Thursday, March 22, 2012

Which Virtue?

In the spirit of Hegel and Marx, Paul Mero of the Sutherland Institute claims that he is personally privy to a higher definition of freedom. Mero's redefined freedom is "freedom plus virtue."

Mero's modified definition of freedom leads immediately to the question of which virtue?

On reading western history one finds radically different concepts of virtue with people doing horrible things to each other in the name of virtue. In ancient writings, you will find people slaughtering enemies, taking slaves, raping people and committing atrocious in the name of virtue.

Philosophers, such as Aristotle, realized that any virtue pushed to an extreme becomes a vice.

In the book "Machiavelli's Virtue" the conservative writer Harvey Mansfield praises the disgusting things done by the Prince as virtue. I emphasized conservative because Mansfield  is a highly respected professor at Harvard who has strong influence in the conservative establishment. You will find many conservative thinkers praise Machiavelli and the Art of War ... considering evil done to preserve social order a virtue.

I see Machiavellian virtues as vices.

In other parts of the world, we find that some people think that strapping a bomb to one's self and detonating it in a crowd is an act is a great virtue. Suicide bombimg is a virtuous act of self-sacrifice.

Likewise, honor killings are committed in the name of virtue. Killing your daughter for dating a gentile preserves the honor (virtue) of the family.

From antiquity to the modern day, the discussion of what is virtuous is filled with both absurd and disgusting interpretations of virtue.

Anyone accepting Mero's modified definition freedom (freedom=freedom + virtue) must immediately jump into discussing which virtue?

Mero boldly proclaims that the virtue behind the American experiment is none other than "Utah Values." (Apparently, Mero hasn't read enough history to know that Utah was not a state in 1776).

By Utah Values, I suspect that Mero means the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

I am not LDS. I do not have Utah Values; So, Paul Mero (in his tiny closed mind) would say I don't deserve freedom.

Speaking of Utah Values ... two Utahans of great virtue (Terrill Dalton and Geody Harman) are in the news. These virtuous men are the prophets and founders of The Church of the Firstborn and The General Assembly of Heaven. Reports say that Dalton considers himself to be the Holy Ghost and father of Jesus Christ.

You can't get much more virtuous than that.

These men, infused with Utah Values, do what the Heavenly Father says. When the Heavenly Father told them to diddle the babysitter, they did.

Evil gentiles are now persecuting these virtuous men claiming that they raped a minor when they were performing the virtuous act of sealing a blessing in the celestial kingdom by giving seed. This wondrous blessing was performed multiple times by the seer-revelator and prophet Joseph Smith.

Not being a member of The Church of the Firstborn and The General Assembly of Heaven, I just see two deluded rapists. We have different concepts of virtue.

I actually disagree with many Utah Values. For example: young men in the LDS Church are asked to spend two years on a mission to spread the teachings of Joseph Smith. To most Utahans, doing a mission is considered an act of great virtue.

I believe Joseph Smith was a charlatan. I see LDS missionaries as people who are spreading a lie. I consider spreading lies to be a vice.

Unlike Paul Mero, I wouldn't use my definition of virtue or vice to deny a person to pursue their dreams. Going on a mission looks like great fun. I've helped people raise money for their mission even though I disagree with them.

As there are so many confused theories built around freedom, I think the US Founders would reject Mero's modified definition of freedom (freedom = freedom + virtue). Yes, the founders noted that a population that lacks virtue would soon lose its freedom, yet they knew enough of history to know there were competing definitions of virtue.

For example, in colonial days, people occasionally had duels to defend their honor (a virtue).

The practice of duels continued after the nation's founding. As the body count of duels mounted, people came to realize that taking the life of another over some stupid spat is a waste.

I mentioned in my previous post that a free society must avoid the reflexive paradox. A person cannot be free to deny freedom to others.

In the act of dueling, one person denies freedom to another by taking the other's life.

The concept of freedom modifies, for the better, our concept of virtue.

A society that holds freedom as a foundational premise is more likely to develop a positive set of virtues than one that starts from the top-down trying to impose virtues.

Anyway, I was extremely upset at reading Paul Mero's modified definition of freedom. This is especially true since The Sutherland Institute takes money under the guise of defending free market policies.

The reason we are losing our freedom is because rogues on the left and right (like Paul Mero) have taken it upon themselves to redefine freedom.

No comments: