Comments from NoodleFood


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Comment #1

Saturday, April 24, 2004 at 21:40:55 mdt
Name: Neil Parille

If people associate only with those they: (1) agree with on everything; and (2) agree with for exactly the same reasons, then there will never be much dialogue.

I think the paleocons and paleolibertarians have taken a better approach by trying to build coalitions. I would say that they appear to be having some success in changing the attitude toward the Iraq war.



Comment #2

Saturday, April 24, 2004 at 22:14:13 mdt
Name: Jason Kuznicki
URL: http://www.positiveliberty.com

Well said, Neil. Objectivism seems to be atrophying on both sides of the ARI/TOC divide, a trend that profoundly dismays me. And yet it seems inevitable given the hangup that Objectivism has regarding the open vs. closed system debate. Here is the dilemma, as I see it. Consider the following premises:

1. Objectivism is both rational and a closed system.
2. There are no conflicts among rational men.
3. The only way to deal with the irrational is to refuse any form of sanction or compromise.

It seems that it only follows that anyone who disagrees with the closed system of Objectivism--at any point whatsoever--is automatically irrational, and thus all sanction must be denied.

Why not just admit that the questions of life are actually quite difficult, that Rand was wrong about premise #2, and that because of their occasional errors, well-meaning and generally rational people may indeed conflict with one another, even while they do not totally forfeit thier rationality? This would seem to make room for fellow-travelers like myself, who otherwise are quite repelled by the dogmatic spirit so apparent in many self-described Objectivists--Diana of course excepted.

I don't know... Problems like these frustrate me to no end, because they have been the thorn in the side of Objectivism for decades. If the most rational philosophy ever developed is incapable of solving them, then it would seem that either Objectivism contains within it some fundamental flaw, or else philosophy in general has very little to offer the world. I frankly don't care for either alternative.



Comment #3

Sunday, April 25, 2004 at 0:54:46 mdt
Name: Don
URL: http://angermanagement.mu.nu

"Objectivism seems to be atrophying on both sides of the ARI/TOC divide, a trend that profoundly dismays me."

What evidence do you have for this trend?



Comment #4

Sunday, April 25, 2004 at 7:56:58 mdt
Name: Jason Kuznicki
URL: http://www.positiveliberty.com

The evidence that I have is admittedly subjective, and yet I do think it's still significant.

When I stopped following the Objectivist movement several years ago, it was consumed by infighting about essentially the same issues that now continue to consume it. These include the open system/closed system debate, the issue of sanction, and all of the same Peikoff/Kelly issues. Occasionally someone gets tossed out of ARI, and occasionally someone gets fed up with the Kelly group, just as it was before.

Many, many people admire Ayn Rand from afar--but the closer they get, the more they are repelled by this sectarianism, which Rand herself would have found appalling. As I recall, she never wanted ANY organized group to promote her philosophy after her death.

Now we've got two, and it's constant, self-destructive warfare.



Comment #5

Sunday, April 25, 2004 at 13:33:31 mdt
Name: Don
URL: http://angermanagement.mu.nu

Jason writes:

"When I stopped following the Objectivist movement several years ago, it was consumed by infighting about essentially the same issues that now continue to consume it."

I think you're basing that opinion on limited information. If you look at the work being done by ARI scholars, and there is a lot of it, I think it's clear the Objectivist movement hasn't been this healthy since the 60s. Perhaps more so since the cultish element is gone.

In fact, I have been heavily involved in the Objectivist movement for several years, and this is the first time that there has been significant discussion of these issues. This may surprise you, but ARI supporters don't spend much time talking about TOC or following its slow demise.

"Many, many people admire Ayn Rand from afar--but the closer they get, the more they are repelled by this sectarianism, which Rand herself would have found appalling. As I recall, she never wanted ANY organized group to promote her philosophy after her death. Now we've got two, and it's constant, self-destructive warfare."

Let's be clear on what we're talking about. There is one group of individuals who believe that Objectivism, the philosophy of Ayn Rand, is true. There is another group of individuals who believe lots of different things, and condemn those who believe Objectivism is true for not including them in their movement.

If this be warfare, TOC supporters are like the Japanese soldiers found running around after World War II, unaware the war was over. And that their side had lost.



Comment #6

Sunday, April 25, 2004 at 17:34:07 mdt
Name: Neil Parille

Diana,

Assume you are right about the reason for editing Branden out of the tape. What about the obvious hanky-panky that Chris Sciabarra has exposed concerning the Journals? How is that justified?

Or take Greg Johnson's discussion of ARI-scholar Gotthelf's book on Rand:

http://www.dailyobjectivist.com/Extro/SecondHandRand.asp

The problem isn't just that the ARI crowd wishes Branden never existed, it's that they want to live in a world in which Rand's ideas are discussed without reference to any other philosopher (except Aristotle) or school of thought.



Comment #7

Monday, April 26, 2004 at 8:15:30 mdt
Name: Chris Matthew Sciabarra
URL: http://www.nyu.edu/projects/sciabarra/notablog.htm

I've been away for a couple of weeks, and have just looked at the various additional posts and noodles here... and there's no way I can comment on everything.

A couple of quick points (as I'm still hoping to say more about all these subjects when Diana presents her more formal discussion):

I can't imagine for a moment that Branden has been edited out for any other reason than that the orthodoxy does not approve of him. If they were worried about copyright issues, they could have edited out ~everything~ of Branden's from ~all~ of Rand's anthologies, from copies of THE OBJECTIVIST NEWSLETTER and THE OBJECTIVIST, and so forth.

In any event, we are not just talking about editing out Branden; anytime ~anyone~ falls out of favor with ARI, they are edited out of existence. Let's take "Understanding Objectivism" (which I regard as one of Peikoff's finest lecture courses---though not entirely "original" on the issue of reason and emotion; Peikoff goes over much of the same ground first covered by Nathaniel Branden in THE DISOWNED SELF, a post-Randian work). Edith Packer once appeared in the original lecture series. I understand that since ARI broke with her, her lectures are no longer part of the course. Now, it's possible that ~she~ requested their elimination. But George Reisman has magically disappeared too (take a look here for some amusement: <http://www.freeradical.co.nz/content/reisman/bye_bye_george_reisman.html>. Excerpts from David Kelley's THE EVIDENCE OF THE SENSES were published in THE OBJECTIVIST FORUM, and the book was seen as the greatest thing on the subject of perception since the invention of slice bread; after his break from ARI, it became fashionable to dump on the book, and eventually to act as if it never existed.

Orthodox scholars who once referred to Packer, Reisman, Kelley, etc., no longer refer to them. Why is the work of which they once approved, suddenly not quotable? And when orthodox scholars ~must~ quote from Branden (after all, so much of the original Objectivist literature on free will, emotion, self-esteem, pleasure, romantic love, the subconscious, psycho-epistemology, and so forth, was first enunciated by Branden in Rand-approved periodicals), we'll get a farcical attribution.

Here's an example of what I mean. In new printings of THE OBJECTIVIST NEWSLETTER, left intact are Rand's references (in her essay, "Our Cultural Value Deprivation") to Branden's essay "The Psychology of Pleasure." That's good.

But when a book is published, like THE VOICE OF REASON, and "Our Cultural Value Deprivation" is made part of the new anthology, here is how Rand's reference to Branden is now rendered: "[An essay from The Virtue of Selfishness on "The Psychology of Pleasure" states,] ..."

Look, at the risk of sounding rude, I'm going to simply quote Penn and Teller: This is bullshit.

It's as if Branden's name cannot be uttered, for fear that the person uttering the name might spontaneously combust. This has absolutely nothing to do with copyright issues.

It is shabby scholarship, a shabby treatment of the historical record, and shows absolutely no respect for the ~reader~, who must be "protected" from mere mentions of the Great Satan, who cannot have our sanction, who cannot even be mentioned.

And this is how ~most~ of these orthodoxers treat people with whom they disagree. Look at how ~I~ have been treated on the blog of Mr. Noumenal Self. "Regarding the scholar whose name is not to be mentioned here": How can anybody take comments like that ~seriously~? These people dismiss as "arbitrary" everything I've written, and do ~nothing~ to actually grapple with my work... and they won't even mention my name. This is precisely what Allan Gotthelf did in his book on Ayn Rand: he dismisses "dialectical" readings of Rand and any Russian influence on her, but gives no indication ~where~ one might find such "readings" or claims.

I will never understand this siege mentality. And for people who make a living talking about "intellectual honesty"... they should be ashamed of themselves.



Comment #8

Monday, April 26, 2004 at 8:32:36 mdt
Name: Chris Matthew Sciabarra
URL: http://www.nyu.edu/projects/sciabarra/notablog.htm

Postscript: Diana wrote, "Also, I know that Peikoff's lecture courses (bought recently) include occasional favorable references to David Kelley and George Walsh."

Let me make something clear: It is ~possible~ that some ~references~ to people may remain in lectures that have already been recorded. It may simply be too difficult to go through every last tape and edit out every mention of every disapproved person.

The ~real~ question is this: Are these people being mentioned by Peikoff or other orthodoxers in lectures sold for distribution---which have been recorded ~after~ their breaks from said people?

I think you'll be hard pressed to find such references. And in instances where certain references remain (as in THE VOICE OF REASON), they'll quote from the essay, but not mention the ~essayist~. I thought entities (like living human beings) drove actions... and that essays exist only because of the actions of entities known as essayists.

Here's a little story about their ability to mention essays, while leaving out information about essayists: At one time, I had been in negotiation with ARI so that they could secure a copy of a photograph of N. O. Lossky, Rand's philosophy professor at the University of Leningrad, for use in Michael Paxton's documentary. I was pleased that they gave me a credit in the film, and that Boris Lossky, the son who provided the photo, was given a credit as well. And during that time period, perhaps as a token of good faith, they actually ~mentioned~ in the April 1997 issue of IMPACT, my AMERICAN WRITERS' encyclopedia essay on Rand as an "objective ... biography of Ayn Rand." (Wow... I guess not ~everything~ I write is "arbitrary"...)

But note: They didn't mention my ~name~. Even when they ~compliment~ somebody, they can't bring themselves to mention the name of the person if that person is not ~sanctioned~.

This is just... off-the-wall behavior.



Comment #9

Monday, April 26, 2004 at 9:31:52 mdt
Name: Don
URL: http://angermanagement.mu.nu

Chris,

There are two seperate issues here that should not be confused: not mentioning the names of one's philosophical opponents vs. altering the historical record. The latter is, all else being equal, wrong.

But the former is not the latter. To avoid mentioning the names of one's detractors is one means of refusing to promote one's detractors. For example, most of the works aimed at refuting Objectivism have quickly disappeared into obscurity. Had Rand or some other Objectivist taken the time to respond to such a work, precisely the opposite would have happened.

Now, most ARI scholars believe your book is even worse than an outright attack on Objectivism. In their view (as best I understand it), they are operating on the principle that a shoddy defense is worse than an outright attack, just as a half-truth is worse than a lie. Since they think your view of the supposed dialectical nature of Objectivism is nonsense, they would naturally not wish to help promote you - not even by attempting to refute you.

We can argue (and have argued!) about whether or not that is the best course for your detractors to follow. But what is unfair, in my view, is to demonize this strategy as some kind of an attempt to re-write history.

That said, a few specific comments on your latest post to Diana's blog.

"I can't imagine for a moment that Branden has been edited out for any other reason than that the orthodoxy does not approve of him. If they were worried about copyright issues, they could have edited out ~everything~ of Branden's from ~all~ of Rand's anthologies, from copies of THE OBJECTIVIST NEWSLETTER and THE OBJECTIVIST, and so forth."

It seems to me the fact he hasn't been proves MY point. The fact the estate hasn't removed his work from Rand's anthologies tells me that copyright issues most likely ARE the reason his voice was removed from Rand's fiction lectures. In either case, neither of us has evidence one way or the other, so perhaps we should consider this a non-issue?

"But George Reisman has magically disappeared too..."

What do you mean, disappeared? You mean his work is no longer promoted by ARI? Well, okay, but the implication is they have a moral obligation to promote the work of a detractor. As I've said again and again in these debates, which moral code would demand that kind of action? Remember, here was a case where the break was private in the sense that no denunciations (as far as I know) were made about Reisman or Packer in public. Reisman, then, decided to leak private discussions between him and members of ARI, without comment or context. That is low and after such a stunt, it is right for ARI to ask people who wish to deal with it not to deal with Reisman.

"Excerpts from David Kelley's THE EVIDENCE OF THE SENSES were published in THE OBJECTIVIST FORUM, and the book was seen as the greatest thing on the subject of perception since the invention of slice bread; after his break from ARI, it became fashionable to dump on the book, and eventually to act as if it never existed."

Incidentally, the excerpts from Kelley's book can still be found in reprints of The Objectivist Forum. How is that possible if, as you claim, ARI is seeking to expunge its enemies from the historical record?

