99. "In any realm of life--whether academic, social, business, or political—the only way to succeed is to take a practical, rather than an idealistic, point of view. Pragmatic behavior guarantees survival, whereas idealistic views tend to be superceded by simpler, more immediate options."
Idealism is just as crucial—if not more so—for long-term success in any endeavor, whether it be in academics, business, or political and social reform.
1. When it comes to academics, although the idealist-student might sacrifice a high overall grade average, the depth of knowledge, academic discipline, and sense of purpose the students gains will serve that student well later in life.
2. Considering the business world, without a dream or vision—that is, without strong idealist leadership—a firm can easily be cast about in the sea of commerce without clear direction, threatening not only the firm’s bottom line but also its very survival.
3. Finally, when it comes to the political arena, it is idealists—not pragmatists—who sway the masses, incite revolutions, and make political ideology reality.
118. "In any field of endeavor-the sciences, the humanities, the social sciences, industry, etc.-it is not the attainment of a goal that matters, but rather the ideas and discoveries that are encountered on the way to the goal."
In some cases, the statement makes sense; in other cases, it does not.
1. In academic studies, the goal of a project is but a general direction; what matters are the unexpected concrete findings on the way to the goal.
2. However, in industry and business, what is crucial is the attainment of a specific goal rather than the process toward that goal.
3. In politics, failing to achieve a promised goal might mean a calamity for a politician.
121. "At various times in the geological past, many species have become extinct as a result of natural, rather than human, processes. Thus, there is no justification for society to make extraordinary efforts, especially at a great cost in money and jobs, to save endangered species."
The statement raises a variety of issues about morality, conscience, self-preservation, and economics. On balance, however, I fundamentally agree with the notion that humans need not make “extraordinary” efforts—at the expense of money and jobs—to ensure the preservation of any endangered species.
1. There are three fundamental arguments for imposing on ourselves at least some responsibility to preserve endangered species, which are culpability, capability, and self-preservation.
2. On the other hand are two compelling arguments against placing a duty on humans to protect endangered species. The first is essentially the Darwinian argument that extinction results from the inexorable process of so-called “natural selection” in which stronger species survive while weaker ones do not.
3. Secondly, many animal extinctions are due to natural forces which are far beyond our ability. The more money and jobs it would cost to save a certain species, the lower priority we should place on doing so.
127. "Facts are stubborn things. They cannot be altered by our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions."
When it comes to certain aspect of our personal lives, and to historical events and scientific truths, no measure of desire or even passion can change external reality.
1. On an individual level, we all engage in futile attempts to alter facts—by pretending that certain things are not the way they are because they are inconsistent with our wishes or personal interests.
2. Nor can we alter facts by virtue of our inclinations or passions when it comes to history. Historical event is not rendered any less factual by either our ignorance or characterization of it.
3. Similarly, when it comes to science, our wishes and desires ultimately yield to the stubbornness of facts—by which I mean empirical scientific evidence and the laws and principles of the physical world.
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