Thursday, January 25, 2007

D'Souza: Denial on the Right

Last April I broke the D’Souza story by carefully analyzing his National Review article of the year before. On Dec 12 I briefly wrote a followed-up before the book came out and others have commented since (see links in my Dec 12 post.) D’Souza 15 minutes of fame is almost up but in the last few seconds it is worth reading Jamie Glazov’s “debate” with D’Souza. Case closed!

Update: A final nail on the coffin from "George Mason."


Blogger Cubed © said...

Don't you sometimes feel like Cassandra? Don't you sometimes want to hit your head against a wall and knock yourself unconscious just to get some relief from the frustration? Don't you sometimes feel like Munch's "The Scream?" Where the hell is Galt's Gulch when you need a break from it all?


1/26/07, 5:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who do you think made this argument to D'Souza, many years ago?

I think I know who did. And you're talkin' to him.

1/27/07, 11:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You just can't see the forest, for the trees. D'Souza is making the intellectual argument for the common man, while the Pope addresses the scholars.

1/27/07, 11:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now I have to go out and buy his book. Thanks for the post, Jason. I had no idea that D'Souza had moved out in this direction.

1/27/07, 11:22 AM  
Blogger Allen Weingarten said...

Cubed, I empathize with your feeling when you say "AARGH!" How can one deal with such disarray? One approach is that "The answer to evil is in the power of the creative act." Consequently, rather than be concerned with the dross, continue your productive ventures. Finally, it has been said that "All of the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle."

1/27/07, 11:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you know what virtue is, Jason? Can any of you define it? I can. And D'Souza is defining virtue in the classical sense, one appealing to Moslems. Of "empowerment" of the kind that can't be imposed from "outside" with force, but can only come from "within". For virtue does require knowledge, and those without the knowledge have virtue not.

1/27/07, 2:50 PM  
Blogger (((Thought Criminal))) said...


You're forgetting what makes this approach fail.

Islam has no remote control to change the channel over to Britney Spears' ass crack when the virtuous beheading reruns are on.

1/27/07, 3:38 PM  
Blogger (((Thought Criminal))) said...

Then again, you're not forgetting what makes this approach fail.

Without a Britney Spears' ass crack channel, the remote only has virtuous beheading reruns on every channel. No knowledge of other ways makes the only way known the "best" way.

D'Souza wants us to put a burka on Britney Spears and hope for the "best."

1/27/07, 3:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


D'Souza want's Britney to put the burka on herself... or not. Regardless of which decision she makes, he's not going to watch. And neither are the virtuous.

1/27/07, 4:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cuz that's virtue.

1/27/07, 4:04 PM  
Blogger (((Thought Criminal))) said...

And Britney telling D'Souza and the mujihadeen to gaze into her ass crack, or not... that's virtue too, yes?

1/27/07, 4:15 PM  
Blogger (((Thought Criminal))) said...

"If thine right eye offends thee, pluck it out..."

1/27/07, 4:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

...and if Islam wants to wrap itself in virtue, its' going to have to empower people to decide for themselves... in democracy. Otherwise, their virtu is a sham.

1/27/07, 4:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, Britney asking everyone to stare at her ass-crack is the example of someone "without" virtue. She does not possess the "knowledge" of what virtue is.

1/27/07, 4:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In other words... if the world is to actually be virtuous, we must eliminate ignorance... and turn every man into a philosopher-king.

1/27/07, 4:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

...not simply maintain an appearance of virtue. Which is what Islam is.

1/27/07, 4:28 PM  
Blogger (((Thought Criminal))) said...

But D'Souza says (from what I gather from reviews of his book and interviews with him I've read) that Britney's lack of virtue sharpens the mujihadeen's sword -AND- causes him to swing it wildly.

Is not D'Souza offering "the left" to the mujihadeen as a hostage?

1/27/07, 4:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Indeed. But it's one thing to understand "manly virtu"(courage/wisdom), and another to understand its' feminine counterparts (temperance/justice), and also reconcile them. Islam is mostly the former, and much less of the latter. And as Ecclesiastes 3 states... there is a time to every purpose, under heaven.

Islam is all "positive liberty". The West goes in for "negative liberty". Virtue lies in the proper balance and proportion of each.

1/27/07, 4:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The shepherd want to protect his flock from temptation. By removing all its' sources, he makes his flock "dumber", in that they never experience or become aware of the temptation. The moment the shepherd turns his back, the sheep are being humped by the wolves, who soon grow to like it. Pretty soon, the sheep are sneaking into the wolves camp every time the shepherd turns his back, and the shepherd's lost his flock.

1/27/07, 4:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

D'Souza's arguing that the sheep all want to go wolf humping... and the shepherd has to chase down and kill every wolf in the world because he's too dumb to teach his sheep how to avoid wolves instead.

