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Comments to J.S. Snelson
Life Is Not A Problem
These are my comments to the Jay Stuart Snelson article, "Lecture #3, The Principle of Prosperity, between January 24, 2017 and May 17, 2018." Snelson's view of life as nothing but problem solving is the anti-romantic view of life as the source of all good and happiness. My comments are all against that pessimistic view of life.

Quoting Snelson: "This thing we call human life is primarily one thing, it's a lifetime exercise in problem solving."

What a horrible view of live!

I guess Jay Stuart Snelson never heard of a life of achievement and enjoyment. The primary objective of life is to live it successfully and happily and to be all one can possibly be. "Problems," are nothing more than those incidental and temporary difficulties that interfere with the objective of successful living. They certainly are not primary and certainly not what defines human life.

"I can personally assure you that Jay enjoyed the most of the last two decades of his life, including a brutal fight with cancer."

Mairzy doats and dozy doats and anecdotes mean nothing.

I make a point of principle and you bring up personalities and personal experiences.

He said, "human life is primarily ... problem solving." You said life is, "problem solving, among other things." I do not agree with that either, but at least you recognize problems are not the primary fact of life.

I have no interest in personalities, only what is true and not true. Jay Stuart Snelson (whose history I am quite aware of) was probably a likable enough individual. I know Galambos thought highly of him, at least they shared many of the same mistaken ideas. What does the fact that he had cancer have to do with what he taught and promoted. My wife had cancer, it did not improve the value of any of her idea. (They were all good to begin with.)

Snelson promoted some terrible ideas that are nothing but social engineering. I have nothing against the man, but his ideas are very deceptive. I pointed out one of the more obvious wrong views. (There are much worse ones. I think I'll share some in an article you can pick apart if you like.)

[NOTE: I did publish the article I promised: Betrayer Of Freedom.]

"How can you possibly achieve anything without solving a problem?"

I understand your point, but think you don't understand mine. It's a philosophical point of view. To look at everything one does as a problem makes life nothing more than a constant battle against the negative. Why not look at everything as an opportunity to achieve, not a problem to be solved.

"Problem," is a value term like good, bad, important, etc. As I wrote in my article, "Values:"

"All terms of value like good, bad, important, irrelevant, right, and wrong describe a relationship. Before there can be a value there must be a purpose, a goal, or an objective relative to which a thing has some value; a positive value like good or important if the thing enables or furthers the goal or purpose, a negative value like bad or wrong if it hinders or prevents the achievement of the goal or purpose."

The word, "problem," happens to be a negative value term. Before there can be a problem there must be some objective, goal, or purpose a "problem" is something that interferes or prevents the achievement of the goal or purpose. Having a purpose and pursuing it is not a problem, and very often there in nothing interfering with achieving a goal, except that one has to do the thinking and work necessary to accomplish it. Unless you regard thinking and work as problems (many people actually do) there are only problems when something prevents one from achieving one's chosen goals.

There used to be an old saying, "there are no problems, only opportunities." As trite as it is, it is a much healthier attitude than looking at everything as a problem. Of course we have problems because many things often do interfere with achieving some goals and it is important to know how to deal with them, but they are not primary. I think the view that, "human life is primarily ... problem solving," would make life hardly worth living.

[There is an ambiguity about the word problem. Sometimes things that require extra effort to accomplish like math questions or design goals are referred to as, "problems." I think it is "problem" in that sense many people mean by questions such as yours. That is not the sense in which Snelson means it.]

That's my view and I'm not suggesting you make it yours, though I believe you would be happier if you did.

I don't think it's necessary to agree on a meaning of problem, and certainly don't expect anyone to agree with mine, because mine can't be used as an excuse for promoting someone's pet political theory. I just think it's wrong to think of life as a problem. There are no problems until someone attempts to achieve or accomplish something and all problems are individual, not social.

I see no one has answered your question about the workbook. I've done some research and I'm quite sure it is not available.

I am not a fan of Jay Stuart Snelson, nor of his associate, Andrew Joseph Galambos, or those aspects of the libertarian movement they influenced. In spite of their libertarian rhetoric, they are all sociologists (usually emphasizing the economics branch) and promote some political policy solution to all problems. If your interested, I wrote an article explaining what is wrong with their views, "Betrayer Of Freedom," in 2012.

"How did you come to learn of the work of Galambos? How did you become familiar with Snelson's work?"

Oh my, I've forgotten. Somewhere, sometime it was inevitable in my study of Rand, Mises, Rothbard, the Austrian economists, and the early libertarian movement (though not that early, since it began around 1900) to run into Snelson (who wrote a lot) and Galambos (who oddly never published a thing.)

"For example, I don't see 'problem' as inherently negative."

I know in everyday language people use the word, 'problem,' as a synonym for an issue, challenge or question. But Snelson's lectures are supposed to be intellectual and philosophical. To say, "human life is primarily ... problem solving," is sloppy misleading language, because the proper meaning of "problem" is negative. It is something that interferes with some objective or purpose.

Human life is primarily the pursuit of success and happiness, which necessarily means using all of one's abilities, physical and intellectual, to achieve and be all one can be as a human being. For a human being that means hard work, rigorous study, and diligent thinking. Work, study, and thinking are not problems, they are the most enjoyable of human pursuits and the whole means of achieving and enjoying life.

We certainly don't have to agree on this. I just think looking at life as a grand adventure to be achieved and enjoyed is a better way of looking at life than viewing life as a perpetual struggle against endless problems.

For a proper romantic view of life, please see the articles: "Wonderful World," and "Banality Verses Romanticism."

—(02/21/2021)
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