Friday, 18 August 2017

Leonard Peikoff Says That He Is Not A Philosopher

Leonard Peikoff
Most Objectivists are convinced that Leonard Peikoff is one of the world’s greatest philosophers. But in his podcast on July 21st, 2008 (episode 22), Peikoff emphatically declares that he is not a philosopher and that philosophy is not an area of interest for him.

Here’s an excerpt from a transcription of Peikoff’s podcast, episode 22 (4 minutes from start):
“And the fact is that I'm not an epistemologist, let alone a technical one. The older I get, I realize I'm not a philosopher, and never really was. My real interest in life is cultural analysis. How does philosophy influence, for instance, the rise of Hitler or kind of educational system we have or great plays ... that's always been the kind of thing I've done. The only exception is OPAR, which was pure philosophy, but that was simply paying off a debt. I had to do that to Ayn Rand in exchange for what she had, you know, taught me for 30 years. But other than that I never would wanna write or really lecture on philosophy. I don't see that there's anything wrong with that, but that is just not what I do.” [Transcription by Elliot Temple
I agree with what Peikoff has said in the above transcript—he is certainly not a philosopher. Since he took charge of Objectivism after Ayn Rand’s death in 1982, he has hardly done any philosophical work of scholarly importance. The only work of pure philosophy that he has done is OPAR, but this book is merely a restatement of Rand’s ideas.

In the podcast he reveals that he wrote OPAR because he was “simply paying off a debt” to Ayn Rand. This means that he was motivated by a sense of “duty.”

For Ayn Rand, “duty” is a bad word. In her novel We The Living, Rand writes, “There is no such thing as duty. If you know that a thing is right, you want to do it. If you don't want to do it—it isn't right. If it's right and you don't want to do it—you don't know what right is and you're not a man.”

The Objectivists must let this point sink in:

Leonard Peikoff, the heir to Ayn Rand intellectual legacy, admits that he wrote OPAR out of a sense of duty. This means that spent months writing OPAR simply because he wanted to pay the debt that he thought he owed to Ayn Rand who was his teacher for 30 years. Apparently the writing and the book’s publishing brought him no personal joy.

Therefore OPAR was not a labor of love for him; it was a labor of duty.

And that’s the way the cookie crumbles. 

4 comments:

  1. Anoop, this appears to be a good example of the "hermeneutics of suspicion."
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hermeneutics_of_suspicion

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  2. Anoop, I wouldn't go so far as to say that Peikoff meant duty and not merely respect in that phrase. Besides, you also have to give his statement some doubt when you consider that it's a recording of an informal dialogue, which in this case is a more emotional rather than necessarily rational or clear-minded (consider his age also) revelation. I also wouldn't ignore Peikoff's one work that he wrote after OPAR, namely The DIM Hypothesis, which, although is flawed, has some fascinating and little-discussed insights into the realm of contextual philosophical analysis.

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  3. "Most Objectivists are convinced that Leonard Peikoff is one of the world’s greatest philosophers."
    Really? Meet one that isn't.

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  4. "Most Objectivists are convinced that Leonard Peikoff is one of the world’s greatest philosophers."
    Really? Meet one that isn't.

    ReplyDelete