virus: The Objectivist responds!

D.H.Rosdeitcher (
Tue, 9 Sep 1997 18:07:48 -0400

Nate responded to me personally but I'd rather put this discussion out on
the list.

Nate wrote:
> Kant wrote a treatise called "A critque of pure reason", just what did
>he used to critique it with?

I see how the title can get construed to mean a contradictory idea that you
can use reason to dump reason. However, there could be a different context
within which he means "critique of pure reason". When I saw that Hegel said
"A is A and not A" I assumed he meant that he disagreed with the law of
identity, but later I realized that Hegel was talking about a mental
phenomenon in which things imply their opposite. Objectivists often use the
notion, "my consciousness is valid" to jump to conclusions without looking
further into situations. Also, some Objectivists tend to believe that words
and phrases have somewhat fixed meanings as opposed to being completely
dependent on context.

> As for Hegel, his picture seemed mighty
>popular in the Soviet May day parades, and we all know how that social
>experiment turned out!

Any great thinker can get used by others to support any agenda. Nietzche
was used by the Nazis, for instance. I haven't read the book, "The
Judgement Day", by Nathaniel Branden, but I heard it was about people using
Rand's work to make a religion.

> I have considered that perhaps Rand is just another infection but her
>observations and predictions fit too well with what one sees in the
>world. Consider the border between East and West Germany before the wall
>came down. Who had to have the armed guards and barricades to keep
>people form escaping the socialist paradise into the capitalist hell?

I agree that communism doesn't work. But the value of a free society does
not need objectivism to justify it. Empirical evidence is fine.

>>Because people's minds are unhealthy, people generally do not think
>>critically.That's why memes which have attractive "viral shells" spread
>>better than memes which don't seem attractive on the surface. Rand with
>>her romantic fiction and Peikoff with his articulate lectures can spread
>>their memes more effectively in the short term than more serious and
>>scientific yet dry and uncharismatic thinkers like Popper and

> Who says dry is necessarily better? Writing is more than just getting
>the facts out its also about entertaining! I've read a little Popper
>but I've forgotten it. As for Wittgenstein, never heard of him.

I'm not saying dry is better. I'm saying that if a profound thinker
doesn't package his ideas right, he'd have a disadvantage spreading and
marketing his ideas.

>As for
>"Viral Shells" you touch on a problem that I see with Meme theory, that
>is: where do new Ideas come from? If its any good it comes from
>experiment I.E. direct contact with reality itself. Unhealthy Minds can
>only exist because a healthy mind is picking up the slack for it!

I agree that new ideas come from "reality", but "reality" can mean
anything. Notions like "existence" or "reality" as used in objectivism
appear to mean everything, but are just mental constructs of "everything
that is". This mental construct differs from person to person. (Now, notice
that I didn't say that *reality* differs from person to person, just the
*notion* of reality--people's mental models of reality.)
BTW, how does the comment about healthy and unhealthy minds follow from the
rest of the paragraph? And, is it that clear-cut, like in Rand's novels
like "Atlas Shrugged" and "Fountainhead", whose minds are healthy, and
whose minds are parasitical?

>>you study Kant carefully, or are you going by a second hand source?

>You got me there. I tried to read Kant but it was such a swamp of
>turgid twisted gobble-de-gook I could'nt make heads or tail of it. Its
>like some of these modern paintings with a bunch of junk splattered on
>it and your supposed to read something into it. Mind you I have a
>degree in Physics and I know how intimidating that subject is to most
>people. I have to get his stuff second hand because it's indigestible to
>me otherwise!

I once felt the same way about Hegel, when I saw how hard it was to read
him. But later when I was interested in finding out what he had to say, I
found him to be a more honest and interesting thinker than Rand and that he
was not a communist, nor anything like what Rand said he was.

Nate--I recommend taking this discussion to the Virus list. If you debate
with people who don't think like you do--ie.who do not make the same
assumptions--you might catch certain blind spots in your thinking that you
might never catch if you only debate with other objectivists. There happens
to be some fundamental flaws in Objectivist philosophy. For instance,
there's a problem with the axioms and assumptions which follow. (Notice, I
didn't say the axioms were incorrect, I just said there was a problem with
them )
--David R.