Monday, December 29, 2014

Repost: The Trouble with Endless "Discussion"

The trouble with thinking that truth will always win out in open discussion, in my view, is that people in general are not particularly interested in truth. More than that, though, there is no such thing as a universal reason accessible to all human beings. What is rational is so only in a particular time and place and according to criteria that emerge from that context. When modern people fail to be convinced by natural law arguments, this is not because they are irrational or whatever. Rather, it is simply because all of the assumptions that underlie natural law theory make no sense to the modern mind. One might as well argue in favor of some position by referring to the principles of alchemy.

This is part of the reason why the occasional staged argument between Christians and liberals always end with the audience even more firmly on the side of the liberals. Liberals can appeal to the intuitive "common sense" of ordinary people, and they can also appeal to their emotions in ways that Christians cannot. Instead, Christians have to either attempt to justify their positions in liberal terms, which is a pointless endeavor, or waste time describing the alternate paradigm in which their views make sense, but even then, very few Christian apologists are any good at making a case for why this paradigm is superior to the liberal one.

Of course, this is so because, deep down, most Christians don't really believe their own thing anymore. And, even to the extent that they do, most of them still think of their own position in terms completely determined by the modern paradigm. Consider that traditional Catholics now like to pontificate about the naturalness and goodness of homosexuality and the base and disgusting nature of "homophobia." This is a pure transvaluation of values being accepted uncritically by Christianity. However, even Christians who do not go in for this sort of thing are still determined in their beliefs by the modern paradigm, much in the same way that the Romantic revolt against soulless modern technology in the name of pure nature was itself determined completely by modern categories.

So, I do not think open debate will solve much in this situation. As Ernst Juenger says, "A sound opinion finds many advocates, but no martyrs." Or, as Bl. John Henry Newman put it, "Many a man will live and die upon a dogma: no man will be a martyr for a conclusion." The early Church preached Christ crucified, it did not engage in endless, anemic "discussion." We know what the outcome of that strategy was, and we know what the outcome of ours has been.


Source: Crusading Philologist, October 21, 2014 (6:45 p.m.), comment on Vox Clamantis, "The War's Not Over -- Oh Boy!," Fish Eaters Traditional Catholic Forum, October 20, 2014,

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