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Old January 3, 2013, 09:01 AM   #26
zukiphile
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 44AMP
Lots of excellent commentary, but a clarification is needed, for me....

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her literature aptly describes the danger of mobs who display poor analytical ability.
I am unable to think of any mob that displayed good analytical ability....

If there is (or was) such, then I am misunderstanding the defintion of at least one of the terms. Clairification, please?
It was not my intent to imply that history has ample examples of mobs with excellent analytical capacity. Instead my comment was directed to what Rand well described: a mob with a Jacobin spirit, a consumption with a bloody hatred for better than average people, and a thuggish propensity to turn that hatred into action. She spends considerable time describing that sort of fault.

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Originally Posted by Dr Big Bird Phd
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Unfortunately, she adopts the metaphysical substrata of the Marxist materialism and appeals to objectivity that destroyed her father's world.
While her philosophy's roots are pretty clearly grounded in rationalizing her personal history as unethical, I wouldn't agree that she adopted anything Marxist. If there was one person she hated more than Kant it was Marx. She attempts to induce ethics through the concepts of Life vs. Death being the ultimate positive and ultimate negative. Anything you interpret as "materialism" is merely a misinterpreted building block of her epistemology.
To reject her conclusion that a Right to Life equates an inherent Right to Property, is to reject the other deeper concepts in her ideology.
I do not deny her antipathy for Marx. However, an antipathy for Marx did not keep her from a recurrent, and I would say ultimately empty, appeal to a false objectivity that rests at the core of materialism. (" Materialism"used here is the assertion that material objects enjoy existence independent of perception, and constitute the entirety of reality.)

Rand's tireless ridicule of the ideas and traditions that compose our social sphere are also consistent with this materialism.

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Originally Posted by Dr BB
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This is reflected in Binswanger's writing which is littered with the gratuitous use of the word "objectively". Remove that word from his piece and it loses none of its persuasive force. Indeed, Rand used the word as a talisman to sidestep the epistemological absurdity of her process.
Having gone through the piece, the author does not define what is "objective" very clearly. I don't see how you can denounce Rand's entire methodology of thinking though. In fact, I can hardly believe how one can rationalize a small government, individual rights, and the RKBA without agreeing with a large chunk of her conclusions.
Rand's writing is ideological and radical in a way that reflects the influence of the French Enlightenment. It arises a priori from her ideology and a very continental way.

Early Americans were products of the English Enlightenment, which was far more moderate and pragmatic. Its ideas and temperament distinguish it from what would sweep the continent over the next two centuries.

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Originally Posted by Dr BB
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I will take a look at that, though having suffered through Galt's unending speech I do consider myself to have already done considerable randian penance.
Hahaha. Did you read the speech separately of reading the book or not? The speech is much easier and enjoyable to digest if you read the book start to finish.
I read the entire book, and read the speech in context. It isn't that the speech was difficult in its content; it is that it was repetitive, self indulgent, and tiresome. She is the Wagner of authors, and that speech is her Ring Cycle.

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Originally Posted by Dr BB
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I read every last miserable word of Fountainhead. I confess that I do not understand the enthusiasm many people have for her literature. Her characters are archly cartoonish and most of the dialogue is thinly veiled philosophical exposition.
I could get into a long discussion about this, but in my opinion it serves the book better to keep the characters in such a manner. Her point wasn't to create someone real, but to imagine the best possible a man could be. She highly respected Romanticism and the Greco-Roman virtue ethic.

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As literature, I think it is amongst the worst I've read.
I wish I could have a more in depth conversation of it with you, the Fountainhead is the most inspirational piece of literature I've ever read.
I pushed through to the end hoping the book would redeem itself. I cannot deny that my philosophical differences with her may have colored my assessment of her book as literature. However, I find that many fans of her literature have the habit of fans of Nietzsche; they have an ability to look past the ugliness and skim off something useful or admirable.

That isn't a bad ability to have, but it explains how a syphilitic moral terrorist can write "whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger" and have it printed on a million T-shirts.

