The Biggest Misconception?

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Dear Uncle Gus,

What do you think are the biggest misconceptions about Ayn Rand?

Signed,

The Riddler


***

Dear Riddler,

This is a challenging question in many respects, among them that there are so many misconceptions about Ayn Rand and her ideas, and that you could use any number of criteria to qualify what you mean by "biggest." Interestingly enough, many of these misconceptions come bundled together. (There is a reason for this.) A quick look at one such "bundle" will prove very illuminating both as to what the proper criterion of "bigness" is here and what kind of misconception could qualify as "biggest."

One of the first and most memorable misconceptions about Ayn Rand I ever encountered came courtesy of a past theology instructor whose course I'd just finished. I was still relatively new to Rand and Objectivism, but he said he'd send me something to "refute" it. Fair enough: I gave him my address.

Well, he did send me something, but his promise fell short beyond that.

What I got instead was a clipping from some magazine parroting some of the more vicious things the Brandens had said about Rand, along with a note that read something to the effect of, "Give this crazy lady a wide berth in the future."

Not knowing much about Rand's personal life at the time, all I could conclude from this was that either Rand didn't live up to her own philosophy, or that what I'd read in the clipping was at least partially made up. (I have since concluded that what I'd read was practically all fabricated, distorted, or missing relevant context.) Whatever the case, the clipping still told me zero about the validity of the many arguments Rand had made that I'd considered for myself and accepted.

Hardly lost on me, though, was the purpose of this epistle, which was to make me reject Rand's ideas without giving them a full hearing. Perhaps, if I hadn't already been more familiar with Rand's own words and her approach to ideas, it might have succeeded: Perhaps I would have thought that, whatever it was Rand advocated, it led to such things. That was, fortunately, not the case.

And that -- the attempt to prevent Rand's ideas from getting a fair hearing -- is the common thread that has run through all the misconceptions, smears, and outright lies about Rand and her ideas that I've encountered ever since. You can draw your own conclusions about why so many of her ideological opponents elect to use such tactics.

So we now have what I regard as the essence of the various myths about Rand and Objectivism out there. How can I determine which is worst? First, by considering the great importance her ideas had to her life, particularly how vital they were to her central purpose as a novelist. Second, by considering my own values. I'm much more concerned with Rand's ideas than with the minutiae of her daily life, and in order to do justice to Rand anyway, I think that's the proper thing to emphasize. (This is not to deny that the two issues have some bearing on each other, however.) This, the proper criterion for "bigness" is: Which myth is the most potentially effective at snuffing out what Ayn Rand had to say?

This last is what I thought would be the difficult part of your question until I sat down and attempted to reply to it. However, the answer now leaps out at me, as I think about all the mud I've seen slung at Objectivism (and at Ayn Rand by proxy) over the past twenty-odd years. Interestingly, the answer comes from elsewhere than open opponents of Rand.

With every misconception save one, an honest person will, with some effort to learn the truth, easily be able to debunk any given misconception by the simple expedient of consulting Rand's own words. That one exception is the misconception that Objectivism is an "open system," i.e., that it is anything instead of or in addition to the philosophy she explicitly described during her life. Once someone accepts ideas other than Rand's (or those from others that she noted were part of her philosophy) as "Objectivism," then Rand becomes unable to speak for herself because now, people can basically get away with putting words into her mouth.

Next to that misconception, the others don't look anywhere near as menacing to me.

-- CAV

If you'd like to ask a question, just type it into the box at the upper right labeled, "Ask Uncle Gus."

Updates

Today
: (1) Added a clarification.
(2) Minor edits.

18 comments:

Jason said...

I recently wrote a piece on the very topic of whether Objectivism is an open/closed system, and whether it is defined as "Ayn Rand's philosophy" or by the content (the philosophic system of reason and egoism).

I say it is a "closed" (i.e., absolute in terms of its fundamental principles) and defined by its content, not as Ayn Rand's philosophy. In the same way, capitalism is not defined as "the Founding Fathers' political system," but rather by its content, as the political system of freedom and individual rights where all the means of production are privately owned...which the Founding Fathers created.

The piece is here:
http://thoughtsofanegoist.blogspot.com/2010/08/objectivism-is-general-system-of.html

Gus Van Horn said...

Jason,

I completely disagree with the comments you make about the meaning of the term "closed" here and in your post. (Incidentally, since the political system devised by the Founding Fathers included slavery, it is not true that they "devised" capitalism.)

As you quote Leonard Peikoff on the subject in a reply to a commenter:

""Objectivism does have an 'official, authorized doctrine,' but it is not dogma. It is stated and validated objectively in Ayn Rand’s works.

'Objectivism' is the name of Ayn Rand’s achievement. Anyone else’s interpretation or development of her ideas, my own work emphatically included, is precisely that: an interpretation or development, which may or may not be logically consistent with what she wrote. In regard to the consistency of any such derivative work, each man must reach his own verdict, by weighing all the relevant evidence. The 'official, authorized doctrine,' however, remains unchanged and untouched in Ayn Rand’s books; it is not affected by any interpreters.
" [my bold]

Please note the portion in bold.

Your interpretation of the term "closed" is wrong on at least two counts. (1) It assumes that Ayn Rand made zero mistakes in the formulation of her philosophy. While it's possible that she did, "objective" in terms of method does not necessarily equate to "infallible" since honest errors can and do occur. (2) It sets up anyone who tackles a problem Rand did NOT address (like aspects of induction) in her philosophy to incorporate into "Objectivism" any error or evasion he makes.

Your interpretation of what the term "closed" means ends up leading you to conclude that "Objectivism" means, "whatever exhaustive, and completely correct system of philosophy there might ever be out there." But Rand's philosophy, as great an achievement as it is, hasn't exhausted every philosophical problem, and, although based on my limited expertise in philosophy, I think she was correct about the problems she did address, it is wrong to assume that, because it is wrong to treat any person as infallible.

Gus

Jason said...

Gus,
Slavery was an incorrect application of an essentially correct political system. Of course mistakes in practice are possible and will happen, but that does not make the fundamental ideas wrong.

Infallibility has nothing to do with this. And it has nothing to do with whatever errors Ayn Rand did or did not make.

I am saying that Ayn Rand's development of the broad, positive fundamentals, such as reason as man's basic means of survival, self-interest as the proper morality, the basic explanation and role of concept-formation in man's life, etc., in such clear, integrated, explicit form, are 100% correct in their essentiality, forever, for man in this world.

Those philosophic essentials were never developed before and will never be changed. Objectivism does "exhaust" (i.e., completely explain) the broad essentials of philosophy in a systematic manner.

There can be more precise developments of those essentials, clarifications, etc., but the explicit view of man as a rational, egoistic being and the systemization of those principles into a basic unit is fundamentally distinct, even from Aristotle, and will be the correct basic, explicit philosophy necessary for man to live in this world forever, no matter how much more philosophic knowledge is gained.

And I do recognize and state that I am disagreeing with Ayn Rand and Leonard Peikoff on this. I am not trying to put words into their mouth.

-Jason

Katrina said...

I was once confused about the closed/open issue myself, although now I consider it blindingly obvious. I'm actually shocked at the number of people who claim to know philosophy and still object to the closed system position. These are inevitably the same people who blow a gasket over AR's brief, essentialized summaries of Kant and Hegel. They are also inevitably not actual philosophers.

I think the difficulty is that philosophical movements that have names, like Existentialism, historically have not been created entirely and officially by one person. But in this case, AR chose to name her philosophy "Objectivism." Thus it is as wrong to call anything not created by AR "Objectivism" as it would be to call anything not written by Kant part of Kant's philosophy. For extensions of Kant's philosophy, we have the term "Kantian"; to me, the same should be true for Rand i.e. "Randian." Seems easy and obvious enough to me.

There is so, so much more work to be done in philosophy, building off of Objectivism. For instance AR never even touched Philosophy of Law. Future discoveries will be true, but they will not be part of Objectivism. Similarly someone may ultimately discover that parts of Objectivism were false, but that won't change what Objectivism is.

What's fantastic to me about Objectivism is that *if* some part of Objectivism turns out to be false, Objectivism itself would demand that you follow what's true instead of following Objectivism (assuming of course that it isn't the "reality is the ultimate arbiter" part of Objectivism that is flawed!)

Anyway, thanks for the neat post!

Gus Van Horn said...

Jason,

"Slavery was an incorrect application of an essentially correct political system."

