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Archive for August, 2011

Well, the multicultural experiment seems to have had a short life but a merry one.  What began as a grand design, apparently hatched up by the BBC and the university history departments, seems to be gurgling down the drain.  This does not mean that the multiple cultures in our country have disappeared ; but it does mean that the predicted harmonious relations between those cultures have not been supported by the observed facts.

So what is to be done?  There will be no shortage of advice to (and from) the politicians, the academics and the broadcasters, but we may be sure that the substance of the advice will not be either broad enough or deep enough to make a difference in the longer term.  We may be sure of that because the august bodies that determine our fate have failed to realize that the problems are moral problems, whereas they see them as political.  What we shall be given is not moral solutions but politically correct solutions ; they will be solutions founded on the political beliefs and expediencies of the various parties, and hence of no lasting value.

But you cannot be rid of political correctness ; indeed, we should not wish to be rid of it.  But mere PC is not robust enough to support a nation, any more than mere sand is strong enough to support a skyscraper.  What is needed is a moral foundation, a rock on which to build with confidence.

Perhaps we can accept that morality is the set of unalterable principles which guide us in governing the relations between people ; and, because government is all about the relations between people, moral principles are indispensable to social stability.  And, because the principles are unalterable, they must be simple.  In themselves, they are not detailed enough to be made into state laws.  For example, the moral principle “You shall not kill” cannot be absorbed directly into law for there might be occasions when killing is unavoidable or even just.  It might well be unjust to punish somebody who kills in self defence or in the defence of other innocent people.

So, we need to build a body of secondary principles upon the moral foundation.  We might call these secondary principles our ethics. They represent our generally agreed interpretations of the moral principles ; an ethical principle amplifies a moral principle by giving concrete examples of what is meant by it.  It is to the ethics that politicians turn when drafting their policies, and to ethics they turn when drafting or amending a particular law.

But now we come to the thorny question :  who decides the unalterable moral principles on which everything depends?

A simple answer is that the politicians do.  Another simple democratic answer is that the people do.  But both politicians and people are variable in their opinions of morality ; so both these answers land us back in the realm of political correctness.  And PC doesn’t work.

So, who does have the authority to decide the moral principles?

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Many miles of news have been printed about the recent serious disturbances in London and elsewhere.  Clearly, the mere fact of the riots indicates the corruption we have in our society today.  People are even beginning to talk about our having lost our country.

On the Daily Telegraph blog site, Pym Purnell has written a blog titled ‘Seven steps to reclaim England‘, and it received a number of thoughtful comments and suggestions (as well as some unenlightened ones).  But I think, in general, the better ideas were more concerned with reclaiming control of current circumstances rather than reclaiming England ; they were topical rather than systemic ; they were more in the nature of a national medicine than a healthy diet.  But they were necessary.

However, if we truly wish to reclaim the England (or the Britain) that we all loved, we must look deeper.  If we do not, then we will be committing the same class of errors that led us into this mess.  We will be looking for redemption through procedures rather than through thorough reform.

The true believers in socialist philosophy, whom I blame almost entirely for our present difficulties, imagined that they could best improve our country by enforcing arbitrary laws that would promote the ideals of egalitarianism.  The laws would make all people equal ; tinker, tailor, soldier, burglar – all of equal worth.  And such is the appeal of egalitarianism that many people who considered themselves politically conservative were taken in by it.  They imagined that they could take the bits of political correctness that they liked and discard the rest.  Well – the rest is history ; and it is also our present plight.

And our present plight (in summary) is characterised by unwarranted ambitions on the parts of people who desire much more than their personal circumstances allow.  Thus we have an uneducated mass who demand employment on their own terms ; we have a half-educated mass who believe themselves to be worthy of grander positions than employers are able or willing to pay for.  We have created, in the laboratory of the social scientists, many thousands of women whom society has deemed unworthy to be mothers until they have carved a prosperous career for themselves ; created a climate in which to be a young married mother is to be beyond the pale ; in which to wish to be a good mother who educates her children in the ways of her family traditions is to be deviant.  Women now join men as mere Soviet-style units of production in the economic machine.

The socialists have also appealed to would-be conservatives by making an abstraction of society.  Society now is simply an economic entity, as if money and purchasing were all that counted.  To do this, they abolished the concept of nation with its connotations of kinship and shared traditions.  And, to emphasise their disapproval, the socialists have actively encourage mass immigration to dilute the character of the nation.  And this measure was calculated to be the last nails in the coffin of what was once Great Britain.

Many of these things, nominal conservatives went along with, because they saw advantages to themselves in the new freedoms on offer ; they were blind to the trap that was laid for them.  But the awful truth is that we have to discard the principle of egalitarianism itself, for there is no justification for it if we are to have a healthy society.

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For all the faults

 

For all the faults, though ne’er so grievous, borne
Upon my soul so perfect made but marred
By misdirected hopes and fears so long,
My prayer attend, O Lord, with mercy sworn.
Thou  know’st of whom I speak so no retard,
By extra words, impede or do aught wrong.
Thy faithful servant all her life has loved
And honoured Thee in heart and mind and deed ;
But now lies low, so hurt by fate ungloved ;
And of thy healing hand so much doth yearn.
Pour out on her what things may do her good ;
What goodness that might be is no concern.
If we were best in wisdom to decide,
What need had we to tame and quench our pride?