I don't begrudge anyone the inspiration they draw from her text.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr BB
I am curious to read his thoughts.
I've not read it for a few years, but his national review piece from 1957 is linked below. I have taken some liberties in abbreviating your name and addressing a couple of your points out of order; no slight is intended.

http://www.nationalreview.com/articl...you/flashback#

Last edited by zukiphile; January 3, 2013 at 09:37 AM.
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Old January 4, 2013, 12:08 AM   #27
Dr Big Bird PhD
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Quote:
I do not deny her antipathy for Marx. However, an antipathy for Marx did not keep her from a recurrent, and I would say ultimately empty, appeal to a false objectivity that rests at the core of materialism. (" Materialism"used here is the assertion that material objects enjoy existence independent of perception, and constitute the entirety of reality.)
I see much better now what you intended to say. I was imagining a more modern definition of the term "materialism".

While heavily redundant ad nauseum, I think you are missing her point. Reality exists separately of perception. The moon would still exist in its entirety without any difference to the way it is today (minus a flag or two haha) if there were no life on Earth to perceive it. Since this is axiomatic in a discussion, we are left with perceiving reality through the faculties given to us, the senses. Any method that science or technology has given us to perceive this reality outside of our senses is only a result of our previous empiricism based on these original senses.
To put it simply, If a tree falls in the forest and nobody is around to hear it does it make a sound?
Objectively yes. However, the irony is we could not discover that objectivity without subjective perception. Which is where I think you meet your inherent disagreement with her.
My only response is that for hundreds of years, Newton's law of force was widely accept as an objective model to judge reality. However this same model falls apart at subatomic levels. Ultimately imperfect, this pure approach and attempt at objectivity for the calculation of force lead to some of the greatest inventions and revelations ever, including the industrial revolution..
Objective models may be in theory impossible to fully comprehend and establish, yet it is the attempt and the refinement of that attempt that takes our civilization forward.

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Rand's writing is ideological and radical in a way that reflects the influence of the French Enlightenment. It arises a priori from her ideology and a very continental way.
Irrelevant to its validity. Interesting however, I was unaware.

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Early Americans were products of the English Enlightenment, which was far more moderate and pragmatic. Its ideas and temperament distinguish it from what would sweep the continent over the next two centuries.
I hardly think that anything in the constitution would be held as "moderate" or "tempered" in relation to the other ideologies of the time.
For one, the 2nd Amendment was and still is an extremely radical concept. Our own damn government wont even recognize the last four words: "Shall not be Infringed".

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I read the entire book, and read the speech in context. It isn't that the speech was difficult in its content; it is that it was repetitive, self indulgent, and tiresome. She is the Wagner of authors, and that speech is her Ring Cycle.
Hahah, I genuinely laughed when I read that. I agree with your description of the speech, but not your assessment of its importance.

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I pushed through to the end hoping the book would redeem itself. I cannot deny that my philosophical differences with her may have colored my assessment of her book as literature. However, I find that many fans of her literature have the habit of fans of Nietzsche; they have an ability to look past the ugliness and skim off something useful or admirable.
Absolutely great analysis. She was originally inspired by Nietzsche, but she came to the same realization about him and his philosophy.

I also fail to see whats wrong with anyone being "so overridden" with her ideology that they demand individualism and an honest attempt at objectivity in their lives.

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That isn't a bad ability to have, but it explains how a syphilitic moral terrorist can write "whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger" and have it printed on a million T-shirts.
1) By that rationalization, the Obama campaigns of "forward, change, love" etc are all from a syphilitic moral terrorist trying to cleverly package one concept with another more agreeable one.
Ironically enough, Ayn Rand specifically addresses such package-dealing and denounces it.
2) Anyone will buy anything catchy, remember when "Soulja Boy" and "Crank That" were big? Now we have gangam style, sigh.
3) If any person were to package deal Randian ideology in a similar manner, the worse that would happen is that everyone thinks they can only rely on themselves to achieve, and would hate the use of coercion to achieve what they want.
Don't see a problem there.
4) I vehemently dislike the word and modern conception of "Terrorist". Its childish and lacks meaning other than shock value.

