virus: Objectivists Anonymous

D.H.Rosdeitcher (
Wed, 10 Sep 1997 11:59:31 -0400

KMO dropped an Objectivist at my doorstep who's been sending me private
e-mails. Tell him to post to the list.
Here's the last post.

Nate wrote:

>>"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."

> Huh? Forgive me for being slow on the uptake here but just what the
>hell is that supposed to mean?

For instance, when you think of the color blue, the rest of the colors in
the spectrum may come to mind. Black implies white, up implies down. A
implies Not A. So, in terms of the subjective thought process A is both A
and not A.

>>"Objectivists often use the notion, "my consciousness is valid" to jump
>>to conclusions without looking further into situations."

> I've seen that. Got me there

>>"Also, some Objectivists tend to believe that words and phrases have
>>somewhat fixed meanings as opposed to being completely dependent on

> They do more than that, they try and define thier words so that the
>meaning can be tied to something real and not "context dependent".

If a word's meaning depends on its definition, then all the words in the
definition have to get defined as well. Then all those words that define
the words in the definition need get defined and it goes on ad infinitum.
Pretty soon you may come to a point where each word in a definition has
already been defined by other words, as words justify words in a circle
which need not have any relationship with reality. Words are tools, whose
meaning one guesses from its context.

>>"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."

> Let me see here, "Empirical evidence", Hummmmmm. Is'nt that based on
>the evidence of the senses. Which is Reason. Reason implies one thing:
>an objective reality. How about that! I'll make an objectivist out of
>you yet!

In both Objectivism and the Scientific method, the senses get used, but in
different contexts. In Objectivism, you start out with the assumption that
"the senses are valid" and draw conclusions about what is true based on
that assumption. In the scientific method, the senses don't necessarily
determine what's true--they don't have authoritative status--but they get
used to test and measure hypotheses. The difference between the 2 methods
is that in Objectivism you start out with a weak assumption as a solid
platform from which to build knowledge. In the scientific method, you start
out with a wild guess which you don't take as true, but try to criticize
and falsify.
Which approach brings about more progress? Do you know anyone who has
made major discoveries or breakthroughs using the Objectivist approach? The
notion that you need a safe way to validate your knowledge comes from a
myth that people like Kant spread a virus which said "your mind is no
good". Objectivism is the "vaccine" which says "your mind is good". But
such self-justifying ideas do not lead to progress, they just ward off an
imaginary spell.

>>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.

> We got to stop agreeing like this! I enjoy arguing too much!

>>"I agree that new ideas come from "reality", but "reality" can mean

> No. Wronge answer. Reality means only that which exists.

I agree that reality is that which exists, but, the *notion* (mental map)
of reality, changes from person to person, culture to culture. When you
refer to "reality" you refer to something so vast and vague that it cannot
get tested scientifically. The importance of the concept, "reality is that
which exists" gets over-estimated because of stories that you hear that the
cause of society's problems is that people think reality does not exist or
is a subjective phenomenon.

>>Notions like "existence" or "reality" as used in objectivism
>>appear to mean everything, but are just mental constructs of "everything
>>that is".

> Partial credit here. They are used in objectivism to mean everything
>that has existance. A mental construct of "everything that is" would
>have to include such bogus constructs as Santa or the Tooth Fairy.

Our *notions* of "everything that has existence", could be so far off from
"everything that has existence", that for all practical purposes the idea
of 'everything that has existence' is as imaginary as Santa or the Tooth
Fairy, which exist only in the mind.

>>"BTW, how does the comment about healthy and unhealthy minds follow from
>>the rest of the paragraph?"

> It dos'nt. Just an afterthought thrown in , in response to one of your
>previous comments

>>"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? "

>Sure. Are they getting government paychecks of some kind? Are they begin
>paid an honest days pay for an honest days work? (I do make an
>exception for some government employees like the military, but unless
>you can show law and order is necessarily dependent on them I classify
>such a person as a "parasite")

I've seen examples of people who make a living in the free-market act as
parasites by manipulating people. I've seen businesses that act to promote
their agenda which may not coincide with the benefit of their workers or
customers. As a libertarian, I don't advocate strong government, but there
are plenty of examples of cases which fall outside the model that
government people are bad, business people are good.

> For one thing I don't know how to post anything on that list.
>seem to do it for me anyway.

I think that to subscribe, go to the website at

>You make it sound as if I'm surrounded by
>hordes of fellow objectivists knodding there head in passionate
>agreement! Us hard core objectivists are few and far between. Believe me
>I get plenty of negative feedback!

Objectivism is a self-justification virus--it can survive without support
from other Objectivists. It works by giving you the feeling that you can
justify your own ideas without external feedback. And most people who give
you feedback are probably stuck in their own closed belief systems, which
according to objectivism is based on arbitrary notions like "God created
heaven and Earth". What if the foundations of objectivism turn out to be
arbitrary as well?
--David R.