[For Sr T]

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I am not sure why, but from an early age I have been curious about psychology – from even that time before I knew the word psychology.  Of course, each of us is an individual, but what really interests psychologists is those things we have in common.  Like it or not, there’s more to humanity than just individuals – there are types of individual.

I was thinking about this as I remembered a conversation that I shared some longish time ago.  It was one of those turning points in my life.  It’s a marvel how our lives are shaped by little things.  Or are they little?  Judge for yourself.

Thoughts which take strong materialist line have a funny way of turning out.  For example, it you say to a certan kind of physicist, “I see the light coming from that searchlight,” you are likely to find yourself drawn into a strange dialogue.  For the physicist, putting his authoritative scientific hat on, is bound to respond with, “No you don’t.”

“But I can see it!” you cry.
“It is important for you to remember that what you call light is, in fact, electromagnetic radiation.  It is a field of electricity and magnetism, both of which are invisible,”  he announces with an air of finality.
You overcome your diffidence in the face of such authority to venture, “Then what is that beam of light I see shining away from us up into the sky?”
“That is not a beam of light,” he replies with a hint of impatience.  “What is happening is that some of the invisible radiation is reflected off the particles of dust and moisture in the air.  This reflected radiation then enters your eyes, and your mistaken response is to say that you see light in the sky.  What you really mean to say is that the radiation has caused your brain to produce light in your conscious awareness.”

“So how can you prove that no light is coming from the searchlight,” you dare to ask.
“That’s easy,” he says.  “We could do an experiment. We could, of course fly to the Moon, where there is no atmosphere and no dust.  You would find there that, if you shone the searchlight slightly away from you, then you would see no beam of light coming from it, because there is no dust or moisture to reflect the radiation back into your eyes.”
“Thus demonstrating that the radiation itself is perfectly invisible?”
“Yes, quite.”

“So, generally speaking,” the physicist continues, “There is no light at all in the world around you.  It is all in your head.  Light is a phenomenon of psychology, not physics.”

Now I know it comes a surprise to many materialists that their doctrines lead to such a conclusion ; their instinct is first to deny it and then to find a way round it.  By extending the above experiment, it can be shown that the world around us has no colour, no sounds, no scents, no flavours and even no solidity of touch.  And there is no such thing as beauty either.  All such things are psychological, all experienced in consciousness and nowhere else.

It also comes as a surprise to many materialists that our ancestors certainly gave much thought to the appalling consequences of materialism.  A dark, drear, colourless, utterly neutral world of nature gave them no comfort at all.  And it went against their direct empirical experiences of living.

So, they came up with answers.  And, just to tease a little … you will find the OT fascinating.  😉

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The great Oracle at Delphi once told a young Athenian that Socrates was the wisest man in the world.  When the youth asked Socrates why this was, he replied, “I suppose it is because I know nothing, but I do have opinions on many things!”

We can see that Socrates was using the word knowledge in a special way here ; what he meant was that he had no certain knowledge of anything ; he did not know reality.  This kind of humility was thereafter a persistent character of most of the writings of learned people right through antiquity and up to the modern age.

Then something new happened.  First, we discovered (or invented perhaps) powerful mathematics ; then we invented what we now call the scientific method.  The mathematics enabled us to make statements about the material world that were more or less precise and in a way that had hardly been attempted previously, and the second enabled us to investigate the material world in a highly particular systematic way.

To begin with, these two aids to investigation allowed us to produce a vast amount of information about the world ; and then allowed us to use that information to manufacture new powerful technology – including the technology to make more powerful means of studying the world more closely.  By the end of the nineteenth century, we had a veritable explosion of information in physics and in its technological fruits.  It is hardly surprising, therefore, that scientists of every stripe were eager to emulate the methods of the physicists

Now there was nothing wrong with this emulation and there still isn’t anything wrong with it as long as we remember that the methods of physics are directed at the material world ; particularly at the non-living world.

But man is a forgetful creature ; also much given to speculation, and easily deceived by appearances.  Thus it was that he forgot the original purpose of physics and the scientific method, and it was this forgetting that turned initial successes into a disaster.  For he began to see living things in purely physical concepts ; and, from there began to perceive living things as machines.  Biological machines.  Perhaps this new way of seeing things was epitomised by an enthusiastic late eighteenth century stock breeder ; he asked, “What is a sheep but a machine for turning grass into meat?”  Few people then imagined that Man would be characterised as a machine that happens to turn shepherd’s pie into thoughts.

But that is where we are today.  Man is a machine which is governed entirely and exclusively by the laws of physics.  Gone is the mind, gone is the psyche, gone free-will, gone is personal responsibility ; banished is the soul and the spirit together.  We are simply machines, assemblies of particles, at the mercy of our material environment (however you might try to dress it up in the exciting tales from quantum mechanics!).

But there is hope.  Physics as it is done today has almost exhausted itself grappling with the myths of the sub-particular world ; and, having led their colleagues astray, it will be the physicists who start breaking out of the prison they have made for us all.  This repentance began about a century ago with such luminaries as Rutherford and Planck, who sounded the warnings and offered the keys of the prison.

Was it not Rutherford who said, “Whether we like it or not, we live in a spiritual world.”  And was it not Planck who said, “Consciousness is everything.  Matter is derived from consciousness.”

But did their colleagues listen?  No.  For the physical sciences are easy to do ; no great wisdom is required.  And they are profitable ; research grants are readily forthcoming, if only for the sake of the saleable technology.

On the other hand, a science of humanity takes the harder road ; the road trodden by Socrates and most of his successors ; the road of modesty.

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