Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Rush of Noble Feelings

There is nothing more repugnant to me than - which I can say, based upon many years of quiet observation, must be to many the centre-point of their moral/religious experience - the feeling of satisfaction one derives from things considered moral, which cost one effectively nothing, and in fact, actually serve to bolster their socio-economic status. You see this with vegetarianism, ecumenism, being pro-homosexual (whatever that is!). But conservative Catholics are also guilty of this a million times over too (but at least they don't generally make these feelings their centre-point): they do it with regard to being pro-Latin mass, pro-Douay-Rheims, etc.

The major point of contrast between a conservative Christian doing this and someone else is that the former do not consider the feeling itself the point of religion. That is a secular idea, and a liberal Protestant idea (Schleiermachean) the feeling is the point. Yes, there are those who actually believe that. I have heard it expressed many times. How un-philosophical! It makes me worry about the fate of man, who could be content, not with truth, but with emotion. I thought that the use of reason was how we ascended from the animals...

So, our morality is to be judged by how we conform to the fine sentiments of others.

All this came about simply glancing at the title of an article referring to the World Council of Churches.


  1. You wrote on Feb. 19 about appearances being everything, stating that "being nice" was more important than standing up for the TRUTH. I was quite surprised at that. A multitude of sins and deception can be hidden behind "being nice". Ask any Con Man. Truth trumps each and every time, and yes, it does need help. That is what Christianity is supposed to be all about. Your Feb. 19 statement rather refutes what you have written above. I agree that feeling is not the point, but "feeling" as a moral virtue is in the same camp as making oneself look "nice" at all costs. Think of The Grinch, in his speech to little Cindy Lou Who.... Someone once coined the phrase, "the tyranny of nice". And indeed, it can become that, being a tool to hide or distort the truth. TRUTH trumps every time, even if it is not as palatable as "nice". If a lot of people are mistakenly convinced they have done their moral duty by "feeling" the appropriate things, then even more are convinced they have done their moral duty by "being nice".

    1. He meant it in a different way than he said it, I think. You're focusing on Truth in the face of persecution, while he was focusing on not forcing Truth down someone's throat when they're either not ready for it or obstinately closed to it. Obviously, you're right that we must speak Truth and not worry about being nice, but I think his point comes into play here since he was clearly talking about being charitable, not simply "niceness". Yeah, it could have been phrased with more scrupulous precision, but sometimes the perfect word isn't the one we think of.

  2. Good points...
    I had to question myself about my consistency. This is how I see it.
    The other day I was talking about actual actions: talking to others. This time about our self-congratulatory feelings, for which we would like praise and preferment.
    The other day I wasn't saying truth isn't important. I just don't think we should identify our take on truth as the same thing as truth itself. I think we think the truth depends upon us. It doesn't, obviously. I think I serve the truth better as a humble servant, than as a know-it-all, blabbering on.
    I think my two points hang together in this sense: feelings are not morally important, what's morally important is treating others well. Feeling-imperialism (the present subject) amounts to the same thing as word-imperialism (the other day's subject).