phil: this is a test...please ignore
ram: This is a test message... Good EST-noon, everybody. And good night from Israel.
frank: I have just joined in.
frank: I have just joined in and am listening to Missa Solemnis i the background.
frank: Agnes, Objectivists have yet to become very much interested in sociology, certainly not on the level of the paper you have submitted. There are plenty of statements from Ayn Rand about the dangerous consequences of an irrational climate of opinion, but no full-blown characterization of rationality, esp. in the context of scientific discovery, has been made yet.
breese: On refresh rate: I recommend that everyone get friendly with the "View Source" feature in your browser to read slowly without screen jumps.
phil: carolyn: every ten seconds the screen refreshes and moves to the bottom...I can't finish reading any paragraph, especially reviewing the one's above. it's extremely annoying. right now its refreshing the same para by irfan over and over.
robert: Who was footnoted and why? This is an important question because of the ethics (and etiquette--there isn't a sharp dividing line in this context) of scholarship. A classic tribal practice in academia--grossly in contravention of the way scholarship is supposed to operate--consists of citing people you agree with and avoiding citations of people you disagree with. In highly politicized factions, there are also approved postive citations and disapproved positive citations. Chris's concern in the case of Tara Smith or Allan Gotthelf strikes me as twofold: (a) people they disagree with are not cited, even when they are attacking or rejecting those people's arguments; and (b) people they might agree with are not cited because they are not approved by the tribal leaders. By the way, the "primary source" claim that Gotthelf makes in his book and that Irfan undertakes to defend is obviously bogus. If Gotthelf took "primary source" to mean Rand, he would never cite Peikoff, and if he took it to mean someone who knew Rand and her work and was obviously in the spirit of it, he would have included lots of other people. By contrast, if I think Peikoff has something to say, I ought to credit him--not refrain from citing him because I think he is a jerk and personally sets bad example. And I generally have cited Peikoff. The track record of the TOC folks is not perfect in this regard, but it is far superior to that of Smith or Gotthelf.
breese: caro: It amuses me that you have no way to directly talk at just one of us here! You'll just have to hope we each understand when you delay or don't post our comments. I, at least, do understand the importance of thread control and I think this is a good format choice!
robert: Chris, I am curious whether you think the degree of receptivity to Rand varies by academic discipline. Many of the participants here are from philosophy--and few academic disciplines have struck me as more hierarchical and more closed to new ideas than philosophy.
phil: for next time: refresh rate is not the problem. problem is it _moves the cursor_. If the cursor can be kept at wherever the participant is reading (could be trying to catch up if signed on late), rather than to bottom, that would satisfy everyone.
frank: Chris, you say that Ayn Rand was not "relativistic" about values, but she did hold view about context, certainly with regard to knowledge and concepts. So maybe St. Ambrose was pretty good, considering what he knew about the world then. But what of a red diaper baby or someone brought up in a Fundamentalist household today?
phil: You mentioin that Rand is now beginning to be taken seriously because of the recent books in reputable venues. The next level beyond mere acknowledgement would be viewed as central and prestigious. Talk about when and how that might happen...when the John Grays, Richard Rortys, WVO Quines will think they have to deal with her.
jamie: Greetings all! A lot of Chris' address is applauding the recent turn towards scholarship in Objectivism against the more anti-scholarship of the past and with ARI. I wholehearted agree with applauding this turn. My question for Chris is, now that we have something of an infrastructure for academic debate with JARS and Enlightenment, what’s next? I.e., is providing a forum enough or do we need to have more focused approach to topics? Do we need to aggressively challenge what is possibly wrong with (interpretations of) Objectivism or let all the perspectives sing out loudly? How much good scholarship do we need to impose on Objectivism? I am asking because there seems to be a divide in Objectivism between ATL where (almost) anything goes & the same old issues are asserted, and with the more academic stuff is being ignored by all but a handful of people. How do we move forward with this kind of divide?