No. Slavery directly contradicted those things the Founding Fathers got right.

"I am saying that Ayn Rand's development of the broad, positive fundamentals, such as reason as man's basic means of survival, self-interest as the proper morality, the basic explanation and role of concept-formation in man's life, etc., in such clear, integrated, explicit form, are 100% correct in their essentiality, forever, for man in this world.

Even if there were errors in Objectivism, Rand undeniably was correct about certain fundamental philosophical truths -- just like Aristotle was. That remains beside the point.

"Those philosophic essentials were never developed before and will never be changed."

True, and the discovery of those truths are Ayn Rand's achievements.

"Objectivism does 'exhaust' (i.e., completely explain) the broad essentials of philosophy in a systematic manner."

No. Otherwise, why did ARI's David Harriman just write a entire book on induction? Objectivism probably lays much or all of the necessary GROUNDWORK to solve this problem and others, but that's not the same thing as solving the problem.

"There can be more precise developments of those essentials, clarifications, etc., but the explicit view of man as a rational, egoistic being and the systemization of those principles into a basic unit is fundamentally distinct, even from Aristotle, and will be the correct basic, explicit philosophy necessary for man to live in this world forever, no matter how much more philosophic knowledge is gained."

Katrina's post might help you understand why, even granting ZERO mistakes in Objectivism, calling these developments and clarifications "Objectivism" is still not right.

"And I do recognize and state that I am disagreeing with Ayn Rand and Leonard Peikoff on this. I am not trying to put words into their mouth."

Because your meaning of the term "Objectivism" is not the same as theirs, if you continue calling yourself an "Objectivist," you are putting words into their mouths, whether you mean to or not. Specifically, you would be package-dealing "Ayn Rand's philosophy" with your particular idea of what constitutes, "correct, fully-developed philosophy."

If you think Ayn Rand was completely right, what's wrong with defining Objectivism as "Ayn Rand's philosophy?" If you don't, what's the value of using a term so widely associated with Ayn Rand's (wrong or poorly-developed) philosophy?

Again, see also Katrina's post on what might be wrong with this.

We cannot simply dismiss the possibility that Rand, like the Founding Fathers, was essentially correct, but got some things wrong. This is part of why it is important to mean "Ayn Rand's philosophy" when one says, "Objectivism."

Gus

Gus Van Horn said...

Katrina,

You're welcome, and thanks for your thoughtful post, which touches on a couple of issues that needed bringing up.

"What's fantastic to me about Objectivism is that *if* some part of Objectivism turns out to be false, Objectivism itself would demand that you follow what's true instead of following Objectivism (assuming of course that it isn't the 'reality is the ultimate arbiter' part of Objectivism that is flawed!)"

Hear, hear!

Jason said...

Ayn Rand discovered the fundamental answer to how man's mind works, which subsumes induction. That being said, she did explain the basic concept of induction vs. deduction. (http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/induction_and_deduction.html)

Harriman's work is a development and does not at all change the fundamentality and correctness of Objectivism or Objectivist epistemology. The whole idea of reason being abstraction based on sense perception, and the integration of facts into concepts/ideas/smaller, essentialized units was a major achievement (of Ayn Rand's), and all other developments in concept-formation, theoretical advancements in neurology, mathematics, induction, the workings of the subconscious, etc., are philosophically non-essential in the broad sense.

Jason said...

As to why it matters to define Objectivism by the content (the philosophic system of reason and egoism) and not as "Ayn Rand's philosophy," I can only give the briefest indication here, as it's a challenging subject that I need much more time to fully sort out.

If Objectivism is basically defined as Ayn Rand's philosophic writings and ideas, then that goes way beyond the broad, positive philosophic essentials she developed. It would include things like: most people act, essentially, on reason/individualism at work and mysticism/altruism at home and in social situations; people accept altruism because they think man is a sinful, bad, non-rational (because he is not omnipotent) creature who has a natural desire to hurt others, that there are conflicts amongst men's interests, that man can only survive by sacrificial means, and they would rather practice self-sacrifice than sacrifice others; the view that there is a split between the intellectuals and the average American, that the former are conscious, nihilistic destroyers while the latter have an individualistic "sense of life" but have been tricked in accepting collectivism.