There's too much evil in the world to have any hope of destroying it all. Sisyphus had an easier task.

1/27/07, 4:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Meanwhile, the mullahs are arguing that they've got the only flock of virtuous sheep.

And how can that be true...they're never tested.

1/27/07, 4:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Virtue must be "practiced", if one is to actually "have" it.

Lewis Carroll, "Through the Looking Glass"

`The great art of riding,' the Knight suddenly began in a loud voice, waving his right arm as he spoke, `is to keep --' Here the sentence ended as suddenly as it had begun, as the Knight fell heavily on the top of his head exactly in the path where Alice was walking. She was quite frightened this time, and said in an anxious tone, as she picked him up, `I hope no bones are broken?'

`None to speak of,' the Knight said, as if he didn't mind breaking two or three of them. `The great art of riding, as I was saying, is -- to keep your balance properly. Like this, you know --'

He let go the bridle, and stretched out both his arms to show Alice what he meant, and this time he fell flat on his back, right under the horse's feet.

`Plenty of practice!' he went on repeating, all the time that Alice was getting him on his feet again. `Plenty of practice!'

`It's too ridiculous!' cried Alice, losing all her patience this time. `You ought to have a wooden horse on wheels, that you ought!'

`Does that kind go smoothly?' the Knight asked in a tone of great interest, clasping his arms round the horse's neck as he spoke, just in time to save himself from tumbling off again.

`Much more smoothly than a live horse,' Alice said, with a little scream of laughter, in spite of all she could do to prevent it.

`I'll get one,' the Knight said thoughtfully to himself. `One or two -- several.'

1/27/07, 5:07 PM  
Blogger Always On Watch said...

I haven't yet had time to read all the links in this particular posting, but I noticed the following from your essay (the first link in your article):

Fortunately, as D’Souza continues, he provides a more compelling argument well worth our attention. “Compulsion cannot produce virtue; it can only produce the outward semblance of virtue.”

The theme of Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter! Consider Hawthorne's background. Any such Muslims doing the same without getting their heads sawed off?

Why do people twist themselves into knots in a futile attempt to be apologists for Islam?

Off topic....A bit of a discussion going on at my blog. You might want to weigh in with your own insights.

1/28/07, 9:06 AM  
Blogger Allen Weingarten said...

AOW asks "Why do people twist themselves into knots in a futile attempt to be apologists for Islam?"

Perhaps it is because they wish to pretend that people lack hostile intent. It is very consoling to imagine that there is no need for defensive warfare, but only to be charitable and understanding. It is also a form of denial that each of us, including our dear ones, is potentially destructive.

1/28/07, 11:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said... error on the side of temperance and offending courage.

There's a lack of "balance" on both sides.

1/28/07, 12:16 PM  
Blogger Always On Watch said...

I hope this commentary by D'Souza isn't redudant and already been linked to here or at a previous posting. The above above article appeared in today's WaPo.

1/28/07, 6:57 PM  
Blogger Always On Watch said...

Perhaps it is because they wish to pretend that people lack hostile intent. It is very consoling to imagine that there is no need for defensive warfare, but only to be charitable and understanding....

Or possibly the denial of the existence of evil?

1/28/07, 6:58 PM  
Blogger (((Thought Criminal))) said... error on the side of temperance and offending courage.

There's a lack of "balance" on both sides.

Is our "imbalance" unhealthy?

Especially if in the end, when we the Carpenters and Walruses turn to our enemies, the Oysters for comment and we've eaten every one?

Should we really envy the Islamic world for not producing a Britney Spears?

1/28/07, 7:53 PM  
Blogger Always On Watch said...

Just calling THIS ESSAY BY "GEORGE MASON" to your attention, in case you haven't already read it.

1/28/07, 8:15 PM  
Blogger Allen Weingarten said...

AOWT writes that the reason people are apologists for Islam may be that they want to deny the existence of evil. Yes, people do want to deny its existence, yet as an explanation it begs the question as to why. Is not the reason for denial the comfort of wishful thinking?

As Mr. Beamish suggests, for the Islamic world to produce a Britney Spears would be an improvement over what they do produce. I would be willing make the sacrifice to have Britney Spears, rather than their suicide bombers. On second thought, forget the suicide bombers, and bring on Britney.

1/28/07, 8:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Had they the liberty and capacity to produce a Britney, and still NOT produced one, I would truely envy them.

1/29/07, 7:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Baliwood vs Hollywood.

1/29/07, 7:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

...because the "libertines" eventually tip the balance in the wrong direction...and create an unhealthy and downright "decadent" environment that is NOT family friendly.

That is the core of D'Souza's argument.

1/29/07, 7:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

evidence of family hostility - birth rates.

