DIMwit - Part I

seddon's picture
Submitted by seddon on Sat, 2012-09-15 09:38

DIMwit Part I
First I better explain the title of these posts (I plan to do more than one). These posts concern Peikoff’s new book, The Dim Hypothesis. DIMwit refers to a name Peikoff gives to himself, so much so it is on his current license plate. So for him it means, the wit who originated the DIM hypothesis. That should make clear that I’m certainly not calling Peikoff a dimwit in any pejorative sense.
So what is the thesis of this book? In one sense it is all about integration. On the dedication page he has a quotation from Rand, “Integration . . . is the key to man’s consciousness, to his conceptual faculty, to his basic premises, to his life.” And he dedicates the book “To Ayn Rand, who made an integrated life possible.” Chapter One is entitled, “Integration.” But what about "DIM?" It is an acronym. D = disintegration, I = integration and M = misintegration. There are also two mixed type, M + I and D + I. These five modes of integration are five ways of analyzing and understanding the cultures of the West. (He tells us he has nothing to say about the East.)

The thesis of the book concerns what kind of “integration” is typical of a given culture, so that we may better understand that culture and predict the future direction of America. Since these modes are man’s “basic integrative alternatives,” they are also a culture’s “basic integrative alternatives.” Obviously, Peikoff prefers the I mode and cultures that, in the main, are I mode cultures, viz., Greece and the Enlightenment.
Since cultures are rather large and unwieldy things, Peikoff limits his analysis to four fields, literature, physics, education and politics.
Now what about the DIM hypothesis? It consists or two thesis: a) “the West have produced up to five but no more than five essentially different kinds of products, defined by their mode of integration.” b) “. . . the West’s mode of integration has changed several times across the centuries . . . in substantial part because of the logic of modal progression. If we can gain an understanding of this logic, therefore, we will have a basis for a rational prediction about the West’s future.” (71-72)

Integration is a method and not a primary; it derives from philosophy, which is the study of fundamentals. But even the greatest philosophers disagree about fundamentals and hence about the kind of integration that one should use. Who are these great philosophers? “By common consent, the greatest philosophers of the West—the Big Three, I will call them—are Plato . . . Aristotle . . . and Kant.” (23) Cutting to the chase, Plato = misintegration (he tried to integrate this world with the world of Forms—which can’t be done so what he did was “misintegrate:” Aristotle = integration; and Kant (or is it Satan?) = disintegration. I will devote a separate post to Kant.

Obj. 1. I was shocked to find that, even though Peikoff claims to know how to prove his hypothesis, he doesn’t. And this in not merely my evaluation; not just an opinion; Peikoff tells us this explicitly on p. xii:
“An essentialized account is not a proof that the account is accurate; to offer such a proof is the province of a specialized study. In the context of my book, I must leave the decision to the reader. If my summaries are not consonant with his own understanding, he can study the topic/s on his own, or follow my book’s development but defer judgment, or cease reading. I do very often offer quotations from primary sources and from recognized commentators. This is primarily to indicate to the novice or the incredulous that I am not making up the horrors or heroism I recount. But out-of-context quotes can be used to prove virtually anything; they are not put forth here as proof.”

Obj. 2. The hypothesis doesn’t cover all cultures and all thinkers. Now it must be admitted that the hypothesis obviously doesn’t apply to non-integrators, e.g., men who are concrete bound or employ floating abstractions as their method. Who cares about them? But it is rather disappointing to find out the DMI hypothesis doesn’t apply to Aquinas, Shakespeare or Copernicus! But surely, since if it is designed to apply to Western cultures, it would apply therefore to the Renaissance? Surprise, it doesn’t. On 248 he writes, “I treat the Renaissance as outside of the DIM categories, . . .”
To be fair, he does admit that in “certain defined categories” of the Renaissance, it’s P + A. This prompts at least two responses. Peikoff is being honest and scholarly—if a fact doesn’t fit the theory, then it doesn’t fit and no sense pretending it does. On the other hand, one might say that if the hypothesis can’t account for the Renaissance, maybe there is something amiss with the hypothesis. Readers may decide for themselves.

