North Texas Objectivist Society (NTOS) Message Board › NTOS: How much agreement with basic Objectivist principles should we expect?

NTOS: How much agreement with basic Objectivist principles should we expect?

Old T.
OldToad
Group Organizer
Dallas, TX
Post #: 669
Nick,

Welcome to our forum!

You had written the following at: http://aynrand.meetup...­
According to the About Us page, it seems that it is improper to advocate ideas in conflict with Objectivism. I'm not trying to bully people into not advocating what they believe, but it would be nice to have a discussion forum for people who agree with basic Objectivist principles.


To avoid side-tracking the original discussion, I am starting this new thread to offer some explanation in response to your remarks.

As Organizer for NTOS, I appreciate that you have taken some time to read our About page. With a lot of helpful comment and criticism from a few of our members (especially Dan C.), I have worked very hard to make it clear. Even so, I am sure there is room for improvement, and we still have to exercise judgment in application of the standards.

As stated on our About page: "In establishing participation terms, we are informed and guided by our central interest in Objectivism and the purpose of our society."

In organizing NTOS, we are pursuing two related purposes. Of course, the primary purpose is to provide a society of and for people interested in Objectivism and their families, too. As you say, "it would be nice to have a discussion forum for people who agree with basic Objectivist principles."

However, especially as Objectivism is a new philosophy and just starting to spread, I think each of us also should have an interest in welcoming inquiry regarding Objectivism. This includes inquiry from people who have varying degrees of knowledge about what Objectivism is, agreement with Objectivist principles, and integration of that knowledge into their own thinking.

In friendly discussion we can try to help each of our members to question, to think through various issues, and to integrate the philosophy. For example, through our discussions I personally have been inspired -- even challenged -- by some of our more knowledgeable members to become more educated about Objectivism and to better integrate it into my thinking. I value this benefit of participating in NTOS.

This process of learning about Objectivism and integrating it into one's life takes a lot of time and effort. Further, people typically do not spend all their waking hours devoted to doing so. Perhaps they only touch on the issues when they meet with us. Progress may seem slow as molasses in January. Still, I think we should be welcoming and encourage inquiry and discussion -- up to the break-point it becomes clear a person is becoming disruptive to our purposes.

So far, we have identified this break-point as being when a person tries to promote or sell to us different ideas or to re-organize us to a different purpose. By "promoting" or "selling," we mean more than merely personally advocating in a discussion some ideas in conflict with Objectivist principles. This requires a judgment call, of course.

While I personally disagree with Nathan on several fundamental issues, including on the discussion thread in which you posted, I think Nathan has a sincere and constructive interest in Objectivism. Regardless of my personal evaluation of Nathan's positions and interest in Objectivism, however, I think the issue for NTOS is conduct -- in this case whether he has tried to promote or sell to us ideas in conflict with Objectivism or to re-organize NTOS to a different purpose, which I don't think he has.

We continue to work on our "About Us" page, and it is open to further discussion, criticism, and revision. I am sure further clarification is possible.

I hope this reasoning meets with your approval and that you would like to continue to support our purposes for NTOS. We look forward to meeting you in person.

-- Todd
EDITED to belatedly add "C." after Dan's name to make it more clear which "Dan" I was referring to. I thought we had two members by the name of "Dan," but later I double-checked and now see that we don't. Nevermind.
A former member
Post #: 2
Hello Old Toad,

Thank you for your thoughtful post. I did not mean to stir things up.

However, I want to give you my reaction yesterday upon finding this group and your discussion board. I was initially excited to find a local Objectivist-oriented group. And I jumped into the discussion board eager to find rational ideas which are so hard to find elsewhere.

But I quickly soured when the very first discussion contained some ideas much at odds with at least one essential of Objectivism, in my opinion. This made me worry that this group may be filled with Nathans. (No disrespect intended, Nathan.)

You say that Nathan is sincerely interested in learning about Objectivism. Since you, I assume, know Nathan and I do not, I will take your word for it. However, the impression he leaves from his posts, in my opinion, is that he is really butting heads with some basics of Objectivism.

I may be the only new person who was left with a mixed impression upon viewing the discussion board, or not. But your explanation is fine with me, and I am sympathetic to the difficulties of running a philosophically oriented group.

I'm very busy, but do plan to participate in your group soon. Thanks again for your post.
Old T.
OldToad
Group Organizer
Dallas, TX
Post #: 672
Hi Nick,

I appreciate your stirring up some healthy discussion and the friendly, respectful manner in which you are approaching doing so.

I was initially excited to find a local Objectivist-oriented group. And I jumped into the discussion board eager to find rational ideas which are so hard to find elsewhere.

But I quickly soured when the very first discussion contained some ideas much at odds with at least one essential of Objectivism, in my opinion.


I also appreciate your feedback regarding our message-board forum. I understand that some people have such a reaction to it. Our forum offers both opportunities for discussion -- and opportunities for judgment of our membership.

The first value we are trying to offer our members is the immediate, personal pleasure of being able to have discussions with other people interested in Objectivism, with as many possibilities for enjoyable discussion and friendship as we can foster. Many of us are eager to find this.

Another important value we are trying to offer is the promotion of Objectivism, among our members and to those who express interest in us. In the context of the world around us, I think this should be of urgent, rational self-interest for Objectivists. But it involves time and effort and the rewards of doing so are less immediately enjoyable.

Any achievement of these values depends on the particpation of our members. The Organizers of NTOS can open a forum and seed these values, but cannot carry a society by ourselves.

I think that some of our more knowledgeable members sometimes are disappointed and give up on us too easily. They give up on finding each other. They also give up on being personally proactive about promoting Objectivism in the world around us.

My challenge to those who consider themselves knowledgeable about Objectivism is this: If you are eager to find other Objectivists and promote Objectivism, but find NTOS disappointing in any way, what are you going to do about it? I would expect that participation by more of those who may be disappointed in NTOS would improve NTOS.

Lest I be thought of as setting up a false alternative, I hope any knowledgeable persons who choose not to participate in NTOS, for whatever reasons, are making an effort to do something else to promote Objectivism in their own lives and the world around us.

I am not speaking of you personally, Nick, I am just addressing a general concern I have in working to build NTOS. I am trying to persuade our members of the value and urgency of personal participation.

I sincerely look forward to meeting you in person at one of our events when you can make time to visit with us.

-- Todd
Since there has not yet been any response, edited to belatedly add one more thought.
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