Comments from NoodleFood


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Comment #1

Wednesday, July 28, 2004 at 18:35:41 mdt
Name: argive00

Your comments about TOC are IMO accurate. But I am very interested in your take on ARI. That TOC is a disaster does not make ARI the model organization. When you get a chance, I would love to know your assessment of all things ARI.

And for kickers, I'd like to know your thoughts on Perigio's Solo HQ.

And while your at it, why not your take on the whole O'ist movement? I'm curious to see if it fits with mine.



Comment #2

Wednesday, July 28, 2004 at 19:34:48 mdt
Name: Diana Hsieh
URL: http://www.dianahsieh.com/blog/

Argive00: That's a bit of a tall order! Would you like me to arrange world peace and perpetually good weather too? :-)

I can say that I'm substantially encouraged and delighted by what I've seen at and from ARI. (Of course, that doesn't mean that I approve of everything or everyone in and around ARI. It's not a Borg Collective, after all.) Most importantly, ARI is deeply committed to and serious about Objectivism. That, in conjunction with its excellent management from Yaron Brook, makes me quite hopeful about its future and its capacity to change the culture for the better. After ten pointless years of TOC, it's mind-boggling to see an Objectivist organization do it right and do it well -- as ARI seems to be doing. So I'm optimistic, but still a somewhat cautious.

As for SOLO, although I had some hopes for the group, it doesn't seem to be much more than a flamboyant and passionate TOC. Perhaps that's an improvement, but not much of one.

I have no thoughts whatsoever on "the Objectivist movement" as a whole, as I'm doubtful of the existence of any such entity in the sense that people ordinarily mean.

diana.



Comment #3

Thursday, July 29, 2004 at 15:05:57 mdt
Name: Informus

Diana,

You wrote: "A few months later, when I finally re-read T&T, it quickly became clear to me that TOC's founding philosophy was wrong, confused, disastrous, and responsible for many of the longstanding and baffling failures of the organization."

I'd like to mention that T&T was written in a specific historical context - Kelley's willingness to cooperate with Libertarians and his consequent departure from ARI. The blacklisting and witchhunting carried out by ARI against those who refused to condemn Kelley (such as the late George Walsh) were also a part of this historical context. It is now 15 years later and ARI has improved significantly under the leadership of Yarbon Brook, but history cannot be excluded from an analysis of T&T. Also, it may be better to use the 2000 expanded edition of T&T, "The Contested Legacy of Ayn Rand" as the document stating the philosophy of TOC.

-- Informus



Comment #4

Thursday, July 29, 2004 at 17:33:39 mdt
Name: Diana Hsieh
URL: http://www.dianahsieh.com/blog/

Informus,

I really don't understand the point that you are trying to make. I am and have long been quite familiar with all of the documents associated with the Kelley split; I've never regarded T&T as some kind of stand-alone document. But that historical context doesn't render Kelley's claims in AQOS or T&T any more plausible, true, or consistent with Objectivism.

I'm also not sure why you would recommend the "updated" version of T&T. It has a bit of irrelevant new material at each end, plus some new footnotes, plus an index, plus lots of embarassing typographical errors. (In other words, I've already read it.)

And just for the record, whatever ARI's errors, I do think that the leadership was right to exclude Kelley and his followers from the Objectivist movement. (The charge of "blacklisting" and witchhunting" strikes me as utterly absurd, even from what I know from people who choose Kelley's viewpoint at the time of the split.) In my view, at least some supporters of Kelley are honestly in error, either confused about the philosophic issues or confused about Kelley's own views. That honesty means that debate and discussion with them is likely to be fruitful in time, not that they should be embraced as if no substantial difference of opinion exists.

diana.



Comment #5

Friday, July 30, 2004 at 1:26:13 mdt
Name: Alex Knapp
URL: http://www.hereticalideas.com

What, exactly, is your beef with T&T? A URL to a previous writing of yours is cool.



Comment #6

Friday, July 30, 2004 at 15:03:28 mdt
Name: argive00

Thanks for the response Diana. Its pretty much my thinking on the subject too. I was just interested in your opinion as I respect it.

