1NC vs Policy 7
1NC vs Kritik 17
Authentic Learning 38
Humanities Education 51
Linguistic Relativism 56
Public Education 63
Science Education 71
Social Justice 74
State Action 79
Relativism Bad 83
Freedom Outweighs 85
Cap Good - Poverty 86
Cap Good - Environment 88
World Getting Better 91
AT: Objectivism = War 94
Performance - Productivity Good 97
Performance - State Bad 98
Performance - Truth Good 99
Performance - Cap Good 100
Alt Card 101
Individualism Key 106
Limits Bad/Constraints Bad 110
Interrogation Key 112
Alt Solvency 113
AT: Rand Indicts 119
Impact Turns 122
Privatization Bad 123
Universalism Bad 126
Objectivism Bad - Generic 129
Objectivism Bad - STEM 132
Ayn Rand Bad 135
Perm - Generic 140
Perm - Econ Affs 142
*Truth exists, reality is real, and capitalism is good.
*There is so much gendered language in these cards - I tried to catch everything but if I didn’t mark it out yourself/read at your own risk.
*This kritik is the best against affirmatives that make arguments about the indeterminacy or pluralistic nature of language or society, as it is an impact turn to that notion. It also is good against policy affirmatives that drastically increase the overreach of the government.
*This kritik is TERRIBLE against antiblackness or other identity based affirmatives, because the thesis of Objectivism is that oppression would not exist if everyone just focused on their own self-interest. Rand was also racist, sexist, transphobic, etc. Making survival-of-the-fittest-esque arguments versus identity affirmatives is not the best route.
Objectivism is a philosophical framework developed by the Russian writier and philosopher Ayn Rand. It has several tenets that interact in different ways with debate arguments.
1. Reality exists independently of consciousness - Rand believes that objects exist and look/feel/sound the same for all people, although each person can have their own method of coming to that perception. The chair in front of you is definitively a chair and looks the same for all people. “A” is “A”, etc. etc.
2. Rational self-interest is the most ethical model of living - Rand believes that this allows for competition and efficiency and innovation, all of which lead to the betterment of society.
3. Laissez-faire capitalism is awesome - Rand believes that that role of government or other collective institutions is solely for the prevention of the use of force - any act of taxation or regulation is a form of thievery.
Put these in your 2NC and 2NR for extra spice
Ayn Rand wrote in Atlas Shrugged:
“If you don't know, the thing to do is not to get scared, but to learn.”
“I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.”
“Contradictions do not exist. Whenever you think that you are facing a contradiction, check your premises. You will find that one of them is wrong.”
“Never think of pain or danger or enemies a moment longer than is necessary to fight them.”
“I think; therefore, I'll think.”
“Live and act within the limit of your knowledge and keep expanding it to the limit of your life.”
“There is no such thing as a lousy job - only lousy men who don't care to do it.”
“Money is only a tool. It will take you wherever you wish, but it will not replace you as the driver.”
“It is not death that we wish to avoid, but life that we wish to live.”
“Money will not purchase happiness for the man who has no concept of what he wants.”
"If it's worth doing, it's worth overdoing."
1NC vs Policy
Modern day education is plagued with teaching methods that miss the forest for the trees. In the attempt to take every factor into account, students actually learn nothing. The affirmative is another failed liberal attempt to make students whole subjects.
Peikoff 14 - Leonard Peikoff, PhD from NYU in Philosophy, founder of the Ayn Rand Institute. 2014 [“Why Johny Can’t Think”, Ayn Rand Institute] rpg
I went to an eighth-grade class on Western European history in a highly regarded, non-Progressive school with a university affiliation. The subject that day was: Why does human history' constantly change? This is an excellent question, which really belongs to the philosophy of history. What factors, the teacher was asking, move history, and explain men's past actions? Here are the he listed on the board: competition among classes for land, money, power, or trade routes; disasters and catastrophes (such as wars and plagues); the personality of leaders; innovations, technology, new discoveries (potatoes and coffee are included here); and developments in the rest of the world, which interacts with a given region. At this point, time ran out. But think of what else could qualify as causes in this kind of approach. What about an era's press or media of communication? Is that a factor in history? What about people's psychology, including their sexual proclivities? What about their art or their geography? What about the weather? Do you see the hodgepodge the students are being given? History, they are told, is moved by power struggles and diseases and potatoes and wars and chance personalities. Who can make sense out of such a chaos? Here is a random multiplicity thrown at a youngster without any attempt to conceptualize it—to reduce it to an intelligible unity, to trace the operation of principles. This is perceptual-level history, history as nothing but a torrent of unrelated, disintegrated concretes. The American Revolution, to take a specific example, was once taught in the schools on the conceptual level. The Revolution's manifold aspects were identified, then united, and explained by a principle: the commitment of the colonists to individual rights and their consequent resolve to throw off the tyrant's yoke. This was a lesson students could understand and find relevant in today's world. But now the same event is ascribed to a whole list of alleged causes. The students are given ten (or fifty) causes of the Revolution, including the big landowners' desire to preserve their estates, the Southern planters' desire for a cancellation of their English debts, the Bostonians' opposition to tea taxes, the Western land speculators' need to expand past the Appalachians, and firth. No one can retain such a list longer than is required to pass the exam; it must be memorized, then regurgitated, then happily and thoroughly forgotten. is all one can do with unrelated concretes If the students were taught by avowed Marxists—if they were told that history reflects die clash between the factors of production and the modes of ownership—it would be dead wrong, but it would still be a principle, an integrating generalization, and it would be much less harmful to the students' ability to think; they might still be open to argument on the subject. But to teach them an unconceptualized hash is to imply that history is a tale told by an idiot, without wider meaning, or relevance to the present. This approach destroys the possibility of the students thinking or caring at all about the field. I cannot resist adding that the State Education Department of New York has found a way, believe it or not, to make the teaching of history still worse. You might think that, in history at least, the necessary order of presenting the material is self-evident. Since each era grows out of the preceding, the obvious way to teach events is as they happened, that is, chronologically. But not according to a new proposal. In order "to put greater emphasis on sociological, political, and economic issues," a New York State proposal recommends that historical material be organized for the students according to six master topics picked out of the blue from the pop ethos: "ecology, human needs, human rights, cultural interaction, the global system of economic interdependence, and the future." In this approach, an event from a later period can easily be taught (in connection with one master topic) first, long before the developments from an earlier period that actually led to it. As a more traditional professor from Columbia has noted: "The whole thing would be wildly out of chronological order. The (Russian) purge trials of the 1930s would be taught before the revolutions of 1905 and 1917. It is all fragmented and there is no way that this curriculum relates one part of a historical period to another, which is what you want kids to be able to do. But the modern educators don't seem to care about that. They want "fragments," that is, concretes, without context, logic, or any other demands of a conceptual progression. I do not know what to make of this New York proposal. The fact that it was announced to the press and discussed seriously is revealing enough. Given the way history is now being taught, it is not surprising that huge chunks of it promptly get forgotten by the students or simply are never taken in. The result is many adolescents' shocking ignorance of the most elementary historical, or current, facts. One man wrote a column recently in The Washington Post recounting his conversations with today's teenagers. He found high school graduates who did not know anything about World War Il, including what happened at pearl Harbor, or what country the United States was fighting in the Pacific. won?" one college student asked him. At one point, the writer and a girl who was a junior at the University of Southern California were watching television coverage of Poland after martial law had been imposed; the set showed political prisoners being put into a cage. The girl could not understand it '"Why don-t they just leave and come to L.A.?'" she asked. "l explained that they were not allowed to leave." "'They're not!” she said. '"Why not?"' 