Why The Objectivist Ring was created

In stating why The Objectivist Ring was created, I am necessarily expressing certain aspects of my own philosophical approach, but in no way is this to be interpreted as necessarily being a part of the philosophy of those who choose to join the ring. I have stated that, "... the only requirements for membership in the ring is the possession of a website which expresses a sincere interest in the philosophy of Objectivism." As such, you personally may support one faction or another in the Objectivist Movement. But as far as your membership in the ring is concerned, this is entirely irrelevant. Fundamentally, I do not care who you support. What I care about is whether or not you have a sincere interest in the philosophy of Objectivism. Period.

I, of course, have my own views. But fundamentally, the ring is not about supporting my views. It is about something which I personally regard as far more important: the encouragement of epistemological and ethical virtue of intellectual independence through the facilitation of open communication. What I believe matters most are principles, not personalities. Primarily, what one should examine are the arguments which are presented, not the credentials or allegiances of those who present them. It is never primarily a matter of "us vs. them"-- what matters is what is true, and moreover, the only means of discovering the truth-- the mind of the individual who judges things for himself.

You yourself may believe that there is something terribly wrong with one faction or another in the Objectivist Movement. I might very well agree with you. But with regard to the ring, I take this to be completely irrelevant, and, I would argue, so should you. Assuming there is something wrong with a given faction, would you want anyone to accept this conclusion merely on your say-so? No, you say? Good, then up to this point, you and I are agreed. Then what about upon someone else's say so? No, you say? Good, then we agree upon this principle as well. No one has the right to demand belief merely upon their authority, and it is never right to grant such belief merely out of the recognition of authority-- such intellectual and moral subservience would be fundamentally wrong. Individuals should have the virtue of intellectual independence, and the leaders of an intellectual or philosophic movement must (assuming they deserve the title) encourage such intellectual independence.

The leaders may present their own arguments. However, the leaders cannot demand of their followers an automatic belief, but must grant that their followers have the right to examine all the arguments, including the arguments of those who disagree. The leaders may arrive at their own conclusions, whether these conclusions are regarding matters of fact or matters of moral judgement. The leaders may even announce such conclusions. But then they must recognize the right of each of their followers to arrive at his own conclusions in his own time. Or to put this more succinctly, the leaders of an intellectual or philosophic movement must encourage the virtue of intellectual independence, and moreover, the open communication which facilitates this virtue.

In forming The Objectivist Ring, I have chosen to help facilitate open communication for the purpose of encouraging the intellectual and ethical virtue of intellectual independence. To misuse my position as moderator would be to betray these two values. However, in my belief, the sustained, long-term existence of the Objectivist Movement as an intellectual and philosophic movement depends upon these two values. Given this, I pledge to place no value above the facilitation of open communication-- in support of the virtue of intellectual independence, in my capacity as ring moderator.

But in exchange, I make of you this request: if you agree that intellectual independence is both an epistemic and moral virtue, a virtue without which the Objectivist Movement cannot continue to exist as both an intellectual and philosophical movement, and if you agree that open communication is an integral component of the only environment in which intellectual independence may thrive, then do not pledge me your support-- but join The Objectivist Ring in support of the judgements of your own mind.

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© 1997 by Timothy D. Chase, THE OBJECTIVIST RING moderator. All rights reserved.