Friday, May 18, 2007

Freedom, Virtue, and Alignment With the Real

It is really a question of who represents the "reality based community." It's as simple -- and complex -- as that. Continuing along the lines of yesterday's post about prudence, Pieper notes the truism that the precondition for any kind of adequate judgment about anything -- say, dealing with the reconstruction of an automobile accident -- is "to see the events the way they really occurred." Failing this, "all further considerations become futile," for "the precondition for every ethical decision is the perception and examination of reality."

But this is only half of the process, since adequation to reality is necessary but not sufficient to constitute prudence: "the other half consists in 'translating' our knowledge of reality into decision and action." Thus, prudence "is the art of making the right decision based on the corrsponding reality -- no matter whether justice, courage or temperence is at stake."

Now, in the end, there are only two antithetical philosophical stances which go by various names: realism/materialism, or idealism/empiricism, or essentialism/existentialism. Thus, if one of these fundamental stances is not in accord with reality -- and they cannot both be equally true -- then most everything else that flows from the stance is going to be poisoned by that initial error.

Let's take Christopher Hitchens, for example. He is a hardcore materialist, empiricist, existentialist, and flatlander extraordinairre. He denies even the possibility of any higher reality. But if this higher reality does exist -- and I insist that it does -- then there is going to be something fundamentally flawed about Hitchens' judgment. It won't mean that it is impossible for him to believe things that are true. That would be absurd. However, it will often mean that he doesn't necessarily believe them because they are true. Thus his prudence will be "accidental" rather than "essential," i.e., flowing from the nature of things.

Likewise, since Hitchens and I may be fairly described as philosophical opposites, most any convergence of our views will be accidental and not essential. Take the war on Islamo-fascism, for example. Many people were surprised by this lifelong Marxist's eloquent support of the liberation of Iraq. However, being that he despises all forms of religiosity in principle, then it should not really be a surprise that he particularly despises Islam. And based upon his recent comments about Jerry Falwell, we can see that he hardly harbors less animosity toward evangelical Christians, since he regards them as intrinsically vulgar frauds and deceitful crooks -- dangerous, superstitious, abusive of women and children, etc. In short, they deviate from what Hitchens regards as reality, so they must be bad. In this regard, Pieper and Hitchens agree about prudence following from alignment with reality.

What is more difficult to account for is why Islam gets a pass from most leftists, even while they share Hitchens' animosity toward proper religion, such as Christianity. But for most leftists, there is an internalized implicit hierarchy of victimization that generally corresponds with skin color rather than religion or ideology. Therefore, darker skinned religious savages trump lighter skinned white European Christian males every time, the latter of whom are at the top of the heap in terms of victimizers. That is their "reality," so their judgments -- at risk of abusing the word -- follow.

Thus, it would not be exactly correct to say that Christopher Hitchens is on my side in the war, since he would go after me with similar gusto once the Islamists were out of the way -- just as the Islamists went after America as soon as the Soviet Union was out of the way. In hindsight, we can see that it was folly to believe that we had earned any brownie points by helping Muslims liberate Afghanistan from communist tyranny, for they are not interested in American style liberty but Islamic tyranny. It is similar folly to believe that a man such as Hitchens could ever be our ally except tactically. We can only use him as a means to an end (benignly, of course) of which he confesses total ignorance, since it inheres in spiritual reality.

Likewise, Hitchens has his own "ends" (i.e., his idea of the "good," even if his philosophy forbids him from speaking of any transcendent moral reality) which do not correspond to American values. The American ideal is fundamentally grounded in a rightly ordered spiritual liberty with which we are endowed by our Creator, but Hitchens would presumably condemn us to some form of statist collectivism, since he remains a committed ideological leftist. Only one of us can be correct -- or even remotely correct -- about the source of our liberty. And with that very first step into "ontological space," innumerable implications follow, both personal and political.

For example, it is impossible for an American -- if he is to remain an American in any meaningfully spiritual sense -- to believe in "affirmative action," or government imposed racial discrimination. The idea of granting the state the power to sort people into racial categories and dole out special favors to this or that group is strictly inconceivable on the American view of what constitutes reality -- since it runs afoul of the intelligible spiritual reality that all men are created equal. Specifically, they are created vertically equal by their Creator, not forced to be horizontally equal by the state. The latter is tyranny, not liberty. But only if you believe in spiritual liberty to begin with.

In fact, once you eliminate higher reality, then you will find that the most inexplicable leftist belief suddenly makes perfect sense. In other words, no matter how rash, immature and imprudent they may look, leftists are "prudent" within the constraints of their ability to know reality.

