The Monkey writes,

"Objectivism, your version, is a particular type of the generic form of objectivism which is generally regarded as an ethical theory."

This is poorly researched (if at all it is the product of research). Objectivism as I use the term refers to a fully integrated, rational philosophy. It is not restricted only to ethics. Objectivism has five main branches, and they are: metaphysics, epistemology, morality, politics and aesthetics. Ayn Rand, the originator of Objectivism, typically used the terms 'morality' and 'ethics' to refer to the same branch of philosophy.

I don't know what Monkey has in mind by "the generic form of objectivism," or
where he gets this idea. If he thinks that Objectivism is restricted exclusively to ethics, then he does not have the same philosophy in mind that I do.

The Monkey wrote:
"That should have come as no surprise as the starting axiom 'existence exist' quite clearly avoids any attempt to answer such questions as, -What exists?"

Yes, of course. The axiom 'existence exists' is a statement of a primary, irreducible and undeniable general fact of reality. It is not intended to address questions about the identity of particulars, such as "What exists?" That does not make this axiom "wrong," nor is it any kind of deficiency of the axiom. The general answer to the question "What exists? is, simply: Things that exist. (I.e., it is tautological in the same sense and for the same reason that the common expression of the law of identity - A is A - is.) But it should be clear that such questions already implicitly assume the fact that existence exists. Objectivism simply makes such assumptions explicit and shows their proper place in a rational knowledge hierarchy. How one could object to this is beyond me. And since Monkey's complaint here seems to be built on the assumed expectation that the axiom ‘existence exists’ is supposed to say more than it is intended to, it cannot actually be a point against Objectivism, since this would-be objection is based on a false assumption.

The Monkey wrote:
"Why is there existence?"

Such questions are conceptually invalid, because they must invite stolen concepts. Any supposed answer to such a question would have to point to something which exists if it were intended to make any sense, so an attempt to answer such a question could never hope to gain any explanatory ground. There is such a thing as an invalid question. Have you ever heard of the fallacy called "complex question"? This is a fallacy which you'll find listed among other fallacies in a basic logic text. Also, any question which baits one into accepting or committing a fallacy must also be fallacious, since it implicitly grants validity to a fallacious assumption, or expects one to grant validity to a fallacious assumption in the attempt to answer it. The question "Why is there existence?" is just such a question.


For more on this, see the following essay:

http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Sparta/1019/LTYA/LTYA07.htm

The Monkey asked:
"Could existence exist in any other manner from the way it does?"

Objectivism answers this question in the negative. Objectivism holds that the fact of existence is absolute, and that existence does not conform to consciousness. Try wishing for a thousand dollars to appear in your hand sometime. Why do you think it does not appear? The basic principle for why this does not happen is that reality simply does not respond to wishes, as mystics would have us believe (cf. "prayer," "miracles," "divine intervention," etc.). Consciousness does not dictate reality, rather its proper function is to identify it and integrate what it identifies into an larger, systematic and hierarchically organized non-contradictory sum. One cannot do this on a false view of reality (e.g., god-belief). The basis of such false views of reality is known as the primacy of consciousness. It holds that in some manner and to some degree consciousness holds metaphysical primacy over existence. This can include the idea that existence is a creation of an act of consciousness (e.g., the Judeo-Christian notion of “creation ex nihilo”), the idea that objects do not have an identity of their own, but that they must be supplied by consciousness, the idea that acts of consciousness can revise the identity of objects by an act of will (e.g., ‘miracles’), etc. Objectivism rejects this view because a) it contradicts the primacy of existence view, which is true, and b) it commits the fallacy of the stolen concept.

Some philosophers affirm the primacy of consciousness view by claiming that reality is "contingent." By this they mean to say that reality “could have been different” from the way it actually is (cf. the notion of “possible worlds”). How do they know this? Well, they tell us, we can conceive (i.e., imagine) that reality could have been different. Instead of the tallest mountain being on the Asian continent, we could conceive that it could have been on the South American continent. They try to give such speculations credibility by claiming that assuming such does not contradict any "a priori" assumptions. Objectivism rejects such notions as this because a) it implies that our imaginations are the arbiter or defining agent of reality (as if reality needs a “defining agent”), thus squaring with the primacy of consciousness view and compromising the primacy of existence, and b) it drops the context of what we do know about reality (e.g., the tallest mountain is on the Asian continent, not on the South American continent). Many other concerns also point to the invalidity of claiming that reality "could have been different," such as the fact that a rational view of causality is dropped from the epistemological context of identifying reality, the acceptance of the analytic-synthetic dichotomy (which Objectivism rejects), etc.

