Thursday, April 7, 2011

Checkmate

(Published initially under the title, "Testing Rand's Theory of Culture.")

The theme under consideration: That philosophy is the driving force of a culture.

Some patterns already recognized/presupposed going into this analysis:

(1) The more Ayn Rand's (supremely perfectivist) philosophical ideas are exposed to the light of critical scrutiny, the more it turns out they hold up admirably and defeat their critics in the process.

(2) The "liberal" Ivy League intelligentsia are at present utterly unequipped and unprepared to deal with fact (1).

(3) The "liberal" Ivy League intelligentsia supposedly have all the best intellectual resources on their side; so why are they so utterly helpless in waging the war of ideas against their "neanderthal-like" anti-intellectual opposition on the political Right? What's stopping them from making an all-out slam-dunk effort to prove that their whole "progressive" worldview is so superior? I mean, it's so obvious how superior they believe it to be, isn't it? Couldn't they prove everything beyond a doubt in all their rigorously-peer-reviewed, Ivy-League-Press-published treatises, just like how peer-review helps ensure quality, thoroughness and true authoritativeness in the natural sciences?

(4) The "liberals" seem utterly weak at selling their ideas to an American audience. And the act of selling is so darned . . . capitalistic and entrepreneurial, innit? (For more evidence, see the stark contrast between the success of "conservative" talk radio and the failure of "liberal" talk radio to connect with listeners. If we used "liberals" as the model of reason, it would seem that reason has no selling-power, that it is impotent to change minds, and that the failure here can only be rationalized away attributed to a dumbed-down plutocracy. Also, note how this alleged model of reason illicitly smuggles in a neo-Marxian, materialist explanation for cultural conditions, another byproduct of modern Greek-ignorant philosophizing. Time for the "reality-based" and yet in-denial "liberals" to check a few premises and save themselves yet further embarrassment, perhaps? They might start by shifting their cognitive context away from the likes of Descartes/Hobbes/Hume/Marx/Rawls and toward true giants like Aristotle/Aquinas/Spinoza/Mises/Rand. It really works wonders, liberals! As an awesomely liberating, productivity-enhancing bonus, you'll become much less pathologically fearful and ignobly ignorant of capitalism in the process.)

(5) Neither the pro-Republican FOX News nor pro-Democrat MSNBC networks ever have any guests that you might term "serious philosophers." I mean, surely MSNBC could enlighten its audiences by have lots of university-professor guests who prove everything so well? Surely MSNBC's audiences would lap up the "manufacturing consent" theories of Noam Chomsky, if only this GE-owned subsidiary would have him on as a guest. Surely there's a whole coalition of Ivy League professors who could have broadcasted widely about the naked-emperor-like discrepancy between intellectual liberalism and MSNBC? Surely MSNBC could have them as guests to get the word out and enlighten the audience? (Surely, the professors are not too helpless and too un-enterprising to get the word out otherwise?)

(6) As Exhibit A of how low the mainstream culture has descended in absence of a boldly and decisively Aristotelian influence: The leading "public intellectuals" at the present are mostly the New Atheists - Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris, Dennett. Harris at present is trying to ground ethics (well, "morality") in biology, with a crucial element missing: Aristotelianism. His context inherits, as a given, a Humean style, with its unresolvable is/ought (or nature/goodness) dualism. (Were Aristotle around today, which philosopher - Sam Harris or Ayn Rand - do you think he'd be way, way, way more impressed by?)

(7) Thinkers like Aristotle and Ayn Rand manage to cover their bases like f***. Their performances are analagous to super-grandmastery in chess. The common standard is essentializing-comprehensiveness or assimilation, i.e., mastering the art of dialectic.

(8) An adjective, "Aristotle-like," comes to mind when I think of a pattern of instances of highly-functional human beings in this or that endeavor, such as the concretes listed in "About Me."

Okay, now the test.

