The following is a sample post that Harry Binswanger uses for example of his mailing list. I wonder if the economist was Greenspan, because Harry uses the past-tense of objectivist.I also thought someone would be dying to add their comments since the board has been over run with a flurry of posting. <g>http://www.hblist.com/samples.htmPHILOSOPHY AS PRIMARY, 5/22/05In the late 70s, I and an economist who was then an Objectivist hada conversation with Ayn Rand which included the topic of therelative roles of philosophy and economics in a culture. Thisconversation is relevant to our ongoing HBL discussion of thefuture of the Arab states, so I thought I would relate it.The economist was maintaining that if laissez-faire capitalism were(somehow) instituted in a society, that would lead to the emergenceof a philosophy of rational self-interest. His argument was that insuch a society, those individuals who were rational and productivewould rise to the top. These individuals would become wealthy andinfluential. The irrational and altruistic would stay poor and loseinfluence, and the average person would see concretely, he argued,that rational selfishness leads to success and happiness, so thephilosophy of the culture would shift towards rational selfishness.Against this, I argued that philosophy not practical, worldly successis the only thing that matters. I don't remember, but I probablyaccused the economist of implicit Marxism, because he was holdingthat economic conditions create philosophy.Then Ayn Rand spoke. To my shock, she acknowledged a certain,limited validity to what the economist was maintaining. Herposition, if I am both recalling it correctly and stating it correctly,was that philosophy was, indeed, the fundamental, but that a goodeconomic system does indeed reinforce, through practicaldemonstration, the rightness of the philosophy it requires. There's areciprocal causation, she explained. *First*, there's the issue ofhaving the right philosophy, but then, secondarily, the rightpolitical-economic conditions reinforces, "downwards," so to speak,the social acceptance of that philosophy.I was impressed by her non-rationalistic approach. Rather thandogmatically holding to some absolute of "philosophy and nothingelse," she looked at the facts of reality--which do include the factthat (in my wording) people can learn from observing the practicaleffects of one way of life vs. another.I vaguely recall her adding something to the effect that this practicaldemonstration of the link between capitalism and success/happinesscould be overwhelmed by a bad enough philosophy. And even if shedidn't say that, it is clearly true that if no one in a culture is willingto question bad philosophical premises, or if the people who "rise tothe top" continue themselves to push the bad philosophy (andassume unearned guilt, exhibiting the sanction of the victim), thepractical demonstration of the link between rational selfishness andhappiness will not accomplish anything, philosophically.The relevance of all this to the current situation in the Muslimcountries is that one can neither dismiss nor exaggerate the impactof an improving political-economic condition on the populace ofthese countries. And crucial here is the mixed nature of the influence of America.On the one hand, America is both the philosophical and materialsymbol of the right philosophy. Philosophically, America means tothe world: the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.Materially, America is constantly beaming to the world the image ofa nation awash in a wealth that stands in a dramatic and continuouscontrast to their abject poverty. Plus, psychologically, Americanculture is a concretization of a life of happiness and self-esteem.On the other hand, America's intellectual leadership is constantlypumping out the opposite message. And America's culture, too, issuffused with malevolent, anti-rational elements--particularly in ourart, such as many of our movies, gangsta rap "music," and thewhole Religious Right's opposition to life on this earth.If America were morally and intellectually self-confident, if wewere proudly propagandizing for rational selfishness, I have nodoubt that the whole world, even the Arabs, would move withrapidity toward the right philosophy and politics. But given theactual state of affairs, with the mix of elements I outlined above, Ithink it is impossible to predict which way the world will go.Binswanger concludes with:In the end, the battle for the world's philosophy and freedom depends on what happens in that battle here in America.Let's roll!tngirl
tngirl,Harry Binswanger is great. I love his writings. Since Peikoff is getting up there in age, Harry appears to be the next person in line as Rand's "intellectual heir". Not sure if it's true or not....haven't really been keeping up with the latest hierarchical wranglings in the Objectivist world.I am fortunate to have attended a couple of his presentations in person. Once over 10 years ago in Texas back when I was really into the philosophy, and more recently in NYC (Greenwich Village) in a smaller and more intimate gathering. He's an engaging speaker, although not necessarily the most polished in terms of energy and fluency of words. But what he lacks in style, he more than makes up for in content and the rigorousness with which he logically dissects and presents any particular topic. He's also very approachable and a nice guy too. He doesn't have the standoffishness that alot of intellectuals seem to convey.
Just color me pea-green with envy - mostly because you were in NYC. It's been almost 10 years since the last time I've visited, but the wonderful memories haven't faded a bit.tngirl
Just color me pea-green with envy - mostly because you were in NYC. It's been almost 10 years since the last time I've visited, but the wonderful memories haven't faded a bit.But no envy for being in Texas?!? (LOL)
Actually I like Texas. I lived in Dallas for year c.1980 - I wish I had moved there instead of this godforsaken (local preachers would dispute, of course) town.Live and learn, die and forget it all.tngirl
Actually I like Texas. I lived in Dallas for year c.1980 Maybe YOU shot J.R. !! :-)Technically Objectivism shouldn't have a hierarchy...
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