Friday, November 23, 2012

Cardinal virtues and counterfeit virtues


The cardinal virtues are wisdom, courage, moderation, and justice.  They are so called because they are traditionally regarded as the “hinge” (cardo) on which the rest of morality turns.  We find them discussed in Plato’s Republic and given a more given systematic exposition in Aquinas’s Summa Theologiae.  

For Plato, these virtues are related to the three main parts of the soul and the corresponding three main classes in his ideal city.  Wisdom is the characteristic virtue of the highest part of the soul -- the rational part -- and of the highest class within the city, the ruling philosopher-kings.  Courage is the characteristic virtue of the middle, spirited part of the soul, and of the soldiers who constitute the second main class in the city.  Moderation is the characteristic attribute of the lowest, desiring part of the soul and of the lowest, productive class of the city.  Justice in turn is the proper ordering of the three parts of the soul and the city, each doing its part.
  
When reason is in charge and the spirited part of the soul -- the part driven by a sense of honor and shame -- is doing reason’s bidding in keeping down the desiring part of the soul, allowing its appetites to be indulged only when reason dictates, the soul is just.  And when the philosopher-kings -- those motivated by a rational, disinterested pursuit of the good of the city -- are in charge of the city, the soldiers following their lead in governing the city, and the productive class focusing their attention on that to which they are best suited (farming, building, craftsmanship, and the like), the city is just.  Injustice is a deviation from this order -- the spirited part or the desiring part dominating the soul, or the soldiers or productive class dominating the government of the city.  

Plato’s famous analysis of the four main types of unjust regime develops this theme.  A timocracy or honor-oriented society puts the military virtues ahead of reason.  This is disordered, but still the least bad form of unjust city in Plato’s view, since at least it is an objective and non-appetitive standard -- the will to pursue what is honorable and avoid what is shameful -- that is idealized.  An oligarchy or money-oriented society is worse, because it is driven by the appetitive part of the soul, but it is still not the worst kind of regime, since the pursuer of wealth must at least puts chains on his appetites to some extent, respecting bourgeois values like thrift and long-term thinking.  Democracy, as Plato understands it, is worse still, since it effectively puts the lowest appetites in charge.  Like the never-satisfied and competing impulses toward food, sex, and drink that dominate a degenerate individual soul, a democratic society is dominated by the same impulses, and its social life and politics are chaotic, characterized by passing fads and resistant to the idea that there might be any permanent and objective standard against which the fads and impulses might be judged.  Tyranny, the worst kind of regime, is essentially what results when a particular democratic soul, driven by especially strong appetites, imposes its will on the rest.

This analysis and its relevance to modern politics and culture deserve a write-up of their own, but for the moment let’s consider the fate of the cardinal virtues in a modern democratic society.  The words “wisdom,” “courage,” “moderation,” and “justice” are certainly not absent in such societies.  To some extent the content of the traditional virtues is even respected -- democratic citizens will approve of the courage they read about in military history or see portrayed in movies like Saving Private Ryan, will commend moderation where overindulgence might affect bodily health, and so forth.

But much more prominent than the cardinal virtues -- and to a large extent coloring the conception democratic man has of the content of the cardinal virtues -- are certain other character traits, such as open-mindedness, empathy, tolerance, and fairness.  The list will be familiar, since the language of these “virtues” permeates contemporary pop culture and politics, and it can be said to constitute a kind of counterpoint to the traditional cardinal virtues.  And in each case the counter-virtue entails a turn of just the sort one might expect given Plato’s analysis of democracy -- from the objective to the subjective, from a focus on the way things actually are to a focus on the way one believes or desires them to be.

Hence wisdom, as a Plato or Aquinas conceives of it, is outward-oriented, involving a grasp of objective truth in the speculative and practical spheres.  Open-mindedness, by contrast, is oriented inwardly, toward the subjective, concerned not with objective reality itself so much as with a willingness to consider alternative views about objective reality.

Courage has to do with the will to do what one ought to do in the face of danger or difficulty.  The courageous man will do his duty even though he is afraid or feels uncomfortable or put upon, and we praise him precisely for ignoring these subjective feelings.  Empathy, by contrast, involves precisely a focus on such feelings -- indeed, even to the point of sympathizing with the one who has failed to be courageous.  Courage says: “Yes, it was difficult; but you should have done it anyway.”  Empathy says: “I understand why you didn’t do it; it was so difficult!”

Similarly, moderation tells us that we sometimes need to refrain from indulging our appetites, in some cases even when we have an extremely powerful desire to indulge them.  Tolerance, by contrast, refuses to condemn such indulgence.  Toleration works in tandem with empathy, as moderation works together with courage.  Just as courage is reason’s ally in keeping the appetites at bay -- it reminds us that it is weak and shameful to indulge when reason says we shouldn’t -- so too is empathy the ally of the appetitive part of the soul in its war with reason, giving it permission to indulge and to ignore what unkind, unfeeling reason is saying.  Courage and moderation command: “You’re a human being!  Don’t act like animal!”  Empathy and toleration respond: “We understand, go ahead, you’re just an animal anyway!”  

Finally, whereas justice requires us to conform our desires to the order of things, fairness commands the order of things to conform itself to our desires.  Justice says: “John is richer than you are and Paul has more authority.  But that is as it should be, since John worked harder and Paul is wiser.”  Fairness says: “John is richer than you are and Paul has more authority.  That’s not fair!”  Justice treats equals equally and unequals unequally.  Fairness treats everyone equally; or rather, it treats everyone the way the one shouting “Unfairness!” thinks they should be treated.

