By marrying his intellectual and productive capacities, the individual can make manifest the values that catalyze his being.

From a viewpoint grounded in natural philosophy, the idealist is irrational. He is governed by rigid adherence to principles. Confronted with a choice between the Ideal, utterly impossible though it might be to realize, and a compromise that guarantees reward, the ideologue will not betray his beliefs. This refusal to adapt, even to the point of self-harm is irrational. It pits the physical self against the spiritual self and, against all of nature’s teachings, indefatigably pursues spiritual wellbeing. The idealist further divorces himself from natural philosophy by basing his actions around a reality which exists only in theory. Not only does he disregard the evolving rules of civil society in his discretionary process, he roots them in a world of his own divination. He accepts its dictates as having absolute authority over him, hoping that by so doing he helps to bring the Ideal into existence, while ignoring the laws of social political hegemony if they violate his conscience only to a trivial degree.

The point of this irrationality is to serve long-term self-interest. Natural law emphasizes adaptability as a strategy for survival. Though this might promote dynamism in action, it does not promote it in character. By always looking to short-term interest, an individual might survive from day to day, but to what end? Does he put any strategies he learns in escaping peril to greater use? No, for he is consumed with thoughts for surviving the next threat. The idealist, conversely, is concerned with the second law of nature- thriving. He yearns for more than a plebian trudge through a labyrinth of plots and traps, only ever wondering what lurks around the next corner and how to thwart it. His ideology makes his actions static and predictable, but his character dynamic in the sense that it pursues varied higher interests and looks for unifying ideas in disparate fields which give order and meaning to the world and purpose to his life.

These ideas are reflected in the choices the individual makes: in the values he cherishes, in the friends he seeks, in the products to which he gives his economic endorsement. But, perhaps most importantly, these ideas are represented in that which the individual produces.

The idealist selects an end because he believes it contains some element of those things he values. When he engages in a productive act, he creates a material good that is representative of the values innate to the ideal he serves. As his actions are guided by a desire to serve and advance those values, his labor also embodies the ideal he serves. In these things, the ideal lives. It is made manifest, albeit transiently, through his action. It is made manifest more permanently in the goods he produces.

Ideals become substantive in this way. In the actions he takes to serve and advance his chosen ideal, the individual produces tangible goods, which exist because of a process dependent upon an ideal. The ideal is represented in their physical processes. This cannot be wiped away. It stands as a substantive reminder that adherence to rigid principle is more than an abstract philosophical pursuit.


All content protected by copyright. The Politics of Discretion, 2016.