Saturday, July 10, 2010

Upon the Retirement of Dr. Leonard Peikoff

Today at his final lecture of OCON 2010, Dr. Leonard Peikoff announced his formal retirement from philosophical work. There will be no more books, lectures, courses, or long treatises from him. He will continue to issue podcast episodes as he indicated that this work is a great enjoyment to him as a way to deal with the practical day to day application of philosophy to everyday problems. In essence he enjoys being the Dr. Laura of Objectivism.

He received a standing ovation that lasted several minutes upon completion of his lecture, and I suspect that many others in the room were as emotional as I was becoming. I have only seen Dr. Peikoff twice, and I have never spoken to him, but that really is unimportant to me. In the mid-90’s when I was the only Objectivist in a small town in Michigan, and when I thought we were so few that I might never meet another one, it was his voice, and the knowledge he imparted to me through his courses that kept me motivated and kept me going. The Art of Thinking, Introduction to Logic, The Principles of Grammer, Introduction to Objectivism, Understanding Objectivism, Eight Great Plays; it was his confident voice, imparting rational ideas that was in inspiration.

In my course on poetry this week with Lisa Van Damme, we studied what is already one of my favorite poems. Its theme seems appropriate to today and so I post a few excerpts from it, in honor of a man whose work, next to Rand’s, changed my life, and who helped me take an abstract philosophy out of the pages of the literature I loved and craft it into a practical method of living my own life.

Thank you, Dr. Peikoff.

from Ulyssess – Alfred Lord Tennyson

I am become a name;
For always roaming with a hungry heart
Much have I seen and known; cities of men
And manners, climates, councils, governments,
Myself not least, but honoured of them all;
And drunk delight of battle with my peers,
Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy
I am a part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethrough
Gleams that untravelled world, whose margin fades
For ever and for ever when I move.
How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
To rust unburnished, not to shine in use!
As though to breathe were life. Life piled on life
Were all too little, and of one to me
Little remains: but every hour is saved
From that eternal silence, something more,
A bringer of new things; and vile it were
For some three suns to store and hoard myself,
And this grey spirit yearning in desire
To follow knowledge like a sinking star,
Beyond the utmost bound of human thought.

Come, my friends,
'Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles
And see the great Achilles
5, whom we knew
Though much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.


Anonymous said...

I did not attend OCON and thus do not know the full context of Dr. Peikoff's retirement announcement. You say "Dr. Leonard Peikoff announced his formal retirement from philosophical work.
There will be no more books..."

Does this mean he will not be completing/publishing his "The DIM Hypothesis" (which is still prominently linked/previewed on his website)? Or will that be his last published philosophic work?

mtnrunner2 said...

I'm sure Kendall means after the DIM hypothesis book is published. I look forward to that book.

I think it's great Peikoff's taking a break for very personal reasons to do something of personal interest; the perfect end to an Objectivist's career. In a podcast he said he wanted to write fiction!

I always admire it when someone who's not exactly a teenager :) takes on something new like that.

Kendall J said...

mtnrunner is right anon. Sorry if I wasn't clear. The DIM book is finished or near so. So the comment about no new books really is forward from that.

Michael Garrett said...

Nice post, Kendall. I, too became emotional--in fact, big tears welled up in my eyes--when he was making his closing statement. He has had such a huge impact on my life, particularly through his taped courses. As long as I live, I'll cherish this man's work. He is a true hero. Thanks for this post.

Best regards,

Michael Garrett, M.D.

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