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I've not read it for a few years, but his national review piece from 1957 is linked below. I have taken some liberties in abbreviating your name and addressing a couple of your points out of order; no slight is intended.

http://www.nationalreview.com/articl...you/flashback#
The author doesn't like the tone and wants imperfect characters. The point of her novel is to illustrate what is moral, immoral, and amoral. She doesn't believe in gray-scales.
Clearly he didn't understand what she was saying in that speech otherwise he'd be able to deduce the reasoning for the tone and the character development.

I am still at a loss on how to define and conceive this "materialism" you and the author dislike so much. The concept alludes me.
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Last edited by Dr Big Bird PhD; January 4, 2013 at 12:14 AM.
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Old January 4, 2013, 10:27 AM   #28
zukiphile
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr BB
I see much better now what you intended to say. I was imagining a more modern definition of the term "materialism".
That is the definition of metaphysical materialism. My use was not archaic.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr BB
Reality exists separately of perception. The moon would still exist in its entirety without any difference to the way it is today (minus a flag or two haha) if there were no life on Earth to perceive it. Since this is axiomatic in a discussion, ...
Both you and Rand may assume materialism as an axiom, but this does not make the metaphysical basis of her philosophy and Marxism axiomatic.

If anything, materialism is an antique philosophy that tends to disprove itself.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr BB
To put it simply, If a tree falls in the forest and nobody is around to hear it does it make a sound?
Objectively yes. However, the irony is we could not discover that objectivity without subjective perception.
I believe you will recognize that your question and answer represent your subjective belief, not an independently existing object. Your observation about irony does not represent an irony but an epistemological limit. You may entertain a belief about an objectively existing sound, but you only entertain that sensation and belief as a function of your mind.

Newton was not the metaphysical materialist. A push for accuracy and consistency in observation may rest on a methodological materialism, but is not a metaphysical assertion. Rand's assertion is metaphysical.

Binswanger's materialism is superfluous to his reasoning and conclusion; one need not be a materialist to note that a statistical argument against an individual right is misplaced.

Randians appear to employ the word "objective" to mean "accurate". Of course that isn't actually what the word means, and the observation that a contrary argument contains an in accuracy would be more coherent if it were decoupled from his superfluous metaphysics.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr BB
The author doesn't like the tone and wants imperfect characters. The point of her novel is to illustrate what is moral, immoral, and amoral. She doesn't believe in gray-scales.
Clearly he didn't understand what she was saying in that speech otherwise he'd be able to deduce the reasoning for the tone and the character development.
It isn't that Whittaker Chambers opposes her characters for being perfect, but that they lack the traits that would permit them to resemble people. This is a fault she shares with the Marx and which may arise out of their metaphysical common ground. Chambers may have enjoyed some advantage in identifying this given his history. I would not be quick to suppose that Rand's critics misunderstand her. On the contrary, they understand her well enough to disagree with her in very specific ways.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr BB
I am still at a loss on how to define and conceive this "materialism" you and the author dislike so much. The concept alludes me.
Metaphysical materialism is the concept that material objects and phenomena enjoy existence independent of perception and comprise the entirety of reality.

Last edited by zukiphile; January 4, 2013 at 12:28 PM.
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Old January 4, 2013, 10:52 AM   #29
44 AMP
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An excellent and erudite discussion of Rand, philosophy, her work as literature vs its contents as concepts, etc.

Would it be thuggish of me to suggest a focus more on the OP's points of our right to life, and self defense, and the govt's decent into preventive laws?
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Old January 4, 2013, 11:07 AM   #30
zukiphile
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 44 AMP
Would it be thuggish of me to suggest a focus more on the OP's points of our right to life, and self defense, and the govt's decent into preventive laws?
I don't see it as thuggish, but it may not be very controversial.

