Posted tagged ‘values’

Spiritual Needs

February 9, 2008

 This is part four of a seven part series, with a new post each day. Each post will be linked to the preceding post. The essay in its entirety can be found on the “Page” titled “Politics and Social Philosophy” which will be posted on 2/12/08.

            People have not only material needs, they have psychological needs, they have spiritual needs. And it is the spiritual needs that will have the last word. Until the libertarian vision  is understood as a spiritual quest and not merely an economic quest, it will continue to face the kind of misunderstandings and adversaries it faces today.

          So I’m enormously interested in what has to be understood if a free society is to survive and flourish. A free society cannot flourish on a culture committed to irrationalism. And 20th-century philosophy has witnessed a virulent worldwide rebellion against the values of reason, objectivity, science, truth, and logic — under such names as postmodernism, poststructuralism, deconstructionism, and a host of others.

         It’s not an accident that most of the people doing the attacking also happen to be statists. In fact, I don’t know of any who aren’t. You cannot have a noncoercive society if you don’t have a common currency of exchange, and the only one possible is rational persuasion. But if there is no such thing as reason, the only currency left is coercion. So one thing that libertarianism in the broad philosophical sense has to include is respect for the Western values of reason, objectivity, truth, and logic, which make possible civilized discourse, argument, conversation, confrontation, and resolution of differences.  

To view previous parts of this essay please click on the following  link – Part 1, Part 2 , Part 3 

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What Is Required for a Free Society?

February 7, 2008

  This is part two of a seven part series, with a new post each day. Each post will be linked to the preceding post. The essay in its entirety can be found on the “Page” titled “Politics and Social Philosophy” which will be posted on 2/12/08.

         Clearly more is required than Hayek thought when he argued that economic education would be sufficient to bring the world to an appreciation of free markets. My own conviction is that philosophical education is required, moral education is required, psychological education is required, and that no free society can last without an appropriate philosophy and supporting culture. A free society requires and entails a whole set of values, a whole way of looking at people — at human relationships, at the relationship of the individual to the state — about which there has to be some decent level of consensus.

           Let me describe an event that has had a profound impact on me. About 18 months ago I received a telephone call from a young female Ph.D. candidate in psychology. She had learned that I would be lecturing at a conference in South Carolina, which she would be attending, and wanted to meet with me to discuss my becoming a consultant to her on her doctoral thesis. She described herself as an admirer of my work. Only when we began to discuss how we would find each other at the conference did she mention that she was blind. I was a bit stunned: how could a blind woman know my work so well? She chuckled when I asked that question, told me to wait a minute, and the next thing I heard was a mechanical voice reading from my book “The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem.” It was a special computer that reads, she explained; first it scans the pages of a book, then it translates the signals into spoken words. I thought of the scientists who identified the laws of nature that underlie that achievement.

           I thought of the inventors who converted those laws into usable technology.  I thought of the businesspersons who organized the factors of production to manufacture that machine and make it available in the marketplace. None of those people are what the conventional wisdom calls “humanitarians.” And yet, if lightening the burden of human existence and ameliorating suffering are considered desirable, then what act of “compassion” for this woman could rival what was given her, not out of someone’s pity or kindness, but out of someone’s passion to achieve and to make money in the process?

            We do not hear the term “compassionate” applied to business executives or entrepreneurs, certainly not when they are engaged in their normal work (as distinct from their philanthropic activities). Yet in terms of results in the measurable form of jobs created, lives enriched, communities built, living standards raised, and poverty healed, a handful of capitalists has done infinitely more for mankind than all the self-serving politicians, academics, social workers, and religionists who march under the banner of “compassion” (and often look with scorn on those engaged in “commerce”).

To view previous parts of this essay please click on the following  link – Part 1 .

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Thank you.

Newsweek Interview-Is Romance Dead? A new book offers advice for sustaining love in an ‘anti-romantic age.’

February 3, 2008

Newsweek : Selfishness isn’t usually the word we use to describe love.
Of all the nonsense written about love, none is more absurd than the notion that ideal love is selfless. To love is to see myself in you and to wish to celebrate myself with you. What I love is the embodiment of my values in another person. Love is an act of self-assertion, self-expression and a celebration of being alive.

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