Letter to the Editor

Olski, Jim

That’s some brand of Kool-Aid that Scott Sandersfeld is drinking at the objectivism club.
As I understand it, the trick to objectivism is to ignore history and culture and to think that the individual simply appears whole like Venus springing from the head of Jupiter.
I was informed, through haphazard viewing of the Discovery Channel, that human beings spent tens of thousands of years living together in small tribes before they began migrating out of Africa. Though it probably doesn’t occur to the whole-cloth individualist, the blindered “self-made” man, human beings are probably naturally tribal; that is, social, and accustomed to considering the welfare of others and even putting that before their own welfare. It’s a practice that continues to this day in the form of nuclear and extended families, or is Sandersfeld an ungrateful child who thinks the countless hours his parents spent changing his diapers and teaching him to talk were endless pure joy?Africa is a good place to look as well when discussing morality. Back then, during thousands of years, the effects of particular actions and character traits were immediate, obvious, and vital. The moral truths people take to be self-evident or passed down from the mouths of gods are inductive rules forged the hard way, through living. People saw firsthand the deadly effects of greed and sloth and anger, and such. They also saw the positive effects of altruism. The value of morality is not to achieve “moral perfection” but to answer the basic question “How ought we to live?”

Society being so much bigger these days, the effects of our actions are more far-reaching, less obvious and, because each person is so much a smaller part of the group, seemingly less vital. The false alternative is to close one’s eyes to these lesser bonds and distant effects and just pretend that if each person just acts selfishly that somehow the world will work out OK The moral person searches out these connections and effects and considers them in making life’s decisions.

James Olski
Class of 1984