In technical philosophical language: you're a cool chick.

Too bad you're already married.



Comment #7

Friday, July 30, 2004 at 22:38:38 mdt
Name: Informus

Diana,

Thank you for your answer. You wrote:
"In my view at least some supporters of Kelley are honestly in error, either confused about the philosophic issues or confused about Kelley's own views. That honesty means that debate and discussion with them is likely to be fruitful in time, not that they should be embraced as if no substantial difference of opinion exists."

This is where your view differs from that of Peikoff in "Fact and Value," where Peikoff rejected the view that intelligent adults can have honest philosophical errors. In the historical context of the break, you would be asked to condemn and dissassociate yourself from those followers of Kelley even if you think they are honestly in error and can be convinced by discussion and debate. Even if they happened to be old friends. And if you rather not do it, like George Walsh, you will be blacklisted as well. This at least was what I witnessed.

-- Informus



Comment #8

Sunday, August 1, 2004 at 10:36:40 mdt
Name: Eyal Mozes
URL: http://www.geocities.com/athens/delphi/4082/

Diana,

I've only looked at your blog occasionally, and if you've presented a philosophical case against T&T in a previous entry I may have missed it. But so far in the past several months I have seen many assertions from you about how T&T is philosophically in error or inconsistent with Objectivism, many promises about how you will present arguments against T&T in the future, but no actual arguments so far. Given that, I have to say I find the following statement offensive:

>In my view, at least some supporters of Kelley are honestly in error, either confused about the philosophic issues or confused about Kelley's own views.

Remember the context here: in the 14 years since the publication of T&T, no one has made any attempt at publishing a rational answer to it. Not officially from ARI, not privately from any supporter of ARI. If you do present a philosophical argument for your disagreement with T&T, you will be the first to do so. What possible justification, then, can you have for calling people "confused", when they agree with a view for which a detailed argument has been presented in T&T and never answered?

ARI officials have repeatedly asserted that anyone who agrees with Kelley is either confused or dishonest; such assertions, and black-listing of anyone who agreed with Kelley, were regarded as an appropriate substitute for rational argument. (Informus is absolutely right to talk of black-listing; I don't see what other name there can be for known supporters of Kelley being refused admittance to ARI-sponsored activities, or for Second Rennaissance Books refusing to accept orders from them.) ARI's entire policy on this matter constituted a complete rejection of the Objectivist view of independence, because it was based on the expectation that people will accept the condemnation of Kelley on authority, with no need for rational argument; whatever TOC's problems, they certainly never did anything *that* blatantly inconsistent with Objectivism. So when you start talking about supporters of Kelley being "confused", in advance of presenting any philosophical case, this appears as a continuation of ARI's anti-Objectivist approach.

You may be right in claiming that ARI have improved, and perhaps their black-listing has been discontinued; I don't know. But rationality would require ARI to either belatedly publish some answer to T&T, or issue a public statement retracting their condemnation of Kelley; they have certainly not done either.

As I've said before, I share a lot of your displeasure with TOC's practices. And given how many times they've announced reforms in the past, I can't feel very enthusiastic about their latest round of reforms, until I see some actual results from it. But as for TOC's philosophical basis, I strongly suggest that you save any comments about people being "confused" until after you've presented your philosophical case against T&T.



Comment #9

Sunday, August 1, 2004 at 11:47:42 mdt
Name: Don
URL: http://angermanagement.mu.nu

Eyal writes:

"ARI's entire policy on this matter constituted a complete rejection of the Objectivist view of independence, because it was based on the expectation that people will accept the condemnation of Kelley on authority, with no need for rational argument."

This is either confused on dishonest. The Objectivist response to Kelley's views is contained in Peikoff's article "Fact and Value" as well as a host of other essays responding to Kelley's essay, "A Question of Sanction." The fact that Kelley chose to write a lengthier tract on these issues did not impose an obligation on any Objectivist to do the same. On the contrary, to do so would have been to grant "Truth and Toleration" more attention and respect than it deserves. (It is proper for Diana to give it that much attention given her history with TOC.)