1/29/07, 7:36 AM  
Blogger Jason Pappas said...

Thanks, AOW, I posted the link in the front page. I had't had the time to make the rounds to all websites I'd like to check.

1/29/07, 10:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Touche', Msr. le duque!

But how far would they have gone given a completely open system? Would they have settled for what they did? Or would they have reached down low into the demographic, to cull every dinar from every available pocket ala Britney?

1/29/07, 3:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

...and become media whores?

1/29/07, 3:56 PM  
Blogger Cubed © said...


I know you're right ("All of the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle."), and even when I get impatient or have a blue funk, I realize that more and more "single candles" are being lit every day.

I know we will win in the end - that's the great thing about reality, it ALWAYS wins in the end - it's just that I really want to witness it myself, to see it happen in my lifetime, and I'm no spring chicken!

Well, there are enough "candles" out there right now that we sort of look like a bunch of people holding a vigil; pretty soon, maybe we'll begin having "demonstrations," and after that, maybe we won't NEED Galt's Gulch any more!

1/29/07, 4:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

mr. ducky,

The only thing preventing them from becoming media whores are the Moral strictures of Islam... the self-same strictures you object so strongly to in the Judeo-Christian segment of the West.

Yes, market-capitalism erodes those values. But what "idea" are you planning to use to erode Islam's values? What solvent have you invented that is going to give women and homosexuals Western style rights in a traditional Islamic-dominant society and NOT tear down and destroy their entire culture in the process?

You'd be much better off striking a compromise w/Judeo-Christian values... cuz w/the Islamic one's, you'll probably end up facing the headsman.

1/29/07, 4:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'll call them "Islam's values" since they start w/Islam as a 1st principle. Yes there are cultural variants & interpretations, but they all share a common starting point which cannot be ignored. And those values are male/courage/wisdom centric and cannot be moved until the feminine temperance/justice values are given their due. In many ways they are the Spartans of the modern age (Plato, "Laws"). They have thereby become de-natured.

1/29/07, 7:54 PM  
Blogger Jason Pappas said...

In many ways they are the Spartans of the modern age (Plato, "Laws"). - Farmer John

Damn good example. Being half Spartan myself ... actually that's besides the point. The anciet Spartans were oppressive and warrior-like. I'm not like that at all.

Something interesting I found out when I was reading about Islam’s early centuries, when religion was competing with philosophy, the Arab/Persians had Plato’s Laws and Plato’s Republic (which we differ with regard to how “collectivist” it is). What they didn’t have is Aristotle’s Politics or Cicero’s (or the Stoic’s) theory of natural law and natural rights. They also didn’t have humanizing force (or you might say humbling force) of Greek drama.

Even at its best they didn't have the proper guidance when it comes to politics.

1/29/07, 8:58 PM  
Blogger (((Thought Criminal))) said...

Their idea that people can live happily ever after in "homes" devoid of any larger community context, or reality-based economic context, will fail. Perhaps we will even stop calling houses "homes" -- as we have been conditioned to do by the realtors hoping to manipulate all our subconscious desires for safety, familiarity, and order in this world of chaos and sorrow.

It's not surprising that you feel this way, Ducky. Given that leftists abhor critical thinking, they are the most likely to bitch when the can of Crisco they bought at the store doesn't have a cherry pie inside like the picture on the label.

But don't collectivize your sentiments to include the rational. It isn't evil real estate agents tricking people into calling where they live "home."

1/30/07, 12:28 AM  
Blogger Ronbo said...

Don't forget this famous date in history,and what it means to us today.

Hitler Comes To Power Today....In 1933

Cheers, Ronbo

1/30/07, 5:44 AM  
Blogger Always On Watch said...

From Ronbo's posting about Hitler's coming to power on this date in 1933:

Islam could soon be the dominant force in a Europe which, in the name of political correctness, has abdicated the battle for cultural and religious control, Prof. Bernard Lewis, the world-renowned Middle Eastern and Islamic scholar, said on Sunday....

Maybe somebody should point out the above to D'Souza, who claims to read Lewis.

1/30/07, 7:12 AM  
Blogger Jason Pappas said...

Good point. Just when Lewis is waking-up to the threat (and I’ve taken him to task for being soft) D’Souza bases a large part of his thesis on Lewis’ previous writings. I’ve found Lewis useful but I thought he was a bit hesitant to understand the significance of the Islamic Revival. Now that he's making stronger statements one wonders what people like D'Souza will do. Lewis is the expert for many.

1/30/07, 8:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I pointed it out to him once...(excerpt from middle of an e-mail exchange)....


