With Reference to Objectivism
This article was originally entitled, "Beyond Objectivism," because I felt that in one way, this philosophy was a continuation of the kind of philosophical enquirey begun by Ayn Rand. There is in fact another small series of articles all dealing with issues that go beyond objectivism.
I can no longer say that this philosophy continues the road begun as Ayn Rand's Objectivism for at least two reasons. While reviewing that series of articles I called Beyond Objectivism, I realized they were not just advances on the philosophy of Objectivism, but were actually total breaches with it.
The other reason I do not want this philosophy to be identified as a "branch from" Objectivism is because I do not want this philosophy associated with anything that today goes by the name of Objectivism. It is unfortunate that most, if not all, of those claiming to be speaking for Rand's Objectivism today do not understand that philosophy, and what they are promoting are philosophical ideas that neither Rand or I could ever support.
There is another reason I am separating my philosophy from Objectivism. I believe it is time for Objectivism to be made obsolete. Ayn Rand's Objectivism was developed over a number of years (The Fountainhead, 1943, Atlas Shrugged, 1957, The Virtue of Selfishness, 1961); but the essentials of Objectivism are well over 50 years old.
In all that time, despite the arguments and debates, there has not been a major contribution to philosophy attributable to Objectivism. What have the philosophers been doing all that time? Well, mostly they have been arguing about who the true guardians of Objectivism are, and over non-essentials, like libertarianism, feminism, and homosexuality.
There has been some very interesting and important research done, mostly of historical interest, but no new philosophical principles have been developed. If you talk to serious, "Objectivists," one comes to the astonishing conclusion, most "Objectivists" do not really believe there is any more ground, at least any significant ground, in the field of philosophy that needs to be covered.
This is hardly an objective conclusion. Ayn Rand herself did not believe her philosophy answered all the questions, and even identified areas that needed more work. One such area was aesthetics, for example, and one particular aspect for which she admitted there is no good philosophical theory, is music.
To date, Objectivism is one of the most complete and correct philosophies in history, but Objectivism does not answer all the questions, or even identify them all. All of Objectivist metaphysics, for example, consists of the axioms, the primacy of existence, and the entity verses event theory of cause; there is no Objectivist ontology at all.
The discussion of the nature of life consists of a simple definition without any additional but sorely needed development. The nature of consciousness actually contains bad mistakes. Objectivist epistemology is the greatest advance in that field in history, yet it also contains mistakes and is not extensively developed. (Only the first 130 pages of Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology is actually Ayn Rand's epistemology.)
The most fully developed aspect of Rand's philosophy is the ethics, but it also is very briefly developed and leaves lots of unanswered questions. Objectivist politics is only partially correct, and Objectivist aesthetics addresses only one application of the field, art. The essential question of aesthetics, "what is beauty?" is not addressed at all.
My point is not to repudiate Objectivism, or to minimize the importance or significance of the advancements in philosophy and the integration of philosophical principles Objectivism achieved. The amount of ground covered and the incredible insights achieved by Ayn Rand are phenomenal. If one is to know only one philosophy, there is no other choice.
In spite of Objectivism's contributions to the field of philosophy, however, it is not the end of philosophy, only the latest and greatest development in the field. As far as it has taken us, we still have further to go than we have thus far come. The problem is most Objectivists think we have arrived, when we should actually be starting on our way again.
On the Road Again
One of the intentions of The Autonomist Philosophy is to get philosophy back on the road to discovery beginning at the place Objectivism has brought us. We have already begun to identify some of the issues Objectivism was mistaken about, (with the already mentioned article, "Perception"), and to identify issues Objectivism does not clearly address, (see "A Universal Mistake").
My intention is threefold. First is the planned series of articles on philosophy itself, beginning with metaphysics, and a fully developed ontology, followed by epistemology, ethics, politics, and aesthetics. Second, will be less formal articles related to the practical application of philosophical principles in our own lives, as well as to understanding the real world of science, economics, and politics. Third, will be even less formal, and less regular, articles addressing some of the common mistakes in philosophy in todays movements and teachings, especially those that call themselves Objectivist.
—Reginald Firehammer (10/15/04)