Tito

Jimmy Wales: Objectivist

82 posts in this topic

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.

He said that in order to be happy you have to *value*. When you say "love others" it's overly broad, as if altruistic. He didn't say that. He said find someone worthy of loving and love them with all of your heart. This is one person, not a multitude, so it sounds like romantic love to me. That's what I assumed when I read it. And when he says "you have to", I think he's saying you ought to. If you live, should have values in life. This is the spirit of his posting, in my estimation.

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.

My whole point was that he was serious about ideas, not that he was great at philosophical argument.

Still, I have to think about this. Your point about Wikipedia has me reconsidering something about Jimmy Wales. For some reason I never thought of it from the perspective of the owner, but he should know better.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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.

Why is it incorrect?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Did anyone else know that the founder of Wikipedia is an Objectivist?

While this thread seems to have devolved into a rehash of the Kelley/Peikoff split that I thought both parties put behind them years ago, I will add that I was aware of Jimmy Wales' past contributions to APO and HPO. While he's not the most "philosophically pure" adherent of Objectivism, he did add to the discussion at HPO, and was a big part of the "glory days" of APO and HPO. For pure debate and honest disagreement that made both sides sharper, APO and later HPO from 1996 to about 1999 was unmatched. Once he and a few others stopped posting regularly, the newsgroup definitely went downhill.

One regret is that I never met up with him when he was trading at the CBOE (he and I traded some e-mails on the subject when he was living here but never explored it further). He seems to be pretty interesting, and has been successful as a businessman.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
He said that in order to be happy you have to *value*. When you say "love others" it's overly broad, as if altruistic. He didn't say that.

Yes, he did. Look at his examples (and only examples, strangely). They are all about loving or feeling benevolence for other people, as the basis of happiness.

Also, happiness doesn't result from having values, it results from achieving values. To be happy, you have to be successful at living, you have to experience your own productivity as a rational being. Contrast that with what Wales says. Other people are potentially wonderful values, but they are secondary values and are not what make happiness possible. That's why people who seek happiness in friendships end up being parasites with no lives of their own. "To say ‘I love you’ one must know first how to say the ‘I.’”

He said find someone worthy of loving and love them with all of your heart. This is one person, not a multitude, so it sounds like romantic love to me. That's what I assumed when I read it. And when he says "you have to", I think he's saying you ought to. If you live, should have values in life. This is the spirit of his posting, in my estimation.

He refers to both one person and the multitude, and he said "you have to" three times.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
While this thread seems to have devolved into a rehash of the Kelley/Peikoff split that I thought both parties put behind them years ago

You imply that this was a personal dispute. The problem is that Objectivism was Ayn Rand's philosophy, it was her intellectual property. Kelley treats it as public property open to "fixes" and amendments. People will be able to put this behind them when the Kelley/Branden groups stop calling themselves Objectivists, and stop presenting their wacky ideas as if Ayn Rand would have approved of them. They have coopted her name in order to give the appearance of official endorsement, which is fraudulent and cowardly. Better that they give credit where it's due, and call their ideas something else. Let their ideas stand on their own merit, rather than be supported by a lie.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
While this thread seems to have devolved into a rehash of the Kelley/Peikoff split that I thought both parties put behind them years ago

You imply that this was a personal dispute. The problem is that Objectivism was Ayn Rand's philosophy, it was her intellectual property. Kelley treats it as public property open to "fixes" and amendments. People will be able to put this behind them when the Kelley/Branden groups stop calling themselves Objectivists, and stop presenting their wacky ideas as if Ayn Rand would have approved of them. They have coopted her name in order to give the appearance of official endorsement, which is fraudulent and cowardly. Better that they give credit where it's due, and call their ideas something else. Let their ideas stand on their own merit, rather than be supported by a lie.

Well said.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
You imply that this was a personal dispute. The problem is that Objectivism was Ayn Rand's philosophy, it was her intellectual property. Kelley treats it as public property open to "fixes" and amendments. People will be able to put this behind them when the Kelley/Branden groups stop calling themselves Objectivists, and stop presenting their wacky ideas as if Ayn Rand would have approved of them.

