Thursday, March 04, 2010

One More Argument

Denis Boyles halloos John Stuart Mill's name to the reverberate hills of The Corner:

One more thing on Andrew McCarthy's NRO piece and its lede-line: "If Obamacare passes, Obamacare is forever."

I made a few notes, then went into a philosophy seminar I lead for the boys at Chavvers — Chavagnes, a perfectly eccentric, old-fashioned English boarding school which is located conveniently in deepest France. Our topic lately has been John Stuart Mill's On Liberty. I mentioned McCarthy's premise and then, as we were finishing, came across this:
Society can and does execute its own mandates; and if it issues wrong mandates instead of right, or any mandates at all in things with which it ought not to meddle, it practices a social tyranny more formidable than many kinds of political oppression, since, though not usually upheld by such extreme penalties, it leaves fewer means of escape, penetrating much more deeply into the details of life, and enslaving the soul itself.
One more argument for tempering with caution what Mill called "the tyranny of the prevailing opinion" and all that. Okay, now I'm done.
Boyles' post is entitled "J.S. Mill on Obamacare," and why not? Mill does use the word "wrong," after all, so QED.

This seems like fairly light work. Let's see if I can do it too.
J.S. Mill on Obamacare

Not only does all strengthening of social ties, and all healthy growth of society, give to each individual a stronger personal interest in practically consulting the welfare of others; it also leads him to identify his feelings more and more with their good, or at least with an even greater degree of practical consideration for it. He comes, as though instinctively, to be conscious of himself as a being who of course pays regard to others. The good of others becomes to him a thing naturally and necessarily to be attended to, like any of the physical conditions of our existence....

In the comparatively early state of human advancement in which we now live, a person cannot indeed feel that entireness of sympathy with all others, which would make any real discordance in the general direction of their conduct in life impossible; but already a person in whom the social feeling is at all developed, cannot bring himself to think of the rest of his fellow creatures as struggling rivals with him for the means of happiness, whom he must desire to see defeated in their object in order that he may succeed in his.
Ha! It's easy and fun! Let's try another.
Schopenhauer on Denis Boyles

I got appallingly drunk on Pernod, then staggered into my office wearing a dented top hat, a monocle, and assless chaps trimmed with cerise crepe de chien. There, I harangued my kitten about the preening stupidity on display at The Corner, while hunting for a glassine envelope of PCP I'd concealed in Schoepenhauer's On the Basis of Morality. As I was finishing, I came upon this:
One day this era will be known as the "period of dishonesty." For here the character of honesty, of an investigation in common with the reader which the works of all previous philosophers bore, has disappeared. The philosophaster of this period tries not to instruct but to fool the reader, and every page is evidence of this.
One more argument for treating the average Cornerite as a sociopath who would be quite capable, as Schoepenhauer put it, of killing a man "simply to rub his boots with the victim's fat."

Okay, now I'm done, so be a dear and fetch me a tissue.
If only everything in life were as easy to understand as philosophy.


Leslie Guinan said...

Thought you would enjoy this completely unrelated video:

Phila said...

Thanks, Leslie! I was familiar with the film, but not this treatment of it.