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

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Escaping the Gravity Which Diminishes

Darwin remains to field arguments and be unflappable, but for myself, I am stepping away from the internet until Easter. In recent days I have failed at every point at which I could have chosen charity, and though this is mainly attributable to my own weakness, this weakness has been exacerbated by my wearying myself with easy access to the follies of others. Here is my meditation for the next few days, drawn from today's reflection in the Magnificat:
The Fathers of the Church maintained that human beings stand at the point of intersection between two gravitational fields. First, there is the force of gravity which pulls us down -- towards selfishness, falsehood and evil; the gravity which diminishes us and distances us from the heights of God. On the other hand there is the gravitational force of God's love: the fact that we are loved by God and respond in love attracts us upwards. Man finds himself betwixt this twofold gravitational force; everything depends on our escaping the gravitational field of evil and becoming free to be attracted completely by the gravitational force of God, which makes us authentic, elevates us, and grants us true freedom... 
Of ourselves, we are too weak to lift up our hearts to the heights of God. We cannot do it. The very pride of thinking that we are able to do it on our own drags us down and estranges us from God. God himself must draw us up, and this is what Christ began to do on the cross. He descended to the depths of our human existence in order to draw us up to himself, the living God. He humbled himself... Only in this way could our pride be vanquished: God's humility is the extreme form of his love, and this humble love draws us upwards... 
All these means of "ascent" are effective only if we humbly acknowledge that we need to be lifted up; if we abandon the pride of wanting to become like God. We need God: he draws us upwards; letting ourselves be upheld by his hands -- by faith, in other words-- sets us aright and gives up the inner strength that raises us on high. We need the humility of a faith which seeks the face of God and trusts in the truth of his love. 
--Pope Benedict XVI


Rebekka said...

I totally get you. I can't even read the comments on That Other Post anymore. Have a blessed Easter!

Jenny said...

I have to admit that I am reading the other thread with the proverbial popcorn; however, if it were on my husband's blog, I would probably be beside myself. Enjoy your time away. Happy Easter!

Anonymous said...

I find the unloving, self-righteous, prideful and arrogant spirit your husband offers those in deep pain distinctly unChristian and saddening.

[posting anon because blogspot is funky when i try to use real credentials].

Brandon said...

I find the unloving, self-righteous, prideful and arrogant spirit your husband offers those in deep pain distinctly unChristian and saddening.

I was wondering when the attempts at moral blackmail were going to start. Since some people seem to have difficulty with reasoning through moral principles rather than using them as mere rhetoric, it should be pointed out that it is self-righteous, prideful, and arrogant to make comments like this without rigorously proving them. The reason for this is that love and humility, which oppose these three vices, both require making at least some effort to hold yourself responsible for making claims about other people, and the way one holds oneself responsible for making claims about other people is actually using careful reasoning to support them.

Brandon said...

That should actually have said "vigorously proving" rather than 'rigorously proving'; rigorous proof, while a much more common phrase, would be an extraordinarily high standard. The minimal standard operative here is vigorously making sure that you are saying things responsibly, with specific regard for the evidence at hand, which is a lower standard (although not a low standard in absolute terms), because accusations of self-righteousness, pride, and arrogance, have to prove that they are not themselves self-righteous, proud, and arrogant.

Anonymous said...

Anyone can see the comments the dude made to the men who had different, more negative experiences and his words of dismissal on both this forum and Dalrock's. Your stridence is charming, but misplaced.

jfeg said...

Anon who posted at 10:06
Does it affect your opinion if he's right? Brandon merely calls the earlier anon on his/her useless post. You're right too, in that you can see DC's attitude in his posts, but that doesn't mean that the appropriate response is moral blackmail via invective. Perspective, people, perspective. Believe it or not, most of the people on Dalrock's blog and on DC's are on the same side. They just take different approaches.

Brandon said...

jfeg is right. But I would go even farther. Merely having a critical attitude, even a sharply critical attitude, is on its own very, very far from "unloving, self-righteous, prideful and arrogant spirit", simply because there are any number of alternative explanations. The only reason for picking this particular one rather than, say, that many of the posters at Dalrock and here have been very, very exasperating (which is one of many, many other possible alternative reasons why one might be critical even to the point of harshness), is to try to manipulate the situation rhetorically -- unless it is accompanied with reasoning that establishes it as a better explanation than the alternatives.

Also, from what I've seen, I don't think most people in the discussion understand what Darwin's attitude is, since I've seen repeated clear misrepresentations of it through oversimplification, so I'm skeptical of any claim that it's just obvious to people.

But jfeg is right that attitude is actually not very relevant: attitudes are about psychology. But what is being discussed, at least by the rational people in the discussion, is not Darwin's psychology but the rationality and practical and moral acceptability of certain positions, arguments, practical proposals, and rhetorical strategies.

This issue of 'negative experiences' is, incidentally, one of the exasperating things about this discussion. So one has negative experiences (everyone does, believe it or not). OK, you have my sympathy. But nothing general follows from it. (And this is precisely one of the things Darwin keeps pointing out.) You can only get general conclusions from general principles, and in this discussion the general principles would have to be general moral principles. The only function the negative experiences can have in the argument is to indicate which principles might be most relevant. It's exactly parallel to the early stages of the feminist movement (or early communist and socialist movements, for that matter) -- negative experiences served for consciousness raising about problems, but whenever people treated them as immediate sources of authority, or direct grounds for practical policies, or strategies of argument, things could get pathological because they are the wrong kinds of thing for that. The only use of dwelling on a negative experience is to let it point you in the direction of what you need to do in order to have a genuinely practical solution.