For example, the other day while mountain biking in the hills, I came across a beautiful deer. She was obviously very frightened that I had entered her space, and instantly froze before bounding away with remarkable speed. From my point of view, that wasn't very prudent, since I would have loved nothing more than to approach the deer and scratch her belly. But from the deer's more limited point of view, its actions made perfect sense. It lives in the dichotomous world of predator/prey, and I fell into the former category by default. (Speaking of deer, headlights, and leftists... )

Similarly, the leftist lives in a world of absence, or lack, at its center. As I have written before, I believe this is an ineluctable result of their alienation from spiritual reality, which they translate to material or economic lack. Thus, they believe -- religiously, I might add, since it flies in the face of economic reality -- in the notion of a limited amount of wealth, or a "zero sum" economic model. And because the amount of wealth is limited, it is unfair that some should have more than others. Therefore, since there's presumably no way to "make more wealth," then a heavy-handed state must come in and redistribute it in a manner leftist politicians deem fair.

It all makes perfect sense, except that it makes no sense, since these views are not in accord with economic reality. As a result, imprudent economic policies are guaranteed, whether it is the government taking more of the money you have earned, or forcing businesses to pay people more than they're worth, or forcing landlords to charge less in rent than the market dictates, or suing businesses because they have the wrong racial or gender mix, etc.

Once again, Master Sowell offered a lucid editorial yesterday, in which he lays out what he believes is the "first wrong step" of the leftist, which is the presumption that it is possible for any human being to have more than a tiny fraction of the information embodied in the free market -- the market being the sine qua non of a complex information system. In a free market, the "price" of a product or service is only the end result of countless little independent decisions that have been made at every stage of production. In light of this, the idea that price is simply a static entity that can be understood, much less imposed, from the top down, is quite patently absurd. It is a bizarre, medieval superstition that goes way beyond anything Jerry Falwell could ever come up with. And yet, millions of leftists the world over believe it, including, one presumes, Christopher Hitchens. No self-respecting Marxist could believe otherwise.

In keeping with today's theme, Sowell writes that "Radically different conclusions about a whole range of issues have been common for centuries.... My own view is that differences in bedrock assumptions underlying ideas play a major role in determining how people differ in what policies, principles or ideologies they favor."

For example, "If you start from a belief that the most knowledgeable person on earth does not have even one percent of the total knowledge on earth, that shoots down social engineering, economic central planning, judicial activism and innumerable other ambitious notions favored by the political left."

I should just stop now, for that pretty much sums it up.... Nevertheless,

"If no one has even one percent of the knowledge currently available, not counting the vast amounts of knowledge yet to be discovered, the imposition from the top of the notions favored by elites convinced of their own superior knowledge and virtue is a formula for disaster." (And just wait until the catastrophic economic ideas of radical environmentalists are implemented.)

Marxist that he is, Christopher Hitchens spent the 1980s attacking Ronald Reagan -- the great liberator from communist tyranny -- in the same savage way he recently desecrated Falwell's dead body. Therefore, if we were as temperamentally choleric as Hitchens, we would be justified, I suppose, in using the same juvenile terms to describe him that he used to describe Falwell (actually, much worse, because at least Falwell never aligned himself with a genocidal ideology, as has Hitchens) such as "slimy toad" or "give Falwell an enema, and you could bury him in a matchbox." (Give Hitchens an enema, and you'd have to figure out which end to start at, says Dupree.)

But Hitchens is a leftist. He is a better person than Falwell -- which is what the santimonious left always believes about itself, irrespective of how they actually conduct their lives and treat other human beings. As Sowell writes, what leftists share "is the notion that knowledgeable and virtuous people like themselves have both a right and a duty to use the power of government to impose their superior knowledge and virtue on others."

Intelligent people who have no contact with higher reality are without question the most dangerous people on earth. Because of their intellectual pride, they are prone to overestimate the abilities of their puny intellect, as if they are fit to pronounce on all manner of things about which they possess no knowledge at all. There is no ignorance like educated ignorance, as it is the recipe for imprudent action on a mass scale. Which is why William F. Buckley famously remarked that he would prefer to be governed by the first 100 names in the Boston phone book than the Harvard faculty.

To savor all things as they really are is to truly taste wisdom --Josef Pieper

67 Comments:

Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I love Taranto's take on affirmative action.

5/18/2007 08:42:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Ricky & Will, one last comment to the end of yesterday

5/18/2007 08:53:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

The madness of those who turn against God, i.e., the Real.

5/18/2007 08:55:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As Sowell writes, what leftists share "is the notion that knowledgeable and virtuous people like themselves have both a right and a duty to use the power of government to impose their superior knowledge and virtue on others."

Anybody here heard of the "Republique of Perfect Virtue" as envisioned by M. Robespierre, i.e. the Perfect Society that the "regrettable but necessary" French Revolution would bring into being?

5/18/2007 09:08:00 AM  
Anonymous In other words.... said...

Two Masters at work....Sowell and BoB!

I'm uncertain where Tom Sowell is spiritually but the clarity he brings to his writings is soo Pure that he has to be plugged in...

