Saturday, February 22, 2020

The Rediscovery Of America, Jaffa

I've discovered Harry Jaffa via the Power Line Podcast with Steven Hayward ... it is a great discovery. The subject book now has a LOT of tabs and markings, so if I lend it to anyone, laughter is assured!

The theme of the book is Natural Rights, and understanding that if one does not believe in Natural Rights, then the Declaration of Independence, America, and Western civilization have no foundation.

Page 108; "The mind frees itself from all sense perception whenever it employs a universal, that is, a common noun -- the ground and basis of what we call common sense -- is at once the basis of the most common experience, and the greatest of all miracles. It exhibits the mind detached from matter, understanding material things simply because it is detached from them." 
Page 109, "A philosophy or metaphysics that denies the metaphysical freedom of mind that was axiomatic for Jefferson can have no part in liberal education, for liberal education means education in freedom and for freedom. It means education in the metaphysical reality of such a universe that the Declaration of Independence proclaims." 
He states a truth I believe to be self evident on p154; "Of all the words that have poisoned public discourse, none has done more damage than the word "value" used as a synonym for moral or political choice".

If there are no "self evident principles", then all is "value" ... a relative term, so it seems sensible for you to have "your values" and I to have "my values" -- which "Moral Believing Animals" would state is not possible. We ALL believe in SOME set of universally applicable truths, and if we don't have significant intersection in those foundational beliefs, we have extreme difficulty communicating, because our human nature is irrevocably tribal outside of a shared moral reality.

Jaffa has harsh words for Bork, Harvey Mansfield, Rehnquist, Bloom, and others who call themselves "conservative" because they have knowingly or unknowingly denied universals -- in which case, John C Calhoun, defender of slavery was correct -- "Morality" just means "power" as in "Might is right". 

A superb book to discover the cost of the denial of universals -- deny god and you get Nietzsche and "all is permissible".  You can't prove (or disprove) God, however if you refuse to believe in him there is a definite earthy cost, and I believe an even harsher eternal cost.

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