I was ruminating on the exchange and thoughts below, and I felt a certain sadness at the seeming lack of interest many students and too many twenty and thirty-somethings have in ideas. Have a debate on campus, for example, and unless it's just a rowdy 'abuse-the-PM' handbag-fest, all you get is a succession of blank stares. Ideas are not fashionable. They're uncool. It wasn't always that way on campus.
So I was reflecting on that, and I came across a relevant observation of Ayn Rand's:
There is a fundamental conviction which some people never acquire, some hold only in their youth, and a few hold to the end of their days—the conviction that ideas matter. In one’s youth, that conviction is experienced as a self-evident absolute, and one is unable fully to believe that there are people who do not share it. That ideas matter means that knowledge matters, that truth matters, that one’s mind matters. And the radiance of that certainty, in the process of growing up, is the best aspect of youth.
Its consequence is the inability to believe in the power or the triumph of evil. No matter what corruption one observes in one’s immediate background, one is unable to accept it as normal, permanent or metaphysically right. One feels: “This injustice, or terror or falsehood or frustration or pain or agony is the exception in life, not the rule.” One feels certain that somewhere on earth—even if not anywhere in one’s surroundings or within one’s reach—a proper, human way of life is possible to human beings, and justice matters.
I feel sad for those who've never felt that.