Software Nerd

Friday, March 03, 2006

Integrating Objectivism

In a previous post, I mentioned the idea of "a self-help guide to understanding Objectivism, integrating it, avoiding common errors, and make the "passing stage" as short as humanly possible. " Jennifer even came up with a working title: "On Topic Objectivism".

I agree with Myrhaf, that the author must know Objectivism. The author should have integrated Objectivism well; but, I don't think it requires in-depth knowledge of philosophy. The reason is that any such book should use examples that are fairly uncontroversial to someone who has integrated Objectivism. I think the starting point is to gather together a variety of common mis-integrations that newbies make.

As Jennifer said, Objectivim Online has a wealth of examples. About a year ago, someone on asked: "Does Objectivism make you Happy?" As part of that thread, I gathered together examples (mostly from the forum itself) of mis-integrations that people make (here's that post). looking back, not all those examples are good ones; but, since then, there have been other examples on, e.g. a discussion about masturbation with some people who would make the pope proud, and the most recent example where someone equated Objectivism with not letting a drop of liquor on his lips. [A while ago, d'Anconia posted a similar list.]

My poem example is another. I wonder if one could come up with examples of popular movies that are pretty good, but that a newbie might be tempted to reject as "inappropriate". In UO, Dr. Peikoff uses the example of E.T. The point, of course, is not "here is a movie you must like"; the point would be "you can be a good Objectivist and still like this movie".

Once one has gathered many more real-life examples, one would have to think about them to see if there are different types of mistakes. I wonder what one might discover, are there a few different classes of error? With all the funny self-evaluation questionnaires, it might even be fun (but corny?) to start with a little 5 question quiz: "So you think you understand Objectivism?", complete with a graphic to post to one's blog :)

Telling someone to think objectively won't do the trick. One has to take baby-examples and let them practice thinking objectively on those. Hopefully, each particular integration will strengthen the overall method.


  • Great article! I think you've pin pointed a major hinderance to growth of Objectivism. It's so darn easy for people to misinterpret concepts and arguments and get everything mixed up. I think some a nonfiction book for the fledgling Objectivism student is a great idea.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:34 AM  

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