicon.

Well, whether you call it a

Richard Wiig's picture

Well, whether you call it a chain, an entire chain, whole chain, a half chain, or whatever, she has a chain of reasoning. If you're going to criticise her, then you need to criticise what she actually said, not make it up as you please. I'm no great philosopher or thinker, in fact I'm very uneducated and wouldn't know Kant from Russell from whoever, but I do know dishonesty when I see it. It's a shame that you can't be honest.

Hilton

Richard Goode's picture

I dont understand your reasons for selling out to pragmatism.

Selling out to pragmatism sounds good in theory, but it's just not practical.

What's your point?

Richard

Richard Goode's picture

If you're going to criticise Rand for flawed reasoning, then you should produce her entire chain of reasoning, not a stripped down version with parts omitted.

Rand doesn't have an entire chain of reasoning.

Richard

Brant Gaede's picture

"Objectivism is a closed system--rigid, narrow, intolerant and close-minded."

You are talking here about some people who call themselves "Objectivists," I think Ayn Rand herself. You, however, never seem to be aware of the philosophy behind that philosophy. You and most people. I cannot talk about it with you, though--it'd be a waste of time here--because you don't comprehend the identity and need and use of its axioms in referencing the rest of the philosophy, the ethics and politics. Not esthetics; I don't see any logical progression linking the philosophy and esthetics. This means I'm giving you a monologue and avoiding most discussion.

Rand kept saying it was her philosophy. Hands off! Leonard Peikoff writes a book that should have been called "Objectivism, the Philosophy of Leonard Peikoff." (OPLP.) That's because he couldn't keep his hands off. Her philosophy, his philosophy, etc. The joke is on them; it's those kinds of Objectivisms you are criticizing. I've got my own, stripped down version. I kicked out most of the cultural artifacts while retaining some as values respecting my person. What respects your person is up to you, to an extent; it's not arbitrary anything goes, but it does embrace human differences and natural enough difficulties. I therefore think that my philosophy of Objectivism is simply Objectivism. To cut to the chase, the ethics and politics are incomplete even though the principles of rational self interest and political and economic freedom are valid as bases to be worked off of. To really dress out the ethics one must have a broad and deep knowledge of human beings which comes from living, thinking, critical thinking, observing and academic studying--a la the so called "Liberal Arts." To embrace the politics one must balance the ideal with what is and realize that the goal is more and more freedom as a movement over time--we move that way knowing that as with humans themselves perfection will never be achieved nor should it be if it could be anyway. If Utopia is on top of a hill (or down in a valley), what are you going to do when you get there but sit down, stagnate and die?

--Brant

More Baadeness

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Rand claimed to proceed from "existence exists" to certain conclusions.

No she didn't. If Baade has an instance of her doing so, it should furnish it. The following, which Baade cites, is not such an instance:

My morality, the morality of reason, is contained in a single axiom: existence exists—and in a single choice: to live. The rest proceeds from these.

"The rest" is not Ayn Rand. "The rest" rests on that axiom and that choice—a fact which one identifies after the event (and in some retarded cases never identifies at all). One does not sit down one day in a state of epistemological tabula rasa and say, "Existence exists, therefore honesty is a virtue," and Ayn Rand is not claiming to have done so in the passage quoted. Much less is she advocating that as a possible or desirable procedure.

I am curious about something in one of the links to itself Baade provides. In it it says, "To stand a decent chance of survival into the next century, humans must seed the first AI with humanity-affirming values," and claims Objectivism must die before such a thing can happen. Leaving aside the nonsense of the AI thing, I'm wondering what specific values Baade would identify as "humanity-affirming" and by what standard, if not the life of man qua man? Something Gobby said? And does Baade not trust Gobby to step in and stop humanity-hostile robots from subjugating/destroying us? Or "seed" them with "humanity-affirming values"?

Of course, if "humanity-affirming values" are to flourish it is pomowankery and goblinism and all other variants of subjectivism and intrinsicism, of which Baade is such a champion, that must die.

Noted, btw, that Baade said "No thanks" in response to my invitation to it to show some evidence that Gobby is "in the company of that which exists." Wotta surprise. So does Baade still contend that Gobby does exist?

your beef is with reality rather than Objectivism Richard

HWH's picture

All your futile gyrations here seem to be hellbent on obfuscating to yourself that you've let go.

I dont understand your reasons for selling out to pragmatism. Perhaps it's to get some Christian tail, or maybe its for the sake of being on equal footing with your amoral political foes and to allow yourself a political career unhampered by those "moral constraints" you bemoan.

Whatever it is, no amount of obfuscation on your part will protect you from the "closed narrow and intolerant" constraints of reality.

