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Do you distinguish official Objectivist doctrine from Ayn Rand’s personal views?
His answer was excellent: it’s a brief but clear explanation of the meaning and implications of the “closed system” view of Objectivism. That’s what I advocate, what I practice, and what I defended in my recent blog post. If you’re interested in these matters, I recommend listening to his answer. (It’s only 2 minutes, 31 seconds long.)
Here’s the transcription, courtesy of D Jason Fleming:
Philosophy is broad principles, about the nature of the universe, the means of knowledge, the nature of man, and then the value doctrines that all that leads to. All this is interconnected. In a proper philosophy, it’s one system, as in Objectivism.
Now that does not mean that every specific application of that philosophy is inherent in the philosophy. A philosopher can hold views that do not necessarily follow from the philosophy, but are its application to a realm where facts are established by science, or observation, or some other appropriate means.
Philosophy is wide abstractions. That does not entail specific choices or specific interpretations of how they apply to concretes. For instance, take my theory of history presented in the DIM book. I make a definite distinction between official Objectivst doctrine and Peikoff’s theory of history. Now, I believe that my theory is based on Objectivism, but it does not follow from Objectivism, it is not therefore Objectivism as such. It is my application and each person has to decide is this the correct application or not? It is not subjective, but it’s still not a question of what is the philosophy, but what is its applications? And in that regard, Ayn Rand and I and others can disagree without anybody contradicting the philosophy.
Remember also that there are personal options in applying broad philosophic principles. You can say that, for instance, “sex is good” is a philosophic principle, but that does not necessitate any special particular position or clothing, et cetera. It does specify that the general principles of morality apply, such as fraud, force, evasion, et cetera. But as apart from that, there are many different interpretations and complete options which would be personal, not official.
So: yes, but without that implying a contradiction or a subjective viewpoint.
Rick Santorum says that pregnant rape victims should “accept the gift of human life” and “make the best out of a bad situation.” And yes, that’s what every advocate of “personhood for zygotes” must say.
In [a] 2004 survey, around 1.5 percent of women who got an abortion cited rape or incest as the cause of the pregnancy. Forcing a woman to carry an unwanted fetus to term when the pregnancy was caused by a sexual assault victimizes her yet again. Even if she gives up the child for adoption, she must live with the ever-present physical reminder of her assault for the duration of her pregnancy. Moreover, the woman might feel a torturous conflict over the born child: she might desperately want to raise her own child, but abhor the thought of raising the child of her rapist.
That last point, I think, is particularly important.
Dearest creature in creation Studying English pronunciation, I will teach you in my verse Sounds like corpse, corps, horse and worse I will keep you, Susy, busy, Make your head with heat grow dizzy. Tear in eye your dress you’ll tear, So shall I! Oh, hear my prayer, Pray, console your loving poet, Make my coat look new, dear, sew it! Just compare heart, beard and heard, Dies and diet, lord and word, Sword and sward, retain and Britain. (Mind the latter, how it’s written). Made has not the sound of bade, Say said, pay-paid, laid, but plaid. Now I surely will not plague you With such words as vague and ague, But be careful how you speak, Say break, steak, but bleak and streak. Previous, precious, fuchsia, via, Pipe, snipe, recipe and choir, Cloven, oven, how and low, Script, receipt, shoe, poem, toe. Hear me say, devoid of trickery: Daughter, laughter and Terpsichore, Typhoid, measles, topsails, aisles. Exiles, similes, reviles. Wholly, holly, signal, signing. Thames, examining, combining