December 22, 2003
Let us abandon the notion of a central authority with the power to define an orthodoxy & expel dissenters. As long as we think in such terms what we are thinking about is not a movement but a tribe ... Let us welcome dissent, & the restless ways of the explorers among us. These are the policies appropriate to an open system, a philosophy of reason. - David KelleyUbi Dubium, Ibi Libertas!
I don't know if I've mentioned this before here, but I have serious reservations about those at the "core" of Objectivism. I know very little about them or their positions on matters. And those matters of conflict remain unresolved within myself. But I am profoundly concerned about those who are cultish about Objectivism.
I count myself as an Objectivist, but I hardly consider Ayn Rand any kind of ultimate authority even though she was right about just about everything. I still feel it necessary to weigh things with my own mind. And moreover, that sentiment is at the very core of Objectivism.
I don't understand the schism that happened in Objectivism, but I fear it may have been over this.
Sad. Because if this is true:
In preliminary skirmishes, Peikoff had announced, brazenly, that Objectivism was a "closed system," "rigid, narrow, intolerant & closed-minded." Objectivism was simply the totality of Ayn Rand's works, & that was that. It was "immutable." People like Kelley who made any room for questioners, or significant room for innocent error, were "subjectivists" who should "drop out of the movement."Then I fail to see how anyone apart from Peikoff who has a true appreciation for Objectivism as a philosophy can support him. If this is true, how can Objectivism ever hope to address any issues in modern life? Ayn Rand didn't write about cloning or medical ethics. Ayn Rand said that homosexuals are evil and mentally ill. Ayn Rand was on amphetamines.
What can any right-minded person make of this?
No, Leonard Peikoff cannot have said or meant just that because that is profoundly and abundantly stupid and wrong. That is certainly not the spirit or letter of Objectivism. (Although, interestingly enough, it does resemble the color.)
I would encourage all Objectivists out there, myself included, to make up your own mind based upon what information you have. Naturally. As any Objectivist would.
Try Googling for "Truth and Toleration", which was the name of Kelley's essay, if you'd like to find out more.
Posted by: Harvey at December 23, 2003 09:57 AM (tJfh1)
[Trey Givens repsonds] Thank you for pointing this out. I'm sure, however, you've heard of Objectivists taking a highly moralized position regarding homosexuality along with exalting the act of smoking which has long been held as unhealthy.
I'm inexperienced in Objectivist circles and that is why I have reserved unqualified judgment of either side. I have my initial thoughts on things, of course, but I remain reserved about it all because I admire Objectivism as a system of thought so much.
Specifically on the homosexuality topic, a topic you will note I take very personally, Chris Matthew Sciabarra has written the following:Rand herself said very little about homosexuality, and what she did say was particularly unflattering. The Objectivist literature included a few fleeting references to the subject; Rand was livid, for example, that some "Women's Libbers" were declaring "spiritual sisterhood with lesbians, "part of a set of such "repulsive . . . premises from so loathsome a sense of life that an accurate commentary would require the kind of language I do not like to see in print" ("The Age of Envy"). A few comments here and there ridiculing sensitive homosexuals or boys fleeing into homosexuality because of their fear of the opposite sex can be found in various early Objectivist publications. But no statement was quite as explicit as the one made by Rand, in 1971, during a question-and-answer session following her Ford Hall Forum lecture, "The Moratorium on Brains."
As I summarize in Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical:
Rand asserted that although every individual has a right to engage in any consensual sexual activity, homosexuality is a manifestation of psychological "flaws, corruptions, errors, unfortunate premises," and that it is both "immoral" and "disgusting." Ignoring factors of social environment and/or genetic-biological endowment, Rand viewed homosexuality as a moral issue, based on her implicit assumption that it was a consciously chosen behavior.
Of course, I have always believed that by describing homosexuality as "disgusting," Rand was probably not focusing on ethical concerns, so much as very specific sexual imagery that turned her stomach. After her death, Rand's attitudes were subsequently challenged - to varying degrees - by her successors, including Leonard Peikoff, Edith Packer, and Nathaniel Branden. As I state in Russian Radical, "these thinkers continue to regard homosexuality as a psychological detour from the norm, [but] they are less inclined to moralize about it."That quotation can be found in this essay: http://solohq.com/Articles/Sciabarra/Objectivism_and_Homosexuality_-_Again.shtml
Which I believe is actually the first part of his five-part essay on the topic. I can send you the links if you’re interested.
Thank you again for your comments!
Posted by: Keenan I. Nichols at December 23, 2003 02:51 PM (PjLxu)
Posted by: phentermine at February 15, 2004 02:56 PM (jKAQ3)
Posted by: skelaxin at February 24, 2004 08:11 AM (zKZZ9)
Powered by Minx 1.1.4-pink.