Infantilism [reprised and revised]

Lindsay Perigo's picture
Submitted by Lindsay Perigo on Sat, 2011-05-28 10:27

I have come to the conclusion that a significant generic obstacle in our path is: infantilism.

I have reached this conclusion through pursuing my latter-day campaign against the abominable decline in speech standards whereby two thirds of the population now speak in the manner of retarded children, including in those vocations such as teacher, television reporter and flight attendant for which it used to be a prerequisite to be well-spoken.

I further realised that speech standards are simply the latest (and probably last) link in the chain. The entitlement mentality which has been around for decades is infantile. The insistence that wishful thinking is as valid as objectivity (see Goblianity) which has been around for millennia, is infantile—as of course is the wishful thinking itself and its accompanying mantra that objectivity is impossible anyway. Hatred of the good for being the good, the crab-bucket mentality, schadenfreude ... all of these are infantile. The mindless scream-fests, the amplified tantrums, the headbanging caterwaulings that pass for music currently, are infantile. Narcissism, the belief that everything is about oneself; chronic inability to listen; the morbid talking-over of others in what is supposed to be conversation ... all of this is infantile (and endemic within Objectivism, where many, I fear and suspect, believe it is what Objectivism mandates).

My take on the end of the world is that it will surely happen, though probably not at 6 o'clock tonight and not via tectonic upheavals instigated by irrationally incensed goblins. The core reason it will happen, in whatever shape or form, is the preponderance of infantiles in the world. A world noise-polluted by the likes of Slayer and the current incarnations of television presenters and teachers, and those who cannot tell how disgusting they sound (or who can, but revel in it) is a world that will self-destruct ... and deserves to. The best that can be hoped for is that only the infantiles will be destroyed, giving the adults a chance to start over.

Of course, all of this is just another way of saying that where unreason rules, destruction will surely follow.


Brilliant post, Doug

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Shame there's no worthy adversary for you here.

Steve Jobs and Talent

darren's picture

Regarding the issue of talent:

Steve Jobs is another good example. He's an extremely talented entrepreneur. Entrepreneurship is not a form of knowledge (as some have claimed in this thread); it's a kind of perception. An entrepreneur is someone who sees -- or thinks he sees -- what consumers will want in the future, and is able to bring it to them by taking goods that consumers already value in some way, rearranging them into something new, and then showing consumers that they had originally undervalued the original factors of production. If his perceptions are correct, the difference between those undervalued economic inputs and the new, higher value (i.e., higher market price) that consumers are willing to pay for the new good is entrepreneurial profit.

Though lots of courses in business and marketing claim otherwise, I don't think entrepreneurship is the sort of ability -- the sort of talent -- that can be taught.

Five points

Brant Gaede's picture

There are two best but different ways to deal with Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism. The first is cultural, how one responds to her novels and ways of looking at and experiencing things. Basically this is the philosophy of Ayn Rand as lived by and advocated by her. First hand it cannot be anyone else's philosophy but can be appreciated in the context of who she was and the totality of her life insofar as we can know it. The second is stripped-down intellectual. Doug gave us five points, but for this formulation I'm dropping the aesthetics as belonging to the prior category and not logically an expression of Objectivism as such. And there is too much subjectivity in any Objectivist aesthetics as of then and still now. So we end up with the true basic principles of Objectivism: reality and reason (shared with science), ethics and politics. Qua promulgation of the philosophy everything centers on the ethics. Rational egoism as the basis of the ethics is fine but more flows from this than was ever explained by Rand, especially concerning human beings as social animals. Thinking goes on in our individual heads and is the basis for individualism, but an individual is not atomistic and lives in groups and seeks a mate. Thus a complete ethics will take in much more knowledge about what people are, encompassing all the liberal arts, in contrast to what people should be. Politically what makes this work is freedom--the protection of individual rights. The problem here for some is how do we get to a full state of freedom, which is a fallacy. We will always have rights' violations, especially by the necessity of evil governments. And if humanity were ever to get to such a state of freedom bliss it would simply fall out of paradise back into a degenerative statism. What is needed here is recognition of the value of freedom as an ideal and the principle of moving toward more and more freedom fighting for it as we go, feeling our way trying not to break too many eggs making our omelet.

"She'll be like Rome..."

Doug Bandler's picture

Go away and come back in several hundred years; she'll be like Rome--all roads leading to her.

I agree with this statement and I wish I could come back in a couple of centuries. I would love to see how this all plays out.

Let me add this. Rand packages metaphysical realism, non-skepticism pro-reason epistemology (i.e. "contextual certainty"), rational egoism, laissez-faire and an aesthetics orienting around value pursuit. This is the core of Objectivism. Did she justify all of this and create an iron-clad defense of it all? I don't know for certain but I think not. That will probably have to wait for the genius philosophers that follow her. But she certainly got the ball rolling and for me that is good enough to establish her as a titan.

----------------------------------------------------

Could any of her core philosophic premises be wrong? I think about this often:

1) Metaphysical Realism: What's the alternative? Supernaturalism? Non-causality? Christianity?

2) Objective Knowledge: What's the alternative? Humean skepticism? The Noumenal/Phenomenal split? A "non-material transcendent reality"? The Flying Spaghetti Monster?

3) Rational Egoism: What's the alternative? Altruism? (Altruism is and and always has been a civilization leveler wherever it dominated. From a study of the history of altruism alone I think we can reverse engineer Rand's ethics. This is one reason I don't understand Brant's claim that Rand's ethics is her weakest link.) Consequentialism? Cynical Egoism? Deontology? Hasn't that last done enough damage? Here, the greatest challenge is to show that Rand's ethics does not equal predation or leave the door open to predation. I think that case can be made. (The other challenge is the biological case for egoism and some argue that Rand's view of biology is flawed and thus her ethics does not reconcile with Darwin and Mendel. This is something that needs to be addressed.)

4) Laissez-Faire: What's the alternative? Socialism? Has that system not failed enough in practice? Theocracy? The Middle East anyone. The welfare state? How's that working out? I often wonder if the premises of laissez-faire can be challenged. The greatest challenge that I see comes from environmentalism I think. Could it be argued that individual freedom in the economic realm leads to planetary destruction? I think no but that is a question which no Objectivist or Austrian has answered to my knowledge. Can individual liberty, i.e. the non-initiation of physical force, ever lead to societal destruction? Is that central premise invalid? If it is, then humanity must ultimately have a society of masters and slaves in one form or another. I can't see that ever being true. But that is the central challenge for the Objectivist politics - to prove that the NIOF principle is inviolate (at least in non emergency situations; i.e. no BattleStar Galactica scenarios.)

5) Romantic Realism: What's the alternative? Naturalism? Take a look at the the art of the modern era. Lindsay is right when he calls today's art nihilistic garbage. I don't know what Rand got right and wrong in her aesthetics. But I do know that art that does not dramatize value pursuit is impotent. Rand was on to something in aesthetics.

Those are my reflections regarding Rand's core premises. No other philosopher packaged these ideas like Rand. Was she the first to identify all of them? No. But it is an interesting question to identify what she did discover. Binswanger has some interesting ideas on Rand's philosophical innovations. (And I know, Binswanger is a mixed bag. But he is occasionally brilliant.)

Response to a point by Darren

Doug Bandler's picture

The idea on this thread -- that all those hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of piano students the world over, slaving over their Hanon and Czerny exercises, practicing their double-thirds, their scales, their octaves, yet showing no particular talent for playing Chopin or Rachmaninoff beautifully -- would be able to "self-create" the talent for playing and interpreting Chopin and Rachmaninoff beautifully if only they worked a little harder at acquiring some sort of "skill" to do so -- is completely absurd, and runs counter to the actual experience of (i) music students, (ii) music teachers, (ii) audiences -- in short, everyone.

