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Friday, October 29, 2010

Thinking Rather Than Feeling

I read something that saddened me today because it deals with what I see as the beginning of a schism within the Objective community. I don't know all the facts involved, but to be honest, I don't exactly have to know about them to know that something is coming, based on past history and knowledge of such about philosophies and religions, etc.,.

Objectivists are a close-knit group of individualists, if that makes any sense to you. We're not thick on the ground and we crave the company of those who think as we do, just as any other niche group. So it is to be expected that when someone as revered without our society, as Leonard Piekoff is, takes a step away from all rational and logic thought, as it appears he has, we are all taken aback and react emotionally, even though we know better. I can't think of anybody I know that knows of this that hasn't said, "WTF?!" first.

It's an emotional safety valve so we can then rein it back it and think logically about what has happened. I learned of it only this afternoon when a Facebook pal was kind enough to link it on her status. I have to admit, my first reaction was, "WOW!" and I wasn't talking about Blizzard's fantastically popular MMORPG.

I have corresponded with both gentlemen involved in this. I wrote Craig Biddle earlier this year when The Objective Standard had an essay contest on the Morality of Capitalism. I was not qualified to enter their contest, but I did post my essay here and hopefully made my point of self-interest being the most moral of all things driving man, as it usually helps more people than all the charity and government sponsored welfare that has ever existed in the world combined. It helps them more than monetarily, it helps them build and live better lives.

I have emailed Mr. Piekoff about some questions on I had on moral relativism and he was kind enough to answer me.

I know neither man personally, and honestly do not have a horse in their race, however, the fall-out from this current discussion shows how easy it would be to drive a wedge within the small Objectivist community, perhaps tearing us all apart. To say that I worry about this is an understatement. Only because I look back on other "movements" within the philosophical world and realize that the one thing that tore most of them apart was introducing emotion rather than logic into the dialogue.

Refusing to use emotion rather than logic to think things through does not make you an automaton or unfeeling. It makes you think smart. In other words, I cannot let my own insecurities about my "Objectivist cred" color how I parse the arguments from either side. You must put away feelings and accept that no matter how ugly or hurtful some things are, you just have to plug that truth into the equation. One does not wring their hands over solving x in an algebraic equation, they just solve the problem, using their knowledge of mathematics and algebraic formulae to get the correct answer. Nobody wonders if x wants to be solved, or why they wanted to be mysterious and unknown, or if their are self-esteem issues or whether or not x came from a disadvantaged youth, you just solve for x.

I think of that analogy each time I am forced to explain something, like politics or religion, that people cannot seem to think about without a flood of emotion. I do not remember any story of Jesus or Aristotle making their points frothing at the mouth and breathing fire. They calmly laid out their ideas and it was up to each listener to decide if they wanted to accept it or not. Objectivist will groan and roll their eyes at my mention of Christ, but I promise not to roll my eyes when they talk about the concept of the cosmos and its beginning.

Anyway, I fear a schism, however we shall see what happens in reality. Being Objectivist I expect a fit of logic and sanity to break out and help us heal any hurts we may have. It is my fondest wish that Mr. Piekoff and Mr. Biddle can come to some sort of understanding. I have higher hopes with this group of individuals than I would with any other.

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