"Orthodox scholars who once referred to Packer, Reisman, Kelley, etc., no longer refer to them. Why is the work of which they once approved, suddenly not quotable?"

Presumably because they do not wish to aid, promote, or support those who attack them.

"And when orthodox scholars ~must~ quote from Branden...we'll get a farcical attribution."

I think you're being unfair. The Rand estate does not want to promote Branden as such, only his writings which Rand approved of. In Rand's anthologies that's easy - there is a note at the beginning of each book informing the reader that Branden is no longer affiliated with Objectivism. But would it make sense to do that in a footnote? "See N. Branden's essay, XYZ. Branden, in case you were wondering, is no longer affiliated with Objectivism." I think it is much more sensible to refer readers to the anthology where they can read the essay, learn the author's name, and learn that he broke with Rand.

"Look, at the risk of sounding rude, I'm going to simply quote Penn and Teller: This is bullshit."

You're not making sense Chris.

First, the Rand estate is engaging in "a shabby treatment of the historical record" and it is showing "absolutely no respect for the ~reader~, who must be 'protected' from mere mentions of the Great Satan, who cannot have our sanction, who cannot even be mentioned."

But then "In new printings of THE OBJECTIVIST NEWSLETTER, left intact are Rand's references...to Branden's essay 'The Psychology of Pleasure.' That's good."

So they AREN'T altering the historical record and they ARE mentioning Branden's name. Just not in every context. I've given some reasons why that may be the case. But you seem to wish automatically to reach the worst possible conclusions about ARI and the Rand estate. That's fine, but I don't think you have the evidence. If you do, you have't presented it here.

"And this is how ~most~ of these orthodoxers treat people with whom they disagree. Look at how ~I~ have been treated on the blog of Mr. Noumenal Self."

Mr. Noumenal Self does not represent my side. Comments he left on my blog indicate that he lacks a full understanding of Objectivism. That's okay, so do I, which is why I've tried to stress that I'm speaking for myself and my errors should not be attributed to Peikoff, ARI, or anyone else.

"These people dismiss as 'arbitrary' everything I've written, and do ~nothing~ to actually grapple with my work... and they won't even mention my name. This is precisely what Allan Gotthelf did in his book on Ayn Rand: he dismisses 'dialectical' readings of Rand and any Russian influence on her, but gives no indication ~where~ one might find such 'readings' or claims."

Now in this case, we agree completely. The only people who would have understood his comments were people already familiar with your book. He should have either mentioned your book by name or remained silent on the issue.

But once again, how does the mere fact you published a book on Rand impose an obligation on ARI scholars to respond to it?

You seem to equate being able to respond to contrary arguments with engaging those who make the arguments. That is an error, and a rather self-serving one, don't you think?

Listen Chris, you continue to have my respect. What I object to is the unfairness of your attacks on ARI. You seem to be in a rush to embrance the worst possible interpretations of any of their actions, and when you do it in the context of them ignoring your work - frankly Chris, you sound like a whining child.

Is ARI perfect? No. Is Peikoff infallible? Hardly. Have individuals on my side done things that make me uncomfortable? Sure. And I've been vocal about saying so. Perhaps too vocal, given my ambitions. But since I have started posting here, I have watched the bearers of the flag of tolerance say the most vicious things about me and those who agree with me. I have watched them jump to conclusions about our motives with scant evidence, and condemn us more violently than we have condemned them because we are mean and intolerant. It's all starting to make me laugh because it is so apparent to all who have followed these discussions that precisely the opposite is true.

-Don



Comment #10

Monday, April 26, 2004 at 9:58:09 mdt
Name: Don
URL: http://angermanagement.mu.nu

Chris,

A postscript to your postscript:

It's amazing how quickly you alter your standards when doing so suits your purposes.

First you attack ARI for altering the historical record by removing references to the excommunicated. Then we give evidence that would call into question your interpretation, but you brush it aside with, "It is ~possible~ that some ~references~ to people may remain in lectures that have already been recorded. It may simply be too difficult to go through every last tape and edit out every mention of every disapproved person."

But if the only reason those names haven't been edited out is because it's merely "too difficult," what about cases where the names remain in reprints of The Objectivist Newsletter, The Objectivist, and The Objectivist Forum? HUH?

But having raised the issue long enough to impugn ARI, you go on to brush it aside as unimprtant. The real issue is, "Are these people being mentioned by Peikoff or other orthodoxers in lectures sold for distribution---which have been recorded ~after~ their breaks from said people?"

This gives lie to your claim that your concern is merely with the historical record. It implies that you DO in fact believe one has an obligation to promote one's detractors, even when historical integrity doesn't demand it.

So here's the question Chris: What in God's name WOULD make you happy? Is there something specific you want, or are you just looking for any excuse to attack ARI? I simply can't keep up with your forever evolving standards, and my motivation to make sense of your contradictions is waning. I mean, Christ, in the space of minutes you go from "These people dismiss as 'arbitrary' everything I've written," to "I guess not ~everything~ I write is 'arbitrary'." Which is it? Or is this what it means to be dialectic?



Comment #11

Monday, April 26, 2004 at 14:41:49 mdt
Name: Chris Matthew Sciabarra
URL: http://www.nyu.edu/projects/sciabarra/notablog.htm

Let's go through these points one by one:

1. Don writes: "First you attack ARI for altering the historical record by removing references to the excommunicated. Then we give evidence that would call into question your interpretation, but you brush it aside with, 'It is ~possible~ that some ~references~ to people may remain in lectures that have already been recorded. It may simply be too difficult to go through every last tape and edit out every mention of every disapproved person.' "

Don, there's a very easy way to come to a decision on all this. Why doesn't somebody from ARI ~ever~ address this issue in public? Incidentally, we're not talking just about removing references to the excommunicated. What about all the other alterations of the historical record in which they have engaged? The editing of her journals, for one. The editing of her fiction lectures, in both audio and print form, for two and three.

Let me also say, this is not about me being a whining child. I engaged in a full study of Objectivism without ~any~ support from ~any~ of the institutionalized Objectivist organizations. I've profited greatly from all the products these organizations sell or lease. But I've never sought or expected their support for my work (though TOC has been far more open to a critical discussion of it); I've been a proudly independent scholar. And ~because~ I've been a scholar, I ~must~ place priority on the authenticity of the sources that I consult. Scholars ~must~ be concerned with that authenticity, which is brought into question anytime the sources feature poor attribution, or editorial changes, or alterations in copy from one generation to the next.

If I don't whine and scream about these things, what happens to the next generation of scholars, or the unknowing student, who comes upon a VOICE OF REASON essay like the one I quoted, where "essays" are cited, but "essayists" don't exist?

2. Don asks: "But if the only reason those names haven't been edited out is because it's merely 'too difficult,' what about cases where the names remain in reprints of The Objectivist Newsletter, The Objectivist, and The Objectivist Forum? HUH?"

As I said: They have shown that they are unwilling to edit material out of the ~reprints~ of those periodicals---perhaps because it is very easy for those of us who ~own~ these accessible materials in their original forms to ~check~ the accuracy of their edits. When the uninitiated reader, who chooses not to purchase the expensive bound versions of those periodicals, comes upon THE VOICE OF REASON, he or she will find this bracketed comment about how an "essay" in THE VIRTUE OF SELFISHNESS "states" such and such. I find that kind of practice unacceptable, from a scholarly standpoint.

3. Don writes: "But having raised the issue long enough to impugn ARI, you go on to brush it aside as unimprtant. The real issue is, 'Are these people being mentioned by Peikoff or other orthodoxers in lectures sold for distribution---which have been recorded ~after~ their breaks from said people?' This gives lie to your claim that your concern is merely with the historical record. It implies that you DO in fact believe one has an obligation to promote one's detractors, even when historical integrity doesn't demand it."

Absolutely not. This is simply an issue of scholarly ~standards~. Rand herself chose not to eliminate references to Branden once she broke from him. Whole essays and references to his essays continued to appear in her anthologies ~where they were already present~. This is not a question of having "an obligation to promote one's detractors." It is having the decency to preserve an essay in the form in which it was originally presented. And Rand had that decency.

Now, Rand ~did~ alter ~some~ essays in their translation from newsletter form to anthology form; this was usually because she wanted to make it ~fit~ better in the context of an anthology. But for the most part, she fully respected Branden's presence in her anthologies, and went out of her way to say that all of his work, pre-1968, was part of Objectivism, including WHO IS AYN RAND?. (His essay on Rand's literary method, in that book, for example, is extremely important.)

On this issue of not "mentioning the names of one's detractors..." I swear: I don't get it. Could you imagine if I wrote a book wherein I never mentioned the names of my detractors? There are ~scores~ of them now. I'm losing track! I mean, I'm chuckling at the thought. How on earth could I ever respond to a criticism if I don't care to even ~cite~ the ~source~ and give ~attribution~? One critic would meld into another, and nobody would know from which source criticisms come. Nobody would know who on earth I'm responding to. And I'd be ~rightly~ condemned for ~shoddy~ scholarship.

4. Don asks: "So here's the question Chris: What in God's name WOULD make you happy? Is there something specific you want, or are you just looking for any excuse to attack ARI? I simply can't keep up with your forever evolving standards, and my motivation to make sense of your contradictions is waning. I mean, Christ, in the space of minutes you go from "These people dismiss as 'arbitrary' everything I've written," to "I guess not ~everything~ I write is 'arbitrary'." Which is it? Or is this what it means to be dialectic?"

Ah, the contradictions lie ~not~ in my behavior, but in theirs. For people who talk about the virtue of consistency, they don't practice it. And maybe, in this instance, that's a good thing. Because if they ever practiced the wholesale editing consistently, they'd be totally beyond the pale.

What would make me happy? Honesty. Plain and simple. A willingness to stand by original sources. And, no, they don't have an obligation to promote their detractors or open their archives to every Tom, Dick, and Harry. But they do have an obligation to keep the historical record intact and authentic, especially for those of us who will never have the opportunity to check what they publish against the original copies.

Where I come from, you simply say: "Professor X says Y. Here is the citation where Professor X says it." You then present his arguments fairly and accurately, with a couple of fair-use quotations, and, finally: You do your best to logically demolish Professor X's arguments.

Period.

This is the standard upon which all argumentation in the history of western philosophy has proceeded from the time of the ancient Greeks. You, Don, are actually adhering to that standard by engaging me, and your other interlocutors. Kudos!

5. Don says: "Now, most ARI scholars believe your book is even worse than an outright attack on Objectivism. In their view (as best I understand it), they are operating on the principle that a shoddy defense is worse than an outright attack, just as a half-truth is worse than a lie. Since they think your view of the supposed dialectical nature of Objectivism is nonsense, they would naturally not wish to help promote you - not even by attempting to refute you."

Alas, if I can find ~one~ ARI scholar who has actually read my book and grappled with its arguments, rather than simply dismissing it (as Ridpath does) on the basis of purr & snarl words, or dismissing it (as Bernstein does), while admitting that he's never actually read it, I'd be impressed. The problem is that they engage in the very Argument from Intimidation that Ayn Rand warned against: They just keep repeating over and over and over again that nobody would or should take Sciabarra seriously as a "scholar" (yes, that word must always be placed in quotes), and then, they say ~nothing~ of substance to justify the sweeping claim.

6. On the disappearance of George Reisman: Let's say somebody ~becomes~ a detractor. But the point is: He was ~not~ a detractor at one time. And his CAPITALISM treatise is a monumental work of profound significance, some of it having appeared in Rand-sanctioned and orthodox-sanctioned writings. How is it that this man, who contributes so much to our understanding of economics, is simply ~not~ referenced anymore? I mean: What is wrong with saying: "I no longer support George Reisman's work, but on this claim, he was right"? He disappears, and now the orthodoxy has to make sure that future essays cite Salsman or Buechner rather than Reisman.

This is ~insane~. I cite ~plenty~ of people on isolated points on which I agree with them. I cite ~good~ work by Peikoff, Smith, Gotthelf, Lennox, Salsman, Milgram---and my citations never imply anything more than that I agree with them on that point in question. There's simply no reason, in scholarship, to stop citing people because you disagree with them on other, or even larger, issues, or because you think they stink as human beings. (Note: I'm not saying that Peikoff, Smith, etc. stink as human beings... I'm just making a hypothetical statement ...)

Could you imagine the state of knowledge if, every time we had a fight with a teacher, we refused to acknowledge anything we've learned from them?