The reason Rand held to that position was not because there's evidence in favor of it (there's none); it's because it's consistent with other notions in her philosophy. In other words, it's an example of pure philosophical rationalism. She was interested in "coherence" -- internal logical self-consistencey within her philosophical system -- more than she was interested in "correspondence" with reality and experience.

I am not hostile to Darren at all even though he has some very anti-Rand sentiments, but I want to address this statement.

I agree with what he says here but I don't agree that it is opposed to Rand's core philosophy. Yes, some of Rand's statements reveal that she incorrectly minimized human genetics and heredity. But her core philosophy is all about epistemological methodology. I think there, she got far more right than she did wrong.

Regarding Darren's point about talent, I would make this point. He's right that there are genetic limitations to what a person can achieve in any field. I'll use a sports analogy. I'm 5'11" tall. When I was in my teens I loved basketball. I used to practice for hours desperately trying to improve my jumping ability, my "vertical leap", so I could realize a dream to be "just like Mike" (Michael Jordan) and dunk a basketball. I practiced jumping skills for hours and all I could ever do was barely, and pathetically, dunk a tennis ball. I never got to dunk a basketball. Now at 38 years old I cant even touch the rim (aging sucks!!).

My point. I was limited by my genetics in how good I could ever get at basketball. In retrospect, I wish I had practiced more my jump shooting form and maybe I could have had a collegiate career at a division three college. That would have been something and provided some decent memories. (Maybe I would have gotten laid more at college too.)

The same thing applies in the intellectual realm. Yes, only people with the requisite genetic skills can be a Mozart or a Rembrant or an Einstein or a Rand. But that doesn't impact Objectivism as a philosophy. Objectivism is about _Cognitive Methodology_ and that's what's most important for an aspiring Einstein or just a plain old physics high school teacher. Use your mind in the best way possible to achieve all that you can with the time that you have*. THAT'S OBJECTIVISM in a nutshell. And to me, it is the most rational and *benevolent* philosophy ever offered to mankind.

So, with much respect for Darren, I agree with his specific point but disagree with the conclusions he has drawn from it.

------------------------------------------

*Here I will add that I think one of Rand's most potentially influential concepts was that of Psycho-Epistemology. The cultural destruction we are witnessing largely as a consequence of Post-Modern Leftism is because of the epistemology of skepticism laying waste to everything it touches. But what is skepticism? It is a set of philosophical premises which are the result of a whole network of assumptions. That network of assumptions is faulty psycho-epistemology in action. Objectivism at root is a philosophy which aims at non-contradictory psycho-epistemology. This is why I think that Objectivism is more on the right path of human truth than any other philosophy that I have seen.

Brant's idiocy

Doug Bandler's picture

Ayn Rand claimed too much about too many things and got away with a lot of it in her pre-Internet age.

She offered many opinions on many subjects that, I think, will prove to be false. But that is not all she did. She offered a revolutionary new philosophy with a whole host of epistemological tools that did not exist before her.

She needs to be deconstructed and reconstructed in principle or there is no intellectual need for her.

This is a statement that has some truth to it but also is unnecessarily harsh.

I would put it this way. Ayn Rand's philosophy will eventually be rewritten and repackaged with new insights. The best elements will be incorporated and whatever flaws Rand made about core philosophical concepts will be corrected. There will of course be reformulations.

But so what? Only someone approaching Rand religiously would have expected her to get EVERYTHING right. If one understands how human knowledge progresses then one understands that Rand is a giant and there is GREAT NEED for her contra the statement of Brant.

Rand will be improved upon as was Aristotle. But that doesn't mean that Rand's core ideas don't have history changing power. They do. Ayn Rand offered the most consistently rational philosophic system ever identified by the mind of man. She didn't get everything right but she got far more right than wrong. That's all anyone should expect from her.

---------------------------------------

Regarding native born talent. As Lindsay has pointed out regularly, it seems that Rand often minimized the "animality" in the "rational animal". She minimized genetic inheritance. She correctly identified the epistemological rules of human cognition (or at least many major ones), but she downplayed native intelligence and the limitations that this causes. That's fine. She is pre-internet and prior to the massive growth of evolutionary and cognitive science. I would love to see what Objectivism 2.0 looks like when it comes out in 2120 or thereabouts. Unfortunately I wont be around but Rand's philosophy is going to be and Randianism will lead to successor movements which I only wish I could read.

"No one is born with any kind

atlascott's picture

"No one is born with any kind of “talent” and, therefore, every skill has to be acquired. Writers are made, not born. To be exact, writers are self-made."

Ayn Rand
“Foreword,”
We The Living, v

Your are all welcome.

I do not know that Ayn Rand ever wrote anything which would quibble with the notion that certain people learn to read more easily than others, or that certain people are more musically adept than others. And, there are music prodigies who are playing 5 instruments by the age of 5, and kids who can read doctoral level theses before 10 years of age. Or athletes who are bigger, faster and stronger, and so become champions in a sort at a young age. These people exist, they are rare, and it goes against the facts of reality to ignore that these folks are touched with a tremendous, above average ability.

Some geniuses out work everyone because of obsession. Others seem not to. It seems clear that not all prodigies practice and work harder than lose less imbued with a particular talent.

1 Corinthians 13:11

Richard Goode's picture

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.

Brant

Richard Goode's picture

Ayn Rand claimed too much about too many things and got away with a lot of it in her pre-Internet age. She needs to be deconstructed and reconstructed in principle or there is no intellectual need for her.

What is mostly right is her emphasis on rational self-interest and laissez faire capitalism (freedom and individual rights).

Hear, hear.

Regardless

Brant Gaede's picture

Regardless of where talent ultimately comes from it needs to be discovered, cultivated and protected. Ayn Rand claimed too much about too many things and got away with a lot of it in her pre-Internet age. She needs to be deconstructed and reconstructed in principle or there is no intellectual need for her.

--Brant

FYI, I'm not an Objectivist.

darren's picture

FYI, I'm not an Objectivist.

I'm not sure I ever called you an Objectivist. If I did, I humbly apologize for the insult.

I called you a Randroid.

Like Elliot said, you have badly guessed my views.

I don't think so. You've explicitly told us your views, so no guessing was necessary. You wrote:

Remember, my position is the Randian one that there are no innate talents

And, indeed, I did remember.

If you want to understand my philosophical perspective (including perspective on talents), try reading "The Beginning of Infinity" by David Deutsch (Elliot, BTW, is credited in the acknowledgments section of that book).

Why would I want to understand your "philosophical perspective"? You've ALREADY told us, explicitly, your opinion on the issue of inborn talent. Your "philosophical perspective" on other issues -- including David Deutsche's kooky, rationalist, no-empirical-proof-necessary "multiverse" hypothesis -- is utterly irrelevant.

Elliot, BTW, is credited in the acknowledgments section of that book

Wonderful! The Mutual Mental Masturbation Society in concert. (Polite applause and nervous coughs as the sparse audience beats a hasty retreat to the nearest exit.)

curi

Brant Gaede's picture

If you want any discussion with me you have to drop explaining my motivations. For instance, twenty different people may make the same post with 20 different motivations and it is presumptuous in the extreme to tell any one of those 20 WTF their motivation was and that their motivation counters their statements and arguments which, BTW, are ignored. In the case under discussion it would be proper simply to ask me WTF I meant! And I would have told you. I didn't know if anybody would give a shit. I was trying to find out. Only Darren cared about that. So, WTF are you about here about this or anything else?!!

--Brant
my terms

Richard, So I draw attention

BrianScurfield's picture

Richard, so I draw attention to a bunch of silly insults from Darren and ask him to explain and you complain about the way I worded my question? Yes, I think he was expecting to accomplish something, but I don't merely presuppose it - I have reasons. Until his hostility is dealt with, it is unproductive to continue discussion on talents with him.

