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I recently read Branden's paper on The Benefits & Hazards of objectivism. Do you agree with what he's listed as the "hazards" of Objectivism? Was Ayn Rand only a pseudo-philosopher as suggested by Scott Ryan & also by Branden? Did Ayn Rand have little understanding of Psychology?

If anyone's read any more critics of the phil., are those worth reading?

asked Jan 19 '12 at 23:43

HarPea's gravatar image


edited Jan 20 '12 at 01:05

Greg%20Perkins's gravatar image

Greg Perkins ♦♦

I've never read any Branden before. Wow. That page struck me as a bunch of nonsensical psycho-babble from someone who is very confused. Not to mention the fact that Branden is still trying to ride on Rand's coat-tails after all these years.

(Jan 20 '12 at 03:35) Rick ♦ Rick's gravatar image

Can someone please locgally comment on Branden's piece so we can all understand better why he's wrong?

(Jan 20 '12 at 10:06) Danneskjold_repo Danneskjold_repo's gravatar image

It would be better if you select an argument from Branden's piece that you think makes sense, ask that as a question and then people can comment.

(Jan 20 '12 at 11:44) Humbug Humbug's gravatar image

As far as I can tell, most of Branden's comments are ad hominem attacks against Rand, rather than against the principles of Objectivism. I don't see any point in responding to those.

(Jan 20 '12 at 18:24) Rick ♦ Rick's gravatar image

@Rick which specific ad hominem attacks do you refer to ? It seems that he does seem to assign a lot of value to her teachings & philosophy while saying that she was flawed as a human.

(Jan 23 '12 at 18:39) Danneskjold_repo Danneskjold_repo's gravatar image

For example, in the section "Confusing reason with the reasonable", the author talks about how Rand accused people of being "irrational," about how she was a "relentless rationalist" (without saying that she considered rationalism to be a terrible and flawed philosophy), how she somehow doubted evolution, ESP and hypnosis, etc. -- so what? Those are direct or indirect attacks against her or comments about her, not about Objectivism.

(Jan 23 '12 at 23:58) Rick ♦ Rick's gravatar image

doubting ESP and other mystical forces should be a compliment ;-) Just kidding. But thanks.

(Jan 24 '12 at 20:55) Danneskjold_repo Danneskjold_repo's gravatar image

doubting ESP and other mystical forces should be a compliment? why so?

(Jan 25 '12 at 08:37) HarPea HarPea's gravatar image

What exactly does Ayn Rand refer to when she talks of "mysticism"?

(Jan 25 '12 at 08:41) HarPea HarPea's gravatar image

It was a lame attempt at humor, sorry. I just meant that if someone seriously doubts mystical phenomena, it's probably a sign of their rationality vs. an "ad hominen" attack.

(Jan 25 '12 at 09:15) Danneskjold_repo Danneskjold_repo's gravatar image

I do however believe in the so-called ESP & telepathy. I don't mean people are able to literally read others' minds. It's actually about how exceptionally good you are at reading body language, eyes, breathing pattern, etc.

(Jan 25 '12 at 14:49) HarPea HarPea's gravatar image

I also believe in astral projection. I'd accidentally experienced it once. Also, it's a highly advanced stage of Yoga.

(Jan 25 '12 at 14:50) HarPea HarPea's gravatar image
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Anyone reading the "Benefits and Hazards" paper should be cautioned to keep the wider context of it in mind (and to learn the context, if not already known). The opening section of the paper states: "Following an explosive parting of the ways with Ayn Rand in 1968, I have been asked many times about the nature of our differences." It wasn't just "differences" in the ordinary intellectual sense.

The paper expresses the context even more forcefully at the very end, in the section titled, "Closing," referring to "disgraceful lies that she spread about me at the time of our break ... her efforts to destroy me, to ruin my reputation and career...."

Ayn Rand's own explanation of the break was published in The Objectivist, May 1968 (published in September 1968), in an article titled, "To Whom It May Concern." That article concludes:

Consistency is one of the cardinal requirements of Objectivism, both philosophically and psychologically. It is a dangerous philosophy to play with or to accept half-way: it will stifle the mind that attempts to do so. In this respect, Objectivism, like reality, is its own avenger.