Dont go shooting the messenger now Mr "non-absolute"

"But so long as, for any reason, we do not recognize the truth—we are bound to fail and to suffer, in the whole sphere and in all our actions where we have left this truth unrecognized. Our generosity is a good motive? Nothing is good if it motivates lying, falsehood, or evasion. There is no morality except an unbending, absolute recognition of the truth, in relation to everything; an absolute will to find, face, and grasp the truth, to the utmost of our capacity, then to act upon it. Nothing is moral but this cold, ruthless, rational pursuit.
"But we have not faced or recognized the truth about the parasites—so we fail, we're helpless, we're disarmed, and they've got us. Did they win over us? No, we won the battle for them. They rule the world? No, we handed it over to them. The guilt is ours, but not in the way they think; in the exactly opposite way. The guilt is that we have refused to see the truth about us and about them.
Galts Speech

Dermatoscope

Richard

Richard Wiig's picture

If you're going to criticise Rand for flawed reasoning, then you should produce her entire chain of reasoning, not a stripped down version with parts omitted.

#5 Eliezer Yudkowsky

Richard Goode's picture

Guardians of Ayn Rand

Ayn Rand's novels glorify technology, capitalism, individual defiance of the System, limited government, private property, selfishness. Her ultimate fictional hero, John Galt, was a scientist who invented a new form of cheap renewable energy; but then refuses to give it to the world since the profits will only be stolen to prop up corrupt governments.

And then—somehow—it all turned into a moral and philosophical "closed system" with Ayn Rand at the center. The term "closed system" is not my own accusation; it's the term the Ayn Rand Institute uses to describe Objectivism. Objectivism is defined by the works of Ayn Rand. Now that Rand is dead, Objectivism is closed. If you disagree with Rand's works in any respect, you cannot be an Objectivist.

Max Gluckman once said: "A science is any discipline in which the fool of this generation can go beyond the point reached by the genius of the last generation." Science moves forward by slaying its heroes, as Newton fell to Einstein. Every young physicist dreams of being the new champion that future physicists will dream of dethroning.

Ayn Rand's philosophical idol was Aristotle. Now maybe Aristotle was a hot young math talent 2350 years ago, but math has made noticeable progress since his day. Bayesian probability theory is the quantitative logic of which Aristotle's qualitative logic is a special case; but there's no sign that Ayn Rand knew about Bayesian probability theory when she wrote her magnum opus, Atlas Shrugged. Rand wrote about "rationality", yet failed to familiarize herself with the modern research in heuristics and biases. How can anyone claim to be a master rationalist, yet know nothing of such elementary subjects?

"Wait a minute," objects the reader, "that's not quite fair! Atlas Shrugged was published in 1957! Practically nobody knew about Bayes back then." Bah. Next you'll tell me that Ayn Rand died in 1982, and had no chance to read Judgment Under Uncertainty: Heuristics and Biases, which was published that same year.

Science isn't fair. That's sorta the point. An aspiring rationalist in 2007 starts with a huge advantage over an aspiring rationalist in 1957. It's how we know that progress has occurred.

To me the thought of voluntarily embracing a system explicitly tied to the beliefs of one human being, who's dead, falls somewhere between the silly and the suicidal.

Brant

Richard Goode's picture

There is a difference between trying to correct Objectivism and trying to obliterate it. The difference is between good and evil.

Objectivism is a closed system—rigid, narrow, intolerant and closed-minded.

There is no difference between correcting it and obliterating it.

Objectivism must die, and here's why.

No, thanks

Richard Goode's picture

But if Baade wants to change its policy and make an argument, i.e. provide evidence that a goblin is in "the company of what exists" then let it be my guest.

No, thanks.

Imputation

Richard Goode's picture

The argument I impute to Peikoff (and the argument I think Vallicella imputes to Peikoff) is this.

1. Existence exists, and only existence exists.

2. God is an existence beyond existence, ergo

3. God does not exist.

And it's valid, too!

We quake and quail, we quiver and quaver.

No takers, then.

Ergo nothing. "Existence exists" is the precondition and presupposition of all ergi. Objectivism does not proceed deductively from "existence exists" to certain conclusions; it identifies "existence exists" as the irreducible primary upon which all reasoning, all induction, all deduction, all knowledge, all conclusions, rest. "Existence exists" is not the first premise of a syllogism; it is the tacit basis of all syllogisms.

Rand claimed to proceed from "existence exists" to certain conclusions.

My morality, the morality of reason, is contained in a single axiom: existence exists—and in a single choice: to live. The rest proceeds from these.

If "existence exists" is, as you say, the tacit basis of all syllogisms, she should have left it so.

My morality, the morality of reason, is contained in a single choice: to live. The rest proceeds from this.

Much better. But not much of a case for Objectivist ethics.

More Baade Lies ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

So now Baade is claiming that its fellow-thing does not impute to Peikoff the view that, if presented formally, would say:

1. Existence exists, ergo
2. God does not exist.

Well, no need to relitigate: anyone can retrace the posts and the linked articles and see for himself whether Baade is having an uncharacteristic outbreak of truthfulness.

