Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Ten Questions for The Derb

A good friend recently described National Review writer John Derbishire as "someone I am currently trying very hard not to loath". I could say the same myself, except that sometimes I don't try hard and just go ahead and loath him. His writing on issues such as the Schaivo case and right to life issues in general remind one that Evelyn Waugh's Sgt. Hooper would have been of the same generation Derb's parents, and The Derb (as he is affectionately known) represents a much better educated step farther down the hole down which Hooper was so blithely marching.

Still, just as one is about to write The Derb off as not worth bothering about, you read something genuinely good he has written. The science blog Gene Expression published a Ten Questions For Derb interview that I ran across yesterday which is very much worth reading, and includes the following:

5) Over the years I've seen the following comment (in some form) multiple times: So and so is "perhaps the second most pessimistic opinion journalist right now, after John Derbyshire...." Do you think this characterization of you is accurate? Or do you think everyone else is just unduly optimistic?

Well, it depends what you mean by pessimism. I am a religious person, in a very general way -- I believe there is a supernatural realm accessible to our minds, and more real (in some way) than the natural world, which is really just a play of shadows. The fact that the natural world is a pretty nasty place therefore does not depress me as much as it ought. A nearby supernova could extinguish all life on earth in a few hours, sure -- but if you feel in your guts that there is another place beyond this one, then that isn't the end. Somehow. So on the grandest scale, I am not really a pessimist at all. On the everyday scale, though, I acknowledge that most of our nature, life, & experiences arise from the natural world & therefore partake of its general nastiness, coldness, cruelty, and gross unfairness. Civilized life fences off the horrors to some degree, which is why I am a huge fan of civilization (see above), but the fences are fragile, and the Old Adam will break through them sooner or later. Not in my lifetime, please.


Vitae Scrutator said...

All this means is that he is at best a Platonist.

Nothing wrong with Platonism, mind you, but it isn't exactly Christianity....

Darwin said...

Indeed, though I must confess that Platonism is closer to my heart than many of the modern world's ways of thinking, whether the oddly vaporous superstition of 'being spiritual' or the blinkered stubbornness of scientism.

It's not so much that I felt myself wholeheartedly agreeing with him, as that it shows a little more awareness I would have expected.

Garland said...

Not sure he still feels that way, though that was a somewhat recent interview. See his 4/19/06 article on Beckett, where he says he's about done with faith. Maybe he's not talking about the same thing.