'I explained that in totalitarian states citizens usually could not emigrate." she said. "'Since when? Is that something Now let us make a big jump—from history to reading Let us look at the method of teaching reading that is used by most American schools in some form: the look-say method (as against phonics). The method of phonics, the old-fashioned approach, first teaches a child the sound of individual letters; then it teaches him to read words by combining these sounds. Each letter thus represents an abstraction subsuming countless instances. Once a child knows that p sounds "puh," for instance, that becomes a principle; he grasps that every p he meets sounds the same way. When he has learned a few dozen such abstractions, he has acquired the knowledge necessary to decipher virtually any new word he encounters. Thus, the gigantic multiplicity of the English vocabulary is reduced to a handful of symbols. This is the conceptual method of learning to read. Modern educators object to it. Phonics, they say (among many such is unreal. I quote from one such mentality: "There is little value in pronouncing the letter p in isolation, it is almost impossible to do this—a vowel inevitably follows the pronunciation of any consonant. This means: when you pronounce the sound of have to utter the vowel sound "uh"; so, you haven't isolated the pure consonant; so, phonics is artificial. But why can't you isolate in your mind, focusing only on the consonant sound, ignoring the accompanying vowel for of analysis—just as men focus on a red table's color but ignore its shape in order to reach the concept Why does this writer rule out selective attention and analysis, which are the very essence of human cognition? Because these involve an act of abstraction; they represent a conceptual process, precisely the that modern educators oppose. Their favored method, look-say, dispenses with abstractions. Look- say forces a child to learn the sounds of whole words without knowing the sounds of the individual letters or syllables. This makes every word a new concrete to be grasped only by perceptual means, such as trying to remember its distinctive shape on the page, or some special picture the teacher has associated with it. Which amounts to heaping on the student a vast multiplicity of concretes and saying: stare at these and memorize them. (You may not be surprised to discover that this method was invented, as far as I can tell, by an eighteenth-century German professor who was a follower of Rousseau, the passionate opponent of reason. There is a colossal Big Lie involved in the look-say propaganda. Its advocates crusade against the overuse of memory, they decry phonics because, they say, it requires a boring memorization of all the sounds of the alphabet. Their solution is to replace such brief, simple memorization with the task of memorizing the sound of every word in the language. In fact, if one wishes to save children from the drudgery of endless memorization, only the teaching of abstractions will do it—in any field. No one can learn to read by the look-say method. It is too anti-human. Our schools today, therefore, are busy teaching a new skill: guessing. They offer the children some memorized shapes and pictures to start, throw in a little phonics (thanks to immense parental pressure), count on the parents secretly teaching their children something at home about reading—and then, given this stew of haphazard clues, they concentrate their efforts on teaching the children about methods of guessing what a given word might be.
State action necessarily limits the individual freedoms that ought to be granted to every person - only pure competition can make society the best it can possibly be
Cox 13 - Stephen Cox, Ph.D. (UCLA), Professor of English Literature, Distinguished Professor, Faculty Fellow, Revelle College, July 2013 [“Rand, Paterson, and the Problem of Anarchism”, The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, Vol. 13, No. 1 (July 2013), pp. 3-25, Penn State University Press] rpg
From the economist Henry George (1839–97) Nock had derived a belief that “government”—as opposed to the oppressive “state”—can be supported by a 100 percent tax on “unearned” increases in the values of land. Whether this is really “anarchism” can be disputed (Cox 1992, 42–44). Rand apparently never disputed it. It is possible that she did not clearly understand Nock’s position. Paterson, who was very well read on the subject, pronounced George’s Single Tax nothing but “socialism” (Cox 2004, 53, 71, 215). Rand’s conflict with individualist anarchism came at a later time. In Atlas Shrugged (1957), Rand proposed a moral and political theory significantly based on the idea that force should never be initiated, by individuals or by government; it should be used only in direct and personal retaliation: “It is only as retaliation that force may be used and only against the man who starts its use” (1024). This severely limited-government theory naturally attracted to Rand’s circle many radical opponents of the state, including the economist Murray Rothbard (1926–95). Rothbard attended Rand’s philosophical salons but made himself unwelcome by refusing to accept her intellectual authority. Soon after, he became the twentieth century’s most formidable proponent of libertarian anarchism (“anarcho-capitalism”). Largely because of his influence, the libertarian movement of the 1970s and 1980s included a very significant minority of anarchists; the movement still does, though their numbers may be declining. And many libertarians continue to combine anarchism with an unorthodox Objectivism. It was at least in part to counter the ideas of Rothbard and his followers that Rand developed the arguments contained in three essays originally published in The Objectivist Newsletter (1963 and 1964) and republished in The Virtue of Selfishness (1964b): “Man’s Rights,” “The Nature of Government,” and “Government Financing in a Free Society.” By the time she wrote these essays, Rand had developed a decided aversion to sharing the intellectual