Saturday, February 10, 2007

Objectivist Rumble

Despite the joking title, the disagreement between Objectivists is getting pretty ugly, in my opinion. Tracinski has been charged with intellectual dishonesty (here "these flaws seem to stem not simply from his ignorance of the subject matter, but from a desire to have his alternative to the Objectivist philosophy of history seem to fit the facts" and here "Tracinski is trying to diminish the causal power of philosophy in history, by inaccurately re-constructing Greek history in a way to fit with his own prior conclusion"), Mayhew's honor has been impugned (here for a link on why I used the word impugned--scroll down to Diana Hsieh's comments, here, here and here for Speicher's posts about Mayhew's response to Tracinski), Tore Boeckmann rudely tears into Stephen Speicher (here) (I'm not a big fan of sarcasm in text), though not necessarily inaccurate, way. There is also some implication that there is something going on behind the scenes (by Speicher's references here, here, and here).

I wonder how forums, where ideas can be bandied about by non-authorities, compare to local clubs and campus clubs. Certainly each club is going to discuss Objectivist ideas, most likely includes people unfamiliar with Objectivism, and is very rarely run by an actual Objectivist intellectual. I have been part of a weekly Objectivist club that has been meeting for seven years. All of us have differing levels of knowledge and none of us is an expert. My experience with our club has been positive. When we discuss an issue that we are having trouble with, another person who is familiar with Objectivism may be able to point out what is and is not working in our reasoning. I do enjoy the club when someone with a good level of integration of Objectivism is present--they can really cut through the rationalizations quickly--I find that I can still explore a lot about my own thinking even when the level of expertise is not high.

1 comment:

Nicholas Provenzo said...

I do wonder if some of these online debates suffer from the fact that the participants can’t look each other in the eye so-to-speak as they make their various arguments. But at root, I think the debate is most impacted by the skill of the debaters; a good debater sticks to the essentials, doesn’t nitpick, and doesn’t create side issues that are not germane to the fundamental issue at bar. In my view, it’s only when people consistently act badly that these things become an issue.