Sunday, 2 October 2011

Modern man: the ethical giant...

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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.

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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...

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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...

Wow!

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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and universal evilness of the death penalty; these sold-out academics, media pundits and pub debaters who claim to have superseded the justice of the ages (the great philosophers, the Saints and martyrs) - and am simply stunned at the mismatch.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?

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