You know, there's a lot of internal contradiction at work. Leonard Peikoff's doctoral mentor was Sidney Hook. Hook was also one of Barbara Branden's teachers. Hook wrote a scathing indictment of FOR THE NEW INTELLECTUAL that appeared in the NY TIMES. But even Ayn Rand ~backed off~ from demanding that Peikoff or Branden ~break~ from Hook. And, as far as I know, Peikoff kept in touch with Hook, until Hook's death. Hook was a neo-Marxist, neo-pragmatist social democrat. Can't get more ~wrong~ ideologically than that! But Barbara has a very interesting comment on the Hook review, in her biography of Rand (PASSION OF AYN RAND, p. 321 n.2---yes, I cite my sources):

"Ayn was very angry with the review---an anger which created a difficult situation for me. I was unable, as I was expected to do, to dismiss Sidney Hook as dishonest and corrupt. He had been my professor and faculty advisor when I was studying philosophy at NYU; he was---and is---a man for whom I have the greatest respect and affection, a man of honor, of courage, of outstanding integrity. To my great surprise, when I could not join Ayn in denouncing him, she said nothing, and seemed to accept that I had a personal attitude toward him that was separate from our philosophical differences."

(Maybe even Ayn Rand understood Diana's distinctions, which were made in her post on "friends and philosophy"...)

7. Finally, Don... this bearer of the flag of tolerance has never said anything vicious about you. And you will never find, in my work, a vicious ~personal~ attack on ~anybody~ in the orthodoxy. I just come from a very different school of thought, where criticism of a person's ~ideas~ do not ~necessarily~ translate into criticism of a ~person~. (Usually, we don't have enough knowledge to even make those logical jumps...) People can be mistaken. Not everyone we disagree with is dishonest and corrupt.

I just wish that the people who regularly throw charges of "dishonesty" and "corruption" at their critics would, for once, recognize that they might be living in a glass house of their own.

I admit when I've been unclear, and even when I've been mistaken. And through the criticisms that have been hurled my way, I think I've immeasurably clarified my own positions, my own thoughts, on subjects dear to my heart, like dialectics. I'm not ~afraid~ of critics. I don't believe that the citation of a critic's name, even a critic who has attacked me unfairly, is "promoting" my detractor. It's simply giving credit where credit is due, and treating his points of agreement or disagreement with respect: respect not necessarily for ~him~ as a person, but respect for ~reality~: the reality that he exists, that his criticism exists, and that one can find that criticism in a source that exists.

That is a requirement of objectivity in scholarship.



Comment #12

Monday, April 26, 2004 at 16:17:46 mdt
Name: Don
URL: http://angermanagement.mu.nu

Chris,

As always, thank you for your thoughtful response.

"Don, there's a very easy way to come to a decision on all this. Why doesn't somebody from ARI ~ever~ address this issue in public? Incidentally, we're not talking just about removing references to the excommunicated. What about all the other alterations of the historical record in which they have engaged? The editing of her journals, for one. The editing of her fiction lectures, in both audio and print form, for two and three."

We can certainly discuss that, but I'm tired of jumping from issue to issue without pinning anything down. Can you start by acknowledging that ARI does not, in every case, remove references to its detractors? And can you acknowledge your previous claim, "anytime ~anyone~ falls out of favor with ARI, they are edited out of existence" is therefore false? This is essential because the general claims you make about ARI do not correlate with ARI's actions.

So where are we? We're left with two sets of facts: ARI sometimes removes references to the excommunicated and it sometimes alters the historical record.

Let's focus on the former for a moment. The choice to remove references to the excommunicated is not, as I have explained, an effort to alter the historical record, but to avoid promoting ARI's detractors. I'm not interested in debating whether or not that is a proper strategy. I am saying merely that you have presented no evidence that their actions in this regard are dishonest.

Now, what about alterations of the historical record? You cite three examples: (a) The editing of Rand's journals, (b) the editing of her fiction lectures in audio, and (c) the editing of her fiction lectures in print. We can agree on the primary claim that alterations were made. You want to ascribe that fact to condemnable motives, and I'm saying you don't enough evidence to do so. The latter two examples, in particular, are not convincing. The audio lectures, as has been pointed out, could have been altered for copyright reasons and her fiction letters were never intended to be historically accurate in the sense you mean (and considering that the audio lectures remain available for purchase, it seems a bit silly to argue ARI is hiding something). Now, as to the Journals, there I do suspect that there were some poor choices made by its editor. But once again, he did make it clear that he engaged in editing beyond the simple exercise of selectivity in choosing what made it in the book. No historian, therefore, should rely on the published journals to be word for word faithful to Rand's actual journals. To be clear I'm not saying this is a good thing. I'm saying you don't have enough evidence to ascribe these actions to any ill motives, even though you've been quick to do so.

"Let me also say, this is not about me being a whining child. I engaged in a full study of Objectivism without ~any~ support from ~any~ of the institutionalized Objectivist organizations. I've profited greatly from all the products these organizations sell or lease. But I've never sought or expected their support for my work (though TOC has been far more open to a critical discussion of it); I've been a proudly independent scholar. And ~because~ I've been a scholar, I ~must~ place priority on the authenticity of the sources that I consult. Scholars ~must~ be concerned with that authenticity, which is brought into question anytime the sources feature poor attribution, or editorial changes, or alterations in copy from one generation to the next."

Fine, I don't disagree. If you want to argue for the historical integrity of a book like Rand's Journals I'll even support you. But if that's your goal, (a) why bring up the fact no one at ARI has responded to your book, and (b) why must you take the next step and speculate as to the motives of those at ARI who made the changes you don't think they ought to have made? Why issue blanket statements about their supposed desire to expunge people from the historical record when, as I have shown, they have done no such thing? Why make it unnecessarily difficult for people like me to agree with you?

"If I don't whine and scream about these things, what happens to the next generation of scholars, or the unknowing student, who comes upon a VOICE OF REASON essay like the one I quoted, where 'essays' are cited, but 'essayists' don't exist?"

He follows the reference to VOS I imagine. Why not have the same respect for people's intelligence you claim ARI lacks, and assume their heads will not explode upon seeing a reference to an essay in one of Rand's books without an author's attribution? Besides, have you ever met someone who read VOR before VOS?

"As I said: They have shown that they are unwilling to edit material out of the ~reprints~ of those periodicals---perhaps because it is very easy for those of us who ~own~ these accessible materials in their original forms to ~check~ the accuracy of their edits. When the uninitiated reader, who chooses not to purchase the expensive bound versions of those periodicals, comes upon THE VOICE OF REASON, he or she will find this bracketed comment about how an 'essay' in THE VIRTUE OF SELFISHNESS 'states' such and such. I find that kind of practice unacceptable, from a scholarly standpoint."

As Ronald Reagan would say, there you go again. "Perhaps because..." Is it possible for you to NOT speculate as to their motives without evidence for just ONE post? Especially when I have offered other possible interpretations of their motives.

"This is simply an issue of scholarly ~standards~."

Fine. Then why can't you content yourself with the claim that ARI is unscholarly? If you did that, you would have a very strong argument. But you consistently jump from that claim to speculations regarding the motives of ARI and that is illegitimate. If you want to do that, you need to provide evidence. You have failed to do so.

"On this issue of not 'mentioning the names of one's detractors...' I swear: I don't get it. Could you imagine if I wrote a book wherein I never mentioned the names of my detractors? There are ~scores~ of them now. I'm losing track! I mean, I'm chuckling at the thought. How on earth could I ever respond to a criticism if I don't care to even ~cite~ the ~source~ and give ~attribution~? One critic would meld into another, and nobody would know from which source criticisms come. Nobody would know who on earth I'm responding to. And I'd be ~rightly~ condemned for ~shoddy~ scholarship."

We discussed this topic before and, as I told you, I want to think about it some more before I re-engage in that debate. But with regards to this one, that is not relevant. Whether it makes sense to promote one's detractors is separate from the question of whether the refusal to do so is intellectually honest. You seem to think it's not, and have therefore condemned ARI scholars on those grounds. I'm saying the disagreement is an honest one, on BOTH sides. Isn't it amazing how the dogmatic ARI supporter is the one refusing to charge his opponent with dishonesty?

"Ah, the contradictions lie ~not~ in my behavior, but in theirs. For people who talk about the virtue of consistency, they don't practice it. And maybe, in this instance, that's a good thing. Because if they ever practiced the wholesale editing consistently, they'd be totally beyond the pale."

That's true only if you ascribe to them the motives you ascribe to them. If their goals are NOT what you charge they are, then it is possible they are being completely consistent.

"What would make me happy? Honesty. Plain and simple. A willingness to stand by original sources. And, no, they don't have an obligation to promote their detractors or open their archives to every Tom, Dick, and Harry. But they do have an obligation to keep the historical record intact and authentic, especially for those of us who will never have the opportunity to check what they publish against the original copies."

Well, that raises the question: what qualifies as the historical record? There is no evidence the original source material has been altered. Now I suppose your response is that doesn't matter when independent scholars doesn't have access to that material. And while I might question that premise (including the implicit definition of "independent"), it is certainly a worthy point. That's the thing Chris. You have so many worthy points, but you do yourself harm by clouding them behind charges you cannot support.

"Where I come from, you simply say: 'Professor X says Y. Here is the citation where Professor X says it.' You then present his arguments fairly and accurately, with a couple of fair-use quotations, and, finally: You do your best to logically demolish Professor X's arguments.

"Period.

"This is the standard upon which all argumentation in the history of western philosophy has proceeded from the time of the ancient Greeks. You, Don, are actually adhering to that standard by engaging me, and your other interlocutors. Kudos!"

Sure, but there are significant differences between me and those ARI scholars who do not engage you. Firstly, as I am not anyone special (in the context of the Objectivist movement), my engagement does not grant your work added importance. Secondly, my evaluation of your work is largely positive, whereas most of the other people who share my views do not evaluate your work positively.

"Alas, if I can find ~one~ ARI scholar who has actually read my book and grappled with its arguments, rather than simply dismissing it (as Ridpath does) on the basis of purr & snarl words, or dismissing it (as Bernstein does), while admitting that he's never actually read it, I'd be impressed. The problem is that they engage in the very Argument from Intimidation that Ayn Rand warned against: They just keep repeating over and over and over again that nobody would or should take Sciabarra seriously as a 'scholar' (yes, that word must always be placed in quotes), and then, they say ~nothing~ of substance to justify the sweeping claim."

If you're waiting for me to disagree with that, I'm not. But the problem, in my view, is that Ridpath, Bernstein, etc., err in dismissing you out of hand. It's not that they are evading. A charge such as that would require much more evidence than you or anyone has provided. But I'll make you a deal. In ten years or so, once I've made a name for myself in the Objectivist movement, I will author a detailed response to your book. If that gets me excommunicated, I'll even buy you an expensive dinner. :-) But until then, let's agree that your work shouldn't be dismissed out of hand, and let's also agree that there is no evidence that such has occurred due to any dishonesty on the part of ARI scholars. What do you say?

"On the disappearance of George Reisman: Let's say somebody ~becomes~ a detractor. But the point is: He was ~not~ a detractor at one time...There's simply no reason, in scholarship, to stop citing people because you disagree with them on other, or even larger, issues, or because you think they stink as human beings. Could you imagine the state of knowledge if, every time we had a fight with a teacher, we refused to acknowledge anything we've learned from them?"

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, what you have here is a difference of opinion. ARI scholars think it is important not to promote the works of their detractors, and you think that is less important than the values to be gained from directly or indirectly promoting their work. We can discuss that, but not if you start out with the premise that this is "insane." If it really IS insane, the matter must be close to self-evident, and anyone who does not see it the way you see must therefore be dishonest (or stupid...or, uh, insane).

As to the Hook example: "(Maybe even Ayn Rand understood Diana's distinctions, which were made in her post on "friends and philosophy"...)."

Yes, and so too, perhaps, does Peikoff et al. But perhaps they are not friends with their detractors.

"Finally, Don... this bearer of the flag of tolerance has never said anything vicious about you. And you will never find, in my work, a vicious ~personal~ attack on ~anybody~ in the orthodoxy. I just come from a very different school of thought, where criticism of a person's ~ideas~ do not ~necessarily~ translate into criticism of a ~person~. (Usually, we don't have enough knowledge to even make those logical jumps...) People can be mistaken. Not everyone we disagree with is dishonest and corrupt."

I agree with this 100% and I should have said before: I did not mean to imply that you have EVER attacked me personally. On the contrary, our discussions have always been good natured, not in the sense that we don't take ideas seriously, but in the sense that we have each been respectful of the rationality of the other. For that, you have my sincere thanks.

"I just wish that the people who regularly throw charges of 'dishonesty" and 'corruption' at their critics would, for once, recognize that they might be living in a glass house of their own."

Then why do you seem so intent on jumping from an agreed upon set of facts to an unsupported conclusion which serves no purpose except to denigrate ARI scholars and supporters? I'm asking because I do believe you have a lot to offer the Objectivist movement, but I also think you have made yourself enemies on my side unnecessarily.

