Sunday, November 19, 2006

There He Goes Again

In his review of The Ominous Parallels, Dr. David Gordon points out that Leonard Peikoff is not reliable when it comes to intellectual history. Gordon reviewed OPAR and commenting on the mistakes in that book said "The author of The Ominous Parallels has not lost his technique." One of these mistakes was the attribution of the famous phrase "we are all socialists now" to J.S. Mill.

Well, I'm up to session 9 of the DIM lectures and what does Peikoff say? You guessed it. "Mill said we are all socialists now."


Robert Campbell said...


Thanks for the link to Gordon's review of OPAR.

Gordon is kinda high on the snark factor, but he nails Peikoff on a number of historical issues.

One is the origin of "We are all socialists now."

Another is Peikoff's gross mishandling of Herbert Spencer. I also noticed this when I read OPAR, and have commented on it elsewhere.

Robert Campbell

ObjectiBlog said...

Prof. Campbell,

I think Peikoff should be afforded a little slack given that he is attempting to discuss most of the main issues of philosophy in 450 pages. On the other hand, Peikoff shouldn't write as if his thumbnail arguments are the last word and anyone who disagrees with him is an enemy of reason.

Robert Campbell said...


Besides being high on the snark factor, Gordon's review misreads Peikoff in places (e.g., concerning the meaning of the concept red).

But Peikoff's errors about Spencer are particularly galling when you realize that Peikoff discussed Spencer in his Modern Philosophy course back in the 1970s and did a fair-to-middling job on him there. OPAR shows a marked regression in Peikoff's thinking about Spencer.

I, of course, agree with you about the overall tone of OPAR.

Robert Campbell