Comment #10

Sunday, August 1, 2004 at 12:14:27 mdt
Name: Fred Weiss
URL: http://www.papertig.com

Eyal Mozes contends that "...in the 14 years since the publication of T&T, no one has made any attempt at publishing a rational answer to it."

I'll quote from the "Second Preface" of Robert Tracinski's final version of his "Notes on 'A Question of Sanction'":

"In the original preface, I warned that 'A Question of Sanction.' is 'a small text from which I draw some very large conclusions.' Today, seven years later, such a feat of philosophical detection is no longer necessary. Kelley’s subsequent writings (such as ”Truth and Toleration” and ”Unrugged Individualism”) and the policies of his institute have provided reams of new evidence concerning Kelley’s ideas.

All of Kelley’s subsequent work, however, has followed the basic themes established in 'A Question of Sanction.' Thus, I believe that this essay is still a valuable dissection of Kelley’s attack on Objectivism, and I hope that those who are new to the ideas of Ayn Rand will continue to find it helpful."

http://www.lyceum.dk/tracinski.html

Mr. Mozes here reflects one of the fundamental problems of Kelleyites which is their inability to think in essentials - most especially the essentials of Objectivism. Having answered Kelley *in essentials*, now Objectivists are supposed to respond to every variant and sub-variant of his views, regardless of the fact that they do not stray in any fundamental respect from his basic disagreements with the philosophy which he stated at the outset in "A Question of Sanction" and to which both Peikoff and Tracinski responded in detail.

Incidentally, the reason why they responded in detail was precisely because they believed that some people could be honestly confused about the issues that were being raised. Which brings me to the comment of "Informus" a few days ago, "Peikoff rejected the view that intelligent adults can have honest philosophical errors."

Since I hear this a lot from Kelleyites, it raises the interesting question of whether an inability to deal in essentials quickly devolves into the outright evasion or distortion of facts (a subject which can be deferred to another time). I'll simply quote Peikoff from "Fact and Value":

"...falsehood does not necessarily imply vice; honest errors of knowledge are possible."

Enough said.

Fred Weiss



Comment #11

Sunday, August 1, 2004 at 15:10:02 mdt
Name: Diana Hsieh
URL: http://www.dianahsieh.com/blog/

FYI, I've posted a response to Eyal as a regular blog post, as it touched upon some general issues. It's here:

<http://www.dianahsieh.com/blog/2004/08/documents-sanction-and-confusion.html>



Comment #12

Sunday, August 1, 2004 at 21:05:03 mdt
Name: Informus

Fred Weiss wrote:

I'll simply quote Peikoff from "Fact and Value":
"...falsehood does not necessarily imply vice; honest errors of knowledge are possible."

Let me quote an entire paragraph from "Fact and Value," not a fragment of a sentence like the above:

"Now I wish to make a request to any unadmitted anti-Objectivists reading this piece, a request that I make as Ayn Rand's intellectual and legal heir. If you reject the concept of "objectivity" and the necessity of moral judgment, if you sunder fact and value, mind and body, concepts and percepts, if you agree with the Branden or Kelley viewpoint or anything resembling it"please drop out of our movement: drop Ayn Rand, leave Objectivism alone. We do not want you and Ayn Rand would not have wanted you"just as you, in fact, do not want us or her. As a matter of dignity and honor, tell yourself and the world the exact truth: that you agree with certain ideas of Ayn Rand, but reject Objectivism."

Enough said.

-- Informus



Comment #13

Monday, August 2, 2004 at 0:07:42 mdt
Name: Diana Hsieh
URL: http://www.dianahsieh.com/blog/

Informus: This is not an open debate on any and all issues relevant to the Kelley split. These comment boards exist for my pleasure and for my purposes. As such, I am quite disinclined to allow you to continue posting your random objections to the views of Peikoff et al, particularly when presented inaccurately, without context, and/or without counter-argument. Take note, as this shall be your only warning.