I think those types of issues are outside of Objectivism and false. I think most people act on altruism out of fear of being abandoned (literally being fired from their job, ostracized by friends and family, and in many cases being left to be homeless or struggle mightily to get by without social support even if they have enough money to support themselves) if they were to act on the rational, egoistic ideas that they do basically grasp are true on some level. People are much more intelligent and understand the basic ideas of Objectivism much more than they let on; they actively evade out of fear.

One example of this is that if you talk to the average American in private (or sometimes in a very small group of people they trust), the point they will harp on is that Objectivism demands too much from people, that the average person isn't capable of the level of thinking that Objectivism requires (that life requires). They say selfishness is immoral as a bromide, lifelessly muttering it or becoming hysterical, but they focus on its alleged impracticality, specifically that for geniuses it could work fine but not for the average man.

Jon Stewart made this exact remark when he interviewed Jennifer Burns, who recently wrote a biography on Ayn Rand.

http://www.jenniferburns.org/blog/73-top-three-questions-about-my-interview-with-jon-stewart-on-the-daily-show

(The 3:40 mark)

madmax said...

We cannot simply dismiss the possibility that Rand, like the Founding Fathers, was essentially correct, but got some things wrong. This is part of why it is important to mean "Ayn Rand's philosophy" when one says, "Objectivism."

This is an excellent way of putting it. I've never seen it stated it that way. Thanks.

I think that Objectivism and rational philosophy intersect but are not the same unless it turns out that Ayn Rand made no mistakes, and I'm doubtful about that no matter how much I love Rand.

But any improvements on Rand in the future (Neo-Objectivism around the 22nd century for example) or any applications of Objectivism to other disciplines like the Objectivist treatise on Law (late 21st century or hopefully sooner) are properly part of rational philosophy not Objectivism proper. Its crucial that the closed system prevail and that Objectivism be limited to Rand's writings and those of Peikoff's that she approved.

Gus Van Horn said...

Jason,

"Ayn Rand discovered the fundamental answer to how man's mind works, which subsumes induction. That being said, she did explain the basic concept of induction vs. deduction. (http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/induction_and_deduction.html)"

Induction may well be subsumed, conceptually, under "how man's mind works," and Ayn Rand (and while we're giving credit here, Aristotle, too) laid the groundwork for understanding this topic. That isn't the same thing as saying, "Ayn Rand solved the problem of induction once and for all." The fact is, her philosophy left these details out.

You seem, depending on when you are talking, to alternate between, "Ayn Rand already has answered question X," (in which case, why NOT define Objectivism as her philosophy), and "Ayn Rand didn't answer question X, so we need 'Objectivism' to allow for further improvements." Which is it?

Regarding Harriman's book, it (like anything else) is anywhere between wholly correct or wholly wrong. But is it part of Objectivism? By your definition, its correct parts are and its incorrect parts aren't. Oddly enough, you dismiss it as just an elaboration. This doesn't just contradict your whole argument: It demonstrates what's wrong with it. You're confusing how to define a particular philosophy with the the idea of a correct (and all-encompassing) philosophy.

I disagree with your comment about the issue of induction being "non-essential." You might as well say that "sense perception, measurement omission, and logic subsume all of how man's mind works, but the details of concept-formation are inessential." Most people can get along fine not knowing exactly how concepts are formed, but the failure to answer that question properly gave us such luminaries as Immanuel Kant.

You next comment is just flat out wrong. Rand was always clear about when she was discussing philosophy and when she was applying it. For example, she famously said she wasn't a student of the theory of evolution. This wasn't a statement that evolution was somehow "against" her philosophy (or vice versa). It was simply an admission that she didn't feel qualified to speak one way or the other about that scientific issue.

Now, I have to ask you something: Given that you think Ayn Rand and those of us who regard Objectivism as her philosophy have gotten so many things wrong about what constitutes Objectivism, why not rename your improved philosophy so as to avoid confusion? This may sound like am being sarcastic, but this is a serious question.

Gus

Gus Van Horn said...

Madmax,

"It's crucial that the closed system prevail and that Objectivism be limited to Rand's writings and those of Peikoff's that she approved."

That becomes clearer and clearer the more I consider this issue, regardless of whether Ayn Rand got everything she addressed right.

Gus

Jason said...

