Ideas Have Consequences

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In Remembrance of Dr. James Patrick

Remembered thoughts and ideas…

  1. Ideas have consequences
  2. Saving Western Civilization
  3. Reality has a form.
  4. We must always respect the forms of things.
  5. Renewal of the Common Tradition
  6. They argue “Everything is itself and everything else” or simply “Everything is everything else.”
  7. Sex and violence are the best things on TV.
  8. Nepotism is the second highest principle.
  9. One should always remember that …
  10. Row!
  11. A father who beats you is preferable to one who is absent.

Quotes from Richard Weavers Ideas have Consequences for discussion

  1. “This is another book about the dissolution of the West.”
  2. Two themes “It is here the assumption that the world is intelligible and that man is free and that those consequences we are now expiating are the product not of biological or other necessity but of unintelligent choice.” And Weaver’s “belief that man should not follow a scientific analysis with a plea of moral impotence.”
  3. The process is complicated by the “Whig theory of history, with its belief that the most advanced point in time represents the point of highest development, aided no doubt by theories of evolution.”
  4. “It is the appalling problem, when one comes to actual cases, of getting men to distinguish between better and worse. Are people today provided with a sufficiently rational scale of values to attach these predicates with intelligence?”
  5. “There is ground for declaring that modern man has become a moral idiot. So few are those who care to examine their lives, or to accept the rebuke which comes of admitting that our present state may be a fallen state, that one questions whether people now understand what is meant by the superiority of an ideal.”
  6. “Like Macbeth, Western man made an evil decision, which has become the efficient and final cause of other evil decisions. Have we forgotten our encounter with the witches on the heath? It occurred in the late fourteenth century, and what the witches said to the protagonist of this drama was that man could realize himself more fully if he would only abandon his belief in the existence of transcendentals.”
  7. Ideas have consequences. For Weaver the dire state of modernity began with the advent of nominalism. “It was William of Occam who propounded the fateful doctrine of nominalism, which denies that universals have a real existence. His triumph tended to leave universal terms mere names serving our convenience. The issue ultimately involved is whether there is a source of truth higher than, and independent of man; and the answer to the question is decisive for one’s view of the nature and destiny of humankind. The practical result of nominalist philosophy is to banish the reality which is perceived by the intellect and to posit as reality that which is perceived by the senses. With this change in the affirmation of what is real, the whole orientation of culture takes a turn, and we are on the road to modern empiricism.”
  8. Nominalism gave rise to empiricism and “fact” denying that there are forms in things, essential natures, and valid distinctions—between good and evil, natural and supernatural, man and nature—resulting in the ‘…abandonment of the doctrine of original sin. If physical nature is the totality and if man is of nature, it is impossible to think of him as suffering from constitutional evil; his defections must now be attributed to his simple ignorance or to some kind of social deprivation. One comes thus by clear deduction to the corollary of the natural goodness of man.”
  9. The result was the view that “…it was proper that [man] should regard as his highest intellectual vocation methods of interpreting data supplied by the senses… Thus it is not the mysterious fact of the world’s existence which interests the new man but explanations of how the world works. This is the rational basis for modern science, whose systemization of phenomena is, as Bacon declared in the New Atlantis, a means to dominion.”
  10. Ideas have Consequences “Materialism loomed next on the horizon… With the human being thus firmly ensconced in nature, it at once became necessary to question the fundamental character of his motivation. Biological necessity, issuing in the survival of the fittest, was offered as the causa causans, after the important question of human origin had been decided in favor of scientific materialism.”
  11. Next came economic determinism. “The social philosophers of the nineteenth century found in Darwin powerful support for their thesis that human beings act always out of economic incentives, and it was they who completed the abolishment of freedom of the will. The great pageant of history thus became reducible to the economic endeavors of individuals and classes; and elaborate prognoses were constructed on the theory of economic conflict and resolution. Man created in the divine image, the protagonist of a great drama in which his soul was at stake, was replaced by man the wealth-seeking and-consuming animal.”
  12. “Finally came psychological behaviorism, which denied not only freedom of the will but even such elementary means of direction as instinct.”
  13. “[Man] is in the deep and dark abyss, and he has nothing with which to raise himself. His life is practice without theory. As problems crowd upon him, he deepens confusion by meeting them with ad hoc policies. Secretly he hungers for truth…”
  14. “This story is eloquently reflected in changes that have come over education. The shift from the truth of the intellect to the facts of experience followed hard upon the meeting with the witches… Logic became grammaticized, passing from a science which taught men [to speak truly] ui to one which taught to speak correctly] or from an ontological division by categories to a study of signification, with the inevitable focus upon historical meanings. Here begins the assault upon definition: if words no longer correspond to objective realities, it seems no great wrong to take liberties with words.”
  15. Thus “modern man has about squandered his estate.”
  16. And “…in the face of the enormous brutality of our age we seem unable to make appropriate response to perversions of truth and acts of bestiality.”
  17. Hope “Hope of restoration depends upon recovery of the “ceremony of innocence,” of that clearness of vision and knowledge of form which enable us to sense what is alien or destructive, what does not comport with our moral ambition.”
  18. But “We must consider that we are in effect asking for a confession of guilt and an acceptance of sterner obligation; we are making demands in the name of the ideal or the suprapersonal, and we cannot expect a more cordial welcome than disturbers of complacency have received in any other age,”
  19. “I shall adhere to the classic proposition that there is no knowledge at the level of sensation, that therefore knowledge is of universals, and that whatever we know as a truth enables us to predict.”
  20. “In the final reach of analysis our problem is how to recover that intellectual integrity which enables men to perceive the order of goods.”