stage with anyone else. In refuting Rothbard’s ideas, she referred to their proponents anonymously, as “some of the younger advocates of freedom” (Rand 1964b, 112). But it is plainly Rothbard and company whom she had in mind. The fact that such people generally described themselves as libertarians is reflected in the vigorous opposition she later mounted to anything called “libertarianism.” The anarcho-capitalists suggested, and continue to suggest, that the state can be replaced with private, voluntary agencies—organizations that contract with individuals to provide protection (private police) and adjudication of conflicts (private justice). These agencies would compete with one another, much as companies now compete to provide the necessities of food and shelter. As competitors, they would be anxious to please their clients by offering the greatest possible security and the most satisfactory settlement of disputes. Costs would be controlled by the competitive principle that controls costs in other areas of life. Yet while competing, these agencies would be inclined to reach amicable understandings among themselves— a cheaper alternative than fighting one another. Contrast the current situation, in which no one is guaranteed either justice or safety (including safety from predatory police and courts), but everyone is guaranteed high taxes, intrusive laws, the surrender of the right to choose for oneself in important instances, and often the surrender of the right to self-defense. This, argue the anarcho-capitalists, is ever the course of monopolistic government. The state doesn’t simply appropriate the citizens’ right to repel force; it constantly initiates force, on the citizens themselves. This, I believe, is the argument on which libertarian anarchists substantially agree.1 Rand’s own ideas are so close to those of the anarcho-capitalists that when she attempts to counter their position, she does so very much in their own terms. The anarcho-capitalists identified invasions of rights with the initiation of force; as I have noted, Atlas Shrugged had already enshrined the non-initiation-of-force principle: So long as men desire to live together, no man may initiate—do you hear me? no man may start—the use of physical force against others. . . . Whoever, to whatever purpose or extent, initiates the use of force, is a killer acting on the premise of death in a manner wider than murder: the premise of destroying man’s capacity to live. (Rand 1957, 1023) The only proper purpose of a government is to protect man’s rights, which means: to protect him from physical violence. A proper government is only a policeman, acting as an agent of man’s selfdefense, and, as such, may resort to force only against those who start the use of force. (1062) “Man’s Rights” repeats the idea that “the government, acting as a policeman, may use force only in retaliation and only against those who initiate its use” The non-initiation principle or “‘non-aggression’ axiom”—the idea that no one has the right to initiate “the use or threat of physical violence against the person or property of someone else”—was congenial both to Rothbardian anarchists and to such limited-government theorists as Robert Nozick (Rothbard 1973, 8, here quoted; Nozick 1974, 32–35). I know of no libertarian anarchist who denies the principle. Rothbard himself went so far as to claim that “all libertarians agree on nonaggression as the central axiom of their doctrine” (Rothbard 1973, 8). Indeed, the non-initiation principle was influential enough to become the basis of Libertarian Party ideology. Despite vigorous and determined criticism, mounted by many people over many years, the party still requires potential members to sign a statement declaring, “I certify that I oppose the initiation of force to achieve political or social goals.”2
Thus, we read from Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged:
Rand 57 - Ayn Rand, novelist and philosopher who developed Objectivism as a theory of life, 1957 [“Atlas Shrugged”] rpg
Productiveness is your acceptance of morality, your recognition of the fact that you choose to live--that productive work is the process by which man's consciousness controls his existence, a constant process of acquiring knowledge and shaping matter to fit one's purpose, of translating an idea into physical form, of remaking the earth in the image of one's values--that all work is creative work if done by a thinking mind, and no work is creative if done by a blank who repeats in uncritical stupor a routine he has learned from others--that your work is yours to choose, and the choice is as wide as your mind, that nothing more is possible to you and nothing less is human--that to cheat your way into a job bigger than your mind can handle is to become a fear-corroded ape on borrowed motions and borrowed time, and to settle down into a job that requires less than your mind's full capacity is to cut your motor and sentence yourself to another kind of motion: decay--that your work is the process of achieving your values, and to lose your ambition for values is to lose your ambition to live--that your body is a machine, but your mind is its driver, and you must drive as far as your mind will take you, with achievement as the goal of your road--that the man who has no purpose is a machine that coasts downhill at the mercy of any boulder to crash in the first chance ditch, that the man who stifles his mind is a stalled machine slowly going to rust, that the man who lets a leader prescribe his course is a wreck being towed to the scrap heap, and the man who makes another man his goal is a hitchhiker no driver should ever pick up--that your work is the purpose of your life, and you must speed past any killer who assumes the right to stop you, that any value you might find outside your work, any other loyalty or love, can be only travelers you choose to share your journey and must be travelers going on their own power in the same direction.
