DIM Hypothesis Summary and Review
by Thomas M. Miovas, Jr.
I've just finished reading The DIM Hypothesis by Dr. Leonard Peikoff, and I think I am one of the few Objectivists who agrees with his prediction that the United States of America is heading towards a religious fascist totalitarian dictatorship, given the evidence and the reasoning presented in this book. While it is true that Objectivism is spreading faster today than ever before – back in 1980 I couldn't even find anyone to talk to about Objectivism – it is also true that Americans are turning more and more towards an ole time religion that won't even be as organized as the Catholic take-over of the known world, but will become as effective by default of not having any substantial opposition. With my own brief foray into local humanist groups who tend to be anywhere from skeptics to nihilists, these will not retain any sort of hold on the country for very long as their rejection of crucial values will simply not become accepted generally. I will have to say, though, given my associations with Objectivists over the past thirty years – and what a difference thirty years makes – that many people will join our battle for a resurgence of an integrated philosophy and culture; if we have time and if the religionists do not shut us down first by forbidding free speech against the Messiah.
At any rate, I do recommend reading the Dim Hypothesis in that it is one of the most well presented and thoroughly documented books on the applications of philosophy and specifically applied epistemology that has been written. It would be ironic, in a sense, if DIM propels Objectivists to fight that much harder, thus rendering the prediction of DIM incorrect; but historically, the Objectivist movement is still yet a tiny flicker in a struggle that has taken many millennia to develop. The only thing we can do is to continue to present the facts of Objectivism to the best of our abilities, make our case repeatedly, and live our lives the most rationally best we can in the mean time.
DIM is basically a book about how philosophies get dispersed and influential throughout a culture. Philosophy, in and of itself, will not create a culture, unless people are willing to think that way and apply the philosophy to their daily lives. So, DIM is the psycho-epistemological or mentally automatized means by which a philosophy creates a distinctive culture as an application of broad abstractions.
These abstractions show up or are represented by four fundamental areas of a culture: literature, physics, education, politics. These cover the range of the nature of reality, the nature of man, how children ought to be taught, and how the government will be run. The reason one has to look at these four areas is that it is the best way to tell if a culture is Integrated (I), Mis-integrated (M/ M2), or Disintegrated (D / D2). Integrated means connected to the facts of reality and to the facts about man, all aspects integrated together into a whole. Mis-integrated is similar to the old-style rationalist or floating abstractions, mental items that may be integrated or connected to one another, but focusing on a standard that is not related to the facts of reality. Disintegrated means that there is no attempt to integrate around either a fact or an idea, which, in the extreme becomes nihilism. There are mixtures of these modes, as Dr. Peikoff calls them, insofar as a culture might be somewhat integrated and somewhat mis-integrated (M1) or somewhat integrated and somewhat disintegrated (D1). So, there are five modes altogether: I, M1, M2, D1, D2.
Since these are all applications of epistemology or psycho-epistemology, they don't tend to change until another major mode philosopher comes along, or if some major event happens that gets people to check their premises for better or for worse. So, as we had Plato (M), Aristotle (I), and Kant (D), Ayn Rand (I) and as these become accepted by the culturally influential people and became a part of every day life, the culture shifted. Peikoff's assessment is that due to the dwindling influence of Aristotle (I) in this country and the growing influence of Kant (D), that we are currently in a D1 to D2 culture, with little on no attempts to integrate; and he expects that we will turn to a mis-integrated mode of thinking as a culture as the religionists (M2) once again take over after people have had their fill of rampant destruction. D1 is rampant skepticism and D2 is rampant nihilism, and until someone comes along to provide answer or some reasonable solution to the cultural woes, we will keep disintegrating. He thinks that an M2 type of culture will become on the rise because, for one thing, religion has been with us from the beginning, and many people tend to turn to religion in times of crises; and from my perspective and understanding, being religious is a lot easier than being integrated to the facts of reality. A floating abstraction fantasy is a lot easier for people to accept when compared to clear thinking in terms of principles stemming from a study of the facts.
While we can hope that enough influential people may once again turn to an I mode in Ayn Rand, she has not been anywhere near accepted as much as she needs to be accepted to make that mode change to a fully integrated culture so far. More than likely, people will turn to ole style religion to get what they think they need because it is already there and already influential. The only way around this fact of human motivation is to make a better argument for anyone who cares to hears us out rationally. So, it is going to be a difficult struggle to win over the world, but we have little choice if we are to live in freedom and rationality and not succumb to religious totalitarianism.