frank: Chris, aren't you being rather pessimistic about the triumph of rationality, perhaps as a result of hanging around in the wrong places? When I see books like "Theoretical Archeology," "The evidential foundations of probabilistic reasoning," and "The logic of medicine," and many others pouring off the presses, I certainly see eminently rational reasoning throughout. What about the Human Genome Project? And what, pray, about the collapse of communism?
robert: OK, let me try again. I never feel too secure entering information into a cgi--it's too easily lost. In the exchange between Irfan and Chris I took Chris to be defending the basic principles of good scholarship: you cite everybody whose work you know and who has something relevant to say, whether you agree or not. In the more tribal reaches of academia, these principles are routinely violated in two ways. First, there is a strong preference for positive over negative citations--citations of people you agree with vs. citations of people you disagree with. Second, in the most factionalized areas there are approved positive citations and disapproved positive citations. In this context, it is very clear that in his book Gotthelf violates the principle in both ways. His claim to be citing only "primary sources" is an inadequate defense. As Chris and others have pointed out in the past, if he really meant this he wouldn't have cited Peikoff either. If Gotthelf doesn't trust either Nathaniel or Barbara Branden's memoirs, fine--he just needs to say so. Does he trust Rand's hagiographers, by the way? And if he doesn't, will he say that he doesn't in print? The TOC folks have occasionally ignored relevant sources, but their track record is far better than that of anyone associated with ARI--and far better than Gotthelf's.
jamie: Ok, I think that answers my question. I was also wondering what the message is in the address. Is it merely applauding the scholarship that is coming out lately, or are you trying to say something more normative?
breese: I wonder, Chris, how you see your own historical role. In your most optimistic moments, what kind of impact do you expect that your work will have on the world?
phil: I'm worried that the flood of books and publication includes so many people that have no clue what Objectivism is about (Robbins, Walker) that it's actual content will get distorted in the minds of scholars. Rand is listed in one reference work as a "libertarian philosopher" as though Objectivism were about politics. Should we be far more critical of our allies (and misrepresenters)?
breese: Perhaps more broadly, I wonder how you see the role of academic analytical historian types in the year 2001 and beyond.
breese: You, above, write about different specialists doing different things to advance something that sounds like a cause or movement. Perhaps because you sound like David Friedman when you say that :), I think you mean (elements of) libertarianism as the cause or movement. What do you honestly think libertarianism's impact can be on the world-at-large culture in the future?
jamie: Ok, I think that answers my question. I was also wondering about the message of your address. Are you merely applauding the new found scholarship, or are you saying something more prescriptive?
robert: You can find the same secarianism in certain areas of psychology, of course. A relevant difference between Objectivist scholarship and Marxist scholarship, however, is that Objectivists normally claim to be in favor of a free marketplace in ideas--and that was not historically a goal of Marxist efforts.
frank: Chris, outside the ARI band, are you seeing signs that Objectivists are opening up? That factions retreat into fundamentalism is characteristic of ideas in decline, as Randall Collins showed in "The Sociology of Philosophies," but this Objectivism is not at all in decline, just one small branch of it.
phil: follow up: a philosophy professor at last summer's TOC conference suggested that Nietzsche's rise to academic interest and prominence in philosophy courses might be a model for what could happen with Rand. Shortly after WWII Nietzsche was despised and ridiculed as Rand is now: an emotional, diatribe-ridden, non-systematic "literary" writer who on top of this defied the current consensus in favor of altruism and collectivism. One or two key professors who were already respected wrote a book defending him in terms the academy could respect. The key was they were published in the right place at the right time and influenced grad students at Harvard and Princeton. A generation passes and Nietzsche is in every? intro philo course. Is he right--is it timing, strategy, and appropriate venue? I.e., is it a targeting issue... do we need someone at Harvard or Princeton publishing before anyone in the "fraternity" will listen?
phil: tom/carolyn.... can you stop refreshing and "freeze" the screen we can review the transcript? thanks, Phil