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The Weblog at The View from the Core - Monday, December 06, 2004
In the Red Zone
A very young weblog from Spence Publishing Company.
"Intelligence may be measured by the capacity of separating categories."
Last night, an old friend preparing for a debate e-mailed for some ideas on how to approach certain aspects of the notions of tradition & infallibility.
While doing some research, I came across a passage (unrelated to the subjects under discussion) from Hillaire Belloc that was a favorite of mine long ago. Here it is.
.... But in our approach to the task of convincing the sceptic we must begin by distinguishing between two kinds of Scepticism which do not merge one into the other by gradual degrees, but which are totally distinct in kind, and which may be called, the one "the Scepticism of the Intelligent," the other "the Scepticism of the Stupid."
The Scepticism of the Stupid is that denial of an unaccustomed statement which is based upon an undefined, but none the less real, belief that the hearer is possessed of universal knowledge. It is a common error in our day, and I touch on it elsewhere in this book. The test of this kind of Scepticism (which, like other manifestations of stupidity, presents a formidable obstacle to human conversation) is the misuse of the word "reason".
When a man tells you that it "stands to reason" that such and such a thing, to which he is unaccustomed, cannot have taken place (or be so), his remark has no intellectual value whatever. Not only would he be unable to analyse his "reasons" for rejecting the statement, but he would, if pressed, be bound to give you motives based upon mere emotion. For instance, if a man tells you it "stands to reason" that a just God could not allow men to lose their souls, he suffers from the Scepticism of the Stupid.
The Scepticism proceeding from intelligence is of an exactly opposite nature. Intelligence may be measured by the capacity of separating categories. Thus, a man who distinguishes between the office and the person is more intelligent than the man who does not. The man who distinguishes between the functions of an office in exercise and in quiescence is more intelligent than the one who does not. The man who distinguishes between the two meanings of a word often used in two senses is more intelligent than the man who does not.
One test of intelligence being, then, the power to separate distinct categories, the corresponding test of stupidity is inability to do so, and I say that stupid Scepticism, like stupid anything else, is the despair of the intelligent believer who tries to deal with it. He may approach it with rhetoric, or with appeals to what is the fashion, or in any other irrational way. He may even approach it with bribes. He may approach it with that very modern weapon, perpetual repetition, after the fashion of the "slogan" upon which the masters of salesmanship depend. But all these methods are so basely unworthy of high controversy on the ultimate truths, that I would rather not contemplate them....
From "The Approach to the Skeptic" in Essays of a Catholic.
I see that the essay has been quite considerably "adapted" at Catholic Answers.
"When War Must Be the Answer"
A monumental essay by Rev. James Schall, S.J.
At Policy Review, December 2004:
.... My argument derives from Jacques Maritain’s assertion that “justice, brains, and strength” can and should belong together. We need not collapse before tyranny or terrorism or those who sponsor either, but we must effectively do something about them. “Peace and dialogue” do not work in the absence of a force component. The more the reality of measured force is present, the more dialogue and peaceful means — including religious means — are present. In practice, this “doing” peace must include adequate and intelligent force. The intense concern that weapons of mass destruction not fall into the hands of Muslim or other leaders is not fanciful. Every holiday since 9/11, some email comes, warning of the possible use of “dirty bombs” in some American or world city. That they have not been used, I suspect, is more because those who would use them have actually been prevented by force. Units that would blow up major installations, if they could, do exist. All they lack are delivery capabilities.
Further, I argue that our main problems are not too much force, but too little. A peaceful world is not a world with no ready forces but one with adequate, responsible, and superior force that is used when necessary. The failure to have or use such forces causes terror and war to grow exponentially. Unused force, when needed at a particular time and place, ceases to be force. But force is meaningless if one does not know that he has an enemy or how this enemy works and thinks. That latter is a spiritual and philosophical problem, not a technical one. Many an adequately armed country has been destroyed because it did not recognize its real enemy. Nor is this an argument for force “for force’s sake.” It is an argument for force for justice’s sake. I am not for “eternal peace,” which is a this-worldly myth, but for real peace of actual men in an actual and fallen world. Peace is not a goal, but a consequence of doing what is right and preventing what is wrong and, yes, knowing the difference between the two.
