Skip to comments.ON THE PROPRIETY OF THE VERB “TO FEEL”
Posted on 01/20/2004 3:59:46 PM PST by johnb2004
If someone feels sick, I cannot argue with him. But if someone feels that God does not exist, or that euthanasia, including my own, is all right, there is little I can do about it unless we can somehow reestablish the connection between our thoughts and the appropriate feelings that ought to go with truth and reality.
(Excerpt) Read more at georgetown.edu ...
On term papers, I circle in black or red pencil wherever a student uses any form of the verb to feel when he clearly means to think, to hold, to argue, or to decide. This feel usage has been around for at least a decade, probably longer. Sometimes, I can return a short paper with twenty or thirty encircled feels. Bewildered students later wonder why so many marked words? They are genuinely puzzled. Obviously, something must be wrong with Schalls vocabulary, not wholly impossible, to be sure.
It is not just that the student himself feels, but everyone he writes about likewise feels. The main intellectual activity that many students experience is that they feel. The greats of philosophy, politics, and history in essays mainly feel.. Georgetowns most famous graduate may have contributed to this scourge by going about the country telling us how much he feels our pain. Actually, I think, that is the one thing we cannot, in precise language, do, that is, feel someone elses pain.
We can have compassion, perhaps, but even that noble word is almost completely destroyed when it becomes a tool to subjectivize objective reality. We have so much compassion for the doer of wrong deeds that the deeds themselves lose their objective standing. We feel so much for the pains of others that what was wrong in the actions of others disappears. The result is that those who insist in the primacy of objective order become insensitive bigots for not feeling the pain.
After a few corrected papers, in any case, I know what Augustine felt, what Machiavelli felt, what Hegel felt, what, Lord save us, Aristotle felt. This is the chief buzz verb of our era. The word sometimes is used in a proper sense to wit, when Alexander the Great sat on a tack, he felt a considerable pain. Nero was livid; he felt anger. In these days, however, to feel is a substitute verb. If we use the word to feel when we mean to think or its equivalents, we imply that we have no articulate reasoning behind our position. If someone feels sick, I cannot argue with him. But if someone feels that God does not exist, or that euthanasia, including my own, is all right, there is little I can do about it unless we can somehow reestablish the connection between our thoughts and the appropriate feelings that ought to go with truth and reality.
No doubt, the most incisive modern analysis of this intellectual disease is found in the early pages of C. S. Lewis The Abolition of Man (1947). The first symptoms unsurprisingly appeared in an English class. Lewis is bitingly amusing in his analysis. The grammar school students, he tells us, were told of two tourists. One called a waterfall sublime and the other called it pretty. The poet Coleridge said the first usage was correct, the second disgusting. Two English professors, analyzing this situation, explained, on the contrary, that when the tourist called the waterfall sublime, he was not referring to anything about the actual waterfall, but only how he felt about the waterfall. He could know nothing about the waterfall itself, which he erroneously called sublime.
Lewis with much humor pointed out that such use of language is wholly mistaken. Thus, were a man to say, You are contemptible, he would logically mean I have contemptible feelings. It would have noting to do with the other man himself, contemptible or not. It is the waterfall itself that is sublime, not our feelings about it; our feelings are reverential, not themselves sublime.
How conclude? The use of the verb to feel in place of to think signifies a refusal to make a judgment about things, to state the truth about things. If you feel something is wrong or right, there is nothing I can say about your feelings, except that they seem odd if they have no basis in fact that can be tested and argued about. The verb to feel, used for to think, is the infallible sign of philosophic relativism. In this sense, to feel means precisely not to think.
Nothing more than feelings....
Wo wo wo
(Where's a karaoke bar when you need one?)
Yes, some are atheists because their early church grounding taught them that some things they later liked were wrong and harmful. If there is no God, then there is no sin. IOW, deny God and enjoy your particular forbidden fruit. It was very important to some of the leading Victorian atheists that God couldn't exist because they didn't want to think about hell.
"As Dr. Dean introduced Americans to the strange, exotic, high-weirdness realm of his subconscious id, a volcanic rush of repressed instincts and wild Dionysian feelings exploded with frenzied terror. Smug, smarmy, suburban SUV-driving, Starbucks-swilling liberals, socialists, and trendy Ben&Jerry's Vermont Communists sat in shocked disbelief as their dreams of expanding totalitarian statist control combined with unbridled perversion sank into the dark despair of bewilderment and sobering confusion... Not since William Jefferson Clinton sat red-faced before video cameras discussing cigars and the meaning of the word is had the denudation of a socialist buffoon appeared so surreal and yet....so illuminating..."