Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Leonard Peikoff: Philosophy is a Continual Misery

I had been under the impression that Leonard Peikoff is a happy man. I believed that since Objectivism is the philosophy for living on earth, someone whose life has been spent in talking and writing about Objectivism must be happy.

But Objectivism has not brought happiness to Peikoff. It has been the cause of his misery.

In his podcast for October 25, 2015 (which I found yesterday), he answers the question: “Are you yourself happy?” This is a strange podcast. In his 8 minute long rambling response Peikoff seems confused and dejected.

He does not sound like an Objectivist philosopher. He speaks like an ordinary man. He sounds pathetic.

The worse thing is that Peikoff blames philosophy for his failure to achieve happiness. He says, “In the morning, when I am writing philosophy, I dread getting to the desk and having to put more hours on it.” He also says that “philosophy is a continual misery.”

However, he points out that he did find some kind of happiness “for the first time” in his life at the age of 81, but that is because he gave up philosophy and started writing fiction. But before he began his tryst with fiction writing, there are two other activities that he tried. Here’s an excerpt from my transcription of his podcast:
“I knew when I retired that there were three arts that I always loved… that I wanted to try. I started with sculpture—the instructor very nicely said that I don’t think you are going to get it. Then I went to piano. After I had practiced a piece for many months I asked the instructor to tell me whether I can play it. Just say: ‘yes’ or ‘no’. He paused and said, “You are close”… But I realized that I didn’t have it and I got disillusioned with piano. My last hope was fiction, which I had stayed away from because it is language and words… And I thought it was writing and I don’t want to get into language and words. But I tried. I started with short stories because even I can’t imagine going with something as big as a novel. I made up three short stories, and when I read them after sometime, I disliked each one.” 
Towards the end of his podcast, Peikoff says:
“I am really enthusiastic about this part of my life. And I wonder how happier life would be if I just started out writing fiction and that’s it, but I probably won’t because… what I wanna know is what is true about the world first. So maybe it is in right order. In any event, I am happy to say that this time the answer to the question is yes.”
This really is a strange podcast from Leonard Peikoff. I am still trying to make sense of it. 

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