Re: Public Funding vs Free Inquiry

Technotranscendence (
Wed, 20 May 1998 06:48:11 -0400 (EDT)

At 04:08 PM 5/19/98 -0800, Mike Lorrey <> wrote:
>> I used to think hermeneutics implied that every interpretation is a mis-
>> interpretation -- or, at least, that all interpretations are equal. On this
>> stance, someone who believed, to use a classic example, Belgium
>> invaded Germany in World War One is just as right as someone who
>> believed the opposite as well as someone who believed there was
>> no war or that Belgium and Germany were both nonbelligerents.
>> However, regardless of what I think, the Objectivist movement has
>> penetrated and been penetrated by hermeneutics.
>THis is rather odd. Though I imagine that you mean that as two
>ideological adversaries, they have engaged in internal sabotage and
>raconteurism of their adversaries organizations, that is to be expected.
>That is not hard to do, I've done the same with state Democratic Party
>meetings, SDS meetings, etc. It can be very informative and fun...

No. I emphatically do NOT mean that. I was only being metaphorical.
Johnson actually thinks a lot of insights from hermeneutics can be used
to broaden and extend Objectivism, particularly in the area of ethics.
Sciabarra thinks Objectivism fits into the Russian tradition of dialectical
philosophy, and thereby shares a lot of methodology with Continental
philosophy. His book is titled, after all, _Ayn Rand: The Russian

Whether what they believe is true is another story, but their motives,
insofar as I can discern them seem to be not of ideological sabotage
(of either movement). If they are, they've certainly hoodwinked me --
as I've had extensive contact with both of them.

Also, not all in the Objectivist movement agree with them. _The
Intellectual Activist_, put out by Robert Stubblefield, a dude in the
Ayn Rand Insititute camp, ran a very negative review of Sciabarra's
book. _IOS Journal_ (of the rival Institute for Objectivist Studies)
also ran a scathing review of the same work. Most Objectivists,
from my experience, have ignored or disagree with Sciabarra's
work. (Johnson is less well known, perhaps because he hasn't
made a splash by writing a major book on the subject.)

>> Personally, I don't believe _all_ poststructuralist, postmodernists and
>> hermeneutics is bunk, though like all movements, the members of
>> these probably do too far and lack perspective. It's like the New
>> Critics who saw irony in everything or Freudians who see sex all
>> over the place. I'm sure there's a good deal to be learned from all
>> of them.
> You can learn as much from someone by studying their lies as much as
>when they tell the truth. For example, there is a whole branch of the
>NSA which studies nothing but disinformation. By studying what a
>government is saying that is truthful and what is lies, you can discern
>much about what they wish to hide, deny, or otherwise obfuscate

As long as one is able to verify their truth and their lies outside of what
they say. My point, however, was that poststructuralist, postmodernists
and hermeneutics is equivalent to lying. At least, not all of it is lying.
Surely, some of it -- like any philosophy -- is off the mark.

The thing to do is to look dispassionately at the methods and ideas.
For example, it seems that Sciabarra is onto something when he says
Objectivism is dialectical in method -- even if Objectivists don't know
it. It might disagree with other dialectical philosophies, such as
Hegelianism and Marxism, but this doesn't change his point. Both
Newtonian and Einsteinian physics lead to different conclusions
despite having similar methods.

Daniel Ust