In response to a request for reading suggestions for a teen from Amy Welborn, Disputations describes a book he'd like to see:
give me an idea for a book I think would be very helpful for teenagers: The Not-So-Great Ideas, a compendium of bum philosophies that captivate nineteen-year-olds when they first encounter them. Objectivism, solipsism, Marxism, materialism, nihilism: the dead-end sinks of human thought and sources of human misery. Collect them in a single book for high school students that, if nothing else, will teach them their parents aren't the only grown-ups who have lousy ideas.

The trouble with encountering loony ideas for the first time in college is that the person who introduces you to the concept is generally a true believer. As such, they seldom give a balanced presentation, but use their influence to bring you on board, as well.

As with a Comparative Religions class, or an Intro Philosophy class (one that is run on old-fashioned principles), students should be given a broad introduction to the concepts of that philosophy, selected readings, and some critique of its flaws. Think of it as similar to a medical vaccination - a way of innoculating our youth against something potentially harmful to their development.


I'd disagree that Objectivism belongs on that list. Within its domain of applicability, it's sound. Its promoters have simply tried to make it into a panacea, which it most certainly is not.

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