Robert Bidinotto is the former editor of the Objectivist-themed New Individualist magazine, where I wrote, among other articles, “Atlas Mugged” in 2007 on the rise of new media, and one of the very first reviews of Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism. (Jonah told me it was his first media interview on the book when we spoke in November of 2007 for background material.) Robert has a new blog at Bidinotto.blogspot.com, logically enough, that you’re going to want to bookmark.
Most people of my philosophic persuasion believe that the power that moves individuals and cultures is, at root, philosophy. Specifically, that power lies in the “basic premises” which we accept about the world and ourselves: our beliefs about the nature of existence; about how we know things; about what constitutes good and bad; about how we should live together.
This view of the power of philosophic premises is true. However, those of my philosophic persuasion also make an additional assumption: that to change one’s own life, or to “change the world,” the most important and effective thing is to adopt and advocate the “right” systematic, abstract philosophy. In practice, this means: addressing thinkers and intellectuals, teaching students formal philosophy, planting “our” kind of professors in university chairs, and otherwise engaging in specifically abstract, philosophical pursuits.
The tacit assumption here is that the basic philosophic premises that govern our lives are decisively communicated and absorbed in individuals and cultures by means of formal philosophical education.
That premise is mistaken.
We do not suddenly acquaint ourselves with our core worldviews in college courses, after we are already in our teens or twenties. By that time, our basic premises are usually already well-established and, in many cases, set in psychological cement.
So when, and in what form, do we really encounter and accept our foundational beliefs about ourselves and the world around us?
We do so early in life, and in the form of stories — or what I call Narratives.
Needless to say, read the whole thing.