But even if one wants to accept the notion that “reality could have been different,” even to consider this or provide a defense for it, he would have to assume the fact that existence exists at least implicitly (thus leading to stolen concepts). But he could not settle the issue of metaphysical primacy without compromising it in some manner, for the notion in question has definite primacy of consciousness implications, which many thinkers are unwilling to acknowledge.

The Monkey writes:
"Quite clearly such an axiom avoids any possibility of arriving at any conclusion which includes a deity. It is excluded by definition right at the beginning."

Precisely. Existence exists, and only existence exists. Non-existent beings do not exist. I'm glad this is clear.

The Monkey wrote:
"That wouldn't be a problem for me until I see the wholly pernicious and outrageous claims made for your particular version of objectivism. Objectivism, claims to show how to solve the Palestinian/Israeli conflict. Amazing claim for a so-called philosophical idea."

How is a claim about "how to solve the Palestinian/Israeli conflict" even relevant to philosophical fundamentals? Indeed, one would have to assume certain fundamentals before he could even comment on the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, let alone develop and propose a solution, viable or not. Monkey's statements here seem to jump philosophical tracks and assume certain reversals. A plan to solve the Palestinian/Israeli conflict does not invalidate or refute philosophical primaries. Rather, the primaries are assumed, acknowledged, ignored or denied by such proposals, and normally only implicitly. So it is puzzling what relevance Monkey sees here, and why he would let such a particular issue impact his assessment of fundamentals. Besides, what plan is he talking about? He does not cite the plan or the author of the plan in question. Thus we are not privy to what the plan claims, or the arguments which may be given in support of it. He does not even point out his own criticisms of the plan in question. So I cannot see how this is even relevant to begin with. It is clearly a red herring issue.

The Monkey states:
"It strongly advocates Social Libertarianism as a political theory."

I do not know where Monkey is getting his information. Objectivism does not advocate libertarianism as it is understood. It advocates laissez-faire capitalism. Rand published an entire book on her political philosophy. It is called Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal (1964) and is still in print to this day. It is the strongest defense of capitalism that I am aware of. Thus, again, I question Monkey's sources (or his understanding of those sources) when he states "Not I might add by any rational argument." He nowhere even attempts to establish this claim, he simply  states it as if it were self-evident. But clearly, he does not cite any Objectivist sources, probably because he has not read them (he calls it "Social Libertarianism" and no Objectivist source that I know of refers to its political theory in these terms), and probably because he has no genuine firsthand criticism to launch against it.

The Monkey wrote:
"This is merely imported wholesale into the theory and just accepted as a given."

This is another baseless charge. How does Monkey support it? He does not. He simply presents the accusation and, ironically, seems to "just accept it as a given." Doesn't wash.

The Monkey wrote:
"Concept stealing on the largest scale imaginable."

Even if Monkey could establish that Objectivism incorporated a previously formulated view into its political doctrines “wholesale,” this still would not be an instance of concept-stealing. Unfortunately, in spite of the fact that I have provided numerous sources which explain the nature of this often-undetected and unquestioned fallacy, few here seem to understand just what the fallacy of the stolen concept really is. That's really too bad, because this fallacy can only choke one's cognition, not liberate it as many so uncritically assume.

The Monkey wrote:
"There is the Disciple/devotee mentality clearly visible as a part of the religious zeal with which the theory presented is pushed."

Really? Where do you get this idea? This is just more mischaracterization of rational philosophy. Those who continue to mischaracterize rational philosophy either do not understand what it is they're talking about, or openly embrace irrationalism, or both. But clearly, Monkey’s criticisms here are founded on ignorance, and probably motivated by unquenched resentment of some kind. I.e., it appears to be motivated by emotions, not by information.

The Monkey wrote:
"Your form of objectivism may dismiss those ideas presented by religious groups: I'm not going to moan about that."

