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Jimmy Wales: Objectivist

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Did anyone else know that the founder of Wikipedia is an Objectivist?

Wales is a self-avowed "Objectivist to the core", and has named his daughter Kira after the heroine in Ayn Rand's We the Living,[47] although he says, "I think I do a better job — than a lot of people who self-identify as Objectivists — of not pushing my point of view on other people."[68] When asked by Brian Lamb in his appearance on C-SPAN's Q&A about Rand, Wales cited "the virtue of independence" as important to him personally. When asked if he could trace "the Ayn Rand connection" to having a political philosophy at the time of the interview, Wales reluctantly labeled himself a libertarian, qualifying his remark by referring to the Libertarian Party as "lunatics" and citing "freedom, liberty, basically individual rights, that idea of dealing with other people in a matter that is not initiating force against them" as his guiding principles.[16] From 1992 to 1996, he ran the electronic mailing list "Moderated Discussion of Objectivist Philosophy."[69] An interview with Wales served as the cover feature of the June 2007 issue of the libertarian magazine Reason.[31]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jimmy_Wales#Personal_philosophy

B)

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Hmm-this seems interesting. I would love to hear the opinions of other Objectivists, active on the internet, who may have run across that mailing list (Betsy perhaps?).

Does anybody else know anything about this guy?

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Hmm-this seems interesting. I would love to hear the opinions of other Objectivists, active on the internet, who may have run across that mailing list (Betsy perhaps?).

Does anybody else know anything about this guy?

Sure, I knew him through the Internet and so did Betsy. He was a regular on Usenet on alt.philosophy.objectivism. He is a very level headed and reasonable guy, even though he went in the Kelley direction. I haven't heard from him in years, so don't know where he is philosophically now.

I'm happy for him and his success.

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Did anyone else know that the founder of Wikipedia is an Objectivist?

I don't know it, because it isn't true.

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Did anyone else know that the founder of Wikipedia is an Objectivist?

I don't know it, because it isn't true.

Whatever he calls himself, the "moderated discussions" he founded emphasized constant bashing of Ayn Rand and her philosophy, with little or no expertise revealed in the "discussions". It was not a serious place to discuss Ayn Rand and was not something that would have been of value to Forum members.

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Did anyone else know that the founder of Wikipedia is an Objectivist?

I don't know it, because it isn't true.

Whatever he calls himself, the "moderated discussions" he founded emphasized constant bashing of Ayn Rand and her philosophy, with little or no expertise revealed in the "discussions". It was not a serious place to discuss Ayn Rand and was not something that would have been of value to Forum members.

I remember him from alt.philosophy.objectivism and a bit from humanities.philosophy.objectivism. From what I recall he was always careful in trying to get things right, but was rather new to the philosophy and so went astray wrt the Kelley issue, which wasn't an essay issue to tackle. Anyway, I cut him slack on this because of his inexperience. I would hope the backwardness of David Kelley’s organization would have by this time made it clear to him that Kelley was wrong. If not, then my opinion of him wouldn’t be so high. I don’t remember him bashing Ayn Rand, but I do remember coming to the conclusion that he was serious and honest about ideas.

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I remember him from alt.philosophy.objectivism and a bit from humanities.philosophy.objectivism. From what I recall he was always careful in trying to get things right, but was rather new to the philosophy and so went astray wrt the Kelley issue, which wasn't an essay issue to tackle. Anyway, I cut him slack on this because of his inexperience. I would hope the backwardness of David Kelley’s organization would have by this time made it clear to him that Kelley was wrong. If not, then my opinion of him wouldn’t be so high. I don’t remember him bashing Ayn Rand, but I do remember coming to the conclusion that he was serious and honest about ideas.

I was not impressed with the seriousness of Jimbo Wales' approach to Objectivism nor with his concern for the truth. He seemed very pragmatic rather than principled, sticking with and defending Kelley and bashing Peikoff and ARI when he thought it advantageous to do so. The last I heard, when Kelley fell on hard times, Wales abandoned him, but I haven't heard that he now supports any other Objectivist group or cause.

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Whatever he calls himself, the "moderated discussions" he founded emphasized constant bashing of Ayn Rand and her philosophy, with little or no expertise revealed in the "discussions". It was not a serious place to discuss Ayn Rand and was not something that would have been of value to Forum members.

