August 29, 2003

Around the Proverbial Horn

[Steven] Pinker strikes me as the kind of person who (like Conchis in The Magus if you know it) might say, "Why should I wade through a two-hundred page novel just to get a couple of notions that could be stated on one page?" There is a refusal to acknowledge that some aspects of the human condition lie just beyond formulation in crisp and concise algorithms. --Mark of Minute Particulars

From Jim on Kathy's blog:

Before my reversion, I was somewhat infatuated with Ayn Rand. Then I discovered that everything noble and admirable in Rand is already in Aristotle, and from there it moves into St. Thomas and is incorporated into Gospel ethics.

The best antidote to Nietzsche is to concede his main point, namely, to concede that the ethical experiment of Kant (which Nietszche inadvertently identifies with "morality" as such) is a radical failure. An ethics of pure obligation that does not have a robust moral psychology that accounts for the longings and restlessness of the heart is is deeply inhuman and dehumanizing. On that point, Nietzsche was right. However, it is not necessary to trace the failure of Kant through a geneology of morality. Such a method leaves the human being worse off than in the Kantian system. Everything that Nietzsche wants is available from Christ when the Holy Spirit is "poured forth into our hearts" and we progress developmentally through life in the Beatitudes.

I recommend the book "Morality: The Catholic View" by Servais Pinckaers. It gives a counter-narrative that is as deeply anti-Kantian as Nietszche, but without the conclusions that give cause for despair.

Carl Olsen has some good thoughts on Flannery O'Connor and Walker Percy.

"My doctor favors Tylenol 3, so named because if you take it with three glasses of wine, you might get to sleep through the night.--Nancy Nall. (I take them mainly for the placebo effect - although if you know you are taking something mainly for the placebo effect, does the placebo effect still work?)

Joke mined from Disputations:
Two Dominican friars, a novice and an old-timer, are out begging for food. As they walk along, they meet the local miser. The older friar calls out a greeting. "God be with you! In the name of our Master and yours, will you give us a coin or two that we may buy food for our convent?"

"Hmph!" the miser answers. "And supposing I don't?"

"Then we shall all grow another day thinner," replies the friar with a gentle smile.

"Look, if I did give you money," the miser says with a shudder, "how do I know you won't just spend it on more of your fancy books?"

At this, the novice pipes in, "Oh, we've got book money!"

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