Reason as the Leading Motive

Posts Tagged ‘Blogs’

Best Objectivists Posts of 2007

Posted by Jerry on February 15, 2008

The Crucible & Column is the host of the 31st edition of the Objectivist Carnival; it features a compendium of the best posts of 2007 by Objectivist bloggers. These are posts that Obloggers have considered to be their personal favorites in the past year, and now they are all accessible from one place. Have fun reading!

Posted in Objectivism, Objectivist Carnival, Philosophy, The Best of Leitmotif, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

15th Objectivist Carnival

Posted by Jerry on October 26, 2007

The 15th Objectivist Carnival is being hosted by Rational Jenn. Here’s a preview of what Objectivists have written this week. To read the posts, visit Rational Jenn and click on the links there.

Ergo presents My Interview with The Telegraph posted at Leitmotif.

Flibbert presents Introspection Part 2 posted at Flibbertigibbet, saying, “I was really torn about what to submit this week. I posted a bunch of interesting things, but nothing that represented any real insight or scholarship. Then, I thought to myself, “You know, my blog really isn’t always about insight or scholarship” and you guys almost got a link to a YouTube video with a woman performing a trumpet solo for a beauty pageant. (It’s hilarious.) But then I thought, “As sloppy as it is, I think my commentary on introspection is really interesting and somewhat insightful.” And so that’s what you’re getting. Instead of laughs this week, you have a post about introspection. Perhaps we can start getting rid of this vicious rumor that Objectivists are emotionless Vulcan robots. Randroids unite!” Flibbert always cracks me up.

Valda Redfern presents Independent of the Truth? posted at Valzhalla, saying, “Objectivists point out some of the more obvious errors in a long article on Ayn Rand published in The Independent, a British newspaper.” It still amazes me the lengths to which people will go to represent Ayn Rand and Objectivism in dishonest terms. 

Darren Cauthon presents Re: Free My Phone posted at Darren Cauthon. Darren discusses a WSJ article about cell phones and regulations, pointing out that at least some people at the WSJ don’t quite understand capitalism just yet.

Gus Van Horn presents The Global War on Carbon posted at Gus Van Horn. Gus ably dissects an article by conservative Cal Thomas who has been showing his green stripes lately.

Kendall Justiniano presents The FDA and Experimental Drugs posted at The Crucible & Column, saying, “Kendall looks at recent court rulings on patient access to experimental drug therapies.”

Rational Jenn presents Well, Actually. . . posted at Rational Jenn, saying, “A mother laments that it shouldn’t be her responsibility to figure out if the products in her home are safe or not–that’s the government’s job. This mom disagrees.”

Greg Perkins has an exciting announcement: weekly online Objectivist study sessions, entitled The Objectivism Seminar. You can find an explanation of how it will all work here. I for one am quite thrilled about this, particularly because it fits into my budget and my available free time. A must read for anyone who is interested in studying Objectivism a little more formally.

Posted in Ayn Rand, Objectivism, Objectivist Carnival, Philosophy, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Philosopher Watch

Posted by Jerry on September 26, 2007

Philosophers in particular have long been happily secluded in the obscurity of their journals, books, and philosophy departments. Rarely have they had to engage with the popular culture and defend their ideas in public, and rarely do they even bother to do so. Even when philosophers publish books and papers, they are mostly just putting their views out there without being pressed into a dialog with their readers to respond to criticisms.

However, with the revolution that blogging is today, practically any person or opinion can be the target of intense scrutiny, analysis, and investigation, and on a medium that is open to a large number of people. Intellectuals, therefore, now have to be more careful of what they say and how they say it because not only can they suddenly be picked up by some obscure blogger out there, but their views can be traced, archived, summoned repeatedly, linked, and distributed.

With the ability to search for keywords and activate keyword alerts, practically every area of knowledge and content on the internet is at the disposal of anyone interested. So, for example, if you’re a philosopher like Colin McGinn, you have much to worry about what you publish on your blog and how/who you engage in a dialog with.