Scholar, vicar, and cigar, Solar, mica, war, and far. From “desire”: desirable–admirable from “admire.” Lumber, plumber, bier, but brier. Chatham, brougham, renown, but known. Knowledge, done, but gone and tone, One, anemone. Balmoral. Kitchen, lichen, laundry, laurel, Gertrude, German, wind, and mind. Scene, Melpomene, mankind, Tortoise, turquoise, chamois-leather, Reading, reading, heathen, heather. This phonetic labyrinth Gives moss, gross, brook, brooch, ninth, plinth. Billet does not end like ballet; Bouquet, wallet, mallet, chalet; Blood and flood are not like food, Nor is mould like should and would. Banquet is not nearly parquet, Which is said to rime with “darky.” Viscous, Viscount, load, and broad. Toward, to forward, to reward. And your pronunciation’s O.K., When you say correctly: croquet. Rounded, wounded, grieve, and sieve, Friend and fiend, alive, and live, Liberty, library, heave, and heaven, Rachel, ache, moustache, eleven, We say hallowed, but allowed, People, leopard, towed, but vowed. Mark the difference, moreover, Between mover, plover, Dover, Leeches, breeches, wise, precise, Chalice, but police, and lice. Camel, constable, unstable, Principle, disciple, label, Petal, penal, and canal, Wait, surmise, plait, promise, pal. Suit, suite, ruin, circuit, conduit, Rime with “shirk it” and “beyond it.” But it is not hard to tell, Why it’s pall, mall, but Pall Mall. Muscle, muscular, gaol, iron, Timber, climber, bullion, lion, Worm and storm, chaise, chaos, and chair, Senator, spectator, mayor, Ivy, privy, famous, clamour And enamour rime with hammer. Pussy, hussy, and possess, Desert, but dessert, address. Golf, wolf, countenance, lieutenants. Hoist, in lieu of flags, left pennants. River, rival, tomb, bomb, comb, Doll and roll and some and home. Stranger does not rime with anger. Neither does devour with clangour. Soul, but foul and gaunt but aunt. Font, front, won’t, want, grand, and grant. Shoes, goes, does. Now first say: finger. And then: singer, ginger, linger, Real, zeal, mauve, gauze, and gauge, Marriage, foliage, mirage, age. Query does not rime with very, Nor does fury sound like bury. Dost, lost, post; and doth, cloth, loth; Job, Job; blossom, bosom, oath. Though the difference seems little, We say actual, but victual. Seat, sweat; chaste, caste.; Leigh, eight, height; Put, nut; granite, and unite. Reefer does not rime with deafer, Feoffer does, and zephyr, heifer. Dull, bull, Geoffrey, George, ate, late, Hint, pint, Senate, but sedate. Scenic, Arabic, Pacific, Science, conscience, scientific, Tour, but our and succour, four, Gas, alas, and Arkansas. Sea, idea, guinea, area, Psalm, Maria, but malaria, Youth, south, southern, cleanse and clean, Doctrine, turpentine, marine. Compare alien with Italian, Dandelion with battalion. Sally with ally, yea, ye, Eye, I, ay, aye, whey, key, quay. Say aver, but ever, fever. Neither, leisure, skein, receiver. Never guess–it is not safe: We say calves, valves, half, but Ralph. Heron, granary, canary, Crevice and device, and eyrie, Face but preface, but efface, Phlegm, phlegmatic, ass, glass, bass. Large, but target, gin, give, verging, Ought, out, joust, and scour, but scourging, Ear but earn, and wear and bear Do not rime with here, but ere. Seven is right, but so is even, Hyphen, roughen, nephew, Stephen, Monkey, donkey, clerk, and jerk, Asp, grasp, wasp, and cork and work. Pronunciation–think of psyche–! Is a paling, stout and spikey, Won’t it make you lose your wits, Writing “groats” and saying “grits”? It’s a dark abyss or tunnel, Strewn with stones, like rowlock, gunwale, Islington and Isle of Wight, Housewife, verdict, and indict! Don’t you think so, reader, rather, Saying lather, bather, father? Finally: which rimes with “enough” Though, through, plough, cough, hough, or tough? Hiccough has the sound of “cup.” My advice is–give it up!
Also, in case you missed it in the comments of the last poem, C Andrew posted this gem (with a small correction from me):
How to spell fish: gh o ti
the gh from enough, the o from women and the ti from emotion.
