"A man is never wrong doing what he thinks is right." (Ben Cartwright, Bonanza, Season 4, Episode 13).
This is not a statement of subjectivism. It is not meant to say that whatever you happen to do is right just because you chose to do it. Rather, it is a statement of individualism. It expresses the fact that the only way to have any chance at doing what is right is to follow the independent judgment of your own reasoning mind. It is only through independent understanding and evaluation that each person can hope to stay on a path toward truth, and the only real way to deviate from this path is to subordinate your judgment to that of others - be it your teacher, your employer, your client, your friends, your family, or your peers.
According to Mr. Cartwright, nobody should ever substitute his understanding of right and wrong, truth and falsehood, important and irrelevant - for that of another person. To relinquish the responsibility of judgment is to become vulnerable to all the wrongs, falsehoods and distractions that can thwart life, which one could no longer reliably discern.
If this is true, isn't there a contradiction between Mr. Cartwright's dictum and the one put forth in my reply to Manto's comment under "Life at the BreakWater": "The customer is always right"? How can architects be good businessmen, placing the needs of their clients first, and also be good artists - true to their convictions? The service-provider-architect would say, "Ah, yes - this is precisely why it is foolish to hold convictions. Being idealistic will cause you to fail in business. It is the arrogance of architects who believe they know what is right that is the downfall of architecture. It leads to buildings driven by the egos of architects, rather than the needs of inhabitants."
Do we have to choose between business and art? If not, how do we resolve this apparent conflict?
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