Then Baade presents an "open challenge to all SOLOists."

We quake and quail, we quiver and quaver.

The open challenge is:

1. Existence exists, ergo
2. [Your substantive metaphysical conclusion goes here.]

For a thing that fancies itself as a clever-dick smart-ass, Baade is not very bright. All this has been explained to it before. Ergo nothing. "Existence exists" is the precondition and presupposition of all ergi. Objectivism does not proceed deductively from "existence exists" to certain conclusions; it identifies "existence exists" as the irreducible primary upon which all reasoning, all induction, all deduction, all knowledge, all conclusions, rest. "Existence exists" is not the first premise of a syllogism; it is the tacit basis of all syllogisms. It is an axiom.

Baade seems to want to ignore my earlier challenge to it. Here is my challenge again:

In any event, Peikoff's claim that a goblinite says flatly, "To Hell with argument, I have faith," can be seen to be true in the case of Baade itself. But if Baade wants to change its policy and make an argument, i.e. provide evidence that a goblin is in "the company of what exists" then let it be my guest.

The

Brant Gaede's picture

The very basic principles of Objectivism, the axioms, are the basic principles of science. Let Richard tell us what the basic principles of science are and how they aren't also Objectivist. If they are different, let him explain how his Objectivism therefore is different from Rand's. There is a difference between trying to correct Objectivism and trying to obliterate it. The difference is between good and evil.

--Brant

Gripes on, daily

Richard Goode's picture

What's with the misspelling of Vallicella's name? No need for it. 'Vallicella' already has 'lice'.

Richard

Richard Goode's picture

He claims that this is Peikoff...

1. Existence exists, ergo

2. God does not exist.

...when it is no such thing.

Of course, it's not Peikoff! It's a formally presented argument, with a clearly labeled premise and a clearly labeled conclusion. How could it be Peikoff? Objectivists are incapable of such simple feats of logic!

Nor does Vallicella claim it's Peikoff. He presents the argument above to illustrate the simple truth that

One cannot derive a substantive metaphysical conclusion from a mere tautology.

So prove us both wrong. I'll do most of the work for you. Here's the formally presented argument.

1. Existence exists, ergo

2. [Your substantive metaphysical conclusion goes here.]

Just replace what's between the square brackets with your substantive metaphysical conclusion.

This is an open challenge to all SOLOists.

And that's the nub of it ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Commander Wiig reminds us:

The only one I see playing semantics down there, Richard, is the guy who you claim is brilliant. He claims that this is Peikoff...

1. Existence exists, ergo
2. God does not exist.

...when it is no such thing. Is he an honest man or what?

No, Valpolicella is not an honest man, any more than Baade is.

The issue is not disagreement with Objectivism; it's honest disagreement ... with Objectivism, not some pomowanker's deliberate distortion of it.

Baade contributes nothing original aside from its own miss-and-run attempts at sardonic sniggers and snarls; it merely provides links to or copy/pastes of other, more noted pomowankers with the same hysterical hostility to Rand as it.

The only one I see playing

Richard Wiig's picture

The only one I see playing semantics down there, Richard, is the guy who you claim is brilliant. He claims that this is Peikoff...

1. Existence exists, ergo

2. God does not exist.

...when it is no such thing. Is he an honest man or what?

Also, why is a tautology trivial? Is it trivial because it's a tautology regardless of content? Or are tautologies trivial for their content, so that some are and some aren't trivial? Or is it that pointing out the obvious is always a trivial matter? How can it be a trivial matter in situations where so much rests upon reinforcing it?

I know plenty of happy

Aaron's picture

I know plenty of happy Objectivists. But thanks for pointing out the search results, as the #1 result is an old SOLOHQ thread which brings a smile to my face for getting called a shallow, happy Objectivist.

#4 Chris Wolf

Richard Goode's picture

What's REALLY Wrong With Objectivism?

Why do so many Objectivists insist on attacking the honesty, integrity, and character of their opponents? Are such attacks an aberration, or is this sort of behavior actually advocated by Objectivism?

Such attack behavior, so prevalent among Objectivists, is not supported and advocated by the fundamental principles of the philosophy of Objectivism. However such behavior is personally supported and advocated by Ayn Rand, Leonard Peikoff, and many of their supporters. Such behavior is a clear case of misapplication of the fundamental principles of Objectivism. (If you think it's impossible for the originator of a philosophy to misapply it; think again.)

Anyone who has had much exposure to the philosophy of Objectivism, or the Objectivist movement, has observed the endless moralizing and condemnation which seems to characterize the philosophy of Objectivism and many of its adherents. People who oppose the philosophy of Objectivism, or who simply espouse ideas at odds with Objectivism, frequently find their character, honesty, and integrity under vicious attack.

