|When I was 8 years old, I played checkers with my 30-year-old baby-sitter. After I started winning games, she changed the rules. Each time I won the game under her new rules (and after much protestation), she would change them again, saying, "You just don't understand the rules of checkers."|
Such is an argument with Joe Rowlands. When he doesn't like the rules of Objectivism, he simply creates his own philosophy -- his own definitions for virtues et al. He redefines honesty and often turns it into integrity's siamese twin. (more on that in a bit)
If we Objectivists cannot even agree on a definition for honesty, then we are surely fucked in understanding when we are virtuous in that regard. There would be no way to use pride, the examination (and exultation) of our virtues, to see if we are actually being honest. This is vitally important! Definitions are important because they give an exact description of reality to guide our minds. Without them, you cannot look into your own mind and discover whether what it is doing is correct -- whether it's being honest or integrated or independent. With a foggy-bottom, elusive crankpot amalgam such as Rowlands', you have no way of judging your honesty.
Here's Rand's own definition of honesty in "What Can We Do" in PWNI:
Intellectual honesty (involves) knowing what one does know, constantly expanding one's knowledge, and never evading or failing to correct one's contradiction. This means: the development of an active mind as a permanent attribute.Here's what Rowlands had to say to Jason about Rand's revolutionary way of looking at honesty:
She didn't exactly redefine it, though. ... So you can call that redefining if you want, but it's not as if she flipped the meaning on its head like "selfishness" or "egoism".No?! She changed it so much that Rowlands himself cannot make heads or tails of it. She changed the meaning of honesty to a focus on reality, NOT a focus on other people. THAT is revolutionary. Has Rowlands READ Rand's works?
Moreover, she and Peikoff honed the definition after long talks that resulted in his lectures, from which he expanded into OPAR. Honesty is addressed there under the heading "Honesty as the Rejection of Unreality":
The virtue of honesty requires that one face the truth on every issue one deals with: the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. ... Honesty consists in taking the process of cognition seriously. ... In regard to motive, intellectual honesty means seeking knowledge because one needs to act properlyIt's all in the head, Rowlands! (Note how the long quote from Atlas in Rowlands' post IS all in the head, but he doesn't or won't see it.) Honesty is a mental task ONLY.
It gets out of the head when the virtue of
integrity takes over. Then we "act properly." Integrity "is the loyalty to one's convictions and values; it is the policy of acting in accordance with one's values, of expressing, upholding and translating them into practical reality." (Rand, VOS, 51; pb 46) There is no mind-body dichotomy, as Rowlands perfumes, when you are integrated. As long as your mental action of honesty is followed by an integrated and concommitant physical action in reality, then you are being virtuous and pursuing your values.
Why does all this delineation of the virtues really matter?
Because all of the virtues are, to some degree or another, derivatives of rationality. Rand emphasized the nuances by calling each a virtue. She did so on purpose -- so we could examine more scrupulously every aspect, every nuance of our rationality. It is THIS aspect that Rowlands is trying to confound with his sneeze-blowing definitions and mind-numbing dissertations on virtue/values. Let him at least be honest enough to give a precise definition of honesty -- and let's see if it's the same as Rand's.
As far as I know, I've broken ground on the categorization of the virtues into "the mental-action ones" and the "mental/physical-action ones." This type of categorization allows our review process (pride) on our thoughts and actions to be more succinct and precise. "Am I totally focused on reality (honesty)?" "Have I put that thought into action (integrity)?" "Am I a virtuous man (pride)?" "Am I acting on my own volition and not anybody else's (independence)?" Etc.
I don't expect to change the mind of Joe Rowlands on this. He'll probably continue to change the rules of checkers. But those of you who care about precision in your life and your thoughts may wish to carefully read OPAR again. (It can be turgid and authoritarian and lack good examples -- thy name is Peikoff -- but it is a decent digest of Rand's philosophy.)
Now, Joe, have you been doing your brain kegels? Repeat after me: "One two, one two, honesty is focus on reality, (squeeze squeeze), one two, one two, integrity is action aligned with rational thought, (squeeze squeeze) one two, one two, independence is relying on your own brain for truth (even if you're a housewife) and not others', (squeeze squeeze) one two ...