Saturday, August 15, 2015

Objectivist Roundup

1.  Ayn Rand biographer Anne Heller will shortly be publishing a small biography of Hanna Arendt.

2. Ayn Rand’s novel Ideal was recently published.  Here is Heller’s review.

3. Harry Binswanger recently published his “conversion” story

4. Objectivist philosopher Greg Salmieri was interviewed about Rand’s ethical theory.

5. Peter Schwartz published In Defense of Selfishness.  Ex-Objectivist philosopher Bryan Register critiques it on his new blog here and here and here.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Greg Salmieri Interviewed

Objectivist philosopher Greg Salmieri is interviewed about Ayn Rand's ethics.  An enjoyable and nuanced discussion.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

My Amazon Review of Peter Schwartz's In Defense of Altruism

Peter Schwartz has penned a book that fills a need in Objectivist literature. According to Ayn Rand, selfishness is a virtue and it's opposite – altruism – destroys morality and civilization. While there has always been a good deal of discussion around these points, no one has written a full length defense of Rand's ideas.

Generally speaking, I enjoyed this book. Schwartz makes many excellent points and, along the way, makes a good Objectivist case that altruism has negative consequences for many areas, not just ethics. I do have a few criticisms.

1. Schwartz's best examples to prove his point are focused on what might be called "pathological altruism." Yes, we'd all agree that there is something wrong with someone who would give up all his body parts until he has none left, or gives away all his money to charity rather than leave any for his children; however, these are rather extreme examples. People generally live their lives with a proper amount of concern for themselves and others. I think Schwartz opposes selfishness and altruism in ways that don't correspond to our day to day decisions. It is certainly possible to have concern with oneself and also engage in "other directed" behavior.

2. Related to the above, Schwartz tries to make his case by caricaturing altruism. I don't know any "altruists" who would seriously maintain that it is morally desirable (if not obligatory) to give one's money to a drug addict.

3. Schwartz's understanding of history is better than the typical Objectivist's (for example, Leonard Peikoff's books are filled with all sorts of howlers, most notably his misunderstanding of Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem) but his discussion of religion, the Middle Ages, and the Renaissance could be a bit more nuanced.

4. Some of Schwartz's digressions, such as government regulation of medicine, are a little far afield from the main topic.

5. Altruism, as defined by the man who coined the term (Comte) does in fact mean something close to what Rand meant by it. Selfishness, however, means primarily concern for oneself to the expense of others. Schwartz is free to use terms as he wants, but he seems to think that if only the world used these words the way he does, the morality of selfishness would become clear. I think this places a little too much faith in the ability to discern morality from the proper use of terms.

These flaws notwithstanding, I recommend this book.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Onkar Ghate - Chief Content Officer of the Ayn Rand Institute

Onkar Ghate, Ph.D. bills himself as the "Chief Content Officer" of the ARI.

Dr. Ghate is no dummy.  Here are his self-described "specialties":

  • Objectivism
  • Ayn Rand's novels & ideas
  • Religion & Morality
  • Philosophy
  • Laissez-faire capitalism
  • Education & Multiculturalism
  • Government & Business
  • Culture & Society
  • Foreign Policy
  • Science & Industrialization 
Hoss, that's 16 specialties for a guy who is 48 years old.  

Well, you can't fault Dr. Ghate for a lack of self-esteem.  He's Ayn Rand, Ludwig von Mises and Arnold Toynbee all in one.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Craig Biddle: Islam, the West, Faith or Whatever

This is an article by The Objective Standard editor Craig Biddle.

Am I the only one who suspects that TOS uses some moderately advanced AI software to churn out endlessly mind numbing robotic essays like this?

Faith, reason, Christianity, Islam.

Islam, Christianity, reason, faith.

Etc.  How many combinations and permutations can Biddle come up with?  Is the guy bored?

TOS was never a great magazine, but since Biddle was booted out of Objectivism by Leonard Peikoff he's been left with his own writing and the B- writing of Ari Armstrong.

Percy Sledge, RIP

Saturday, February 07, 2015

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Nathaniel Branden Interviewed In 1989

Michael Kelly recently found this on YouTube.