However, she also wrote that the physical pleasure-pain mechanism of man's body is automatic and innate, which Nyquist ignores.
This undercuts his depiction of Rand's position. Also, "blank slate" does not mean "no slate. She wanted to save men's souls, but instead of looking to God, thought she could do it herself. Chapter 2 - Theory of History Much of this is about Peikoff's theory of history. Rand wrote very little on the topic.
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The author rightfully criticizes Peikoff's theory for its exaggerated importance assigned to philosophers. He claims instead that history is driven by more practical matters like human sentiments and desires and their unintended consequences. A good example is money qua medium of exchange. He endorses Vilfredo Pareto's idea that desires and sentiments are the primary determinants of the social order. The chapter is not without the author's own misconceptions. If anything, they probably become less influential. How can principles so vague and indefinite possibly guide man's concrete actions?
For example, in biological taxonomy genus is more abstract than specie. Genus applies to multiple species and thus more organisms. Chapter 3 - Theory of Knowledge He critiques Rand's claim about the significance of the problem of universals and Rand's solution to it, which rests heavily on her theory of measurement omission.
I largely agree with the author's criticisms here, especially on measurement omission. It is not that measurements are never omitted, but that she grossly exaggerated their role and was inconsistent. The author's comments on abstraction show his misunderstanding of it in regard to concept-formation.
Abstraction is the selection of common characteristics of the referents and thus central. In contrast Nyquist says it is purely secondary and approvingly cites Santayana that "the abstract is what is less familiar to the speaker. He misunderstands Rand's words or distorts them for polemical purposes. One of many examples: He notes that Ayn Rand did not solve the "problem of induction" and he agrees with Karl Popper about it.
Chapter 4 - Theory of Metaphysics The author says he detests metaphysics; it's too abstract, speculative, and non-empirical. I agree when the metaphysics is of somebody like Hegel, who gets Nyquist's attention. Moving on to Rand, he goes after her axioms and oft-repeated "A is A" as verbalisms empty of empirical content. I think there is more to them than he acknowledges, when their meaning is elaborated. He even agrees with them on some level, but criticizes the way Rand and other Objectivists use them polemically against other people.
The author's own view on logic is common but incoherent. On page 98, he says the following. Logic is a quality that applies only to the realm of thought.
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How can thoughts -- logical or illogical -- be compared to reality if reality is neither logical or illogical in his view? As an aside, this issue is often debated elsewhere as "survival versus flourishing. One of several topics he undertakes is the dictum honesty is the best policy.
After noting some exceptions given by Leonard Peikoff, Nyquist declares: It's a policy, not a rule without exception. It may mean that the policy is a not quite as broad as expressed earlier. Chapter 6 - Theory of Politics He starts on the wrong foot. Peikoff is expressing the Objectivist view that political philosophy is primarily concerned, not with the basic facts of political conduct in the real world, but on how politics ought to be conducted. Peikoff is saying a political theory, no matter whose, follows some ethical principles. For example, some would say "it's moral to rob Peter to pay Paul.
Also, political conduct is more the subject of political science than political philosophy. Oddly enough, he concedes to Rand "her every normative claim about social, economic and political relations. I doubt he knows more than a handful of her followers, so he can't know what they think about this. Two obvious and enormous real-life obstacles are the prevalence of the sentiment that it's moral to rob Peter to pay Paul and business should be heavily government-regulated.source link
Ayn Rand Contra Human Nature
I'd bet the vast majority of her followers would state these real-life obstacles instantly. Chapter 7 - Theory of Aesthetics Like he indicates in the Introduction, his fiercest antagonism towards Rand is inspired by her views on aesthetics. Reportedly Rand often inferred others' philosophical positions on the basis of their aesthetic valuations, and she had many negative ones.
There was a lot of art considered great by many that Rand despised. Oddly enough, his antagonism to Rand's aesthetics is quite constrained in this chapter. Chapter 8 - Final Thoughts He tackles the question of whether Objectivist principles are harmful or beneficial to those who accept them. He believes beneficial in many cases.
But they are "useless to those who know how to think critically or are familiar with the facts of history and the social sciences. How does Nyquest presume to know so much about so many people he doesn't know? He turns to the question of what effect Objectivism will have on the future. With intrigue like that, I will make my final comment.
For those who might be tempted to throw the book in the trash after encountering a few criticisms of Rand and her philosophy, they will at least miss some food for thought. I have had somewhat ambiguous feelings about Ayn Rand and her philosophy of Objectivism ever since I first discovered her in college.
