"Just what did Hugh Akston teach?" asked the earnest matron.
Francisco answered, "He taught that everything is something."
"Your loyalty to your teacher is laudable, Senor d'Anconia," said Dr. Pritchett dryly. "May we take it that you are an example of the practical results of his teaching?"

Given that Dr. Pritchett said that nothing is anything, that the mind is impotent, and that there's no such thing as objective morality or knowledge, why was he critical of Francisco's lifestyle?

Was it similar to the reason that Jim Taggart complained about the San Sebastian Mines affair in spite of the fact that Francisco had followed their morality literally? For example, the widely-held morality held that need took precedence over actual competence in selecting job applicants; accordingly, Francisco turned the operation of the mine over to an incompetent mining specialist that needed a job rather badly.

Elsewhere in the book, Jim Taggart describes Dr. Pritchett's philosophy as follows:

"Have you ever heard of The Metaphysical Contradictions of the Universe, by Dr. Simon Pritchett?" She shook her head, frightened. "How do you know what's good, anyway? Who knows what's good? Who can ever know? There are no absolutes - as Dr. Pritchett has proved irrefutably. Nothing is absolute. Everything is a matter of opinion. How do you know that the bridge hasn't collapsed? You only think it hasn't. How do you know that there's a bridge at all? You think that a system of philosophy - such as Dr. Pritchett's - is just something academic, remote, impractical? But it isn't. Oh, boy, how it isn't!"

That being the case, on what basis does Dr. Pritchett criticize Francisco? By his own philosophy, isn't it just a matter of opinion whether there's anything wrong with Francisco's (supposed) lifestyle? Or is the fact that he doesn't actually have any basis for said criticism part of the point?

  • "Given that Dr. Pritchett said that nothing is anything and that the mind is impotent" I'm a little bit confused about what that means.
    – user111
    Commented Dec 17, 2017 at 20:46
  • @Hamlet I added a quote that'll hopefully clarify somewhat. My basic point was that, since Dr. Pritchett claimed that there were no absolutes, it seems inconsistent that he'd criticize Francisco for his lifestyle. Commented Dec 17, 2017 at 21:48

1 Answer 1


Dr. Pritchett, like all the looters, had a double standard.

Although he espoused mushy logic so that the unsuspecting public could be more easily duped, controlled, and herded, he still wanted the producers (like Francisco) to remain exacting, disciplined, and productive. The reason is because he still wanted to eat, go to parties, have running water, electric light, etc. He understood all too well that if the producers and industrialists began to go mushy like the mush he pretended to believe in, he would starve, the lights would go out, and the world would crash down around him.

Deep down in places he didn't like to confront, Pritchett knew that there was a direct connection between Francisco's lifestyle and his own quality of life - which is why it frightened and irritated him when he observed Francisco [apparently] being a bum and a playboy.

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