2 thoughts on “Quote of the week”

  1. As someone who (perhaps immodestly and erroneously) considers himself a conservative intellectual, I don’t see what is funny about this quote. It is no secret that the brand of intellectualism that has become the hallmark of left politics can be debilitating and paralyzing when it comes to the pragmatic realities of governance. It is debilitating mostly because it prioritizes “nuance” in the thought process; nuance is taken to be the litmus test for intelligence. So much time is spent analyzing angles and weighing consequences that we either end up missing the kairotic moment for action, or end up with policy that tries to acknowledge so many competing interests that it is ineffective in solving the problem it addresses.

    The root of this disagreement over intellectualism is really an argument that goes to the foundations of ethical theory: Does the good have an objective reality (in other words, can it be pursued by following principles regardless of situation), or is the good made manifest only subjectively and contextually? Because the right generally sides with the former part of the question, it is nuance that represents the real threat to our thought process — it is what distracts us from the impartial, transcendent principles that save us from our emotions, distrusts, uncertainties…really saves us from our humanity (if we have in mind the worst human qualities). The left generally sides with the latter part, so it is our humanity that saves us from the tyranny of morality: one must be guided by his own feelings in the situation. So, nuance abounds.

    Nothing funny here. A real, “intellectually” legitimate ethical quandary.

  2. The “pragmatic realities of governance,” as you put it, are that decisions are fraught with nuance. So I have problems with a fear of nuance – namely, an refusal to even consider the existence or value of nuance to me is anti-intellectualism perfectly, a pride of ignorance that does nothing for anyone.

    One might as well restate the above quote as “There’s no anti-intellectualism among Republicans. They like intellectuals as long as they hold conservatively appropriate positions.”

    Kant and others resolve this ethical question of yours with the notion of duty, which does not need transcendent principles or total left-bonkers relativism to function.

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