Now, all of that makes the counter-virtues in question sound pretty bad -- or it should make them sound bad, anyway -- but I hasten to add that none of this entails that there is nothing of value in open-mindedness, empathy, tolerance, and fairness.  Far from it.  The objective truth at which wisdom aims is not all built into us and it is not all obvious; it needs to be acquired through hard work.  Open-mindedness facilitates that.  Realistically inculcating the virtues, including courage, requires an understanding of actual human circumstances, including human weaknesses.  That requires empathy.  The road to virtue is, given human weakness, inevitably paved with repeated failures to live up to it.  Tolerance of these failures (albeit not approval of them) is, accordingly, no less necessary to the realistic inculcation of virtue than empathy is.  And some inequalities really are rightly decried as unfair insofar as they arise from injustice.  (John might be richer than you because he is more hard-working.  But it might instead be because he is a thief or a fraudster or someone who knows how to game the system.)

So, there can be real value in open-mindedness, empathy, tolerance, and fairness, and a wise man will acknowledge this.  But it is crucial to see that their value is instrumental.  They are of secondary value, of significance precisely insofar as they facilitate the acquisition of wisdom, courage, moderation, and justice.  A soul which strives primarily to acquire those traditional cardinal virtues, even while acknowledging the value within limits of open-mindedness, empathy, tolerance, and fairness in the process of acquiring them, is rightly ordered.  But a soul which primarily values open-mindedness, empathy, tolerance, and fairness, and either rejects the traditional cardinal virtues or relegates them to second place, is disordered.  Similarly, a rightly ordered society will value the traditional cardinal virtues over open-mindedness, empathy, tolerance, and fairness, whereas a society which celebrates the latter over the former is disordered.  Even if it uses the language of wisdom, courage, moderation, and justice, it will not respect or promote true virtue, but only its counterfeit.

234 comments:

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Crude said...

Wheeler,

I think those linked names are defaults if you register with blogger or whatever in any way.

Rupert said...

W. LindsayWheeler,

I didn't claim any of these things. I was simply interested in knowing whether you could give any examples illustrating the claim that you had made.

I'm in favour of the idea that all human beings should be granted the same basic set of rights and should not be discriminated against on the grounds of a characteristic such as membership in a particular racial group.

That's a preference I have about the kind of society I want to live in. It's not an assertion of some kind of fact of "equality" between the different racial groups. As I say, I didn't make such a claim.

I'd want to look into it further before making any claims along those lines, partly because I'd want to be specific about what I meant and to be sure that the evidence was on my side.

I would have thought, for example, that the performance of members of the different racial groups on IQ tests are pretty similar, possibly with some measurable gaps about whose cause we're not sure yet.

And also that doesn't necessarily mean that Caucasians come out on top; I think there's some evidence that Asians have better mathematical ability, I'm not sure. I don't really know, I haven't looked at the data. That's one possible dimension along which you could look at the evidence and try to determine to what extent the different racial groups are "equal" in a factual sense.

There might be other dimensions you could look at. And that's what I was curious about, really; I wanted to know which specific dimensions you had in mind when you made your claim.

But the discussion was about fairness, so I'm not sure what the relevance is of debates about in what sense the races are factually "equal".

Radik said...

@W.LindsayWheeler said...

"But it seems funny, that not a one of them tell me what "Love" is. If God loves--if it isn't an emotion, what is it?"

Quote:"love is the first movement of the will and of every appetitive faculty [...]

Love, therefore, and joy and delight are passions; in so far as they denote acts of the intellective appetite, they are not passions. It is in this latter sense that they are in God. Hence the Philosopher says (Ethic. vii): "God rejoices by an operation that is one and simple," and for the same reason He loves without passion. " ST http://www.newadvent.org/summa/1020.htm#article1

Regarding mercy:

"Mercy is especially to be attributed to God, as seen in its effect, but not as an affection of passion."

http://www.newadvent.org/summa/1021.htm#article3

"Why link your names if there is nothing there. Who are you people?"

:) I think the links are put automatically there. Also, my name is Radik. :)

Radik said...

An equivalent, but more clear definition of love is:

"To every existing thing, then, God wills some good. Hence, since to love anything is nothing else than to will good to that thing, it is manifest that God loves everything that exists."

http://www.newadvent.org/summa/1020.htm#article2

W.LindsayWheeler said...

@Radick
I read your links. I came across this: "...its acts of love, joy, and sorrow are only called passions metaphorically, because of their likeness to the acts of the sensitive appetite."

I do dispute both Aristotle and St. Thomas Aquinas on this. Love is not an act of the will. Nor is it "willing the good of the other". When I fall in love with a girl, do I do so on the fact that "I WILL good to her in the future"? No. When reading classical texts of say Plato and that of others, I see first "attraction" not will. I am attracted to something. I don't "will" the attraction.

For me, Aristotle's and St. Thomas's discursion of the subject, all relying on the "Will" is just too dry, too formal, too logical. There is no feeling there.

When you attend a funeral, or watch and observe a parent that lost a child, the feeling of sorrow is gutteral, visceral, it is no act of the will. This sorrow comes about by the loss of the object of love. The loss of a loved object causes pain. Pain is not a part of the "Will". As St. Thomas does point out, Christ felt anguish and all other sorts of emotions. Not by his will but by his attraction to certain things.

What Aristotle and St. Thomas, I think, both miss is the Spirit. God is Spirit. You know I may "will to do good for another" but that is not what makes me love the other.

I just don't buy Aristotle's or St. Thomas's argument. I buy a lot of what Aristotle and St. Thomas, but in this case, I think they missed the mark. Our souls come from God. And we have emotions that animals do not have or are of very limited action. If God did not have this in Him, he certainly couldn't have imparted it into our souls. Love is not an act of the will but of attraction between likes.

W.LindsayWheeler said...

@Raddick

If emotions in a God are the act of the will and not emotions, this counterdicts all aspects of men's ruminations of spirit beings throughout the history.

Look at the mythologies of the Greeks, Romans, Persians, Hindus, Aztecs, Vikings and many others, the portrayals of all the spirit beings and of their gods show them having emotions of all sorts. In the presentation of angels and ghosts, if we are wrong, why does man always put emotion on spirit and ephemeral beings for?

