Rational Ryan

The Peikoff Endorsement

113 posts in this topic

So they don't want to ban gay marriage or abortion? Teach intelligent design as a reasonable alternative theory to evolution? Ban Harry Potter?

Yes, a very small percentage that is over-represented and blown out of proportion does.

And they are probably over-represented and blown out of proportion because every time some southern politician says "homosexuality makes Jesus cry" it gives the snobbish, elitist, pretentious Leftist media a chance to giggle at their "backwoods", "redneck", southern Republican neighbors.

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...but how is religion going to stand up to Objectivism?

Out of all the people I've ever met, religious individuals have been the most sympathetic towards Objectivism and if not that at least respectful of it, whereas secular non-Oists just hate it.

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I don't see a serious threat from religion at all.

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Many Objectivists who assert the threat of religion appear to reside in Colorado where there is a significant attempt to impose religious doctrine, such as the ballot initiative for a state contitutional amendment to define a human as a fertilized egg. While I agree that religion as a political movement today is not a significant threat in the country, I'm curious as to what your evaluation of the situation in Colorado is.

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I was not speaking in reference to you, Betsy, but ewv seems very aggressive and negative towards anything Peikoff has to say. I did not mean to insinuate anyone voting in this election is anti-Peikoff.

Dr. Peikoff has done a great deal for Objectivism, to his eternal credit. It's a matter of history and that can't change.

He has also treated a lot of people injustly (and I am not talking about the Kelley crowd).

He also directly states on his own website http://www.peikoff.com/:

Q: I am writing to inquire about your sentiments on the current state of America and the world.

A: I now read only the front page of the New York Times, dropping each story when it is necessary to turn the page. That way, what is happening does not become too real to me.

which really speaks for itself.

He is also *not* using his control of Ayn Rand's intellectual property to maximum benefit in the electronic age, which is *the* key resource to making a difference in the culture if there is a difference to be made. He was always openly indifferent to the CD-ROM, and does not seem to understand the full potential of the internet. He is *not* taking translations into other languages, especially Chinese, seriously. (They were licensed without any regard for quality control and completely ignoring concerns by Chinese speaking Objectivists.) I know what I'm talking about on these issues (if you read Japanese, you'll see an acknowledgment to me for my assistance to the translator of Atlas Shrugged, after she was persistent in getting such help after being ignored and rebuffed by LP's literary agency.)

If he's given up the fight, he should at least place all of Ayn Rand's works into the public domain so that they can be freely copied, quoted, translated, wiki-fied, analyzed, argued about, stored on millions of electronic devices, transcribed onto etched superalloy sheets (one of my ideas) that would last millions of years, and searched all around the internet.

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The question that several members might want to start asking themselves is if they are ready to deal with reality and the truth.
With all due respect, what the blazes are you talking about?

I agree. If Rick has a systematic thesis he should write up an essay on it and post it in its entirety all at once, and stop being coy and overly Socratic.

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...but how is religion going to stand up to Objectivism?

Out of all the people I've ever met, religious individuals have been the most sympathetic towards Objectivism and if not that at least respectful of it, whereas secular non-Oists just hate it.

Same here in NY Metro. Staggering, isn't it?

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Rational Ryan, I was born and raised in the Bible Belt and can find absolutely zero evidence to support Peikoff's fear of Christian Republicans. The sweeping, dramatic arguments he makes fall flat on their face when you actually live with the people he is deducting claims from ignorance about. The vast majority of Christian Republicans don't want anybody--the government, other religions, other Christians--sticking their nose into their lives; they want to be left the hell alone to live life as they please, and they certainly don't want to meddle in the lives of others.

When Environmentalism and Socialism are poised right now to completely conquer America, it is absolutely preposterous to claim that Christianity is some kind of a dominant threat.

I am not saying those 2 things are not a threat, but that the threat of religion is substantial in ever-present.

The Religious Right is a billion dollar racket to this day.

