To Think and Not to Think

1999-06-16

Rand said that the only imperative she would recognize (if she recognized imperatives) would be the imperative to think. The more I live, and the more I read philosophers in the Chinese tradition, the more I come to realize that Rand's either-or choice "to think or not to think" is a false dichotomy. To live, one needs to think and to not think -- each is appropriate in its context (as Aristotle wrote, one cannot think while having sex -- is this not a good thing?). A complete philosophy for living on earth will combine, it seems to me, respect for thinking and for not thinking. The Chinese do this through Confucianism (thinking) and Taoism (not thinking), which are in an eternal dialectic and which traditionally people in China have combined into a complete approach to life. Objectivism has always tended toward the rationalistic and toward a focus on thinking, thinking, thinking. I wonder what the "not-thinking" complement would be to Objectivism? In its focus on enjoying life, I might consider Epicureanism; in its focus on accepting reality, I might consider Taoism; in my creative moments, I think of initiating a new philosophy that would be the yin to Rand's yang.


Peter Saint-Andre > Journal