Category Archives: reason

Needed: soft hearts, hard heads

Blaise Pascal

In an age of exhibitionism, writes Dalrymple,

a soft head often passes for a good heart.

He says that fuzzy thought, or the substitution of supposedly generous ideas for real reflection,

is to be combatted not by equal and opposite sloganeering, but by rational argument. It is not only liberty the preservation of which imposes the duty of eternal vigilance: the preservation of reason imposes it as well.

Slashing corporate tax is perfectly rational

One cannot say, writes Dalrymple,

that the past few months in Western civilisation have provided a model of reasoned debate worthy of imitation. We have reached the stage—the nadir—at which, if Donald Trump were to issue a decree to the effect that two and two made four, his opponents would shriek that they didn’t, they made five.

Of course Trump, says Dalrymple, is not

exactly blameless. When it comes to argumentation, he is no Socrates.

However, Trump’s proposal to cut tax on corporate profits to 15% from 35% is, Dalrymple notes,

perfectly rational. 15% of a lot is more than 100% of nothing.

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Postcards from Costa Mesa

screen-shot-2016-12-31-at-17-15-11Political correctness

Olga Pérez Stable Cox is professor of human sexuality at Orange Coast College, Costa Mesa. She recently delivered herself of the view, in the course of a lecture at the college, that the election of Donald Trump, whom she described as a ‘white supremacist’, was ‘an act of terrorism’. Moreover, she said, ‘we have been assaulted’.

Ms Cox should not have spoken in this way, Dalrymple contends.

As a characterisation of events in America it is so inaccurate or imprecise, at the same time so feeble and inflammatory, that it bespeaks either an inability to control herself or a lack of intellect (or both), neither of them admirable qualities in a university lecturer.

The lecture theatre, he says, is no place for teachers to express their raw political opinions to young people who are dependent upon them for good marks.

screen-shot-2016-12-31-at-17-12-26A North Korea of the soul

On the other hand, says Dalrymple,

the student who recorded and spread her comments widely was also acting in a destructive fashion, perhaps without fully realising it. If everything we say or do can be recorded and published without our consent, we shall soon be living in a North Korea of the soul. No conversation will be truly private, no group of people will be trusted not to contain its digital Judas. The only safety will be in silence.

screen-shot-2016-12-31-at-17-09-56How to parry

The proper response to political correctness, Dalrymple argues,

is not unbridled insult, or vituperation that is supposedly equal and opposite to whatever it is that political correctness asserts. It is resort, incessant if necessary, to reason, which may employ irony and mockery but not crudity.

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The gentle Sikh woman

Screen Shot 2016-05-10 at 20.32.12She waited outside without demur, reading a book of prayers

In the ward, writes Dalrymple, was a young Englishwoman

of the slut-babymother class, whose jaw was clenched in a habitual expression of world-destroying hatred. Her glittering saurian eyes swivelled mistrustingly, on the qui vive for infringements of her rights. She exuded grievance as a skunk exudes its odour.

She had been admitted to hospital because

she had been out celebrating the night before.

Enlightenment reason turned into psychopathic unreason

In England,

celebration is synonymous with aggression and public nuisance, and she had conformed to type. The police dumped her in the hospital rather than in the slammer, where she belonged.

Screen Shot 2016-05-10 at 20.34.20She

turned the attention of her lip to the admitting doctor, who took down verbatim some of what she said to him.

Her recorded remarks were littered with the word ‘fuck’, which the doctor rendered ‘f***’ in neat handwriting, showing that

in India, at least (where the doctor came from), there is still some sense of dignity, decorum and self-respect.

Putrid fruit borne of the doctrine of rights

The following morning a friend of the patient arrived in the ward before visiting time.

Both patient and friend were what is called in the prison ‘very verbal’. A nurse, acting on the biblical observation that a soft answer turns away wrath, asked them to keep their voices down, only to discover that the Bible has been superseded in modern Britain and that wrath turns away a soft answer.

Superseded: the book of Proverbs

Superseded: the Book of Proverbs

The nurse then told the visitor that she had to leave. Shortly after her departure under foul-mouthed protest,

the wife of another patient came. She was a respectable Sikh woman with a gentle manner, but it was not yet visiting time, and the nurses feared to provoke the slut-babymother by allowing her to stay, when they had told the slut-babymother’s visitor to leave. The nurses could all too well imagine the scene: Why am I not allowed a fucking visitor when that person over there is? In vain would the nurses point out the difference in the conduct of the two visitors; if anyone had a right to a visitor, everyone did, irrespective of the conduct of the visitor.

To avoid a conflict over rights,

the Sikh woman was asked to wait outside, which she did without demur, reading a book of prayers.

Dalrymple mère and the homœopath

Screen Shot 2016-04-10 at 08.48.08Dalrymple writes that his mother

suddenly suffered from a non-life-threatening but disfiguring skin condition of her scalp that caused her great distress.

But

old ladies in their 80s worried about their appearance are not high on the National Health Service’s list of priorities; and this, combined with a severe shortage of dermatologists, meant that she could not be seen on the NHS for 18 months. In dermatology the Grim Reaper is used as an auxiliary in the government’s Waiting Time Initiative.

Screen Shot 2016-04-10 at 08.48.28So Dalrymple mère

went private. Even the private dermatologist had a waiting list of nine months, however, so she chose another. He prescribed something that made her condition much worse. She consulted another, with the same unhappy result.

Finally she sought out a homœopath and,

Screen Shot 2016-04-10 at 08.53.45to both my pleasure and my chagrin, his ministrations cured her. At least, she got better after them.

In the circumstances it was difficult, says Dalrymple, to persuade Dalrymple mère that homœopathy had

no rational basis, quite the reverse, and that properly conducted scientific trials had demonstrated its inefficacy. She had undertaken the only trial that interested her, and it was successful. What more could a patient ask?

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Em Defesa do Preconceito

Screen Shot 2015-10-06 at 08.07.18com Reinaldo Azevedo

Neste livro, Dalrymple não pede que abandonemos o racionalismo, pede apenas mais humildade de nossa parte e mais respeito aos preconceitos tradicionais. Como escreve o autor,

É necessário bom senso para saber quando um preconceito deve ou não ser abandonado.

E bom senso é algo que tem sido esquecido na nossa luta contra os preconceitos ruins, que são deixados de lado junto com os bons.

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