Revealed what? I thought the

curi's picture

Revealed what?

I thought the people other than us had revealed themselves as not being Objectivists, but I don't know what we revealed besides appreciation of Ayn Rand.

Now

Brant Gaede's picture

Now that Brian and Curi have thoroughly revealed themselves (or been revealed) I can rejoin the conversation albeit sans them and deal with Darren's questions as best I can. I much prefer Darren's name-calling to having a third party bogusly explain my motivations.

What did Rand give us to work with?

A philosophy as a package in that each of four basic parts is logically connected. This is not enough; the car doesn't go, primarily because so much is wrong with the ethics and politics as expressed by her and undeveloped as expressed by anyone else. Now what other philosopher comes with so much potentiality for both hoi polloi and anyone else? In the meantime our own cars can go as before or with what we can improve them with with the scientific premise of using reason to investigate and reveal reality. This is the commonality of science and her philosophy. What else qua science could an objectivist philosophy be all about? Ethics and politics, of course, is a divergence from science although integrity is terribly important both to good science and non-science. The scientific method implies integrity, but too many scientists run off the tracks here by their embracing of politicalized science. What is mostly right is her emphasis on rational self-interest and laissez faire capitalism (freedom and individual rights).

The nature of her time and place: Her time, professionally, was the 1940s through most of the 1960s, for the purpose of this discussion. This was the almost utter domination of the intellectual culture by collectivists using altruism as justification and purported motivation. She blew that open, mostly with Atlas Shrugged, but she effectively attacked the moral heart of collectivism with The Fountainhead which went hand in hand with the bloody revelations of forced collectivizations. The power lusters no longer talk about sacrifice so much as simply trying to hold on to and expand their power by bribing one part of the population at the expense of the other. But the expense has gotten too great and it's going to crash and burn. I think that a lot of the positive good that will ultimately come out of this will be traceable back to Rand. In that sense it is still her time and place as history is being accelerated to match the compressed pace of happenings in her great novel.

Enough for now.

--Brant

Brian

Richard Goode's picture

One can accomplish, or hope to accomplish, nothing. The question is fine as it stands.

Indeed, one can. However,

to hope to accomplish nothing

is not at all the same as

not to hope to accomplish something

The question is not fine as it stands. It's a loaded question, as I already said.

Are you trying to shut down debate?

It's you who is trying to shut down debate! In his last comment alone, Darren made many excellent points, which you've neither acknowledged nor addressed.

I think you just committed

BrianScurfield's picture

I think you just committed the fallacy of presupposition.

One can accomplish, or hope to accomplish, nothing. The question is fine as it stands.

Darren doesn't suffer fools gladly.

He is suffering from something, but it is not other people's foolishness.

Brian

Richard Goode's picture

What do you hope to accomplish by statements like these?

I think you just committed the fallacy of presupposition. Try rephrasing your question, thus

Do you hope to accomplish something by statements like these and, if so, what?

Darren doesn't suffer fools gladly. I don't think he's trying to accomplish anything.

Darren, of course, will speak for himself.

What are you trying to do?

BrianScurfield's picture

Quoting Darren:

Are you a moron? Can you fucking read?

Every word, pipsqueak

why don't you let Brian put his own foot in his own mouth

Go back to programming. You have no talent for verbal disputation.

It's because of ignorant fuckwits like you, Brian, that Objectivism has such a well deserved reputation for being a philosophical failure.

Twit.

What do you hope to accomplish by statements like these? Are you trying to shut down debate? If so, why? Are you angry? If so, why?

FYI, I'm not an Objectivist. Like Elliot said, you have badly guessed my views. If you want to understand my philosophical perspective (including perspective on talents), try reading "The Beginning of Infinity" by David Deutsch (Elliot, BTW, is credited in the acknowledgments section of that book).

@ BrianScurfield

darren's picture

Darren diminishes man.

No, I simply recognize the difference between the manmade and the metaphysically given. "Achieved skills" are manmade; "talent" is metaphysically given. Apparently, you are both unable and unwilling to admit the difference, though you have zero evidence to support your position . . . you don't even understand that you require evidence; you believe that it's a valid, true position, so long as anyone claims that it is "derived" from Rand's philosophy.

The pure faith you have that her position (i) can be derived from her philosophy (even though you need not personally make the effort to do so), or (ii) has already been derived from her philosophy (even though you need not personally make the effort to find the derivation and post it) is what makes you an unthinking, knee-jerk, True Believing, zombie Randroid.

For him, it is not a man's mind, nor his effort, nor his determination, nor his creativity, nor his choices, nor his rationality that can produce greatness.

Except we're not talking about "greatness"; we're talking about "talent."

No. For him, greatness requires something extra special beyond these that is inborn and that is not of a man's own making.

TALENT requires something inborn that is not of man's own making. That something-special is called TALENT.

Also, reason is not of man's own making -- he uses it or doesn't use it -- but that he didn't invent it doesn't "diminish" him.

For him, one who is great can never claim his achievement 100%.

One who is TALENTED can only claim that he discovered and cultivated his TALENT by his own efforts. No, he cannot claim that he invented his own talent any more than he can claim that he invented his own faculty of reason or his own eyeballs. Only a Randroid could possibly believe that any of this "diminishes man."

And, for him, if a man should fail or become bad, there is an excuse: genes.

Precisely where did I say that?

It's because of ignorant fuckwits like you, Brian, that Objectivism has such a well deserved reputation for being a philosophical failure. In the marketplace of ideas, potential buyers of Objectivism are judging it by the intellectual quality of those who have already made a purchase.

He also seems to want to diminish Rand.

No, I just don't kowtow to her. Since she made some thoughtless, stupid, unsupported statements about things -- "talent", to take one example; "homosexuals", to take another -- I think intellectual honesty requires that we point them out and not try to make excuses for her. In your case, you're not so much making excuses as simply denying altogether that it's even possible for her to have made thoughtless, stupid, unsupported statements about anything. Again, such denial identifies you as a purebred knee-jerk Randroid.

For him, her view on innate talent is an "arbitrary position".

Since she offered no supporting proof or evidence for the conclusion, Objectivism itself would require that one identify it as a "mere opinion", a "feeling", or an "arbitrary position". Those three terms mean the same thing in this context.

He can't work out that it comes from her philosophy

It's not up to me to "work out" where it comes from. She made the statement; the burden of proof is on her. If you repeat her statement and adhere to it, then the burden of proof is on you.

and that she might actually have had an understanding.

Might? Apparently, you're not 100% certain whether she had an understanding or not. In any case, I admire your faith in her. Apparently, however, she was unable to support her opinion on inborn talent explicitly from her philosophy. You haven't been able to support it explicitly either.

He thinks that people like you and I

"like you and ME." Please. "Like" takes the objective case of the pronoun.

must be "True Believers" for not hating on her

Hate has nothing to do with this. It's possible to criticize her and still kiss her portrait over your bed, and still name your firstborn daughter Kira. You are True Believers for not pointing out her thinking errors when they are apparent. Instead, you go into denial.

and that we are in such a tiny minority on the issue of talent that, really, we don't exist.

I never said you "don't exist."

We are "Randroids"

Absolutely.

rather than people who have critically evaluated her ideas

You haven't critically evaluated anyone's ideas: not Rand's, not Deutsche's, not Sarkar's, and not your own.

Yes, correct curi

BrianScurfield's picture

Yes, correct curi.

Darren diminishes man. For him, it is not a man's mind, nor his effort, nor his determination, nor his creativity, nor his choices, nor his rationality that can produce greatness. No. For him, greatness requires something extra special beyond these that is inborn and that is not of a man's own making. For him, one who is great can never claim his achievement 100%. And, for him, if a man should fail or become bad, there is an excuse: genes.

