Skip to comments.How To Hate The Non-Existent
Posted on 09/04/2007 1:36:23 PM PDT by ventanax5
By nature and inclination I am an aesthete: I can hardly think of Venice or Siena, for example, without an excess of emotion. And yet I have spent a great deal of my life among the utmost ugliness, both physical and moral. Moreover, I must confess that the problem of evil has preoccupied me.
One of the reasons for this, perhaps, has been literary ambition. It is far easier to make evil interesting than good. Depictions of good people are inclined very soon to decline into mawkishness, and make their objects as dull as they are unbelievable. Too much good repels us; we long for the feet of clay to be revealed. As Oscar Wilde said, only a man with a heart of stone could read of the death of Little Nell without laughing.
(Excerpt) Read more at newenglishreview.org ...
In philosophical terms, you can't have color without matter. Likewise, you can't have goodness without the person. So, let me guess, is it completely stupid to believe that absolute goodness exists without the person? Those interested in the contemporary view of good and evil may be interested in Chantal Delsol's Icarus Fallen. She says there is a prevalent understanding of what is really evil, but not what is really good.
I always find Theodore Dalrymple worth reading. Thanks for posting this.
With a name like Theodore Dalrymple, anyone would have a lifetime to appreciate the finer things...
Good post! This is a keeper. My wife, working in juvenile justice, knows a truly evil four-year-old.
I found one pithy nugget in this piece:
there cannot be real goodness where the possibility and temptation to its reverse is not present.
To those people who constantly demand to know how God could have created evil, or how He can allow evil to flourish.
It is interesting too that when I started to think of anyone I could present as an example of moral "superiority" (i.e., a "good" person to counter the many I know who are "evil"), the best example I could come up with was Mother Teresa.
People are unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered. Love them anyway.
If you do good, people may accuse you of selfish motives. Do good anyway.
If you are successful, you may win false friends and true enemies. Succeed anyway.
The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.
Honesty and transparency make you vulnerable. Be honest and transparent anyway.
What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight. Build anyway.
People who really want help may attack you if you help them. Help them anyway.
Give the world the best you have and you may get hurt. Give the world your best anyway.
Anyone who LIVES this credo is without a doubt my moral superior. By her example, I believe Mother Teresa did live those beliefs.
Bump for a piece that deserves more readers than it’s had.
I believe it's a pen name, but he's always worth reading.
I will pray for him.
Thanks for the ping.
What then is the basis for Dalrymple's perception of good and evil? He isn't a formally religious man. He isn't measuring these things against some sort of precise didactic standard. But they exist, and his recognition of that is, in my opinion, the simple and humble appreciation of something that defies analysis, eludes intellectualization, transcends philosophy. This is very much the arena of faith.
It is no surprise that his tentative suggestion that faith and virtue are linked caused such fury among those who deny the existence of either. I know them, and in my better moments I feel sorry for them - these are people whose own faith is nothing more than a bitter and desperate clutching at the dubious proposition that the world must make sense, and that it must do so on their terms. I don't think God works like that. I know for a fact that the world doesn't.
Perhaps one of the reasons that contemporary secularists do not simply reject religion but hate it is that they know that, while they can easily rise to the levels of hatred that religion has sometimes encouraged, they will always find it difficult to rise to the levels of love that it has sometimes encouraged.
That is, I think, true of all of us. The contemplation of God confers a necessary humility that the deification of the human spirit does not. There is nothing transcendant in the measure of all things by man - if we are truly all there is then an accurate appreciation of what we actually are must inevitably make us cry for the universe. Perhaps that is the source of the hatred. And if it were true, what possibly could be the source of the nearly universal yearning for transcendence? Human weakness? I do not think so. I think that the yearning for transcendence is a visceral acknowledgment of the God who caused it even in the hearts of those who do not believe in Him. It isn't a matter of intellect.
Just some thoughts on a marvelous article, and thank you again for pinging me to it.
...and sorry for the spelling errors. ;-)
Dalrymple is as good as essayists get.
“...while they can easily rise to the levels of hatred that religion has sometimes encouraged, they will always find it difficult to rise to the levels of love that it has sometimes encouraged.”
All religion is man-made. God is a spiritual being, and he wants us to be spiritual, that is, to interact with him on his level...after his image and in his likeness. Love is difficult. Love is God’s law...Jesus said, Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and love your neighbor as you love yourself. Love, from the Greek word Agape. Unconditional love. Love without strings. Love God, Love yourself, love your neighbor. That is what makes being close to God, like him, so difficult.
I'm truly curious if any of the participants on this thread have an opinion on that.
But to get back to the point, evil has no existence apart someone committing it, whether that agent is material or immaterial. In the comparison I made, I suggest that all things described as good or evil, whether they are considered perfect or not, are the attributes of persons. There's a faulty view that imagines goodness existing apart from the source of goodness. Plato didn’t make this mistake. Plato taught that attributes of beauty in this material world where an imperfect reflection and that they were as they are through participation in the source of that goodness.
I hope that helps clarify things. Thanks for writing, Mark.