If it was not natural for spirit beings to have emotions, the evidence would be quite the contrary! But instead the evidence is, and is quite natural and easy, that all spirit beings have emotion, passion. Look at the Illiad. The passions of the gods and look at the Old Testament, the passion of the Most High God. They are both the same.

There is no heresy in believing or holding that God has emotion. I can still believe that God does not change, is immutable, is perfectly good, can not do evil, and still have emotions and passions. There is, I think, nothing heretical in this stance. If so, please let me know, but I am free to believe so without harm.

W.LindsayWheeler said...

@ Raddick.

To disprove your contention and that of Aristotle and St. Thomas Aquinas, I posit LXX Psalm 2:4 "He that dwells in the heavens shall laugh them to scorn, and the Lord shall mock them."

"To Laugh". Laughter is not a product of the Will. It can not. Laughter is spontaneous, subconscious, reaction from the spirit of a person. Laughter is the exhibition of passion. It is passion that produces Laughter.

I can see God Laughing. I know He laughs. He has a very terrible (meaning huge) sense of creating the funnies. God is very very funny sometimes. Laughter is an expression of being funny. Would not God be fun? Laughter and being funny is an act of passion/emotion in the Soul. God is Alive. (Or is He all serious like Aristotle and St. Thomas would have us believe? If so many angels can dance on the head of a pin, don't you think that God dances a jig? I think so.)

W.LindsayWheeler said...

God loves us because we are His children. Does a Dad love his child thru an act of the Will?

NO!

A Father loves his Child because the little tyke is a part of him. He has a gutteral connection. The Father is attracted to his son.

None of this is an expression of the will. It is an act of the soul, of love. Love is first and foremost attraction. It comes by connection. God loves the world because he is connected to the world. If I make a watch, I love the watch I made.

Sometimes Plato is better than Aristotle. Plato is more Dorian and Aristotle is just too dry, too logical. Plato is human, Aristotle a robot.

Plato has it "there is no such thing as the love of ugliness (Symposium, 201a) We are attracted to beauty, and we love beauty. God is attracted to the World because it is beautiful to behold. Love comes out of this attraction to the beautiful. Like to Like. This Like to Like is Love.

Love is a drawing. It is a drawing to.

W.LindsayWheeler said...

Now, to get to you Mr. Rupert.

I've been saving the best for last, or better, the hardest, most entangled, most convulted until last. You ask too much which requires a book.

"...whether you could give any examples illustrating the claim that you had made."

Any eye can observe. Just observe. I grew up like you thinking everybody was the same but I lived in Europe which disabused me of what I was taught. The Southern Europeans are much different from the Northern Europeans. Hell, in Greece, in order to teach the Greeks how to pick up afterthemselves (they are notorious for littering), they show a Swedish family picking up their litter off a beach. I lived in Europe for 3 and half years. I've been around the world. I lived in Saudi Arabia. I see differences.

But most of all pick up Aristotle's Politics. He talks of race and of inequality.
Read Plato, where he says, some races love money more than others. He talks of the Phonecians as lovers of money but the Greeks as lovers of knowledge.

I'm in favour of the idea that all human beings should be granted the same basic set of rights and should not be discriminated against on the grounds of a characteristic such as membership in a particular racial group.

We are NOT "all human beings". We are ALSO Greek, Jewish, German, Italian, English, African, Chinese, etc. We are NOT all human beings. Human Beings is our genera, but not our breeds. These "basic set of rights" is a product of the Dark Enligtenment (which is an oxymoron). There is no such thing as "rights". Rights is a development of respect between individuals in a particular society. What one society grants its citizens is not transferrable to another society. You had to be a Roman Citizen in order to have Roman rights. St. Paul did not "GET" his rights by being a human being, but by being a Roman citizen.

To see the world without race, like you said, "human beings" is to attack the Natural Order. It is to be a Nihilist. A nihilist refuses objective Truth. Truth is a Faithful representation of reality. When you just say "human beings" you then deny that there are races and that men should stay in their own race. There is no group of "human beings". All men are put into races. To deny that fact or to misrepresent reality is nihilism.

W.LindsayWheeler said...

Rupert writes: That's a preference I have about the kind of society I want to live in. It's not an assertion of some kind of fact of "equality" between the different racial groups. As I say, I didn't make such a claim.

You want to live in a multicultural society but it is not based on equality of the races and then think there shall be no discrimination. That is an oxymoron. That is not how reality works. In your sentences, it is "I want", "I favor"...but that is not how Nature works. See you want reality to conform to your "wants" and "favors" but that is not how Reality works, nor is it the Will of God. I start from the premise of "What does Nature teach" and from "What does God Will". Plutarch records the mentality of the Dorians, of the Spartans, "We are not in this world to give the laws, but ....in order to obey the commands of the gods" This approach and your approach are horizons apart. Two very fundamental different ways of responding to reality. One is you want to impose what you think ought to happen, and the other is, Accepting Nature, the Natural Order of things and limiting myself to what God wants.

God has so constructed the world that it takes out fools. Nature kills. The World is Hostile. I don't think, Rupert, that things have consequences. I point out Aristotle in his book Politics. Right now, I'm visiting in another state and don't have my library at my side otherwise I would copy and upload that particlur passages. Aristotle writes of many historical instances of violence when groups come together. Even immigrants within a city, Aristotle notes that sometimes immigrants will gain in numbers, then rise up, displace the indigeneous people with violence and kick them out of the city. Aristotle writes of some 15 examples of such Historical examples when groups collide.

You may "favor" all you want but if a minority wants power and your "favoritism" lets them, they will displace you and force you to live like they want you to. That is reality. They may even want to kill you. What do you say then?

Reality is NOT up to you.

Clinias the Cretan (Dorian), (Plato, The Laws, 625e) "He meant, I believe, to reprove the folly of mankind, who refuse to understand that they are all engaged in a continuous lifelong warfare against all cities whatsoever."