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Many Objectivists who assert the threat of religion appear to reside in Colorado where there is a significant attempt to impose religious doctrine, such as the ballot initiative for a state contitutional amendment to define a human as a fertilized egg. While I agree that religion as a political movement today is not a significant threat in the country, I'm curious as to what your evaluation of the situation in Colorado is.

If I were in Colorado, I would fight against that constitutional amendment.

The issue is not the source of the idea, but that it is wrong idea backed up with a government gun. (For those concerned about the source of immoral laws, observe that almost all of them actually implemented recently have been promoted and justified on secular grounds.)

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I am not saying those 2 things are not a threat, but that the threat of religion is substantial in ever-present.

The Religious Right is a billion dollar racket to this day.

Is this more or less than has been spent in the past? Do you have a citation for this figure? What percent of that money goes to affecting political candidates? How does it compare to what other pressure groups spend? What laws have been enacted on a national level that have been pushed by the Religious Right? How does "ever-present" relate to effectiveness in achieving results? The party of the religious right, the Republicans, is about to be kicked out of power across the national level.

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...but how is religion going to stand up to Objectivism?

Out of all the people I've ever met, religious individuals have been the most sympathetic towards Objectivism and if not that at least respectful of it, whereas secular non-Oists just hate it.

Same here in NY Metro. Staggering, isn't it?

Actually, it is quite predictable. The better religious people reject nihilism and skepticism and want to defend virtue and values. They cling to religion because it is the only value system they know -- but they are eager to learn more and open to argument. As several formerly-religious Objectivists will attest, many are Good Objectivist Material ™.

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...but how is religion going to stand up to Objectivism?

Out of all the people I've ever met, religious individuals have been the most sympathetic towards Objectivism and if not that at least respectful of it, whereas secular non-Oists just hate it.

I too have met many religious people who are sympathetic to Objectivism. But, I also know people who have had miserable childhoods because religion was foisted on them dogmatically. I know a few Objectivists have said as much and I believe you'll find they have a much dimmer view of religious people as a rule. Religion unleashed is dangerous, after all.

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Many Objectivists who assert the threat of religion appear to reside in Colorado where there is a significant attempt to impose religious doctrine, such as the ballot initiative for a state contitutional amendment to define a human as a fertilized egg. While I agree that religion as a political movement today is not a significant threat in the country, I'm curious as to what your evaluation of the situation in Colorado is.

Betsy responded already, but here's a couple cents from one who lives in Colorado. First, like most states, the urban-rural political breakdown goes Democrat-Republican, respectively. The primary exception is Colorado Springs, which is the headquarters of Focus on the Family. There is also the large military presence, which leans Republican.

The state has swung to the left, with polls showing that Obama has a strong lead. We have a left-leaning Governor (particularly on "green" issues) and an even more leftist mayor in Denver. I believe both the state senate and house have Democrat majorities, as well. Given how things are at present, I would be very surprised if the anti-abortion amendment passes. Of course, it will depend on voter turnout, but it certainly looks like the Dems have enough emotional investment this election season to turn out. I'd guess the majority will vote "no" to that amendment (and that would also include some moderate Republicans and independents).

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Many Objectivists who assert the threat of religion appear to reside in Colorado where there is a significant attempt to impose religious doctrine, such as the ballot initiative for a state contitutional amendment to define a human as a fertilized egg. While I agree that religion as a political movement today is not a significant threat in the country, I'm curious as to what your evaluation of the situation in Colorado is.

If I were in Colorado, I would fight against that constitutional amendment.

The issue is not the source of the idea, but that it is wrong idea backed up with a government gun. (For those concerned about the source of immoral laws, observe that almost all of them actually implemented recently have been promoted and justified on secular grounds.)

But wouldn't one important tactic be to point out that the source of the ideas is religious and, therefore, a violation of the 1st Amendment?

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But wouldn't one important tactic be to point out that the source of the ideas is religious and, therefore, a violation of the 1st Amendment?