For example, we are told that an academic Marxist is not merely mistaken, but is 'evil,' and is guilty of practicing 'evasion.' People who are the victims of such attacks frequently come away baffled. They cannot understand how their character and honesty can be judged solely by the ideas they have proposed or defended. These personal attacks cause many people to hurriedly back away from Objectivism, and refuse to have anything further to do with it. The victims of such attacks frequently conclude that Objectivism is simply another nutty cult, not worth wasting time on.

Anyone who has had much contact with the Objectivist movement knows that it is far from being a united movement. On the contrary, the in-fighting, warring factions, and schisms would rival those of any religious cult. This seems very strange, coming as it does from a philosophical movement that proudly claims its devotion to reason and logic, and insists that its entire philosophy is an integrated whole.

The fact is, Objectivists are in violent disagreement concerning the applications of their philosophy. Of course, disagreement as to the correct application of any philosophy is to be expected. This is inherent in the fact that conceptual knowledge is not automatically given to human beings. Such knowledge must be discovered by individuals who are not omniscient. But in Objectivism, the disagreement is seldom polite. Friendships, marriages, and lifetime associations are constantly torn apart by disagreements among Objectivists. Obviously there is much more going on here than a simple academic disagreement over the proper interpretation of a philosophy.

Greg

Richard Goode's picture

I'm not as consternated to look into your 18,200

Could be a job for Neil Parille.

I'm not as consternated

gregster's picture

to look into your 18,200, but I will disqualify their happiness as being otherworldly.

Richard

Richard Goode's picture

Surely this is semantics.

Yes, it's semantics. But it's Pope Leonard who's up to semantic (linguistic, terminological) mischief.

The supernatural is not "a form of existence beyond existence". It is a form of existence beyond nature.

The proper question to ask is, does anything exist beyond nature? To which it is entirely reasonable to answer, no.

#3 Happy

Richard Goode's picture

objectivists fail

Greg

Richard Goode's picture

Now compare that to 9 from "happy objectivists" and we here are moving by leaps and bounds.

Actually, only four.

Three were sentences that ended in 'happy' followed by sentences that began with 'Objectivists'.

One was a chat log where somebody called Happy said, "objectivists fail". (Hear, hear!)

And one was a "nuke happy" Objectivist. (We don't want no nuke-happy Objectivists, said a voice from beyond the grave.)

Fear my scholarly conscientiousness.

Surely this is semantics. The

Richard Wiig's picture

Surely this is semantics.

The supernatural is not "a form of existence beyond existence". It is a form of existence beyond nature.

To exist is to have identity, but you are talking about beyond identity. That is the same as beyond existence, but you're trying to hide that by substituting nature for existence.

OK

gregster's picture

"happy christians"

Only 18,200 results. Now compare that to 9 from "happy objectivists" and we here are moving by leaps and bounds.

Sure

gregster's picture

but there can't be any seriously happy christians - only delusionally happy christians.

Greg

Richard Goode's picture

"No results found for "seriously happy christians"."

Try googling "happy Christians" instead.

Dr No Goode

gregster's picture

To use your trick, I googled "seriously happy christians" and google returned ZERO.

"No results found for "seriously happy christians"."

Scholarly conscientiousness

Richard Goode's picture

Well, scholarly conscientiousness was never the point, was it?

Scholarly conscientiousness is entirely the point.

Perhaps Baade would care to fill in the part where its fellow-thing placed ellipses, after the words "correct metaphysics"?

Here's the entry on Atheism in the Ayn Rand Lexicon.

Every argument for God and every attribute ascribed to Him rests on a false metaphysical premise. None can survive for a moment on a correct metaphysics . . . .

Existence exists, and only existence exists. Existence is a primary: it is uncreated, indestructible, eternal. So if you are to postulate something beyond existence—some supernatural realm—you must do it by openly denying reason, dispensing with definitions, proofs, arguments, and saying flatly, “To Hell with argument, I have faith.” That, of course, is a willful rejection of reason.

Objectivism advocates reason as man’s sole means of knowledge, and therefore, for the reasons I have already given, it is atheist. It denies any supernatural dimension presented as a contradiction of nature, of existence. This applies not only to God, but also to every variant of the supernatural ever advocated or to be advocated. In other words, we accept reality, and that’s all.

And note that at the end of that entry one is referred to the entry "God" (and other entries) in which the omitted passage is included.

Here's the entry on God in the Ayn Rand Lexicon.

Every argument for God and every attribute ascribed to Him rests on a false metaphysical premise. None can survive for a moment on a correct metaphysics.

For instance, God is infinite. Nothing can be infinite, according to the Law of Identity. Everything is what it is, and nothing else. It is limited in its qualities and in its quantity: it is this much, and no more. “Infinite” as applied to quantity does not mean “very large”: it means “larger than any specific quantity.” That means: no specific quantity—i.e., a quantity without identity. This is prohibited by the Law of Identity.

Is God the creator of the universe? There can be no creation of something out of nothing. There is no nothing.