Bringing the Master Walter Williams into the mix would conceivably cause a run on Coonskin headwear.

Thanks
sq

5/18/2007 10:05:00 AM  
Blogger robinstarfish said...

Econ 101
1% knowledge
99% action
free market moose drool

TGIF

5/18/2007 10:08:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Annonymous said "Anybody here heard of the "Republique of Perfect Virtue" as envisioned by M. Robespierre, i.e. the Perfect Society that the "regrettable but necessary" French Revolution would bring into being? "

Yes indeed, been tooting that horn for quite sometime. Welcome to the OC horn section, eventually perhaps we'll have enough to serenade the leftist's walls of Jericho.

5/18/2007 11:21:00 AM  
Blogger vogz said...

Now the anti-patriotism of the leftist makes perfect sense. Given the materialist worldview as a premise, the U.S.A. must be intrinsically evil since it is fundamentally based on a lie.

5/18/2007 11:29:00 AM  
Blogger Webutante said...

To savor things as they really are in a fallen world, is to study and learn from history. Wisdom comes from this.

To know things as they really are in a trancendent sense is to know God and salvation history in the Old and New Testaments.It's a stunning ride. Ultimate wisdom comes from this.

5/18/2007 11:31:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

In other words said "Two Masters at work....Sowell and BoB!... Bringing the Master Walter Williams into the mix would conceivably cause a run on Coonskin headwear."

Funny thing is that while Walter E. Williams wasn't a student of Sowell's, I think they did meet when Sowell was teaching and he was still a grad student(?), anyway, funny how people find eachother (ref back to Nock's 'Isiah' link yesterday).

I've heard them on the radio together a few times, and they are a riot. Williams, is another one skilled at getting to the heart of the matter in his columns, with searing laughter and insight.

BTW - the book of Sowell's that focuses on his view that "... differences in bedrock assumptions underlying ideas play a major role in determining how people differ in what policies, principles or ideologies they favor." is 'A Conflict of Visions: Ideological Origins of Political Struggles ', well worth the time & $ to read.

5/18/2007 11:35:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Robinstarfish! No fair ref'ing such a tasty looking frothy brown brew while still have 1hr 52min of work left!

5/18/2007 11:38:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"There is no ignorance like educated ignorance, as it is the recipe for imprudent action on a mass scale."
Truer words....
The most ignorant, brutal and horrific acts in history have come from those who saw themselves as the most knowlegable.

Attilla the Hun couldn't hold a candle to the wreckage caused by the 'educated'.

5/18/2007 11:44:00 AM  
Blogger robinstarfish said...

Van - it's ok, the boss said we should start early. Leastwise I think that's what he meant.

5/18/2007 12:01:00 PM  
Blogger Susannah said...

Bob, as usual, you make it all so clear.

"...the precondition for any kind of adequate judgment about anything -- say, dealing with the reconstruction of an automobile accident -- is 'to see the events the way they really occurred.' Failing this, 'all further considerations become futile,' for 'the precondition for every ethical decision is the perception and examination of reality.'"

It's easy to see how a godless person lacks a reality-based moral ground from which to make accurate, wise decisions. What I wonder is: What is your take on ostensibly religious left-wingers?

I've noted in the leftward drift of certain Protestant denominations that an underlying debasement of their theology is at fault, directly related to their view of revelation. Schaeffer once called inerrancy the "watershed" issue for Christians (in The Great Evangelical Disaster). Anytime I meet a Christian who is left-oriented in their politics, it invariably stems from their low view of divine revelation. Others are downright hostile to scripture and attempt to deconstruct it. Yet others use wretchedly sloppy hermeneutics.

If you don't actually *believe* what you believe is true, how can you claim to have faith in it? I've always found such claims confusing. If the plain meaning of scripture is so offensive to a Christian, shouldn't the onus be on the suppliant to consider changing, rather than attempting to alter Reality when we bash our sensitive little heads against it?

One especially irritating example (to me) is Tony Campolo. He's gone all horizontal over the last couple of decades. I'll never forget his castigating the audience at a Christian concert hubby & I attended for not being "diverse" enough. It was nonsensical, of course, since the tickets were freely available to anyone who wished to purchase them, regardles of race, gender, blah, blah, etc. (Plus, they were cheap, hence our ability to attend.) We were simply too "white" for his liking and that was somehow proof of our racism (rather than his). He touts a "social justice" gospel and is pretty pantheistic in his views. As for his politics, he once said in a debate at Wheaton College that conservatives supporting the Patriot Act were more dangerous than Osama bin Laden. Campolo: “When you start taking away the rights of the American citizens, when you undercut the Bill of Rights in order to pursue security, I think you become more dangerous than bin Laden. I think that if this country goes down, it will not be because of the enemies that are outside this country. I think that if this country goes down, it’s because those within the country undercut our basic rights, undercut the principles that gave birth to this institution." Which of course begs the question: who's undercutting the Bill of Rights? Sigh.

