Reason Papers 43:1, JARS 23: Bromance, Romance, Scholarship

I’m very happy to announce the publication of Reason Papers 43:1 (Spring 2023), and the final, double issue of the Journal of Ayn Rand Studies (JARS) 23:1-2. There are a bunch of interconnections between these two journals, and connections back to PoT. Being the gossip hag that I am, I’m going to give you the juicy back story (romance, bromance, and all), so hold on to your hat.

The main piece of backstory here is that both journals bear a connection to Ayn Rand and the (American) Objectivist movement. (The preceding links go to Wikipedia, which was founded by Jimmy Wales, who was also a member of the Objectivist movement. You can’t make this shit up.) Reason Papers was founded in 1974 by Tibor Machan, a fervent Randian; JARS was founded in 1999 by Chris Sciabarra, a fervent Rand scholar. Many of the people associated with Policy of Truth were once Randians, associated in some way with one or both journals and/or the Objectivist movement. Whatever our proximity to or distance from Rand and Objectivism at this point, many of us still a bear a close relation to one another, and so, still find ourselves arguing about Rand and related topics (Aristotelianism, libertarianism, aesthetic Romanticism, etc.), whether as impartial scholars, as Rand-sympathizers, or as critics or even antagonists of Objectivism. Continue reading

Originals, Fakes, and Copies: Reductionism and Anti-Reductionism About Painting

I’m re-reading Ayn Rand’s Romantic Manifesto for an upcoming seminar on the topic, so my mind is on art and aesthetics. In that spirit, Robert Campbell, Stephen Boydstun, and I just revived a four-year-old conversation on Rand’s aesthetics, and I’ve been going back and forth with Anoop Verma on Facebook on the supposed aesthetic superiority of  original paintings to their “exact” copies. For whatever it’s worth, I thought I’d reproduce some of that discussion here, in case it was of general interest.

As it happens, I read Verma’s posts on Facebook and responded to them without reading the fuller versions posted on his blog. After I read the fuller blog version, it occurred to me that the response I’d given Verma was very similar to the account of Nelson Goodman’s that Verma himself had quoted in the original post. Great minds thinking alike? Or fools of a feather flocking together? You decide.  Continue reading

New Blogger: Stephen Boydstun

I’m happy to announce that Policy of Truth is getting yet another blogger, Stephen Boydstun. I don’t exactly remember where Stephen and I met, but I think it was either at Marsha Enright’s justifiably famous New Intellectual Forum “salon” in Chicago in the early 1990s, or at one of the Institute for Objectivist Studies summer seminars around the same time. Anyway, we met a long time ago, and we’ve been talking philosophy ever since. The last time we did that (in person, anyway) was 2013, at the epistemology seminar that Carrie-Ann and I did in Glen Ridge.

Here’s a bio of Stephen I found online:

My academic backgrounds are in physics, philosophy, and engineering. My engineering work was building locomotives, then I switched to nuclear power electrical generation. Engineering rounded out the understanding of the physical world I had from physics. Now all those backgrounds, and long study of philosophy, too, are put into my project of writing my own philosophy.

I created, financed, and edited Objectivity, a hardcopy “journal of metaphysics, epistemology, and theory of value informed by modern science” (1990-98). All issues of Objectivity are now freely available online for readers and researchers.

On the romantic side, my partner’s name is Walter. We have been together nineteen years. He has two sons and one grandson, now age fourteen. It is wonderful to have a family.

The last sentence of the first paragraph refers to a book that Stephen is currently working on, parts of which I believe he’ll be trying out on us. (Here’s another bio of Stephen I found, by the way.)

And here’s a bit about the book in question (written in December 2014):

I have been writing a book of philosophy since last January [2014]. It is my first. Throughout the preceding thirty years, I had written essays. Writing essays had to be stopped while I write this book. Into my book, as into all my previous essays, there goes a lot of study. My writings in philosophy are informed by the history of philosophy and contemporary philosophy and informed by mathematics and by modern physical science, engineering, biology, neuroscience, and psychology. …

I cannot share the title of my book at this time. It deals with metaphysics, epistemology, and theory of moral value. I shall not be treating esthetics. Theory of individual rights will be entered, but beyond that, I shall not undertake political philosophy.

So it looks like some of us are actually going to have to learn some science if we’re to understand what Stephen is talking about–something I haven’t bothered to do since the introductory Geology/Biology course I took in my sophomore year of college (roughly: “Rocks and Cells for Idiots 101”).

Like all PoT bloggers Stephen will be blogging whenever he wants. I have no idea when that will be, but until then, a warm welcome from the rest of the PoT crew….

And now back to our regularly scheduled programming of bad jokes and overheated polemics from yours truly.

Postscript, November 5, 2015: Stephen will be blogging under the online moniker “guyau.”