Is God omnipotent? Can he do anything? Entities can act only in accordance with their natures; nothing can make them violate their natures . . .

“God” as traditionally defined is a systematic contradiction of every valid metaphysical principle. The point is wider than just the Judeo-Christian concept of God. No argument will get you from this world to a supernatural world. No reason will lead you to a world contradicting this one. No method of inference will enable you to leap from existence to a “super-existence.”

Let's stitch them together.

. . .

Every argument for God and every attribute ascribed to Him rests on a false metaphysical premise. None can survive for a moment on a correct metaphysics.

For instance, God is infinite. Nothing can be infinite, according to the Law of Identity. Everything is what it is, and nothing else. It is limited in its qualities and in its quantity: it is this much, and no more. “Infinite” as applied to quantity does not mean “very large”: it means “larger than any specific quantity.” That means: no specific quantity—i.e., a quantity without identity. This is prohibited by the Law of Identity.

Is God the creator of the universe? There can be no creation of something out of nothing. There is no nothing.

Is God omnipotent? Can he do anything? Entities can act only in accordance with their natures; nothing can make them violate their natures . . .

“God” as traditionally defined is a systematic contradiction of every valid metaphysical principle. The point is wider than just the Judeo-Christian concept of God. No argument will get you from this world to a supernatural world. No reason will lead you to a world contradicting this one. No method of inference will enable you to leap from existence to a “super-existence.”

. . .

Existence exists, and only existence exists. Existence is a primary: it is uncreated, indestructible, eternal. So if you are to postulate something beyond existence—some supernatural realm—you must do it by openly denying reason, dispensing with definitions, proofs, arguments, and saying flatly, “To Hell with argument, I have faith.” That, of course, is a willful rejection of reason.

Objectivism advocates reason as man’s sole means of knowledge, and therefore, for the reasons I have already given, it is atheist. It denies any supernatural dimension presented as a contradiction of nature, of existence. This applies not only to God, but also to every variant of the supernatural ever advocated or to be advocated. In other words, we accept reality, and that’s all.

. . .

But now we have four (possibly only 3) ellipses. Three (possibly only 2) which were implicit I have made explicit. The fourth was already explicit in the entry on God.

I know the content of the missing segment, but I've challenged Baade to supply it just to see if one of these creatures is capable of the beginnings of a glimmering of an intimation of honesty.

No, the reason you challenged me to supply it is evasion, plain and simple. Now that I've supplied the missing segment, there are at least three further missing segments you can challenge me to supply. There's no doubt that someone will insist that I read Rand's Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology from cover to cover. But that won't be sufficient. I'll have to read Rand's entire corpse. But that won't be sufficient, either. I'll have to have a working familiarity with Leonard Peikoff's Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand. Even that may not be enough. The standards may be made more stringent than that. I'll have to be familiar with Peikoff's Understanding Objectivism course...

How about some scholarly conscientiousness instead?

The supernatural is not "a form of existence beyond existence". It is a form of existence beyond nature.

One cannot derive a substantive metaphysical conclusion from a mere tautology.

Goode

Kasper's picture

Only 4? Wow! Man, you've really got me now.. Fuck, I'm dumping this objecti thing for something else.. 4? On that number what are the chances I'll ever be happy? I'd say this suggestion is highly persuasive on your part and deserves to be placed on par with the arguments found on Lindsay's JFK Thread concerning alients or his other one, Islamo-goblianity.... Eye

Happy Objectivists

Richard Goode's picture

Are there any happy Objectivists?

I googled the phrase "happy Objectivists".

Google returned four (4) results.

By the grace of reality and the nature of life, man—every man—is an end in himself, he exists for his own sake, and the achievement of his own happiness is his highest moral purpose.

More filth from the filth

Lindsay Perigo's picture

The Baade-thing:

My "fellow-thing", who "purposefully, dishonestly left out" text from Piekoff and "made it look as though he, Peikoff, is saying something he isn't", is none other than Harry Binswanger, who compiled the Ayn Rand Lexicon. Binswanger initially conceived the project, and he undertook it during Rand's lifetime with her permission and approval. Rand even read over the entries beginning with the letter "A", including the entry on Atheism, from whence comes the offending quotation, ellipsis and all!

And note that at the end of that entry one is referred to the entry "God" (and other entries) in which the omitted passage is included. Evidently this Valpolicella turd is so sloppy it couldn't observe even that rudiment of scholarly conscientiousness. Well, scholarly conscientiousness was never the point, was it?

None of these pomofascist bastards could lie straight in its baade.

The Irrationalists fight back! Again

gregster's picture

"It is an error is to assume that the human is a rational creature"

From your perspective Rosie, that is understandable. Obviously rationality must be learned then. Bullshit of course, to say we cannot be. And you're a lawyer?!

