Careful Reading for Thinkers


Atlas sculpture, New York City, by sculptor Le...
Atlas sculpture, New York City, by sculptor Lee Lawrie. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By thinkers I mean YOU. I came across several thoughtful articles on current issues recently that I want to share.  I suggest they be read slowly and carefully, perhaps at bed time where their thoughtfulness may linger with your dreams.

The first was in Imprimus from Hillsdale College. It is The Second Amendment as an Expression of First Principles. It is a careful look at the constitutional foundation of our right to bear arms. I found it ‘Supreme’ and I recommend it.

All I have to say about gun control is: “Attention People!  STOP KILLING OTHER PEOPLE!!!”

James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal had insightful analysis on the Supreme Court’s addressing gay marriage and California’s Proposition 8 in BEST OF THE WEB TODAY March 28, 2013, Maybe Scalia Was Wrong, How the Supreme Court could uphold Proposition 8. This article requires committed reading, which I’m not sure I have for this topic.

I do think I should ‘come out of the closet’ on the issue and admit, at the risk of ostracism from my peers, that I support heterosexual marriage, though I’m much more interested in Principles and whether we should have any at all than I am with who cohabits with whom.

Before you storm the gates with pitchforks and staves let me say I’m fine with civil unions for TWO unmarried people of same or different genders. The recent law on civil unions passed in Colorado may actually benefit me and my female significant-other of sixteen and a half years. Still, I think the family unit of a man and a woman, time honored and tested for thousands of years (something about that procreation thing) should prevail.

BUT, I find food for thought in the remarks I heard from Keith Ablow (a psychiatrist who appears on TV (?)) recently. He said perhaps all governments should get out of the marriage certification business and marriages should be sanctified by religions, churches, or other means. Maybe he has something there.  Life and civilization is just one big experiment isn’t it?

I think one should stand on principles. I’m concerned that changing thousands of years of precedence and principle leaves us without ANY principles. I think that about 5 minutes after gay marriage between two people is blessed by the Supremes that someone will want marriage with 3 people, or 5 people. Why not, when there are no underlying principles and it feels right? Why can’t I then marry my dog? We don’t have sex but I love her, and, Werner Erhard to the contrary (“Your dog doesn’t love you!”) (private joke), I know my dog loves me, so why not? It seems perfectly logical to me if anyone can marry anyone else. Why draw the line when there really aren’t lines anymore?

That brings me to PRINCIPLES. Specifically, to Leonard Peikoff’s 1988 talk Why Should One Act On Principle?  While I was considering the topics of gun control and gay marriage I stumbled upon this on my side table.  A scholarly friend had given it to me, I’d read it, and there it was in a timely fashion waiting to be read again.

I’m sure you can find thousands of references on principles.  This one is insightful and I recommend it too.  Why should we have any principles at all?  Let’s throw them ALL out and do what FEELS RIGHT at the moment.  Let’s just see how that works for you.

Attached is a PDF transcript of Peikoff’s talk reprinted in the Feb. 1989 issue of The Intellectual Activist:


(Apologies for my marginalia.  That’s for my reference, not your guidance.)

Audio of the original lecture is available for $0.99 on the ARI eStore.

The audio is free to registered users of on the Registered User Page.

Finally, almost as an aside, Reason Magazine had a good interview with financial expert Nassim Taleb about global debt.  (Reason Magazine has a LOT of good articles every month.  It is one of the few magazines to which I subscribe.  Non-subscribers can find the contents available online several weeks after a publication.)  Despite a few contortions with definitions (antifragile?) this is a very cogent article:

You can storm the gates now.  I was only expressing an opinion.

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