February 20, 2007
Capitalism is the astounding belief that the most wickedest of men will do the most wickedest of things for the greatest good of everyone.
Keynes advocated government intervention in trade and centralized economies, so it comes as no surprise to me that he would say something so profoundly ignorant and idiotic as that.
That statement is not even close to what Capitalism is. I would restate the remark something like this:
Capitalism is the astounding principle that the greediest of people will work harder and harder to benefit themselves only to end up benefiting everyone else even more.
Still not QUITE true, but better still than that first bit of blather.
February 11, 2007
Naturally, you will first schedule an exorcism and then perhaps give them item some thought.
Let's assume your child is wee one of but four years of age. Cute as a bug's ear, it's unlikely that he has a grasp of concepts like refraction or the density of air or anything like that. So, what do you say?
I know you've been preparing for this day for at least three years, but I think it at least unhelpful to your young child's education to launch into the lecture you had tattooed to your forearm about Rayleigh scattering.
What to do?
I'm writing about this because a reader, Jason, recently commented on my post about vaginas and feces that women do not, in fact, urinate from their vaginas. This is true (I hadn't actually given it much thought when writing my post!) but I question the contextual propriety of telling a child more. I think the urination explanation is sufficient depending on what the child knows already.
Similarly, I was once in a situation in which I had to explain to a child what it means to be gay. I did not go into any explanations about human sexuality and what I like to do with other men. I said simple, "It means that when I get married, I will marry a man and not a woman." Children understand "married" at least in a basic sense that it means a loving relationship between two people. In offering a definition, I simply needed to point out that loving relationships happen between two men as well as men and women. No further discussion was necessary, but it is arguable that my definition, like the one I offered for "vagina" is false.
Women do not actually urinate from their vaginas and "gay" doesn't mean that a man married another man, if for no other reason than gay marriage is not permitted within the frame of reference, which is America.
"What's a vagina?" "What does gay mean?" "Why is the sky blue?"
Frame of reference is key here. What is the child's frame of reference when asking these questions? What does "frame of reference" even mean?
A person's frame of reference may refer to a lot of things, but here I'm using the term to simply refer to the individual's body of knowledge and how new information is integrated within it.
We start life knowing absolutely nothing, but begin collecting data (percepts) right away. Slowly, we group our percepts into concepts and our concepts into abstractions. You may consult Ayn Rand's Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology for a complete explanation of this process. The point I want to highlight is that knowledge builds on itself. Without a foundation of percepts, you cannot have concepts, and without concepts you cannot make abstractions.
Concepts and abstractions even build on themselves. They have a hierarchy. How could a person even imagine a nuclear power plant without a idea of atoms? How could a person imagine interplanetary or interstellar travel without first having the idea that the earth is not the center of the solar system?
Lisa VanDamme, the headmistress of the VanDamme Academy has written several very interesting articles on this idea of "hierarchy of knowledge" and what it means for approaching the education of children. I think she is absolutely right.
So, what do you say to a young child who asks why the sky is blue? It depends.
You could say something like, "The light from the sun makes it that way," or you could say, "The air makes it that way when the sun is shining on it." I'm not sure at the moment what explanation is best and while I believe some inaccuracy is acceptable, I think it would be very, very bad to lie to the child and say something like, "Santa Claus made it that way."
You shouldn't tell children fairy tales as if they are true. You should offer them information they can use, explore, and expand upon.
Powered by Minx 1.1.4-pink.