I think his new-agey views stem from his messed-up theology, and that can only stem from a messed-up view of revelation...and indeed he questions among other things the omnipotence of God, which is clearly taught throughout scripture.

So, that is my own take. But what is B'ob's take on how religious leftwingers come by their horizontality?

5/18/2007 12:07:00 PM  
Anonymous joseph said...

Wasn't Martin Luther King, Jr. a leftst leaning Christian?

5/18/2007 12:19:00 PM  
Blogger dicentra63 said...

"O that cunning plan of the evil one! O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish.

"But to be learned is good if they hearken unto the counsels of God."

5/18/2007 12:26:00 PM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

you mean, 'religion', you man-bereft-of-spell-check!

Sharp stuff. I recall noting that:

In fact, once you eliminate higher reality, then you will find that the most inexplicable leftist belief suddenly makes perfect sense. In other words, no matter how rash, immature and imprudent they may look, leftists are "prudent" within the constraints of their ability to know reality.

Yes, this is completely it! Which is why, even if someone does not explicitly believe in God, provided that they believe in a transcendent reality or truth I don't generally have a quarrel with them. Trouble is of course, when God disappears usually so does transcendence.

Will, I think I might've asked this before, but do you know of (or can provide?) a more full explanation of Astrology (what it really is) and what its purpose is? It seems to me that of the two proto-sciences, it is the more abused. Anyone who believes in horoscopes, for instance, must level with the idea that someone with a typewriter can tell the fate of 1/12 of all of humanity in a paragraph...

5/18/2007 12:40:00 PM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

Also, Di, There are about 50 Psalms/Proverbs which say that exact thing, if you get my drift.

5/18/2007 12:44:00 PM  
Blogger Susannah said...

"Wasn't Martin Luther King, Jr. a leftst leaning Christian?"

That has always been my understanding. Although, some of the MLK quotes I've read sound downright conservative in comparison to the statements of modern liberals.

5/18/2007 12:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Alan said...

Vog: Great point.

Along the same lines is the assertion that the United States is the best country in the world - to a leftist, how can this piece of dirt be any better than any other? How can one race be any better than any other?

Unless the vertical is taken into account, all is lost. The United States is the only country ever created on an idea(l). With the current agreement in the Senate re: immigration reform, part of that ideal (respect for the law) is about to die.

5/18/2007 12:57:00 PM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

Ah, yes. Though to what extreme he would have taken such things? Not certain. But if he understood how much this was hurting his own people now, I have little doubt he would reconsider.

But then again, we really don't know.

5/18/2007 01:11:00 PM  
Blogger Susannah said...

I remember my dad mentioning that MLK had made some Marxist-sounding statements. But I haven't read his speeches and writings in entirety, so I have withheld judgment on that. MLK was a little bit before my time. One famous quote that I did agree with:

"It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can stop him from lynching me, and I think that's pretty important."

That is actually a conservative idea--that the law deals with behavior rather than motivation, or the heart. Which is why "hate crime" legislation is so thoroughly addlepated. Only a leftwing liberal would try to control somebody else's thoughts and motivations.

5/18/2007 01:19:00 PM  
Blogger Susannah said...

Webutante: You speak the truth.

Recently Julie castigated a troll, stating outright that more people have benefitted from Judeo-Christian values and capitalism than under any other system in world history. Troll said: "But can you tell me how one could go about testing or falsifying your assertions?"

I wanted so badly to write the obvious: "Read history"--but I'd already blabbed too much in that direction.

I think one of the biggest problems with our educational system started when educators replaced history with social studies. It's amazing how much history I did not learn in school. Almost all of it has been acquired via independent reading. My children's Story of the World series (our history curriculum) has been most instructive. How can one understand the present without the context of the past?

You are so right. "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom."

5/18/2007 01:47:00 PM  
Blogger Susannah said...

Speaking of trolls, and wandering further off-topic, I honestly thought "disemvoweling" was just a clever wordplay. I had no idea it was an actual anti-troll measure! It's brilliant, really. DH pointed it out to me last night.

http://www.informationweek.com/news/showArticle.jhtml;jsessionid=4HRZ4VTAINXLQQSNDLPCKHSCJUNN2JVN?articleID=199600005

5/18/2007 01:55:00 PM  
Blogger Susannah said...

Doh! I wish I knew how to post a link.

http://www.informationweek.com/news/
showArticle.jhtml;jsessionid=4HRZ4V

TAINXLQQSNDLPCKHSCJUNN2JVN?

articleID=199600005

5/18/2007 01:56:00 PM  
Anonymous dilys said...

Reality. It's not just metaphysics. A tidbit (from Motley Fool) that'll motivate any Coons living imprudently beyond their means:

"People with higher IQs and incomes tended to spend more, maxing out
credit cards and paying bills late....To avoid ending up spending
your last years in the rickety and flea-infested Home for Aged
Smarty-Pants
, you need to be saving and investing in earnest for your
retirement."

