March 22, 2016

Juicy Quote XIV

Filed under: Juicy Quotes,Politics — camcintosh @ 11:51 am

thomas-sowellWhether in Europe, Asia, Africa or the Western Hemisphere, a common pattern among intellectuals has been to seek, or demand, equality of results without equality of causes—or on sheer presumptions of equality of causes. Nor have such demands been limited to intellectuals within the lagging groups, whether minorities or majorities. Outside intellectuals, including intellectuals in other countries, have often discussed statistical differences in incomes and other outcomes as “disparities,” and “inequities” that need to be “corrected,” as if they were discussing abstract people in an abstract world.

The corrections being urged are seldom corrections within the lagging groups, such as Hume urged upon his fellow Scots in the eighteenth century. Today, the prevailing tenets of multiculturalism declare all cultures equal, sealing members of lagging groups within a bubble of their current habits and practices, much as believers in multiculturalism have sealed themselves within a bubble of peer-consensus dogma.

There are certain possibilities that many among the intelligentsia cannot even acknowledge as possibilities, much less try to test empirically, which would be risking a whole vision of the world—and of themselves—on a roll of the dice. Chief among these is the possibility that the most fundamental disparity among people is in their disparities in wealth-generating capabilities, of which the disparities in income and wealth are results, rather than causes. Other disparities, whether in crime, violence and alcohol intake or other social pathology, may also have internal roots. But these possibilities as well are not allowed inside the sealed bubble of the prevailing vision.

One of the consequences of this vision is that blatant economic and other differences among groups, for which explanations due to factors internal to the lagging group are not allowed inside the sealed bubble of the multicultural vision, must be explained by external causes. If group A has higher incomes or higher other achievements than group B, then the vision of cosmic justice transforms A’s good fortune into B’s grievance—and not a grievance against fate, the gods, geography or the cosmos, but specifically a grievance against A. This formula has been applied around the world, whether turning Czechs against Germans, Malays against Chinese, Ugandans against Indians, Sinhalese against Tamils or innumerable other groups against those more successful than themselves.

The contribution of the intelligentsia to this process has often been to verbally conjure up a vision in which A has acquired wealth by taking it from B—the latter being referred to as “exploited,” “dispossessed,” or in some other verbal formulation that explains the economic disparity by a transfer of wealth from B to A. It does not matter if there is no speck of evidence that B was economically better off before A arrived on the scene. Nor does it matter how much evidence there may be that B became demonstrably worse off after A departed the scene, whether it was the Ugandan economy collapsing after the expulsions of Indians and Pakistanis in the 1970s, the desolation in the Sudeten region of Czechoslovakia after the Germans were expelled in 1945, or the continuing urban desolation of many black ghettoes across the United States, decades after the riots of the 1960s drove out many of the white-owned businesses that were supposedly exploiting ghetto residents.

Not only is empirical evidence that A made B poorer seldom considered necessary, considerable evidence that A’s presence kept B from being even poorer is often ignored. In Third World countries whose poverty has often been attributed to “exploitation” by Western nations, it is not uncommon for those indigenous people most in contact with Westerners in port cities and other places to be visibly less poor than indigenous people out in the hinterlands remote from Western contacts or influence.

To think of some people as simply being higher achievers than others, for whatever reason, is a threat to today’s prevailing vision, for it implicitly places the onus on the lagging group to achieve more—and, perhaps more important, deprives the intelligentsia of their role of fighting on the side of the angels against the forces of evil. The very concept of achievement fades into the background, or disappears completely, in some of the verbal formulations of the intelligentsia, where those who turn out to be more successful ex post are depicted as having been “privileged” ex ante.

—Thomas Sowell, Intellectuals and Race (Basic Books, 2013), pp. 50-52.

