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School Sucks and Objectivism

'Present' photo (c) 2009, jayneandd - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Brett Veinotte, a former public school history teacher, produces a thought-provoking podcast called School Sucks.

I’ve listened to his podcast for a couple of years now, and he really challenges me to reflect upon my role as a public school teacher. I appreciate his honesty and intellectual integrity.

My understanding of his perspective is that he believes the non-aggression principle should be our foundational approach to all human interaction.

In his most recent podcast (which comes in at a healthy 2 hours 14 minutes), Brett names three philosophies that could lead humanity on a path to non-aggression: in Ancient Greece, during the Enlightenment, and through Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism.

I’d like to discuss why I believe Brett is mistaken in this assertion.

Each of these three philosophies is built upon a foundation of observation and drawing conclusions based upon these observations.

The flaw in this perspective is that there is no such thing as a completely objective person. No one can begin collecting observations without certain preconceived notions.

Just like it is impossible to draw conclusions in a geometry proof without certain non-negotiable givens, it is impossible to draw conclusions about our observations of the world without being influenced by our non-negotiable givens. These are called control beliefs.

I should be clear with my personal bias: I’m a devout Christian and believe that observation supports the story of the Bible.

What Brett has chellenged me to do in this latest podcast is reflect upon the reality that Christian thought has been used as a weapon throughout history to justify all sorts of evil behaviors.

But my concern is that Brett is simply replacing one power structure with another.

Pure observation will never lead us closer to utopia. It will just shift power from people with religious control beliefs to people with objectivist control beliefs.

And as a brief review of Ayn Rand’s life demonstrates, she was not self-consistent in her application of objectivism. When her feelings were hurt as a result of another person’s self-determination life choices, she fought back.

I don’t trust either group implicitly. Neither should Brett. Everyone is selfish, no matter how they try to wrap up their “objective” point-of-view.

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