Objection:
If Rand's theory of philosophy's ruling power over a culture were correct, then our culture would be dominated by the basically Rawlsian views of the Ivy League intellectuals in political matters. In fact, Rawls is considered by the philosophy professors to be the most important philosopher of the last half-century, and by a pretty wide margin. This is also borne out by other data which show just how much greater Rawls' influence among academic philosophers is than Rand's. These data are pretty good evidence that Rand isn't worth taking seriously as a philosopher, aren't they?

Reply:

Seriously, now?

In American culture, what is more widely read: Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand, or A Theory of Justice by John Rawls?

Moreover, while Atlas Shrugged has placed a distant second in polls of readers asked to name the book that influenced them most, what placed first?

Moreover, in what fundamental similar respect are the top two choices in these polls so very unlike John Rawls's treatise? Consider: the impact of a comprehensive vision of man and existence as against a merely-political focus. (See also: the Ivy League intelligentsia's utter helplessness in the face of theocratic and militant Islamism.)

Moreover, see point (4) in the list of patterns recognized.

Moreover, see all the other patterns recognized.

Moreover, the act of establishing the wider pattern among these patterns is one of first-handed thought and integration, and cannot be otherwise. (In this regard, Ayn Rand simply cannot be "taught" overnight, in talking-heads shouting matches, or undigested (or undigestible) soundbites; it requires something the ancients referred to as habituation, and what Rand referred to as automatization of well-functioning cognitive processes, which are essentially Aristotelian in nature. The modern revival of "virtue ethics" cannot be complete or understood by the community at large without the Aristotelian-Thomistic-Randian form of perfectivism.)

Unless or until you get this last part, you're pretty much out-of-it when it comes to understanding Ayn Rand's greatness - why she is, like Aristotle, always and everywhere vindicated by any attempt to deny her. The stated Objection is an example of jumping into an analysis of ideas mid-stream, i.e., of dropping context, thereby thoroughly failing to recognize the vast sum of integrated facts behind Rand's analysis of (in this instance) cultural causation. To them (the context-droppers), it would seem that Rand was - as they were themselves, in actual fact - jumping into cultural-causal analysis mid-stream, all arbitrary and dis-integrated. If ever there is an instance of psycho-epistemological projection among Rand's out-of-it critics, this is it.

(This is also why this psycho-epistemological deficiency needs to be systematically rooted out and discouraged among college students by the professors - but . . . you might see the vicious cycle involved here. And if there ever was an instance of jumping in mid-stream - by Aristotelian, though not Humean, standards - while appearing to provide systematic foundations, it's Rawls's theory of justice. [See also here.] This is held up as "great" philosophy by out-of-touch academics. Pseudo-foundational or insidiously un-foundational, anti-context, anti-hierarchy philosophizing is a characteristically "modern" technique - particularly in the "analytic" tradition, which the whole Aristotelian-dialectical tradition is lost on - and so by no means does it originate with Rawls; Rawls is just the terminal cashing-in of the whole methodologically and cognitively corrupt style. The non-integration involved here feeds into a festering non-integration between abstract theory and real-world practice. Integrating with pattern (4), we find that this is a by-product of a systematic rooting-out of capitalistic memes and personality characteristics among the wordsmith-intellectuals. Capitalist-types can't afford to flout context in their endeavors, see; that the fashionable wordsmiths have failed to recognize this - much less to understand it all the way down to the Aristotelian self-identical explanatory causal root - is a result of their failure to grasp the capitalists' context. Checkmated.)

Finally, a better, widespread understanding of these points and their logical interconnections would lead to great improvements for American culture.

Q.E.D.

Ain't integration fun? :-)

[ADDENDUM: The chickens' homecoming. Remember, kids: Integrate! :-)]

2 comments:

  1. I watched one of the so-called better atheists debate DeSousa and the guy should have stayed home, or at least off the sauce when doing a debate. He should have been able to show up DeSousa but instead, DeSousa mopped and polished the floor with him.

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  2. You seem to be going back and forth between referring to the general public's intellectual degradation (along with the intellectuals, of course) and then pointing to Ayn Rand's popularity as a sign of her philosophy's quality.

    Which is it?

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