That would work only if the effect of the legislation is to establish a religion by government power. That runs smack into the First Amendment. If a law is inspired by some religious belief but is effectively secular there is no First Amendment case.

ruveyn

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But wouldn't one important tactic be to point out that the source of the ideas is religious and, therefore, a violation of the 1st Amendment?

That would work only if the effect of the legislation is to establish a religion by government power. That runs smack into the First Amendment. If a law is inspired by some religious belief but is effectively secular there is no First Amendment case.

ruveyn

No. The legislation does not concern establishing a religion. The first amendment concerns any legislation that has its origin in religion. "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion..."

What is secular about a considering a fertilized egg a human being with the right to life? Is there any non-religious organization that upholds such a position?

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What is secular about a considering a fertilized egg a human being with the right to life? Is there any non-religious organization that upholds such a position?

Even so, such a law does not establish a religion. As unpleasant as the proposed law is, it does not violate the First Amendment. Where the law can be fought is on the same basis as the Supreme Court partially legalized abortion in the first place, to wit, the ninth amendment.

ruveyn

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...but how is religion going to stand up to Objectivism?

Out of all the people I've ever met, religious individuals have been the most sympathetic towards Objectivism and if not that at least respectful of it, whereas secular non-Oists just hate it.

I too have met many religious people who are sympathetic to Objectivism. But, I also know people who have had miserable childhoods because religion was foisted on them dogmatically. I know a few Objectivists have said as much and I believe you'll find they have a much dimmer view of religious people as a rule. Religion unleashed is dangerous, after all.

I would bet that far greater people in America have had terrible childhoods with secular or mostly non-religious parents then with religious ones.

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What is secular about a considering a fertilized egg a human being with the right to life? Is there any non-religious organization that upholds such a position?

Even so, such a law does not establish a religion. As unpleasant as the proposed law is, it does not violate the First Amendment. Where the law can be fought is on the same basis as the Supreme Court partially legalized abortion in the first place, to wit, the ninth amendment.

ruveyn

Such an argument is typical for conservatives who drop the context of the First Amendment. What would the First Amendment mean? That Congress pass a law saying the the pope is now the head of state? Such an interpretation is unreasonable. The Supreme Court did not legalize abortion based upon the Ninth Amendment. Any law that uses a religious tenet as the basis for its passage is a law respecting the establishment of religion, and is unconstitutional. Such a law uses force to make other religious (or non-religious) people abide by that legislation.

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One of the things that strikes me about Peikoff's analysis, i.e. that religion is the biggest threat, is that I don't remember Ayn Rand ever making an equivalent point...

Yes.

Precisely.

Ayn Rand argued again and again that the primary problem with religion in American politics is that it is used to argue in favor of liberty and that religious arguments for liberty undermine it at every level:

1.) Ayn Rand objected that when American conservatives based their argument for man's rights on the idea that they're god-given, they conceded that reason and science were on the side of socialism.

2.) Ayn Rand objected that it attempting to argue that the American system of liberty was based on universal Christian standards, American conservatives were attempting to base the justification for capitalism on tranditional religious-altruist morality -- a contradiction that, over and over again, required Conservatives to concede that socialism held the moral high ground.

3.) Ayn Rand objected that in attempting to base the American system of liberty on Christianity, American conservatives were doomed to repeat the exact process of defeat at the hands of the sophistries of Kantian-subjectism that had already led to all of the abridgments of liberty we already suffer.

Ayn Rand saw religion as a false doctrine doomed to fail as a defense of liberty and as a false doctrine that politically-culturally displaces any meaningful attempt to challenge any of the philosophical premises that led to the rise of statism in America.

Ayn Rand saw religion's danger to American liberty as an indirect. Religion is a false defense that acts as an ideological fifth column within the ranks of those who attempt to defend liberty using it.

That is not to say that Ayn Rand ever neglected the potential for religion to be a direct threat to liberty. She fiercely opposed all religious restrictions on abortion as direct threat to liberty: an attempt to enslave women to the "un-born" non-existent non-entity -- the fetus -- that is a part of their body during pregnancy.