He also seems to want to diminish Rand. For him, her view on innate talent is an "arbitrary position". He can't work out that it comes from her philosophy and that she might actually have had an understanding. He thinks that people like you and I must be "True Believers" for not hating on her and that we are in such a tiny minority on the issue of talent that, really, we don't exist. We are "Randroids" rather than people who have critically evaluated her ideas and seen much to like. And he doesn't realize, even though I've mentioned one in the comments, that there are other philosophers we admire who are in substantive agreement with Rand.

Brian never said work

darren's picture

Brian never said work harder.

I never said that he said it. I said that it was IMPLIED BY HIS POSITION. Are you a moron? Can you fucking read?

You imagined that then attributed it to him.

See above.

You seem unaware he never said it.

See above.

I think he had in mind working smarter and more rationally.

You imagined that and then attributed it to him.

Anyway, why don't you let Brian put his own foot in his own mouth, OK? I don't see him asking for your help on this issue. In fact, he's probably disgusted that you've jumped in claiming to speak on his behalf.

He didn't specify that either,

Calling Captain Obvious: that's correct.

but I'm familiar with his views so I can make a good guess about this.

Yeah, uh, thanks; I hear that a lot . . . but only from you.

You aren't familiar with his views and should ask rather than guess badly.

Brian has already said that he holds to Rand's unsupported assertion that there are no inborn talents (which she puts in scare-quotes). So his view, your view, and Rand's view, are all one and the same. It's not an especially subtle or difficult view to grasp; it's just a mistaken view, that's all. Reasons already given.

Go back to programming. You have no talent for verbal disputation.

Brian never said work harder.

curi's picture

Brian never said work harder. You imagined that then attributed it to him. You seem unaware he never said it.

I think he had in mind working smarter and more rationally. He didn't specify that either, but I'm familiar with his views so I can make a good guess about this. You aren't familiar with his views and should ask rather than guess badly.

It's what she gave us to work

darren's picture

It's what she gave us to work with

What did she give us to work with that no other philosopher in history ever gave us to work with? Support your statement.

and the nature of her time and place.

1905-1982. Russia; the United States. What was so special about the nature of those times and those places? Support your statement.

Children the world over are

darren's picture

Children the world over are being coerced into learning the piano by their parents; they would rather be doing something else.

They are also being "coerced" to learn the alphabet and to write letters, both uppercase and lower. So? As for what they would rather be be doing -- playing, no doubt -- that's rather a sign that they do NOT have a talent for playing the piano. The ones with inborn talent want to practice. This is old news to the rest of mankind; only Objectivists seem not to get it.

To what end should they work harder?

Twit. I'm not the one saying they ought to work harder. That's implied by YOUR position on this issue. You believe they could, if they wanted, "self-create" a talent for fine piano playing by working harder at it; I (and the rest of mankind) claim that they'll never "self-create" a talent for fine piano playing regardless of how hard they work at it; to be a fine pianist requires inborn talent.

Moreover, it's not uncommon for self-created talent - musical or otherwise - to get squished by coercion.

Yeah? Give an example of "self-created" talent, then give an example of it getting "squished" by coercion. I think you're talking through your proverbial hat.

You've not offered arguments

I don't have to refute an arbitrary position on the part of Rand; the burden of proof rests on her (and her True Believers like you). However, as I said before, it is the consensus of humankind, based on thousands of years of shared experience, that humans are born with different talents, and that part of the reason for formal education is to locate, encourage, and "lead out" those inborn talents. Excuse me for siding with thousands of years of human history rather than one unsupported, rationalist statement by a lone 20th-century intellectual.

and you're falsely claiming that self-created talent runs counter to the experience of people like music students and music teachers.

I see. So you claim that most people would side with Rand? Most people would claim that not just skill, but talent itself can be "self-created"? I don't think so.

But if it makes you feel any better, go ahead and believe that absurdity. Just don't open up a music school.

This concludes my participation on this thread

Brant Gaede's picture

I won't sanction curi by remaining.

--Brant

It's simple

Brant Gaede's picture

It's what she gave us to work with and the nature of her time and place. Here I am not referencing my own take on Objectivism but the totality not only of what she regarded as the philosophy, a great deal open to legitimate criticism, but of all her life as food for thought. Go away and come back in several hundred years; she'll be like Rome--all roads leading to her.

--Brant

You speak for all music students/teachers?

BrianScurfield's picture

The idea on this thread -- that all those hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of piano students the world over, slaving over their Hanon and Czerny exercises, practicing their double-thirds, their scales, their octaves, yet showing no particular talent for playing Chopin or Rachmaninoff beautifully -- would be able to "self-create" the talent for playing and interpreting Chopin and Rachmaninoff beautifully if only they worked a little harder at acquiring some sort of "skill" to do so -- is completely absurd, and runs counter to the actual experience of (i) music students, (ii) music teachers, (ii) audiences -- in short, everyone.

Children the world over are being coerced into learning the piano by their parents; they would rather be doing something else. To what end should they work harder? Moreover, it's not uncommon for self-created talent - musical or otherwise - to get squished by coercion. You've not offered arguments and you're falsely claiming that self-created talent runs counter to the experience of people like music students and music teachers.

> I was being facetious, but

curi's picture

> I was being facetious, but you have shown me the error of my ways, O Brant. So please tell us (since you are not one of those Randroid cultists): on what grounds do you assert that Ayn Rand was the greatest philosopher in history?

If he wanted to tell you, he would have said it already.

The purpose of his comment was to insult everyone who likes Rand (except arbitrary exceptions of his choosing, such as himself). Telling us the method of choosing, so it couldn't be governed by his whim, would ruin it.

She was the greatest

darren's picture

She was the greatest philosopher in history, but few people really know why.

I was being facetious, but you have shown me the error of my ways, O Brant. So please tell us (since you are not one of those Randroid cultists): on what grounds do you assert that Ayn Rand was the greatest philosopher in history?

"runs in families" and "comes

darren's picture

"runs in families" and "comes from parents" do not imply genetic.

Absolutely correct. Just look at language. The French language "runs" in French families, ergo, there must be an inherited French Language Gene.

Nonsense.

The UI team believes genes

darren's picture

The UI team believes genes are expressed at every point in development and are affected all along the way by a gamut of environmental factors -- everything from proteins and chemicals to the socioeconomic status of a family.

Not sure I get this. How can a gene be affected by the socioeconomic status of a family?

I'd say we acquire a skill

darren's picture

I'd say we acquire a skill and we create our talent

I'd say we acquire a skill, by means of which we can sometimes discover and reveal our talent. We don't create the talent. We learn a skill; we hone the skill; we reveal a talent (if it's there).

The idea on this thread -- that all those hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of piano students the world over, slaving over their Hanon and Czerny exercises, practicing their double-thirds, their scales, their octaves, yet showing no particular talent for playing Chopin or Rachmaninoff beautifully -- would be able to "self-create" the talent for playing and interpreting Chopin and Rachmaninoff beautifully if only they worked a little harder at acquiring some sort of "skill" to do so -- is completely absurd, and runs counter to the actual experience of (i) music students, (ii) music teachers, (ii) audiences -- in short, everyone.

The reason Rand held to that position was not because there's evidence in favor of it (there's none); it's because it's consistent with other notions in her philosophy. In other words, it's an example of pure philosophical rationalism. She was interested in "coherence" -- internal logical self-consistencey within her philosophical system -- more than she was interested in "correspondence" with reality and experience.

Finally:

The word "education" comes from the word "educe", meaning not "to put in" (as in, stuffing knowledge into one's head), but rather "to lead out"; that is, cultivating the necessary conditions for leading out, or drawing out, an ability (i.e., a talent) that is already there in latent form.

