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Why Traditional Christians are all Nazis Who Need to be Reprogrammed

Sean in the comments to Lydia's post below observed that, according to Richard Rorty:

... the fact that we just don't accept the triumph of the sexual revolution and last Thursday's discovery that a man's ability to marry another man is a most fundamental human right means that we are the moral equivalent of defeated ex-Nazis?
One of the most delicious and horrifying ironies of our modern/postmodern condition is that the Nazi, who is a heretic from liberalism precisely because he makes the Low Man (and programs for his extermination) completely explicit, now counts as the paradigmatic Low Man himself. So any Low Man (e.g. someone who doesn't buy into last Thursday's discovery etc.) is, for all practical purposes, a Nazi or Nazi-in-gestation. A further irony is that the liberal and his close-cousin heretic the Nazi have much more in common with each other than the actual men that both see as the Low Man (other than each other), the actual politically subhuman roadblock in the way of the triumph of the will of the free and equal new man, self-created through reason and will, living under a value system created by man himself and not subject to natural or traditional hierarchies and authorities, politically subject only to himself and most especially not to God or other men. Man may be subject to God in his private life and by private choice, so long as this in no way interferes with the free choices of other men. But politics must be the instrument of man's free and equal will and only man's free and equal will: no God allowed.

I'm not sure this is fully conscious on the part of the liberal himself though, in this sense: the liberal himself is often (ironically) one of the most narrow-minded human beings to ever exist, and is generally incapable of seeing modes of thought farther away than the tip of his nose. Because the Nazi is no farther away from the liberal than the tip of his nose, he understands the Nazi and is rightly horrified by the Nazi's evil. Anyone even further away than the tip of his nose thus cannot be anything but a Nazi. The notion of a non-Nazi illiberal or anti-liberal is inconceivable, or is ruled out a priori.

Some might see it as ironic or claim that it is false that the anti-liberal is more open minded than the liberal. The anti-liberal, after all, is authoritarian, traditional, sees value in stereotypes, takes nature's physical and moral constraints as a given, does not think human beings are or ought to be equal in every respect, does not have a cow over discrimination-qua-discrimination, etc. But this only seems narrow-minded from the narrow-minded liberal perspective. Who is more open-minded: the man who recognizes that scientific knowledge has inherent limits even within the scope of material things, or the positivist who closes his eyes to such limits and cannot conceive of anything but postmodern catastrophe if such intrinsic limits are admitted? Who is more open-minded: the man who recognizes that traditional sexual morality is written in nature and is necessary for a healthy society, or the man who closes his eyes to that truth? Who is more open-minded: the man who recognizes that men and women are different in fundamental ways and cannot be forced into generic identity (equality) without destroying the social fabric, or the man who closes his eyes to that truth? Who is more open-minded, the man who insists that nothing but material things exist and there is no God despite his own experience of consciousness, love, beauty, moral right and wrong, etc; or the man who does not so insist? Who is more open-minded: the man who recognizes many hierarchies and natural inequalities among human beings themselves without those inequalities implying the untermensch, or the man who cannot admit the existence and goodness of particular inequalities without that implying the untermensch?

I could go on all day, but the point must be granted: the man who deliberately closes his eyes to the unwanted truth, the truth that man is infinitely less than God and in some manners, times and places is less than his fellow man, is more closed-minded than the man who recognizes the truth.

Something that the postmoderns have right, though (ironically) not at all in the way they think they have it right, is that one of the most pervasive features of modernity is irony.

Comments (18)

You missed a question Zippy. Who is more open-minded: the man who violates Godwin's law on a continual basis or the one who refrains from simplistic caricatures?

How is it a simplistic caricature? Rorty puts traditional Christians ("fundamentalists") and Nazis in the same sentence, separated by nothing but the conjunction "and":

The answer to that question depends upon how much the re-education of Nazis and fundamentalists has to do with merging interpretive horizons and how much with replacing such horizons.
Who is more open-minded: the man who takes liberals at their word when they tell us and each other what they believe, or the man who refuses to do so because he doesn't like the implications?

I note that in the Wikipedia article on Rorty, as of this writing, portions what Lydia quotes are presented. The bit where Rorty explicitly puts Christian "fundamentalists" and Nazis in the same category is carefully elided. Liberalism's relationship with the Low Man (necessarily entailed by liberalism's encounter with reality) remains, as we should expect, uneasy.

You have to hand it to Rorty where he compares himself to the Nazis:

I am just as provincial and contextualist as the Nazi teachers who made their students read Der Stürmer; the only difference is that I serve a better cause.
Liberalism can't really afford that kind of self-reflection until its triumph is completely and permanently assured (which will never happen: liberalism's internal incoherence insures against it). One has to have grudging admiration for Rorty's candor.

I want to add that the quotation as I have it, with only _my own_ ellipses to cut out additional boring references to Habermas, etc., was taken (by Tim) from the "look inside" function on Amazon for the book itself. So it's a primary quote, not from a secondary site. Just in case anyone asks.

How is it a simplistic caricature?
Do I get to pick one person to speak for all conservatives? Rush Limbaugh maybe, he seems like a good candidate.

You are welcome to invoke Limbaugh in illustration of certain features of right-liberalism. I'd probably even agree; in any event I myself view Limbaugh as paradigmatic of certain features of right-liberalism.

If it is "traditional Christians" you're after, I would invite you to pick Saint Gregory the Great, Saint Ambrose, Saint Augustine, Saint Jerome, or Saint Thomas Aquinas.

These men, the brilliance of whose intellects have blazed throughout the ages down to our own, believed, reasoned, and taught with the early Church and with the Church today.

Read them. If you can.

who is more open-minded: the man who recognizes that scientific knowledge has inherent limits...

