Noisy artificial limits of any kind ipso facto engender moral hazard. The classic example is the limited liability corporation, which encourages investors and managers to take risks over and above what they would undertake if their personal liability was not limited. FDIC insurance is another.
But this nomological principle applies everywhere. Wherever a limit is set by men that does not correspond to the limits set by nature and reality, agents are prompted to act as if the artificial limits were the real, natural, true limits: i.e., to lie, even if only to themselves, about what it is prudent or good to do, or else to lend credence to such a lie, and so do wrong, or ill, even if only unwittingly.
My article on ancient atomism appears at Angel Millar’s People of Shambhala website. In particular, I undertake a reading of Lucretius’s great poem On the Nature of Things, a strange mixture of bold speculation that anticipates modern physics and cosmology more interesting perhaps for its fairly concerted critique of sacrificial religion. I offer a sample –
Posterity knows only a little about Lucretius and much of what it knows it gleans from autobiographical references in his poem. The poem itself is paradoxical. Alleging to explicate, for the sake of a potential recruit, the scientific truths discovered by Epicurus, the truths that will redeem life for the one who accepts them, On the Nature of Things couches itself in the language of insistent evangelism, making of its intellectual hero, as George Santayana noted in his study of Lucretius in Three Philosophical Poets, a secular saint. The poem attests a powerful experience on the part of its author, which can only be described as spiritual conversion, which he then wishes to foster in another. Already in the generation just after Epicurus, his followers acquired the habit of referring to him under the honorific of soter or “savior,” an etiquette that imitated in turn a propaganda device of Alexander’s successors, the Ptolemaic and Seleucid dynasts. Lucretius, whose time and place knew the afflictions of political breakdown, picks up this thus slightly tainted habit.
I call the attention of Orthospherians to my article “I get a Kick out of Fugue II: Fugue in the Twentieth Century” at Kidist Paulos Asrat’s Reclaiming Beauty website; “Fugue II” is a follow-up to my article from early in summer, “I get a Kick out of Fugue,” also at Reclaiming Beauty. Meanwhile, Angel Millar has given my essay on “Richard Wagner, Revolution, and the Re-Founding of Humanity” a generous presentation at his website, The People of Shambhala. The two essays on fugue argue, with plentiful musical illustration, my anthropological theory of fugal practice as reflecting the patterns of social breakdown and reformation. The essay on Richard Wagner and Musikdrama likewise has an anthropological slant: I take seriously Wagner’s writings, wherein, once one gets past the florid rhetoric, one finds a genuine and plausible theory of the origin alike of consciousness and culture. I recommend both Reclaiming Beauty and People of Shambhala as interesting and valuable websites.
Some time ago when The Orthosphere was novel, Kristor, in addressing the issue of how I might best contribute to the enterprise, suggested to me in private correspondence that not every posting needed to be a fully worked out, objectively couched essay. Shorter, more personal or subjective postings might serve justifiably – postings that reported, say, moments of intellectual clarification, attempts to live in a context of liberal soft tyranny, important formulations discovered in reading, objects of longstanding connoisseurship, or the like. A posting might even be modestly autobiographical or self-explanatory. What follows is an amalgam of all that.
In the comments of Dr. Bertonneau’s most recent portion of his valuable series on TS Eliot, I wondered idly why the Powers decided that we ought to use “Muslim” in place of the traditional “Moslem.” There followed some interesting offline conversations with Ilion and another regular commenter at the Orthosphere, which led to the discovery of some unexpected connections to apparently unrelated issues.
Really, should we ever be surprised at such discoveries? In a coherent world, how could anything fail to be connected to everything else, whether trivially or not? What is thought but an exploration of that network of connections?
This post then is mostly a recapitulation of the exploration I undertook with Ilion and my other correspondent. My thanks to them both.
What did the exploration unfold? “Language is an instrument of power, whether we want to think of it that way or not. E.g., I doubt you would say that the move from AD and BC to CE and BCE was innocent of political implication.” Ergo: Politically correct speech is a type of jizya, the head tax Muslims imposed on infidels under their power: Christians, Jews, &c.
In my post “A Church of Liberalism,” commenter “The Man Who Was…” objects strenuously to my identification of liberalism as a religion. He maintains his position despite my pointing out that liberalism answers all the deep questions of life, that it demands worship and devotion, and so on. He thinks it grossly improper to call liberalism a religion.
The dispute comes down to the question of what the word “religion” means, and whether one believes it proper to use the word “religion,” as I have, to refer to something that fulfills most of the traditional aspects of religion without being a religion in the full and literal sense. Obviously liberalism is not a formally constituted “religion” in the textbook sense. But it has enough similarities with religion that I did not think anyone would object to my use of the word.
Nothing quite grates on me more than getting lectured by ignorant atheists about what my religion actually commands of me. I complained once, I think, several weeks ago about an offensive and frankly indecent image of a group of Christians (their exact affiliation was unclear) who, at a gay pride parade, showed up to wave apologetic signs, wearing shirts emblazoned with the logo “I’m Sorry.” The obscene display so melted the hearts of the perverts on parade that one of them sauntered over, dressed in nothing but a pair of whitey-tighteys – in public — to embrace one of the sign-wavers. Their embrace was photographed and widely circulated as evidence of Christian love in action. You can see that sentiment on display at this site, where I first read of this monstrous offense against decency, and where, in the comments, an assortment of lefties and atheists who obviously don’t buy their own bullshit command us to embrace sodomy en masse in the name of “love” or… I dunno, be hypocrites or whatever the fashionable judgment of the day is. (Thankfully, this attitude doesn’t go unchallenged).
Well, no. Nope. The thing displayed in that photograph, whatever it is, isn’t love. It’s scandal. It’s the opposite of love. It destroys love; it destroys grace; and it destroys souls.