What you propose Rupert is exactly folly. Look at Europe. It proposes exactly as you say. Europe is following your suggestion to a "Tee". Yet, the Muslim is not reciprocating that. The Muslim is out to win. The Muslim is out to conqueor Europe for Allah. He don't give a flying cr#$p about your "favor" to live in a multicultural society.

Rupert, you want to play nice, but that is not what the other side thinks! You think all people think like you. No. Nature does not think like you. See that is the difference between Wisdom and ideology. Wisdom reads reality, knows by experience, and counsels according to Nature. Ideology is about imposing human will upon reality. What happens is that the ideologue's wishes, good intentions, blow up in their face.

I've been to Bahrain and the United Emirates and Saudi Arabia. Christians are treated as second class citizens and even worse. When Islam takes control of Europe, the Ruperts of this world are going to be licking the Muslim boots on their necks.

God created this world a certain way because HE WANTED IT THIS WAY. Life is War. This world is about taking out the foolish. The world is constructed around the idea of ideas having consequences and those consequences are death. That is the world. That is how it works, and you can't change it. The Muslim, and others, are NOT going to play by your rules. They are playing by their rules.

W.LindsayWheeler said...

No one on earth exists as a "human being" because all of us are born into a race and each race has not only different physical characteristics but different drives, values, mentalities. In the natural law of macrocosm/microcosm, if there are physical differences, then there are as well mental and spiritual differences as well.

Georges Dumezil in his study of Indo-European languages came to find a commonality between all Europeans, that of Trifunctionality.

I do not act like a "human being" because ontop of the general character of a human being, I also act and think in the Trifuncational meme that an African or a Semite, or an Oriental cannot. So I am NOT JUST a human being. I am a human being plus. I'm a European. I can't help that. It is born within us. All of the races have inherent gifts, deficiencies, blessing and curses, that we have no control over that guide and direct us. There is NO such thing as a "Human being"; does not exist. Because superimposed upon the genera human being is things different, inherent, from other races.

Races are unique, diverse, varied. To talk of "human beings" is to deracinate and it is globalist language.

These inherent differences will NEVER go away. Not here, not in heaven! Race like gender, exists in heaven! Furthermore, we will remain in our tribes in Heaven!!!!

God is the God of Order---not of chaos. There are NO human beings in heaven. There are races in heaven but NO human beings!!!

Daniel Smith said...

W. LindsayWheeler,

You have a distinctly modern understanding of the word "love". The Greek word most used in New Testament scripture for love was ἀγάπη, (agápē)

From Wiki: Agape ( /ˈæɡəpiː/ or /əˈɡɑːpeɪ/; Classical Greek: ἀγάπη, agápē; Modern Greek: αγάπη IPA: [aˈɣapi]) is one of the Koine Greek words translated into English as love, one which became particularly appropriated in Christian theology as the love of God or Christ for humankind. In the New Testament, it refers to the covenant love of God for humans, as well as the human reciprocal love for God; the term necessarily extends to the love of one’s fellow man. Many have thought that this word represents divine, unconditional, self-sacrificing, active, volitional, and thoughtful love.[citation needed]. Although the word does not have specific religious connotation, the word has been used by a variety of contemporary and ancient sources, including Biblical authors and Christian authors. Greek philosophers at the time of Plato and other ancient authors have used forms of the word to denote love of a spouse or family, or affection for a particular activity, in contrast to Philia (an affection that could denote friendship, brotherhood or generally non-sexual affection) and eros, an affection of a sexual nature. Thomas Jay Oord has defined agape as "an intentional response to promote well-being when responding to that which has generated ill-being."

Also, if you click on my name, it should take you to a blogger page that list my blog (The Foolishness of God)

W.LindsayWheeler said...

How many of you have read this from the Bible: "And all men are from the ground, and Adam was created of earth. In much knowledge the Lord hath divided them, and made their ways diverse. Some of them hath he blessed and exalted, and some of them hath he sanctified, and set near himself: but some of them hath he cursed and brought low, and turned out of their places. As the clay is in the potter's hand, to fashion it at his pleasure: so man is in the hand of him that made him, to render to them as liketh him best." Septuagint, Eccl. (book of Sirach), 36.10-13. That is Scripture. It countermands all that is taught today!

The Bible teaches that men are made unequal.

Then you have the blessings and cursings in the Bible. Here is one example upon one people:

"And it shall come to pass when all these things shall have come upon thee, the blessing AND THE C-U-R-S-E, which I have set before thy face, and thou shalt call them to mind among the nations, wherein the Lord shall have scattered thee..." LXX, Deut. 30.1

Are all people the same? How does this "curse" affect the Jews? Can they do good? Or must they do evil? See the doctrine of "fairness and tolerance" unleashes this but under Christendom, the old Roman Catholic Church, ever remindful of what Scripture taught, suppressed the Jews. Why did it?

Because of their nature! They are accursed. Rupert wants to treat everybody the same. But, by nature, some things are deadly.

What about the Curse of Ham?

Noah when he found out what Ham did, "Cursed be the servant Chanaan, a slave shall he be to his brethren...and let Chanaan be his servant." Here Noah cursed Chanaan to be slaves. Aristotle remarks that "a man enslaved to his passions, is a slave". Chanaan could not control his eyes. Chanaan could not control his passions. This curse is followed down to his posterity. As you can see here: The Allure of money in Black Culture. A people enslaved to passions. Aristotle rightly notes that some people are natural slaves. The Marxist/"Enlightenment" doctrine of "Fairness and tolerance" does not take into account "the nature of a thing".

The Nature of a thing guides all things.

W.LindsayWheeler said...

The dictum is "Culture defines politics". This was stated by Socrates in Plato's Republic; was advanced as a Marxist tactic by the Marxist Italian theorist Antonio Gramsci; and the Roman Catholic Austrian aristocrat Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn laid out the German propensity for monarchy, i.e. single rulers and how the Germans are not conditioned for "democracy".

