Bill, I agree that when it comes to intelligence, there is greater variation within a race than between races. However, by "intellectual traits," Rand is not referring specifically to a person's intelligence, but to his intellectual values. Nor is she saying that any view that attributes a person's intellectual and characterological traits to his internal body chemistry is racist; she is saying only that racism entails such a view. Here is a more complete statement of her position. You don't have to agree with it, but you should at least understand what she is saying:
There's so much wrong with what you're saying. Where to begin?
"Or perhaps you are referring to Rand's opposition to the racist view that a man's intellectual and characterological traits are produced and transmitted by his internal body chemistry." You don't seem to have a basic grasp of what racism is. It is a well known fact there is by far more variance in intelligence (and just about any other trait) within a race than between races.
Racism is the lowest, most crudely primitive form of collectivism. It is the notion of ascribing moral, social or political significance to a man's genetic lineage -- the notion that a man's intellectual and characterological traits are produced and transmitted by his internal body chemistry. Which means, in practice, that a man is to be judged, not by his own character and actions, but by the characters and actions of a collective of ancestors.
Racism claims that the content of a man's mind (not his cognitive apparatus, but its content is inherited; that a man's convictions, values and character are determined before he is born, by physical factors beyond his control. This is the caveman's version of the doctrine of innate ideas -- or of inherited knowledge -- which has been thoroughly refuted by philosophy and science. Racism is a doctrine of, by and for brutes. It is a barnyard or stock-farm version of collectivism, appropriate to a mentality that differentiates between various breeds of animals, but not between animals and men.
Like every form of determinism, racism invalidates the specific attribute which distinguishes man from all other living species: his rational faculty. Racism negates two aspects of man's life: reason and choice, or mind and morality, replacing them with chemical predestination.
. . . .
Modern racists attempt to prove the superiority or inferiority of a given race by the historical achievements of some of its members. The frequent historical spectacle of a great innovator who, in his lifetime, is jeered, denounced, obstructed, persecuted by his countrymen, and then, a few years after his death, is enshrined in a national monument and hailed as a proof of the greatness of the German (or French or Italian or Cambodian) race -- is as revolting a spectacle of collectivist expropriation, perpetrated by racists, as any expropriation of material wealth perpetrated by communists.
Just as there is no such thing as a collective or racial mind, so there is no such thing as a collective or racial achievement. ("Racism," The Virtue of Selfishness, pp. 126, 127)
This idea above, while perhaps used by racist types, is in fact not racist at all. Reality is such that any trait that one can measure almost always shows a stronger link with genetics than environment. Any trait that one can measure?? I don't think so!
You wrote in an earlier post: If racists claim that the content of a person's mind is inherited - that his convictions, values and moral character as well as his achievements are determined before he is born, by physical factors beyond his control - and Rand points out that this is false, because a person enters the world tabula rasa, and because his convictions, values, moral character and achievements are determined by his choices and acquired knowledge rather than by his genetic lineage, how does this beg the question? Last I checked, pointing out a falsehood does not constitute begging the question!
Rand is also correct that one's characterological traits are not produced and transmitted by one's internal body chemistry, since these are the result of one's choices, which depend on one's knowledge and values. then
I've already explained what she means by "intellectual" and "characterological" in this context and why, given the meanings she attaches to these terms, what she says is true. Are you now telling me that despite its truth, her statement is totally useless - that it does not communicate her opposition to racism, which was its original intent? Opposition to racism can be argued quite well logically, but not with this argument. Yes I am telling you that the statement is useless because it CANNOT be wrong because according to you, or Rand, or both - whatever, the statement cannot be false be the meanings attached to these terms is DEFINED as "that which is not inherited".
to be precise with your words
The term "character" refers to those elements, particularly those involving ethics and morality, that are open to a person's choice, and what is open to a person's choice is not inherited. and
The term "intellectual" in this context does not refer to intelligence but to philosophical values. Rand is also correct that one's characterological traits are not produced and transmitted by one's internal body chemistry, since these are the result of one's choices, which depend on one's knowledge and values. Again you define all meaning and logic out of your argument - classic begging the question fallacy - again.
In case you (and others) might have forgotten, begging the question assumes the conclusion in the premises. Your/Rand's argument boils down to the assertion that "Uninheritable traits are not inherited" and has no argumentative or logical value. But Rand is not simply saying that "Uninheritable traits are not inherited, because they're uninheritable" which would indeed beg the question; she is saying that the content of one's mind (e.g., one's convictions and moral values) as well as one's achievements are not inherited - that man enters the world without any preformed ideas, values or achievements. To oppose the doctrine of innate ideas by stressing that one is tabula rasa before one has any cognitive contact with reality does not constitute a petitio.
The following analogy - again from Rand's essay, "The Comprachicos" - may help to clarify what she means by "tabula rasa": "Speaking metaphorically, [a person] has a camera with an extremely sensitive, unexposed film (his conscious mind), and an extremely complex computer waiting to be programmed (his subconscious). Both are blank. He knows nothing of the external world. He faces an immense chaos which he must learn to perceive by means of the complex mechanism he must learn to operate." (The New Left: The Anti-Industrial Revolution, p. 190)
Sad to say, there are still people who disagree with this view. But you're not one of them, are you Bob? ;-)
(Edited by William Dwyer
on 6/28, 4:40pm)