"runs in families" and "comes

curi's picture

"runs in families" and "comes from parents" do not imply genetic.

ideas run in families and are transmitted from parents to children.

High IQ families are compatible with IQ being learned.

One of the strangest things about this debate is how the other side constantly cites IRRELEVANT evidence, and doesn't seem to understand it's irrelevant. They keep saying stuff compatible with my position and then asking me to concede. As if they don't understand what my position is, at all. Yet object to it anyway.

How can it not occur to people that marrying a smart woman could make their kids smarter by a mechanism other than genes? That her intelligence could make her a more intelligent parent? Funny to overlook basic stuff like this after bragging about having a mere 130 IQ (1 in 40 has 130+ IQ. It's like being the smartest person in your elementary school classroom 2 years in a row, but not for your whole time there. Phrased the second way, no one would brag about it. Anyone super smart would notice the equivalence.).

Epigenetics

Luke Setzer's picture

This passage from the cited text bears relevance to the discussion of the interaction of heredity, environment, and volition:

Yes, your genetic endowment can be either a boon or a drawback to your response to training, but this doesn’t mean that unless you were dealt a full hand of genetic cards, training will bring no appreciable payoff. Regardless of the luck of the genetic draw, you can improve the effects of exercise on your body (albeit modestly) with what you do and with the choices you make. This startling discovery falls under the heading of epigenetics.

Although epigenetics is considered something of a new field in molecular biology, its origins date back to the turn of the twentieth century. Current discussions of epigenetics reference the Greek prefix epi-, which means “on top of” or “above.” Prior to the introduction of this science, genetics was believed to operate strictly based on the sequencing of the base pairs of DNA, which encode for specific proteins that are expressed by certain genes within the body. It was assumed that any changes that could occur came about as a result of changes in the actual DNA sequencing and that this change was accomplished only through spontaneous mutation or by scientists deliberately manipulating a certain gene (such as knocking out the myostatin gene). Now, however, it has been shown that other modifications can occur to the DNA that don’t involve changes in the DNA sequence. And these modifications work on significantly affecting how one’s DNA is expressed.

Most epigenetic changes involve chemical bonds to DNA. Examples are methylation, which is the attachment of a methyl group; acetylation, the attachment of an acetyl group; phosophorylation, the attachment of a phosphoryl group; and chromatin remodeling. Chromatin remodeling is particularly worthy of note in that it produces a complex of proteins on top of the DNA that will determine the shape of the DNA inside of the nucleus. Certain types of chromatin may cause the DNA to become more tightly packed; when that happens, genes in these areas tend to not be expressed. Epigenetic changes can have effects on this chromatin and on how tightly packed the DNA is and, thus, can determine whether that particular gene will be expressed or ignored.

What’s intriguing about these various little modifications is that they occur on the DNA molecule, and they occur by means of environmental influences. So far, the majority of epigenetic research has been done on rodents. For instance, in certain rats, the act of licking and grooming performed by the mother has been documented to create epigenetic changes on the groomed rat’s genome that select either calm behavior or neurotic, anxious behavior. ...

The science of epigenetics has revealed myriad environmental influences that can make such changes to human DNA and that have the power to produce consequences both for the individual and for that person’s offspring. These influences vary considerably, from simple acts such as grooming to more complex variables such as diet and exercise, and are all within people’s conscious control.

Little, John R (2009). Body by Science. McGraw-Hill. Kindle Edition.

Please consider

Brant Gaede's picture

We do not know genius. We do know geniuses. When we explain Newton's genius we are only speculating. Or Mozart's. Or Rand's. How? Why? Or simply intelligence. Same problem. We are only talking about variations in human mental ability. Big brains, small brains, in-between brains, surprising brains. But there is no human brain that--so far at least--can get itself wrapped around the totality of existence itself. This is both a failure of capacity and knowledge. And if such a brain came into existence would it be able to tell the rest of us about it so we'd too understand it? Frankly, who wants to live in a world of knowing that much, deprived of all its mystery and the wonder of that?

--Brant

I-?

Brant Gaede's picture

I don't know. What is the "gene" for great intelligence? Great intelligence seems to come from parents who are greatly intelligent, except sometimes it just pops up. My extremely smart father married my very, very smart mother and had four smart children one of whom at least, my late extremely smart sister, married an astrophysicist and they had four extremely smart children. The average IQ of my immediate family is 150 and IQ-wise I'm possibly the dumbest, maybe the low 130s. If I had ever married and wanted children I'd have married an extremely smart woman so we could have had extremely smart children because of my passion for intelligence and human ability.

There's genes in there my friend, but I have no idea what's going on in the kitchen with those genes: genes in, genes out, the mixture changes. The cooking does continue after birth, but it's a different kitchen with different cooks. One of them is the guy being cooked!

--Brant

OK, replace "capacity for

BrianScurfield's picture

OK, replace "capacity for talent" with "talent" in my questions. Viz:

What kind of capacities for talents are supposed to be encoded in our genes? Is there an innate capacity for worm farming? For computer programming? How did the capacities get there? What prevents one who is not born with a particular capacity from mastering that talent as well as one born with it? Are our minds not universal learning machines? Do genes contain capacities for things not yet invented?

None, I guess

Brant Gaede's picture

Brian, capacity for talents or a talent is not the same as being born with a talent. A capacity needs to be exploited; a talent is created.

--Brant

Questions

BrianScurfield's picture

What kind of talents are supposed to be encoded in our genes? Is there an innate talent for worm farming? For computer programming? How did the talents get there? What prevents one who is not born with a particular talent from mastering that talent as well as one born with it? Are our minds not universal learning machines? Do genes contain talents for things not yet invented?

Ho, hum, Richard

Brant Gaede's picture

This is simply a complicated way of embracing determinism.

Ignored, of course, is that "Man Makes Himself"--or doesn't while he could.

Part of nurture is self nurture. It's not just the baby at the mother's breast.

Ignored, of course, is consciousness itself--human volitional consciousness.

--Brant

Developmental systems theory

Richard Goode's picture

Nature? Nurture? Child Development Scientists Say Neither

ScienceDaily (July 21, 2009)—It's easy to explain why we act a certain way by saying "it's in the genes," but a group of University of Iowa scientists say the world has relied on that simple explanation far too long.

In research to be published today in Child Development Perspectives, the UI team calls for tossing out the nature-nurture debate, which they say has prevailed for centuries in part out of convenience and intellectual laziness.

They support evolution—but not the idea that genes are a one-way path to specific traits and behaviors. Instead, they argue that development involves a complex system in which genes and environmental factors constantly interact.

"You can't break it down and say there's a gene for being jealous, there's a gene for being depressed, there's a gene for being gay. Those types of statements are simplistic and misleading," said UI psychologist Mark Blumberg, a co-author of the paper. "There is no gene for any of those things. At most, one can say there's a system of which that gene and many others are a part that will produce those outcomes."

The UI team believes genes are expressed at every point in development and are affected all along the way by a gamut of environmental factors -- everything from proteins and chemicals to the socioeconomic status of a family. These ideas are unified by a perspective called developmental systems theory.

"The nature-nurture debate has a pervasive influence on our lives, affecting the framework of research in child development, biology, neuroscience, personality and dozens of other fields," said lead author and UI psychologist John Spencer.

"People have tried for centuries to shift the debate one way or the other, and it's just been a pendulum swinging back and forth. We're taking the radical position that the smarter thing is to just say 'neither'—to throw out the debate as it has been historically framed and embrace the alternative perspective provided by developmental systems theory."

She was

Brant Gaede's picture

She was the greatest philosopher in history, but few people really know why. Almost all who think they do are Randroid cultists.

