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Echoes and Mirrors» Blog Archive » Oh, I suppose

Oh, I suppose

David Brooks’ Op-Ed from Monday stirred up a bit of a frenzy from what I gathered. I read it and felt more or less unimpressed and somehow thought that there was nothing new in it: the whole topic was old and busted, worn out and considered philosophy’s war-torn beaver. And I was right.

Brian Leiter points this out in regards to Nietzsche. I’m going to have to read the paper he links to, too.

Language Log points out David Hume’s work on the same ideas. Plus they provide a cartoon.

It must be acknowledged, that both sides of the question are susceptible of specious arguments. Moral distinctions, it may be said, are discernible by pure reason: Else, whence the many disputes that reign in common life, as well as in philosophy, with regard to this subject: The long chain of proofs often produced on both sides; the examples cited, the authorities appealed to, the analogies employed, the fallacies detected, the inferences drawn, and the several conclusions adjusted to their proper principles. Truth is disputable; not taste: What exists in the nature of things is the standard of our judgment; what each man feels within himself is the standard of sentiment. Propositions in geometry may be proved, systems in physics may be controverted; but the harmony of verse, the tenderness of passion, the brilliancy of wit, must give immediate pleasure. No man reasons concerning another’s beauty; but frequently concerning the justice or injustice of his actions. In every criminal trial the first object of the prisoner is to disprove the facts alleged, and deny the actions imputed to him: The second to prove, that, even if these actions were real, they might be justified, as innocent and lawful. It is confessedly by deductions of the understanding, that the first point is ascertained: How can we suppose that a different faculty of the mind is employed in fixing the other?

(via An Enquiry Concerning The Principals of Morals by David Hume)

And it’s not that I disagree with Mr. Brooks – but much like everyone else, it seems, I’m irked by the way he presents this as something new and awesome, when it’s, as most everyone else has pointed out, psychology catching up with philosophy. It’s old hat, and mildly insulting of Brooks to write something like this and pass it off as journalism (had he the stones to reference Hume, at least, I’m sure there would be far less snark pointed at him).

Jerks. They ruin everything. And I don’t need reason to figure that out – the instant disgust that I feel is enough for me to know.

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Kraxpelax
Kraxpelax

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