Recovering the Metaphysical ideal

  1. In the Chapter entitled “The Last Metaphysical Right,” Weaver begins by explaining that “The remaining chapters therefore present means of restoration” and “I have endeavored to make plain in every way that I regard all the evils in our now extensive catalogue as flowing from a falsified picture of the world which, for our immediate concern, results in an inability to interpret current happenings.”
  2. But he warns “nothing substantial can be done until we have brought sinners to repentance,,, Once man has regained sufficient humility to confess that ideals have been dishonored and that his condition is a reproach, one obstruction has been removed.”
  3. What is necessary is “…the underpinning of metaphysic.”
  4. For Weaver the principle conclusions of metaphysics have been vanquished—all that is, except the principle of private property which he sees as the “the last metaphysical right remaining to us, The ordinances of religion, the prerogatives of sex and of vocation, all have been swept away by materialism, but the relationship of a man to his own has until the present largely escaped attack.  ? In seeking protection against an otherwise omnipotent state, the opposition must now fall back upon the metaphysical right of private property.”
  5. “Private right defending noble preference is what we wish to make possible by insisting that not all shall be dependents of the state.”
  6. It is important to note that private property alone can reform education. This is because “Nothing is more certain than that whatever has to court public favor for its support will sooner or later be prostituted to utilitarian ends. The educational institutions of the United States afford a striking demonstration of this truth. Virtually without exception, liberal education, that is to say, education centered about ideas and ideals, has fared best in those institutions which draw their income from private sources. They have been able, despite limitations which donors have sought to lay upon them, to insist that education be not entirely a means of breadwinning. This means that they have been relatively free to promote pure knowledge and the training of the mind; they have afforded a last stand for “antisocial” studies like Latin and Greek.”
  7. Excellent analysis of public education. “In state institutions, always at the mercy of elected bodies and of the public generally, and under obligation to show practical fruits for their expenditure of money, the movement toward specialism and vocationalism has been irresistible. They have never been able to say that they will do what they will with their own because their own is not private. It seems fair to say that the opposite of the private is the prostitute.”
  8. “It is, on the contrary, important to keep substance in life, for a man’s character emerges in the building and ordering of his house; it does not emerge in complaisance with state arrangement, and it is likely to be totally effaced by communistic organization. Substance has a part in bringing out that distinction which we have admitted to be good; it is somehow instrumental in man’s probation.”
  9. “And, underlying all, there is for us in this critical battle against chaos the concept of inviolable right. We prize this instance because it is the opening for other transcendental conceptions. So long as there is a single breach in monism or pragmatism, the cause of values is not lost …Therefore one inviolable right there must be to validate all other rights.”
  10. “We are looking for a place where a successful stand may be made for the logos against modern barbarism.”

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