The origin of a person matters. For a long time, humanity has wondered whether our behavior is in our nature or if it is nurtured. The predominant thought is that it is nurtured, that we are a blank slate at the beginning. While I do not ascribe to this belief, especially in light of the observations of my now two-year-old son, I do believe that nurture is an important part of it.
Ideas come from our experiences. New ideas are often developed based on old ones and they are improved upon as we continue on. So we combine our experiences with our ideas of the behavior we exhibit in our natural and nurtured behaviors. This leads us to make our own individual observations about life, the universe, and everything.
This is why investigating a person’s background is crucial in understanding their ideas. Without this understanding, we’re left with just ideas with no person, no humanity behind. This can be, and has proven to be, very dangerous for human beings.
Often times you might hear some people complain about this. A person’s background shouldn’t matter, they’ll say. It is the ideas that they came up with that really count.
But would you accept the ideas of a serial murderer? Would you take marriage advice from a person who has been divorced? Would you heed the warnings of a proven pathological liar? Would you join a religion started by a science fiction author?
These are just rhetorical questions really, something to get you thinking about the origins of ideas. I know I wouldn’t want a thrice divorced person working as a marriage councilor if my wife and I were have serious issues. I’d consider that person a three-time failure at a relationship he or she is trying to help mend.
Communism is one of those ideas that still permeates our culture. Sure, nobody really claims to be a communist anymore, but most of those ideas have been ingrained into the major institutions of the West, it is hardly anything people really notice.
But would you even consider communist ideas if you knew that Karl Marx was a lazy, ill-tempered, adulterous, rich boy who lived most of his life without working side by side with the people he advocated for? Hell, he even dismissed the workers as being too stupid to understand him. Sadly, he lived much of his life in poverty largely because he refused to lift a finger to actually make money and instead relied on family and friends for much of his life. To top that off, he usually spent more money, which wasn’t his, than what most people made in year.
Now if you knew about such things, would you even consider his vision of Utopia? I know I wouldn’t.
John Maynard Keynes is another great example. The man was a member of the Bloomsbury Group, a club of British artists who were also largely sexually deviant. Keynes himself was a gay (or at least bisexual) man whose market manipulations went largely to the extravagant art of the Bloomsbury Group.
And his works have largely been regarded as the cornerstone of modern economic thought. Most Western governments have fashioned their economic policies around the ideas of a gay hedonist.
The primary reason that we need to look into the origins and backgrounds of people, especially prominent rulers and philosophers, is because we need to apply our moral code to their lives and ensure that they are sound enough to consider their ideas. Doing so would allow us to better understand what someone is talking about.
Nobody is perfect of course. We all have our moral failings. But at the same, it is better to make moral judgments on the life and times of a person before we consider accepting their ideas. This does not mean we can’t analyze them and maybe try and find flaws in them.
People should be wary of people who have questionable backgrounds when it comes to accepting their philosophies. More often than not, their philosophies, their ideas, are wicked and ultimately evil in those cases.
As for myself and my ideas, know that I have had a fairly mediocre life. I have a bachelor's degree in Computer Science with minors in English Literature and Mathematics. I have a wife and a son. I am overweight, though not terribly so and probably have more muscle mass than average (I can barely pinch my legs as my wife found out). I have been to Africa on mission to build solar powered lighting systems in rural areas. My wife is also overweight and has struggled with that as a result of growing up in a household with a borderline mother. I have no financial debts and I have a steady job that provides for my family. I tithe (literally) to the church I attend. I do have struggles with lust and gluttony, though lately I have seen a significant decrease in these struggles.
So accept my ideas or reject them as you wish based on the information I have provided. I am more than willing to listen to criticism but that does not mean I will accept it.