The folks you are describing are not relativists at all. They are for gay marriage and racial preferences and sex before marriage, and they believe in their own set of absolute values, such as Tolerance and Equality and Nondiscrimination. They simply use the language of relativism tactically to break down the hold of traditional morality. Their goal is to substitute a new morality (that of Rousseau) for the old morality (that of the Ten Commandments).

best, Dinesh D'Souza _________________________

Mr. D'Souza,

I apologize in advance for the dis-jointedness of the following arguments (I'm not a very good writer):

I respectfully agree, that there are people who are for gay marriage and racial preferences and sex before marriage who are attempting to gain acceptance for their own morality...and who are not relativists...they are epicurean pleasure seekers and personal freedom lovers... who are individually just as intolerant in other areas as are all those who oppose them, but because of the "relativists" argument, feel free to dissent.

But the reason why the general resistance to their argument for change is weak, is that the previously "strong" faith in Judeo-Christian values which perhaps demonstrated a peak in the "martyrs" of the late Roman and early middle ages was undermined initially by "reason/science", which began to offer at first "reasoned" explanations for heretofore "metaphysical" events, which were then undermined even further when the very foundations of "reason" came under attack from Kant (Critique of Pure Reason, et al) , and especially Nietzsche (All knowledge is derived from error, and truth is a matter of perspective)...and so people began to understand the "limits" of faith, reason, of science, and the painfulness of "truth". (Only the Greeks really understood tragedy, we Americans don't get it).

And so, there are few willing to "challenge" the relativist argument on a "purely reasoned" or "faith-based" or even "scientifically argued" basis. Experimentation (from science) may be the "order of the day", but with no common measures, the post-modern "death of the grand narrative" has become generally accepted, and is now tantamount to dogma. We have reached an intellectually reasoned conclusion...that relativism is essentially "true".... that since there are no absolute values or foundations from which to judge...there are no "truths", only "theories". And theories don't get accepted as truths until the results from the experiments are "in" and the standards for measuring the data are "universally accepted". God is dead, and we can't bring him back, because we can't collect the "experimental data" proving God’s existence (Nietzsche "Parable of the Madman", Zarathustra). We can't even agree as to the "measures" of success. And so to believe that the "West" is any better than the "East" you need to "believe" that freedom and prosperity are THE "values" which weigh highest in the measure....that these are derived from universal human standards....or we go around in a circle... (only in my case, I do believe them both to be largely true)

So the "faithful" were no longer the martyrs who were willing to "die" for their beliefs.
The "enlightened/scientific" leaders lost faith in the efficacy of their reason and turned to empiricism. But even empiricism is ineffective if one has no agreed to type or units of measure. Doubt as to the origin and "universal nature" of our values, has lead to greater legal "tolerance", and diminished "faith/certainty"...and Rousseau is not responsible for undermining faith in reason, science, and concepts like "shared values"...this sin lies at the doors of "other" philosophers and especially the scientists themselves...for science requires both "method" and "experimentation", but especially "measure". (What Nietzsche terms a "re-valuation of all values").

And if you lack "reasonable" certainty or faith that "your way" is "only" or "best" way, and now exalt "individual liberty", which is pretty much a uniquely "western" value, the forces that initially brought you together and helped you maintain cohesion are diminished, leading to an imbalance and acceleration of forces which favor dissolution.

And whereas the "founding fathers" of this nation accommodated various moral value differences by creating a federal system which defended external borders but allowed individual states to govern themselves by their own consciences, and people were free to migrate from state to state and live under the system which best suited their reason or beliefs, the American Civil War, which was basically a war of ideological "intolerance", unified the nation under a "single" common ideology, dedicated primarily to "individual liberty" for all... and that system which was originally capable of accommodating dissent, became no longer capable of holding people of diverse moral beliefs together. All were trapped within a single ideological and legal umbrella. But then, if one can believe Nietzsche, this consolidation of power was "inevitable" ("Will to Power"). And now the "warp and woof" of the American fabric was forced to rely upon the skill of a single weaver instead of many. The American quilt became a single-weave blanket - stoics and epicureans living together as one (Plato- "Statesman").

Had Nietzsche's writings appeared 30-40 years before they did, had Darwin been better understood, perhaps the destruction of the federated system in American could have been averted and the forces which accommodated political differences preserved. But that did not happen. America now has a single "first principle" - Individual Liberty, and a single central legal system. The two are at serious odds, and a center cannot hold. We have become "Athens", a single city state under a common system of laws. There is no serious counter force to oppose or accommodate our "first principle". And as Lord Acton so aptly stated: "Every institution finally perishes by an excess of its own first principle." It happened to Athens. It is happening to the U.S.. What Plato wrote about the "fate" of democracies in "The Republic" is coming to pass, as are the events forecast by Oswald Spengler and Nietzsche himself. Even Europe is falling into a similar "unification" trap.