Recently, Colin McGinn presided over what may be the lengthiest comment thread on his blog, on a post about ethical egoism. He began the discussion by claiming to have swiftly “dispatched” with the egoistic moral theory; when several of his commentors highlighted the logical flaws of his arguments, he proceed to label them with ad hominem smears, insult their intelligence, dismiss their criticisms as irrelevant, delete their comments, and even send private e-mails to at least one commentor with immature insults.

Flibbert was that particular target of McGinn’s private cheapshots. In several and persistant e-mails to Flibbert, McGinn comes off looking like a teenage bully in a schoolyard. Now, remember that Colin McGinn is apparently a well-known philosopher in his academic circles. But on the blogosphere, the man is a cheap weasel. Here is a sample of the e-mail exchanges Flibbert had with Professor Colin McGinn, which Flibbert posted on his blog:

McGinn: “What a pompous fool you are.”

Flibbert: “More name-calling? Really? Seriously, professor, I’m not sure which is in worse shape: your manners, your logic, or your integrity.”

McGinn: “There are a lot of fools in the world. The internet has given them a voice they wouldn’t otherwise have. You are a particularly egregious example of the type. I am simply stating the facts.”

Flibbert: “The same could be said of intellectual cowards and their university posts particularly in the case of philosophy departments.

Has it occurred to you that you’re engaging a complete stranger — one you’ve deemed to be obnoxious junk and a pompous fool — with petty insults? You seem to do so without any sense of irony about it. Compounding the irony is the fact that you are again hiding your shameful behavior from others. If your conclusion is so factual, why didn’t you just post an additional comment to your blog calling me a pompous fool?

I’ve told you why I think you’re a shameful and dishonest, not to mention condescending and rude, but as usual you haven’t provided any citations or examples to support your conclusions. No, you’ve simply ejaculated your opinion into this medium and expected others to slaver over it. To use another’s phrase, it’s a bukkake of stupid with you.

You disgust me.”

Professor McGinn continued to delete comments and insult Flibbert in private e-mails. Flibbert, on his part, decided that McGinn’s behavior did not warrant any decent and restrained responses from him any longer (with which I agree); Flibbert responded to him likewise.

After more than 100 comments were written by various commentors, McGinn finally chooses to reveal that he had never even read anything about the kind of ethical egoism Ayn Rand had formulated and which his detractors were pointing out to him. He said that he had never intended to address the ethical egoism of Ayn Rand but was attacking the egoism of Thomas Hobbes and Glaucon in Plato’s Republic.

This admission gives a clear indication of McGinn’s intellectual dishonesty because any honest interlocutor would have explicitly defined the target of his criticism by stating early on who’s theories were under scrutiny. Notably, in contrast, he did indeed define his exact usage of “altruism”–which he was defending–very early on in the comments.

Early commentors politely suggested that he tackle the Objectivist theory of ethical egoism because it was the strongest case ever devised–because it was also true. Instead of coming in right at that moment and admitting that Objectivist egoism was not his proper target because he was not yet properly familiar with it, McGinn chose to insult his commentors as “cultists”, and presided over a comment thread that introduced a whole host of wildly bizarre hypotheticals and contorted theories to distort ethical egoism and paint Objectivists as intellectually inept cultists.

I think McGinn has learned a very stinging lesson from the blogosphere: if you choose to put your intellectual opinions on the internet–even on a blog, you better consider what you say and how you conduct yourself–intellectual dishonesty will particularly be called out and receive scathing attacks. There are potentially a large number of eyes reading every word on the blogs. This cautionary principle applies particularly to professional intellectuals and philosophers because they bear the greater responsibility of being careful with what they say: indeed, they are in the profession of shaping minds!

And with the Internet the way it is today, they can no more hide behind the dusty covers of philosophical tomes, closed academic circles of acolytes, and misty deparmental offices. On the blogosphere, professional authority has little traction.

Posted in General Work/Life, Philosophy, Rights and Morality, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , | 22 Comments »

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