Justice and force require one another in the actual world. Too often they are placed in opposition in a way that renders both unbalanced and ineffective. It is not a virtue to praise justice as if it need not be actually enforced or defended. The greatest crimes usually are grounded in a utopianism that is blind to living men, that does not see how to limit and control disruptive forces that continually arise in human life. Though I argue mainly about military force, the same argument includes police power. These are not substitutes for the virtue of justice, but this difficult virtue relies also on the existence and proper use of force for its existence. Contrary to much rhetoric, we do not live in a world in which diplomacy, dialogue, diversity, and law, however valuable, have replaced force. We can hopefully reach an adequate public order, but the failure to understand that law and dialogue need the presence of reasoned force ends up creating not more peace but less....
We often, and rightly, ponder the horrors of war. Doing so is a growth industry particularly for those who do not choose to fight in them. Soldiers usually know more about the horrors of wars than journalists. They also know more about what it is like to live under a tyrannical system. The uncovering of gulags and concentration camps ought also to cause us to reflect deeply on what happens when unjust regimes acquire and remain in power. 9/11 could have been prevented with but a small use of force had we known that we had an enemy who would utterly surprise us by using passenger planes as weapons of war....
We need more serious reflection on what happens, both to ourselves and to others who rely upon us, when we lose wars or when our failure to act causes something worse to happen. Those who cry “peace, peace” often have unacknowledged blood on their hands because they failed to use adequate force when needed; “To the victors go the spoils” is an ancient principle of fact, not rightness. Cowardice has never been considered a virtue. Nor has “turning the other cheek” served as an acceptable excuse for allowing some evil — one we could have stopped except that our theories or fears prevented us from trying — to continue or conquer. Not a few worthy things have been eradicated forever because a war was lost. Eternal vigilance remains the price of liberty and much else that is worthy....
The most lethal weapons are today turning out to be car bombs and ordinary passenger planes. The problem with nuclear weapons was never the weapons themselves but rather the will and purpose for which they might be used. In the retrospective light of the bombing of the World Trade Center, the series of antiwar documents produced during the 1980s by American Catholic bishops decrying nuclear war seem almost irrelevant. Such earlier considerations of “absolute weapons” were wholly out of touch with what was to be the problem of defense in the twenty-first century. The fact is, deterrence did work, however reluctant we may be, for ideological reasons, to admit it.
We do have a concern that “terrorists,” as we are wont to call them in lieu of calling them what they call themselves, will gain possession of nuclear weapons. We could reasonably suppose that communists did not want to be destroyed. We are not so sure about Muslim war planners. The “suicide bomber” may prove to be more lethal and more intellectually perplexing than any nuclear weapon ever was.
Nuclear and conventional weapons, in fact, have become so accurate, so downsized, so controlled, that all the elements of the just war theory devised by the most scrupulous moralist are in place and in operation. One might even argue that current American weaponry is constructed the way it is precisely in order to live up to just war concerns. Again, the problem is never the weapons themselves, but who uses them. The knowledge of how to make such weapons simply exists, along with the technology to make them. We cannot think these plans out of existence without thinking much of modern science out of existence. And we have no reason to think that present-day terrorists, who have a different religious philosophy, will not use nuclear weapons if they can, even if they destroy themselves in the process....
The old realist assumption — attuned to the Fall and the natural difficulties of the practice of virtue — maintained that as the world improved in technological or political means, its potential for greater evil also increased. We would thus never be in a situation where some use of force or power would not be required to achieve whatever limited good was possible. A common, oft-heard theory about war today, by contrast, is that we have “grown” or progressed out of it. The assertion that war may still be necessary is looked upon as “anti-progressive,” a sin against “history.” No “reasonable” person can hold the view that war may be necessary. This “we-have-outgrown-war” position, with its Hegelian overtones, is an aspect of an evolutionary hypothesis which, generally speaking, holds that the world is getting morally better: We have learned to “overcome” problems with dialogue or discussion or psychological counseling, and war is no longer necessary and has little justification. Behind this view operates a theory of the world-state as the primary innerworldly purpose of mankind. Indeed, absent a transcendent purpose, it becomes the only purpose of mankind....
War is not the greatest evil, but at times the only means to prevent evil. This is true on both a large and small scale. What we are left with is that the effective use of force is still best and most properly left in the national state. This is not the war of all against all, but the war of those who can limit terrorism and tyranny when and where it occurs. The worst modern tyranny in the twenty-first century will not come from armies but from their lack, from the lack of capacity and courage to use them wherever they are needed to protect justice, freedom, and truth.
The real alternative to just war cannot be viable without including the necessity and ability to deal with those who do not know or listen to reason. Law enforcement does not work unless there is a more fundamental possibility of dealing with those who are bound by no concept of legal order as we understand it. There is no alternative to just war that does not depend on and include the possibility and the exercise, when reasonable, of just war.
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