Dear Dr. Hurd: I’m reading Steve Jobs’ biography. While he was certainly a genius, an independent thinker and visionary, he was also a liar, childish and unethical. Many call him a great man, but I do not. I think a great man should be the sum of all his character traits, not just the ones we want to cherry pick.
I find this interesting because many admirers of capitalism and business don’t agree. They claim he was a great man for his ability to see what people wanted, find the right people to create his vision, and then delivering it. Yes, he was great at that, but that doesn’t make a man great. A great man must be judged by all of his character traits.
Would you agree?
Dr. Hurd’s reply: There’s a distinction between a great man and a great accomplishment.
Steve Jobs accomplished great things, but this doesn’t automatically prove he was great as a man. I haven’t read his biography, but I believe someone can have character flaws and still accomplish great things.
It’s not unusual to hear of people who do good or great things in their careers, but are inadequate in their private lives. I blame this on the silly ideas that dominate human culture.
It’s amazing how reason dominates the world of business and technology, while irrationalism and moral barbarism dominate everywhere else. When children go to school and learn math or science, they are taught based on the principles of logic, fact and reason. When young people enter careers, they are encouraged to utilize facts, logic and reason. But when it comes to personal lives and relationships, we’re all fed a load of nonsense. For example, ‘Love your enemy like yourself.’ Or, ‘Marry not for love, but for selflessness.’ Or, ‘Give back to the community all that they gave you.’
Who actually believes this garbage? Least of all, someone as bright as a Steve Jobs?
No matter, because very few people question the irrationality they find in philosophy, ethics and psychology. Not even those who are brilliant enough to apply reason and logic to business and technology, as Steve Jobs so notably did.
If Steve Jobs was, indeed, childish and deceitful, I can only assume that he failed to apply principles of rationality to all of his life the way he did to his business life. Most accomplished people, including probably Jobs himself, believe that reason and logic don’t apply to ethics, philosophy and psychology. They subvert themselves or others in those areas because they think those things don’t really matter as much business and science do.
This is a dreadful mistake that has been made throughout history by some of the greatest people. Case in point, America: Jobs’ biggest triumphs came just as the slow decline of the American republic and its once-flourishing system of capitalism began their painful acceleration. In fact, Jobs’ death sparked in many an unusual degree of emotion because it seemed as if one of the last great American business geniuses has, in fact, gone away all too soon. There is a widespread sense, especially in Obama’s America, that there will not be another Steve Jobs, at least not anytime soon.
America is in a collective clinical depression due to the destructive leaders they have placed at the top of the government by misguided citizens. America would not be in decline if it weren’t for the idiotic ideas in philosophy, ethics and politics that are ruining even the great things that have been accomplished for two brilliant centuries. If I’m not mistaken, Jobs was a prominent supporter of Obama’s election and reelection efforts. To support a militant socialist who is doing everything in his power to destroy the remnants of the system that made Jobs’ success possible is perhaps the best evidence of the man’s contradictions and character flaws.
Your friends who are pro-capitalism want to consider Jobs a great man, because they want to uphold the great system of capitalism (or even hampered capitalism, under which Jobs remarkably functioned). That’s understandable. They want their heroes.
However, it’s no assault on capitalism to simply state the fact that Jobs was undercut by some of his own personality or character flaws. It’s remarkable that he accomplished such great things even with those flaws.
Imagine how much more he could have done without them.
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