Explanation for Adherence to Objectivism

Rosie's picture

Maxim

It is an error is to assume that the human is a rational creature, and that will should serve that rationality. In fact, we are only partly rational, and often our rationality and determination serve various motivations that occur for causes other than reason.

This maxim should be borne in mind at all times when judging people's decisions.

It may explain the adherence to Objectivism by Objectivists.

It may also explain other decisions made in spite of reason.

#2 CPXB (Christopher Bradley)

Richard Goode's picture

Am I the Only Person Who Notices Rand is an Idiot?

As a philosopher, Ayn Rand is a good typist.

I should have known that there wouldn't be a single idea of any importance, depth, weight or real substance in her Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology. But I guess hope springs eternal—that can be my only rationale for once against subjecting myself to Rand.

In short, Rand is a moron. She is a dogmatic crypto-fascist whose pseudo-religion is on the same level as scientology. But whereas L. Ron Hubbard's pseudo-religion hung its hooks on techno-babble, Rand hangs her pseudo-religion on philoso-babble. The end results are much the same: small groups of highly loyal followers who never bother to seriously question the gaping holes of logic, sense and decency which riddle their movement.

But make no doubts about it, Rand is involved in pseudo-religion. How many philosophers, modern or otherwise, have their own "foundation"? Most do not need it. Their works can stand the rigors of time without proselytizing—or, and most other philosophers understand this, their work likely deserves to be relegated to the dust-bins of history.

Callumny

Richard Goode's picture

It's good to see Rand's/Peikoff's arguments taken out of context, again.

Perhaps Callumny would care to fill in the missing context?

Very simply, Objectivism says that to exist is to have an identity, and that objects act in accordance with their identity. It follows from these that the arguments for God's existence are invalid

Unfortunately for the Libertarian Front (where did he get this title? did he just give it to himself to make himself feel different from thousands of other bloggers?), it doesn't follow at all.

as God would necessarily have to exist outside these axioms in order for the concept to hold

Why would God necessarily have to exist "outside these axioms"? Are you saying that your concept of God is such that He has no identity, and that He does not act in accordance with His identity? The one He doesn't have? Only an Objectivist, in a vain attempt to smuggle God's non-existence into the concept of God, would conceive of God as "an existence outside of existence".

Invalid like your god

gregster's picture

"The Law of Identity does not state that nothing can be infinite."

It does. Infinity is a mathematics device. It cannot be shown to exist. It's invalid and therefore without identity. If we were to imagine Dr Goode's contributions to philosophy to be infinite, that would be different. In that, his allotted time is not infinite, but he plans to continue into eternity.

It gets worse

Richard Goode's picture

Perhaps Baade would care to fill in the part where its fellow-thing placed ellipses, after the words "correct metaphysics"?

The first sentence after the ellipsis is

For instance, God is infinite. Nothing can be infinite, according to the Law of Identity.

The Law of Identity states that an object is the same as itself. A is A. A thing is itself. Things are what they are.

The Law of Identity does not state that nothing can be infinite.

She's at it again! Peikoff smuggled the nonexistence of the supernatural into the term 'existence'. Rand smuggles the finiteness of everything into the Law of Identity. I concur with Vallicella. If you cannot see that that is an intellectually dispreputable move, then you are hopeless.

I repeat

gregster's picture

In Goode faith read it from the horse's mouth, not the online Wiki-ised version, and you'll be freed!

The Virtue of Honesty

Richard Goode's picture

If Objectivism had commandments, one of them would be, "Thou shalt not attempt to fake reality in any manner."

Honesty is a cardinal Objectivist virtue. No wonder, then, that Objectivists are apt to accuse their opponents of dishonesty.

From Linz.

The fellow-thing Baade quotes, quotes Peikoff... It would seem Baade's fellow-thing is about as honest as Baade itself. I'm sure I remember Peikoff having more to say about "false metaphysical premise" than is included here and that it was quite germane to what the fellow-thing is arguing... Perhaps Baade would care to fill in the part where its fellow-thing placed ellipses, after the words "correct metaphysics"?

I've already pointed out his "argument" is flat-out dishonest. He's omitted text from Peikoff and made it look as though he, Peikoff, is saying something he isn't. I know the content of the missing segment, but I've challenged Baade to supply it just to see if one of these creatures is capable of the beginnings of a glimmering of an intimation of honesty.

And from Greg.

And if you read it yourself, instead of linking to another of the ubiquitous strawman arguments, you will see what he has purposefully, dishonestly left out. I wish honesty from you one day Dr and I'll put in some effort in return, perhaps.

Oh dear.

My "fellow-thing", who "purposefully, dishonestly left out" text from Piekoff and "made it look as though he, Peikoff, is saying something he isn't", is none other than Harry Binswanger, who compiled the Ayn Rand Lexicon. Binswanger initially conceived the project, and he undertook it during Rand's lifetime with her permission and approval. Rand even read over the entries beginning with the letter "A", including the entry on Atheism, from whence comes the offending quotation, ellipsis and all!

