Lindsay Perigo
Lindsay Perigo

The Free Radical Online - Perigo vs. Nola

Introduction: Objective Philosophy

(Introductory remarks, Auckland Objectivist Forum inaugural meeting, Auckland University, March 17, 1998.)

Welcome to the inaugural meeting of the Auckland Objectivist Forum — an historic first, the first time ever in New Zealand that a group has met on any campus to study & promote the philosophy of Ayn Rand, the philosophy of Objectivism. I congratulate Robert White & Julian Darby for getting this organised & for the very successful stand promoting it which they ran during Orientation Week.

The importance of Objectivism's gaining a foothold on campus cannot be overestimated. Many people of student age still preserve some vestige of innocence & idealism. They haven't yet totally succumbed to the cynicism of the adult world, nor have they had their thinking processes totally subverted by their education. In the past such idealism would have been channelled mainly into Christian and/or Marxist directions. Both of these doctrines & their variants have been found to be false & evil. As ideological forces, mysticism & collectivism are dead. The continued allegiance they do retain is like ancestor-worship — excessive veneration of dead things because they're dead, along with the irrational belief that in some non-material way, they are still alive! Objectivism offers young idealists something far more edifying — a living, vibrant, reality-based philosophy that can both provide a comprehensive world view on the one hand and guide one's own personal life on the other. At what we are told is a time of record youth suicide, I think such a philosophy is needed now more than ever, among youth in particular.

The other reason it's vital to establish Objectivism on campuses is that campuses are the origin of everything that is wrong with the world. That statement may startle you, so let me elaborate.

It wouldn't startle you if I were to say we live in a sick world. Every which way we turn we encounter barbarism. This century has seen unprecedented tyranny, unprecedented torture & unprecedented murder perpetrated by governments. On the other hand, what freedom there has been, in letting the human mind loose, has enabled the most awe-inspiring conquest of nature — space travel, satellites, automobiles, computers, pop-up toasters, microwave ovens and literally millions of other things that a century ago would have been deemed miraculous. The human mind in respect to external nature has shown what it's capable of. Yet in respect to our own internal nature, we seem in many respects to be as primitive as the medievals — arguably more so. Just look at the culture around you. Take music as an example: we have sophisticated means of recording & reproducing it that the medievals couldn't have conceived in their wildest imaginings — yet much of what we do record & reproduce is pre-medieval jungle music. Only it's 1000 times louder. Something is out of whack here! Objectivism tells you what's out of whack, and that the reason is — the negation of reason. And the negation of reason comes from the philosophies that have dominated western thought, and that in this day & age come straight from university philosophy departments. Philosophies that all, in their different ways, tell you that reason is a "peculiar fetish," that it can't tell you what the world is really like, that it can't give you valid rules for living — so what the hell, just go with the flow, do what the others do, do what you feel like doing regardless of consequences, or accept any old point of view on faith, since reason can't tell you what's true & false, what's right & wrong. There is no true & false, there is no right & wrong. As Robert Nola from this university's Philosophy Department once put it to me, "Logic has nothing to do with reality."

All of these views in their own ways, of course, represent subjectivism, to which Objectivism is diametrically opposed. Those of you who study philosophy here — not to mention psychology, sociology & whatever else — will encounter bucketloads of subjectivism, torrential downpours of subjectivism, you'll be awash in subjectivism, there's every danger you'll drown in subjectivism. From Plato right through to the moderns, be it Descartes or Hume or Kant or Hegel or Sartre or Derrida, all of whose devotees might think they disagree with each other ... well, at the end of the day they don't; they're all subjectivists and their dead end is nihilism.

"Logic has nothing to do with reality." There is no reality.

And the tax-paid people who approvingly teach this stuff will consider themselves cool & modern & sophisticated. In a literal sense, they are sophisticated — but not at all modern. A member of the school of thought called Sophism, from which we get the word sophisticated, said the following: Reality doesn't exist; if it did exist it would be unknowable; if it did exist & were knowable, it would be incommunicable. That was 400 years before Christ — and 2400 years before Robert Nola.

Ayn Rand said she was challenging the tradition of 2,500 years. Now perhaps you can get a glimpse of what she meant. For the very first time in the history of thought, she has put forward a comprehensive answer to Sophism & subjectivism in all their guises. Hers is the philosophy that this group has been formed to study. I wish you well. I envy you the excitement of beginning this study at this vital stage of your lives. Good luck — and good premises!

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