Tall Tales

 Posted by on 21 March 2005 at 9:13 am  Uncategorized
Mar 212005

Almost a year ago, Tom Blackstone wrote this about my disassociation from TOC:

A terrible thing has happened: Diana Hsieh, (www.dianahsieh.com), one of the most brilliant up-and-coming Objectivist philosophers around, has left the Objectivist Center and seems to be supporting the Ayn Rand Institute. This is a serious mistake. A person with such original ideas as her should not waste her talent by supporting an organization that repudiates the value of independent judgement and sets up a guru as an “official” interpreter of the philosophy it espouses.

Interestingly, Tom’s strong animus toward the Ayn Rand Institute was recently called into doubt upon hearing Yaron Brook speak at Georgia Tech. His very frank account is worth reading.

Given the distortions about the Ayn Rand Institute‘s scholars and supporters routinely circulated in and around TOC and SOLO, I cannot stress enough the importance of first-hand information in evaluating the Ayn Rand Institute. Even otherwise reasonable and reliable people do spin such stories for their own purposes and according to their own prior judgments. (The same is true for stories about Ayn Rand. People will tell grand tales of her going ballistic in response to some totally innocent question, yet a review of the recording reveals nothing more than a quick flash of anger at an absurd question, not even directed at the questioner, before settling down to answer the question at length. In such cases, those interested in the truth are lucky to have the recording, so that they may judge for themselves.)

If you can’t attend an ARI conference, you can get a first-hand sense of the scholars, the work in progress, and the atmosphere of ARI through the lectures available through the Ayn Rand Bookstore. (Of course, quality does vary, so you might want to check out my recommendations.) And don’t presume that the loud internet voices in support of ARI are also well-respected, as they often are not.

I wish that I had followed such reasonable advice those ten years ago, back when I all-too-quickly sided with David Kelley. It could have made a world of difference.

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