Objectivism rejects all arbitrary claims, such as religious claims about the existence of gods, demons, angels, ghosts, resurrected deities, supernatural realms, etc. This seems to bother some folks. But why should they care so much what others do not believe?

The Monkey wrote:
"It then goes on to embrace the worst aspect of religion by setting itself up as a pernicious spread the word, gospel singing Disciple and devotee organisation."

Again, this appears to be another intentionally slanderous mischaracterization. While the IOS and the ARI are organizations, Objectivism as such is not an organization. One does not become a "member" of an organization by ascribing to Objectivism. In fact, I ascribed to Objectivist views for almost 8 years before I met another Objectivist. So the idea that it is a religious organization is in gross error here.

The Monkey wrote:
"I asy this because of the way the organisation was structured. Some mad Russian woman is the figurehead or leader with disciples who are the only one's 'authorised' to speak on behalf of the organisation."

Again, what sources is Monkey reading to get these ideas? Why does he not quote them and give us references? Although Rand may have appeared to be angry at times (what human being is never angry?), I don't see how one could characterize her as "mad." Also, Rand did not proclaim herself to be a leader over others, or as a figurehead over an organization. In fact, she was fundamentally opposed to the idea that Objectivism should be thought of as an organization with a leadership and flock of followers. Rather, she viewed Objectivism as a philosophy, and argued that it was not a dogma (like religion, where men are compelled simply to believe what they are not expected to understand). There's quite a difference here. And Objectivists today do not see Rand as their "leader" or "savior" or any other kind of deified figure, but as a pioneer in the field of the philosophy she formulated and developed.

The Monkey wrote:
“Real discussion is non-existent on the website, interested parties being expected to purchase books – only the official ones of course – to find out what kind of crap is being pedalled.”

Which website is this? And how are these points even relevant to the truth of rational philosophy? Monkey does not say. He seems interested in grasping at anything in order to present it as a point of criticism. Why? Who knows. He probably doesn’t know himself. What relevance does someone’s website have in relation to my position? I am not the author of the website he has in mind (although, I am working on developing a website, but that might be some time now… so stay tuned). What others choose to do is a reflection on them, not on others. Apparently Monkey wants to pedal some kind of guilt by association here? Now, that’s pretty cheap, so I hope not.

Besides, if you want websites where discussion of Objectivist ideas takes place by e-mail, there are plenty on the web. Here are a few of the more serious discussion fora available on the web, including several at the two following links:

http://www.wetheliving.com

http://groups.yahoo.com/search?query=objectivism

Incidentally, I just did a search on the MSN communities site, and found quite a few (note, I cannot vouch for the quality or seriousness of discussion on these sites):

http://communities.msn.com/Objectivism

http://communities.msn.com/StudyofObjectivism/home.htm

http://communities.msn.com/SFSUObjectivistClub/home.htm

http://communities.msn.com/ObjectivistForum/home.htm

http://communities.msn.com/Objectivists/home.htm

http://communities.msn.com/APhilosophyofReason/home.htm

So, if you are truly interested in discussing Objectivist ideas with seasoned Objectivists, chances are you might find some at these websites. But a word to the wise: this is the internet, so there are no guarantees on the quality of content you might find on some discussion groups.

The Monkey wrote:
“Finally the whole brand of this new form of objectivism is suspect, in the same way the real objectivism is, by its fundamental adherence to the notion of axiomatisation. Quite simply, ‘axioms are in the eye of the beholder’.”

I’m not really sure what Monkey is trying to say here, since he does not clarify what exactly his point of criticism is. He simply gives no substance here. And what is meant by “axioms are in the eye of the beholder”? Are you saying that axioms are invalid or unnecessary? Do you think they are arbitrary? If either of these positions reflects your ideas on the subject, this would suggest to me that you think you can dispense with starting points, thus implying that you have no basis to argue for or against anything. Knowledge for you is merely a mass of stolen concepts, none relating hierarchically (i.e., logically) to any others, each accepted in isolation from each other, without a guide to truth, without a means of validation. This does not speak well for your credibility as a thinker. But, if you dispense with axioms, and give your thought no anchor, then enjoy what you deserve as a result, for you only decapitate your own range of abstractions; you do not gain anything by forsaking the law of identity.

