Love, hate, philosophy, politics and science

There are truths that are unpalatable for a variety of reasons, one being that truth exacts our humble assent. Intellectual talents feed our pride: we assume that we know better than anyone else. Most heresies and key errors were engendered by “geniuses” whose pride blinded them to the fact that they were fallible. How very few of them, when proven wrong, acknowledged their errors! To be blind is bad enough; to deny that one is blind is hopeless. Skepticism, relativism, subjectivism, empiricism, idealism — none was born on a farm. They are all manufactured in colleges and universities. Nietzsche denied God’s existence on the grounds that if God existed, it would be unbearable for Nietzsche not to be god. He “honestly” tells us, through Zarathustra, that he wants to be god, a god that suffers no rival.

Such “blindness” is most prevalent in the ethical sphere. The “canonization” of science in the modern world is easily explained by the fact that it does not “preach”: It gives us plain, blunt facts about the workings of the material universe, and leaves our consciences at peace. Science does not meddle with our “lifestyles.” Moreover, it gives us a feeling of power and greatness: the mind-boggling discoveries of the past fifty years nurture in us the illusion that we are masters of the universe.

The very “neutrality” of scientific knowledge is soothing and explains its popularity. Ethics, on the other hand, is “irksome.” It commands; it condemns. Modern man reasons that this approach might have had some validity for primitive people — and, of course, during the Dark Ages. But now man is “mature”; each of us is properly disposed to decide how we should live. It is no easy task to convince a thief that thievery is immoral: In his eyes, it is a fast way of re-establishing justice. The rich man is rich because he cheated the poor; ergo, it is legitimate to “unburden” the rich man of his “unjustly” acquired property. Or try to convince a lecherous man that he is living in sin. A typical response might be: Was it not God Himself who chose to link intense pleasure to certain activities? What could be wrong with enjoying these treasures rooted in our nature?

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Submitted by Don H.

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