Our alternative is a return to objectivism - accepting the notion that reality is not constructed subjectively and exists outside of one’s consciousness is a necessary prerequisite to effective education.
Locke and Ghate 2003 - Edwin A. Locke (born January 5, 1938) is an American psychologist and a pioneer in goal-setting theory. He is a retired Dean’s Professor of Motivation and Leadership at the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland, College Park. He was also affiliated with the Department of Psychology. Onkar Ghate is a senior fellow and chief content officer at the Ayn Rand Institute. He is the Institute’s resident expert on Objectivism and serves as its senior trainer and editor. He has taught philosophy for over ten years at the Institute’s Objectivist Academic Center. 2003 [“OBJECTIVISM: THE PROPER ALTERNATIVE TO POSTMODERNISM”, Research in the Sociology of Organizations, Volume 21, 251–280] rpg
Rand begins by explicitly naming the base of her philosophy: the axioms of existence (what is, is; existence exists), consciousness (one is aware that something exists, consciousness is conscious) and identity (that which exists has a specific nature, A is A). Causality is a corollary of the axiom of identity: if every thing has a specific nature, then it can act only in accordance with that nature. A philosophical axiom is a fundamental, undeniable truth on which all subsequent knowledge rests. It is self-evident – i.e. implicit in any instance of perception – and cannot be coherently denied: any ‘denial’ must accept the axiom in the very act of trying to deny it. Whatever the degree of your knowledge, these two – existence and consciousness – are axioms you cannot escape, these two are the irreducible primaries implied in any action you undertake, in any part of your knowledge and in its sum, from the first ray of light you perceive at the start of your life to the widest erudition you might achieve at its end. Whether you know the shape of a pebble or the structure of the solar system, the axioms remain the same: that it exists and that you know it. To exist is to be something, as distinguished from the nothing of nonexistence; it is to be an entity of a specific nature made of specific attributes [this is the third axiom]. Centuries ago, the man who was – no matter what his errors – the greatest of your philosophers [Aristotle], has stated the formula defining the concept of existence and the rule of all knowledge: A is A. A thing is itself (Rand, 1961, p. 125). Together these three axioms add up to a corollary principle, which Rand calls the primacy of existence. The primacy of existence states that existence comes first: what exists, exists and is what it is independent of any consciousness. Consciousness, by contrast, is a metaphysical dependent: in order for it to be conscious of something, it requires that something first exist. In order for you to be conscious of the book on the table, for instance, the book (and table) must first exist. “If nothing exists, there can be no consciousness: a consciousness with nothing to be conscious of is a contradiction in terms... . If that which you claim to perceive does not exist, then what you possess is not consciousness” (Rand, 1961, p. 124). Metaphysically, therefore, consciousness is passive (although epistemologically, it is active – see below): its function is to grasp that something exists and to grasp the nature, the identity, of that which exists. Consciousness has no power to create or alter that which exists (which is not to deny that man has the power to re-arrange what exists – see below). The opposite of the primacy of existence is what Rand calls the primacy of consciousness. On this view, consciousness comes first: its task is not to perceive existence but to create it. Ever since Kant (though the stage was set by Descartes), the primacy of consciousness has been dominant in philosophy. Whether it is Kant’s internal forms of sensibility and conceptual categories creating space, time, existence, and causality, Hegel’s cosmic mind developing itself through progressive contradictions, the Pragmatists’ feelings and actions molding the world, or the Postmodernists’ social construction of reality, the common root is the idea that the function of consciousness is not to identify but to create and alter reality. But to accept the primacy of consciousness is to reject the axioms of existence, consciousness and identity, and so to lapse into self-contradiction. A consciousness cannot be the creator of existence because it first requires that existence exist: a “consciousness conscious of nothing but itself is a contradiction in terms” (Rand, 1961, p. 124). Nor can the primacy of consciousness be saved by claiming, as so many have tried, that existence exists but consciousness determines its identity. This is to claim that there exists a thing, which is no thing in particular – i.e. there exists something, which is nothing. Note