And if you want to blame "Rousseau" for advocating "individual liberty" and "freedom", fine. But there's a long list of "others" whom you have omitted, starting with ancient Greece and the first democracies. You might as well blame Pericles. And once a "first principle" like "individual liberty" gets started, just try arguing against it... try arguing for even minimal self-control....or manners....and you'll eventually be labelled a "Hitler".

And if you think that Nietzsche did not undermine the foundations of science and reason, exalt the "artist", and provide the philosophical foundations for the Bohemian lifestyle, including the legitimization of criminal behavior and the "underclass" (See "The Genealogy of Morals"), then feel free to ignore his influence as well... but beware...for without Nietzsche, European "post-Impressionist" art might have stagnated and collapsed of its own absurd weight, and no one would be capable of understanding trends in "modern" art or music today....and ps....good luck understanding the events of the early twentieth century, the rise of totalitarianism, and consequences inherent when one begins philosophizing "with a hammer".

And another note...what exactly is this monolithic "Rousseauian morality" that you speak of? You seem to believe that Rousseau invented the concept of "doing your own thing".... I'd say that is what human beings have been striving to do since they first stepped foot on this planet, and each time a new human is born to woman today. But this "do your own thing" morality can only exist under conditions in which the "herd" is not threatened. Threaten the "herd", and we all close ranks and call for "common causes" and exalt in "herd values". That is their source. But remove the threat, and the herd falls apart. Every cow becomes an individual. Our "herdsmen" are having a more and more difficult time keeping our cows together. Better get ready for a stampede.... (just kidding?).

And finally, perhaps Charles Taylor's "The Ethic of Authenticity" explains the intervening 200 year gap between Rousseau and the 1960's, but I don't think you adequately connected the non sequitur presented in your otherwise marvelous book.

A little criticism offered in the hope of your achieving a better understanding of my current understanding of our present shared situation. And I will "eventually" read the
Taylor book...and if I have missed the logical connections you have drawn in your book, I apologize for being the product of the American public school system. Your criticisms of Rousseau just seem a little "thin" for one who has read Rousseau (in translation)
extensively and who has also done a little research on Tom Hayden, the SDS, the NAACP, et al, and traced the "new" left directly to the "old" left. But I'll reserve judgement as to your conclusions about Rousseau until I've completed "The Ethic of Authenticity"

A current and long time admirer,

-Farmer John

Very interesting thoughts, and now we are closer, I think, to some agreement. In the intellectual camp, relativism is a problem because it's no longer easy to argue for an external moral order that makes claims on us. Even reason, the Enlightenment tool for defending rights and norms based on nature, has now proven to be a fallible instrument (just as the Christians always said it was).

But the ordinary person doesn't worry about these philosophical debates. As Hume realized, showing that morality doesn't have a rational foundation doesn't mean you can dispense with morality. It just means that morality is now based on habit or tradition or prudence.

I think Rousseau's idea of the "inner self" as the final arbiter of morality is today the central dogma of the young. What to become? Who to love? What to do in a situation? The answer is usually: "There's no right answer. Be true to yourself." This isn't relativism. It's not as if the choice of what to do or whom to love is arbitrary. It's not as if "anything goes." The Rousseauistic view is that there is a right answer. But we only get this right answer from within. Thus each person may give a different answer to the same question, but the answer is absolutely true for that person. Absolutes are maintained, but the source of absolute value shifts from an external source (such as God) to the inner self.

Hope you find these thoughts interesting. I probably can't continue this discussion much further. But I've enjoyed sharing ideas with you.

Best, Dinesh D'Souza

...the discussion did go a bit further, but he knows "why" the West has become weak.

1/30/07, 12:37 PM  
Blogger Jason Pappas said...

Rousseau damned civilization as corrupting the soul of man, via private property. His idea of the “general will” was a step towards collectivism. Kant’s work solidified the skepticism that we can know reality itself. And his deontological ethics gutted virtue of its virility.

Rousseau was a reversal of Aristotle’s viewpoint that one starts life a slave to the passions but becomes fully human by cultivating the essential capacity that defines man’s essence: his reasoning capacity. For Aristotle one actualizes one’s potential in a civilized order; for Rousseau one is corrupted by civilization.

Notice that D’Souza agrees with Hume that “morality doesn’t have a rational foundation.” That’s a complete repudiation of the great Hellenic philosophers. D'Souza agrees with the ideas that weakened the West. Without Hellenic thought, the West is not the West. Without a return to Hellenic rationalism (not Continental rationalism) we will not have to tools to secure – or revive – our culture’s greatness.

Islam doesn’t share our Hellenic heritage and has had little exposure to our Roman heritage. It has had no experience with Lockean liberal ideas. It has nothing – I repeat – nothing in common with our culture.