Comment #14

Monday, August 2, 2004 at 10:01:53 mdt
Name: Eyal Mozes
URL: http://www.geocities.com/athens/delphi/4082/

>Informus: This is not an open debate on any and all issues relevant to the Kelley split. These comment boards exist for my pleasure and for my purposes. As such, I am quite disinclined to allow you to continue posting your random objections to the views of Peikoff et al, particularly when presented inaccurately, without context, and/or without counter-argument. Take note, as this shall be your only warning.

Let me go on record as stating that I am sick and tired of seeing disagreement handled by excluding people as a substitute for argument; that has always been my main objection to ARI. Let me also go on record as stating that I have looked at the comments here over the past week, read all of Informus' posts, and was unable to find anything that was in any way presented inaccurately of out of context. Nor did I find anything expressing "random objections" unrelated to the issues you have raised.

Diana, if you do not want to deal with the history of the ARI-TOC split, and do not want to defend ARI's conduct in that split, you're certainly right not to do so. Just because Peikoff's and ARI's conduct was thoroughly irrational and contrary to Objectivism, does not make T&T correct. You can confine comments on your blog to your philosophical disagreements with T&T rather than to the history of the split, and ask that those who post comments do the same. But you have made statements defending ARI's and Peikoff's conduct, on a blog that allows people to post comments; Informus responded by pointing out facts that are completely to the point. If "these comment boards exist for your pleasure and your purposes", and if rational consideration of your statements is one of your purposes, then you have no cause for complaint.



Comment #15

Monday, August 2, 2004 at 10:48:44 mdt
Name: Diana Hsieh
URL: http://www.dianahsieh.com/blog/

Eyal: You consider "Enough said" to be an argument? You think that "Peikoff rejected the view that intelligent adults can have honest philosophical errors" is an accurate summary of his views? If so, that's very informative.

(I was mistaken about the source of the out-of-context claims. That was not Informus, but rather Tom Blackstone presenting some of Schwartz's negative claims about libertarianism as if they came from nowhere. Whatever one might think of the quality of Schwartz's article, he did write one, not merely toss off some arbitrary claims in order to bash Kelley.)

You wrote: "Diana, if you do not want to deal with the history of the ARI-TOC split, and do not want to defend ARI's conduct in that split, you're certainly right not to do so. Just because Peikoff's and ARI's conduct was thoroughly irrational and contrary to Objectivism, does not make T&T correct."

Don't put words in my mouth, Eyal. I'm trying to uphold some semblance of standards in the discussion, as well as trying to keep the discussion limited to the topic at hand, i.e. the topic of the blog post. I have neither the time nor the inclination for a free-for-all on the Kelley split. I'm quite serious about that; I will close down the comments rather than allow the discussion to devolve into the muck it became this spring.



Comment #16

Monday, August 2, 2004 at 11:31:19 mdt
Name: Eyal Mozes
URL: http://www.geocities.com/athens/delphi/4082/

Diana, I don't want to continue on this for long. I started reading your blog and the comment page hoping to see serious discussion of philosophical issues, not flame-wars about the Peikoff-Kelley split. So I'd much rather drop discussion of the history of the split, have you devote your time to completing your philosophical response to T&T, and then read and respond to it.

So let me just say this:

>Eyal: You consider "Enough said" to be an argument?

Evidently, here, as in the out-of-context quotes, you had mistakenly attributed to Informus someone else's post. The quote you were objecting to:

>I'll simply quote Peikoff from "Fact and Value":
>
>"...falsehood does not necessarily imply vice; honest errors of knowledge are possible."
>
>Enough said.

is from an August 1 message, not by Informus, but by Fred Weiss.

Assuming you meant to direct your message at Fred Weiss rather than at Informus, then I can certainly sympathise, and am sorry I reacted so strongly. I agree that Weiss's comments have been consistently inflammatory, diverted discussion from the topic of your blog posts, and lowered the standard of discussion, and I agree that you are right to admonish him about it. I still don't like to see someone warned about how you won't let him post, and very much hope it won't come to that, but I certainly hope Weiss will take your admonishment to heart and improve his postings. You should just make clear that directing your message at Informus was by mistake.