Duh.

Goode thinking

gregster's picture

And if you read it yourself, instead of linking to another of the ubiquitous strawman arguments, you will see what he has purposefully, dishonestly left out. I wish honesty from you one day Dr and I'll put in some effort in return, perhaps.

Rosie

Richard Goode's picture

What is written and the way it is written is nothing short of brilliance.

Agreed! Vallicella is great. You can read all his blog posts labeled "Rand, Ayn" here.

God willing, I will post an assortment of many more Rand criticisms—some formal, some flippant—from many more Rand critics—some scholarly, some plain and simple.

Watch this space.

(My next selection is a response to Greg's recommendation to read Rand's Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology...)

Doug

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Why on earth would we let scum like this set the agenda? And what on earth is so formidable about his "argument" here that you think we need a special Oist anti-crap squad just to go after his ilk?! I've already pointed out his "argument" is flat-out dishonest. He's omitted text from Peikoff and made it look as though he, Peikoff, is saying something he isn't. I know the content of the missing segment, but I've challenged Baade to supply it just to see if one of these creatures is capable of the beginnings of a glimmering of an intimation of honesty.

Sure, living today "sucks on many levels" on account of the fact that these pieces of excrement rule, and they infect everything. But don't just bemoan their dominance: help topple them! Ain't that the selfful thing to do? Eye

And listen to the beautiful Rachmaninoff I just reprised. It's a heavenly antipode to the pomowankers' hellhole.

Doug

Rosie's picture

But I don't think Objectivism has such a philosopher yet.

I am not sure it ever can* or will, Doug. Do you think otherwise?

*Because of its academic philosophical limitations.

You said it

Richard Goode's picture

We really don't have much of anything

You said it.

Vallicella and Anal Phil

Doug Bandler's picture

But you can no more define God out of existence than you can define him into existence.

Anyone who understands Objectivist epistemology sees the error with this. Its a massive assault on induction. But of course Vallicella is an analytic philosopher so he spits at induction. Vallicella is a political Conservative (like the ContraAynRand crowd) who uses his academic philosophy credentials to support many of the premises of Conservative metaphysics. The man comes across as something of a nihilist and a jerk to me, but he can create castles in the sky with the best of them. He's a high powered academic philosopher.

I often think Objectivism needs to produce a group of philosophy phds that can specialize in analytic philosophy and dissect it from the perspective of having studied it thoroughly. The problem is that it is not easy to be subjected to the rationalistic assault of Anal Phil and not be compromised by it. That is why I think that we see budding young Objectivist intellectuals "turn to the academic Left" resulting from their stay in the ivory tower. (Chris Cathcart seems to be of this type to me - a Rand influenced academic who defends Obama.)

I would never debate a guy like Vallicella because I wouldn't be able to answer his onslaught of objections in any meaningful way. But I would love to see someone who really understands both O'ist epistemology and Anal Phil epistemology take on a guy like Vallicella and stymie him. But I don't think Objectivism has such a philosopher yet.

We really don't have much of anything yet. Shit, we live in a crappy historical era. I wish I had been born two or three hundred years from now when I am sure things will be really interesting. Perhaps there will be Objectivism 2.0 in existence and the universities of whatever civilization that exists will be filled with Rand influenced intellectuals beating back the nominalists and the Platonic Realists. Living today sucks on many levels.

Taken out of context

Callum McPetrie's picture

It's good to see Rand's/Peikoff's arguments taken out of context, again.

Of course, it would be ridiculous to say that "because existence exists, God does not exist". Unfortunately for our "Maverick Philosopher" (where did he get this title? did he just give it to himself to make himself feel different from thousands of other philosophers?), this is not Objectivism's argument.

Very simply, Objectivism says that to exist is to have an identity, and that objects act in accordance with their identity. It follows from these that the arguments for God's existence are invalid, as God would necessarily have to exist outside these axioms in order for the concept to hold - and, as nothing exists outside these axioms, God doesn't exist.

I'm not going to debate the merits or pitfalls of this argument, which I'm still considering at the moment. But what I would like to see is more intellectual honesty in recognizing the arguments of Objectivism in the context of the full philosophy (or, at least as it relates to different philosophical fields).

Rosie: are you currently writing a book called Cheerleading as Philosophical Argument? You didn't even bother to consider what was being said before waxing lyrical about this apparently infallible repudiation of Objectivism.

Gross goblinites

Lindsay Perigo's picture

I see Baade, being unable as usual to state a case of its own in its crusade for Goblianity, nihilism and any other of its whims-of-the-moment, repairs again to the words of another, a fellow-thing masquerading as a philosopher, while its scatterbrained groupie whoops like a banshee in support. (Note, btw, how both these things recoil from the expression command to rise. Funny that.)

