Saturday, February 23, 2013

Today's items: Hospers on Rand; Rand on IQ; drug policy

(Your task: mentally integrate, i.e., draw the connections between, these items.)

Item 1:

A real philosopher assesses Ayn Rand based on extensive first-hand interaction:

John Hospers: Conversations with Ayn Rand, Part 1.  Part 2.

Now, a portrait emerges of Rand that is . . . not so simple to sum up briefly.  ("It's complicated.")  On the one hand, Hospers speaks of her as having a wealth of insight ("life-changing") while at the same time being, um, difficult to explain many concepts in "academic-analytic philosophy" to.  It's most apparent that Rand's temperament and style of "doing philosophy" was at variance with those "in the mainstream."

So much the worse for the other, each might say.  Actually, how much does Rand differ from the "continental" tradition in this regard?  Rand was big on the whole meaning-of-life part of philosophy; she had a theory of aesthetics, for example, to which Hospers, an aesthetician par excellance (Exhibit A: see the Music section here), was quite receptive to.  In this regard, she was much more in line with the continental tradition of that time; the (academic) "mainstream" of American philosophy was grappling with its own problems, still in the process of recovering from positivism while at the same time doing hardly any grappling with Aristotle.

(Keep in mind that Anscombe's "Modern Moral Philosophy," which urged a return to Aristotle to remedy the ills of modern moral philosophy, had come out at the same time as Atlas.  Besides, the name "Anscombe" was more likely to prompt associations with Wittgenstein at the time, thereby helping to nudge those paying attention to Anscombe off the Aristotelian scent.  Only ca. 1960 did a new wave of Aristotle literature - Randall; Veatch - begin to hit the scene, which had hardly given the "mainstream philosophers" of the period a chance to assess it within their own [ahem] context.)  Rand's discussions with Hospers also occurred right around the time that Peikoff was finishing up his Ph.D. in Philosophy (under NYU's Sidney Hook), and Peikoff in The Art of Thinking (1992 lecture course) recounts in lecture 1 how he grappled tortuously with shuffling back and forth between the "pragmatist" academic context and the neo-Aristotelian context he was getting via Rand.  (He describes this as a problem of "clashing contexts" and it ties in with the phenomenon of mental automatization.)  So this is the context of the period.  Looking back, and armed with all the relevant integrated-information, there were ways in which Rand was well ahead of her academic competition; for example, the essential thrust of her ethics, irrespective of the logic-chopping treatment her argument receives at the hands of academic critics, gets it as right as the most extensive academic treatment to date of her normative ethics shows it to be right.  This doesn't even get us to the subject of Randian methodology, which may contain her most revolutionary insights of all.  (The search results in this link are a bit of evidence that I'm way ahead of the curve on at least some crucial issues in philosophy.  How long before a critical mass of others catch up?  Months?  Years?  Decades?)  And we also have a forthcoming volume on Rand's epistemology, edited by another serious philosopher, which is sure to have the neo-Aristotelian take on the epistemological issues Hospers discusses in Part 2 of "Conversations.")

Anyway, to cut to the chase: How is it that the one "outsider" professional philosopher who had extensive interaction with Ayn Rand managed not to come away thinking of her as a hack, or a lightweight, or a pea-brain, or a narcissistic megalomaniac, or a cunt, or a hypocrite, or a childish imbecile, or a worshipper of murderers, or an opponent of empathy, or a cult-leader, or . . . (fill in alternet/thinkprogress/salon smear of the day here, approvingly linked to by Prof. Bozo at the University of Chicago while being cheered on by his nasty little crony-type intellectual thugs who somehow "educate" the young'uns, who in turn blindly spread the smears around, mob-rule-like, on - all of which exemplifies, needlessly-tragically, today's mainstream intellectual state).

Supplemental links re Hospers and Rand:

Binswanger on Rand's break with Hospers

The Maverick Philosopher with a slanted, not-very-wise take on the entire contents of Hospers's two-part article.  Seems that the essential, to him, was the second part, out of context from the first.  This may be "maverick" philosophizing, but it ain't no ultimate philosophizing that I ever heard of.

Item 2:

Rand on IQ.  First, a link.  Damn, would you look at the first result there?!  Anyway, it's the quote of the day to chew on:  Wait, hold up again.  Would you look at the fourth result there?!  Does Google in conjunction with adept blogging facilitate the integration of information into knowledge, or what?  Okay, the quote:

In response to the question posed at the 1967 Ford Hall Forum, "Could you write a revised edition of Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology for people with an IQ of 110, or will it remain available [accessible? -UP] only to people with an IQ of 150?"

Rand responds: "I'd prefer that people raise their IQ from 110 to 150.  It can be done."

Gee, I wonder how?  Anyone have any promising, uh, leads?

Leads?  Yeah.  Let me just check with the boys down at the psych lab.

Item 3:

(R-rated language to follow.  Proceed at your own risk of being entertained.)

The coward-in-chief hides behind his drug czar.  This drug-policy situation has gotten completely insane.  You can quote me on that.  "Ultimate Philosopher, ultra-careful assessor of evidence, says U.S. drug policy situation is completely insane."  I'll say again what I said in a recent posting: There is no intellectually-credible case whatsoever even so much as on offer at this point in time for keeping drug policy the way it is.  This leaves only three possible explanations for why the status quo is at it is: (1) ignorance; (2) malice (including willful ignorance); (3) some combination of (1) and (2).  The coward-in-chief-who-hides-behind-his-drug-czar isn't ignorant (well, he does take pride in being ignorant of some things, the cocksucker), so that tells you about that entity's case.  That still leaves a bunch of other entities who are complicit in the drug-war insanity.  At least some elected House representatives have been coming to their senses with bills that should pass yesterday at the very latest.

Note the parallels between the state of the drug-war debate and the state of the marriage-equality debate.  One side totally wiping the floor with the other.  Actually, the parallel ends there: there's a basic minimum of a debate going on regarding marriage equality, happening in the courts; there's not even a debate going on about the need to radically dismantle the current drug policy.  It's one honest, well-informed side with all the supportable-by-reason ideas, up against a pro-status-quo monolith of ignorance and/or malice that has defaulted in the realm of ideas, with no arguments on offer at all.  There's no other explanation for this present status quo, there's no excuse for it, and Jefferson would be so disgusted at this outright insanity, as to fucking puke his guts out.

What about you, reader?  Are you, too, disgusted at this state of affairs enough to fucking puke your guts out?

(How, I wonder, did this situation come to exemplify, needlessly-tragically, today's mainstream intellectual state?  Whatever you do, Private Pyle, don't fail to integrate, that would break my fucking heart!  Oh that's right, Private Pyle, don't make any fucking effort to get to the top of the fucking obstacle.  If God would have wanted you up there he would have miracled your ass up there by now, wouldn't he?  Come on, Pyle, move it!  Up and over, up and over!  Are you quitting on me?  Well, are you?  Then quit, you slimy fucking walrus-looking piece of shit!  Get the fuck off of my obstacle!  Get the fuck down off of my obstacle!)

Also, as UP-blog-regulars know, the clock's ticking on that 4/20 thingy.

How does one declare "Checkmate, asshole," when the opponent has left the table, or never came to play at all?  How can one even say that it isn't worthy fucking adversaries we're up against, when no adversary has even shown up?  I declare for any and all with wisdom-loving ears to hear: This is fucking ridiculous!