Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Typical Objectivist Logic—My Philosophy is Closed, Yours Isn't

Leonard Peikoff, in his 1989 article, “Fact and Value,” made the stunning proclamation that Objectivism is a closed system, by which he meant that Ayn Rand’s philosophy is complete, and nothing new can be added to her system.

With his closed system doctrine, he essentially established that Objectivism consists solely of Rand’s own works and those specific works by other thinkers which she endorsed during her lifetime. But he reserved for himself and his followers the privilege of deciding which works by which thinkers are endorsed by Rand and can be included in Objectivism.

Thus he effectively turned Objectivism into a gated community which is guarded by his chosen acolytes. I don’t know of any other philosophy in the entire history of humanity being held as a closed system. Only “religions,” “cults,” and “totalitarian political ideologies” are held as closed systems by their brainwashed fundamentalist followers.

It is noteworthy that Peikoff conferred the privilege of being “closed” only on Objectivism. What about the systems developed by other philosophers? Are the systems developed by the likes of Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Descartes, Locke, Hume, Kant, Hegel and others open or closed?

In “Fact and Value,” if Peikoff had offered a broad argument for every philosophy being regarded as a closed system his position would still be irrational but he would have escaped the charge of being a bigoted and biased intellectual. But his stance seems to be that only his philosophy of Objectivism is closed, and everyone else's philosophy is wide open.

Here’s a quote from The History of Philosophy lecture, in which Peikoff is defending the attribution of the“Law of Identity” to Aristotle, even though Aristotle did not discover this law:
"Now as to the law of identity, just for the record, although it always goes along with the other two [the law of contradiction and excluded middle] is regarded as an Aristotelian law, and although it’s obviously all over the place in Aristotle implicitly, as a formally defined law, the law of identity was not discovered, as far as I can tell until the 12th century AD by a philosopher known as Antonius Andreas. But that’s just a minor wrinkle because it’s always called an Aristotelian law because it’s so obviously the same essential point as the law of contradiction and excluded middle. Contradiction and excluded middle Aristotle defined and named." ~ Leonard Peikoff, The History of Philosophy, Lesson 15, Aristotle: The Father of Logic (Section 4) @ 0:49 / 4:53.  [Transcription by Kurt Keefner
If Antonius Andreas is allowed to complete Aristotelian system by describing the “Law of Identity” which is in line with Aristotelian thought, then why are contemporary philosophers barred from filling up the “huge gaps” which are there in Ayn Rand’s thought?

Many people believe that the closed system doctrine has very little to do with safeguarding the philosophy of Ayn Rand. It is, in essence, a power-play by Leonard Peikoff and his key aides—they proposed this doctrine because they want to ensure that there is no threat to their complete hegemony over Rand’s legacy. 

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