Noumenal Self Returns

 Posted by on 5 September 2006 at 10:16 pm  Uncategorized
Sep 052006

Noumenal Self returns to blogging! Hooray!

Of particular interest are his two posts on the apparently forthcoming Founders College. The first is a sharp criticism of the project on multiple fronts; the second is a response to some criticisms of the first post. (The comments on the first post are particularly worth reading.) While I don’t agree with all of NS’s criticisms, I agree with enough of them to be highly skeptical of this new college. (Also, in my own case, most of my reasons for being somewhat hopeful about the project in the past have vanished.)

More broadly, I’d like to echo a bit of two comments upon those posts by NS. It’s important for Objectivists to critically evaluate the merits of the projects undertaken by Objectivist intellectuals. Such projects are becoming more common, yet not all of them will be wise. Personally, I do try to limit my recommendations to that which I know (or reasonably expect) to be substantially worthwhile, e.g. Dr. Onkar Ghate’s SARPO course, the October weekend conference on The Jihad Against the West conference, Scott Powell’s First History, Robert Mayhew’s Essays on Ayn Rand’s We the Living and Essays on Ayn Rand’s Anthem anthologies, The Objective Standard, and so on. I certainly don’t promote anything and everything — for the simple reason that not everything done by Objectivist intellectuals is of genuine value — to anyone. The production of quality intellectual work is far harder than most people recognize. The answers to interesting questions do not grow on trees; they must be mined by work that is often difficult, frustrating, and grueling. Some intellectuals aren’t willing or able to exert that effort. As a result, their work is beset with sloppy errors, superficiality, rationalism, and the like. Others are just headed down the wrong path. My general approach is to simply ignore the work of such people, as I’ve got too many positive intellectual values in the queue.

Of course, such problems are not grounds to be skeptical of new projects in a hostile way, nor to ignore the good reputation that some intellectuals have justly earned. I’m merely offering a friendly reminder against egalitarianism — and against allowing hopes to distort judgments.

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