Aug 12, 2009

Weaving the Fabric of History

A culture (and the society that produces it) is akin to a broad fabric emerging from a loom. It is composed of numerous threads of various textures and colors. Following is a narrow historical example of the sort of spread of fundamental ideas that can change a culture, thread by thread:

1. In 1957, novelist and philosopher Ayn Rand published her greatest work, Atlas Shrugged. It presented the main elements of her philosophy, a philosophy of reason and therefore objectivity.

2. In 1989, philosopher Dr. Harry Binswanger, a student and then associate of Ayn Rand, wrote a brief essay proposing a sketch of the foundation of Philosophy of Law: "What is Objective Law?"

3. Later in 1989, an organization, The Association for Objective Law (TAFOL), published the essay. (It also appeared subsequently in The Intellectual Activist). The founder of TAFOL was lawyer Steve Plafker, PhD and JD, a long-term Objectivist.

4. In 2008, nearly 20 years later, a programmer and a retired marketing communications writer, intrigued by the application of philosophy to current events, created a website working with a few students of Objectivism in examining seminal texts, Study Groups for Objectivists.

5. In July of 2009, the year after its founding, SGO conducted a very brief study group to review the 1989 essay, thus spreading its ideas to a few individuals (most of whom are activists). The leader of the study group was Steve Plafker, the founder of TAFOL.

Thus, a primary philosopher's radical thinking published half a century ago led to a secondary philosopher's essay about thirty years later. Among the essay's other ripples, was its use in a study group, twenty years afterwards, for a close reading by a few active-minded individuals. This narrow historical chain of events has been one thread in a fabric of cultural change.

Such events are happening day by day across our society, often out of sight except to the immediate participants. A few individuals are waging a broader campaign through either general activism or in-line activism. The cumulative effect of this movement will be wide.

Burgess Laughlin
Author, The Power and the Glory: The Key Ideas and Crusading Lives of Eight Debaters of Reason vs. Faith

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