Comment by ragnar_rahl on Guardians of Ayn Rand · 2008-01-06T18:10:00.000Z · score: -5 (11 votes) · LW · GW

It's rather dishonest to compare Ayn Rand to the Soviets, there is a huge difference between kicking people out of your little club and sending them to Siberia. The philsophical difference from an Objectivist standpoint is force, the practical is death.

Read Rand's piece on "Objectivist ritualists" in The Romantic Manifesto to see that she was quite aware of the problem of too much cult-like behavior.

I do not agree with the characterization by the ARI of a "closed system" (which is why I'd rather associate with TAS), but that is a merely semantic matter of definition, and does not lead one to the absurdity that a PHILOSOPHICAL SYSTEM becomes obsolete as soon as a computer does, or some psychologist does work on "biases."

Both TAS and ARI are busily updating Objectivism (the latter wouldn't call it that) with more inductive reasoning to accompany Rand's largely deductive writings, but I don't see where the hell you get the claim that ARISTOTLE IS A SPECIAL CASE OF BAYES. For Rand or any other Objectivist to deal with Bayes is absurd, because Bayes starts by defining it's own central concept, probability, as the DEGREE OF SUBJECTIVE BELIEF. Objectivism has nothing to gain from such a thing, except in appropriating the math and adapting it if possible to an objective system (I'm not a mathemetician, so I'm not qualified to say whether such a thing would be possible. Nor does one gain any understanding of the nature of rationality (e.g. answer the question what is it rational for me to think) from as you recommend
" Studying up on the math of probability theory and decision theory. Absorbing the cognitive sciences like evolutionary psychology, or heuristics and biases. Reading history books..."
You seem to be confusing the role of philosophy. Philosophy does not exist to absorb what the special sciences say and spit it back out. Philosophy, and a philosophical concept like "rationality," cannot be defined or dictated to by science. Learning about some inherent "bias," or what people WANT to believe, tells you nothing about the truth or falsity of that proposition. At best, it might tell you how useful your efforts to persuade them of a proposition might be Reading history will tell you whether a given political move (assuming it's happened before, which has nothing to do with Objectivism of course, there is no complete historical capitalism by the Objectivist definition) empirically gets the result it seeks (which often aids in identifying rationality's opposite), but it will tell you nothing about the degree to which it is rational to trust the empirical, nor what a rational result to seek is, that is philosophy's domain. The math of probability theories and decision theories may have descriptive use (i.e. helping you know how to deal with people who think in the manner described), but until you show me one that doesn't rely on subjectivism as a de facto axiom, they can't tell you in the general case anything about how to be rational as such.

The entire point of philosophy is to provide constant truths, that last forever, or (if you're Kant) constant falsehoods that last almost as long.

Oh and Adirian, to dismiss a philosophy simply because of the order of events, is absurd, and to claim her "personal values" were "subjective" without evidence, is worse. Next you'll tell me that because the idea of atoms predated the case for them, there is no such thing as an atom. For one thing, the order of her writings does not necessarily indicate the order of her ideas, for another what is at one point whim can later be redeemed with the case at no cost to the ideas, regardless of what it makes you think about her personally.

Find one value in Objectivism she did not make a case for without relying on subjectivism. That is the only way you can regard that value as being subjective. Now if you want to say the case was inadequate, I'd still love to hear it, but it wouldn't establish "subjectivism," only error.