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Go read Gus Van Horn
Member No.: 44
Joined: 8-June 04
Do I even have to tell you anymore? I mean, come on, if you're not reading him daily, then you should be.
Anyhow, the latest:
Having read Theodore Dalrymple's
review of The Ghost Map
, I see that Gus Van Horn has now read it as well
It is, in both of their estimation, a pretty good book. Gus, however, manages to catch some fundamental flaws of Johnson's that are likely shared by Dalrymple:
|...[D]espite having "all the pieces" of an argument that government interference in the economy is not required for good public health and can even hinder the causes of science and good public health, Johnson himself can be said to suffer from the miasma of our day. Time and again, he urges government solutions to public health problems and other things he regards as threats to the public welfare, such as global warming. At the same time, he seems dumbfounded when he considers the danger that nuclear proliferation poses to major cities. Here, rather than note the most effective government solution, to end states (such as Iran) that sponsor terrorism, he advocates a sharp curtailment of the nuclear arsenal -- of the United States.|
Johnson thus falls into the dominant view of government of our day -- as nanny, rather than protector of individual rights. He also suffers from a strange ethical blindness wherein he fails to see the moral difference between the United States and Iran, which I think is caused by his taking rationality (vice the capacity for rationality) as a given in human beings. Finally, he buys the global warming argument (and environmentalism in general) hook, line, and sinker. Interestingly, why this has happened can be seen indirectly from his own explanation for the past dominance of the miasma theory of disease.
Johnson's great failing is that he does not understand the importance of philosophy in shaping the receptiveness to new ideas by men, including himself. He also holds the common philosophical belief that reason and emotion are opposites, helping cause him to draw the wrong conclusion about why the miasma theory held England's health hostage for so long. Furthermore, he does not see that the only proper purpose of the government is to protect individual rights. This cause him to give very little consideration to the notion that a free economy could solve the very problems he thinks need government intervention and it apparently also blinds him to the fact that perhaps the arsenal of the United States can and should be used to protect its cities from the nuclear threat posed by Iran.
And so, just as Johnson shows us how an incorrect theory held dogmatically and taken as a given can hinder an analysis and misguide action, his own analysis is hindered by several beliefs similarly unsupported by evidence and unchallenged by all but a few. He would do well to become familiar with Ayn Rand, who is to philosophy today in many ways what John Snow was to medicine in the mid nineteenth century.
Couldn’t have said it better myself, Mr. Van Horn.
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