By Tara Smith
Objectivists know the fundamental importance of ideas: ideas rule man’s actions. But what does it really mean, in practice, to take ideas seriously? Does doing so depend on one’s intellect? On one’s premises? On motivations? Does it depend on taking anything else seriously?
Understanding this issue sheds light on cultural phenomena, such as rampant inconsistency and hypocrisy, and can thus inform strategies for battling noxious philosophies. Even more important, however, it deepens our grasp of central components of Objectivism, including the relationship between ideas and reality and the reason why rational principles are at once absolute and contextual. It sheds light on how to apply principles properly—rationally and beneficially.
The discussion proceeds in four main stages: A survey of cases of people’s failing to take ideas seriously; an examination of the basic meaning and demands of taking ideas seriously; a three-pronged analysis of the reasons for failing to take ideas seriously (explaining social influences, intellectual errors and a psychological key); and the implications for action.
By drilling into the most fundamental dividing lines between those who do take ideas seriously and those who do not, we see the critical role not only of false premises, but of values.
This talk was recorded at the 2012 Objectivist Summer Conference in San Diego, CA.
(MP3 download; 1 hr., 26 mins., 60 MB)