Remarkably, in her public statements, Ayn Rand often turned away opportunities to ridicule religious belief. Instead she focused her comments on building a new rational foundation for moral belief and moral aspirations. It appeared that she did not want any part of tearing down the moral aspirations of others unless it was a part of building rational foundations for morality. To me, a life-long athiest, this was a remarkable aspect of Ayn Rand's treatment of religion. It almost looked like a gesture of respect towards religious people -- not to their irrational, evil, and self-destructive beliefs -- but to their personal, spiritual, moral ambitiousness.

Leonard Peikoff's current view of the dangers of religion to American liberty is different from Ayn Rand's. Following the fall of the Soviet Union, he sees religion as the primary and direct threat that exists for American liberty. This difference is based on the change in historical circumstances: there is no more international loyalty to a Communist "ideal." This change in circumstance is a real change that must alter the way we Objectivists treat religion. As long as socialism is dead, religion is the alternative as the primary threat to liberty.

Unfortunately, the events of the past ten years have proved that socialism is not dead. It has reared its ugly head in more purely nihilistic and anti-intellectual neo-Marxist variants of collectivism and in the anti-man ideology of environmentalism. Unfortunately, Dr. Peikoff's view that religion is the primary threat to American liberty does not fully acknowledge the fact that socialism is still alive. Furthermore, Dr. Peikoff's view on the nature of the religious threat are based on his "DIM Hypothesis" on the role of epistemological method in history.

It is clear (to me, at least) that Dr. Peikoff refers to his "DIM Hypothesis" as a hypothesis precisely because it is not an idea that Ayn Rand formulated and was not a part of her philosophy of life. He argues that his hypothesis is consistent with Objectivism and he treats his hypothesis as a logical extension of Objectivist views in epistemology. The "DIM Hypothesis" is not, however, a part of Objectivism...at least not as of yet. As of now, it is unproven.

Based on what I know of it, I do not agree with the DIM Hypothesis. In-so-far as it correctly identifies the effect that epistemological method has on the ideas that move history, it is only correct to the extent that it repeats Ayn Rand's many philosophical distinction between the intrinsic, the subjective, and the objective. Without going into details, I will simply assert that I do not think it is a good method for understanding the way that ideas have moved history. At best, the "DIM Hypothesis" can only describe half of the way ideas move -- the half in which they move deductively from the general principle to the specific practice. As far as I can tell, the DIM Hypothesis is invalid when it comes to the other half of the way ideas move history -- the half in which they move inductively from the human experiences of specific practices to general principles.

(I must also disclose that I find the terminology of the DIM Hypothesis personally revolting. The use of specialized jargon and acronyms such as "I2" "D2" "M2" are -- at best -- a bad use of language. For we who speak and read and write it, plain English is objective communication. Semi-cryptic acronyms are not.)

One participant on this thread referred to "the anti-Peikoff crowd." On one topic, I guess I am "anti-Peikoff." I find it peculiar to be in that position. It was the taped lecture courses on Objectivism taught by Dr. Leonard Peikoff that helped me -- more than any other source of information or experience in my life -- to understand Ayn Rand's idea of objective methodology.

That philosophical understanding, above and beyond the general "logical-empirical-scientific" mental method I had prior to reading Ayn Rand, has been a constant source of intellectual strength that has enabled me to bravely face and successfully penetrate many confusing questions. But based on what Dr. Peikoff taught me I cannot integrate or use his pronouncements on the most elementary of the current political issues of the day: which candidate I should or should not vote for. I know well his feeling of frustration and utter contempt for the political choices we face today -- they are my own -- but his pronouncements on this and other elections are not intelligible to the mind that he helped to train: mine.

In making a choice on November 4, I don't have to stay home because it is impossible to chose the lesser of two evils this year. There is no reason for paralysis. Both candidates aren't equally bad. There is a significant difference between the two. It really does matter which of the two candidates wins; which of the two parties wins. I can vote against the candidate who obviously is the worst; the party that plainly should not win. Arguing for liberty is more important than voting, but voting is something that I can do, too.