"I admit when I've been unclear, and even when I've been mistaken. And through the criticisms that have been hurled my way, I think I've immeasurably clarified my own positions, my own thoughts, on subjects dear to my heart, like dialectics. I'm not ~afraid~ of critics. I don't believe that the citation of a critic's name, even a critic who has attacked me unfairly, is 'promoting' my detractor. It's simply giving credit where credit is due, and treating his points of agreement or disagreement with respect: respect not necessarily for ~him~ as a person, but respect for ~reality~: the reality that he exists, that his criticism exists, and that one can find that criticism in a source that exists."

Now THAT is an argument, Chris. THAT was convincing. THAT is objectivity at its best. If you would continue to make points like that and avoid the needless mudslinging, I will be the first in line demanding that my side engage your arguments. Until then, I can't blame them.



Comment #13

Monday, April 26, 2004 at 16:49:33 mdt
Name: Mysterious Stranger

Sciabarra writes of ARI scholars: "The problem is that they engage in the very Argument from Intimidation that Ayn Rand warned against: They just keep repeating over and over and over again that nobody would or should take Sciabarra seriously as a "scholar" (yes, that word must always be placed in quotes), and then, they say ~nothing~ of substance to justify the sweeping claim."

Here as in so many other places, the "historian" jumps to conclusions without evidence. To my knowledge only one person ever referred to him as a "scholar" in scare quotes. That was me, in an anonymous post on another blog. Yet somehow this anonymous blog comment has morphed in Sciabarra's mind into a policy of ARI scholars, much as the probability that Rand took one course in ancient philosophy with Lossky morphed into the premise that Rand was "well acquainted with the classical Greek thinkers" as a result of having been "schooled in ancient philosophy by Lossky" (Russian Radical, 30). At most she took one class with the man. Even if she took the class and attended religiously (she often skipped classes and studied the books on her own), we don't know what was covered, or how well. So how on earth does class with a man on Greek philosophy transform into being "schooled" by that man so that one is "well acquainted" with the subject? And what about the fact that about 30 years passed between this single Lossky course and any work AR did explicitly on Ancient philosophy? And what about all the other influences that she may have had in the intervening time. (E.g., studying B.A.G. fuller's _History of Western Philosophy_, Reading Aristotle, discussing the history of philosophy with Isabel Patterson, and with several friends in philosophy graduate programs).

A college survey course in ancient worldviews translates into being well schooled in classical thinkers in just the same way that one anonymous comment on the web translates into an ARI policy, and in the same way that the rejection of the mind-body dichotomy and several other false alternatives transforms into a "revolt against formal dualism". In true "dialectical" fashion we can see the whole implied by each of the parts. And the whole is an epistemology of leaping to favored conclusions in defiance of the need for evidence: i.e. an epistemology of arbitrary assertions.

The business about AR's being well acquainted with the classical philosophers based on Lossky's schooling was just taken at random from one page in Russian Radical. You can open up to any page and find similar absurd lapses (except they're not lapses for Sciabarra; they're the consistent level at which he operates.) For example, there are discussions of which elements of Lossky's thought Rand accepted or rejected, when in fact there is no evidence whatsoever that she even knew of these elements of his thought. There is a laughable discussion of Rand's reading of Kant in which the fact that she interprets him a certain way is taken as confirming evidence of the influence of her Russian professors on her thought, even though that interpretation of Kant was also standard at the time in the west and even though there is reason to think (from a mention of Kant in _We The Living_) that Rand didn't have this view of Kant until well after she was in America. And the list goes on and on.

These sorts of leaps are so pervasive and extreme, that the work does not qualify as a piece of scholarship at all. It is pure arbitrary conjecture, decorated with footnotes and references that establish nothing. Is it any wonder that ARI scholars don't take this work seriously enough to address in print. The book is so sub-par that it is an embarrassment to those of us who want to do serious scholarship on Rand in an academic context. To engage in debate with Sciabarra would be to legitimize his work -- to say, in effect, "This is real scholarship and is now a part of the literature on this subject." But his work is not scholarship, it's arbitrary musing, and it should be treated as such. I can only see one reason for a legitimate scholar to mention it at all, which is to make it clear that he doesn't regard Sciabarra's prattling as part of the intellectual project with which he is engaged.

Now simply saying that one does not take Sciabarra seriously as a scholar, or dismissing him out of hand, does not constitute an argument from intimidation. It's on par with ignoring the readings of Madame Cleo and saying that it is irrational to regard her as a legitimate source of information about the future. If a policy of ignoring and demeaning this sort of material was intellectually illegitimate, then every expert in every field would be required to address every bit of garbage published by every two bit crackpot, and this would go on without end. (Especially since the crackpots would post responses to every criticism on their blogs, and the intellectuals then would be required to address these responses as well.)

A piece of scholarship must meet certain intellectual standards before it even qualifies as worthy of consideration. The mere assertion of a theory of AR's intellectual development neither makes it true nor even worthy of consideration, even if one asserts it in a volume published by a university press with all the trimmings of scholarship.



Comment #14

Monday, April 26, 2004 at 18:05:59 mdt
Name: Chris Matthew Sciabarra
URL: http://www.nyu.edu/projects/sciabarra/notablog.htm

A few points of response.

1. Don asks: "Can you start by acknowledging that ARI does not, in every case, remove references to its detractors? And can you acknowledge your previous claim, "anytime ~anyone~ falls out of favor with ARI, they are edited out of existence" is therefore false? This is essential because the general claims you make about ARI do not correlate with ARI's actions."

Here's the way in which an argument is made: We state it baldly. Through give-and-take, we qualify. I think that my qualifications in the last post are sufficient. I think that they do go out of their way to airbrush out of existence the work of those who fall out of favor with them. They don't do it consistently, in my view, but they do it. They may not alter ~every~ mention of those who are persona non grata, as they exist in past documents, but they refuse to acknowledge even the past contributions of these people once these people are out of favor. Being among ARIans is sometimes like being among my Sicilian relatives: If somebody did something wrong today, it's like they never did ~anything~ right.

2. Don states: "The choice to remove references to the excommunicated is not, as I have explained, an effort to alter the historical record, but to avoid promoting ARI's detractors. I'm not interested in debating whether or not that is a proper strategy. I am saying merely that you have presented no evidence that their actions in this regard are dishonest."

You see, though: I do regard this alteration as a re-writing of reality, of sorts. It just rubs against my scholarly grain. It reminds me of what happens among religionists who object to Apocryphal writers, and then seek to wipe out all mentions of such writers in official Church teachings.

3. Don writes: Now, what about alterations of the historical record? You cite three examples: (a) The editing of Rand's journals, (b) the editing of her fiction lectures in audio, and (c) the editing of her fiction lectures in print. We can agree on the primary claim that alterations were made. You want to ascribe that fact to condemnable motives, and I'm saying you don't enough evidence to do so. The latter two examples, in particular, are not convincing. The audio lectures, as has been pointed out, could have been altered for copyright reasons and her fiction letters were never intended to be historically accurate in the sense you mean (and considering that the audio lectures remain available for purchase, it seems a bit silly to argue ARI is hiding something).

Actually, they have edited ~down~ all the hours of Rand's audio lectures on fiction-writing. And then, they edited those hours down to a book entitled THE ART OF FICTION, wherein so much is missing, and so much is "re-phrased." Take a look at my commentary here: <http://www.nyu.edu/projects/sciabarra/essays/oioar.htm>

4. Don writes: "Now, as to the Journals, there I do suspect that there were some poor choices made by its editor. But once again, he did make it clear that he engaged in editing beyond the simple exercise of selectivity in choosing what made it in the book. No historian, therefore, should rely on the published journals to be word for word faithful to Rand's actual journals. To be clear I'm not saying this is a good thing. I'm saying you don't have enough evidence to ascribe these actions to any ill motives, even though you've been quick to do so."

But, for God's sake, there ~is~ evidence that ~something~ has been altered in the one journal entry I analyzed. Either it's the original, or the first edited version, or the second edited version. Either way, the editor made choices that were ~different~ from the choices made by a different editor, perhaps, or by Ayn Rand herself. In the later version, material on Albert Jay Nock, and Rand's use of the word "duty"---disappear. There's no justification for that. At least none is offered. They have an obligation to explain it. It makes the job of a scholar ~impossible~.

Peikoff has lectured wonderfully on the need for certainty in human life. How can any scholar be ~certain~ of the authenticity of any of Rand's posthumously published works when they introduce these kinds of uncertainties into the editing process? It's a travesty.

5. Don writes: "Fine, I don't disagree. If you want to argue for the historical integrity of a book like Rand's Journals I'll even support you. But if that's your goal, (a) why bring up the fact no one at ARI has responded to your book, and (b) why must you take the next step and speculate as to the motives of those at ARI who made the changes you don't think they ought to have made? Why issue blanket statements about their supposed desire to expunge people from the historical record when, as I have shown, they have done no such thing? Why make it unnecessarily difficult for people like me to agree with you?"

LOL ... I am really not trying to be difficult. First of all, I honestly don't ~care~ that ARIans haven't responded to my book. They ~have~. They've voted with their condemnation and malice. And, honestly, because their denunciations have helped to demonize my work, I have given them some credit in raising the controversy quotient. It remains one of Penn State Press's all-time bestselling scholarly books.

As for speculating on motives: I actually have done precious little psychologizing. When they agreed to give me access to Rand's college transcript, and then withdrew the deal because I declined to sign an agreement that would have barred me from ever writing on the results of my research, I could have gone on and on and on about their motives. I didn't. I simply went out and got the transcript from another source, and did my research and published my findings. And in discussing the investigation process, what did I say that was so atrocious? Here's what I said about ARI:

"There are essential issues in Rand scholarship that cannot be avoided. While the Ayn Rand Institute has no moral obligation to share any of its documents with anybody, it remains a repository for most of Rand's papers. Its archives include a wealth of material relevant to Rand studies. When I visited the Institute facilities for a brief, but fascinating, tour in April of 1999, I was told that the archives were still not open to the general public or to scholars, and that access to them was restricted to those working on Estate-approved publications. The Institute has yet to enunciate a policy of access for independent scholars in pursuit of legitimate research. Given my own extensive work on Rand's education, however, and my discovery of certain alterations in Rand's published journals, I expressed to the Institute my concern about the accuracy of the historical record.

"More importantly, I am concerned that the Institute's restrictive policies are compelling scholars to expend their time, energy, and money in an effort to get documents that already exist within the Institute archives. How many more lost opportunities will there be? The future of Rand scholarship is at stake. And so is truth."

That's all. NO mudslinging was involved.

But, from the perspective of a scholar, I just can't approve of how these people do "scholarship." Their penchant for self-reference or reference only to the clique to which they belong is so ghettoized that it is hardly recognizable as "normal" scholarship. And that is a shame. Because there are many valuable insights that orthodox writers have; but when they engage in this kind of "scholarship," they undermine the value of their own work.

5. In response to this claim of mine... "If I don't whine and scream about these things, what happens to the next generation of scholars, or the unknowing student, who comes upon a VOICE OF REASON essay like the one I quoted, where 'essays' are cited, but 'essayists' don't exist?"... Don writes: "He follows the reference to VOS I imagine. Why not have the same respect for people's intelligence you claim ARI lacks, and assume their heads will not explode upon seeing a reference to an essay in one of Rand's books without an author's attribution? Besides, have you ever met someone who read VOR before VOS?"

Actually, I have. A young undergraduate who was asked to do a paper on Ayn Rand. He wrote to me and asked me whether I had the original "Psychology of Pleasure" by "Ayn Rand," which he saw referenced in one of Rand's VOR essays. I explained that the essay was actually by Nathaniel Branden. He had no idea who Branden was. He was new to this. No harm, no foul.

But why waste energy on any of this? Why not just leave the damn texts alone? It's like going over to one of Roark's buildings and putting a gargoyle on it. Rand would have been the first to tell you that her work had integrity. A text has integrity, like a building, like a man. You leave it alone.

6. In reply to this comment of mine: "As I said: They have shown that they are unwilling to edit material out of the ~reprints~ of those periodicals---perhaps because it is very easy for those of us who ~own~ these accessible materials in their original forms to ~check~ the accuracy of their edits. When the uninitiated reader, who chooses not to purchase the expensive bound versions of those periodicals, comes upon THE VOICE OF REASON, he or she will find this bracketed comment about how an 'essay' in THE VIRTUE OF SELFISHNESS 'states' such and such. I find that kind of practice unacceptable, from a scholarly standpoint." --- Don writes: As Ronald Reagan would say, there you go again. "Perhaps because..." Is it possible for you to NOT speculate as to their motives without evidence for just ONE post? Especially when I have offered other possible interpretations of their motives."

The point is, Don, we're ~both~ speculating. I think the worst because I've had ~experience~ with these people. I've had ~experience~ with those of their ilk whose first thought is to contact a lawyer to try to stop you from ~publishing~ on Ayn Rand. I've had ~experience~ with those of their ilk whose first thought is to get you to sign an agreement to stop you from ~writing~ on Ayn Rand. They have a proprietary interest in the "trademarked" name of Ayn Rand, and want to be seen as the only "official" information clearinghouse on her work. This is not how philosophy is done. Not in the West. Not with any other thinker. We don't need clearinghouses for Aristotle, Plato, Kant, Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche, Sartre, or Wittgenstein. We just ~do~ philosophy.