January 21, 2016

Juicy Quote XIII

Filed under: Ethics,Juicy Quotes,Life — camcintosh @ 11:31 am

“An increase of pride diminishes gratitude. So doth sensuality, or the increase of sensual appetites; which coming more and more under the power and impression of sensible objects, tends by degrees to make the mind insensible to any thing else. Those appetites take up the whole soul; and, through habit and custom, the water is all drawn out of other channels in which it naturally flows, and is carried as it were into one channel … Genuine virtue prevents that increase of the habits of pride and sensuality, which tend to diminish the exercises of the useful and necessary principles of nature. And a principle of general benevolence softens and sweetens the mind, makes it more susceptible of the proper influence of the gentler natural instincts, directs every one into its proper channel, determines the exercise to the proper manner and measure, and guides all to the best purposes.”

—Jonathan Edwards, The Nature of True Virtue (University of Michigan Press, 1960), pp. 93, 97.

September 25, 2015

Juicy Quote XII

Filed under: Juicy Quotes,Philosophy — camcintosh @ 4:09 pm

“The gist of Augustine’s view of faith and reason is summed up in his use of the scriptural passage “Unless you believe, you shall not understand.” He takes this to indicate a temporal priority of faith to understanding—as if to say, faith is where we begin but understanding is where we end up. And of course it is the end, the goal or telos, which gives meaning to the beginning—for as Augustine insists very emphatically, the journey is pointless apart form its destination. In one of his latest writings, Augustine says, “It is begun in faith, but completed by sight,” echoing one of his earliest works, in which he says, “Authority comes first in time, but Reason is first in reality. […] The road to understanding often begins with our believing what our teachers tell us—as when we believe a mathematical formula on the authority of our math teacher, even though we cannot really see what it means. But of course if we are good students then we desire to understand the changeless truth it signifies—to see it for ourselves, with our own mind’s eye.”

–Philip Cary, Augustine’s Invention of the Inner Self (Oxford University Press, 2000), p. 145.

Cf. Anselm: “I do not seek to understand so that I may believe; but I believe so that I may understand.”

September 21, 2015

Juicy Quote XI

Filed under: Juicy Quotes,Life — camcintosh @ 12:50 pm

“Something is practical if it helps you to realize your goals. If your goals include knowing who you really are, what life in this world is all about, and what’s ultimately important, then philosophy is eminently practical. If these things are not among your goals, well, then you need new goals.

—Tom Morris, Philosophy for Dummies (IDG Books, 1999), p. 335.

June 9, 2015

Juicy Quote X

Filed under: Juicy Quotes,Life — camcintosh @ 7:45 pm

“It would be the height of folly to suppose that man’s sociality is wholly negative; but its corrupting side cannot be denied. Encounter with nature in solitude pulls one out of one’s social comfort zone in such a way that the ultimate questions obtrude themselves with full force. In society, they can strike one like jokes from a Woody Allen movie; in solitude, in the desert, they are serious. Nature is not God; but the solitary encounter with it, by breaking the spell of the social, can orient us toward Nature’s God.”

—William Vallicella, “Waiting for St. Benedict. Various Withdrawal Options

November 12, 2014

Juicy Quote IX

Filed under: Juicy Quotes,Philosophy — camcintosh @ 7:16 pm

Ballade of a Poor Book-Lover


Though in its stern vagaries Fate
A poor book-lover me decreed,
Perchance mine is a happy state
The books I buy I like to read:
To me dear friends they are indeed,
But, hoew’er enviously I sigh,
Of other take I little heed
The books I read I like to buy.


My depth of purse is not so great
Nor yet my bibliophilic greed,
That merely buying doth elate:
The books I buy I like to read:
Still e’en when dawdling in a mead,
Beneath a cloudless summer sky,
By bank of Thames, or Tyne, or Tweed,
The books I read — I like to buy.


Some books tho’ tooled in style ornate,
Yet worms upon their contents feed,
Some men about their bindings prate —
The books I buy I like to read:
Yet some day may my fancy breed
My ruin — it may now be nigh —
They reap, we know, who sow the seed:
The books I read I like to buy


Tho’ frequently to stall I speed,
The books I buy I like to read;
Yet wealth to me will never hie —
The books I read I like to buy.

