I think if this one issue were cleared up, my challenge to Objectivism would become crystal clear.
Consistently when I challenge the Objectivist view on the mind and emotions, Objectivists reel, “Reason is just a way to learn!” They insist in the face of new evidence, they change their minds. They can’t wrap their minds around why I would have any challenge at all. Within milliseconds, I am damned as a mystic.
But in Objectivism, “reason” isn’t just a tool to learn. It’s not just a tool to learn about calculus, physics, or any other topic. It’s a way to be. Rand says “rationality” is a commitment to full mental focus in “all of one’s waking hours.” All decisions are to be done by a process of thought. This means not just integrating a calculus problem, but also deciding if you should date someone or break up with someone. This life decision must be done with a process of thought, thinking of the end goal or “ultimate value.” If your gut feel says something and is guiding you one way or another, this is damned as mysticism. There is a difference in the two ideas of “reason” here.
Rand develops an entire morality. This means she designs an entire way for a person to be. It is an entire code of how to behave. It rests explicitly on “tabula rasa.” Rand explicitly says “man has no” instincts at birth. Therefore, all decisions must be done by a process of thought. A need for ethics is an “objective necessity” according to Rand.
The problem is tabula rasa is a false premise. (Most) humans are born with lots of instincts and intuition. From the strong desire to find one’s mother at birth to a general intuition of who is a predator or not, intuition is with most from their first to last breath. It has a powerful role in life. And if you need a formal explanation of it, study Jungian psychology, any book from a trauma therapist, such as Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, or “The Blank Slate: A Modern Denial of Human Nature” by Steven Pinker. My own child development work also challenges tabula rasa. My book series is “Misbehavior is Growth” and the one on three year olds takes blank slate theory directly to task.
Or maybe recognize that some people (possibly you, if you sincerely think intuition doesn’t have a role in decision making in life) have sincerely dampened emotions in life, as something biologically designed. Psychopaths, who have minimal to no emotions (including fear, empathy, etc.), are this way, and it’s fairly clear Rand has psychopathic traits. Rand glorifying a child murderer. So the fact that YOU have dampened emotions doesn’t also mean OTHERS do. Tabula rasa–a “blank” emotional mechanism in need of programming by the mind–is not how all humans are born. It is not a definitive stance on all human nature.
If I could even get Objectivists to recognize this, I would actually get somewhere. They constantly conflate this issue, of 1) reason being a tool to acquire cognitive knowledge and 2) reason as a way to be, guiding all of a person’s decisions. It’s the very thing that makes it impossible to explain my challenge. I am challenging 2) that reason should be tied to morality (all decisions in life). They can’t decouple 2) from 1). So they think I am saying that a person learns about outward reality via intuition.
And their own conflation of the two issues makes it impossible to penetrate them. They have decided that 2) is also 1). The very tool with which they evaluate new ideas is corrupted by this conflation. Hence I am in a rock and hard place to explain anything to them.
No. New insights into human nature cannot penetrate Objectivism–despite their protests. Objectivism is the philosophy of Ayn Rand. And Rand erroneously defined human nature in a very specific way.
As it is the philosophy of Ayn Rand, given its faulty premise that can never change, the only thing left to do is leave Objectivism.