By the way, you made some good points with your reference to Epicureanism if I take that to refer to the original Epicureans who retired from life in the search of an anxiety-free and pain-free simple life. Pleasure for the original Epicureans was an absence of pain and fear. It was an excuse to avoid the challenges of life, the short-term discomforts, and the risks that honor require. I hoped to write about both the original Epicureans and the Stoics – the two main Hellenistic schools.

The original Stoics rejected the efficacy of virtue implicit in Plato and Aristotle; they clung to a notion of “virtue for virtue’s sake” regardless of any hope of reward. Cicero is critical of both schools in De Finibus; he revives the Hellenic ideal (but makes use of Stoic conclusions about natural law and normative ethics.) The Stoic/Epicurean false alternative has its counter part in today's deontological/consequentialist dichotomy.

1/30/07, 1:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've never claimed otherwise mr. ducky. I'm a big fan of Jonathan Swift and the Greeks.

1/30/07, 1:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I don't think "Rousseau damned civilization as corrupting the soul of man, via private property". Rousseau's issues with "society" had more to do with the "artificialities" of amour de soi (aka- hereditary nobility or the "false pride" ones gains through hereditary title). He very much believed in "natural law".

Rousseau, "Emile"

We must therefore go back to the origin of property, for that is where the first idea of it must begin. The child, living in the country, will have got some idea of field work; eyes and leisure suffice for that, and he will have both. In every age, and especially in childhood, we want to create, to copy, to produce, to give all the signs of power and activity. He will hardly have seen the gardener at work twice, sowing, planting, and growing vegetables, before he will want to garden himself.

According to the principles I have already laid down, I shall not thwart him; on the contrary, I shall approve of his plan, share his hobby, and work with him, not for his pleasure but my own; at least, so he thinks; I shall be his under-gardener, and dig the ground for him till his arms are strong enough to do it; he will take possession of it by planting a bean, and this is surely a more sacred possession, and one more worthy of respect, than that of Nunes Balboa, who took possession of South America in the name of the King of Spain, by planting his banner on the coast of the Southern Sea.

We water the beans every day, we watch them coming up with the greatest delight. Day by day I increase this delight by saying, "Those belong to you." To explain what that word "belong" means, I show him how he has given his time, his labour, and his trouble, his very self to it; that in this ground there is a part of himself which he can claim against all the world, as he could withdraw his arm from the hand of another man who wanted to keep it against his will.

One fine day he hurries up with his watering-can in his hand. What a scene of woe! Alas! all the beans are pulled up, the soil is dug over, you can scarcely find the place. Oh! what has become of my labour, my work, the beloved fruits of my care and effort? Who has stolen my property! Who has taken my beans? The young heart revolts; the first feeling of injustice brings its sorrow and bitterness; tears come in torrents, the unhappy child fills the air with cries and groans, I share his sorrow and anger; we look around us, we make inquiries. At last we discover that the gardener did it. We send for him.

But we are greatly mistaken. The gardener, hearing our complaint, begins to complain louder than we:

What, gentlemen, was it you who spoilt my work! I had sown some Maltese melons; the seed was given me as something quite out of the common, and I meant to give you a treat when they were ripe; but you have planted your miserable beans and destroyed my melons, which were coming up so nicely, and I can never get any more. You have behaved very badly to me and you have deprived yourselves of the pleasure of eating most delicious melons.

JEAN JACQUES. My poor Robert, you must forgive us. You had given your labour and your pains to it. I see we were wrong to spoil your work, but we will send to Malta for some more seed for you, and we will never dig the ground again without finding out if some one else has been beforehand with us.

ROBERT. Well, gentlemen, you need not trouble yourselves, for there is no more waste ground. I dig what my father tilled; every one does the same, and all the land you see has been occupied time out of mind.

EMILE. Mr. Robert, do people often lose the seed of Maltese melons?

ROBERT. No indeed, sir; we do not often find such silly little gentlemen as you. No one meddles with his neighbour's garden; every one respects other people's work so that his own may be safe.

EMILE. But I have not got a garden.

ROBERT. I don't care; if you spoil mine I won't let you walk in it, for you see I do not mean to lose my labour.

JEAN JACQUES. Could not we suggest an arrangement with this kind Robert? Let him give my young friend and myself a corner of his garden to cultivate, on condition that he has half the crop.

ROBERT. You may have it free. But remember I shall dig up your beans if you touch my melons.

In this attempt to show how a child may be taught certain primitive ideas we see how the notion of property goes back naturally to the right of the first occupier to the results of his work. That is plain and simple, and quite within the child's grasp. From that to the rights of property and exchange there is but a step, after which you must stop short.