That is true, and fortunately those groups are fading away over time, appropriate to their unrealistic nature.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
While this thread seems to have devolved into a rehash of the Kelley/Peikoff split that I thought both parties put behind them years ago

You imply that this was a personal dispute. The problem is that Objectivism was Ayn Rand's philosophy, it was her intellectual property. Kelley treats it as public property open to "fixes" and amendments. People will be able to put this behind them when the Kelley/Branden groups stop calling themselves Objectivists, and stop presenting their wacky ideas as if Ayn Rand would have approved of them. They have coopted her name in order to give the appearance of official endorsement, which is fraudulent and cowardly. Better that they give credit where it's due, and call their ideas something else. Let their ideas stand on their own merit, rather than be supported by a lie.

I really don't want to go here (bad memories of some of the nasty APO/HPO wars that I largely managed to avoid), but, while I disagree with some of Kelley's positions, I think it is acceptable, even desirable, to want to expand Ayn Rand's concepts into other areas, and for people to adopt their own philosophies using Ayn Rand's as a source. TAS does it, and so does ARI. Whether it's Tracinski (who's since moved on), Alex Epstein, Harry Binswanger, and yes, Leonard Peikoff, anyone who has published a derivative work that expresses his or her own views, or presents something other than Ayn Rand's own words is expanding her philosophy (if only a little), and at least indirectly using Ayn Rand's reputation to advance something other than her work.

Some organizations or people may more closely adhere to Ayn Rand's principles and philosophy than others, and I'm happy to hear views on all sides, but I don't accept the view that ARI or Peikoff are simply promoting Ayn Rand's philosophy without adding to it or adapting it to modern times. I think most people are capable of approaching the ARI or TAS, recognizing what is Ayn Rand's work, and what isn't, and forming their own judgments about it. I have no issues with either organization promoting her work, selling her books, or claiming ties to her philosophy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There is applying her philosophy - which is certainly something ARI intellectuals do a lot of - and then there's making changes or additions to it, which is the problem with Kelley's work. Obviously that isn't to say that we are limited to talking about or applying what Ayn Rand wrote, but anything we might have to add, our own ideas, are our own ideas and not a part of Objectivism. The folks at ARI try to be clear when they are stating the Objectivist view - based on Ayn Rand's writings - and whether they are promoting a view of their own they believe is consistent with Objectivism. Regardless of whether you agree with Kelley's ideas, Objectivism is a closed system and whatever Kelley believes is what he believes. He cannot make additions or changes to Objectivism anymore than he can change what Ayn Rand believed, because these things are one and the same.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
He said that in order to be happy you have to *value*. When you say "love others" it's overly broad, as if altruistic. He didn't say that.

Yes, he did. Look at his examples (and only examples, strangely). They are all about loving or feeling benevolence for other people, as the basis of happiness.

Listen, I disagree with your assessment and I don't want to belabor the point.

But, I did a search for another posting by Wales, where I think you'll see he has (had) a far stronger understanding of Oist Ethics than you give him credit for. I consider this to be clear evidence that he's not divorcing these values from his life:

http://groups.google.com/group/alt.philoso...76e51f53d?hl=en

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Listen, I disagree with your assessment and I don't want to belabor the point.

But, I did a search for another posting by Wales, where I think you'll see he has (had) a far stronger understanding of Oist Ethics than you give him credit for. I consider this to be clear evidence that he's not divorcing these values from his life:

Thank you. Clearly I was mistaken about his views, although I still think my assessment was dead on. It's possible he was just having an off day when he wrote it, or more likely (given events) he was conflicted about the issue. I don't think the discrepancy can be ignored if he indeed chose the Kelley path. If he had the strong understanding of Objectivism you've argued he had, that makes the choice worse, not better. In any case, I understand it's not an issue you want to continue to discuss.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
[...] I think it is acceptable, even desirable, to want to expand Ayn Rand's concepts into other areas, and for people to adopt their own philosophies using Ayn Rand's as a source. [...] [A]nyone who has published a derivative work that expresses his or her own views, or presents something other than Ayn Rand's own words is expanding her philosophy (if only a little), and at least indirectly using Ayn Rand's reputation to advance something other than her work.