that Objectivism recognizes that there are man-made facts as distinguished from metaphysically given facts (Rand, 1982, pp. 23–34). Metaphysically given facts flow from the inexorable nature – the identity – of reality: they are, and they had to be. Man-made facts flow (in part) from man’s volition: they are, but they did not have to be (i.e. a different choice was possible). The existence of the sun, for instance, is a metaphysically given fact; the existence of the Empire State Building and the existence of the Constitution of the United States are man-made facts. The creative power that man’s faculty of volition gives him, however, is strictly limited: the existence and identity of the elements of reality are outside his power to affect. Man’s only creative power is the ability to rearrange the elements of reality in accordance with their identities. To do so successfully (i.e. in a manner that will further his existence) requires knowledge. Man can attempt, for instance, to build a skyscraper by piling up dirt and leaves, but it will crash to the ground. He can also, however, study the principles of physics, learn how to make steel and concrete, and then erect soaring towers. Man can attempt to organize a society by following “divine revelation” – and then see his society collapse into the chaos of the Dark Ages. But he can also study man’s nature, the nature and functions of government, and actual past governments, and then write a viable Constitution. Epistemology All knowledge (including knowledge of the axioms) begins with the evidence of the senses. To claim that the senses are invalid is a contradiction. On what basis could one claim the senses were invalid except on the basis of sensory evidence? The senses give us automatic knowledge of reality. So-called perceptual “errors,” such as illusions, are simply the way in which the brain integrates the whole perceptual field, e.g. the railroad tracks look like they meet off in the distance because the eyes respond to input regarding distance. We can see that the tracks do not really meet by walking down the tracks. As noted in the previous chapter, Kant’s fundamental error was the premise that having a specific means of consciousness (i.e. sensory systems and a rational faculty) automatically disqualifies one from knowing reality. But the truth is the reverse. One can know reality only through a specific means of awareness, which determines the specific way in which one is aware of reality. At the perceptual level, this means one must distinguish between the object and form of perception. We become aware of the wavelength of light, for example, through the experience of color (hue). There is no such thing as awareness of reality by no means (e.g. absent a brain and sense receptors). Having a means of awareness does not undermine the validity of our knowledge, as Kant implied. Nor does it imply that we perceive reality “as it appears to us.” We do not perceive appearances; we perceive reality by specific means. Man’s distinctive form of awareness, however, is not perceptual. He shares that level with the lower animals. Man has the power of reason. Reason functions by means of concepts. The question on which the validity of reason depends is: Do concepts give us knowledge of reality? Ever since Kant (although Plato made the same error), the dominant view in philosophy has been that they do not: concepts have no connection to reality, they are subjective products of the human mind whose inescapable distortions create a “reality” of their own. Kant’s view has dominated philosophy because no one until Ayn Rand had been able to identify the connection of concepts to sensory perception (and so to reality). No one had been able to identify how we are able validly to form a mental unit that integrates things which, though similar, are also different from each other in every observable, measurable aspect (e.g. every table is of a different width, length, height, weight, etc.). Rand’s crucial discovery in this regard is that of measurement omission (see Rand, 1990 for details). One observes, for instance, that certain man-made objects consisting of a flat, level surface with supports and that support other, small objects (tables) are similar to each other and different from related objects (e.g. chairs). One integrates the different tables into a single mental unit by omitting the particular measurements of each table on the implicit principle that a table may be of any width, length, height, weight (within certain ranges) so long as it is of some specific width, length, etc. (within those ranges). One then retains the concept by a sensoryperceptual symbol, a word. Words, therefore, are not detached from reality but stand for concepts that are themselves based in the facts of reality. The concept table stands for an unlimited potential number of actual tables, including tables not yet made. Valid higher-level concepts are formed through integrating