I agree with much of what she had to say: Nevertheless, I have always felt vaguely repelled by her writings. Perhaps it is because I feel a slight malevolence underlying much of what she wrote. Ayn Rand was never one to forgive an enemy or maintain a friendship with someone of an opposing philosophy. Maybe the figures in her fiction are not much like real human beings. The heroes are completely good with no flaws, the villains completely evil with no redeeming characteristics.
Nyquist is a critic of Ayn Rand, but he takes a different approach than most of her critics. He does not spend much time examining the details of her philosophy, except to note where Objectivism is contradictory or incomplete. He does not refute Objectivism on a philosophical basis. In fact, at some points he concedes, for the sake of argument, that Objectivism is the most ideal philosophy imaginable. He also does not criticize Ayn Rand on a personal basis, except to show where her personality characteristics shaped Objectivism.
Nyquist does not have much use for windy speculations about metaphysics or wordy conjectures about the way things ought to be. He is a practical man. He wants to know whether the assumptions about humanity and the world made by Ayn Rand that form the basis of Objectivism are actually in accordance with the observed facts.
The final chapter considers the future of Objectivism. In particular, he criticizes her ideas on human nature as being unrealistic. She was more concerned with human beings as she believes they ought to be rather than how they really are. She believed that human nature can be changed and that the widespread acceptance of Objectivism will cause people to think and act more rationally.
Ayn Rand argued that people act according to the fundamental premises of their particular philosphy and if that philosophy is changed from one that accepts mysticism and collectivism to one that follows reason and individualism, then we can create a utopia of reason and capitalism. Nyquist disagrees, noting that human nature has changed little, if at all, throughout the centuries.
People do not often follow a consistent philosophy. They act according to desires and interests and adapt their personal philosophy to justify their actions. There is a lot more to his criticism, but the general idea is that Ayn Rand simply did not seek any sort of empirical verification of her ideas.
Ayn Rand Contra Human Nature:
She preferred to think about things rather than go out and see how things really are. I have noticed in her nonfiction, she tended to refer to or quote her characters as if they were real people.
She tends to make assertions that are completely reasonable and logical, but with she seldom presents actual evidence that these assumptions are true. I have also found her knowledge of history to be shallow.
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While Greg Nyquist presents himself as a practical man, he sometimes crosses into cynicism. He seems to have a very negative opinion on human nature and regards politics as nothing more than the elite getting their way. While this is all true, it is not the whole truth. Ayn Rand and her followers are idealists who fight for a cause no pragmatic politician would waste his time with.
In the end, I am going to side with the idealists. See all 11 reviews. Brook seems to have gone into the debate under the illusion that Peterson is an opponent of metaphysical realism. At one point in the discussion, Brook waxed on about the independent existence of his water bottle, only to be stymied when Peterson kept agreeing with him. Posted by gregnyquist at 8: Jordan Peterson , Yaron Brook. The event will be live-streamed on The Rubin Report: Posted by gregnyquist at 7: Thursday, June 07, Objectivism: The great, glaring gap in just about all ethical systems of which I have knowledge, even when many of the particular values and virtues they advocate may be laudable, is the absence of a technology to assist people in getting there, an effective means for acquiring these values and virtues, a realistic path people can follow.
That is the great missing step in most religions and philosophies. You can tell people that it's a virtue to be rational, productive, or just, but, if they have not already arrived at that stage of awareness and development on their own, objectivism does not tell them how to get there. It does tell you you're rotten if you fail to get there. Rand's failure to provide a "technology" for attaining Objectivist moral values is not her only failure in this regard. She provided very little in terms of achieving any of the things she regarded as desirable, whether it was rationality, persuasion, or laissez-faire capitalism.
Hence the ironic spectacle of Rand followers who don't know how to be rational, Objectivists who don't know how to solve moral conflicts with other Objectivists, and the lack of a strong, vibrant Objectivist artistic movement. Posted by gregnyquist at 9: Friday, January 05, Objectivism: An Autopsy, Part 3.
In some respects, Rand's ideology of Objectivism can be seen as an over-reaction to the Marxist left. Rand lived through the Russian Revolution and experienced communism first hand. She despised the Marxian creed with every fiber of her being, and in her philosophy of Objectivism she sought to fashion a doctrine diametrically opposed to the collectivist and anti-capitalist dogmas of Soviet communism. Thus Rand wound up advocating a pure some might say "extreme" form of individualism and capitalism as a way to oppose the murderous collectivism of Marxist-Leninism.
Rand began formulating these doctrines more than seventy years ago. The ideological landscape has undergone significant changes during this time. After the publication of Alexander Solzhenitsyn's Gulag Archepelago , the Soviet version of Marxism became thoroughly discredited in the West, even among radical leftists. But the pathological urge to impose equity fairness on modern society has persisted among our civilizations' left-leaning discontents.
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