--Brant
I talk for money--lotsa money

Darren

Brant Gaede's picture

I'd say we acquire a skill and we create our talent--that it is the act of creativity that differentiates the two. Now, unlike a mere skill, there has to be something special there to exploit so I'm sticking with talent resting on both nature and nurture. What is really hard to determine or know is the ratio between them which would be different person to person, talent to talent.

I like entertaining the idea, which I think is weakly implicit in some things Rand wrote, that a human being starts out with a lot of raw intelligence much of which is necessarily cut out with maturation for a more particular focus and that too many people cut out or disown too much out of irrationality or cowardice or supporting environment and that it can be reclaimed. I'm sure I'm a lot smarter now at 67 than I was at 17, but it's likely my IQ has gone down. A lot has to do with what I've learned and how I've structured my brain over the years. If I had been a mathematician and physicist, I'd probably have gone downhill these last 40 years regardless, especially the math part. For those disciplines I started just above moron and stayed there.

--Brant

And don't forget: she was the greatest philosopher in history

darren's picture

All good points.

So it's a choice between Rand's having made a non sequitur, or her having committed a petitio principii.

LOL! Nice!

Darren

Richard Goode's picture

Sorry, but we can immediately see that this is not an argument -- it's simply a non-sequitur.

We can immediately see that this is not a good argument, but it's an argument, nonetheless.

A non sequitur (Latin for "it does not follow") is a logical fallacy where a stated conclusion is not supported by its premise.

Begging the question is a logical fallacy where a stated conclusion is supported by its premise.

If a "talent" and a skill are the same thing, as I assumed, then Rand begs the question. If a "talent" and a skill are not the same thing, as you assume, then Rand's argument is a non sequitur. The real problem is that we don't know what Rand meant by "talent" (in scare quotes). In other words, Rand's argument is so bad as to be unclassifiable. Well, wotta surprise!

Sorry, but we can immediately

darren's picture

Sorry, but we can immediately see that this is not an argument -- it's simply a non-sequitur.

In the premise, she speaks about talent (putting it in scare-quotes); in the conclusion, she speaks about skill.

Talent and skill are not the same thing.

I would certainly agree that no one is born with a skill. I would disagree that no one is born with talent. True, we often have to work at discovering our talent; but that doesn't mean we are creating the talent by means of our work.

Spot the world of difference

Richard Goode's picture

You didn't ask

Why do you come to an Objectivist website and quote the Bible against Rand's views?

You asked

Why do you come to an Objectivist website to quote the Bible against Rand's views?

Darren

Richard Goode's picture

She had no arguments regarding Nurture.

Here's one right here.

No one is born with any kind of "talent" and, therefore, every skill has to be acquired.

Of course I know what Rand's

darren's picture

Of course I know what Rand's arguments about Nurture are.

She had no arguments regarding Nurture.

http://curi.us/1531-rand-on-nu...
Rand on Nurture
"men are born tabula rasa, both cognitively and morally"
Ayn Rand, _The Virtue of Selfishness_, p54

That's not an argument; that's a conclusion based on prior arguments that she doesn't present anywhere. Additionally, she specifies "cognitively" (i.e., referring to concepts) and "morally" (referring to our ability to act in certain ways). She says nothing about talent or skills, which is the topic of this thread.

Pretty much everyone here would agree with the basic notion that humans are born tabula rasa when it comes to ideas and knowledge -- we are not born with ideas already pre-formed in our minds, and we all pretty much agree that ideas are, by nature, non-material entities that cannot be explained by reducing them to spatial locations on physical genes; nor are they configurations of neurons in the brain.

We would also agree that we are not born good or evil; we become good or evil by choosing to act in certain ways.

The supporting argument for tabula rasa re ideas was not made by Rand, but it was stated by others such as Karl Popper. The reason we have to accept tabula rasa regarding ideas is that if we do not accept it, we end up in a contradiction because it undercuts the very idea of objectivity for truth. If John asserts the truth of statement A, arguing that he was born with that truth in his head; and if Mary asserts the truth of statement not-A, also arguing that she was born with that truth in her head, there is no way that A and not-A can both be true (at the same time and in the same respect). By means of rational discourse -- discussion and debate -- John might convince Mary that A is "truly true", or Mary might convince John that not-A is "truly true," but in either case, "truly true" points to an objective nature of truth that could not be possible if we hold to the notion that we are born with ready-made, pre-fabricated truths in our heads.

Conclusion: Therefore, in order to hold onto the principle of non-contradiction, we have to accept the existence of objective truth -- a truth that is as true for John as it is for Mary; a truth that applies to each, because it is inheres in neither. However, if we accept the notion of objective truth, then we must reject the idea of a truth that is unique and specific to each individual by virtue of having been born with it.

Rand never made this argument anywhere.

Ayn Rand

Brant Gaede's picture

Ayn Rand--speaking of Atlas Shrugged to her publisher who thought it was too long: "Would you cut the Bible?"

Shameful.

--Brant

I do not understand why you

curi's picture

I do not understand why you think my question is similar to "Have you stopped beating your wife?"

You came to an Objectivist website.

You quoted the Bible.

The Bible quote contradicts Ayn Rand.

Do you deny any of those?

Brant

Richard Goode's picture

That's just the other side of the no-argument argument, this time for nature. It's mere asseveration, but along with marching orders.

Yes.

Elliot

Richard Goode's picture

Why do you come to an Objectivist website to quote the Bible against Rand's views?

No.

Richard

Brant Gaede's picture

That's just the other side of the no-argument argument, this time for nature. It's mere asseveration, but along with marching orders.

--Brant

Why do you come to an

curi's picture

Why do you come to an Objectivist website to quote the Bible against Rand's views?

Romans 12:6-8

Richard Goode's picture

We have different gifts [i.e., innate endowments or "talents"], according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.

> If you can't state them

curi's picture

> If you can't state them formally (i.e., each with clearly stated and labelled premises and a clearly stated and labelled conclusion) then you don't know what they are.

> > where is your argument that only formal arguments are any good?

> I don't have one.

Clarify.

If you're unwilling to read Rand and try to learn her arguments, I'm not going to explain it to you. I only help FRIENDLY newbies. You haven't said like, "Hi, I want to learn, please mentor me" so that's why I'm not mentoring you.

Elliot

Richard Goode's picture

do you not understand that the entire argument wasn't quoted?

It was only some sort of approximation.

Feel free to quote the entire argument. (Copy and paste. Not a big ask.)

where is your argument that only formal arguments are any good?

I don't have one.

do you not understand that

curi's picture

do you not understand that the entire argument wasn't quoted? all you did is take a conclusion (the conclusion relevant to the current discussion) and label it a premise, for some reason. it can be a premise of other arguments but so what?

where is your argument that only formal arguments are any good?

why are you here if you're unwilling to read Rand and wish to rely on summaries?

Elliot

Richard Goode's picture

Can you tell me why you aren't interested in reading Rand, but are interested in reading my summary of Rand?

I read Brant's summary of Rand instead.

After reading Rand for nearly 50 years all the nurture arguments from her seem to be little more than assertions.

she wrote virtually nothing [on the subject] and that which she did write isn't of value except to indicate what she believed in.

Would you like to discuss Rand's argument from We the Living—the one I just presented formally?

Richard

Brant Gaede's picture

Objectivists are not obsessed with logic the way you state, they are obsessed with logic not being used against their positions so they incessantly claim logic is on their side, but that's true only inside the ortho-Objectivist world if at all. That's how Leonard Peikoff can make crazy telling Objectivists whom to vote and not vote for and in running people out of ARI-town with the tar and feathers of his "logic."

--Brant

Curi

Brant Gaede's picture

Curi,

I went back over your posts on this thread and the only page # reference you came with was VOS p.54 wherein Rand merely asserts her tabula rasa position ("cognitively and morally"). The overall implication of your position is she wrote an essay on the subject but she wrote virtually nothing and that which she did write isn't of value except to indicate what she believed in.