On Sunday, 29 January 2012, I broadcast a new episode of my live Philosophy in Action Webcast, where I answer questions on the application of rational principles to the challenges of living a virtuous, happy, and free life in a live, hour-long webcast. The webcast is broadcast live every Sunday morning at 8 am PT / 9 am MT / 10 am CT / 11 am ET. In the webcast, I broadcast on video, Greg Perkins of Objectivist Answers is on audio, and the audience is in a text chat.
As usual, if you can’t attend the live webcast, you can listen to it later as audio-only podcast by subscribing to the NoodleCastRSS Feed:
We hope that you’ll join the live webcast, because that’s more lively and engaging than the podcast. People talk merrily in the text chat while watching the webcast. Greg and I enjoy the immediate feedback of a live audience – the funny quips, serious comments, and follow-up questions. So please join the live webcast when you can!
The following segments are marked as chapters in the M4A version of the podcast. Thanks to Tammy Perkins for helping compile the show notes!
Unfortunately, I’ve been distracted by the WTFuffles this week. However, since the matter is of little significance to me, and I’ll be focusing on my real work this upcoming week, and I encourage others to do the same. Also, remember that SnowCon 2012 will be March 15th to 18th in mountains of Colorado.
What’s wrong with being pragmatic? My dictionary defines being pragmatic as “dealing with things sensibly and realistically in a way that is based on practical rather than theoretical considerations.” What’s wrong with that, if anything? Is that the same as “pragmatism”?
My Answer, In Brief: Pragmatism is a philosophic view that rejects thinking long-range and on-principle in favor of short-term expediency. However, many people just use the term to mean “practical,” and others are honestly confused by all the bad theories and principles rampant in the culture.
Should I act uninterested in a man to attract him? One common theme in romance advice is that a woman should act aloof and unattainable in order to attract a man or to get him to commit to a relationship. Is that dishonest? Is it counterproductive?
My Answer, In Brief: It’s wrong to make people into conquests in romance. If you do, the kind of person that you’ll attract is not the kind of person that you’ll want to be with. And you’ll not be the kind of person that a good person will want to be with.
Should rational people describe themselves as “ignostics” rather than “atheists”? By rational principles, no cognitive consideration should be given to arbitrary assertions. Since the concept of God is invariably a floating abstraction and incoherent in its definition, shouldn’t the claim that God exists be dismissed as arbitrary and invalid – rather than being answered in the negative? If so, shouldn’t rational people describe themselves as ignostics? In contrast to atheism, ignosticism is “[the] view that a coherent definition of God must be presented before the question of the existence of God can be meaningfully discussed. Furthermore, if that definition is unfalsifiable, the ignostic takes the theological noncognitivist position that the question of the existence of God (per that definition) is meaningless.” [Wikipedia]
My Answer, In Brief: “Atheism,” not “ignosticism,” is the proper name to describe a person who reject the claim that God exists, and that’s justified not only by the failure of the arguments for the existence of God, but also God’s impossible qualities.
How can I effectively explain my atheism to religious believers? When I discuss religion with believers – mostly Christians – I find that I can’t easily explain why I don’t believe in God. Should I appeal to the principle of the “primacy of existence”? Should I explain the problems with the arguments for the existence of God? Or should I try a different approach?
My Answer, In Brief: The best way to discuss the reasons for rejecting belief in God depend on the context, particularly whether you are explaining your own views or trying to convince the other person. Either way, be patient and try to speak to their rational concerns.
In this segment, I answered a variety of questions off-the-cuff. The questions were:
Why did you and Paul choose to live in Colorado?
Recently, Tim Thomas decided not to attend the Bruins trip to the White House. If you were a part of a team going to the White House, would you attend? What if you were personally invited to the White House?
What is your opinion of the OPEN Act as an alternative to SOPA and PIPA?
How can we start an American philosophical revolution that encourages students to value freedom, independent thinking, and rational egoism rather than altruism and egalitarianism?