I regret that the demonstration of this fact had to come in so tragic and ugly a form.

Is Objectivism hazardous? Ayn Rand thought so -- depending on how one approaches it.

In the years since 1968, we have gradually learned more about exactly what transpired between Ayn Rand and Mr. Branden, both from him and Mrs. Branden and from other sources, such as The Ayn Rand Institute. The most damaging book (for the Brandens) that I know of, responding to the Brandens' public statements, books and even a movie, is The Passion of Ayn Rand's Critics: The Case against the Brandens, by James S. Valliant (2005).

In light of the wider context, we can look back on the 1982 "Benefits and Hazards" speech and observe more clearly what Mr. Branden was trying to do, and how he was trying to do it -- and then judge what merit, if any, his observations may have.

answered Jan 21 '12 at 03:13

Ideas%20for%20Life's gravatar image

Ideas for Life ♦

There is a philosophical debate and dilemma in the field of neurology--can we ever possess enough intelligence to understand the very mind that is doing the investigation? Sometimes I wonder if objective analysis and discussion about Objectivism, by its critics, is equally daunting.

Branden certainly came to write this essay based on a number of facts, which are important to know. And it came from a particular personal and historical context, which is also very important to know. Any reader who strives to make an objective assessment of his points should consider these facts or claims, integrate them to the best of his/her ability, and draw their best conclusions. When the topic is such an emotional-charged one, where you know your self-identity is so intertwined with the subject, it takes a lot of integrity and honesty to be objective. It's also important to be familiar with the various types of bogus arguments and defense mechanisms that are likely to be used, like ad hominem attacks, non sequiters, red herrings, etc.

I happen to think Branden makes many valid points in the essay. Rand's position about a female President is on target (unless someone can at last provide a persuasive defense here). I think an honest assessment of the facts of biology (genetics, evolution, neurology, psychology) shows that a person's philosophy may not be as singularly powerful and explanatory for peoples' thoughts and behavior as Rand claimed. Biology is part of our nature, after all, and we are more than walking conceptual-level brains.

But what is important to keep in mind is that Objectivism provides all the tools and guidance we need to look at reality, learn the facts, make rational judgments, and act accordingly. If perpection, logic and reason are virtues, then it is still a virtue to apply them to critiques of the philosophy itself. Like everything else, it's up to you to use your own mind to decide how much they are worth investigating, and what conclusions to draw from them. If there are aspects of Objectivism that don't seem consistent or complete to you, then critiques on those aspects may help you.

answered Jan 22 '12 at 13:23

QEDbyBrett's gravatar image

QEDbyBrett ♦

Thanks for an honest, unbiased answer. That helps.

(Jan 25 '12 at 08:35) HarPea HarPea's gravatar image

Thanks, I hope I succeeded. Another point to stress is that Branden is writing from his own context which the reader should keep in mind. But so is Ayn Rand, and everyone associated with her. Everyone wants to think and claim that they are being completely rational, impartial, and objective. But both people have strong identities, egos, and reputations they feel obligated to defend. That should be an essential part of the context when anyone tries to understand the positions and responses.

(Jan 28 '12 at 07:49) QEDbyBrett ♦ QEDbyBrett's gravatar image

I'm always open-minded. I'm looking forward to read the critics such as Scott Ryan. I've been recommended. I'd quote John Stuart Mill “He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them. But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion..."

(Jan 28 '12 at 15:21) HarPea HarPea's gravatar image

"I'm always open-minded."

Being active-minded is a virtue. Being open-minded is much more questionable.

This is a deep topic I can't cover in 400 letters, but to keep an open mind is to suspend conclusion. Why? Because someone said that that's a good thing to do.

If the evidence points convincingly toward a conclusion, and there's no evidence against it, then keeping an open mind on an issue is a mistake. Instead, conclude and move on to think about other topics.

An active mind is open to evidence, but not to arbitrary claims. One must be able to tell the difference.

(Nov 19 '12 at 22:08) John Paquette ♦ John%20Paquette's gravatar image
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Asked: Jan 19 '12 at 23:43

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Last updated: Nov 19 '12 at 22:08