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What does the successful man owe society?

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Guest DagnySofia
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Guest DagnySofia

What, if anything, does the individual owe to society. Does a person's station in society— whether a person is rich or poor, old or young, etc.— have an effect on what is owed to the community?

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The individual does not "owe" anything to society or the community. He has only one and only one negative obligation if he wishes to live in a society or community (of individuals): he must never initiate the use of force against any of its members, i.e., he must respect every individual's rights.

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I suspect that you are not familiar with the writings of Ayn Rand; otherwise you would not have asked such a question. But no one here is going to expound her entire philosophy for any newcomer, so if you are interested in her philosophy, read The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged.

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Guest DagnySofia

Actually, this was an essay question from a Humanities course I took last spring (Ethics in America). I answered the question as I expected the professor to approve of, full of touching liberal dribble, and received an A. I found it today and wanted to vomit. I wanted to hear the words my essay should have contained. Having read The Fountainhead, I saw that Roark would not compromise to satisfy even his professors. I am uncompromising when it comes to my focus but have found it necessary at times to humor my professors (of gen ed and required classes) in order to keep As. Any thoughts on this? Being that such courses as Humanities and Sociology are required of me but not of interest to me, is fine to fake my way through them, never touched by the "Comprachicos" teachings yet allowing them to believe I have been? My gpa is important to my goals. ~DagnySofia

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I have, thankfully, not found it necessary to compromise my beliefs in order to do well on a paper, exam, or in class in general. In fact, while many professors have disagreed with my views, many of them have offered great respect for them, my abilities in thinking, and for my dedication to learning and the use of reason. I actually had one professor personally ask me outside the class after the final exam to personally thank me for being a great student, challenging what was being said in class (business ethics), etc.

I just thought that I would share that positive experience with you.

For most professors, in my experience, it does not harm you to have ideas which are contrary to their own. In most cases, if you presented a reasoned argument (say for example you are writing a paper on your own beliefs in a given area), most professors will not penalize you for not disagreeing with their ideas. However, there are some professors who will do so. My suggestion for dealing with such professors is to try to find out which professors do penalize for disagreement, and attempt to stay away from them. You can try to find out this information by asking other students who have had courses with the professor, and even ask the professor about it at the beginning of the class (or look for a mention on the subject in the course syllabus.)

I wish you the best of luck in your experiences with college professors and the learning process. Don't be turned off to education just because of the ignorance of a few professors trying to push their own agenda. :)

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'Society' only exists as a figure of speech, and the term has no authority to assume similarities between individuals. Each 'individual' has a right to decide what he or she considers real or valuable in this world, and a responsibility to choose a course of action based on that decision.

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DagnySofia,

I'll be graduating from Colorado State University in the fall, and I've had similar experiences in defense of my beliefs. What I have found, however, is that when I present a clear and well written argument on paper, even if it's not necessarily relevant to the assignment, I generally get some positive feedback. In fact, I wrote an essay a few weeks ago in which my last sentence read: "I thank the few professors who played a role in developing me into a powerfully educated individual committed to the defense of individual liberty, but I no longer recognize your authority to grade my work." I got an A on this essay, as well as almost every essay or paper I've written in the last couple years. I'm even starting to make a name for myself as an exceptional writer refusing to yield to the standards of others. I recommend you do the same. You may be surprised at how many people agree with you. And even if they don't, they'll sure as hell respect you. Best of Luck.

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