--Brant

Putting Words into Ayn Rand's Mouth

Luke Setzer's picture

Yes, Curi, I saw your quotes as well as Brian's, but I do not think they support the assertions either of you make regarding the influence of nature on nurture. As Brant noted, she actually said very little about it. In any case, I think you rely too much on her words and not enough on the underlying relationships she discovered between the five branches of philosophy and other principles such as the primacy of existence over consciousness. Right now, I see both of you trying to force in a rationalistic way a set of ideas onto empirical evidence in ways that the very inductive methodology of Objectivism denies.

Elliot

Richard Goode's picture

Earlier on this thread, Brian quoted Rand from We the Living.

No one is born with any kind of "talent" and, therefore, every skill has to be acquired.

That's an informal argument. Stated formally, it looks like this.

(P1) No one is born with any kind of skill.

Therefore, (C) Every skill has to be acquired.

Given their obsession with logic, it's odd that I've never found any Objectivists who actually like the topic, or enjoy laying out their own arguments in formal, syllogistic fashion.

After

Brant Gaede's picture

After reading Rand for nearly 50 years all the nurture arguments from her seem to be little more than assertions. The nature arguments don't seem to even exist--that is, she had no truck with nature at all. She may have had the idea we start out as geniuses and disowned that and in the context of our geniuses we could have developed great talent--at least great intellectual talent. There was that bit about the staggering achievement of learning language and about how smart a group of kids were in The Fountainhead. That's all I can think of.

--Brant

Richard, Please provide the

curi's picture

Richard,

Please provide the formal argument that all informal arguments are crap.

And do you believe that is the Objectivist position? If it is, can you explain why Rand wasted her time writing some informal novels?

Luke, Brian and I both gave

curi's picture

Luke,

Brian and I both gave you quotes already. I even included a page number. Why are you now asking for cites after getting them at the very start of the discussion? Did you seriously not notice that we'd posted quotes? Did it not occur to you that the text surrounding those quotes might be relevant?

Apart from that, it is a theme running through a great deal of Rand's work without being explicitly spelled out all the time. Ideas have consequences, the result of human lives depends on human choices, thinking is a choice not a gene, etc.. Didn't you notice, say, how hard she trashes the genetic type of attitude in The Fountainhead? One of Toohey's friends writes The Gallant Gallstone about how we're just chemical/genes/etc and don't think for ourselves (genes effect your body, in summary, via chemicals, FYI).

Simple Citation Needed from Curi

Luke Setzer's picture

Curi, a simple citation to support your claims about what Ayn Rand said, supplemented with a restatement in your own words (along with a syllogism to satisfy Goode) would corral this dialogue into a productive one.

Right now you are playing an "infantile" game of "Why? Why? Why?" with us.

Objectivism is all about grasping the nature of reality through objective reasoning for the purpose of human flourishing, not simply appealing to Ayn Rand at every challenge.

Elliot

Richard Goode's picture

Of course I know what Rand's arguments about Nurture are... [but] I don't know how to state them formally, offhand. I don't know if they can be or not.

If you can't state them formally (i.e., each with clearly stated and labelled premises and a clearly stated and labelled conclusion) then you don't know what they are.

Richard, I don't know how to

curi's picture

Richard,

I don't know how to state them formally, offhand. I don't know if they can be or not.

Is this a no knowledge of

curi's picture

Is this a no knowledge of Rand required or expected forum?

Can you tell me why you aren't interested in reading Rand, but are interested in reading my summary of Rand?

I don't understand why it will be a good use of my time to explain Rand to someone who doesn't seem interesting in learning Rand. I was hoping to have a discussion with people with pre-existing knowledge which I might learn from, rather than take on the role of a teacher.

Yes or no

Richard Goode's picture

But they aren't formal arguments. Most arguments aren't.

Can you state them formally? Or not?

Curi

Brant Gaede's picture

Please, it put up. This is a discussion forum, not a go-read-it forum.

--Brant

Richard, But they aren't

curi's picture

Richard,

But they aren't formal arguments. Most arguments aren't. You're pre-judging them by a bad criterion. (I assume, at this point, it's pre-judging since you apparently aren't familiar with them. Why don't you go read and understand Rand? Why should I explain her to you, instead of you reading her?)

Elliot

Richard Goode's picture

Of course I know what Rand's arguments about Nurture are.

Can you state them formally? (I.e., each with clearly stated and labelled premises and a clearly stated and labelled conclusion.)

There do seem to be

Brant Gaede's picture

There do seem to be many kinds of geniuses and mostly we don't know where the genius comes from, except aside from an extra dose of intelligence albeit that's hardly enough. Ayn Rand sure didn't know. With some it seems to simply flow out of them like a Mozart or a Euler. Others seem to sweat buckets, like Beethoven. My father was staggeringly intelligent and for a short period in college was creative like one would expect a genius to be creative, then he gave it up. That makes me think genius has as much to do with character and orientation as intelligence. By "character" here I mean any attribute of character that'd make genius work, not a general moral statement about someone.

Now one can develop talent or a talent, but even above average intelligence isn't needed for that though it'd help. Realized genius is realized talent, but on the higher levels. Genius itself seems to have different levels of ability and is all in all a subjective evaluation if one is merely looking at a person as opposed to the work done. I can evaluate my father because I have the literary work he did 80 years ago. Absent that all one can say is he was very smart either from interacting with him or knowing his IQ score, none of such made him very special. The world is filled with intelligence; we have no idea how much of all that brainpower is unrealized genius and the relative roles of nature and nurture in genius except both are needed with the ratio unique in any one human brain of genius. And: does genius make its genius?

I sure do wish people would actually talk about intelligence, talent and genius than all this Ayn Rand folderol; she was, after all, a terrible introspector so she told us virtually nothing about how her brain came up with what it did, though my own view is her need to be in control stifled her own creativity and Howard Roark had more the brain of an engineer than a Frank Lloyd Wright--that is, she got in her own way. There is an explanation for creativity of sorts in Atlas Shrugged with Rearden coming up with a new bridge design using Rearden Metal. I find her character of the Wet Nurse very interesting because exceptionally for Rand he just flowed out of her to her amazement which to me represents a profound tragedy in her respecting her work overall.

--Brant

Of course I know what Rand's

curi's picture

Of course I know what Rand's arguments about Nurture are. I'm just in shock that there are no Objectivists here to discuss them with... Only people who don't know her arguments and don't care and heap scorn on Rand and myself.

I didn't come here to explain Rand to newbies. For doing that,, I would want to find newbies who were friendly not hostile. If you know where to find some of those, let me know.

Linz

Richard Goode's picture

I wonder if Baade, as the newly self-appointed spokesman for this site (apparently), can point to where this policy is stated?

The policy isn't stated as such. It's unwritten. Implicit.

lol he is skeptical of

darren's picture

lol he is skeptical of accomplishing on principle,

LOL! Accomplishing what?

The only "principle" Rand used regarding this issue was rationalism. When it comes to nature vs. nurture and the issue of inborn talent, empirical principles trump rationalist principles.

and thinks it's a reason for mockery.

Yes I do. All foolishness is reason for mockery, irrespective of the source of the foolishness.

if you hate Rand's pro-accomplishment attitude so much, why are you here?

What does "pro-accomplishment attitude" have to do with anything?

Ahhhh!! I see. In other words, if we were to claim that Mozart, as a boy of 4, worked and worked and worked, and focused and focused and focused, and through a tremendous, Atlas-Shrugged-sized application of individual will-power, finally became what he had determined he would become -- a great composer -- then we could claim that "Mozart accomplished a great deal." Conversely, if we were to claim that Mozart, as a boy of 4, had NO FUCKING IDEA WHY HE ALREADY HAD PERFECT-PITCH, and why perfect little 8-and-16-bar melodies just seemed to come to him with no conscious effort on his part, and that, without particularly working hard at the craft of musical composition, he became, by the time he was still a teenager, the greatest composer in Europe -- and in all genres, too: opera, concerto, symphony, chamber music -- well, then we couldn't say that he had accomplished anything because the cultural products he left us -- his music -- was not the product of talent that was consciously "self-made" (as Rand would have said).