The fellow-thing Baade quotes, quotes Peikoff:

Every argument for God and every attribute ascribed to Him rests on a false metaphysical premise. None can survive for a moment on a correct metaphysics . . . .
Existence exists, and only existence exists. Existence is a primary: it is uncreated, indestructible, eternal. So if you are to postulate something beyond existence—some supernatural realm—you must do it by openly denying reason, dispensing with definitions, proofs, arguments, and saying flatly, “To Hell with argument, I have faith.” That, of course, is a willful rejection of reason.
Objectivism advocates reason as man’s sole means of knowledge, and therefore, for the reasons I have already given, it is atheist. It denies any supernatural dimension presented as a contradiction of nature, of existence. This applies not only to God, but also to every variant of the supernatural ever advocated or to be advocated. In other words, we accept reality, and that’s all.

It would seem Baade's fellow-thing is about as honest as Baade itself. I'm sure I remember Peikoff having more to say about "false metaphysical premise" than is included here and that it was quite germane to what the fellow-thing is arguing. The fellow-thing is arguing:

Now it may well be that there is no God or anything beyond nature. It may well be that everything that exists is a thing of nature. But the nonexistence of God does not follow from the triviality that everything that exists exists. Does it take a genius to see that the following argument is invalid?

1. Existence exists, ergo

2. God does not exist.

One cannot derive a substantive metaphysical conclusion from a mere tautology. No doubt, whatever exists exists. But one cannot exclude God from the company of what exists by asserting that whatever exists exists. Now it is not nice to call people stupid, but anyone who cannot appreciate the simple point I have just made is, I am afraid, either stupid, or not paying attention, or willfully obtuse.

Perhaps Baade would care to fill in the part where its fellow-thing placed ellipses, after the words "correct metaphysics"?

In any event, Peikoff's claim that a goblinite says flatly, "To Hell with argument, I have faith," can be seen to be true in the case of Baade itself. But if Baade wants to change its policy and make an argument, i.e. provide evidence that a goblin is in "the company of what exists" then let it be my guest.

Baade's groupie believes, and Baade believes in part, the following, as I have characterised it elsewhere in responding to the groupie's retarded claim that Cheesy Jeezy ("I came not to bring peace but a sword") was needed to "get mankind back on track":

Gobby, Jeezy's father, who is also in some undefined way Jeezy himself, and vice versa—not forgetting that both of them are simultaneously Uncle Ghosty as well—knows that man will go off track when he creates him. He knows he will have to send Jeezy down "to get man back on track," and that even that won't do the trick for most men, whom he will then damn to eternal punishment. He knows all that yet he goes through with the exercise.

As I noted, anyone who seriously believes anything so intellectually incoherent and morally reprehensible is simultaneously a moron and a monster. Qua moron, he/she/it has no business pontificating about objective truth or anything at all.

Brilliance? It seems somewhat

Richard Wiig's picture

Brilliance? It seems somewhat lacking to me.

Richard

Rosie's picture

What is written and the way it is written is nothing short of brilliance.

It reminds me a little in style of the easy clarity of thought and good humour of Bertrand Russell at his finest.

Who is fool enough to believe he can argue this, I wonder?

And by what attempted means outside of the seamstress of philosophy's very own self-serving form of evading reason and logic through redefining, altering and/or limiting ordinary dictionary meanings and then stitching extra words with their special meanings within these very redefinitions to make it all fit?! And to persuade her future devotees that this evasion is honest and (to cover herself) that it is, in fact, logic and reason who will defy reality! But not objective reality, Ms Rand! Logic and reason will only defy subjective reality - the reality of wishful thinking, self-deceit, fiction, make-believe, fantasy, fraud. And to say it is more than a faith is part and parcel of this. And year after year the jury of objective reality and morality finds you guilty!

The Imagined Case for Objectivism falls. And the winner, Professor Goode, takes the first round. The Objectivist's argument against God? Non-existent. (Ironically!)

So let us hear it for an Epic Fail to Objectivism and its hypocritical cry for, and declared dedication to, "absolute reason". LOL. Hoots.

But because each follows an amateur's footsteps in the understanding of philosophy he may well not get it and so continue to believe, and indeeed argue, in just the same way - oblivious and unappreciative that he has been always, and continues to be, (despite all exposing evidence in his face) dependent and convinced by a way of thinking that is in conflict with the very central belief of Objectivism itself - that reason is held as its absolute! - and so saying, each probably will! Greg puts his flag in the sand with a defensive employment of the Randian (self-serving and humorously unique) epistemology!

So, I say, please don't hold your breath waiting for the website to close down - or at least to alter its purpose - bring on the next case to the philosopher's court!

And so! we show our appreciation in applause as we welcome..... Round Two!

(Issue of sound effect 25 - loud clapping and wolf whistling.)

(Sits back comfortably in chair - no rise to the command from this seat!)

Dr No Goode

gregster's picture

Go read some for yourself - for example Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, then come back and play.

Clue - existence subsumes "identity."

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