Leitmotif

Reason as the Leading Motive

Too Much of a Good Thing

Posted by Jerry on October 29, 2007

My mom reminds me of this: too much of anything is bad, even if it is a good thing.

Right?

Well, let’s see:

Few would argue that freedom is a bad thing, unless of course you’re an Islamoloony or some other religious fanatic.
Assuming that you are a sane and sensible individual, therefore, is too much freedom–or absolute freedom–bad?

Perhaps, you might say it depends on the context. Rightfully then, in the context of adult human beings, is absolute freedom–too much freedom–a bad thing?

Whatever your answers, be careful not to blur the boundary between freedom and force: where one ends, the other begins.

So, should we re-think the golden mean? That too much of anything is bad? Is the “middle ground” always the right way to go? Can too much of “the middle ground” never be bad? Can too much of the grey never be wrong?

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5 Responses to “Too Much of a Good Thing”

  1. Tim R said

    The “golden mean” = perfection comes from Aristotle right?

    Personally I don’t like contextless cliches. (I would say “too much of anything is bad” is a contextless cliche) I have found them a bit irritating at work lately. People use them frequently. And I find it makes for boring conversation because I’ve heard it before and it illustrates a lack of thought. I think people are parrots too much of the time.
    However having said that, our conversation and brain’s are often in automatic mode and this has a time and place. eg/ Two people walk past each other, both automatically say “How are you”, but neither actually wants a reply or gives a reply.
    Also, I don’t want to insult your mother. My mother used to talk in proverbs, sayings, catch phrases, cliches, constantly.

    When you mention the issue of freedom, you are implying political discussion.
    Politically, I think people seem to think compromise (perhaps an erroneous application of the “golden mean” idea) is often the best way to achieve the most satisfactory outcome. People probably think it’s the best approach due to moral relativistic ideology and/or a lack of focus on logical and scientific thought.

    I can’t think of a situation where adults with full mental function could have too much freedom.
    To me, anarcho-capitalism comes to mind as a political system aiming to maximise freedom.
    From my limited knowledge, I don’t think objectivists are big fans of anarchy. I’m fairly new to objectivism, could you perhaps comment on the problems you see with anarcho-capitalism from an objectivist view point? ie: privatising courts, law enforcement, military etc. (NB/ I’m not an anarcho-capitalist myself but have enjoyed articles at sites such as http://www.mises.org or http://www.voluntaryist.com in the past).

  2. Ergo said

    Objectivism is against anarchy. The privatization of legitimate government functions like courts and law enforcement will invariably lead to a curtailment of freedom not the protection of it. For more, read Ayn Rand’s essays “Man’s Rights” and “The Nature of Government.”

  3. Tim R said

    Yeah, that’s what I thought, the idea that anarchy is not actually a maximisation of freedom as modern day anarcho-capitalists are claiming.
    I’m currently reading Dr. Peikoff’s book “Objectivism: The philosophy of Ayn Rand”. But I’m not up to the last chapter on government yet.
    I haven’t heard of those essays by Ayn Rand before. I’ll look into it.

    Cheers

  4. Tim R said

    OK, the essays are part of the “Virtue of Selfishness” publication. Might have to get my hands on this next.

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