What forms culture is race. Race informs much of what we do. For comparison and contrast, compare a Roman Catholic/Greek Orthodox Church to any of the semitic houses of worship either Jewish or Arab. What do you see. The houses of worship follow the racial culture of a people. Look at the plain walls of synogogues and mosques compared to the lively decorations in old Catholic/Orthodox houses of worship. Culture defines architecture.

One of my best teachers was Archimandrite Boniface Luykx, formerly a Norbentine monk. He stressed Christianity's enculturation of Hellenism. How the trifunctional meme of Greeks and Europeans formed the character of Christianity in its forms of worship, liturgical prayers, and institutional structure.

In order to preserve one's culture, one must preserve one's race. Culture is nothing but the flowering of the racial soul. One must protect that. Fairness and tolerance in a multi-racial society undermines the dominant culture ultimately leading to the death of said culture.

There is no such thing as a value-free society. There is no such thing as a "multicultural society". No such thing exists. What happens is that most things slide down to the lowest common denominator. The Law of Entropy. Multi-culturalism is an oxymoron for something always rules. That is the Natural Law. Aristotle: "All things are either in Authority or in Subjection". There is no such thing as fairness or toleration in nature Because nature hates a vacuum. There will always be something that rises. Lower things are more powerful than noble good things. The lower will pull down the high and destroy it. All democracies destroy their betters. Nature is the same way.

Manliness, Prudence, Self-control, Righteousness not only led to life but also beauty and theosis. On the other hand Fairness and tolerance can lead to death. Blindly accepting fairness and tolerance leads to death.

W.LindsayWheeler said...

Thank you Daniel for pointing that out. I have forgotten that the Greek has three words for love. I knew that once but have since forgotten it. I will see if I have to re-compute.

----------------
Peter Frost over at his blog "Evo and Proud" has posted on The Origins of English Individualism. America is a product not only of English individualism which dismisses the idea of and need of kinsmen but also atomistic individualism pushed by one-half of the "Englightnement" thinkers. That was based on the supposed atomism as a natural law; an error.

Rupert, when you say: I'm in favour of the idea that all human beings should be granted the same basic set of rights and should not be discriminated against on the grounds of a characteristic such as membership in a particular racial group. is just the height of folly. America is based on "individualism" but the rest of the world is not. The Old World certainly is not. It was based on kinship relations and group cohesiveness. Prof. Kevin MacDonald in his series Culture of Critique show how the Jews act like a tribe and work for their own group's social good. Other minority groups, taught by progressive academics, feel "oppressed" by the Englishman, they act like a cohesive kinsman group. Groups are more powerful than individualism. Where "Fairness and tolerance" worked in the homogenous environment of English Individualism, in the hands of tribal Jews and other minorities, they exploit this weakness for their own benefit and to the detriment of Englishmen.

Rupert, there are so many parameters that you need to consider than to blindly rush into your multi-culti society. How does one group that act like individuals going to compete against minorities that act like gangs? And then one group percieves another group has having superior advantages and then seeks to take them away. How does this all work in your multi-culti society? How will English Individualism compete against Jewish, Hispanic, and Black tribalism?

Rupert, Life is War, and the Englishman is going to learn that painful lesson the hard way. England is being taken over. It is not so long in the future that America will follow England in her suicide.

Nature guides all things and all things are different. Blindly throwing unequal, unrelated, even hostile elements together in an hodge-podge society is calling for violence and death. That is why the European American is facing his displacement and the loss of a First World living standard. Rupert, would you rather live in a low vulgar culture in multi-culturalism or would you prefer to live in a High Standard of living in an homogenous culture?

Rupert said...

W. LindsayWheeler,

It would be interesting to examine the evidence for just how much sound scientific content the concept of race really has. I would say that there is some content there, sure; humans have different characteristics based on how recently their ancestors migrated from Africa.

But then you mention Islam, which is a religion rather than a racial category. There are plenty of good reasons for being concerned about radical Islam; that's really a different issue to what I was talking about. I generally tend to hope that reason will prevail in a society which allows free public debate about ideas. You may perhaps think that's foolish, but I'd like to be clearer about what alternative you have in mind.

I'm still a little bit unclear about how exactly you want to see society changed. I made a statement about respecting the basic rights of all human beings and you said that this was "the height of folly". Okay, so what alternative are you proposing, exactly? Are you in favour of some kind of racial segragation?

Rupert said...

I suppose I should also mention: the main problem with radical Islam is people sincerely believing that Islam is the truth. Now, you may perhaps think that there are stronger rational grounds for believing in the truth of Christianity than in the truth of Islam. I personally, however, am not aware of such grounds. And you probably wouldn't welcome it if the society you lived in was prepared to countenance the suppression of your free expression of your ideas and what you take to be the rational grounds for believing in them.

It seems to be that the only possible way of dealing with the concerns raised by radical Islam is to try to present rational grounds for thinking that Islam is not a true religion, or at least that its more extreme forms should be rejected, in the context of a free public debate. I'm not clear about what alternative solution you have in mind.

Langa Kid said...

Rupert said: "I generally tend to hope that reason will prevail in a society which allows free public debate about ideas."

One may hope that but then in reality where free public debate is allowed, reason often does not prevail. This happens in the developing world - travel down to South Africa and see what people are debating about here in public and you'll see that tribalism/racism/reverse racism drive most debates. Dare to criticise a politician for lavish spending while people die from lack of meds? You're a racist. Never mind that it's the blacks who die. Likewise go to left wing dominated parts of the US and you'll be laughed out or labelled a bigot if you dare speak of Natural Law or orthodox Christianity. Look at Dawkins himself, an intellectual, who says being raised Catholic is worse than child abuse, the latter being merely "icky". Religious people are also guilty of being unreasonable, often enough. The world is a most unreasonable place. I just don't see how "reason" as you see it can prevail. It's a nice dream though but it won't happen.

