Thursday, March 22, 2007

Mind-Body Dichotomy

Writing under a pen name, Sean Aqui recently pointed out a list, compiled by Human Events, of the ten most dangerous books in the last two centuries. The list itself is not much of note, demonstrating conservative disdain for communism and its appeal to religion. Some titles included are: The Communist Manifesto, The Kinsey Report, and Beyond Good and Evil.

What I found to be the most dangerous part of the article was Aqui's ignorance when it comes to the power of ideas:

Perhaps that's the lesson to be imparted here. Ideas are not harmful; applications are. We should hold Hitler, not Nietsche, responsible for the National Socialist movement. We should hold the Soviet authorities, not Marx, responsible for the compound disaster that was the Soviet Union.
While I won't disagree that the Third Reich or the Soviet Union were a plague upon the world, to dismiss out of hand the ideas that made them possible is an even worse injustice. What Aqui fails to recognize is that ideas are not floating abstraction divorced from reality but are in fact reality dependent. Without reference to reality ideas would have no meaning and would be as incomprehensible as baby talk. This is the very reason why Ayn Rand said that Kant was the most evil man in history. His ideas are the exact opposite to what is required if man is to live here on Earth.

In fact this very was subject was discussed by Dr. Leonard Peikoff in his essay "Fact and Value". In the essay he presents the argument that philosophers actively espousing irrationalism, though not legally guilty are in fact guilty in the moral sense. By actively putting forth ideas that are contradictory to man the philosopher in essence is at war with reality and urging that they be put into practice.

Is it any wonder why Hitler rose to power when the intellectuals in Germany were preaching against man before him? Ideas set the stage for action, it is up to man to choose the right ideas.