7. Don writes: "But I'll make you a deal. In ten years or so, once I've made a name for myself in the Objectivist movement, I will author a detailed response to your book. If that gets me excommunicated, I'll even buy you an expensive dinner. :-) But until then, let's agree that your work shouldn't be dismissed out of hand, and let's also agree that there is no evidence that such has occurred due to any dishonesty on the part of ARI scholars. What do you say?"

Let me make one thing clear: My life doesn't revolve around an honest appraisal by ARIan scholars of my work. I'd like to say: "But I don't think of them," but the truth is, I ~do~ think of them. Or at least those among them who are good scholars.

But this is not about wanting their approval. Or even their engagement. AYN RAND: THE RUSSIAN RADICAL has been reviewed in nearly three dozen venues; it has had more reviews than most books. I don't need another one to prove or disprove its worth. While I'd be delighted to see your lengthy discussion of the work, and, maybe even delighted to have an expensive dinner... it's all beside the point.

My line of business is scholarship. I adhere to certain standards of scholarship. And I grieve when I don't see those standards adhered to by people who are ~generally~ fellow travelers, intellectually speaking. Where I speak of a call for higher, objective standards of scholarship, their only concern is "to sanction or not." I wouldn't have ~any~ problem with their way of doing things if they didn't claim to be scholars. But once they make that claim, they have an obligation to adhere to those standards as well.

8. On the Hook-Peikoff relationship, Don says that perhaps Peikoff recognizes the distinctions between friends and philosophy. "But perhaps they are not friends with their detractors." Well, Hook was a ~real~ Rand detractor. I will be ~very~ interested to hear what Diana has to say about the issues raised in TRUTH AND TOLERATION, particularly as they impinge on this discussion. Is it possible to be friends with people who do ~not~ share your intellectual values? The issue of dealing with Marxists and such is of some importance to me because I, like Peikoff, had a mentor (Bertell Ollman), who came from the "left academy."

Okay, let's move on to "Mysterious Stranger": No morphing has been involved with the scare-quote "scholar" reference to Sciabarra. Go visit the usenet group hpo someday, and see all the naysayers line up in a row to denounce the "so-called 'scholar' Sciabarra"... this hit the height of absurdity in the days following Bernstein's apologia for having published in the Satanic Journal of Ayn Rand Studies. I have friends who have gone to ARI conferences, where the same behavior is on display among their teachers.

As for the string of assertions in Mysterious Stranger's comments here: Rand ~herself~ claimed to know the Greek philosophers well and claimed to having studied them with Lossky, and I uncovered the ~fact~ of that study in her college transcript (oh, and the quote you want is on page 130, not 30). And she certainly knew one of those Greeks ~very~ well.

Dialectics has nothing to do with arbitrary assertions; it has to do with keeping context... also something that Ayn Rand did ~very~ well.

I'm ~very~ clear in RUSSIAN RADICAL where I believe I am engaging in historical speculation.

The points about Kant, which are far more complex than Mysterious Stranger would have it, and the points about Lossky's thought, are all very carefully worded. I even talk about that mention of Kant in WE THE LIVING (see p. 400 n. 20).

And I think it is very clear from my further analysis of Rand's college transcript, that I was right on target with regard to her dialectical education.

I don't mind going by the alias of Madame Cleo... if you don't mind telling us who you really are, Mysterious Stranger. Or is that something else that needs to be airbrushed out of existence---for fear that somebody, somewhere might see the real identity of the person who is wasting time denouncing me?



Comment #15

Tuesday, April 27, 2004 at 12:26:06 mdt
Name: Jim Heaps-Nelson

Diana,
Thank you for your forceful, polite response to my last post. I feel a certain frustration that the essential dispute in Kelley/Peikoff has not been elucidated. Personalities aside, I think the issue is this: should Objectivism be practiced in an atmosphere of free and open inquiry or should it be practiced with a central, heirarchical authority and authorized doctrine. Now, there may be problems and pitfalls with each approach, but this is the choice we currently have in organized Objectivism.



Comment #16

Wednesday, April 28, 2004 at 15:25:24 mdt
Name: Barbara Branden
URL: http://www.barbara.branden.com

To Don and Victor,

If Peikoff has decided that Objectivists may read my book and Nathaniel Branden's work, that is a decision of recent vintage. His unequivocal statements in the past have been that no Objectivist should do so. But tell me, have either of you mentioned to Peikoff, Schwartz, or Binswanger that you are participating in a discussion in which Nathaniel and I are also participants? When you do so,I shall begin to take you seriously.

If you wish to see examples of hysteria, you will not find them in my posts. You might check back to Peikoff's initial statement about THE PASSION OF AYN RAND, in which he condemned it as immoral and added that he had not read it and would not. He also announced that when I stated that Ayn Rand and Nathaniel Branden had had a sexual affair, I was an abysmal liar. (Years later, he was forced to admit that there was an affair. His letter of apology to me must have been lost in the mail, because I did not receive it.) Or you might note that Victor refers to my book as a "piece of malicious slime," and announces that Nathaniel and I "still go around sliming Ayn Rand and her genuine admirers with their lies." He concludes that for me to tell lies "apparently relieves her anxiety." Are we expected to view this as the fine art of not psychologizing and as objective reporting?

Did I sound angry in my comments? Yes, I certainly did. That's because I am angry at the ceaseless and malicious sniping, denouncing, and excommunicating on the part of ARI people; it gives the real enemies of Objectivism cause to conclude that all Objectivists are cultists and are not to be taken seriously.



Comment #17

Wednesday, April 28, 2004 at 16:15:38 mdt
Name: Don
URL: http://angermanagement.mu.nu

Barbara writes:

"If Peikoff has decided that Objectivists may read my book and Nathaniel Branden's work, that is a decision of recent vintage. His unequivocal statements in the past have been that no Objectivist should do so. But tell me, have either of you mentioned to Peikoff, Schwartz, or Binswanger that you are participating in a discussion in which Nathaniel and I are also participants? When you do so,I shall begin to take you seriously."

Do you distinguish between his contention that no Objectivist *should* read your book with the claim that doing so is immoral and should result in one's expulsion from the movement? This may come as a surprise to you - and I am not being sarcastic - but no Objectivist has ever told me what not to read. In fact, I would like you (or anyone else) to name ONE person who was excommunicated for reading your book. Just one.

Furthermore, don't you think there are in some cases grounds to condemn a book without having read it? I can think of several cases where doing so is reasonable. If, for example, the book's author is morally disgraceful, or if that which is publicly known about the book's content is condemnable. Now, whether or not this held true in the case of your book, I do not care to argue. What I am saying is that you cannot jump from the observation that Peikoff condemned it without reading it, to the conclusion he acted irrationally.

Finally, it never occured to me to mention that I have been involved in this debate to Peikoff, Schwartz, or Binswanger. I do not believe I need their permission. Obviously I haven't tried to hide the fact I'm engaging in this conversation.

But what astonishes me is the idea I am not to be taken seriously unless I go out of my way to tell other people I'm engaged in this conversation. Are my ideas somehow not valid because I do not sit atop the ARI hierarchy? Or is your point merely that I do not understand the nature of the people I defend? If that is your point, I must state my emphatic disagreement.

"Or you might note that Victor refers to my book as a 'piece of malicious slime,' and announces that Nathaniel and I "still go around sliming Ayn Rand and her genuine admirers with their lies.' He concludes that for me to tell lies 'apparently relieves her anxiety.' Are we expected to view this as the fine art of not psychologizing and as objective reporting?"

Victor is not, in my view, representative of my side. Psychologizing has no place in moral judgment, and I certainly do not think he has enough evidence to reach the conclusions he has reached. But I would like you to deal with the arguments I have made on their own merits, rather than simply assert something to the effect of, "Peikoff is a raving lunatic who lacks independence and intellectual honesty. Anyone who agrees with him is a second hander." That is essentially what you've said, in this forum and in others.

On the contrary, Ms. Branden, the people you condemn are much more independent than you realize. This supposed mind control you seem to think exists does not. This ignorance of your point of view and Mr. Branden's does not exist. Not in my case, anyway. I am very familiar with his work and your own, and I will state very publicly that I own your book, your course on efficient thinking, and many of Mr. Branden's books and lectures. That was my means of reaching a first-handed judgment concerning a great many issues, including a personal evaluation of Rand and Mr. Branden.

I have pointed these facts out many times, and I have yet to be tossed out of the movement. But even if I am, that will not destroy the facts I have presented in defense of my evaluation of Mr. Branden and of my evaluation of Leonard Peikoff (Who, contrary to your insults, has done more for Objectivism than anyone save Rand. Period.)

"Did I sound angry in my comments? Yes, I certainly did. That's because I am angry at the ceaseless and malicious sniping, denouncing, and excommunicating on the part of ARI people; it gives the real enemies of Objectivism cause to conclude that all Objectivists are cultists and are not to be taken seriously."

So what? Why should it matter what the "real enemies of Objectivism" conclude? Why should their respect be part of our aim? You're the one who keeps talking about second handedness...is this not the worst example of that? Not concern with what one's friends will think, but one's enemies?

Perhaps you feel you personally have been unfairly maligned. Okay, state your case. But I do not see why you must engage in the same sort of insult contests you claim to abhor. What evidence do you have, Ms. Branden, that I have not formed first-hand judgments, that I am not independent, that I am "blindly following authority-figures"? And if you weren't including me in your condemnation of ARI supporters, please say so. I would hate to unfairly accuse you of unfairly accusing me of those crimes.

As a matter of justice, I must end with a positive comment: I announced here that I quit smoking three weeks ago. That was thanks entirely to Allen Carr's book, The Easy Way To Quit Smoking, which I learned of from you. So, whatever our disagreements Ms. Branden, I do in a very real sense owe you my life. Thank you.



Comment #18

Wednesday, April 28, 2004 at 22:56:42 mdt
Name: Mike Enright

Don, you stated:

Why should it matter what the "real enemies of
Objectivism" conclude? Why should their respect be
part of our aim? You're the one who keeps talking
about second handedness...is this not the worst
example of that? Not concern with what one's friends
will think, but one's enemies?

I think that this interchange right here is one of the big problems in ARI style moral reasoning. By simply giving the enemies of Objectivism extra ammo we are cooperating with them in destroying it. We are leading people to become apprehensive in investigating it. And that is a big mistake.



Comment #19

Wednesday, April 28, 2004 at 23:10:29 mdt
Name: mra

Barbara Branden wrote:
"Mysterious Stranger[Me]writes that Nathaniel Branden didn't create the Objectivist movement. Gee, MS, Ayn Rand thought he did."

Barbara Branden's source is ... Nathaniel Branden.

In a letter Nathaniel sent to the Objectivist mailing list, after the break: Rand "repeatedly told me that the creation of an Objectivist movement was MY achievement."



Comment #20

Thursday, April 29, 2004 at 0:33:22 mdt
Name: Barbara Branden
URL: http://www.barbara.branden.com

When Mysterious Stranger wrote that Nathaniel Branden didn't create the Objectivist movement, part of my reply was: "Gee, MS, Ayn Rand thought he did."

To which our Witty Stranger replied -- since of course he would know -- that: "Barbara Branden's source is...Nathaniel Branden." No, Wise One, my source is Ayn Rand.It is also my own observation at the time. It is also Leonard Peikoff in the 60's, Harry Binswanger in the 60's (I never heard of Peter Schwartz, so I don't know if he had anything to say), it is all of the "Collective", and it is scores of people to whom Ayn Rand complimented Nathaniel.

May I suggest that you might reconsider throwing around opinions where you have not an iota of first hand knowledge?



Comment #21

Thursday, April 29, 2004 at 8:51:05 mdt
Name: Don
URL: http://angermanagement.mu.nu

Mike Enright quotes me thusly:

"Why should it matter what the 'real enemies of Objectivism' conclude? Why should their respect be part of our aim? You're the one who keeps talking about second handedness...is this not the worst example of that? Not concern with what one's friends will think, but one's enemies?"

Mike responds:

"I think that this interchange right here is one of the big problems in ARI style moral reasoning. By simply giving the enemies of Objectivism extra ammo we are cooperating with them in destroying it. We are leading people to become apprehensive in investigating it. And that is a big mistake."

I disagree with your estimate - I do not believe ARI's approach or style, nor mine, have harmed the spread of Objectivism. But let's be clear about a couple things.

First of all, what aids in the spread of Objectivism is not by itself the standard for right and wrong. Second, what offends the enemies of Objectivism most certainly is not the standard for right and wrong, and for Ms. Branden to condemn ARI for offending - not those unfamiliar with Objectivism - but "Objectivism's enemies" is, in my view, explainable only as a form of moral cowardace.