In Obama's address regarding stem cell research, he said, "...our government has forced what I believe is a false choice between sound science and moral values." In other words, we cannot let the Low Man, that is, the unborn child, interfere with the will of the free and equal superman.

The fact is that morality often limits scientific knowledge and it is not "anti-science" to acknowledge this, despite what some liberals say.

Truly, you are all a bunch of human waste from the underside of the buttocks.

Ordinarily I am a comment-box tyrant and would summarily delete personal attacks; but oddly in this case I think Kenthole's comment is on-topic.

Hysterical and true, Zippy.

Is is High-Man-illustrative when you reference low-ness using elevated paraphrasing and circumlocutions?


I don't think this is fully conscious to them.

The 'Brights' are even calling calling their new project The Third Culture.

. . . . champions of rational thinking such as Coyne, Richard Dawkins, Daniel C. Dennett, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, and P.Z. Myers to mount an unrelenting campaign against superstition, supernaturalism, and ignorance.

If it wasn't horrifying it would be lol ridiculous.

I hope this goes silently the way of that other putsch.

Read them. If you can.

If anyone can explain how the Fourth Way of Aquinas makes sense, I'll attempt a response to his Fifth Way which I consider his strongest argument for traditional theism.


Here is an outline of the Fourth Way:

The fourth way is taken from the gradation discovered in things. Among beings there are some more and some less good, true, noble, and others similar. But more and less' are predicated of different things according as they approach in their different ways something which is the maximum, as a thing is said to be hotter according as it more approaches that which is hot­test. Therefore there is something which is truest, something best, something noblest, and, consequently, something which is most being, for those things that are greatest in truth are greatest in being, as it is written in Metaph. ii. Now the maximum in any genus is the cause of all in that genus, such as fire, which is the maximum of heat, is the cause of all hot things, as is said in the same book. Therefore there must also be something which is to all beings the cause of their being, goodness, and whatsoever perfection; and this we call God.

Now in order to make sense of this argument, you must first have an understanding of certain principles of reason, to wit, 1) Every agent produces its like. 2) A cause is greater than its effect. 3)Every contingent being has an efficient cause. With these in mind, one can easily see that in the genus of, say, beautiful things there are species more and less beautiful, but none of them are the cause of the beauty in all the others. But since these varying gradations of beauty are found in contingent subjects, they are, therefore, themselves contingent -- and are, therefore, caused by something which is also beautiful, since every agent produces its like. And, moreover, is most beautiful of all, since it is the cause of all beautiful effects, and a cause is always greater than its effect.

From this we see that there must be a supremely beautiful thing. This thing must be the cause of beauty in all beautiful things. The beauty of this thing can not have been caused.

George R.,
Thanks for the explanation. The thing is Aristotle viewed fire as the cause of all heat because it was a classical element, but the reason it was true was because it was pure, i.e. the root element/particle of heat was the cause of all heat. The thing I can’t make sense of is the way maximum is used and how it acts upon the universe. Plato would have said that the amorphous world of matter participates in the realm of ideal forms, but Aquinas seems to have changed that so the forms are actively imprinting themselves upon the world.

Of the three principles you mentioned, the first one is incomplete, the second one is true in physical terms only, and the third is accurate. Sodium metal and water produce fire as an example to dispute the first principle. In mechanical terms I would say that the second principle is correct, but in other aspects it is difficult to quantify. How do you determine a degree of beauty in causes like erosion which can carve amazing natural sculptures but can also destroy farmland? Furthermore, there are diametrically opposed kinds of beauty, something can be beautiful because it is elegantly simple or because it is intricately complex, something can be beautiful because it is symmetrical or asymmetrical, and so forth.

For the response to the Fifth Way, I will begin with the position that his argument depends upon a directed intelligence for natural bodies to achieve their goals. The question then becomes is there any other way to achieve a goal without intelligent guidance? The answer is yes, all it requires is a dynamic system to be affected by an unintelligent feedback mechanism. Once established, the body gravitates towards ‘ends’ called attractors in mathematics. Groups of these bodies may interact in ways that produce additional complex behaviors and can also resemble artistic design.


Re: the Fourth Way, more than any of Aquinas's arguments for God's existence, this one depends crucially on certain background metaphysical assumptions of which contemporary philosophers generally have no awareness, and little understanding when they are aware. Most importantly, it assumes the medieval doctrine of the transcendentals -- Aquinas is not interested in maximal degrees of just any and every attribute, but only of those convertible with being, i.e. truth, goodness, unity. (Heat is just an archaic example used to motivate the notion of degrees, and is not in any way essential to the argument.) It also assumes the distinctively Thomistic (NOT Platonic) conception of participation, along with the usual Aristotelico-Thomistic apparatus (the four caues, etc.)

When all of this is understood and the background assumptions are explained and defended, the argument can be seen (in my view) to work. All the same, there is SO much metaphysical background required even to understand it that I wouldn't bother to use it to try to convince someone like a Dawkins or Harris (which is one reason I don't discuss it in The Last Superstition). But I do discuss and defend it at length in my forthcoming book Aquinas.

Re: the Fifth Way, which presupposes the reality of immanent final causes, the problem with your suggestion is that for a cause to be efficacious, it has to exist, and unrealized final causes, since by definition they don't yet exist in the objective world, have only one other place to exist -- in an intellect.

That's the short answer. The longer answer can be found in The Last Superstition (which does discuss the Fifth Way) and, again, in Aquinas (which discusses it in even more detail).

Step2: Sodium metal and water produce fire as an example to dispute the first principle.

I have to admit that this principle (that an agent produces its like) is a difficult one. I don't completely understand it myself. I believe it is definately true. But to know how it is true, and how it isn't, is the trick.

To address your example, I would say that some efficient causes are better seen as instrumental causes, with the agent being something prior.

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