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I would bet that far greater people in America have had terrible childhoods with secular or mostly non-religious parents then with religious ones.

Irrationalism is not confined to religious people.

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Such an argument is typical for conservatives who drop the context of the First Amendment. What would the First Amendment mean? That Congress pass a law saying the the pope is now the head of state? Such an interpretation is unreasonable. The Supreme Court did not legalize abortion based upon the Ninth Amendment. Any law that uses a religious tenet as the basis for its passage is a law respecting the establishment of religion, and is unconstitutional. Such a law uses force to make other religious (or non-religious) people abide by that legislation.

Here is a snipped from the wiki article on Roe v. Wade:

Roe v. Wade , 410 U.S. 113 (1973) is a United States Supreme Court case that resulted in a landmark decision regarding abortion.[1] According to the Roe decision, most laws against abortion in the United States violated a constitutional right to privacy under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The decision overturned all state and federal laws outlawing or restricting abortion that were inconsistent with its holdings. Roe v. Wade is one of the most controversial and politically significant cases in U.S. Supreme Court history. Its lesser-known companion case, Doe v. Bolton, was decided at the same time.[2]

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The right to privacy was established as a consequence of the ninth amendment in Griswald v. Connecticut.

So the right to privacy and due process is at the heart of Roe v. Wade. if the Colorado legislation is to be fought in the courts, it must be on the basis of the ninth amendment right to privacy and it must also prove that the proposed legislation deprives a woman of due process. If the matter if fought in the courts it must be along the lines that the court has established. General philosophical principles do not win cases. Basing the case on precedent and the constitutional right to privacy and due process might win the case, if it goes to court. The court makes the rules and the case must be fought on the basis of these rules.

I too, object to the proposed Colorado legislation on both scientific and philosophical grounds, but that will not win the case in court.

ruveyn

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The first amendment concerns any legislation that has its origin in religion. "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion..."

"Respecting" there means "has as its subject." You can't have a law whose subject is establishing a religion like the Anglican Church in England. In England, the Church is supported by tax money and once did not allow full religious or political freedoms to Jews, Catholics, and other non-members of the Church. This led to many of them fleeing to America and making sure, in the First Amendment, that it could not happen here.

What is secular about a considering a fertilized egg a human being with the right to life? Is there any non-religious organization that upholds such a position?

That's a scientific / political issue and I have known a few atheists -- and even A.R.I. contributors -- who have believed a fetus is a person with rights.

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In the long run, the religious are worse, because mysticism will trump consistent skepticism and apparent moral authority will trump relativism.

If this is true, how did skepticism ever come to overcome religion in Europe and among the Left?

As I understand it, it was Aristotelianism (Aquinas, Bacon, Galileo) that overcame religion in Europe (the Renaissance and the Enlightenment), then Hume, Kant, and others, re-introduced skepticism.

It is not religion that skepticism is attacking now but reason, and, if reason is defeated, religion will fill in the blanks.

Having said all that, I think the Left is more injurious in the short to intermediate term, and that's really what's important. The near-term threat is the important one for our purposes (spreading Objectivism).

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In this case he said he's not voting, which is different from last election, where he said he'd vote for Kerry.

Doesn’t Palin believe in evolution? I thought she did. I could be wrong.

Palin said in a rather dishonest interview that she thought evolution should be taught in science class. (The interview was dishonest, because both the interviewer and Palin skirted around the substance of the issues, essentially making it seems as if Palin is a perfectly reasonable, rational individual.)

The context of that question was the seeming fact that Palin is a creationist. THAT is such an egregiously irrational viewpoint that it disqualifies someone for the position of President.

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Dr. Peikoff echoes my own personal sentiments exactly. I have been saying here all along that the religious right and the Republicans are vastly more dangerous than the Democrats, and that in this election, both sides are equally awful and there is no one to vote for.

I think the people arguing otherwise have not been eating their Objectivist Wheaties.

IMHO.

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