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"Open" versus "Closed" Objectivism, Again

I posted this on Facebook:

The debate over the "Open" or "Closed" nature of Objectivism does not much matter in the wide sweep of the history of ideas, at least judging from the way that other schools of thought have evolved. The Objectivists used to be fond of quoting the old Spanish proverb: "Take what you want, God said, and pay for it."
I have always taken this to mean, in the context of Rand's ideas: Take what you want, and give credit where credit is due. And then, if you wish, move on, especially if you are interested in being educated about the depth of intellectual history. You will learn from many different thinkers and traditions, and most likely, you will emerge with a vision that Rand may have dismissed as a "hodgepodge" but that may, in fact, given the process of advancing human knowledge, be truer to reality. Either way, take responsibility for your own vision.
We can always test that vision with regard to its consistency with Objectivism, but more importantly, we should be testing that vision in terms of its correspondence to reality. In general, that's how ideas evolve. No debate over the "open" or "closed" nature of Rand's thought is going to stop this evolution, and in a hundred years, I suspect, nobody will care. But Rand's works will have influenced thousands of people, and will have made their mark, in one way or another. At the very least, let's be "open" to that.

Postscript: Raymond Raad agreed with much of what I said in my initial post but stated: "The insistence on a closed system has already stunted the development of Objectivism intellectually and damaged Objectivism's reputation." I agreed, and elaborated:

I agree, Raymond [Ray], that the "closed" adherents have stunted the development of the philosophy; but I think the effects of their approach are going to be drowned out in the long run. Generations die off, and a hundred or so years from now, there is the potential for so many permutations of Rand's influence that this particular debate will be an asterisk.
I discuss the evolution of Marxist thought in "Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical" to illustrate the point:
>>. . . David Kelley (1990) views Objectivism as an "open system": "A philosophy defines a school of thought, a category of thinkers who subscribe to the same principles. In an open philosophy, members of the school may differ among themselves over many issues within the framework of the basic principles they accept" (57).
The evolution of academic Marxist thought illustrates Kelley's point clearly. In defining the essence of contemporary Marxism, it is impossible to disconnect the statements of Karl Marx from the multiple interpretations constructed over the past century. These interpretations are as much a logical development of Marx's methods and theories as they are a reflection of the particular historical, social, and personal contexts of his interpreters. The interpretations also reflect different periods in Marx's own development. Some scholars stress the earlier, more "humanistic" Marx, whereas others argue for an economistic interpretation based on his mature works. Most scholars would agree, however, that one cannot detach Marx's unpublished writings from the corpus of his thought. Indeed, the great bulk of Marx's work was issued posthumously. For example, Marx"s Grundrisse, composed of seven unedited workbooks, was first published in the twentieth century. It provides a cornucopia of material from which one can reconstruct his method of inquiry as a distinct "moment" (or aspect) of his dialectical approach. The Grundrisse is an essential complement to and reflection on Marx's published exposition in Capital.
In addition, a Marxist scholar cannot neglect the plethora of interpretive twists resulting from the combination of Marx's theories with compatible approaches in psychology, anthropology, and sociology. What has emerged is a scholarly industry that must take account of structuralist, phenomenological, critical, and analytical approaches, to name but a few. Finally, we have been presented with different philosophical interpretations of the "real" Karl Marx: the Aristotelian Marx, the Kantian Marx, the Hegelian Marx, and the Leninist Marx. None of these developments alter the essential body of theory that Marx proposed in his lifetime. One can empathize with the innovative theorist who, jealously guarding his discoveries, aims to protect the "purity" of the doctrine. Ironically, Rand suggests a spiritual affinity with Marx on this issue. She remembers that upon hearing the "outrageous statements" made by some of his "Marxist" followers, Marx exclaimed: "But I am not a Marxist."
Nevertheless, although one can debate whether a particular philosophy is "closed" or "open," scholarship must consider the many theoretical developments emerging over time directly or indirectly from the innovator's authentic formulations. Much of current intellectual history focuses not on the ideas of the innovator, but rather, on the evolution of the ideas and on the context in which the ideas emerged and developed. As W. W. Bartley argues, the affirmation of a theory involves many logical implications that are not immediately apparent to the original theorist. In Bartley's words, "The informative content of any idea includes an infinity of unforeseeable nontrivial statements." The creation of mathematics for instance, "generates problems that are wholly independent of the intentions of its creators." <<
The whole point of all this is that today, the "closed" adherents seem to be standing in the way of innovation and application, and the "closed" adherents will accuse the "open" adherents of "impurity"... but in the end, none of it will matter. Rand is going to have an impact that no "closed" advocate will be able to stop. If the ideas are as powerful as we think they are, none of us will even be able to predict how it will be applied to different contexts, time periods, and cultures. There is a world of wonderful possibilities that awaits.