Nor do I think it is proper to do things just to offend Objectivism's enemies. On the contrary, I do not think we should make our choices with any regard for them. THEY DO NOT MATTER.

Furthermore, I would like to see some evidence to support your claim, "By simply giving the enemies of Objectivism extra ammo we are cooperating with them in destroying it. We are leading people to become apprehensive in investigating it." How, may I ask, did you come to know this? Have people said to you, "I studied Objectivism and it seemed interesting, but then I thought, 'Screw truth...Objectivists are mean!'"? I'm honestly curious, because I hear this sort of thing so often. Assertions about what keeps people away from the movement, made without a shred of evidence.

The problem I'm having is I can't integrate that assertion with the other facts I know. For example, I do not see people running into the arms of dry, unemotional, non-judgmental philosophical movements. I do not see any significant number of people rushing to embrace TOC, since they presumably do not enact ARI's methods. I do not even see the academic community eschewing ARI scholars and clamoring for TOC ones. If your assertion was true, I would expect to see all those things.



Comment #22

Thursday, April 29, 2004 at 9:11:23 mdt
Name: mra

Barbara Branden's book has the "collective" almost cult like in their constant compliments and the bad consequences of this activity.

But her "source" is that she remembered people in the "collective" complimenting Nathaniel. Didn't you read your own book.

My first witness, Barbara Branden:(about N.B. book)

"His account of his first encounters with Ayn is about 25% of her compliments to him.(laughs) I think in the course of the book he repeats every compliment anyone ever paid to him in his life. He cannot resist it. He's got to keep going over it again and again."



Comment #23

Thursday, April 29, 2004 at 10:40:46 mdt
Name: Chris Matthew Sciabarra
URL: http://www.nyu.edu/projects/sciabarra/notablog.htm

I just wanted to bring to everybody's attention a blog entry by Arthur Silber at "The Light of Reason," which is, in my view, profoundly relevant to the discussions here. It is a superb distillation of many of the issues faced by those who were involved in the old Objectivist movement:

<http://coldfury.com/reason/comments.php?id=P1824_0_1_0>

I highly recommend it.



Comment #24

Thursday, April 29, 2004 at 11:25:05 mdt
Name: Don
URL: http://angermanagement.mu.nu

"I just wanted to bring to everybody's attention a blog entry by Arthur Silber at "The Light of Reason," which is, in my view, profoundly relevant to the discussions here. It is a superb distillation of many of the issues faced by those who were involved in the old Objectivist movement..."

No, it's not. It's a mix of history, insults, psychologizing, nastiness, and pretentiousness, with a few moments of true insight.

Furthermore, by commending Arthur's post, I think you are engaging in a bit of hypocrasy, Chris. Where is the outrage? Arthur quotes me directly and but does not name me. What will shcolars think? In fact, he refuses to name any of the people against whom he is arguing, refuses to open up his comments section for a response, but yet feels free to charge us with crimes such as attempting to piggyback on the accomplishments of others (For Christ sakes, must one write The Fountainhead before one is entitlted to pass moral judgment? Am I to be condemned because I haven't written a book in my first twenty-two years on earth?). He accuses us of moralizing without having all the facts, when the only facts he presents either help make my case (the cultish atmosphere of the NBI days), or have absolutely NO relevance to the present discussion.

Moreover, perhaps if Arthur engaged his opponents (the ultimate virtue, right Chris?), he would understand how what seems like an unimportant issue could come to be debated as a consequence of debating important issues. That is what happened in this case, and as Arthur might have noticed, I myself said we should drop this debate and move on. But more than that, this was not - or at least it did not have to be - a debate merely about history. It also raised questions of how to pass moral judgments, which I tried to address explicitly from the ARI view. Is that not valid?

Evidently, from Arthur's perspective the only valid discussion is one where he demonizes Objectivists who do not agree with his views on how we should conduct the war on terrorism.

Let me end by saying it is unfortunate Arthur chose to make the charges he did. As the archives of my weblog demonstrate, I used to think quite highly of him. I'm sad to say, I no longer do. It's too bad he can't show others the decency he demands for himself.



Comment #25

Thursday, April 29, 2004 at 13:18:04 mdt
Name: Chris Matthew Sciabarra
URL: http://www.nyu.edu/projects/sciabarra/notablog.htm

Hey, Don, there is nothing hypocritical about my recommendation. Arthur was there. Most of the participants on this list weren't. His is a personal ~testimony~, with his own conjectures about the sources of the craziness that he witnessed. He provided ~hyperlinks~ to the archived discussions on this blog. The fact that he chose not to personally engage each of the participants is therefore beside the point. At least those who read his blog will find a way to navigate here---and to decide for themselves.



Comment #26

Thursday, April 29, 2004 at 15:04:52 mdt
Name: Don
URL: http://angermanagement.mu.nu

Chris writes:

"Hey, Don, there is nothing hypocritical about my recommendation. Arthur was there. Most of the participants on this list weren't. His is a personal ~testimony~, with his own conjectures about the sources of the craziness that he witnessed. He provided ~hyperlinks~ to the archived discussions on this blog. The fact that he chose not to personally engage each of the participants is therefore beside the point. At least those who read his blog will find a way to navigate here---and to decide for themselves."

Okay Chris, then why throw such a fuss when ARI referes to your views and your book without using your name? It's the same principle. In fact, Arthur goes so far as to quote specific individuals - he is not merely making reference to a general viewpoint. He is making specific charges against specific individuals (although he is not limiting his charges to those individuals). You spent days arguing with me on this point, claiming this sort of thing was absurd, but now it doesn't bother you at all. What gives? Why the double standard?

As for Arthur's argument, such as it was, I do not believe for one moment that we must be skeptics regarding history, and in many other contexts, it does not appear Arthur thinks so either. He is certainly correct - he has access to more information than I, for instance, do. But he has no epistemological right to simply wipe aside all arguments with the claim, "I have more facts than you do, so there!" He has to offer evidence that my facts are wrong, or that I have not included essential facts in my judgments. He did make somewhat of an attempt at the latter, but since he will not engage in an exchange, there's not much I can do with it.

"Right" Arthur might say, "so leave it alone." That sort of principle would wipe out our ability to judge historical figures, morally or otherwise, and there is simply no basis for establishing such a principle.

In fact, as far as I can tell, Arthur provides no new facts - he merely stresses the intellectual and emotional atmosphere surrounding NBI students, and - as usual - shares with us his person pain and emotional torment. There's nothing wrong with that, but it changes nothing concerning the argument.

But what's particularly disgusting is how he tries to compare the cultish atmosphere of the NBI days with the situation at ARI today. That is so absurd a claim that I have to question Arthur's seriousness in raising the point. In my experience with ARI scholars and supporters, I have not once felt restrained from speaking my mind about art, philosophy, or any other topic. In this case, *I* have the facts and Arthur does not. But unlike him, I do not demand he abstain from judgment - I ask only that he present evidence to support his judgment. He has failed to do so. And that's simply too bad.



Comment #27

Thursday, April 29, 2004 at 16:32:41 mdt
Name: Roderick T. Long
URL: http://praxeology.net

Re Arthur Silber's comments on Objectivists' responses to _A Man For All Seasons_: it's ironic that they reacted in that way, given what Rand says in _The Romantic Manifesto_.

Writing about Victor Hugo's novel _Ninety-Three_, Rand notes that although Hugo does a good job of expressing his characters' commitment to principles, he has a hard time making the principles themselves seem believable or attractive; in the scenes where the characters are debating their basic values, Hugo is able to give them only "rhetoric, metaphors, and generalities"; his "emotional power seemed to desert him when he had to deal with theoretical subject. Yet Rand still praises the novel's treatment of commitment to values: "It is not any specific code of values that concerns him here, but the wider abstraction: man's loyalty to values, whatever man's particular values might be. ... The emphasis he projects is not: 'What great values men are fighting for!' but: 'What greatness men are capable of, when they fight for their values!'"

Of course this is exactly the right thing to say about _A Man For All Seasons_ too. But for some reason that play was held to a stricter standard than Hugo's novel. Likewise, because Rand like Hugo, Objectivists are willing to forgive him for writing tragic stories that express Christian-altruist-socialist values -- but woe betide any author who writes works of that description without the benefit of Rand's imprimatur.



Comment #28

Thursday, April 29, 2004 at 17:06:54 mdt
Name: Chris Matthew Sciabarra
URL: http://www.nyu.edu/projects/sciabarra/notablog.htm

A couple of points in response here:

1. Thanks, Adam, for your comments; alas, the problem here is that the tacit messages that were conveyed in the early years of Objectivism were sometimes more powerful than the actual articulated philosophic messages. That's why, for example, so many gay men and women emerged from the early Objectivist movement feeling as if they were rationally and morally unacceptable, as my interviews with over 100 people testifies (the sociology of all this is something I explore a bit in my monograph on Rand & homosexuality). BTW, I would not argue that Rand's attitudes toward homosexuality were part and parcel of Objectivism as a philosophy. But I do understand how and why certain people thought that it was. I think that what Arthur's blog entry tells us is that there were many subtle, inarticulate messages that were conveyed on all sorts of sexual and aesthetic issues, and that those messages were internalized by many people, who ended up living inauthentic lives.

2. Don, there's no double standard involved in the issues that you raise.

Let's backtrack: First of all, ARIans ~have~ written about my work, publicly. Review copies of both AYN RAND: THE RUSSIAN RADICAL and FEMINIST INTERPRETATIONS OF AYN RAND (of which I was a co-editor) were sent to THE INTELLECTUAL ACTIVIST; John Ridpath wrote a very negative (and very short) review of the former, and Robert Mayhew (CHOICE) and Robert Tracinski wrote negative (and very short) reviews of the latter (TIA). Others connected to ARI have also referenced my work explicitly in print and in various Internet forums; some ARI-affiliated scholars have written to me ~privately~ to tell me that even though they disagreed with me, fundamentally, they very much appreciated the seriousness and respect with which I approached Ayn Rand, as well as the encyclopedic scholarship on display in my work. In fact, it was largely because of this respect for my work that I was tapped by ARI and Michael Paxton, to provide a photograph (which was used in the documentary "Ayn Rand: A Sense of Life") and some additional information about N. O. Lossky, Ayn Rand's philosophy professor at the University of Leningrad, as well as Helene Sikorski, sister of Vladimir Nabokov.

BTW: One thing you will ~not~ find in AYN RAND: THE RUSSIAN RADICAL is any long exegesis about "The Affair." I devoted 2 or 3 sentences to it in the entire 477-page book. It is a subject that just doesn't interest me nearly as much as Ayn Rand's ~ideas~. And that's what we're all here for, no?

The original discussion that you and I had, as I recall, surrounded the fact that my work was being referred to in other, newer publications and forums, but not referenced. Vague ideas about dialectics and Rand's Russian influence are mentioned in certain books (for example, Allan Gotthelf's Wadsworth book on Rand), but the reader would not have a clue as to who said it or where it was said. Then, in a little discussion that appeared on the blog of Noumenal Self, Mr. Self Himself was suggesting that Diana re-examine her friendship with "a certain NYU-based dialectical scholar" who remains nameless. When ~I~ attempted to name that which was nameless, and to provide a link to a discussion that would correct what even Diana regarded as a "significant error" on the Noumenal Self blog, my entry was deleted, and my links were deleted. That was Mr. Self's right, after all. So I simply went to SOLO HQ and posted the information for all to see.

By contrast, Arthur is ~not~ hiding the source of his quotes; he may not be mentioning specific individuals, but he has provided ~reference links~ to the discussions wherein these passages can be found in their entirety. If he'd quoted you or anyone else, and had ~not~ provided references, I would be critical of him.

Arthur is attempting to actually ~grapple~ with some of the points that have been raised in ~this~ forum, by giving us a rather shattering personal testimony about what life was like back in the day. I don't think his argument amounts to: "I have more facts than you do ~because~ I was there!" But this is a man who lived through that time, and who stood with those who condemned the Brandens. He has no "axe to grind" with regard to either Rand or Branden; you may think he "provides no new facts," but I think the experiences he does share with us give us more information about that ~tacit~ atmosphere that promoted rationalism and moralizing among some of Rand's followers. It stands as a warning to a younger generation---and, since, at 22 years old (Jesus Christ!!!!!! :) ), you're a part of that younger generation, and you've been quoted, I can understand why you'd take his points very personally. But his general points are important, nonetheless.

Finally, I did not see any reference to the Ayn Rand Institute in Arthur's post.

Arthur Silber is a friend of mine, and he is understandably angry over the treatment that my work has received in some quarters. I value his friendship, and his insights ~because~ he was there, and because, on subjects as varied as sexuality and foreign policy, he offers a voice that differs from so much of what constitutes "Objectivism" today. Disagree with him, if you must, but his opinion is worthy of your serious consideration.