Langa Kid said...

Rupert said: "I suppose I should also mention: the main problem with radical Islam is people sincerely believing that Islam is the truth."

I would say the main problem is that violence is authorised or even required by God.

Rupert said...

I'm pretty sure that Richard Dawkins never made the statement that raising a child Catholic is worse than child sexual abuse. I think he might have said that it's a form of child abuse.

You are right that there are a lot of people in the world who hold very unreasonable views. I think that that is pretty much inevitable. But I think that it is also reasonable to hope that free public debate will encourage the more reasonable views to prevail, and I don't think that the examples you have given necessarily refute this.

You said that in the United States someone who advocates a Christian natural law ethic risks being labelled a "bigot". Well, that's really just saying that the view is not especially popular in the United States. At least no-one is stopping you from publicly offering reasoned arguments in its favour. By means of doing so, you can hope that you will bring reasonable people around to your point of view. If you find you're not succeeding, you should probably try to take a somewhat open-minded position on which party is being unreasonable. I don't know if you can plausibly claim that everyone who rejects your arguments is somehow showing a deficiency in reasoning. There may be some people who are being unreasonably dismissive of your arguments, but surely you should agree that there are at least some reasonable people who have made a good faith effort to consider your arguments and just don't find them rationally compelling, and surely that also means that you should be somewhat open to the idea that you might be mistaken.

You write "I would say the main problem is that violence is authorised or even required by God."

Sure. Well, that is a problem, isn't it. Now, there are parts of the Bible in which God commands acts of violence, are there not? What would be your take on those? From my point of view the problem arises from people who sincerely believe in the existence of a deity whose commands must be obeyed no matter what.

Langa Kid said...

Rupert said: "'m pretty sure that Richard Dawkins never made the statement that raising a child Catholic is worse than child sexual abuse. I think he might have said that it's a form of child abuse.

Well indeed he did say that.
http://shadowtolight.wordpress.com/

"You are right that there are a lot of people in the world who hold very unreasonable views. I think that that is pretty much inevitable. But I think that it is also reasonable to hope"

Hope. But reality and empirical evidence disagrees.

" that free public debate will encourage the more reasonable views to prevail, and I don't think that the examples you have given necessarily refute this."

The weight of evidence points otherwise. It's wishful thinking on your part. The developing world, and even the first world - google what people on 2ch (the most popular Japanese forum and the largest forum in the world) think of foreigners. Listen to some Polish jokes in Germany. This list can go on and on.

"You said that in the United States someone who advocates a Christian natural law ethic risks being labelled a "bigot". Well, that's really just saying that the view is not especially popular in the United States."

It's brow beating and bullying from people who claim to be enlightened and tolerant but are hardly so. Do you recognise that it's unreasonable of them to be so?

"At least no-one is stopping you from publicly offering reasoned arguments in its favour."

Except that doesn't work. In reality the well is poisoned long before you can argue for any non politically correct position.

"By means of doing so, you can hope that you will bring reasonable people around to your point of view. If you find you're not succeeding, you should probably try to take a somewhat open-minded position on which party is being unreasonable. I don't know if you can plausibly claim that everyone who rejects your arguments is somehow showing a deficiency in reasoning."

I didn't say that. I said that reasonable open minded discourse does not exist or exists in very few places.

"There may be some people who are being unreasonably dismissive of your arguments, but surely you should agree that there are at least some reasonable people who have made a good faith effort to consider your arguments and just don't find them rationally compelling, and surely that also means that you should be somewhat open to the idea that you might be mistaken."

The atmosphere in most places is not even conducive to open minded evaluation of most arguments, unless the topic is politically (racially/ethnically) neutral.

You write "I would say the main problem is that violence is authorised or even required by God."

"Sure. Well, that is a problem, isn't it. Now, there are parts of the Bible in which God commands acts of violence, are there not?"

Except no Catholic or Eastern Orthodox believer is bound by the Old Testament: God advocating killing at some time or other is not the same as God advocating killing now at this time. Rupert, come on, you're an intelligent guy, how can you not see this? A sincere belief in God is therefore not associated with belief that God can call for death of non-believers in the present time.

If you say any sincere belief is dangerous, then maybe we should not have any sincere beliefs at all. Would you go with that?

Anyway I think we're derailing Prof Feser's combox.

W.LindsayWheeler said...

@ Rupert.

I can see that you are an atheist. Marxism is also an atheist ideology yet it has killed more people than Christianity ever has. When atheists gain control, they start killing Christians. Killing is not anything new. Lenin and Trotsky advocated genocide for all reactionary nations. Political Correctness, Rupert, is about existential genocide for it is about deracination. Is that not violence? To destroy group cohesiveness.

Second, Philosophy, true philosophy is not based on "rational grounds" or "free open debate" or on "reasonable views". True Philosophy is about loving the Wisdom that built the Natural Order. It has nothing to do with man and his reasoning.

Philosophy is composed of two words "philo-" and "sophia". Scripture has "How great are thy works O Lord, In Wisdom, (SOPHIA) has thou wrought them all". Philosophy is about the love of the sophia that built the Cosmos.

"Every beast loveth his like and every man loveth his neighbor. All flesh consorteth according to kind, and a man will cleave to his like. What fellowship hath the wolf with the lamb? so the sinner with the godly. What agreement is there between the hyena and a dog? and what peace between the rich and the poor?..." Book of Sirach, 13.15-18

This "All flesh consorteth according to kind" is the Natural Law. It is also formed as "Birds of a feather flock together". Man is a social animal and works like a social animal. You can't stop that. What peace is there? Life is war. That is why people live amongst their own kind. It is au'naturale.

Johan Herder articulated the methodology of group dynamics. Race has inherent to it, (a) the sense of belonging, and (b) racial prejudice. These two things is what keeps group cohesiveness. This is throughout all group animals and mankind.