As I recall, the discussions showed a shocking lack of reading comprehension. I didn't hang around there for long.

I also remember him from a.p.o. and h.p.o.; not too impressed by what he wrote.

And I wouldn't call him an Objectivist (at least based on what I recall; it's been years), though he may call himself that.

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I remember him from alt.philosophy.objectivism and a bit from humanities.philosophy.objectivism. From what I recall he was always careful in trying to get things right, but was rather new to the philosophy and so went astray wrt the Kelley issue, which wasn't an essay issue to tackle. Anyway, I cut him slack on this because of his inexperience. I would hope the backwardness of David Kelley’s organization would have by this time made it clear to him that Kelley was wrong. If not, then my opinion of him wouldn’t be so high. I don’t remember him bashing Ayn Rand, but I do remember coming to the conclusion that he was serious and honest about ideas.

I was not impressed with the seriousness of Jimbo Wales' approach to Objectivism nor with his concern for the truth. He seemed very pragmatic rather than principled, sticking with and defending Kelley and bashing Peikoff and ARI when he thought it advantageous to do so. The last I heard, when Kelley fell on hard times, Wales abandoned him, but I haven't heard that he now supports any other Objectivist group or cause.

Okay, you may be right, but my approach to these things is to assume the best, unless I have evidence to the contrary. He was always reasonable with me on a personal level, at any rate.

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It figures. I thought this was a fishy thing to say.

Wales is a self-avowed "Objectivist to the core", and has named his daughter Kira after the heroine in Ayn Rand's We the Living,[47] although he says, "I think I do a better job — than a lot of people who self-identify as Objectivists — of not pushing my point of view on other people."

When Roark, the hero and moral ideal of Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead, saw what the second-handers had done to Cortland, he destroyed it. Wales, however, has allowed socialists to use his work as a mouthpiece for their agendas. Hell, he's proud of it because it proves he doesn't "push his point of view on other people". So my question is, in what way is this man "Objectivist to the core"?

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So my question is, in what way is this man "Objectivist to the core"?

He feels it - it must be so.

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Here is an example of where I thought he was serious about ideas.

This is from a posting by him on Usenet:

http://groups.google.com/group/alt.philoso...611933597?hl=en

It might help this discussion a bit to think about this from

the angle that _consciousness has identity_. That is, your

mind is not infinitely malleable. You are an entity of a specific

nature who must act accordingly; there is no escape from the law

of identity and the law of causality, not even in the realm of

the functioning of your consciousness.

...

It figures. I thought this was a fishy thing to say.
Wales is a self-avowed "Objectivist to the core", and has named his daughter Kira after the heroine in Ayn Rand's We the Living,[47] although he says, "I think I do a better job — than a lot of people who self-identify as Objectivists — of not pushing my point of view on other people."

When Roark, the hero and moral ideal of Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead, saw what the second-handers had done to Cortland, he destroyed it. Wales, however, has allowed socialists to use his work as a mouthpiece for their agendas. Hell, he's proud of it because it proves he doesn't "push his point of view on other people". So my question is, in what way is this man "Objectivist to the core"?

You're referring to issues like global warming on Wikipedia? If so, you have a point and I have to concede that's damning evidence against him, because while I see the value in his product, there is no value in the propaganda that is being propagated in some of the more politically charged issues.

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Here is an example of where I thought he was serious about ideas.

This is from a posting by him on Usenet:

It might help this discussion a bit to think about this from

the angle that _consciousness has identity_. That is, your

mind is not infinitely malleable. You are an entity of a specific

nature who must act accordingly; there is no escape from the law

of identity and the law of causality, not even in the realm of

the functioning of your consciousness...

Yeah, and directly after that he says:

The _purpose_ of ethics is happiness. In order to *be* happy, you have to

_value_. You have to cherish the smile of a child. You have to find

someone worth loving, and love them with all your heart. You have to

feel a generalized benevolence towards strangers who have done you

know harm, a basic goodwill in response to the potential of other

people who are alive like you.

This was not a serious student of Objectivism, in my opinion. Anyone with a remotely honest reading of The Fountainhead, let alone The Virtue of Selfishness would spot the stark contrast of his view of happiness with Ayn Rand's.

