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In necessariis unitas, in dubiis libertas, in omnibus caritas.

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In necessariis unitas, in dubiis libertas, in omnibus caritas.

Translated into English, this means, “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.”

This phrase (often wrongly attributed to Augustine) comes from an otherwise obscure German Lutheran theologian of the early seventeenth century named Rupertus Meldenius.

Rand offered her own summary of philosophical essentials being:

in metaphysics, the Law of Identity—in epistemology, the supremacy of reason—in ethics, rational egoism—in politics, individual rights (i.e., capitalism)—in esthetics, metaphysical values.

In the Voice of Reason, Leonard Piekoff offered this excerpt in the epilogue:

For Ayn Rand, thinking in essentials was not restricted to the issue of definitions. It was a method of understanding any complex situation by deliberately setting aside irrelevancies—such as insignificant details, superficial similarities, unimportant differences—and going instead to the heart of the matter, to the aspects which, as we may say, constitute the distinctive core or being of the situation.

He cites this after giving pointing out that she never entirely comprehend that the described approach which was second nature to her, was not practiced by all other people, often leaving her baffled or indignant.

For those who did, however, she found comradery. I can only wonder how she might have addressed the opening Latin phrase, or what she might have proffered as a more rational alternative.

The world is chock full of essentials and non-essentials. Thanks to an implicit sense of life that still embraces rational egoism and individual rights, the markets are full of goods that, thanks to capitalism, folk are free to decide for themselves what is essential, providing those who may disagree about the essential nature do not undermine the liberty of leaving the choice to the minds of the rationale of the individual actors.


One of my past-times involves watching many of the "latest release" movies. Moonlight made the headlines recently. What a disappointment. Fences both featured and was directed by Denzel Washington, who has been featured in many movies I've enjoyed. Again, the naturalism outweighed any redeeming qualities that were not self-evident from a first viewing. The movie American Violence, was more of a romanticist film, despite the overt deterministic overtones superimposed upon it, albeit the notion of putting the death penalty in the hands of our current state has frightening implications.

The last plug I am offering in this post is for WRCJ—90.9 FM (Detroit Classical and Jazz Music), which can be streamed via http://www.wrcjfm.org/ following the "listen live" link feature on the home page. While some of the music is repeated periodically, the range and scope of the diversity offered has kept me tuned in for over a decade.

Somewhat ironically, both of these modes of art invoke the most controversial aspects of Objectivism when it comes down to identifying the issues in terms of their essentials versus their non-essentials. Charity may not be the most quintessential term to discuss them under, but a willingness to identify what constitutes as essential and why has to be paramount. (Pun, not intended.)

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