Part 1 of 2:

Gus,
I did not say induction was non-essential. I said Ayn Rand discovered and articulated the basics regarding the role of induction in grasping reality, and that Harriman's work on induction does not change the essence and 100% correctness of Objectivism. That's what I meant by "philosophically non-essential"--that it does not change the already proven true fundamentals of the philosophy.

A major point here is that I am saying that the broad, positive (pro-reason, not anti-mysticism; pro-egoism, not anti-altruism) essence of Objectivism, as Ayn Rand created, is 100% fundamentally correct and always will be. You suggest that we can't be sure that it is a 100% fundamentally correct systematic view of life, and said that her ideas can only be taken at present as "certain fundamental philosophic truths."

I call the basic fundamental philosophy of reason and egoism (that broad view of man and existence), that Ayn Rand created, Objectivism, because it is correct. I will not take credit for her achievement by pawning off some new term which in essence is the philosophy she developed. There is Objectivism, which is the broad, positive philosophic system, which is 100% fundamentally correct, and then there is her separate philosophic analysis which I think has major flaws--as I briefly described in the end of my previous comment. It does intellectual damage, both personally and culturally, to fuse the two.

If I were to come up with some new term, I'd probably take back the term rationalism, (or maybe existentialism) but it would be describing the fundamentals of Objectivism, which is why I keep the term.

Jason said...

Part 2:

Here are a few descriptions by Ayn Rand about the essence of Objectivism that I fully agree with, and is why I use the term Objectivism--because I agree with the fundamental philosophic system:

From the Ayn Rand Lexicon:
http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/objectivism.html

"My philosophy, Objectivism, holds that:

1. Reality exists as an objective absolute—facts are facts, independent of man’s feelings, wishes, hopes or fears.

2. Reason (the faculty which identifies and integrates the material provided by man’s senses) is man's only means of perceiving reality, his only source of knowledge, his only guide to action, and his basic means of survival.

3. Man—every man—is an end in himself, not the means to the ends of others. He must exist for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself. The pursuit of his own rational self-interest and of his own happiness is the highest moral purpose of his life.

4. The ideal political-economic system is laissez-faire capitalism. It is a system where men deal with one another, not as victims and executioners, nor as masters and slaves, but as traders, by free, voluntary exchange to mutual benefit. It is a system where no man may obtain any values from others by resorting to physical force, and no man may initiate the use of physical force against others. The government acts only as a policeman that protects man’s rights; it uses physical force only in retaliation and only against those who initiate its use, such as criminals or foreign invaders. In a system of full capitalism, there should be (but, historically, has not yet been) a complete separation of state and economics, in the same way and for the same reasons as the separation of state and church."


"My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute."

Gus Van Horn said...

Jason,

In sum, whereas Peikoff and others, including myself, mean one thing (Ayn Rand's philosophy) when we say, "Objectivism," you REALLY mean "the essence of Ayn Rand's philosophy" when you say, "Objectivism."

Why not say that you agree with the "essence of Ayn Rand's philosophy," rather than trying, as you say, to "take back" the term "Objectivism" from Objectivists? Using another term to do this in no way is claiming her achievements for your own, it's just being clear, and honest about what you are actually talking about. In fact, now that I think of it, isn't this why Rand said, "My philosophy, in essence, is ...," rather than, "My philosophy is ..."?

A thing is not equivalent to its essence.

When you say, "I am an Objectivist," but you don't mean, "I agree with the philosophy of Ayn Rand," you have failed to communicate what you mean, and you are ignoring the difference between the essence of a particular philosophy and what that philosophy actually is.

Gus

Jason said...

Gus,
I always do make clear that I agree the fundamental, positive, systematic principles of Objectivism but not with most of Ayn Rand's philosophic analysis. This shouldn't be necessary though, as philosophy means an integrated view of man and existence, and not a body of philosophic thought--and saying one agrees with a philosophy should mean agreement with just the essence of the philosophic system, i.e., the basic view of existence and man.

Of course, on a very very broad level I agree with Rand's philosophic analysis, such as collectivism and Kant being very bad, but not that they are the main causes of the world's destruction.