You're referring to issues like global warming on Wikipedia? If so, you have a point and I have to concede that's damning evidence against him, because while I see the value in his product, there is no value in the propaganda that is being propagated in some of the more politically charged issues.

It's not only about lack of value, it's about supporting your destroyers.

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Here is an example of where I thought he was serious about ideas.

This is from a posting by him on Usenet:

It might help this discussion a bit to think about this from

the angle that _consciousness has identity_. That is, your

mind is not infinitely malleable. You are an entity of a specific

nature who must act accordingly; there is no escape from the law

of identity and the law of causality, not even in the realm of

the functioning of your consciousness...

Yeah, and directly after that he says:

The _purpose_ of ethics is happiness. In order to *be* happy, you have to

_value_. You have to cherish the smile of a child. You have to find

someone worth loving, and love them with all your heart. You have to

feel a generalized benevolence towards strangers who have done you

know harm, a basic goodwill in response to the potential of other

people who are alive like you.

This was not a serious student of Objectivism, in my opinion. Anyone with a remotely honest reading of The Fountainhead, let alone The Virtue of Selfishness would spot the stark contrast of his view of happiness with Ayn Rand's.

He is over stating the case by saying "you have to find someone worth loving, and love them with all your heart", but life is about the pursuit of values and it is healthy and good to have someone to love, provided they are worthy of love. Notice he does say "worth loving", which is egoistic. It is healthy and good to have benevolence toward strangers in a rational society (there are places where it's not so healthy). Anyway, be specific, and tell me exactly what you're referring to.

Just to be clear, the discussion was over the ethics of emergencies and the point I thought was good is that in such a situation you would find it hard to do anything to survive, including throwing other people off a boat, because your consciousness is not infinitely malleable. In your normal day-to-day operation you're going to respect the rights of others and to change that on a dime is difficult.

You're referring to issues like global warming on Wikipedia? If so, you have a point and I have to concede that's damning evidence against him, because while I see the value in his product, there is no value in the propaganda that is being propagated in some of the more politically charged issues.

It's not only about lack of value, it's about supporting your destroyers.

Yes, this is what I was referring to.

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Yeah, and directly after that he says:

The _purpose_ of ethics is happiness. In order to *be* happy, you have to

_value_. You have to cherish the smile of a child. You have to find

someone worth loving, and love them with all your heart. You have to

feel a generalized benevolence towards strangers who have done you

know harm, a basic goodwill in response to the potential of other

people who are alive like you.

This was not a serious student of Objectivism, in my opinion. Anyone with a remotely honest reading of The Fountainhead, let alone The Virtue of Selfishness would spot the stark contrast of his view of happiness with Ayn Rand's.

That is Kelley's 'benevolence as a primary virtue', taken perhaps to an extreme even beyond Kelley. There is nothing wrong with benevolence, applied in context of what people are and what they deserve, giving them the benefit of the doubt when appropriate, but benevolence is not an out of context primary virtue and his description conflicts with a proper frame of mind with regard to fundamentals of what happiness is and what makes it possible -- you don't wander around like a blithering selfless idiot smiling and oozing at babies and everyone else, focused on others as the source of value. The value of benevolence does not warrant the inversion quoted above in which it is regarded as a fundamental source of value as a requirement for happiness in place of the basic virtues. I don't know what else Wales wrote about it, but what he describes above is at best a consequence of the Objectivist ethics, not the root of it, and is at best secondary to what makes values and happiness possible.

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He is over stating the case by saying "you have to find someone worth loving, and love them with all your heart", but life is about the pursuit of values and it is healthy and good to have someone to love, provided they are worthy of love. Notice he does say "worth loving", which is egoistic. It is healthy and good to have benevolence toward strangers in a rational society (there are places where it's not so healthy). Anyway, be specific, and tell me exactly what you're referring to.

What I was referring to is his claim that "in order to *be* happy, you have to...cherish the smile of a child...find someone worth loving...feel a generalized benevolence towards strangers..." Not only does this imply that happiness follows from emotions, rather than the achievement of values, but it implies that happiness depends on your relationships with others.

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That is Kelley's 'benevolence as a primary virtue',

Where does Kelley say that benevolence is a primary virtue?

