I’m re-reading The Comprachicos again before handing the book which contains said essay off for someone else to read. I’ll be posting quotes from said essay for the next three days.
The term used by Rand in this essay published in 1970 is “Lingustic Analysis”. This term went out of style shortly thereafter to be replaced by “Analytic Philosphy“. You can hit that link and get some background into what kind of insipid “Philosophy for Dummies” doctrine she is speaking of.
It is the claim of Linguistic Analysis that its purpose is not the communication of any particular philosophic content, but the training of a student’s mind. This is true – in the terrible, butchering sense of a comprachico operation. The detailed discussions of inconsequential minutiae – the discourses on trivia picked up at random and in midstream, without base, context or conclusion – the shocks of self-doubt at the professor’s sudden revelations of some such fact as the student’s inability to define the word “but”, which, he claims, proves that they do not understand their own statements – the countering of the questions: “What is the meaning of philosophy?” with “Which sense of ‘meaning’ do you mean?” followed by a discourse on twelve possible uses of the word “meaning”, by which time the question is lost – and, above all, the necessity to shrink one’s focus to the range of a flea’s, and to keep it there – will cripple the best of minds if it attempts to comply.
“Mind Training” pertains to psycho-epistemology; It consists in making a mind automatize certain processes, turning them into permanent habits. What habits does Linguistic Analysis inculcate? Context dropping, concept stealing, disintegration, purposelessness, the inability to grasp, retain or deal with abstractions. Linguistic Analysis is not a philosophy, it is a method of eliminating the capacity for philosophical thought. It is a course in brain destruction. A systematic attempt to turn a rational animal into an animal unable to reason.
Why? What is the comprachicos motive?
To paraphrase Victor Hugo “And what did they make of these children?”
Man’s mind is his basic means of survival – and self-protection. Reason is the most selfish human faculty: It has to be used in and by a man’s own mind, and its product, Truth, makes him inflexible, intransigent, impervious to both the power of any pack or any ruler. Deprived of the ability to reason, man becomes a docile, pliant and impotent chunk of clay, to be shaped into any subhuman form and used for any purpose by anyone who wants to bother.
There has never been a philosophy, a theory or a doctrine that attacked or limited reason which did not also preach submission to the power of some authority.
Ayn Rand – The Comprachicos
While most students don’t even get the chance to study “Analytic Philosophy” until their high school years, if even then, those teaching them have gotten their minds stuffed full of it by their collegiate-level instructors, who were also forced to “learn” this psychobabble.
For the past four decades, our teachers were taught that “feelings” and “understanding”,and not facts and rules, help children “learn”.
It does help them learn something: That nothing taught is worth learning because you must always question if you actually “know” it.
A vicious cycle or just a downward spiral?