Fate worse than dearth.

5/18/2007 02:11:00 PM  
Blogger MizzE said...

Susannah, Here's all you need:

(a href="x">text(/a)

Steps involved:

1.) replace the parentheses with the < less than and the > greater than sign.

2.)  remove the x between the two quotation marks and insert the url address.

3.)  remove the word text and insert your own words/s.

5/18/2007 02:35:00 PM  
Blogger MizzE said...

Dilys reminds us to
Save and invest wisely.

I put half of my savings in a variety of stocks and the other half in real estate. The real estate is saving my ass.

I will be getting a class action settlement from Tyco in the not too distant future. It might endow "Miss Lilly" with a life time supply of Greenies.

5/18/2007 02:43:00 PM  
Blogger MizzE said...

Papers are tattooed. One more ass saved from a fate worse than dearth.

5/18/2007 03:45:00 PM  
Anonymous maineman said...

"Wasn't Martin Luther King, Jr. a leftst leaning Christian?"

Not an authority on MLK, although I always thought the 'communist' tag was a form of slander meant to discredit him -- 'course I was a leftist leaning whatever myself at the time.

What I am pretty sure of, though, is that the civil rights movement itself was a product of evangelical Christianity, as had been the abolition movement before it.

5/18/2007 04:02:00 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

To savor all things as they really are is to truly taste wisdom --Josef Pieper

Okay, coming back around from food coma....Mozza was amozzing! After a 45 minute wait, but worth it, we got to sit right at the front bar and watch everything happen. Nancy Silverton was working and really keeping a tight rein on the kitchen in a light way. She seasoned and inspected every dish that went out.

They were able to capture pockets of heaven in the crust of the fennel sausage pizza. We also had the fried squash blossoms filled with yummy cheese, fava bean bruschetta, and the Prosciutto with taffy-like mozzarella. Washed it all down with a couple glasses of prosecco bubbly. The ingredients were so fresh and prepared really simply yet elegant. It was a treat! Dessert was a caramel gelatto with marshmallow and peanuts from the bottom of a cracker jack box or so it seemed!

Sometimes the Truth is cheesy! ;)

5/18/2007 04:10:00 PM  
Blogger juliec said...

Lisa, you're making me drool...
It sounds like you had a fabulous birthday dinner :)

5/18/2007 04:50:00 PM  
Blogger Susannah said...

JulieC! Thanks for the congrats! :) I had to delete your comment, but only because my DH doesn't want to tell his family yet and I think my SIL reads the blog from time to time. I'm telling folks I know locally, and my own mom, of course. :) I *really* appreciate your enthusiastic congrats because some people are so negative about large families.

Far as I know, it'll be Nov. This was actually kind of a "surprise." We were "done." Heh.

5/18/2007 05:14:00 PM  
Blogger juliec said...

Oops! Hope I didn't let the cat out of the bag :) I'd be surprised if anycoon here has a problem with big families. DH and I are trying to start on number one, if biology and meds will give us an assist, so I understand about not wanting to tell the family too soon. Since you had to delete it, congratulations again!

November is a good month for birthdays, in my opinion.

5/18/2007 06:02:00 PM  
Blogger Smoov said...

Lisa:

Well, this foodie just marked Mozza on the map for next time I'm in La La land. Sounds like my kinda place.

Bob: thanks for the Vasko Kohlmayer link. He has an uncommon talent for clear writing, not unlike the great Sowell himself.

5/18/2007 06:53:00 PM  
Blogger Smoov said...

Re: affirmative action.

At my company we have no such thing. Not long ago I was in our Boston office and wandered into the engineering bullpen. My second wife was African American and any vestiges of race-consciousness I might have had vanished during that marriage. As anyone in a mixed-race marriage knows, you very quickly become completely color/race-blind. Anyhow, I that day in the bullpen I just happened to notice that we had a fairly random assortment of blacks, Asians, whites, Latins, etc. We make absolutely no effort to hire on any basis except sheer ability, previous experience, etc. Nobody has ever quit at our company (which, frankly, is quite amazing) although I've had to let a few people go.

We are essentially hard-core capitalists (though somewhat ironically in the service of the DHS and other global governments involved in the war on terror) and all people need to do to succeed with us is work hard and not be an asshole.

I can't even imagine what I would do with respect to "affirmative action". We have a naturally balanced workforce. Any attempts to MacGyver things would be about as wise as top-down price fixing.

5/18/2007 07:05:00 PM  
Blogger Smoov said...

Speaking of my line of work, the newest addition to our stable of terrorist-aware nations (i.e., those nations which conform to the Department of Homeland Security Advance Passenger Information (API), watch-list, selectee list, etc. etc.) is--wait for it:

Cuba.

Yup, the commies are now part of the web strung out globally for OBL and his stink-alikes.

What do you make of that?

(BTW, we can only communicate with Cuba through our Canadian base)

5/18/2007 07:10:00 PM  
Anonymous will said...

Lisa, you are just so the decadent American . . .

How dare you eat like that when I'm over here trying to scarf down a cup of Kefer milk?

You need to be introduced to my friend Dearth Vader.

(OK, so I'm glad you had a good b'day feast)

5/18/2007 07:13:00 PM  
Blogger Quig said...

"the precondition for every ethical decision is the perception and examination of reality."

And therein lies the root of the problem. Two little words: "the perception". If our perceptions differ, who is to say which "perception" is reality?

I am going to proceed on the assumtion that "the precondition for every ethical decision" is the application of values based on the vertical spiritual vector as opposed to the horizontal.

But, in so doing, am I not in danger of falling into the same intellectual error as those who, having views opposite to my own, percieve things differently? Or is it that my faith and vertical orientation is not yet sufficiently developed to allow me to "know"?

5/18/2007 07:15:00 PM  
Anonymous cousin Dupree said...

Evidently.

5/18/2007 07:26:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Susannah said "This was actually kind of a "surprise." We were "done." Heh."

Our kids are 18, 14 & 8... I know something about surprises!
Congrats!

5/18/2007 07:34:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Lisa,
If you're not too full... let me try out a new recipe that MizzE just taught me - here goes:

~~iiiiiii~~
!_______!

5/18/2007 07:35:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Maybe a little bit too much yeast, but not bad!

5/18/2007 07:36:00 PM  
Blogger MizzE said...

Thanks Smoov for the reminder.

Yes, Bob I'm indebted to you also for the link to Kohlmayer's essay. In fact, I wove this excerpt into my post "Sonata for a Good Man" Part II, a review of the Best Foreign Language Film, The Lives of Others.

A quote from Of Flatulent Cows and Liberal Madness by Vasko Kohlmayer:

It is an observable fact that the more virulently anti-God people are, the madder they as a rule become. We have seen a stunning demonstration of this in the former communist block where the flauntingly atheistic revolutionists ultimately succumbed to that terminal form of madness - bloodlust. So crazed they eventually became that murder and torture seemed the natural solution to every problem. Shedding their humanity in the name of ruthless secularism, those militant atheists left behind more than one hundred million corpses.

In the first Soviet Gulag, which was paradoxically set up in the ancient Solovetsk monastery, the Bolshevik capos flaunted their disdain for things divine by topping the altar with a picture of Lenin. So amusing they found their prank that for weeks they could not stop laughing. Even the fact that innocent people were dying all around them could do nothing to temper their hilarity. They did not laugh for very long, however, for in a few short years they all found themselves in a Stalinist hell. It was a hell where no one could be sure of his life, a hell where executioners would themselves be executed in wave after wave of never-ending purges. When it was all finished and done there lay twenty million dead. What began with wanton desecration ended in sheer madness. #



With regards to the film, Anthony Lane phrased it well:

"You might think that “The Lives of Others” is aimed solely at modern Germans—at all the Wieslers, the Dreymans, and the weeping Christa-Marias. A movie this strong, however, is never parochial, nor is it period drama. Es ist für uns. It’s for us."

5/18/2007 07:37:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

JulieC said "November is a good month for birthdays, in my opinion."

November is an Excellent day for birthdays! Especially the 28th, my personal favorite. (in a non-numerical astronomical sort of way...)

;-)

Will, I still prefer the bananna bread over the knockwurst

5/18/2007 07:39:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Smoov said "We are essentially hard-core capitalists ... and all people need to do to succeed with us is work hard and not be an asshole."

(psst! let me know if you branch out to St. Louis before the sales complete)

5/18/2007 07:42:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

quig said "If our perceptions differ, who is to say which "perception" is reality?"

If you're really having difficulty wrapping your head around that one - here's how you reach a philosophically valid resolution to the question.

1 - Call a friend over who has a decent sense of humor.
2 - Aquire a brick.
3 - Whack your friend in the face the with brick.
4 - Ask him to whack you in the face with the brick.
5 - Compare notes.

Conclusion -
a - Reality precedes and overrides all stupid notions.
b - You are perfectly capable of proving it.

5/18/2007 07:50:00 PM  
Anonymous georged said...

amen amen and amen.

Especially amen to your comments on affirmative action. For a long story on the effect of pandering in academia, the police, city government and etc. read kc johnson's blog.

http://durhamwonderland.blogspot.com/

5/18/2007 07:53:00 PM  
Blogger MizzE said...

28ers of the world Unite!

It ain't yeasty - it's fluffy Angel Food.

5/18/2007 07:56:00 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

It's a coonspiracy, I tell ya! A well meaning friend brought over a red velvet cupcake from Yummy and boy was it. Inhaled immediately....guess this means I better skip dinner! ;)

Better stop celebrating, thanks again for all the well wishes and mazel tov to Susannah on her new production.

5/18/2007 08:10:00 PM  
Blogger Quig said...

Cousin Dupree,
Not wishing to be trollish and at the risk of being "disemvowelled" and being mindful as well that"....no one has even one percent of the knowledge currently available...." and confessing that my share therof is consderably less than that, I ask, in all humilty: Is the starting point that of Hellenic/Judeo/Christian thought and perception?

I accept that these traditions have given us a set of guidlines for survival in a manner in which it is "meet and proper so to do".

Van,
I agree with your test in respect of the physical. In fact I find myself in agreement with the majority of Bob's essays. I say the majority because I am not close enough to the American political scene to be able to make informed judgements.

I suppose, were I a physicist, and even though I am not, I wonder what there was in existance before "the big bang" to cause "the big bang". I can accept that the "before" is the reality of God. But I am still curious as to what the plan was in the before if indeed there was a plan or a before.

5/18/2007 08:13:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Quig said "I agree with your test in respect of the physical..."

Keep in mind that the mental follows from the physical, extends and carries it upwards and inwards - but doesn't contradict it. Reality is pretty straightforward...

"Failing this, "all further considerations become futile," for "the precondition for every ethical decision is the perception and examination of reality."

Truth doesn't ssslither, sssophistry does - and if you grasp Truth, it will set you free.

Keep reading and applying, and you'll get ahold of it.

5/18/2007 09:22:00 PM  
Blogger juliec said...

Quig,

If you are unsure which perception is actually truthful, look at history. Which economic system has produced the computer you're using to read this blog? I'll give you a hint - it wasn't communist and/or atheist. Which system continues to find ways to improve the health and well-being of humankind? Again, not communism and its enforced atheism, which has resulted in the slaughter of millions. What about countries ruled by Islam, Eastern religions, or indigenous pagan/ pantheistic religions? The vast majority of those are third-world countries, with little in the way of hope and betterment for their people. The ones that aren't third-world countries have embraced some form of capitalism, even if they haven't adopted Judeo-Christian values.

People, such as many of today's leftists, who advocate socialist or communist rule are ignoring the historic consequences. They advocate systems that are antithetical to the health and well-being of the majority of humanity. That is Truth, as evidenced by the horrors we've seen in the past century. This is not a point of contention, it is a simple fact, and to believe otherwise is to believe a lie.

The point is, if your perception matches reality, then it is more likely to be accurate. If your perception requires that you ignore important aspects of reality, such as basic human nature, then it is probably a false perception.

5/18/2007 10:12:00 PM  
Blogger juliec said...

I'd like to make one more comparison, if I may. Another set of contradictory perceptions we've seen lately has been the impact of man on the planet. There is a large group of people who claim that humans are bad for the planet, and as a result many advocate doing things to reduce the number of humans and to take away much of modern technology, to basically take us back to the stone age.

Coon perception is the opposite - that humans are good for the planet, that technology is good, in fact that we are made in God's image and that we have a good purpose on this planet and when guided by the True, Beautiful and Good are a vital part of the planet's health and well-being.

Which lifestyle - modern vs. primitive - is better for the planet?

Third world countries, where the majority of people live in agrarian or even stone-age conditions, with little electricity, plumbing, or anything resembling modern conveniences, and where the average life-span is much shorter than here, are the worst polluters. They chop down forests without replanting, they burn fuels indiscriminately, they overgraze and make the deserts bigger. Theor air is filthy. They're too busy trying desperately - and often unknowledgeably - to survive.

Conversely, here in the US we have more forests now than we did 100 years ago. The air is cleaner, the forests are healthier, wildlife is thriving, and people are living longer. We have the luxury to care about the health of the planet, and make positive changes when we can.

Whose perception really is best for the planet, and therefore reflects the truth?

5/18/2007 10:31:00 PM  
Blogger Quig said...

Juliec,

I disagree not one jot with what you say. Those truths are, as you have done, demonstratable. (Or demon-stratable?)

My temporal core is very much in alignment with what I percieve to be that of this forum.

My spiritual core (such as it is) strives towards those objectives I percieve some the regular contributers here have obtained or hope to obtain.

I have, in my own mind, a concept of truth. Perhaps I am searching for the truth of that truth. Or, to mangle Aristotle, what-it-is-to-be that which-it-is-to-be.

5/18/2007 11:49:00 PM  
Anonymous ximeze said...

Van:
Ditto your 7:42pm comment. You & I are once again channeling eachother.

I say we move Smoov to the top of the Findtheguycoon a Goodcoongirl List. Gets my busybody matchmaking juices flowing.

What's not to like here? Prime fodder, if you ask me.

Let's see now:

Hardcore capitalist.
Yes to hard workers.
No to assholes.
Gnos O is the way to go.
'Gets' OC & DL.
Good at crushing trolls.

AND now an out'ed FOODIE too?

My, oh my!

Lisa, help me out here. Does not Yiddish have the very best word for matchmaker? A sort of meddling, annoying but wellmeaning yenta type? I forget the word.

Gosh, I've missed OC.

5/19/2007 03:43:00 AM  
Blogger walt said...

Ximeze -

And OC feels lo mismo.

5/19/2007 04:02:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

MizzE said...
28ers of the world Unite!

Right on! A memorial quote!

5/19/2007 06:19:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Smoov-
"We are essentially hard-core capitalists (though somewhat ironically in the service of the DHS and other global governments involved in the war on terror) and all people need to do to succeed with us is work hard and not be an asshole."

Smoov move! We need more See-E-O's like you in the economy!

5/19/2007 06:27:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

We missed you too, Ximeze!
And Beaky!
I hope your move is going well.

5/19/2007 06:29:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"Now, in the end, there are only two antithetical philosophical stances which go by various names: realism/materialism, or idealism/empiricism, or essentialism/existentialism. Thus, if one of these fundamental stances is not in accord with reality -- and they cannot both be equally true -- then most everything else that flows from the stance is going to be poisoned by that initial error."

Reality can be a harsh mistress.
She doen't like to be ignored!

5/19/2007 06:36:00 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Welcome back Ximeze and Beaky,

I think this will help you, of course I had to google it because I am more Jew-lite and very American. Only grew up hearing 3 or 4 words in yiddish. Here goes...

Shadchen — Matchmaker. This is the correct Yiddish term, not Yenta. A Yenta is just a talkative, gossipy woman.

http://www.sillymusic.com/
yiddish_dictionary_definitiions.asp

has many more yiddish translations, if you are curious. Oy Vey!

5/19/2007 08:28:00 AM  
Anonymous ximeze said...

Thanks for the update & the Yiddish link. Wonderful descriptive language.

One of my sisters married into a Jew-lite family & has a mother-in-law who is reported to have actually said Oy Vey upon hearing that her son was to marry a Shiksa, a non-practicing Catholic to boot.

There's a JAP sister-in-law, drop-dead gorgeous, left alone in a mansion on Lonnngggg Eyelind to get kinda nuts, while her husband makes $$$$$$ on WallStreet.

Do people really live like this????

'Course, my brother-in-law likes to embellish these stories for our amusement. The kicker was when the JAP's kiddlet, who had to have the best of everything (totally spoiled JAP-in-training) came down with Hoof-and-Mouth!!!! JAP was beside herself.

We laughed so hard we about wet ourselves. Anyone who thinks O does not have a sense of humor is a dope.

5/19/2007 02:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re

"Now, in the end, there are only two antithetical philosophical stances which go by various names: realism/materialism, or idealism/empiricism, or essentialism/existentialism. Thus, if one of these fundamental stances is not in accord with reality -- and they cannot both be equally true -- then most everything else that flows from the stance is going to be poisoned by that initial error."

Once you accept the stupid premise that there are only two stances, any number of errors follow. Of course this provides you endless blog-grist, meditating on how Hitchens or MLK fits into your impoverished two-category schema.

5/20/2007 02:25:00 PM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

Anonymous: Just because your stance involves pieces of both stances doesn't actually make it a fundamentally different stance.

Printers print gray with a lot of little black dots.

5/24/2007 06:12:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Correct me if I'm wrong but heavens to betsy:

The American ideal is fundamentally grounded in a rightly ordered spiritual liberty with which we are endowed by our Creator....

Now where in god's name does it say that anywhere in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights?

and:

For example, it is impossible for an American -- if he is to remain an American in any meaningfully spiritual sense -- to believe in "affirmative action," or government imposed racial discrimination. The idea of granting the state the power to sort people into racial categories and dole out special favors to this or that group is strictly inconceivable on the American view of what constitutes reality -- since it runs afoul of the intelligible spiritual reality that all men are created equal.

I would think that might be covered by the First Amendment where it says, in part:

....and to petition the government for a redress of grievances

Now, considering the imperviously high and exalted perch from which this blogger speaks, I wouldn't deign to even think that I could effectively challenge him nor the intellectual manna which he so benevolently disperses, but I would contrast his words with the musings of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor (no troglodyte her) on the subject, in her ruling in Grutter v. Bollinger where she said basically that of course, in a perfect world, where we were truly equal, affirmative action would be completely unnecessary and could in that sense be considered
unconstitutional. But because it's very evident that there are still institutional inequalties and injustices that still need to be addressed, 'affirmative action' must remain. She looked forward to the day when it would be abolished, but that day is as yet far off.

5/26/2007 01:32:00 PM  
Anonymous cousin dupree said...

Too stupid to merit even ridicule, but thank you anyway.

5/26/2007 01:48:00 PM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home