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Yeah, and directly after that he says:
The _purpose_ of ethics is happiness. In order to *be* happy, you have to

_value_. You have to cherish the smile of a child. You have to find

someone worth loving, and love them with all your heart. You have to

feel a generalized benevolence towards strangers who have done you

know harm, a basic goodwill in response to the potential of other

people who are alive like you.

This was not a serious student of Objectivism, in my opinion. Anyone with a remotely honest reading of The Fountainhead, let alone The Virtue of Selfishness would spot the stark contrast of his view of happiness with Ayn Rand's.

I don't immediately spot the contrast. Can you sum in a few lines the mistake he's making? His list of examples of valuing are not what I would choose, but I don't see how it conflicts with Objectivism.

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Oops - my reply ended up in the quote tag above. To be clear, my comment/question is:

I don't immediately spot the contrast. Can you sum in a few lines the mistake he's making? His list of examples of valuing are not what I would choose, but I don't see how it conflicts with Objectivism.

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Oops - my reply ended up in the quote tag above. To be clear, my comment/question is:

I don't immediately spot the contrast. Can you sum in a few lines the mistake he's making? His list of examples of valuing are not what I would choose, but I don't see how it conflicts with Objectivism.

I replied above, to Thales.

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Okay, I’m going to put this in my words. The context was an emergency. You’re in a life boat and too many people are in it, so someone has to be thrown out. It’s difficult to throw somebody out because other people are often a value to you. Your mind is not infinitely malleable, so this would be extremely difficult to do. You’re used to respecting the rights of others, not throwing them off of boats.

Regarding the value of others to you, I believe it was Andrew Bernstein who said that your second greatest value, next to yourself, is usually other people. In a free society there are great values you get from others, from love, to friendship, to amazing goods and services. Without a free society, life is at subsistence level. These values generate benevolence, not mindless benevolence, but benevolence born of real objective value, and certainly not benevolence towards those who are not worthy.

It made sense to bring up others in the context of this discussion, because that was the question of the Usenet thread.

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Please reread what I wrote. My objection was not to the idea that friends are values - because they obviously are - but to the claim that in order to be happy, you have to love others. I actually thought what he wrote sounded so wrong that I wouldn't have to explain why it was. Even knowing the context, I don't see how that changes the meaning of what I quoted. In fact, it just makes that long post of his verbose and irrelevant. If it's an emergency situation, then you just worry about surviving and try to preserve your greatest values (in this case, loved ones). All that nonsense about identity and happiness and blah blah blah...irrelevant. I can respect that you found value in some things he said in that group, but if this is one of the better examples, then I can't say I share your estimation. B)

However, in the interests of fairness, if you can show that my analysis of what he meant isn't what he was saying (despite the fact that he said it in almost those exact words), I will reconsider my initial judgment.

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That is Kelley's 'benevolence as a primary virtue',

Where does Kelley say that benevolence is a primary virtue.

See Kelley's book titled Unrugged Individualism : The Selfish Basis of Benevolence. In it he makes the case that benevolence is an important virtue.

As to whether Kelley considers benevolence a primary virtue, I regard it an as error to claim benevolence as a virtue at all. A virtue is an action that gains or keeps a value, but I see benevolence as either an emotional state or a sub-class of justice (when it is toward someone of actual or potential value).

Kelley, however, does regard it as an action to secure something he highly values -- enough to write a whole book about it. In the book, Kelley attempts to show that being benevolent is a virtue because being nice to people achieves the great value of getting them to be nice to you!

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That is Kelley's 'benevolence as a primary virtue',

Where does Kelley say that benevolence is a primary virtue?

This is from the Editorial Reviews of Kelley's Unrugged Individualism : The Selfish Basis of Benevolence on Amazon.com here:

Editorial Reviews

Nathaniel Branden, author of The Psychology of Self-Esteem and The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem

"In his surperb monograph on benevolence as a necessary Objectivist virtue, Dr. Kelley beautifully fills a major gap in the Objectivist ethics."

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That is Kelley's 'benevolence as a primary virtue',

Where does Kelley say that benevolence is a primary virtue.

See Kelley's book titled Unrugged Individualism : The Selfish Basis of Benevolence. In it he makes the case that benevolence is an important virtue.

It's incorrect to say that he claims it as a primary virtue.

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