(boldface mine)

What do you mean by "expanding" in this context?

This notion of "expanding" Ayn Rand's philosophy is a package-deal. It can include the legitimate application of her philosophy to new areas, the legitimate development of new philosophical ideas (based on her ideas, but stating something that she didn't discuss directly), as well as the illegitimate and immoral misrepresentation of her philosophy. A student of Ayn Rand's who develops some new philosophical insight should not claim that his work is a part of her philosophy, but rather specify that it is (perhaps) an application or implication thereof. If someone doesn't accept Objectivism as a whole, then they should not represent themselves as doing such by using that name to describe their own views.

I'm not interested in debating this topic, as it has been done elsewhere (including other threads on this forum), and I have nothing new to add there. However, it is important to be very clear on key definitions, like this one, where there has been a great deal of debate and controversy. It would be better to be specific about the relationship between the new work and Ayn Rand's philosophy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
That is true, and fortunately those groups are fading away over time, appropriate to their unrealistic nature.

It's not "fortunate." It was inevitable.

See Betsy's Law #1!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
That is true, and fortunately those groups are fading away over time, appropriate to their unrealistic nature.

It's not "fortunate." It was inevitable.

See Betsy's Law #1!

So how do you explain the rise of China and fundamentalist Islam?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
That is true, and fortunately those groups are fading away over time, appropriate to their unrealistic nature.

It's not "fortunate." It was inevitable.

See Betsy's Law #1!

So how do you explain the rise of China and fundamentalist Islam?

The sanction of the evil by the good.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
That is true, and fortunately those groups are fading away over time, appropriate to their unrealistic nature.

It's not "fortunate." It was inevitable.

See Betsy's Law #1!

So how do you explain the rise of China and fundamentalist Islam?

The Sanction of the Victim -- which puts the victims on the losing side.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
There is applying her philosophy - which is certainly something ARI intellectuals do a lot of - and then there's making changes or additions to it, which is the problem with Kelley's work. Obviously that isn't to say that we are limited to talking about or applying what Ayn Rand wrote, but anything we might have to add, our own ideas, are our own ideas and not a part of Objectivism. The folks at ARI try to be clear when they are stating the Objectivist view - based on Ayn Rand's writings - and whether they are promoting a view of their own they believe is consistent with Objectivism. Regardless of whether you agree with Kelley's ideas, Objectivism is a closed system and whatever Kelley believes is what he believes. He cannot make additions or changes to Objectivism anymore than he can change what Ayn Rand believed, because these things are one and the same.

I grant that ARI does make clear in the FAQ on its website that the views of others on the site must be viewed on their own.

However, Dr. Peikoff also states quite clearly that he "is Ayn Rand's legal and intellectual heir and the foremost authority on her philosophy." Surely this is intended to give ARI and Dr. Peikoff added credibility, and it's logical to assume that some (many?) who visit ARI's site and see that may give his views (even those he explicitly acknowledges as his own) the same level of credibility they give Objectivism.

On a side note, let's consider each point a little further.

Legal heir has a defined meaning, and it is a provable fact that he is indeed Rand's legal heir. However, that doesn't, in itself, impart authority on matters of philosophy.

"Intellectual heir," while bestowed by Rand herself, is subject to interpretation, as it has no legal or common definition. She may have considered Peikoff her intellectual heir before her death in 1982, but there is no way to know for sure whether she would consider Dr. Peikoff her intellectual heir today. Had Rand died 15 years earlier, then Nathaniel Branden could have legitimately claimed to be her "intellectual heir" and there might well have been an organization today run by "Ayn Rand's intellectual heir" providing tacit or actual support to the National Libertarian Party, or espousing some of Branden's later views on psychology. It sounds preposterous to us today, but nonetheless, the point remains that a lot can change in 26 years.