Obj. 3. This is more of an annoying nuisance than anything of major import. Above I have been using the first initial of the Big Three, alone or in combination to designate the five modes. The left column is my notation, the right Peikoff’s.
P M2
A I
K D2
PA M1
KA D1

Reading through almost 400 pages, I have to keep reminding myself of the difference between, say, M1 and M2, whereas my notation felt easier. I know that P = pure Plato = pure misintegration and PA represented Plato with an overlay of Aristotle, i.e., Plato was at the base or foundation of the mode with Aristotle a significant addition. Likewise with K and KA. Again, the reader can decide for himself.

To be continued

Fred


( categories: )

Fred

gregster's picture

You have more breadth of knowledge of the subjects. You enjoyed the Atlas movie, and the new DIM book. You must be a good guy.

gregster

seddon's picture

"I took mild exception to your "ignorant." That was all."

I didn't mean that in a pejorative sense and thaks for giving me a chance to explain. I just was curious that maybe he didn't know (1).
If "that was all" then I guess I did okay on Harriman. Actually, I would like some criticism on this so as to promote some good "chewing."

Fred

Fred

gregster's picture

At the time, you asked "Could Harriman possibly be ignorant of the following: (1) Kepler's Platonic solid model of the solar system from Mysterium Cosmographicum"

Harriman mentioned it on Pg 107. I took mild exception to your "ignorant." That was all.

Neil

seddon's picture

"The Renaissance is a hard period to categorize."

Peikoff would certainly agree with this statement. I think if you made Peikoff choose, he would place the Renaissance in the M1 (Platonic base with Aristotle as superstructure. In the chart at the end of the book, under mode, he writes "?/M1."

Fred

gregster

seddon's picture

"Specifically here. Could Harriman possibly be ignorant of the following: (1) Kepler's Platonic solid model of the solar system from Mysterium Cosmographicum"

And where exactly is the misrepresentation? And note, I was asking a question, not quoting or paraphrasing Harriman. I guess what I expected was something like I say that according to Harriman, "Kepler was a mystic" (page #) and then you quote from the page and Harriman says, "Kepler was not a mystic." Something like that. Do you have something like that in my, because I really do what to get him right. If I have made a mistake then I want to correct it.

Fred

Renaissance

Neil Parille's picture

The Renaissance is a hard period to categorize. It had roots in late Medieval and Classical civilization. Many of its key thinkers were religious, particularly in a Platonic sense. Historians of science still debate what, if any, contributions Renaissance thinkers made to science.

-Neil Parille

Neil

gregster's picture

Since you post something here once every few months or so, is it too much to expect you proofread it? Especially since you were pointing out LP's potential errors.

Fred

gregster's picture

Specifically here. Could Harriman possibly be ignorant of the following: (1) Kepler's Platonic solid model of the solar system from Mysterium Cosmographicum

Gregster

Neil Parille's picture

Since LP publishes a book every 15 years it isn't too much to expect that they are accurate.

-Neil Parille

ANT hypothesis

gregster's picture

"I've already founds a few mistakes."

Idiot. Write your own.

DIM

Neil Parille's picture

I've started the book and am on page 50. It seems interesting, but big picture books on history always seem to fall flat.

I've already founds a few mistakes. Peikoff isn't the most careful researcher, although DIM doesn't look as bad as The Ominous Parallels.

-Neil Parille

gregster

seddon's picture

"(You didn't report very accurately on Harriman's book.)"

tantalizingly short. Do you have anything specific in mind?

"Leonard is at pains to distance his theories from Objectivism."

Yet he writes on 342, "The only current philosophy of this kind [the I mode] known to me is the one I myself accept and on which the DIM Hypothesis rests: Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism." How much distance are you talking about?
Of course he does admit on xv-xvi that "she is not responsible for any of the ideas in this book other than those she herself stated" Of course he never discussed DIM with her since she died years before he came up with the hypothesis.