The Monkey wrote:
“For example, existence exists.
To say of a thing that it exists is to say nothing about the thing in question….
To say for example that A exists is to say nothing at all about the attributes of A. Unlike a statement such as A is red, in which we are making the claim that redness is an attribute of A. To say a thing exists is to make a claim about the universe. The claim being that there is a universe and it has the attribute of containing A.”

How exactly is this a point of failing? As I indicated above, the axiom ‘existence exists’ is not intended to make any statement about the identity of particulars. It merely identifies a fundamental fact of reality: it exists. It cannot be held accountable for failing to do that which it is not intended to do. And it is undeniably true that existence exists. Objectivism holds that we assume this truth when we attempt to make identifications about particulars, since the concept ‘existence’ is axiomatic in nature and thus implicit in any mental process dealing with particulars or things which exist. It does not appear that you have at all studied Objectivism, and if you have, you’ve probably studied it with the goal of misrepresenting it and comprehending it according to malevolent ambitions, and then only cursorily, not with any degree of thoroughness of integration or concern for accuracy in understanding. I don’t think you honor the system, or your own mind, by making these kinds of charges.

Peter also seems to be in agreement with Monkey’s error here, for he calls this an “extreme flaw.” But how is it a flaw? Do they deny the fact that existence exists? Well, if they deny the fact that existence exists, then they would be saying that there is no existence. How much credibility would that gain their position? I don’t think it would gain them very much. But then again, Monkey seems to dismiss the whole notion of axioms, and thus allows any cognition of his to float adrift in a sea of unrelated and disconnected contexts (i.e., non-contexts) and thus he is at the mercy of ever-present fallacies, come what may. He doesn’t seem too concerned about the quality of his thinking if that’s the case (and judging from what he’s provided, it appears that this is the case). Whatever it is, this mental chaos resulting in the minds of those who reject reason, it is not knowledge.

The Monkey wrote:
“It is an apparent predicate. The noun is only apparently predicated.”

I’ve excerpted this portion from the above quoted paragraph so that Monkey can explain in explicit terms exactly what he means by this point. I want to know if Monkey knows what he means by this, if he can explain it, and if he can defend it as a point of criticism against the fact that existence exists. If he cannot explain it and defend it as such, then perhaps he should abandon it as a point of criticism against the fact that existence exists.

The Monkey wrote:
“The word existence is suspect because it is making a claim about the totality of things.”

The concept ‘existence’ applies only to those things which exist, whether we are directly aware of their existence or not. There is nothing suspicious about this as this is a conceptually valid operation. To say this is suspicious is to bring your entire mind under suspicion for no good reason, and you would have to accept stolen concepts in order to do this. My question is: Why would you want to do that?

The Monkey wrote:
“If there are a finite number of existing things this would not be a problem.”

Objectivism holds that to exist is to have identity, i.e., to be finite. To be something is to be something, i.e., itself, nothing more, and nothing less. A is A. Objectivism does not accept the notion that something can exist, but yet not be itself, as this would violate the law of identity. It’s quite simple, actually.

The Monkey wrote:
“However it is not clear that there aren't say an infinite number of heavenly bodies.”

I think it’s clear that there are only those which exist. The idea of an “infinite number” is self-contradictory. ‘Infinite’ does not apply to particular numbers; rather, it applies to the potential to continue extending the number series. These are two different things. Once you’ve placed a number on something, then by definition you’ve given it a definite quantity, and have thus ruled out infinity because you’ve given it a stopping point, a limit. Objectivism holds that the concept ‘infinite’ can only apply to potentialities, and not to actualities. Thus, per Objectivism, the idea of “infinite existence” is self-contradictory, since to exist is to have a specific identity. I.e., A is A, and if A should exist, it must be A. This is in keeping with the law of identity, which Objectivism honors throughout its philosophical development.

The Monkey wrote:“It is not clear that time and space are not eternal and infinite.”

Objectivism rejects the idea of “infinite time” since time is a measure of motion. Thus, time has identity, and, for reasons stated above, the idea of “infinite time” is self-contradictory. Objectivism holds that the universe is both finite in identity, and eternal in the sense that time does not apply to the totality of existence. Observe:

Time is a measurement of motion; as such, it is a type of relationship. Time applies only within the universe, when you define a standard - such as the motion of the earth around the sun. If you take that as a unit, you can say: ‘This person has a certain relationship to that motion; he has existed for three revolutions; he is three years old.’ But when you get to the universe as a whole, obviously, no standard is applicable. You cannot get outside the universe. The universe is eternal in the literal sense: non-temporal, out of time. (The Philosophy of Objectivism, lecture series [1976].)