Finally, claims such as being the "foremost authority" on anything merit scrutiny. I think Dr. Peikoff has a pretty strong claim given his long association with Rand, but nonetheless might be more consistent if he stated who considers him to be the foremost authority and why.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I grant that ARI does make clear in the FAQ on its website that the views of others on the site must be viewed on their own.

That's what should be done.

However, Dr. Peikoff also states quite clearly that he "is Ayn Rand's legal and intellectual heir and the foremost authority on her philosophy." Surely this is intended to give ARI and Dr. Peikoff added credibility, and it's logical to assume that some (many?) who visit ARI's site and see that may give his views (even those he explicitly acknowledges as his own) the same level of credibility they give Objectivism.

If they don't take Ayn Rand and Objectivism on faith and always seek a first-hand understanding of every idea, that should not be a problem.

Legal heir has a defined meaning, and it is a provable fact that he is indeed Rand's legal heir. However, that doesn't, in itself, impart authority on matters of philosophy.

The final authority on philosophy, according to Ayn Rand, is reality and each man must identify it for himself.

Finally, claims such as being the "foremost authority" on anything merit scrutiny. I think Dr. Peikoff has a pretty strong claim given his long association with Rand, but nonetheless might be more consistent if he stated who considers him to be the foremost authority and why.

I do, to the extent that I find what he says accurately identifies reality. That's the only standard anyone should use when evaluating authorities.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Finally, claims such as being the "foremost authority" on anything merit scrutiny. I think Dr. Peikoff has a pretty strong claim given his long association with Rand, but nonetheless might be more consistent if he stated who considers him to be the foremost authority and why.

I do, to the extent that I find what he says accurately identifies reality. That's the only standard anyone should use when evaluating authorities.

Leonard Peikoff's intellectual authority arises from his actively discussing her philosophy with her and developing several courses and books based on it over a period of decades, all of those which were in her lifetime she explicitly approved of. His intellectual authority is not because of his "association" with her and not because of what other people think about him. The claim that "consistency" requires stating who else agrees is ludicrous. It is a matter of objective expertise.

Ayn Rand has now been gone for over a quarter of a century. No one speaks for her and no one can claim to "add" to her own philosophy. Almost everything she wrote, whether originally intended for publication or not, has now been published. Anyone can see for himself -- by reading it and applying sufficient objectivity in his own mind -- to determine what her views were and who else knows what he is talking about. That is the reality referred to by Betsy that is the standard of judging who is the foremost intellectual authority and to what extent new applications are consistent with her philosophy, not what other people think about it. Look for yourself.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The June 7th-13th 2008 edition of The Economist has an article, The free-knowledge fundamentalist, about Jimmy Wales.

Jimmy Wales is a consensus builder. I stopped reading the article at NPOV, "neutral point of view." There is only one view, that which agrees with reality.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The June 7th-13th 2008 edition of The Economist has an article, The free-knowledge fundamentalist, about Jimmy Wales.

Jimmy Wales is a consensus builder. I stopped reading the article at NPOV, "neutral point of view." There is only one view, that which agrees with reality.

I think you may have taken his words out of context. Here's an excerpt:

Mr Wales takes a different view. “I think that reality exists and that it’s knowable,” he says, adding that Wikipedia aims not for truth with a capital T but for consensus. “You go meta,” he says, meaning “beyond” the disputes and to the underlying facts. For instance, when deciding how to describe abortion, “I may not agree that it’s a sin, but I can certainly agree that the pope thinks it’s a sin.” Despite their disagreements, people on both sides of a debate can in many cases reach a consensus on the nature of their dispute, at least. Through this process, says Mr Wales, Wikipedia articles eventually reach a fairly steady state called the “neutral point of view”, or NPOV.

