An Anti-Stoic Analysis Of Free Will That May (Or May Not) Be Helpful To Us

  • Today I was sent the following link by a fan of Ayn Rand who also follows some of our Epicurus material. I have not had a chance to read it all, and it may well end up with an Aristotelian slant which will not be helpful. However on first glance of the beginning, he's taking a position against the Stoics and their view of fate which may be helpful to us to know about as we work to better articulate Epicurus' position.


    I don't have time to finish reading this now but I want to preserve the link because I do expect it to be helpful:



    Stoicism vs. Objectivism: Is Free Will Magic?
    A common conception of causation leads many scientifically minded people to dismiss free will.
    newideal.aynrand.org

  • I have engaged in a little private back and forth discussion with the author of the article, and have forwarded him a couple of clips in support of my view of this. I will try to circle back and add some commentary but for future reference here are the clips.


    Aaron it is my understanding from what Francis Wright wrote in "A Few Days In Athens" that Aristotle held "color" to be something that exists apart from the entity which we perceive to have color. Do you believe that to be incorrect?




    Also, in part of my analysis I am relying on this commentary from commentator Philip DeLacy as to the Epicurean Philodemus' "On Methods of Inference" -->




    The last reference I would throw into this pot is a comment by Richard Dawkins in which he seems to also place Aristotle in Plato's camp, as per DeLacy:



    So to bring that back home to the discussion, my tentative diagnosis has been that by appearing to include "concepts" in her discussion of the law of identity (at least as many of her casual follows seem to do, and I can understand why) the implication of Rand is that concepts such as capitalism are also subject to categorization by "essentials" which leads to the Platonic idealism which at least on the surface Rand always campaigned against.

    Last excerpt, from Heller's biography "Ayn Rand and the World She Made"


  • Here is a reply to this thread on Facebook I want to memorialize, posted by Aaron Smith (author of the article) on 9/21/21:



    Rand would disagree that reifying abstractions (e.g., 'capitalism') is part of Objectivism. Her view is Aristotelian in that only entities exist; abstractions do not -- at least not in the Platonist sense. In the 2nd ed. of her book Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, there's a good discussion of the sense in which she thinks that concepts can and cannot be thought of as entities (it's the section called 'Concepts as Mental Existents' -- in my copy, it's pp. 153-158). There's also a good discussion of the problem of people (Objectivists and non-Objectivists) Platonizing abstractions in The Art of Non-Fiction (an edited book version of a series of lectures Rand gave informally in her living room); it's chapter 4, pp. 27-31. There *is* a sense in which a concept has an identity. But since a concept, on Rand's view, results of the way we integrate the material provided by the senses (which is neither automatic or unerring) -- the identity of a concept is man-made, so to speak, rather than an immutable metaphysically-given fact of nature. So I think you're right to criticize the Platonizing of abstractions, but not in ascribing that kind of approach to Rand -- though you may have met fans of her ideas doing that -- I certainly have. At any rate, the resource on these questions is her book Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, 2nd, ed. Hope that's of some help.




    And here is my reply to that:


    Aaron thank you very much for those cites. For just the reason I posted, I think someone studying this issue would be well served by considering Rand's statements as part of the mix. Given that this is complicated enough as it is, do you have a typo here in this sentence "But since a concept, on Rand's view, results of the way we integrate the material provided by the senses (which is neither automatic or unerring)"? "results of the way?" I'm not sure that "in" for "of" is more clear so if you could look at that I would appreciate it as I would like to keep this thread for future reference.


    I think your comment I am quoting here below is an important point that I would not suggest is limited to the Rand world. The problem is endemic to Stoicism, given it's Platonic basis, but I think there is a lot of work that needs to be done within the community of Epicurean partisans to deal with this problem too: "the identity of a concept is man-made, so to speak, rather than an immutable metaphysically-given fact of nature. So I think you're right to criticize the Platonizing of abstractions, but not in ascribing that kind of approach to Rand -- though you may have met fans of her ideas doing that -- I certainly have."