Fred

My DIM arrived today

gregster's picture

It has to be noted that Leonard is at pains to distance his theories from Objectivism.

As with Fred, more later.

And Fred, I'll be watching. (You didn't report very accurately on Harriman's book.)

It's instructive ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

... to recall that the DIM Hypothesis underpinned Leonard's voting fatwah in 2006. I remember saying that sight unseen I couldn't embrace it since it would have me voting Labour. In all seriousness I thought it reeked of rationalism, attempting to turn politics into algebra. What amused me was that though it was touted as a hypothesis, it was treated as a theology by the lemming-like Hsiekovians at the time.

I want to read this book

Doug Bandler's picture

A religious theocracy in 50 years? Does he think it will be Christian? I don't see that at all. I see North America breaking up into regional territories and there will be racial and ethnic strife. I could see a resurgent white race conscious political movement that misinterprets the fall as being due to mulit-racialism rather than all the collectivist reasons Objectivism has identified. I can also see a major backlash against secularism but I don't see America staying intact and becoming a Christian state. But I think its a pretty safe bet that North America will fracture. We're basically in for hell thanks to Kant's legacy and the Left (with help from the conservatives).

Oh Kyrel,,

gregster's picture

Leonard wouldn't post a review of something he hadn't read. (Or would he? No, he wouldn't.)

"because it seems boring as hell, false as hell, and I don't care to fund evil"

Simply assertions.

It better be..

gregster's picture

It's taken so long he's bound to have some correct formulations in there.

Half, Nit, and Dim

Kyrel Zantonavitch's picture

Prof. Seddon -- Many thanks for posting this summary and analysis of Leonard Peikoff's new book! I don't at all want to buy the damn thing because it seems boring as hell, false as hell, and I don't care to fund evil. Thus I look forward to more of your informative and enlightening commentary.

Peikoff evidently claims that all logic, thinking, concepts, ideas, propositions, claims, etc. are either integrated, misintegrated, or disintegrated. But just because he says it, doesn't make it so. Misintegration and disintegration seem about the same to me.

And when it comes to reasoning things out, or problem solving: all logic, thinking, concepts, ideas, propositions, claims, etc. are either true or false, accurate or inaccurate, logical or logically flawed, well-organized or disorganized, coherent or incoherent, integrated or misintegrated, etc. I find Peikoff's attempt to move beyond the natural dialectic of reality quite foolish and misguided. Or, as he might put it: an act of misintegration, disintegration, and nonintegration. Eye

As for Plato, Aristotle, and Kant being philosophy's "Big Three," that also seems like one too many. Plato and Kant seem similarly irrational and nonsensical, and Plato's "forms" and Kant's "noumenon"/"things-in-themselves" also seem quite alike.

And why does Peikoff think a person, idea, or culture can't be both misintegrated and disintegrated -- both Platonic and Kantian? Maybe he should look in a mirror or read his own book!

Leonard Peikoff, as always, strikes me as being not very smart and not very virtuous. He's more of a Randroid than a genuine Objectivist. He almost always seems more concerned with defending Ayn Rand and Objectivism than with searching for the truth and living a happy life. This leaves him quite ignorant and depraved.

Still, it's sad that he evidently spent so much time and effort on such an empty idea -- such a dimwit thesis and book! Sad

Gregster

seddon's picture

It's a great read. I did the whole 400 pages in 3 days. Enjoy.
Fred

Thanks Fred

gregster's picture

My copy's in the post.

Gang

seddon's picture

I don't know how that emoticon got in there but the line should read, "he can study the topic on his own" etc. Actually there is a parenthesis with an "s" inside after the word "topic" and I don't know how to get rid of the emoticon. Sorry. Also let me add to Obj. 1 above that after telling us on p. xii that he does not prove his hypothesis, on p. 73 he writes, "Only at the end of the inquiry do I reach my hypothesis and claim that it has been proved."!!

Fred

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