IOW, he seems to be saying that he wants to give people the facts they need to make their own conclusions and judgments about what's real, but won't impose his view of what's real. I think that's an appropriate take for a descriptive article. On abortion, for instance, I would not want to read in an encyclopedia that it is a sin, but at the same time, if an encyclopedic article ignores the existence of very strong controversy it isn't giving me a complete picture, either.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

An encylopedia is supposed to be useful. It is supposed to provide facts worth knowing about on subjects worth knowing about. Reading about the product of competing opinions, a soup of fact and fiction, of useful information and nonsense, doesn't do anyone any good, except to legitimize sources of garbage by giving them equal validity with reliable sources. Jimmy Wales should be imposing his view on what's real and important. It's his creation.

Offering the opinions of those with the worst epistemology and morality, like the Pope, doesn't clarify abortion itself; it only illustrates that some people haven't the faintest idea about it. If an article is specifically about the controversy over abortion, then it is proper, but the nature of abortion and the controversy over it are two quite different things. The Pope, and whoever else, can say all day that it's a sin. It isn't, and it only damages an article on abortion. If Jimmy Wales had any understanding of the value of information, he would base Wikipedia on the OPOV (Objective Point of View).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
It's incorrect to say that he claims it as a primary virtue.

Why is it incorrect?

Because he's never made that claim that I'm aware of.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The June 7th-13th 2008 edition of The Economist has an article, The free-knowledge fundamentalist, about Jimmy Wales.

Jimmy Wales is a consensus builder. I stopped reading the article at NPOV, "neutral point of view." There is only one view, that which agrees with reality.

I think you may have taken his words out of context. Here's an excerpt:

Mr Wales takes a different view. “I think that reality exists and that it’s knowable,” he says, adding that Wikipedia aims not for truth with a capital T but for consensus. “You go meta,” he says, meaning “beyond” the disputes and to the underlying facts. For instance, when deciding how to describe abortion, “I may not agree that it’s a sin, but I can certainly agree that the pope thinks it’s a sin.” Despite their disagreements, people on both sides of a debate can in many cases reach a consensus on the nature of their dispute, at least. Through this process, says Mr Wales, Wikipedia articles eventually reach a fairly steady state called the “neutral point of view”, or NPOV.

IOW, he seems to be saying that he wants to give people the facts they need to make their own conclusions and judgments about what's real, but won't impose his view of what's real. I think that's an appropriate take for a descriptive article. On abortion, for instance, I would not want to read in an encyclopedia that it is a sin, but at the same time, if an encyclopedic article ignores the existence of very strong controversy it isn't giving me a complete picture, either.

You might want to take a look at Wikipedia: Neutral point of view

Assert facts, including facts about opinions—but do not assert the opinions themselves. By "fact" we mean "a piece of information about which there is no serious dispute."
By value or opinion,[2] on the other hand, we mean "a matter which is subject to dispute."
Minority views can receive attention on pages specifically devoted to them—Wikipedia is not a paper encyclopedia. But on such pages, though a view may be spelled out in great detail, the article should make appropriate reference to the majority viewpoint wherever relevant, and must not reflect an attempt to rewrite majority-view content strictly from the perspective of the minority view.

From Jimbo Wales, paraphrased from this post from September 2003 on the mailing list:

If a viewpoint is in the majority, then it should be easy to substantiate it with reference to commonly accepted reference texts;

If a viewpoint is held by a significant minority, then it should be easy to name prominent adherents;

If a viewpoint is held by an extremely small (or vastly limited) minority, it does not belong in Wikipedia (except perhaps in some ancillary article) regardless of whether it is true or not; and regardless of whether you can prove it or not.

Keep in mind that in determining proper weight we consider a viewpoint's prevalence in reliable sources, not its prevalence among Wikipedia editors.

If you are able to prove something that few or none currently believe, Wikipedia is not the place to premiere such a proof. Once a proof has been presented and discussed elsewhere, however, it may be referenced. See: Wikipedia:No original research and Wikipedia:Verifiability.

(Bold is mine.)

I'm done with Jimbo Wales and Wikipedia and the BS known as "neutral point of view."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites