Righteous Nobility and Lefteous Pride
For example, "the evil spirit will try to give feelings of elation and excitement about ideas that are evil" (Spitzer). It's very much like those old cartoons with a devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other: "the evil spirit attempts to coax, persuade, urge, and support with false justifications and feelings of excitement," which the Holy Spirit might counter "by presenting feelings of guilt, alienation, discord, and agitation..." It's a little like living between two lawyers.
Come to think of it, that must be why we instinctively detest trial lawyers. We all know what they're up to.
But this is the 21st century. Isn't all this premodern talk of angels and devils just the anthropomorphizing of neurological activity? I am reminded of a remark by Schuon, that "there are two pitfalls that must be avoided: to maintain that there are two gods, one good and one evil; and to maintain that evil does not exist, either objectively or intrinsically."
In other words, in evil we are dealing with a phenomenon that is both intrinsic and objective, but nevertheless not ultimate. And if we don't recognize its objective existence, we end up like Loretta Lynch, who yesterday claimed that the most effective way to deal with ISIS is through "compassion, unity, and love."
This is a fine example of the Evil One provoking a false affective consolation in Lynch. You could say that he is exploiting her untutored desire to do and be good.
That is, we are all born with a conscience that helps us distinguish good from evil. But like any other faculty, this innate conscience must be formed and developed, not just left alone like an empty field. As Spitzer writes, "the vast majority of people know general precepts by nature, but must be taught more specific precepts."
I first encountered this concept back in graduate school, where it went by the name of a "corrupt superego." The superego is essentially Freud's term for conscience, so a corrupted one converts evil into good (and vice versa), and ends up punishing the person for doing good and rewarding him for doing evil. This is how we end up with morally upside down ideologies such as communism, Nazism, and leftism more generally. Such individuals experience a subjective reward for doing bad or evil.
Indeed, what we call "leftism" (as distinguished from liberalism!) is precisely this moral inversion. It has great explanatory power -- for example, it explains why no one is as morally righteous as the leftist fighting on behalf of his demons, whether it is the redefinition of marriage, forcing us to allow men into girl's restrooms, guaranteeing to women the right to a dead baby, wrecking the world economy and forcing millions into poverty based upon inaccurate but cherished climate models etc.
"We love and are drawn to the good before we do it, and feel noble and at home within ourselves after we do it." Thus, it seems that there is a built-in moral hazard here (literally), in that we can put the cart before the horse and conflate feeling good with actually doing good. But isn't this what the left is, AKA the Intracosmic Good Intentions Paving Company?
How do we get around this moral hazard? It must be in the distinction between nobility and pride -- which can look similar but are quite opposite. Scratch a leftist and you will find that they are motivated by ungoverned pride, whether it is the intellectual pride of the tenured or the conspicuous virtue of the campus crybullies and other morally dysfunctional types.
What we want is nobility without pride. The leftist -- you will have gnosissed -- has pride without nobility. Ever see a gay pride parade? Wouldn't it be nice instead to see a gay nobility parade, with no public nudity and defiant expressions of deviance from cultural norms? One from which you wouldn't need to hide the children? Or better, no parade at all. Just a little discretion, dignity, and taste.
Exactly what is nobility in the spiritual sense? It is readiness "to sacrifice one’s interest to the truth," and "to see things 'from above' and without any baseness" (Schuon).
Thus, "Man has the right to be happy, but he must be so nobly and, what amounts to the same thing, within the framework of the Truth and the Way.... It has been said that nobility of character consists in putting honour and moral dignity above self-interest, which means in the last analysis that we must put the invisible real above the visible illusory, morally as well as intellectually" (ibid.).
In which case we come back around to discernment, i.e., between reality and appearances, creator and creation, up and down. And pride goeth before that last one.