Monday, September 5, 2022

Libertarianism, jazz, and Critical Race Theory

I was recently interviewed by Thomas Mirus for the Catholic Culture podcast.  The discussion was pretty wide ranging, covering topics as diverse as libertarianism, the aesthetics of the music of Thelonious Monk, and Critical Race Theory.  You can watch the interview at YouTube or at the Catholic Culture website.


  1. Hey, Ed

    If someday you would like to make a Q&A or a presentation about Aristotelian Meta for your fellow Brazilian fans, I would love to be the host and translate that for us!

    Btw, it seems that you lose some pounds from there to here - you're looking in good shape.

  2. Wanting to enjoy human pleasures (sex, drink, tobacco, etc...) is called "being a human being." It's only in puritanical cultures where being human gets a weird and creepy label like "libertarian."

    1. "Libertarian" outside of the American context refers not to wanting to enjoy human pleasure, but to licentiousness.

      To quote Feser: "For A-T, you can enjoy your top sirloin, martini, and tobacco, then retire to the bedchamber with the wife, all in good conscience." This is because these things are lesser goods. However, the pursuit of lesser goods can be distorted, which is what libertarianism does.

    2. Geocon,

      Which work is this from?


    3. @Mister Geocon Not all religions take the rather severe interpretation of the natural law that Christians (especially in the USA) do. For instance, Judaism says that the only kind of "revealing nakedness" that's forbidden is that between close kin; otherwise porn is allowed.

    4. Anonymous,

      Read Feser's blog post "Plotinus Contra Modernity." I would also recommend reading "Pop culture and the lure of Platonism" for an elaboration on this idea.

      Infinite Growth,

      Maimonedes once said: "A person who stares at even a small finger of a woman with the intent of deriving pleasure is considered as if he looked at her genitalia. It is even forbidden to hear the voice of a woman with whom sexual relations are prohibited, or to look at her hair." The Code of Jewish Law codified this, going so far as to ban "watching women as they do the laundry." Judaism also has modesty dress codes for women. All of this would prohibit pornography a fortiori.

      If you want an example of Christian sexual ethics being severe compared to other religions, a better example would be its absolute prohibitions on divorce and contraception. Judaism allows both of these things in certain circumstances while Christianity (or more specifically, Catholicism) does not.

    5. @Mister Geocon Judaism's interpretation of the Torah follows Marcus Aurelius's philosophy: "Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth." The perspective I posted is what a Jewish professor of philosophy told me, and represents a different strain of thought from Maimonides (who was perhaps the Aquinas of Judaism).

      And Catholicism is actually not that different from Judaism in this regard. St. Peter Damian believed male-male relations merited instant damnation, St. Anselm of Canturbery treated it as almost a venial sin. Pierre Abelard famously took various theological issues and found one church father ruling one way and another church father ruling the opposite!

    6. @Mister Geocon: if you want to know my perspective: I had a visualization of Heaven, and it is a place without lust. Lust is not part of what it means to be a human being. Humans should fight lustful thoughts and desires.

      Being human is not about sex but about being cringy and stupid. We laugh at Japan's stupid cringy media like Pokémon or their weird antics, like eating cold, raw fish or maid cafés... but that's just what humans do. So Japan is actually the only country on Earth where you're free to be a human being. Wanting to be a perfect person is really a wish to turn yourself into an artificial general intelligence like AlphaGo or IBM Watson. It's foolish. Heaven for humans would probably look not that different from Japan.

    7. Here are links to the 2 posts by Feser mentioned by Geocon.