Sunday, 2 October 2011

Modern man: the ethical giant...


CS Lewis often pointed out the Christianity was added to and a completion of natural law and good paganism.

Therefore much of The Good, most, was taken for granted as being obvious, spontaneous, inborn.

The anciently conceived Good was a unity of virtue, truth a beauty.


So modern 'thinkers' arrive on the scene having rejected the vast submerged iceberg of the natural and the spontaneous, and having isolated virtue (ethics) from the true and the beautiful; and they tackle an issue like the death penalty, or war, or marriage by considering it on the assumption that all previous generations were evil fools and a few minutes of sensible consideration by people such as themselves should easily be able to supersede them...


And so we discover that the death penalty is evil, and pacifism is imperative, and marriage is just a convenient contract... and all of humanity before a few decades ago, and ninety something percent of humanity now, was and is wicked or stupid or both; and we ourselves, our generation, are in fact and in deed the most virtuous ever - modern enlightened humans are nothing less than ethical giants who colossally bestride human kind: evaluating, judging, laying down the law...



And yet.

I look around at the world of careerists, expedience merchants and intellectual pygmies who make these amazing moral discoveries such as the intrinsic and universal evilness of the death penalty; these sold-out academics, media pundits and pub debaters who claim to have superseded the justice of the ages (the great philosophers, the Saints and martyrs) - and am simply stunned at the mismatch.

It really is bizarre that the most self-indulgent and hedonistic generations to inhabit the planet should regard themselves as moral experts and exemplars - of all things!

Untrammeled pleasure-seeking, unbridled self-expression and changing the rules to facilitate these are one thing - but to preen oneself as an ethical giant?

Did Caligula and Nero regard themselves as moral authorities?