Reason as the Leading Motive

Thinking Through This Blog

Posted by Jerry on August 24, 2006

The entire focus of this post just radically shifted only a minute ago.

Let me explain: I had originally intended to write about a particular thought that had been bothering me all day.

In fact, one of the main reasons for writing about my thought was so that I could hopefully elicit some responses from knowledgeable fellow-Objectivists and others to help me clarify my problem. However, simply in the process of writing the post, interestingly enough, the entire dilemma that had originally perplexed me all day unraveled in perfect clarity under the words I was typing!

So, of course, I stopped in mid-post and thought “oh my, I don’t have a dilemma anymore! There’s no point writing this then.” Well, anyway, as is evident, I decided to write about this little incident in a “meta” perspective of sorts. 🙂

Well, since I still have the truncated version of my original post, I’ll include it here just for the record. My original dilemma was regarding the fact that man has rights inorder to be free to live and pursue his values as he chooses without interference or coercion from other men. Rights create a kind of “boundary” or “space” within which each individual lives as he so chooses.

This idea, to me, seemed to imply that at the very fundamental level–right from the outset–we begin with the assumption that men like to interfere in the business of other men or that man has a penchant to coerce or force other men. Therefore, in order to avoid this interference, society has to have rights. To me, this seemed like an unwarranted assumption that portrayed all men as essentially evil and willing to resort to force as if it were a tendency in his nature of being–as if the notion of rights rested basically on this dismal and pessimistic view of human behavior.

Thus, I had begun writing my original post as such:

A thought suddenly struck me at work today; well, of course, I’m sure it was not wholly “sudden” because I was simply pondering on my last few posts on “rights” with regard to animals.


The thought I have now appears to be antithetical to Objectivism and its premises. I have yet to be able to sort out the issue and the challenge it poses to me. Because I know (not believe, but *know*) that the body of Objectivist principles are true, valid, and have been repeatedly validated, all I can assert with certainty is that my latest thought is wrong and false precisely because it is inconsistent with the rest of my body of knowledge of reality.


However, I am unable to point out exact why, where, and how my idea is false and wrong. Of course, I would appreciate anyone’s help in pointing out these issues and unraveling the contradictions.


Here is what I have been thinking:


Objectivism holds that man is essentially neither evil nor good; those are value-judgments that apply to his behavior, actions, choices, and thoughts–not to his essential identity.


Thus, if man is neither evil nor good essentially, there is no reason to presume at the outset itself that each man can be a potential threat to the other.

When I reached this point in my writing, I suddenly realized the flaw in my logic. Thus, there’s nothing more to say about this topic now.


6 Responses to “Thinking Through This Blog”

  1. D Eastbrook said

    OT, but I was curious if you had seen this:


    This is a warped man: “We are not promoting Hitler. But we want to tell people we are different in the way he was different.”

    D. Eastbrook

  2. Ergo said

    Yes, I read it in the papers yesterday. I’m only hoping that people in Mumbai do not get seduced by the novelty and controversy of this man’s restaurant, and refuse to support it. Drive him out of business; but not ban him or force him out of business. The guy is an insensitive bastard.

  3. Garfield said

    I am not even begging to differ. I just know that I differ from the way you think about compromises and relationships.

    If you look at relationships as jobs, then you will always not want to compromise.

    If you look at them as what they are – the outcome of love – then those compromises will really not be compromises at all.

    Don’t bother justifying why this is NOT yours and the world’s view because I really do not care enough to even care a damn.

  4. Ergo said

    Garfield, you said: “If you look at them as what they are – the outcome of love – then those compromises will really not be compromises at all.”

    And that is precisely my point.

  5. Faiyaz said

    A tough nut to crack..

    I can give you something to ponder on, which I have always found a bit elusive. We know that the basic reason that differentiates a parasite from a producer or semi-producer is that the parasite doesn’t value this life, doesn’t care for his happiness, doesn’t want to achieve anything in his life, except avoid pain and effort. In contrast, a producer or semi-producer (somebody who is well-meaning but not thoroughly integrated) or an Eddie Willers.. basically value this life and are ready to pay their way, for all of their spiritual and material needs and desires, ie do not want the unearned.

    Now what has bothered me, is that if all humans start with a blank slate, without any innate tendency to be evil, then what makes a person, when he is a child, not value this life and what makes another value it? Is there some universal condition or principle, which can apply across the board, and explain this choice?

    If you try to solely focus on the environment the child grows in, then you will find examples on both sides —ie from any set of external conditions, be they very adverse, harsh, unreasonable, or their opposite, ie conducive, encouraging, rewarding you will find, that under both these sets of opposite conditions, both valuers and parasites have emerged.

    So, then, perhaps it has to do with an act of willing on the child…that he chooses to opt for the unearned…? But why???

    Is it because his particular environment encouraged that…say his mother spoiled him? But then again, the child did let himself get spoiled or falsely encouraged by that (as there would be valuers who did have that kind of an environment and still didn’t start seeking the unearned..) Hence, what is it, fundamentally, which makes someone choose to be a producer over a parasite? Any thoughts welcome…



  6. Ergo said

    Faiyaz, I’ve replied to your thought-provoking question in a separate post:

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