1/30/07, 2:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nietzsche built one, but I doubt we could get anyone but Thrasymachus to approve of it...

1/30/07, 2:30 PM  
Blogger Jason Pappas said...

But what did he see as natural law? In any case, he reversed Aristotle’s viewpoint that one actualizes one potential in a civilized order. For Rousseau civilization corrupts. What was it that Voltaire said upon reading one of Rousseau’s manuscripts? In any case, a friend is going to post on Rousseau’s notion of nature and property so I’ll skip that.

Nietzsche never built a rational ethics. He was an avowed irrationalist! C’mon guys, you know this.

It looks like you both share in the post-modern notion that reason can’t provide ethical guidance. That’s a rejection of the Hellenic ideal that’s at the core of the Western outlook. It was Socrates that fought the subjectivists – the Sophists – to argue that knowledge of ethics was possible and the human mind was up to the task. Plato and Aristotle continued the tradition.

Christianity entered the scene with a very different notion: ethics wasn’t discovered in nature but stipulated. Instead of society stipulating rules, a supernatural being stipulates the rules. Now this creates a conflict since there is more than one religion that claims to have God’s word on the matter. And without reference to reality there is no way to solve this conflict. Conservatives like D’Souza just want to deny that such differences can exist. They want to believe that God whispers the same message in the ear of every prophet. Fools! Such a fairy tales will blind us to the great divide.

Let nature be our guide and reason our tool of apprehending nature for the truth shall set us free! This is the Greek and Roman way.

1/30/07, 2:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe, like Plato did, in a "mixed" existence. Mind is only one part of it.

1/30/07, 3:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

philo-sophy. love of wisdom.

Not just... wisdom.

1/30/07, 3:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the Hellenes were very much aware of the relativists arguments, and the weaknesses and flaws within their own.

At least... Plato was.

1/30/07, 3:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

1/30/07, 3:28 PM  
Blogger Jason Pappas said...

“And if you believe that mental pursuits are the sine qua non of existence” –fj

Aristotle clearly isn’t just “mind.” Read his ethics. I agree that there are problems with his notion of contemplation as an end. However, he was clearly of the opinion that reason can understand and guide man and society. It is that what I hold to be a central notion of Greco-Roman and Western thought.

“It's what makes "mind" and "rationalizations" possible.” – fj

Ah, here you denigrate reason to rationalization. Rather than a potent and powerful tool for survival and flourishing you have made it a corrupted tool of distortion in the service of pre-ordained drives or commandments. But that’s what reason is for those who need to rationalize their dogmatic belief system. That’s religion at its worse. Perhaps you are projecting.

1/30/07, 3:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nietzsche, "Will to Power"

83 (Spring-Fall 1887)
"Without the Christian faith," Pascal thought, "you, no less than nature and history, will become for yourselves un monstre et un chaos." This prophecy we have furfilled, after the feeble-optimistic eighteenth century had prettified and rationalized man.
Schopenhauer and Pascal.--In an important sense, Schopenhauer is the first to take up again the movement of Pascal: un monstre et un chaos, consequently something to be negated.-- History, nature, man himself.
"Our inability to know the truth is the consequence of our corruption, our moral decay"; thus Pascal. And thus, at bottom, Schopenhauer. "The deeper the corruption of reason, the more necessary the doctrine of salvation"--or, in Schopenhauer's terms, negation.

1/30/07, 3:32 PM  
Blogger Jason Pappas said...

It sounds like an opponent of reason. No?

1/30/07, 3:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It isn't being pro or anti-reason.

It's balancing reason with unreason. You can't deny a place to unreason

1/30/07, 3:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

1/30/07, 3:39 PM  
Blogger Jason Pappas said...

“I'm not saying "reason" is not helpful Jason...quite the opposite.” - fj

Merely helpful?

“I'm just saying "reason isn't everything"... which is what you seem to be saying.” - fj

I’m not saying it is everything; only that it is the most important thing. One’s mind is one’s most potent tool. Yes, one must cultivate dispositions and, indeed, passions that fuel the struggle and fire the soul. But one must not unthinkingly submit to any passing passion or act on raw infantile appetites.

1/30/07, 3:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

1/30/07, 3:55 PM  
Blogger Jason Pappas said...

Everything is finite and has limits. That's not a disparagement unless one has arbitrary standards of excellence not based on human nature.

It’s the fact that we are fallible that we need to study the criteria of knowledge. Not anything idea should be embraced. Fallibility motivates reflection.

But to take the driving factor for philosophy, study, and knowledge as the disqualifying element would be a substantial error. You aren’t doing that are you?

1/30/07, 3:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

...and so I value the irrational and the unreasonable. I don't denigrate it. It has its' merits...

1/30/07, 3:59 PM  
Blogger Jason Pappas said...