Comment #29

Thursday, April 29, 2004 at 18:39:56 mdt
Name: mra

Chris recommends an Arthur Silber who's arguments run like "I paid some money for a NBI course, so I'm an authority on objectivism." This is the common "old timers" argument.

He misuses my comment about Eddie Willers. I was talking about the business. If I'd been making an intellectual comparison, I would have used Peter Keating. The Rand-Banden intellectual relationship during '50-'68 is so close to Roark helping Keating in the Fountainhead, it could be a book on its own.

"Old timers" always start with a wrong premise and then extrapolate from there. A lot of people make Ayn Rand out as an angry moralizer, casting people out. This story was made up by a few people, and like the big lie, after a while almost everybody believes it. The Brandens' push this story, while at the same time present their own lives, at the time, as a cross between a circus and a soap opera. Ayn was there, why were they not banished? Maybe because their stories about her are made up.

I don't know why people have such a problem with Rand re-writing/editing Bandens articles. Its obvious, look at the before and after work. After '68, his intellectual work could be described as, to paraphrase the book reviewed in the 11-62 Objectivist Newsletter, "Nathaniel Branden minus Ayn Rand = zero."



Comment #30

Thursday, April 29, 2004 at 19:38:27 mdt
Name: Chris Matthew Sciabarra
URL: http://www.nyu.edu/projects/sciabarra/notablog.htm

My apologies; one clarification. I wrote:

"Finally, I did not see any reference to the Ayn Rand Institute in Arthur's post."

What I meant to say was that I did not see any reference that ~singled out~ the Ayn Rand Institute in Arthur's post. Actually, Arthur does refer to ~both~ Objectivist organizations, but his criticisms focus on the specific issue of foreign policy.



Comment #31

Thursday, April 29, 2004 at 19:38:58 mdt
Name: Barbara Branden
URL: http://www.barbarabranden.com

Nameless MRA writes:

"Chris recommends an Arthur Silber who's arguments run like 'I paid some money for a NBI course, so I'm an authority on objectivism.' This is the common "old timers" argument."

In fact, it runs like: I was there, so I know what happened.

He also spews the following:

"If I'd been making an intellectual comparison, I would have used Peter Keating."

I don't know why I'm bothering to answer this idiocy about Nathaniel, a man whom Ayn Rand constantly referred to as a genius. Come to think of it, I won't degrade Nathaniel by anwering it. Come to think of it further, I plan to ignore your true believer posts in future.



Comment #32

Thursday, April 29, 2004 at 19:45:43 mdt
Name: Don
URL: http://angermanagement.mu.nu

Chris writes:

"The original discussion that you and I had, as I recall, surrounded the fact that my work was being referred to in other, newer publications and forums, but not referenced...By contrast, Arthur is ~not~ hiding the source of his quotes; he may not be mentioning specific individuals, but he has provided ~reference links~ to the discussions wherein these passages can be found in their entirety. If he'd quoted you or anyone else, and had ~not~ provided references, I would be critical of him."

Goodness Chris, are you so busy that you forget that we spent two days discussing the fact Branden's name is not mentioned in The Voice of Reason even though a reference to the essay is there. You even said:

"Where I come from, you simply say: 'Professor X says Y. Here is the citation where Professor X says it.' You then present his arguments fairly and accurately, with a couple of fair-use quotations, and, finally: You do your best to logically demolish Professor X's arguments."

I'm just looking for a little consistency. It seems every time I think I understand what you're saying, you tell me that's not what you're saying. I'm not accusing you of dishonesty, but you must understand how frustrating this is for me. I simply cannot pin down your position on anything.



Comment #33

Thursday, April 29, 2004 at 20:01:41 mdt
Name: Mike Enright

That was really out of context, Don. I never suggested the idea that people are saying (as you suggested) "I studied Objectivism and it seemed interesting, but then I thought, 'Screw truth...Objectivists are mean!'"?

That is nowhere near what I said. What I said was that there is this perception out there that ARI makes people incredibly wary of Objectivism.

Its not that people are saying "screw the truth". Instead they are saying "if these people really believed that they are propounding the truth, they wouldn't react so strongly to disagreement. They are thinking "wow, this Piekoff guy is really into intimidation. If I speak up and say I really like the wrong musician, well they will condemn me. If I have a new idea, they definately won't like me because they think Objectivism is a 'closed system' and any new ideas are bad. The only thing worth doing is parroting Ayn Rand. If I suggest that my friends are non-objectivist libertarians or even that there are some libertarians worth talking to I will become a pariah, they will probably treat me like that Kelley guy. And if I am married to a Christian they will probably ask me to choose between them or her, like they did Rothbard. And once they tossed me they will probably attempt to look in my head and say "hey he must not really have ever gotten the idea of Objectivism anyway" (like Piekoff did in "Fact and Value" which is really a good essay as far as theory goes but really makes mistakes when he starts applying it). So why would I want to associate with these people. I can figure out Philosophy on my own."

Moreover, these people are probably taking phiosophy classes with professors who have really sophisticated arguments against Objectivism.

The fact is, Don, that reading what you say actually makes me think that the Piekoff crowd isn't so bad. But the ARI has a bad image. It may be their fault, it may not be. But if they want to be more appealing to those who are as of yet undecided, well, they should probably be at least concerned about it. Basically they should be more alert to the possability of too strong of a condemnation of the relatively benign.



Comment #34

Thursday, April 29, 2004 at 20:30:33 mdt
Name: Chris Matthew Sciabarra
URL: http://www.nyu.edu/projects/sciabarra/notablog.htm

Don, we've been chatting here for weeks. I think you ~do~ know my positions on a lot of things... and I, likewise.

I think there is a serious difference between ~removing~ (editing out) the reference to somebody who was once quoted in an essay, and ~not mentioning~ the name of somebody who is quoted in an essay, as long as in the latter case, the ~reference~ is retained.

There are plenty of times in scholarly writing where the author will write: "There is a serious problem with this position on Topic A. One critic, for example, says the following..."

The author then ~quotes~ the critic, and then REFERENCES the article in a bibliography or footnote. The name of the critic may not be necessary to the author's text, but the name should certainly appear in the references and/or footnotes. This is categorically different from ~editing out~ the reference to a name in an essay where that reference once appeared.

In cyberspace, the standards change a bit; instead of bibliographies and footnotes, we have HTML links. As long as the links are retained, showing us the original passage, I believe the reference is fair game.



Comment #35

Thursday, April 29, 2004 at 20:31:49 mdt
Name: Don
URL: http://angermanagement.mu.nu

Mike Enright writes:

"The fact is, Don, that reading what you say actually makes me think that the Piekoff crowd isn't so bad. But the ARI has a bad image. It may be their fault, it may not be. But if they want to be more appealing to those who are as of yet undecided, well, they should probably be at least concerned about it. Basically they should be more alert to the possability of too strong of a condemnation of the relatively benign."

I suppose it depends on what you mean. Certainly, newcomers are treated warmly and patiently, and most of us who know what we are talking about are very forgiving of their errors.

When I hear someone speak of the "enemies of Objectivism," in the context Ms. Branden did, however, I'm not thinking of people who disagree with the philosophy. I'm thinking of the virulent strand of Rand-haters who are outside the scope of, say, a John Hospers or a Robert Nozick. I'm thinking of the Jeff Walker types who are truly dedicated to the destruction of Rand and her philosophy. In other words, I'm not talking about "the relatively benign."

In fact, I honestly don't see my side engaged in significant condemnation of the relatively benign. Perhaps, as with "enemies of Objectivism," we disagree on what that means.

In any case, if all you're saying is that we shouldn't do things that unnecessarily frighten off or turn off newcomers, then I agree completely.



Comment #36

Thursday, April 29, 2004 at 20:37:04 mdt
Name: Don
URL: http://angermanagement.mu.nu

Chris writes:

"In cyberspace, the standards change a bit; instead of bibliographies and footnotes, we have HTML links. As long as the links are retained, showing us the original passage, I believe the reference is fair game."

Fair enough. Thanks for the clarification. I am not trying to nit pick, by the way. I'm just a stickler for consistency. Then agan, what Objectivist isn't?



Comment #37

Thursday, April 29, 2004 at 21:51:41 mdt
Name: mra

Barbara Branden says Nathaniel is "a man whom Ayn Rand constantly referred to as a genius."

But Ayn Rand said, "My interest was strictly and exclusively intellectual: I permitted Mr. Branden to use MY name and MY ideas, in the sense that his organizations were to teach MY philosophy and could recruit students from among the readers and admirers of MY books; I retained intellectual control over the content of what was to be taugh."

Maybe a genius in marketing...of Ayn Rand and Objectivism? You can't mean that term intellectually?

It sound more like this from the Fountainhead:
"Then here's what I'm offering you: I'll design Cortlandt. You'll put your name on it. You'll keep all the fees. I'll take what nobody can give a man, except himself."

And it ended just as tragically and for the same reason.



Comment #38

Thursday, April 29, 2004 at 23:57:55 mdt
Name: Barbara Branden
URL: http://www.barbarabranden.com

To MRA:

In an earlier comment on one of your posts, I made it clear that I would no longer honor your foolish and nasty posts about Nathaniel Branden by replying to them; they are the posts of a bratty child shouting foul words out of earshot of his mother.

But I have just read your post about Chris Sciabbara's supposed "lack of scholarship," etc., etc. There are limits to what we can allow even to children. Judging by your posts, you are not fit even to judge the work of a giant like Chris Sciabbara. If you have read any of his writings, you obviously did not begin to understand them. You ought to learn that silence befits ignorance better than venom.

I expect that I shall be told, by both Nathaniel and Chris, that the tone of this comment does not become me, and that dealing with you politely but firmly would be preferable to insulting you. Perhaps. But my revulsion at your performance and at your endless displays of invincible ignorance make me, quite frankly, not give a damn.



Comment #39

Friday, April 30, 2004 at 1:16:50 mdt
Name: Mysterious Stranger

MRA didn't write the comment about Mr. Sciabarra's lack of Scholarship nor the comment about how Nathaniel Branen's intellectual work reflects his moral vices and represents a rejection of the fundamentals of Objectivism. Not all the anonymous posts are from the same person. I find it telling that, while Mrs. Branden is (after much protestation) willing to tolerate MRA's absurd attempts to evade her and Nathaniel Branden's achievement with NBI in the last `50's and early `60's, she is more angered by the two posts that contain astute (if pithy) analyses of the ideas and methods of N. Branden and Sciabarra. Interestingly she offers no argument against anything said in those posts. At least her methodology is consistent with the "giant" she's defending.



Comment #40

Friday, April 30, 2004 at 1:30:02 mdt
Name: Barbara Branden
URL: http://www.barbarabranden.com

Don wrote, in a comment to me he posted yesterday:

"Do you distinguish between his [Peikoff's] contention that no Objectivist *should* read your book with the claim that doing so is immoral and should result in one's expulsion from the movement?"

Please, Don. The very idea that one can say no Objectivist SHOULD read a certain book is so offensive, so like the Catholic Church's list of forbidden books, that you make my point by disputing it.

You wrote:

"I would like you (or anyone else) to name ONE person who was excommunicated for reading your book."

Of course I can't. No student at ARI would have dreamed of "confessing" that he or she had read my book when Peikoff had made it clear that to do so was to sanction "evil. I don't know -- or much care -- what Peikoff's position on forbidden books is today, but I do know his position in the late 80's. It was unequivocal. I remember clearly that in the late 80's, I was standing in line with a friend waiting to see a movie, when a group of six or seven young people came up to me and asked if I was Barbara Branden. When I said I was, they told me how much they admired my book. Then, to my astonishment, they added that they were ARI students. When I asked if they weren't in trouble for reading my book, one of them said: "Oh, we don't tell anyone at ARI that we've read it; we wouldn't be allowed to continue taking classes if we did."

You wrote:

"Furthermore, don't you think there are in some cases grounds to condemn a book without having read it?"

Yes -- but not to review it -- and not to say that any Objectivist who read it is immoral.

Further, you wrote:

"Finally, it never occured to me to mention that I have been involved in this debate to Peikoff, Schwartz, or Binswanger. I do not believe I need their permission."

Then I suggest you do mention it. I believe you will learn a great deal about these men whom you admire by so doing.

You wrote:

"Ms. Branden, the people you condemn are much more independent than you realize."

Don, I have known Leonard Peikoff all his life. And I said of him, long before my break with Rand, that he was the most dependent person I had ever known. This is a man who once told me that he was frightened by his inability to react emotionally to any art -- be it music, a book, a painting, even a television show. He said that in order not to have the "wrong reaction," he had cut off his emotions entirely in the realm of art.