Anonymous said...

Noting that denying that other people's experiences are real things that happened to them is self-righteous and unloving not 'moral blackmail'. It is loving rebuke of the most appropriate and Christian sort.

Those men suffered at many hands, many hands claiming to walk in Christ. And their despair was met with a tra-la and wave of dismissal by Mr. Darwin. Not Christly love and care, not 'well, this is troubling that you could have such experiences', but rather 'It didn't happen to me, I did well enough, you must just not be trying hard enough'.

Callous, cruel, and mean. Simply not Christian, no matter how you attempt to defend and justify such behavior. Frankly it makes me despair that so many self-proclaimed traditional Christians are so unkind towards fellow Christians in deep pain from years of being sinned against by many who claimed to carry Christ's standard.

jfeg said...

All right, I'll concede that it isn't moral blackmail. The post was still useless, unless you genuinely think that the rebuke of an anonymous stranger on the internet will do anything but polarize people.

Brandon said...

No, it's straightforward moral blackmail when one simply drops it in without actually proving one's case. It could only have any effect at all by trying to guilt-trip the other party (people who don't care about Christian charity wouldn't be affected by it); therefore it's a form of rhetorical manipulation. It could only be more than that by the provision of rational argument to connect the charges to actual behavior.

For exactly similar reasons, the claim that "It is loving rebuke of the most appropriate and Christian sort" is straightforward nonsense. Loving rebukes don't work this way. If you lovingly rebuke a son, you don't say, "Look, you're arrogant and immoral," and then leave it at that without explanation. That's not "loving rebuke". If you lovingly rebuke a friend, you don't say to their wife, "Your husband is unChristian and arrogant," and then walk away. That's not a "loving rebuke". A rebuke can only be loving if it allows the opportunity of either defense or reform; `it can only allow such an opportunity by saying precisely what the problem is so that someone can either explain that it was all a misunderstanding or can actually change their ways by focusing in precisely on what they were doing wrong. But they can't do that with the sort of statement that was left. That's no "loving rebuke", and claiming that it is, is dishonest. It bears no signs of love. It was not given in the way loving rebukes are given. Anyone who actually talked to their loved ones that way and called it a "loving rebuke" would easily be recognized as abusive and manipulative, not loving. It does not meet any of the preconditions that would be required to be a loving rebuke. That you would call it a loving rebuke is an outrage on everybody's intelligence.

Further, your explanation clearly shows that you don't understand Darwin's argument, nor what he's actually dismissing in the comments he's faced with, that your whole defense is based on taking Darwin's position and putting it in a crude and caricature form (even the language is standard caricature language, with the tra-la-la and handwaving). If the whole point were merely to indicate how Darwin might be seen by some people, that would be one thing; caricatures and simplifications can have such a rational function. But that's not what you're doing here. You are claiming that your caricature justifies saying something to someone that usually would only be said in malice -- because it gave no explanation, allowed no reform and no defense, did not provide a way of continuing the discussion, pointed to no evidence -- and, what is more, that this caricature justifies calling that statement a "loving rebuke," which would require at minimum that the caricature was true! Do I really need to walk you through the ways in which this is morally problematic all the way through?

Further, while it would require the caricature to be at minimum literally true, this would be enough to justify it. For it to be a loving rebuke, this would have to have been (as jfeg has been pointing out) a way of proceeding that could reasonably be seen as healing the situation -- and, again, no explanation, no evidence, no argument, no precise claims, just attacking a man's character anonymously by insulting him to his wife and leaving.

And your melodramatic language doesn't help. I seriously doubt that you are such a frail and wilting violet that you actually despair over something that happens all over the world in virtually every generation. If you are, the cure for that is prayer; otherwise you'll never survive the disappointments of this earth.

Darwin said...


I didn't step in immediately here because although this is my wife's post, she was, after all, announcing that she's ceasing to read or comment on the blog until after Holy Week, so the spill over of my manosphere fight onto this post wasn't likely to immediately cause her problems. That said, I'm going to ask that if you feel the need to discuss this further, you move it over onto my post responding to Dalrock below. MrsDarwin does not enjoy conflict the way that I often do, and so it's only considerate of me that if I bring a larger brawl than usual back to the blog I keep it somewhat contained rather than having people coming up to her saying, "He hit that guy over there," like on the playground. (Educating five children full time, she deals with enough of that as it is.)

I don't deny that I've been moderately sharp with some people here and at Dalrock's blog. In the specific case you seem to find concerning, a commenter expressed in very melodramatic terms that he had tried being a Traditional Catholic and had been treated cruelly by all the women (cruelty which, apparently, involved being friendly with him but not consenting to date him.)

He then went on to state that he had learned what women are like from "Roissy", who I gather is one of these "pick up artist" manosphere writers.

I responded by pointing out that, among other things, it may simply be that none of the women he was offended by wanted to date him. (And given the tone of his comment, my advice to any woman would be: "Run away, terribly fast.")

You're certainly welcome to consider that uncharitable of me, but if you want to discuss it further you can do so on the "How To Marry A Nice Girl" post below and leave this thread alone.

MrsDarwin said...

Frankly, it was completely worth it to step away from the blog all week just in order to come back to find Brandon in fine magisterial form.