As a political matter, I imagine there would be a strong consensus here should be free to behave as he pleases until he harms another, in which event he can be prosecuted.

As a legal matter, the ship sailed long ago on the issue of whether the federal government has authority to legislate to prevent putative harm. As much as I respect the libertarian impulse, it is not a measure of constitutionality.

So, the really persuasive point in the article is that the proposed restrictions are not actually preventative of any harm. The proposed restrictions very conspicuously do not bear on any harmful activity.

Beyond Binswanger's conclusion, quite a few here might take exception to his ideas about government, but those would be more broadly political discussions than I understand are sought in this forum.

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Old January 4, 2013, 11:20 AM   #31
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When Whitaker Chambers' book review came out, it was widely viewed as an unfair hatchet-job. Chambers was a celebrity among conservatives because he had been an active member of the communist party, and a spy for the Soviets. He then renounced his prior beliefs and became a critic of communism and the Soviet Union. He was a very effective critic, and his clear logic and eloquent writing style carried a lot of weight with intellectuals and academics. He was one of the good-guys in the moral battle with communism, but his book review of Atlas Shrugs was (in my opinion) unfair and shallow.

As a literary artist, Ayn Rand is average. She is no James Joyce. She is no William Faulkner. But being an average writer with several best selling novels is nothing to be ashamed of.

Atlas Shrugs is an allegory, which is a certain kind of novel. Criticizing the work because the characters are 2 dimensional, or in some cases 1 dimensional, is unfair, because allegories are SUPPOSED to be about the distinction between right and wrong, and drawing sharp contrasts between good and evil. Allegory is not a popular genre among modern authors, because they generally want to highlight all the shades-of-gray between good and evil. An allegory does not let them express their world view. But Atlas Shrugs follows a proud American tradition of powerful allegories.... Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, Melville’s Moby-Dick and Billy Budd... Allegories teach by way of example, they provide insights into essential questions of morality. Atlas Shrugs succeeds in this.

I don’t have much of a problem with Rand as a novelist... I just wish she would not have turned her novel into a formal philosophy, as sort of a counter-argument against Immanuel Kant. I think her arrogance led her to conclude that her ideas and insights into right and wrong were so compelling, so revolutionary, and so very correct. She certainly had legitimate insights into good and evil, but instead of adding to the discussion, she insisted that there was no discussion, and anyone who disagreed with her was ... well, evil... in the end it was kind of sad.
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Old January 4, 2013, 07:18 PM   #32
Dr Big Bird PhD
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I don't know if I'd call it "sad" per se, but I would agree entirely with the rest of your analysis of her.

She is the the most ironically dogmatic person that ever existed. (Mind you I said "ironically dogmatic" not dogmatic, but she's still up there nonetheless)

edit:
Quote:
Metaphysical materialism is the concept that material objects and phenomena enjoy existence independent of perception and comprise the entirety of reality.
Here is the central issue I believe. I don't understand how one can assert that something doesn't necessarily exist independent of perception. Is this not a very eloquent way of agreeing with Descartes and saying "I think therefore I am, but I can't prove anything else". You're just playing into the camp of ultimate uncertainty and subjectivity.
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Old January 4, 2013, 07:39 PM   #33
zukiphile
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I don't understand how one can assert that something doesn't necessarily exist independent of perception.
Because you cannot know that something necessarily exists independent of perception.
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Old January 31, 2013, 11:51 PM   #34
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Originally Posted by Willie Sutton View Post
If I could select two works to carry in a lifeboat they would be Atlas Shrugged and Moby Dick. .
Me too, Moby Dick was very good and Atlas Shrugged would make a great anchor O-:

Honestly couldn't finish Atlas Shrugged. I read Fountainhead and some of her shorter works. At first I was enthralled. It was a good intro to philosophy but on the whole I think she is overly simplistic. I don't know this but I suspect she would have been more on our side than not.

Last edited by wyobohunter; January 31, 2013 at 11:57 PM.
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