Don, you seem like an intelligent man and in certain ways quite unlike many ARI people. Aren't you sick to death of the constant ARI "excommunications" -- of George Reisman, of Edith Packer, of George Walsh, of Robert Hessen, of Robert Bidinotto, of David Kelley, and so on and so on? Perhaps this simply proves the depths of evil to which I have sunk, but in the last forty years I have not broken with a single friend. Have you, in the shorter yeears of your life?-- I rather suspect not.

Finally, I thank you for your final comment:

"I announced here that I quit smoking three weeks ago. That was thanks entirely to Allen Carr's book, The Easy Way To Quit Smoking, which I learned of from you. So, whatever our disagreements Ms. Branden, I do in a very real sense owe you my life. Thank you.



Comment #41

Friday, April 30, 2004 at 6:10:39 mdt
Name: Victor

All right, I'll give this one more shot, in case anyone should still give any credence whatsoever to Barbara Branden's attempts to evade the fact that her lies have been exposed.

I attended many Objectivist conferences in the late 80's. Barbara Branden's book, which had recently been published, was for natural reasons often discussed in social conversation at those conferences. Several of the most prominent speakers had read the book, as had many of the "buck privates" (as Ayn Rand would say) attendees. The latter, including myself, would ask the former questions about the veracity of the book, openly admitting they had read it, and the former would answer quite rationally and without any condemnation whatsoever, let alone any attempt to hide that *they* had read it.

Barbara Branden's lies in this discussion are not only evil, they are pathetic.



Comment #42

Friday, April 30, 2004 at 6:18:00 mdt
Name: Chris Matthew Sciabarra
URL: http://www.nyu.edu/projects/sciabarra/notablog.htm

This has been a forum on the open or closed nature of Objectivism, with a rather contentious side-debate about the history of the Objectivist movement and the character of various Objectivist organizations. I nonetheless feel the necessity to post this information for those who have written me offline with further questions about my work.

I, personally, did not think that this forum was the place to debate either the morality of homosexuality or the theses of AYN RAND: THE RUSSIAN RADICAL (Penn State Press, 1995). In lieu of the first, I offered a link to a relatively new monograph of mine, published as a SOLO Initiative, and available through Laissez Faire Books: AYN RAND, HOMOSEXUALITY, AND HUMAN LIBERATION (Leap Publishing, 2003). In lieu of the second, I offer a link below that details the various debates and published discussions of my book on Rand:

<http://www.nyu.edu/projects/sciabarra/rad/randrevus.html>

This has been my practice since the beginning: For every book, I have featured, on my website, all the commentary---positive and negative---so that readers can get a sense of the debate, and judge for themselves. It has never been my policy to run away from criticism, as I think the give-and-take is ~part~ of the evolution of any idea, including my own.

Of particular interest in that index is my "Reply to Critics of RUSSIAN RADICAL" published in REASON PAPERS, which answers many of the criticisms that some have raised in this very forum. I should add, as well, that any lapses in historical evidence in my Rand book were treated in a follow-up article entitled "The Rand Transcript," published in the premier issue of THE JOURNAL OF AYN RAND STUDIES (Fall 1999). That piece details my analysis of Rand's college coursework, something that is not available in any other published source, in print or online. I provided the link to that article earlier in this forum.

I also regard RUSSIAN RADICAL as part of a trilogy of works in defense of what I call a "dialectical libertarianism." (Boy, for those who hate dialectics ~and~ libertarianism, I can only imagine the reaction!) MARX, HAYEK, AND UTOPIA (SUNY, 1995) and TOTAL FREEDOM: TOWARD A DIALECTICAL LIBERTARIANISM (Penn State Press, 2000) are the other two books of the trilogy. The former book offers a provocative comparative analysis of Marx and Hayek along methodological and substantive lines, and, as the first book in the trilogy, lays out some of the important questions that I explore in the other works. The latter book includes my discussion of the history of dialectics, a reclamation of the Aristotelian model, a genus-differentia definition of dialectics, a further defense of my view of Rand as a dialectical thinker, a discussion of other promising trends in libertarian thought, and a full-scale treatment and critique of the thought of Murray Rothbard.

I do not regard RUSSIAN RADICAL as the last word on Rand's historical beginnings or on her radical legacy. But the book, for me, was certainly an important first step, and, regardless of its negative reception by ~some~, it remains among those works that, over the last nine years, has contributed to what THE CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION, LINGUA FRANCA, and other academic periodicals have viewed as a mini-renaissance of sorts in Rand scholarship.

I stand by my work on Rand, by the integrity and honesty of my detailed detective work, and by the integrity and honesty of my conclusions. Don't take my word for it, or the words of anybody else in this forum. Simply read my work, if you so choose, and decide for yourselves.



Comment #43

Friday, April 30, 2004 at 6:55:03 mdt
Name: Don
URL: http://angermanagement.mu.nu

I suspect, Ms. Branden, you do not wish to get into an extended discussion about facts concerning particular people and their particular choices and actions. Neither do I. So even though I disagree with many of your evaluations concerning people at ARI, particularly Leonard Peikoff, and while I do not think there is a shred of evidence to support your claim that Peikoff considers it immoral for an Objectivist to read your book, I will allow our disagreements to remain disagreements, and I will leave it to each reader to judge for himself or herself what is actually the case.

But you do raise one point of general interest, and I do wish to comment on it.

"Please, Don. The very idea that one can say no Objectivist SHOULD read a certain book is so offensive, so like the Catholic Church's list of forbidden books, that you make my point by disputing it."

Perhaps this point will be easier to grasp if we take a clearer case, say, Jeff Walker's book, The Ayn Rand Cult. This book is filled with every lie, rumor, half truth, and ugly fantasy that could be imagined, without any references nor any shame. I would say that no one should read such a book. Why? Because there could be no cognitive value to it. On the contrary, you couldn't do anything with the information, since it is inherently arbitrary (at best!). It would be an insult even to ask any of the people it defames, "What about X? Is X true?"

Or let's take another case. If a radical Islamist writes a book, and you know the funds from sales of the book will go to aid America's enemies - YOUR potential killers - I would say buying the book would be immoral. Don't you think so? Even to read a library copy would be, in a sense, to advertise it.

The point is, there is nothing inherently offensive or religious about saying someone should not read a particular book. Whether that argument holds up for your book is a much more complicated matter.



Comment #44

Friday, April 30, 2004 at 10:18:26 mdt
Name: mra

Barbara Branden:
you are not fit even to judge the work of a GIANT like Chris Sciabbara.

Yes, Lady MacBeth.

But how do you judge the arbitrary?
Do you judge it as a whole?
Do you judge it by its parts?
Do you judge it by its opposite?
Do I confront his work?
Or just the "contradictions"?
Do I find out what was happening in the News while he was writing?
Do I talk to his family and ask about his upbringing?
Do I find out where he lived when he grew up?
Do I judge it at one level or at a higher one?
Do I need to know CS's desires or wants?

How do you understand what it says?
How do you understand what it doesn't say?
Will the understanding be different next monday?
If someone else understands it, should I revolt?

Is this my "Project"?



Comment #45

Friday, April 30, 2004 at 11:13:17 mdt
Name: Barbara Branden
URL: http://www.barbarabranden.com

Don wrote the following:

"But you do raise one point of general interest, and I do wish to comment on it.

(BB wrote) "Please, Don. The very idea that one can say no Objectivist SHOULD read a certain book is so offensive, so like the Catholic Church's list of forbidden books, that you make my point by disputing it."

(Don continues): "Perhaps this point will be easier to grasp if we take a clearer case, say, Jeff Walker's book, The Ayn Rand Cult. This book is filled with every lie, rumor, half truth, and ugly fantasy that could be imagined, without any references nor any shame. I would say that no one should read such a book. Why? Because there could be no cognitive value to it. On the contrary, you couldn't do anything with the information, since it is inherently arbitrary (at best!). It would be an insult even to ask any of the people it defames, "What about X? Is X true?"

"Or let's take another case. If a radical Islamist writes a book, and you know the funds from sales of the book will go to aid America's enemies - YOUR potential killers - I would say buying the book would be immoral. Don't you think so? Even to read a library copy would be, in a sense, to advertise it.

"The point is, there is nothing inherently offensive or religious about saying someone should not read a particular book. Whether that argument holds up for your book is a much more complicated matter."

Have you forgotten the importance of context, Don? There can be many reasons why one would wish to read Jeff Walker's book -- which I agree is disgusting -- or Whittaker Chambers' review of ATLAS SHRUGGED -- or the work of a radical Islamist -- o Karl Marx. How does one fight the enemies of reason, individualism,and freedom, if one's dainty sensibilities prohibit one from learning what they say? How does one fight the conservatives if one does not take the trouble to learn that they base whatever defense of freedom they give, on religious faith? How does one learn what terrorists might do, what they hate, what they believe, if one does not read the relevant literature? How does one deal with all the irrationality in our world if one does not take the trouble to understand it?

Yes, it can get wearisome at times to plow through such "literature," but it is worse not to know what we are facing.

Therefore I repeat that the blanket assertion that no one "should" read a certain book is utterly unreasonable.





Comment #46

Friday, April 30, 2004 at 13:11:10 mdt
Name: Alligators Getting Up

"This book is filled with every lie, rumor, half truth, and ugly fantasy that could be imagined, without any references nor any shame. I would say that no one should read such a book. Why? Because there could be no cognitive value to it."

Here is a text that contains some lies and errors, and Don asserts that it has "NO cognitive value". I use "some" to mean any fraction, and not to imply that the fraction is small.

I wonder where the threshold of "no cognitive value" is. Is there a critical number of incorrect statements that render the entire text valueless? A critical fraction? And by what proximity effect do the incorrect statements invalidate the correct statements alongside which they appear?



Comment #47

Friday, April 30, 2004 at 19:25:14 mdt
Name: Walter Foddis

"mra" wrote:

"Its obvious, look at the before and after work. After '68, [Branden's] intellectual work could be described as, to paraphrase the book reviewed in the 11-62 Objectivist Newsletter, "Nathaniel Branden minus Ayn Rand = zero."

This is a brilliant argument. I don't think I've seen anything like it before in my life. Genius, I say, pure genius.

I'm wondering, though, if you could elaborate a bit. I was unable to follow the logic after "It's obvious..."

Thanks,

Walter



Comment #48

Saturday, May 1, 2004 at 7:27:24 mdt
Name: Barbara Branden
URL: http://www.barbarabranden.com

Mike Enright, on Sept 29, you wrote:

". And if I am married to a Christian they [ARI people] will probably ask me to choose between them or her, like they did Rothbard.

That Ayn Rand and Nathaniel Branden told Murray Rothbard that he must choose between his religious wife and them, is a total myth, which Murray, for reasons that were best known to him, chose to spread. I was in the room when her religion was discussed with Joy Rothbard and Murray, and nothing even remotely like that was said, implied, or hinted at.





Comment #49

Saturday, May 1, 2004 at 7:32:10 mdt
Name: mra

Walter Foddis wrote:
""Its obvious, look at the before and after work. After '68,[Branden's]intellectual work could be described as, to paraphrase the book reviewed in the 11-62 Objectivist Newsletter, "Nathaniel Branden minus Ayn Rand = Zero.""
"This is a brilliant argument. I don't think I've seen anything like it before in my life. Genius, I say, pure genius."

Thank you!!! I'm glad you agree with me.



Comment #50

Saturday, May 1, 2004 at 8:58:37 mdt
Name: Robert Campbell
URL: http://www.robertlcampbell.com

mra,

After reading your reponse to Walter, I am convinced that you need to see a nutritionist, without delay.

You are obviously suffering from a severe irony deficiency.

Robert Campbell



Comment #51

Saturday, May 1, 2004 at 9:34:11 mdt
Name: mra

Robert Cambell, if a nutritionist, wouldn't it be an iron deficiency?



Comment #52

Saturday, May 1, 2004 at 19:51:25 mdt
Name: Walter Foddis

MRA wrote:

"I'm glad you agree with me."

I do agree with you! I agree that you've learned well from Peikoff on the art of revisionism.

Congratulations!

Walter



Comment #53

Sunday, May 2, 2004 at 13:04:05 mdt
Name: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two--four.net/weblog.php

Very interesting, all in all. Points I would make:

1) On the matter of "cognitive value" and forbidden texts -- I always refer to Mario Puzo: "Keep your friends close. Keep your enemies closer." I read people like Rorty and I watch Dan Rather every evening. I have damned good reason.

2) Over many years, I've been asked for recommendations on "where to start" in reading Objectivism. For a good deal of the time, I've been amused at seeing or hearing others' vote for "Atlas Shrugged", mainly because that was most often the sum extent of the enthusiast's experience in the corpus. Myself, I urged the non-fiction, beginning with VOS and moving to the "Epistemology" as fast as practicable. For eight years, however, I have without exception in these instances recommended "The Russian Radical".

Like Chris said: don't take my word for how good it is. Go read it and see.