[It's peoples' timid refusal to bravely risk their lives if necessary in bold pursuit of the good (to reverse a bad culture they were born into) that is a hint of what has been destroying the world. Americans don't want to deal with that temporary hecticness of a philosophical and political revolution, in which there might be short term danger, such as instability in infrastructure works, like some bridges collapsing, given how many have been poorly managed as essentially "publicly owned" regulated entities, as they are decontrolled. There might be major, even harmful, short-term disruptions as energy/construction/transportation/medical ventures sit in limbo during transition to private ownership, and Americans so far have refused to swallow the medicine and brave through.]

I think Objectivism (and the term philosophy or philosophic system) does mean the essence (the fundamentals), and though I think it's ridiculous, dogmatic, confusing, and incorrect to call Ayn Rand's body of philosophic writings Objectivism, I always have and always will make clear that I agree with the essence of Objectivism as a philosophic system and not her whole collection of philosophic ideas and writing.

I usually do not even call myself an Objectivist, and just say I agree with the essence or fundamental, positive principles of Objectivism; but even if I do call myself an Objectivist I add that disclaimer at some point, usually right after.

But this is not even the major point regarding why I concern myself with what Objectivism is.

The real point is "was Ayn Rand's philosophic analysis correct?", and I say no, for reasons I have described. The main reason I concern myself with distinguishing the essence of Objectivism as a philosophic system is to promote the broad, positive essentials (and their systemization) and not Rand's philosophic analysis.

-Jason

Jason said...

Oh, and would anyone care to define what philosophy is, if not Ayn Rand's correct definition of it:

From the Ayn Rand Lexicon:
http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/philosophy.html

"Philosophy studies the fundamental nature of existence, of man, and of man’s relationship to existence."

"Philosophy is the science that studies the fundamental aspects of the nature of existence. The task of philosophy is to provide man with a comprehensive view of life. This view serves as a base, a frame of reference, for all his actions, mental or physical, psychological or existential. This view tells him the nature of the universe with which he has to deal (metaphysics); the means by which he is to deal with it, i.e., the means of acquiring knowledge (epistemology); the standards by which he is to choose his goals and values, in regard to his own life and character (ethics)—and in regard to society (politics); the means of concretizing this view is given to him by esthetics."


If Objectivism is "Ayn Rand's philosophic ideas and writings," then this definition of philosophy (Ayn Rand's correct basic definition) is out. It would seem the definition would rather be something like "a person's thoughts on life and reality," or "a set of ideas dealing with philosophic issues."

Gus Van Horn said...

Jason,

You're still missing my point, which is that you are equating an essence with a particular.

I am a man, meaning that I am a rational animal. Now, suppose we discovered a species of intelligent bird. If you just declare me a "rational animal" and stop checking your concepts against reality, you'll end up classifying our intelligent bird -- another kind of rational animal -- as a man, when what you should do is look at what men are, in reality, and come up with something like "the rational primate."

Now, you claim that Rand made mistakes in minor parts of her philosophy (which she called "Objectivism"), but that she got the essentials right. Fair enough. Now, suppose another thinker -- building on her or not -- comes up with a philosophy that gets the same essential issues right, but makes either no -- or different -- mistakes.

By your argument, Rand and this other philosopher came up with the SAME philosophy. Obviously, they didn't.

Gus

Gus Van Horn said...

Jason,

Regarding your very last post (which just showed up in my queue this morning), that's also wrong, because it's failing to distinguish (again) between the general -- what philosophy is -- and the particular -- what one person's philosophy is.

If Canada is north of where we are, and you ask Tom, Dick, and Hatty for specific directions, and each of the generally has you headed North, you could say that they gave you, on a very gross level, the same advice, "Go north." At the same time, each might have given you a completely different set of directions, any of which may or may not actually get you to Canada.

Did Tom, Dick, and Harry give you directions? Yes. Did Tom, Dick and Harry all get the issue of which direction to go right? Yes. Will following any of their instructions get you where you need to go? Maybe, maybe not, and even if all do, one way might do so more efficiently than the others. (This isn't a perfect analogy, as there can be multiple correct ways to get somewhere, but there is only one correct answer to questions of a philosophical nature. Nevertheless, philosophers can and do get some things right and miss others.)

In each case, Tom, Dick, and Harry gave directions. From the standpoint of, "Which way do I go," each said the same thing: North. Did each give the same (specific) directions? No.

Gus