lower-level concepts using the same principle of measurement omission. For example, tables, chairs, sofas, desks and lamps can be integrated into a more abstract concept, furniture, by integrating the facts that these are all movable articles in a home that make it fit for living and working, but omitting the measurements of the various types of moving articles. Definitions are the final step in concept formation. They have two functions: to tie the concept to its referents in reality and to differentiate the concept from other concepts. A definition, which must be formed in accordance with objective principles in order to be valid, is not synonymous with the concept. A definition simply identifies the fundamental attributes of the concretes subsumed by the concept (e.g. “man is the rational animal” is a valid definition of man because reason is man’s fundamental attribute). The definition of man ties the concept to its proper referents while connecting it to but keeping it distinct from one’s other related knowledge. Thus the two parts of a valid definition, genus and differentia. The genus “animal” connects the concept of man with the rest of our vast knowledge about the animal kingdom. The differentia “rational” distinguishes the referents of the concept of man in a fundamental way from all the other members of the animal kingdom. The enormous cognitive benefit of concepts is that of economy: an unlimited number of entities (actions, relationships, etc.) can be held in mind and dealt with by means of a single mental unit, thereby drastically increasing the range and power of man’s mind beyond that attainable at the perceptual level. Observe that for Objectivism concepts are not “out there,” intrinsic properties of objects or of reality, to be discovered by some mysterious process of intuition. Nor are they subjective constructs arbitrarily invented inside one’s head. They are mental integrations of what is out there. They are the form in which a conceptual consciousness grasps reality. They are, if formed by the correct method, objective. Contrary to the claims of some Postmodernists, for example, the concepts of male and female are not arbitrary but objective. Those who doubt this should start by looking at pictures of males and females – or in the mirror. The mind attains objectivity by connecting every concept to perceptual data and therefore to the facts of reality. The method by which it does this is logic. Logic, for Objectivism, is not primarily deductive but inductive: deriving all of one’s conclusions ultimately from sensory-perception and integrating this knowledge into a non-contradictory whole. Thus Objectivism rejects two dominant modern approaches to philosophy: rationalism (reason, especially deduction, divorced from sensory-perceptual observation) and empiricism (sensory-perceptual observation divorced from reason, i.e. from conceptual processing and integration). For Objectivism knowledge results from logic applied to experience. Postmodernism stresses the fact that different individuals and groups have different “contexts,” i.e. different ideas. For the Postsmodernist this immediately disqualifies the conclusions of any individual from being objective. There are two reasons for this. First, according to postmodernism any context is necessarily arbitrary, i.e. divorced from reality, since concepts are necessarily arbitrary. Objectivism, by contrast, shows that concepts, if formed by the correct method, are based in reality. Furthermore, Objectivism shows that context-holding – which means requiring that everything one knows be integrated without contradiction with everything else one knows – is a crucial part of logic and so of expanding knowledge; it is not the disqualifier of knowledge. Second, for postmodernism an individual’s cultural context, whether true or false, good or bad, determines his ideas; that is, the individual is helpless to avoid cultural determinism. Objectivism, by contrast, holds that the conceptual level of awareness is volitional. “[T]o think is an act of choice ... . Reason does not work automatically; thinking is not a mechanical process; the connections of logic are not made by instinct. The function of your stomach, lungs or heart is automatic; the function of your mind is not. In any hour and issue of your life, you are free to think or to evade that effort” (Rand, 1961, p. 120). Man has the sovereign power to choose the ideas that move him. Volition is a corollary of the axiom of (human) consciousness. The “perceptual self-evidency” here is that of introspection. One can observe directly that one has the power to focus one’s mind at the conceptual level (e.g. aim for understanding, integration) or to let it drift at or drop to the sensory-perceptual level. A good illustration of volition (and one that works very well with students) is reading a book: one can just look at the marks on the page or try to focus one’s mind so as to understand what the words