―A. Edward Newton, The Amenities of Book Collecting and Kindred Affections (Atlantic Monthly Press, 1918), pp. 69-70.

June 6, 2014

Juicy Quote VIII

Filed under: Juicy Quotes,Life,Philosophy — camcintosh @ 4:41 pm

Ludwig_Wittgenstein“What is the use of studying philosophy if all that it does for you is to enable you to talk with some plausibility about some abstruse questions of logic, etc., and if it does not improve your thinking about the important questions of everyday life, if it does not make you more conscientious than any journalist in the use of the dangerous phrases such people use for their own ends? You see, I know that it’s difficult to think well about ‘certainty’, ‘probability’, ‘perception’, etc. But it is, if possible, still more difficult to think, or try to think, really honestly about your life and other peoples’ lives. And the trouble is that thinking about these things is not thrilling, but often downright nasty. And when it’s nasty then it’s most important.”

—Wittgenstein to Norman Malcolm. Nov. 16, 1944. From McGuinness (ed.), Wittgenstein in Cambridge: Letters and Documents 1911-1951 (Blackwell, 2009), p. 370.

February 17, 2014

Juicy Quote VII

Filed under: Juicy Quotes — camcintosh @ 12:20 pm

“Philosophy is hard. Thinking clearly for an extended period is hard. It is easier to pour scorn on those who disagree with you than actually to address their arguments. […] And of all the kinds of scorn that can be poured on someone’s views, moral scorn is the safest and most pleasant (most pleasant to the one doing the pouring). It is the safest kind because, if you want to pour moral scorn on someone’s views, you can be sure that everyone who is predisposed to agree with you will believe that you have made an unanswerable point. And you can be sure that any attempt your opponent in debate makes at an answer will be dismissed by a significant proportion of your audience as a ‘‘rationalization’’ — that great contribution of modern depth psychology to intellectual complacency and laziness. Moral scorn is the most pleasant kind of scorn to deploy against those who disagree with you because a display of self-righteousness—moral posturing—is a pleasant action whatever the circumstances, and it’s nice to have an excuse for it.”

—Peter van Inwagen, The Problem of Evil (Oxford, 2006), pp. 61-62.

December 10, 2013

Juicy Quote VI

Filed under: Juicy Quotes — camcintosh @ 10:31 pm

“Talk of God as the reality that includes and determines everything, as the ground and goal of everything, and as id quo maius cogitari nequit, is to be understood as the answer to the question, inseparable from the human being as a person, regarding the whole of reality; moreover, it is only in relation to the most comprehensive of all questions that talk about God can become articulate. Metaphysics is the name given to the science which inquires not about individual beings or realms of being but about being as such and as a whole. Talk about God presupposes the metaphysical question about being and at the same time keeps this question alive. In our present situation, therefore, theology as talk about God also acts as protector and defender of philosophy as the question about being as such. ‘The Christian is the person who by virtue of his faith is compelled to philosophize.’ This does not imply a choice of one particular philosophy, as, for example, Aristotelian philosophy and metaphysics; it does, however, imply an option for a philosophy that in opposition to every narrowing and obscuring of the human horizon keeps open the question about the meaning of the whole and precisely in this way serves the humanness of humanity.”

—Walter Kasper, The God of Jesus Christ (Crossroad, 1984; Eng. Trans. 1994), p. 15.

October 13, 2013

Juicy Quote V

Filed under: Juicy Quotes — camcintosh @ 11:55 am

“At a deeper level, I suspect that the [ontological] argument can be thoroughly understood only by someone who has a view of that human ‘form of life’ that gives rise to the idea of an infinitely great being, who views it from the inside not just from the outside and who has, therefore, at least some inclination to partake in that religious form of life.”

—Norman Malcolm, “Anselm’s Ontological Arguments,” in Knowledge and Certainty: Essays and Lectures (Cornell 1963), p. 162.

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