Human reasoning can not abrogate the a href=http://www.wikinfo.org/Multilingual/index.php/Natural_law>real, original Natural Law. See the reasoning embedded in nature doesn't come from man--it comes from God, and you can't handle that Rupert. Philosophy is about accepting and holding the Wisdom, the Natural Law, that is FOUND in Nature. It is not up to you! You are not God, Rupert. You don't make the decisions around here. But persist in your foolishness, and Nature will kill you. God does not play games.

"Fairness and Tolerance" are advocated by Marxists and Atheists because as you said, Rupert, there is no scientific basis for Race. That is key. You reject parts of reality, and then formulate some kind of utopian vision to bring about. Philosophy deals with Reality Rupert. All of reality. Fairness and Tolerance are based on the wishes of man not on reality. Throughout time Rupert, man has always recognized race, the Bible has done so, Plato and Aristotle and the Romans have done so. Life is based on the Soul. The Soul is metaphysics. The only thing that studies Soul and metaphysics is true Philosophy the Queen of Sciences. True Philosophy recognizes Race. The basis of True Philosophy is the real, original Natural Law. "Birds of a feather flock together" and "Blood is thicker than Water".

Rupert said...

Thanks Langa Kid, for the reference on Dawkins. I had a look into it and found the original statement.

http://old.richarddawkins.net/articles/118

The interesting thing is that this is not really his view, or at least it is not original with him. It is a view expressed by someone who was raised as a Roman Catholic and also experienced sexual abuse at the age of seven. I suppose that such a person is in a better position than me to know how the two compare. Of course, there may be many other people who were raised as Catholics who think very differently about the matter.

Rupert said...

"Do you recognise that it's unreasonable of them to be so?"

Well, you need to be more specific. Let me know who called whom a bigot and on what grounds and I'll let you know whether I think that they were being unreasonable.

I mean, Edward Feser thinks that abortion is tantamount to murder, doesn't he? That's a pretty strong moral criticism of a large number of people. And of course he has every right to express this view. Similarly, someone might have a sincerely and strongly held belief that someone is bigoted (which is a less strong moral criticism than that they performed an act tantamount to murder) and they have every right to express that view too. Whether it's "unreasonable" really depends on the specifics of the individual situation.

As far as the thing with the Bible and God calling for acts of violence goes, I was simply asking what your take on it was. You must have some view or other about whether or not God did indeed call for such acts of violence and whether that can be reconciled with God being just; I was just curious about what your view was. Obviously I don't think that most Christians are in favour of acts of violence in the name of their religion, I never said that. I don't think that most Muslims are, either.

Also, while it would be widely agreed that acts of violence are in general to be avoided, you've got to take a nuanced view about it, don't you? Because what's your take on the invasion of Iraq, or the recent violence in Gaza? Those are acts of violence and their moral status is a disputed question about which reasonable people may disagree. And in both cases religion does enter the picture in some form or other: Bush said that he thought of himself as carrying out a mission on behalf of God, and the initial creation of the state of Israel was connected with the Jewish religion. I'm not trying to say anything one way or the other about these acts of violence; I think that in both cases it's a fairly complex question. I'm just pointing out that violence which is in some way connected with religion is not unique to Islam and that sometimes its moral evaluation can be a complex question.

Rupert said...


I certainly never said that all sincere beliefs are dangerous. I don't think that at all.

You reckon more murders have been committed in the name of Marxism than Christianity. I suppose so; it could well be, if you count all the murders for which Stalin and Mao were responsible for example. I'm not sure though; Christianity has been around for a while and it all adds up. But the world's population was a lot smaller for most of the history of Christianity. I don't really know. But sure, let's agree for the sake of argument. But I don't know why we're suddenly talking about Marxism; it seems like an abrupt change of topic. I mean, I'm not a Marxist and I never mentioned Marxism. I'd agree with you that the impact of Marxism on humanity has been on the whole bad; I think that the Marxist regimes of the twentieth century have been a regrettable episode in the history of civilization. It's true that most Marxists have been atheists. But I don't know what that has to do with anything.

The statement that philosophy has nothing to do with human reasoning certainly strikes me as being very remarkable.

When you say "persist in your foolishness, and Nature will kill you" I would be curious to know what you mean. I'm definitely going to die eventually but I would say my prospects of a reasonably long and happy life are not too bad. Are you speaking of the risk that I might go to hell?

You also seem to be saying that there is no scientific basis for believing in the existence of race, but that we should believe in it anyway for some other kind of reason. I would be curious to hear more about this. My take on it would be that our beliefs about race should be based on our best science and that there are good scientific grounds for believing that racial distinctions are a real phenomenon in a certain sense, but not in any essentialist sense.

Anyway, I'm sorry if you think we shouldn't be having this conversation around here. I just wanted to address some of your points. I'll shut up now if that is what you would prefer. Or we can take the conversation to email. Or we can just leave it. Whatever you think best.

W.LindsayWheeler said...

Race, Rupert, is only Family writ large. Race is the conglomeration of interrelated families. Race is from a Patriarch.

Rupert, I ask from the Socratic viewpoint, is there scientific justification for "The Family"? Do we need science to prove the existence and reason for a family?

If there is no scientific reason for the family should there be for race? No. It just is. It exists. One must also beware that we live in an age of Jewish manipulation of events and societies to do away with race. So people want to do away with race in order to accomplish the globalist agenda. It is their biased reasoning that leads them to dispute the existence of race.

Yes. Philosophy has nothing to do with human reasoning for true philosophy """borrows"""" the reasoning of God which is called the Natural Law embeded in the Cosmos. I wrote the defining piece on the origins of philosophy here: Doric Crete and Sparta the home of Greek philosophy So I know from what I speak of. The Doric Greeks took up the Natural Law and it became the basis of their reasoning. They are the ones that developed Philosophy.

W.LindsayWheeler said...