Weird. That fact is this: Some have to work extremely hard to become accomplished at something; natural-born geniuses barely have to work hard at all (that's part of the reason they are considered geniuses; their talent just seemed to be "there", ready-made, "breathing through them", rather than something arduously acquired).

Brian uses his mind and posts ideas he has. For this you mock him. You are anti-mind.

No, I am merely anti-Brian. I am also anti-you.

you failed to notice that it's possible to have learned talents.

No, it is not possible to have learned talents. I have never witnessed such a thing and neither have you. Neither has anyone else. It is possible, through certain experiences, to learn THAT we have certain talents; it is also possible -- and, sadly, much more common, to learn, through certain experiences, THAT we do not have certain talents. But we cannot "learn talent." We can, of course, learn skills and acquire knowledge. Skills and knowledge are not the same as talent.

I would say that 100% of music teachers around the world agree with me.

The existence of talents does not contradict the nurture theory.

The existence of talents was never doubted or at issue in this discussion, and you know it you fucking randroid! The issue has always been whether talents are inborn or acquired.

Now present Rand's arguments proving her case or admit you're a fraud.

why are you here?

I'm here to take out the garbage -- YOU.

Rand's view that there are no

darren's picture

Rand's view that there are no innate talents is not a common one.

Gee, I wonder why. Could it be that it conflicts with experience?

Because it goes against other people's common sense, they dismiss it.

No, it goes against the overwhelmingly vast majority of other people's experience. That's a very good reason to dismiss it.

Instead I see people (curi

darren's picture

Instead I see people (curi and Brian) saying that if Rand had a position on something with arguments to back it up, we should take that position seriously and criticize it, instead of just hand-waving and saying she's obviously wrong because "it's obvious!"

You're not a very close reader.

Curi and Brian are NOT saying "IFFFFFFFF Rand had a position on something with arguments to back it up, we should take that position seriously and criticize it...". They are saying "Rand DOES, IN FACT, HAVE A POSITION ON THIS ISSUE, AND I'LL BE DAMNED IF I'M THE ONE WHO HAS TO DREDGE IT UP BECAUSE I CERTAINLY DON'T KNOW WHAT IT IS; if I did, I'd paraphrase it!!! BUT I TAKE IT AS A MATTER OF FAITH THAT SHE MUST HAVE HAD A POSITION ON THIS TOPIC!! SO YOU, MR. DISSENTER, ARE NOW OBLIGED TO DREDGE UP HER SUPPORTING ARGUMENTS; IF YOU CAN'T FIND THEM, THEN THAT DOESN'T MEAN SHE DIDN'T PROVIDE ANY; IT MEANS YOU DIDN'T LOOK HARD ENOUGH!! KEEP LOOKING (and do tell us what they are when and if you find them, because we don't know what are either!"

Yeah, that's about what they're saying, except not as clearly.

And the only time anyone here -- namely, I -- claimed that it's obvious she was wrong, was when common, everyday, experience flies in the face of a pure, arbitrary assertion on her part. In that case, I vote for experience over her arbitrary assertions.

"Randroid" is the perfect word to describe someone who would shit on humankind as a whole by throwing out thousands of years of shared experience in order to make one's mind comply with an arbitrary assertion -- with no supporting arguments anywhere to be found -- by Ayn Rand. I don't know of a better descriptive word. "Fan" is so tepid, don't you think?

Darren, Have you read Rand?

darren's picture

Darren,
Have you read Rand?

Every word, pipsqueak. More than once. I also heard her speak. More than once.

How 'bout you? What have you read by her? Just as important, what have you read by others?

She supported her claim.

Not on this issue.

I thought people here would know her arguments...

She has no arguments on this issue, so there's nothing to know.

If you don't know them, you ought to read them rather than claim they don't exist.

I don't know her arguments because she hasn't left any arguments. I claim they don't exist because neither I nor anyone else can find them. Why don't you give it a try and report back to us? We're all curious as to what you would find.

Well that's interesting ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

The policy of this site is not to address Rand's arguments. Presenting Rand's arguments formally (i.e., with clearly stated and labelled premises and a clearly stated and labelled conclusion) is strictly prohibited.

I wonder if Baade, as the newly self-appointed spokesman for this site (apparently), can point to where this policy is stated? I confess I was under the impression, as the site's owner, that it was *I* who stipulated its policy. If what Baade says is true, I must be having a memory lapse. I'm sure Baade won't mind helping me out.

I'm aware that I play host to any number of mannerless, low-class Goblinites who abuse me and my obviously-misguided hospitality, and even to Islamapologists. I do this in accordance with my policy of just letting debate rage. That's all I remember. I do look forward to being helped through my amnesia.

Intellectual dishonesty is the best policy

Richard Goode's picture

Is it the policy of this site to treat all attempts at taking Rand seriously and treating her arguments as being at least worthy of *addressing* as worthy of dismissal with the slur "Randroid"? Please advise.

The policy of this site is not to address Rand's arguments. Presenting Rand's arguments formally (i.e., with clearly stated and labelled premises and a clearly stated and labelled conclusion) is strictly prohibited.

Confused Lurker

JustinM's picture

I've checked this site out occasionally for a while but haven't posted. Posting for the first time here.

Reading these posts, I don't see anywhere on this thread where people trash truth and say we should all follow Rand blindly. Instead I see people (curi and Brian) saying that if Rand had a position on something with arguments to back it up, we should take that position seriously and criticize it, instead of just hand-waving and saying she's obviously wrong because "it's obvious!". The latter doesn't seem like a very Objectivist or truth-seeking or rational thing to do.

Is it the policy of this site to treat all attempts at taking Rand seriously and treating her arguments as being at least worthy of *addressing* as worthy of dismissal with the slur "Randroid"? Please advise.

Engaging with Rand

BrianScurfield's picture

Lindsay - Rand's view that there are no innate talents is not a common one. Because it goes against other people's common sense, they dismiss it. No, she couldn't have meant it, it's obvious she is wrong. They don't engage with why Rand thought like she did. She isn't taken seriously. Their primary allegiance is not to the truth.

As is the allegiance of people who willingly and easily denigrate children because, you know, it's obvious children are nasty things that need to be put in their place.

> You have easily solved a

curi's picture

> You have easily solved a problem that has plagued professional linguists and developmental psychologists for years.

lol he is skeptical of accomplishing on principle, and thinks it's a reason for mockery.

if you hate Rand's pro-accomplishment attitude so much, why are you here? Brian uses his mind and posts ideas he has. For this you mock him. You are anti-mind.

Since you don't use your mind, you failed to notice that it's possible to have learned talents. The existence of talents does not contradict the nurture theory.

You weren't born without a mind. You haven't got that excuse. You learned not to use it.

Darren, Have you read Rand?

curi's picture

Darren,

Have you read Rand? She supported her claim. I thought people here would know her arguments...

If you don't know them, you ought to read them rather than claim they don't exist.

@ curi

darren's picture

What can you say that would convince someone Rand's position on this is false? What's your argument?

LOL! Let me get this straight. Rand gets to make a completely unsupported, arbitrary assertion -- viz., "there's no such thing as natural talent; it's all a matter of conscious learning by means of individual effort" -- and those who disagree have the burden to prove otherwise?

I don't think so.

OK. How about this: the simple, everyday experience of mankind for the past 5,000 years. Proof enough? No? Too bad.

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