Some more Goya:

“Fantasy abandoned by reason produces impossible monsters: united with her, she is the mother of the arts and the origin of their marvels." -Goya

1/30/07, 4:00 PM  
Blogger Jason Pappas said...

By the way, I don’t denigrate emotions as the irrational. They play an important part in life and thought. However, successful cultivation of character leads to a healthy relation to emotion where they enhance life instead of being obstacles.

1/30/07, 4:03 PM  
Blogger Always On Watch said...

I’ve found Lewis useful but I thought he was a bit hesitant to understand the significance of the Islamic Revival. Now that he's making stronger statements one wonders what people like D'Souza will do. Lewis is the expert for many.

I haven't yet read all the comments here, so I apologize in advance if this has already been answered: Why has Lewis awakened?

1/30/07, 6:02 PM  
Blogger Jason Pappas said...

I don't know what has changed Lewis' opinion. I haven't followed his evolution. I'd like to know that question also.

PS We've been off on a tangent. Hard to believe? ;)

1/30/07, 6:56 PM  
Blogger Always On Watch said...

Hugh Fitzgerald on Bernard Lewis

1/31/07, 9:19 AM  
Blogger Jason Pappas said...

Thanks AOW, I was thinking of you when I read that this morning. If Hugh hasn’t seen any explanation for Lewis’ reversal it must not be in print. I appreciate Hugh’s exasperation but I know how hard it is for many to face the harsh reality today. But I am grateful that he has admitted his error. A person held in so high esteem can help the cause.

1/31/07, 9:26 AM  
Blogger Jason Pappas said...

There are two problems. One is those who embrace illiberal ideologies (Islamists and Communists), assume menacing postures, and sponsor attacks on civilized people. The other is our failure to defend ourselves. We have to make a distinction between the moral depravity of the perpetrator and the failure to take prudent measures to fight evil.

You can’t blame the rape victim for the rape but we can try to protect women, prosecute perpetrators, and defend ourselves and our love ones.

I often say that our 50 years of appeasement has emboldened them. However, that doesn’t mean we are to blame for the moral choices of our enemies. Their failures aren’t due to our failures. Their cultural dispositions are a reflection of the spiritual poverty of their belief systems. We may not change their irrational hate but we can discourage their acting on these feelings.

Of course, they should hate us just as the communists hated us. Would we want to be the kind of country Castro could love (i.e. the USSR?) Would we want to be the kind of country a devout Muslim could love (i.e. Saudi Arabia or Taliban Afghanistan?) Of course not! The problem isn’t that they hate us; it’s that they don’t fear us.

1/31/07, 9:39 AM  
Blogger Jason Pappas said...

I wrote about postmodern irrationalism on Dec 2004. You should appreciate the opening line. The post-modern rejects reason. However, continental Rationalists started the process by gutting reason of its power to apprehend reality.

1/31/07, 10:07 AM  
Blogger Jason Pappas said...

Farmer why have you deleted 30 of your posts?

1/31/07, 11:23 AM  
Blogger Cubed © said...

"Islam doesn’t share our Hellenic heritage and has had little exposure to our Roman heritage. It has had no experience with Lockean liberal ideas. It has nothing – I repeat – nothing in common with our culture."

This is SO INCREDIBLY important for people to realize; the Muslims' lack of experience with the ideas that brought us to the state we reside in intellectually today is one of the four or five major reasons why Muslim nations cannot appreciate what they are missing.

We undertook to begin a phenomenal intellectual journey over 2300 years ago, and for Our Leaders to expect the Muslims to go from zero to sixty in the course of a single generation is just plain dumb.

But hey, our schools don't even teach a subject called "history" any more, and the closest thing they get to philosophy is PC, so I suppose we really can/t expect any better.

"...for Rousseau one is corrupted by civilization." Yes, indeedy, and that process of corruption included such "artificial" notions as the concept of education as a means of transmitting knowledge from one generation to the next.

I loathe Rousseau for several reasons; it was primarily he who let loose the dogs of "Progressive" education. I have to wonder, though, whether in Emile, he may have been trying to dance around the edges of an educational approach that begins at the beginning, with direct experience of reality (Jason, if you are still there, I would really enjoy your input on this).

Problem is, if that was what he was doing, he quit too soon, right there, with "direct experience," and went on to damn reason (and its productions) as one of those "unnatural" things.

If it had been up to Rousseau, it looks as if we would have had to "reinvent the wheel" with every generation.

2/6/07, 12:51 PM  
Blogger Jason Pappas said...

I don’t know enough about Emile so I can’t comment.

You have me beat when it comes to the history of educational philosophy. I only suffered in these institutions! Dewey was the major influence for my primary and secondary school teachers.

2/6/07, 2:58 PM  

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