>You think that "Peikoff rejected the view that intelligent adults can have honest philosophical errors" is an accurate summary of his views?

Certainly F&V is badly written, contradicts itself in several places, and there can be ample room for misunderstanding it. But unlike Kelley, Peikoff did not have the intellectual responsibility to expand on his hastily-written article with a longer and clearer treatment of the issues; so F&V is all we have to go on in interpreting his view on the issue, and the summary you quote here is the only accurate way I see to interpret it. If you want, in addition to your answer to T&T, to also write an exegesis of Peikoff's views on the issue, and show how his statements in F&V can be interpreted in some other way, I'll be very interested in reading it.



Comment #17

Monday, August 2, 2004 at 12:06:13 mdt
Name: Diana Hsieh
URL: http://www.dianahsieh.com/blog/

Eyal: Now I'm mad. For the second time, you have attributed bold thoughts to me to which you have every reason to think that I would not endorse. I objected the first time, then you do it again. It's manipulative sophistry, not some cute rhetorical device. Stop it.

For the record, Fred pointed our Informus' inaccurate summary of Peikoff with a directly and obviously relevant quote from Peikoff. That was "enough said." Then Informus replied with an irrelevant quote from Peikoff, with the same "enough said." It was the latter to which I was objecting.



Comment #18

Monday, August 2, 2004 at 12:42:37 mdt
Name: Fred Weiss
URL: http://www.papertig.com

Eyal, apparently you don't realize the extent to which you continually support in your own words the very things we are trying to explain to you, most especially your inability to grasp the essentials of what is at issue here plus your apparent willingness to distort or evade the facts to bolster your position.

For example, in response to Diana's demand that someone come up with a quote from AR which could even remotely be construed as endorsing anything similar to Kelley's pragmatist approach to ethics and you cite her comments about a William Rehnquist speech to a right wing group - which has nothing whatever to do with the issue.

(If I were looking for something "remotely" like it I might think of her argument that one should vote for the "lesser of evils" in a political contest. But do you know why that is not in fact a pragmatist position?)

Then, when Diana gives "Informus" a warning about his posts, you respond, "I have looked at the comments here over the past week, read all of Informus' posts, and was unable to find anything that was in any way presented inaccurately of out of context. Nor did I find anything expressing "random objections" unrelated to the issues you have raised."

Have you read his posts?

First he accuses Peikoff of denying that philosophical errors can ever be based on honest confusion, which is flat out false. And then when this is pointed out to him he responds with a totally irrelevant quote which consists of Peikoff contending that if you reject Objectivism have the honesty to not to call yourself an Objectivist.

I might have pointed out that Peikoff even goes so far as to allow that some egregious views, such as even Communism or "channeling", could be held under certain circumstances on the basis of honest confusion.

So, if it includes Communism, I think it's safe to say it includes "Kelleyism". But how about demonstrating that you are willing to look at this issue honestly instead of continually demonstrating the exact opposite, which of course by what you are doing is supporting the very thing we are arguing.

Fred Weiss



Comment #19

Monday, August 2, 2004 at 12:50:19 mdt
Name: Don Watkins
URL: http://angermanagement.mu.nu

Eyal,

Are you in the habit of making undefended assertions?

First, you make the claim no Objectivist has responded to the Kelley viewpoint. I offered evidence that contradicted this claim, specifically, Peikoff's article "Fact and Value" as well as a host of other articles. You then brush that aside with the arbitrary claim that those articles mis-represent Kelley's viewpoint.

Then you say, "Peikoff's and ARI's conduct was thoroughly irrational and contrary to Objectivism." You offered zero evidence in support of this claim.

Now, in your latest response to Diana, you write, "Certainly F&V is badly written, contradicts itself in several places, and there can be ample room for misunderstanding it." You have yet to offer a single argument or piece of evidence in support of these claims.

Rather, all you have done is insult Peikoff, ARI, and Diana. Do you truly expect to be taken seriously? Contrary to popular myths, those of us who agree with "Fact and Value" do not toss around moral judgments lightly. It appears that you do.

