Thursday, May 28, 2015

Bacon's Novum Organum

A few quotes:

Those who have taken upon them to lay down the law of nature as a thing already searched out and understood, whether they have spoken in simple assurance or professional affectation, have therein done philosophy and the sciences great injury. For as they have been successful in inducing belief, so they have been effective in quenching and stopping inquiry; and have done more harm by spoiling and putting an end to other men's efforts than good by their own. --Never quench inquiry.  Innovation is necessary to the survival of our society.  Look at what happened in Atlas Shrugged when everyone became mediocre.

But this remedy comes too late to do any good, when the mind is already, through the daily intercourse and conversation of life, occupied with unsound doctrines and beset on all sides by vain imaginations. And therefore that art of logic, coming (as I said) too late to the rescue, and no way able to set matters right again, has had the effect of fixing errors rather than disclosing truth. There remains but one course for the recovery of a sound and healthy condition — namely, that the entire work of the understanding be commenced afresh, and the mind itself be from the very outset not left to take its own course, but guided at every step; and the business be done as if by machinery.  --Our past experiences sometimes cement in our minds false beliefs.  We need to come at a topic with an open mind, willing to believe that our own ideas may be inaccurate. 

Thoughts on Atlas Shrugged and Ayn Rand

Let's begin with the positives, shall we? 

I think Ayn Rand got some things right in her book, Atlas Shrugged.  In terms of the economy, the best way to "stimulate" it is to get out of the way.  We need minimal laws and complete trust in the free market system.  The economy will regulate itself if left alone so that innovators and thinkers are free to create. 

She also did a great job of depicting human nature, it's tendency to be lazy and feed off of another's success or ideas.  Men do often want to reap the benefits of another man's work, even if it hurts said man.  We can see this very plainly in the current state of affairs of our country.  President Obama was largely re-elected because he promised hand-outs.  Why should we assume we are any different than hundreds of other civilizations that have existed throughout history?  We are as Rome during the "bread and circuses" period.

That said, there is very little else I agree with.  Ayn Rand was clearly an atheist.  She did not believe that we are held accountable to anyone other than ourselves.  It bothers me that in the entire book none of the heros/heroines have children.  Though there is one paragraph given to a mother raising two children, the remainder of the book is void of them.  If she really believes that her "Objectivism" works for all in the world she should have spent more time showing how this applies to the 50% of Americans that have children.

It also bothers me that the heroine, Miss Dagny Taggert, sleeps with whomever she is impressed with.  Having lived in a world where most are mediocre, she does not encounter many men that do impress her, but once she does it becomes ok for to sleep with him whether he is married or not.  Ayn Rand actually makes it sound like Dagny is justified for doing so.  Again, Ayn does not feel we as humans are accountable to anyone.  Being faithful to a spouse or obeying such commandments as, "Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery," don't apply.  A person must only do what leads to their own happiness.

If people began to follow Ms. Ayn Rand's philosophy we would soon have a world where...well, look around.  Many people ARE following exactly this idea of objectivism and families are disintegrating all around us because of it.  With the destruction of the family we are seeing the end of a moral society.  Children suffer from a lack of parental support/supervision. Selfishness abounds and people can't trust each other or rely on anyone.

Though she paints it in a good light, not being held accountable to anyone--having a world void of duty and honor-- only leads to destruction in my opinion.  As ancient Rome fell when they followed the idea of Objectivism, so to shall we if we do not alter our course and become a little more human, compassionate, and bound down by duty.