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- View topic - Heinlein vs Rand
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Heinlein vs Rand 
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Joined: Fri Sep 30, 2011 11:20 am
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Post Re: Heinlein vs Rand
Peter Scott: "...Does anyone think they're really philosophical twins?"

If I didn't say it earlier, Thanks Peter, for this most interesting topic/subject. It got my rusty gears to creaking. And it feels good.

I think Bob would have been much more twin like, had Ayn's non-fiction works been available during his formative years. I imagine him taking a deeper look at things, which is the reaction of most of us who choose to think. She brought many more tools or weapons to our arsenal, pushing the envelope. Mankind is better for having her precede us.


Bill Patterson: "There are people who think they are -- but that's always been puzzling to me. Apparently Heinein read Rand with approval, and Rand read Heinlein with approval; they never met, and they lived in universes on the same block, psychologically and philosophically, but not particularly close.

"I think Heinlein's statement in the Schulman interview that he made Rand look like a bloody socialist is fundamentally correct. Although there was a whole lot of nuancing going on, fundamentally Heinlein falls into the anarchist individualist classification, with a lot of affiliations with Stirner, while Rand is a natural-law philosopher, much more philosophically akin to the French and English (i.e. Locke) tradition. So what Heinlein said of Rand in TMIAHM -- that Prof could "live with" a Randist -- is fair (i.e., a neighborly affinity rather than any actual identity of ideas)..".< I'm just getting playful with punctuation here. LAO3D

Excellent observation, Bill. Your words (piled on top of those I've been turning over) have set off a chain of thought, that I'm not sure how they relate to exclusively your words, so don't feel miffed if I fail to make the connection...

For some, as yet unclear, reason, I am reminded of one particular artist, the greatest artist of the Romantic school of literature, second only to Ayn Rand, in my opinion, Victor Hugo. Actually, the verdict is still out on that evaluation within that narrow context. For this discussion, I'll state unequivocally, that Hugo was the greatest altruistic author of the romantic school. As such, he was the master at creating characters that embodied the ideals of altruism. Jean Valjean, the hero of Les Misérables, is the archetypical model, of a self-sacrificing hero, a giant among men, a character totally integrated philosophically, and tragically so, as he did not see through the flaws in his philosophy. He was true to it. No one but a zombie could fail to be moved by this character, no matter what the readers philosophy.

RAH, though not in the class of Hugo, also created giants of character, that are also capable of moving one, though to a lesser degree, but with as much integrity as Jean Valijean. I think RAH was only beginning to see the contradictions of altruism in his later years, While I have not done a research project on this, and probably never will, I find the word "sacrifice" used a great deal more in his early works, that in later days. To be sure, he made an effort to clarify the values being acted on by his characters, even when misusing the term sacrifice. As I said earlier, an error of knowledge, rather than a moral error.

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Sat Oct 08, 2011 7:39 am
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Post Re: Heinlein vs Rand

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Sat Oct 08, 2011 11:00 am
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Post Re: Heinlein vs Rand
Sorry to cut this off mid-point, but personal/business distractions interfere. I'll get back asap.

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Sat Oct 08, 2011 8:43 pm
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Post Re: Heinlein vs Rand

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Mon Oct 10, 2011 7:33 am
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Mon Oct 10, 2011 2:24 pm
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Post Re: Heinlein vs Rand

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Mon Oct 10, 2011 7:15 pm
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Post Re: Heinlein vs Rand


Tue Oct 11, 2011 7:42 am
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Post Re: Heinlein vs Rand
'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.' -- Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass.

I'm pretty sure that Heinlein quotes Humpty Dumpty as well somewhere, though I don't remember the reference. Bill does a fine job of discussing my willingness to accept your definition within a system of argument and my reluctance to force that definition in use outside the system. Frankly, many people who want to get into arguments over definitions are covering up their own fallacious arguments (e.g. bait and switch, "No True Scotsman").

If a witch doctor were trying to talk me into sacrificing a child for the benefit of the gods, I would not get into a dictionary argument over the objective meaning of the word. Rather, if a discussion were even necessary, I would address the concepts that lie underneath the words. I am certainly not so unthinking as to be swayed by the use of the word, "sacrifice," as if it were a magical incantation.

Similarly, I suppose, if someone were to argue to me that giving up my future Social Security benefits would not be a sacrifice, as the greater good of anti-collectivism would be served through my personal monetary loss, I also wouldn't get into an argument over definitions. I might argue on other grounds, however.

I don't know Rand's thinking very well. And, while I thank you for the invitation, it is not likely that I will be diving into the source documents anytime soon. That is why I don't post on Rand forums. But Heinlein's sense of duty in particular might be at odds with Rand's sense of moral obligation to others; I don't know, and I would be interested in your analysis, when you are familiar with them, with some of the examples from Heinlein's writings.

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Tue Oct 11, 2011 4:09 pm
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Post Re: Heinlein vs Rand
Bill, thanks for the McLuhan reference, that's where I was about to go. There is an objective reality, but it exists outside of language and no description of it matches it.

The dictionary is a giant circular definition. There is no such thing as intrinsic meaning, except in pure mathematics, and that by definition (heh) is not dealing with reality. (And even then there's Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem mucking things up.) Communication is achieved by comparing enough points of reference to believe that you have matched the wordless concept being described by the other party. Dictionaries exist to make that easier, not for arbitrating pissing contests. Definitions are flexible and often contradictory, ambiguous, and ephemeral: English is not Fortran. An ideal definition that exists only in the pages of a reference work is pointless; the worth of a definition is whether it is useful in communication, which means it has no intrinsic or objective value; a definition is only valuable in the context of a conversation, where people are participating.

Leon, I'd b interested in what you think Heinlein's interpretation of 'sacrifice' was.


Tue Oct 11, 2011 10:12 pm
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Post Re: Heinlein vs Rand

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