Which leads me to my final point. You write: "Peikoff endorsed the idea that principles are seen rather than grasped by conceptual thinking, an idea that eliminates the need for objectivity and is fundamentally opposed to Rand's philosophy." You base this accusation on a single, off-the-cuff, spoken remark, a remark that was a variant of the common expression, "I know it when I see it." That is the worst sort of viciousness, and I can see no reason to believe it was intellectually honest.



Comment #20

Monday, August 2, 2004 at 13:17:41 mdt
Name: informus

Diana,

I cannot guarantee that my posts will fulfill your purposes or your pleasure, so I rather stay away from your discussion board, as you requested. I just want to clarify my reply to Fred Weiss before I depart.

Fred quoted a fragment of a sentence out of context. The complete quote is:
"Now we must note that falsehood does not necessarily imply vice; honest errors of knowledge are possible. But such errors are not nearly so common as some people wish to think, especially in the field of philosophy."

Later Peikoff specifies who is capable of honest errors:
"Leaving aside the retarded and the illiterate, who are effectively helpless in such matters, this third group consists almost exclusively of the very young."

I believe this excludes intelligent adults from those capable of honest errors. On the other hand, the paragraph I quoted targeted those who agree with Kelley, or anything resembling his arguments, or only parts of Objectivism but not the whole. Such indiviudals are obviously not illiterate or retarded, and if they are young, they are still not given the benefit of the doubt. In other words, agreement with Kelley or agreement with parts of Objectivism but not the whole cannot be an honest error.

When I first read "Fact and Value" in 1989, I agreed with Peikoff up to this paragraph, which contradicted the statement that honest errors were possible.

Farewell,

Informus





Comment #21

Monday, August 2, 2004 at 13:31:55 mdt
Name: Don Watkins
URL: http://angermanagement.mu.nu

Informus writes:

"In other words, agreement with Kelley or agreement with parts of Objectivism but not the whole cannot be an honest error."

You're quoting Peikoff out of context. When he wrote, "Leaving aside the retarded and the illiterate, who are effectively helpless in such matters, this third group consists almost exclusively of the very young," he was not talking about who is capable of honest errors, as you say. He was discussing a particular subset of errors, which he named "Inherently Dishonest Ideas." He did not include the Kelley viewpoint under that umbrella.



Comment #22

Monday, August 2, 2004 at 13:59:51 mdt
Name: Fred Weiss
URL: http://www.papertig.com

Eyal, do you not notice that there is virtually no substance to anything you've been saying?

For example, you have yet to give us a single specific example of anything raised in T&T which in fundamentals was not previously addressed by Peikoff, Tracinski or others - and which you believe requires a response.

For yet another example, Diana asks, "You think that "Peikoff rejected the view that intelligent adults can have honest philosophical errors" is an accurate summary of his views?" To which you respond:

"Certainly F&V is badly written, contradicts itself in several places, and there can be ample room for misunderstanding it."

How does that answer her question? Where does it contradict itself? Where is the ample room for misunderstanding? I think it's clear that you misunderstand it but what's not clear is why.

I don't know how to put this more kindly to avoid your charge that I am being inflammatory. I think what you are really saying is, "Please, Fred, don't press me on these issues because I really can't defend them." If you're satisfied with a vagueish feeling that Kelley is right and Peikoff is wrong, fine. But then you have no right to demand, as you have been, that Diana, Peikoff, or anyone else present their reasons in greater detail than you are apparently prepared to do yourself.

Fred Weiss



Comment #23

Monday, August 2, 2004 at 14:18:02 mdt
Name: Fred Weiss
URL: http://www.papertig.com

Comments are flying here so fast and furiously that I'm not realizing I'm merely repeating things that someone else has already posted ahead of me before I read it. I've done this now twice with Don and to some extent also with different comments of Diana and Paul.

Anyway, sorry for the redundancies. I will try and get in the habit of catching up on the latest posts which may have been submitted while I was composing mine.

Fred Weiss