Thus, while Objectivism holds that the universe is eternal (since the concept ‘time’ does not apply to the totality), it also holds that it is finite (in terms of identity). These are not in contradiction to each other, since they address different concerns.

Furthermore, Objectivism also rejects the idea that “space” actually exists. When scientists speak of ‘space’ they do not actually mean to refer to an object, but to the absence of objects, a "void." Thus, the notion of “infinite space” is literally meaningless since it has no objective reference to reality (i.e., it literally refers to nothing). I have discussed this point with numerous physicists, and while at first they are taken aback by my statements (since they’ve uncritically accepted all along that “space” really exists), they eventually find themselves in total agreement with me on this. See Harriman, David, Physicists Lost In Space (1999) and The Philosophical Corruption of Physics which addresses these unnecessary nagging issues. Eventually, this will become common knowledge, but it may take a few decades.

The Monkey wrote:
“If they are your grouping together of all things under the concept 'existence', would fail.”

Not if they all exist. What actual object which exists should be excluded from the reference of the concept ‘existence’, and why? And if it is not for some reason excluded from this reference, what standard do you think it would fail to meet? One which exists? Well, if that standard exists, then it must have some identity, so please, Monkey, tell us, what is that standard you have in mind?

The Monkey wrote:
“So to justify your axiom you need to show that 1) there are not a number of infinite things in existence.”

I’ve briefly shown why Objectivism rejects the idea of an 'actual infinite' (and again, there goes the Christian god, by the way; cf. chap. II of the WCF which claims that "God is infinite in being"). However, it is unclear how this would have any relevance at this level of philosophical inquiry. Are you suggesting that if you thought there were an actual infinite number (a self-contradictory notion) of objects in existence that the concept ‘existence’ would not apply to them all? It is unclear to me how you would reason this. It sounds like just another stolen concept to me. But regardless, I’ve already explained that if the notion ‘infinite’ has any legitimate reference, it is not in relation to actualities, but to potentialities (and even here there is some debate).

And one last point, the axioms by definition do not need to be justified by prior conclusions. Indeed, any act of building an argument toward a conclusion must make use of those axioms by assuming their truth. So again, this element in your thinking is another stolen concept, and needs to be uprooted.

The Monkey wrote:
“Of course then you are going to have to steal concepts because your axiom is clearly avoiding or bypassing any such discussion.”

Well, not only have I not bypassed this discussion (indeed, I’ve given it a fuller response than it deserves), Monkey nowhere explains why I would have to steal concepts in order to deal with the matter. Indeed, Monkey shows no understanding of this fatal flaw, but repeats it in his diatribe as if he had achieved some fluency of understanding in this regard. It should be clear now that this is a pretense on his part.

The Monkey wrote:
“Asaid above "axioms are in the eye of the beholder" Objectivism of your variety is as objective as subjectivism.”

Wrong. Subjectivism is the view that existence finds its source in a form of consciousness. This describes god-belief to a T. Western god-beliefs (e.g., Judaism, Christianity, Mormonism, Islam, etc.) all posit a ruling consciousness being which “creates” the universe by an act of will (i.e., by a form of consciousness). Reality, according to these views, conforms to consciousness. This is subjectivism through and through, and here we have people trying to defend it. What enables this view to take root in the minds of the mystics? The primacy of consciousness does: they want a form of consciousness to hold sovereignty over existence. And then they tell us to accept this belief on faith. Of course, since they reject reason, they must embrace faith. But the moment they start trying to use logic and make appeals to supposed evidences in order to prop up this belief, they expose the fact that they themselves completely lack faith, since they require evidences, and do not trust their beloved deities. It is a long string of pretenses, and it’s clear that most believers do not really believe it themselves, they simply want others to believe it, because this empowers them. So what is it they really want? That should be clear: power over others. This is what they worship (they worship a god said to have power over the universe) and this is what they want (they claim unquestionable authority is on their side). This shows a very depraved mind and a malnourished sense of self. The solution is the philosophy of reason, which is Objectivism.

CertainVerdict