Rupert writes:
When you say "persist in your foolishness, and Nature will kill you" I would be curious to know what you mean. I'm definitely going to die eventually but I would say my prospects of a reasonably long and happy life are not too bad. Are you speaking of the risk that I might go to hell?

I don't know why I have to explain everything. Have you ever lived on a farm? or a ranch? lived in nature? A horse or a cow may kill you if you don't respect the laws governing the handling of horses and cows. I was almost seriously injured when, as I was mucking out a dairy barn, a cow kicked back knocking the shovel out of my hand. I was a Boy Scout, cutting down trees or hiking, one stupid move, and Nature kills you. Most people have no concept of nature because they spend all their time in a classroom. I've spent a majority of my time in Nature's classroom.

Once the Muslims reach critical stage in Europe, they will take over and start persecuting Christians. La Raza here in California, will violently take control of this state. The historic black neighborhoods of LA have been shattered. Mexicans have moved in and started muscling out the native blacks thru persecution. That is nature. When the Yugoslavian Communist state ended--everything reverted to race and violence ensued. Globalization is Communism. Once the power of Marxist hegemony weakens or is undermined by economic collapse, everything turns tribal for trust first begins by blood relations. "Blood is thicker than water". Nature returns. Furthermore, Nature hates a vacuum. Somebody will rise and take power because with power comes riches. This is how nature works. I repeat again Clinias the Cretan from Plato's Laws:
"He meant, I believe, to reprove the folly of mankind, who refuse to understand that they are all engaged in a continuous lifelong warfare against all cities whatsoever." Change out the word "cities" for "races" and it is the exact same meaning. God designed nature purposely this way! Otherwise why would anybody have a use for Wisdom? God is going to teach humans a very important lesson: It is His Way or the highway to hell.

Europeans have decided to take the highway to hell because they have to be "fair" and "tolerant".

Rupert said...

No serious person would dispute that family is a real phenomenon. That is completely obvious. What you mean by "the reason" for family I do not know. There is a serious scientific debate to be had about in what sense race is a real phenomenon.

The reason why you have to explain what is meant by "Nature will kill you" is that it is not obvious to all reasonable intelligent people. Not everyone finds your views intuitively obvious, and indeed many would regard them as quite strange. I had absolutely no idea that this statement was meant to be a reference to an alleged threat posed by tolerance of Islam. It just wasn't clear to me, and I don't really see how I could have been reasonably expected to see that. Obviously it is necessary for you to make some effort to explain what your views are if you want to communicate with people.

I'm not entirely sure what changes you would recommend for Europe in order to deal with the dangers you believe to be posed by its current course. I would be interested to know more about that.

W.LindsayWheeler said...

Europe is unsalvageable. So is America. They are both dying. Once cancer has reached critical mass it kills.

It's all over. Everything is infected with PeeCee. The Church is full of effeminates and creating more effeminates. The Church can not, will not teach virtue. The Church will not fight back on cultural Marxism because it teaches it. The Church will never defend race, social cohesion or homogeneity. The European has turned his back on his religion and God. The magesterium are clueless idiots.

Look, Generalismo Franco won the battle for Spain, and when he died---Spain still became a leftist hellhole. Nothing changed. Nothing will change but keep on spiraling to destruction. As we speak Evangelical Christians are meeting with Hussein right now to have him give amnesty to illegals. It's over; it's finished; it's gone. We will all have to live in one sordid hell hole.

I'm just watching from the bleachers while everything blows up. Nothing I can do about it. The European will not take his medicine.

Daniel Smith said...

W.LindsayWheeler: Thank you Daniel for pointing that out. I have forgotten that the Greek has three words for love. I knew that once but have since forgotten it. I will see if I have to re-compute.

No problem. I think a New Testament understanding of the word "love" must pass through the first book of John. 1 John 4:8 states that "God is love". Certainly He is not the modern emotive "love" but something far deeper.

W.LindsayWheeler said...

Agape in Ancient texts:

Agape as a term for love or affection is rarely used in ancient manuscripts. A title of the goddess Isis was agape theon, or "beloved/darling of the gods", denoting her role as a fertility goddess and her pairing as a partner with multiple gods. While this pairing was often sexual in nature the term "agape" implied a genuine affection and love for the goddess. Agape appears in the Odyssey twice, wherein the word describes something which creates contentment within the speaker. It is this usage that is most common in later texts, where agape is used to describe one's feeling about a certain meal, one's feelings towards their children or their spouse, and epigraphs of heroes who are described as being "enoroen agapeon", loving or contented with heroism. Under the Roman Empire, agape was often used to open letters of friendly correspondence, analogous to the modern usage of "Dear"

Agape is no different from what I discussed. It is an emotion, or an attraction. It was never an act of the Will. I stand by what I said.

Daniel Smith said...

So God is emotion. Now we know.

Seriously. I think you owe it to yourself to do a bit more research into how the word was used in the NT. You seemed to be one who lauded scripture over philosophy, then... this?

W.LindsayWheeler said...

There is a Virtue not mentioned here and that is "to be a cause of victory". What does this mean?

Here from the Wikipedia page on Arete

"Areté is frequently associated with bravery, but more often, with effectiveness. The man or woman of Areté is a person of the highest effectiveness; they use all their faculties: strength, bravery, wit, and deceptiveness, to achieve real results. In the Homeric world, then, Areté involves all of the abilities and potentialities available to humans. The concept implies a human-centered universe in which human actions are of paramount importance; the world is a place of conflict and difficulty, and human value and meaning is measured against individual effectiveness in the world.

"To be a cause of victory". To have Arete, Excellence. To be effective.

Shenpen said...

Dear Mr. Feser,

This post reminds me of this Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fundamental_attribution_error

The interesting part is this: we tend to judge others harsher than ourselves, true, but how can we know if we are more likely to judge ourselves correctly than others correctly? It could be that we over-value situational factors when we judge ourselves.

BR

Shenpen

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