mean. No matter what one’s culture or environment (assuming a normal brain state and freedom from physical coercion), one has the power to choose to think or to evade the effort (and then, if one chooses to think, the power to make secondary choices based on that primary choice; see Peikoff, 1991, pp. 55–72). Note that volition does not violate the law of causality; rather it is a form of that law – one applicable to a conceptual consciousness. The cause of the choice to think in each given case is: the individual man. It is a causal primary not necessitated by prior events. Nor does volition undermine science. In actuality, it is a precondition of all science and of all knowledge. If men were not free to focus on the facts, evaluate them and reach conclusions based on logic and evidence, then all claims of knowledge would reduce to nonsense (as they do in postmodernism), viz. “I was forced by my genes and conditioning to emit the follows word sounds...” Volition does not mean omniscience. All knowledge has to be acquired and men can err in reaching conclusions. It is precisely because human consciousness is volitional and conceptual – and therefore fallible – that man needs the science of epistemology, the science that identifies the fundamental means of acquiring and validating knowledge.
Interrogating the methods in which knowledge is imparted to students is necessary - it’s a prior question to any of their solvency claims.
Peikoff 14 - Leonard Peikoff, PhD from NYU in Philosophy, founder of the Ayn Rand Institute. 2014 [“Why Johny Can’t Think”, Ayn Rand Institute] rpg
With that brief orientation, I do need to say a word to motivate you to read this book. (Chapter 2 will make clear why I think it is important to do so.) The primary beneficiaries of a book on the philosophy of education are parents and teachers, those concerned directly with children. If you are a teacher, it should be obvious why this book is of value to you. This is your life work, training children in something. It is assumed that you want to know in what and for what purpose. If a teacher is anything other than the lowest hack, it is essential that he or she have this knowledge. If you are a parent, this material is crucial because parents are the ones responsible for their child's maturation. You cannot just accept what the teacher says, particularly today. You have to know: Are they equipping my child properly or are they harming him? Are they giving him the essentials he needs to develop properly? What are the essentials? If he is having trouble in school, is that his problem or is that the fault of the school? What are the schools doing, and is that what they should be doing? A philosophy of education, in short, is essential to being a proper parent; otherwise, you are merely turning your child over to blind chance. Even if you happen to have good teachers, you have to supplement their work at home in order to enhance your child's ability to succeed. There are two other groups that I think can benefit. First, any- body who wants to communicate, teach, or persuade others of specific things—a husband and a wife, an employer and an employee, a speech- maker, a politician—will find the proper methods of teaching applicable. This book is partly theory, but largely practical tips and advice on communication and teaching. From that point Of view, anyone other than a hermit could benefit. Finally, I think you can benefit even if you are not in any of these categories. This information can provide you with a standard of self-evaluation. If you know a proper philosophy of education, you can look at yourself and say, "How was I educated? Did my parents and teachers give me what I needed for mature life? If not, can I supply the lack, myself, now?" If you know the standard that one
man requires by his nature, you can begin to judge your own case and remedy any deficiency you might observe. In that sense, a philosophy of education is like a checklist for your own readiness to face the tasks of life. The pure philosophy—metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, poli- is standard Objectivism but the application to education is my tics— own. (I had very little discussion through the years with Ayn Rand on this particular subject. Clearly, I do not believe I have made any false applications, but I do not want Miss Rand saddled with the responsibility.) If education is instruction in the powers necessary for life, what are those powers and for what kind of life? I have to give specific Objectivist content; otherwise, the topic is simply too broad to guide us in any meaningful direction. A proper theory of education, like a proper theory of ethics, must tell you specifically how to function on earth. It cannot be just ambiguous, floating abstractions. At the very least, it has to tell you two things: how to instruct (method) and what to instruct (content). If a theory doesn't tell you that much, it is just worthless verbiage.