Feb 022010

Can you spot the similarities? And can you come up with your own examples?

Three views of building a shelter:

A) God will provide for our needs, just like God provides for the lilies, “who neither toil nor spin”. Don’t worry about how.

B) Buildings collapse all the time; it’s not possible for humans to build stable shelters.

C) Man can build shelters. But this won’t happen automatically. “Nature to be commanded must be obeyed”. To build a proper shelter, we have to know the properties of building materials, know our shelter requirements, and build according to reality-based principles.

Three views of choosing what food to eat:

A) Just eat what tastes good. Your body automatically knows what’s good for it.

B) “Food” is a social construct. What one culture regards as a delicacy, another regards as taboo. There’s no possible basis for deciding what’s right to eat.

C) Proper diet is possible, but not automatic. Our food choices should be guided by the biological and nutritional requirements of our physical bodies. Hence, we must understand the nature of food, the nature of our bodies, and select our foods accordingly.

Three views of knowledge:

A) We can know the truth — we just have to rely on the infallible “inner vision” provided to us by God.

B) Knowledge is impossible. Our imperfect senses and flawed minds inherently prevent us from ever knowing the truth.

C) Knowledge is possible, but not automatic. But to gain knowledge, we must consciously seek to adhere to reality, using a specific method proper to our conscious minds — namely reason.

Three views of happiness:

A) Don’t worry, be happy! We live in the best of all possible worlds, so success and happiness are inevitable!

B) We’re doomed from the start. Life is a vale of tears, where happiness and success are impossible. Tragedy, defeat, and failure are the norm — we just have to accept that.

C) Achievement and happiness are possible, but not automatic. To be happy, we have to seek our own good by means of rationally formed principles.

Here are a few related concepts from the Ayn Rand Lexicon:

Malevolent Universe Premise
Benevolent Universe Premise

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