The Philosophy in Action Webcast is available to anyone, free of charge. We love doing it, but it’s not free for us to produce: it requires our time, effort, and money. So if you enjoy and value what we’re doing, please contribute to the webcast’s tip jar!
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Thank you, if you’ve contributed to the webcast! You make our work possible every week, and we’re so grateful for that! Also, whether you’re able to contribute financially or not, we always appreciate your helping us spread the word about this webcast to anyone you think might be interested, as well as submitting and voting on questions for upcoming webcasts.
For anyone wishing to ask a question, make a observation, or share a link with other NoodleFood readers, I hereby open up the comments on this post to any respectable topic. As always, please refrain from posting inappropriate comments such as personal attacks, pornographic material, copyrighted material, and commercial solicitations.
Scumbag Bison: Self-interest in humans means cooperation, production, and trade. Self interest in bison means running over the slow bison so that the wolves eat him instead of you.
Gingrich Ex: Newt Wanted an Open Marriage: I wouldn’t give a damn about the private lives of politicians if they didn’t attempt to regulate, control, and forbid choices that, by right, ought to be respected as each person’s own.
The Rise of the Female-Led Action Film: Here’s an interesting look at action films that feature strong female leads, including why they’re so rare. Ellen Ripley of the first two Aliens movies is one of my favorite characters in movies, hands down. If you like her, I’d also strongly recommend Panic Room: Jodie Foster is marvelously clear-headed, determined, and resourceful in defense of her values in utterly desperate circumstances.
In my live Philosophy in Action Webcast on Sunday morning, I’ll answer questions on being pragmatic, feigning indifference to attract a man, explaining atheism, “ignostic” versus “atheist”, and more. Please join us for this hour of lively discussion, where we apply rational principles to the challenges of living virtuous, happy, and free lives!
What: Live Philosophy in Action Webcast
Who: Diana Hsieh (Ph.D, Philosophy) and Greg Perkins
When: Sunday, 29 January 2012 at 8 am PT / 9 am MT / 10 am CT / 11 am ET
Here are the questions that I’ll answer this week:
Question 1: Being Pragmatic: What’s wrong with being pragmatic? My dictionary defines being pragmatic as “dealing with things sensibly and realistically in a way that is based on practical rather than theoretical considerations.” What’s wrong with that, if anything? Is that the same as “pragmatism”?
Question 2: Feigning Indifference to Attract a Man: Should I act uninterested in a man to attract him? One common theme in romance advice is that a woman should act aloof and unattainable in order to attract a man or to get him to commit to a relationship. Is that dishonest? Is it counterproductive?
Question 3: Explaining Atheism: How can I effectively explain my atheism to religious believers? When I discuss religion with believers – mostly Christians – I find that I can’t easily explain why I don’t believe in God. Should I appeal to the principle of the “primacy of existence”? Should I explain the problems with the arguments for the existence of God? Or should I try a different approach?
Question 4: “Ignostic” Versus “Atheist”: Should rational people describe themselves as “ignostics” rather than “atheists”? By rational principles, no cognitive consideration should be given to arbitrary assertions. Since the concept of God is invariably a floating abstraction and incoherent in its definition, shouldn’t the claim that God exists be dismissed as arbitrary and invalid – rather than being answered in the negative? If so, shouldn’t rational people describe themselves as ignostics? In contrast to atheism, ignosticism is “[the] view that a coherent definition of God must be presented before the question of the existence of God can be meaningfully discussed. Furthermore, if that definition is unfalsifiable, the ignostic takes the theological noncognitivist position that the question of the existence of God (per that definition) is meaningless.” [Wikipedia]
After that, we’ll do a round of totally impromptu “Rapid Fire Questions.”
If you can’t attend the live webcast, you can listen to these webcasts later as audio-only podcasts by subscribing to the NoodleCast RSS feed:
You can listen to full episodes or just selected questions from any past episode in the Webcast Archive. Also, don’t forget to submit and vote on the questions that you’d most like me to answer from the ongoing Question Queue.