Secular Monks

I am a practical philosopher. Every day, I speak with people who work in technology, finance, entrepreneurship, and venture capitalism about basic matters of human existence. My clients live in New York, San Francisco, or Los Angeles, and they are earnest, conscientious, open-minded, and thoughtful. If reason demands it or creativity suggests it, they’re willing to deviate from orthodoxy. The men tend to be secular humanists, scientific materialists, and experimenters on themselves. Now middle-aged, and despite—or perhaps because of—their great success in life, they have begun to search for they know not what. Long asleep to the good life, they have begun to wake up to what they once took for granted. How they will live henceforth is up for grabs. They are not completely lost, but they have not yet come home.

Recently, I began to notice that well-educated, bright, well-off, urban thirty-five- to forty-five-year-old heterosexual American men are tending either to remain single or to marry late in life. When they do marry, they have few children. One client of mine, a cofounder of a startup, conducted a straw poll and found that half of his two dozen male friends in this age range were unmarried, and only three had children.

Secular Monks by Andrew Taggart

After the perversity, comes the sterility.

Dorsey is a secular abbot for secular monks. He embodies the ascetic self-control of the Calvinist, the aspiration for indomitable human agency, and the secular orientation to the practical conduct of everyday life. He puts all three in the service of success.

Dorsey and other secular monks fear slavery and impurity. For these life designers and technologists, a slave is someone who falls victim to circumstance, indecisiveness, and waywardness. Freedom may be achieved through ascetic exercises whose point is to strengthen resolve and sharpen focus.

Freedom from slavery is consonant with the desire for purity. To be pure means to exist without limits, to live without being confined. Living free of circumstance, torpor, and listlessness: Such is the vision of godliness, or the good life.

Needless to say, this ascetic conception of the good life leaves no room for marriage and parenthood. A long-term commitment to a woman and children opens one to enslavement. The “new celibacy” is one of the habits of success. Family life is constant disruption. You can’t sleep soundly when your child wails all night with a cough and fever. You can’t perfect yourself when you must always consider your wife’s needs. Secular monkhood requires a strict regimen. It’s good for a man to be alone. 

Secular Monks by Andrew Taggart

For obvious reasons, these “autonomous, self-made men” are not the future.

But you gotta admit, these entrepreneurs are hard workers. So long as they don’t go down the collectivist route and move to control others “For The Sake of Society”, they can cheerfully enjoy their money and freedom.

And, after a long, wealthy life and comfortable death?

The wealth of the sterile wicked is transferred to the children of the righteous.

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