Philosophy would be impossible without the soul. Animals do not contemplate abstractions, and are not ravished by contemplating the elegance proofs nor the beauty of the hidden laws of the universe.
The soul in an innocent and uncorrupted state is naturally inclined to philosophy. Note how often children ask “why?” It is the simplest question, yet the most philosophical. To ask why is to ask the reason for things, the meaning, the purpose, for what sake the universe exists.
It is the one question Political Correctness hates most of all, and seeks to silence. In the unspoken assumptions behind Political Correctness, it is taken for granted that the universe has only two parts: a lawless blind willpower ruling human minds, and an unwilling blind matter ruling the material universe.
This worldview eliminates the question “why?” It eliminates questions of honor and honesty. There is no such thing as honor to the utterly unhindered will, nor is there any such thing as honesty in reference to the blind and meaningless raw material of matter.
There is no answer to the question “why?” in a meaningless universe of matter occupied by egotists possessed of unbridled and totally arbitrary willpower. The only answer is either “that is just the way it is” or “because I said so.”
If the universe is nothing but the blind yet godlike willpower and the blind void of empty matter, there is no room for the poetic imagination nor for the trained conscience. There is no room for honor or honesty. And, as I fear we shall soon see, no room for civilization.
And there is no room for the soul.
It is not the brain nor the heart which contemplates the highest and most divine of those realities which create our world. It is the soul. Philosophy is the attempt to explain the soul to the brain, or, in other words, it is the attempt to put into words those higher truths from which all lesser truths depend.
Naturally, for those of us whose brains has not been rotted away by Political Correctness, it seems a simple matter to conclude that empiricism is the proper epistemology to use for natural sciences, which deals with subjects open to verification or invalidation by sense impressions, and not the proper epistemology to use for other philosophical disciplines, as metaphysics, ontology, epistemology, logic, mathematics, ethics, jurisprudence, economics, aesthetics.
For the modern thinker, who dismisses all topics not related to matter in motion as immaterial, there can be no discussion of human nature or objective right and wrong or true and false. There can be only discussion about the regularity of natural phenomena we call the laws of physics. So we see absurdities such as modern men announcing to the press that science has proven the free will not to exist.
The modern mind is infinitely gullible: it occurred to no one reprinting this announcement that science cannot take place in a creature that lacks free will, because science requires a mind to examine evidence, weigh it, and reach a verdict which is one or two or more options. Creatures in whom the will is not free lack options, lack reason, and lack judgment. One needs reason to examine evidence, one needs judgment to weigh it, and one needed free will to decide between two or more options.
For the modern thinker, it is morally wrong to discuss what is morally right and wrong, because these entities do not exist in matter, and cannot be measured.
For the postmodern thinker (and, yet again, I use the word “thinker” as a courtesy to refer to a mental process with opposite goals and means to rational thought) all reasoning and all debate on all topics, not merely those of physics, is a sinister attempt of the strong to oppress and deceive the weak my means of a “narrative.”
What the postmoderns mean by this nonword is a mystery of their faith.
For the uninitiated, I will explain that postmoderns are voodoo doctors or Archimages of Roke who believe that words in and of themselves have the power to enchant men’s minds and change reality.
The postmoderns are ergo afraid that theologians and philosophers and especially economists will use words to justify certain laws or policies or civilized conventions that will maintain their hated enemy, civilization, once called “Christendom” but now called “The West” or “The First World.”
Rather than using words to show why the inarticulate illiteracy of barbarism is better than civilization, the postmodern thinker spins meaningless noises together to making a pleasing sound, hoping this will stun the unwary student into believing something vaguely bad or unfair is being perpetrated upon them when they uphold law and order and decency, that it is somehow against their interests. In effect, the postmodernists are doing exactly what they accuse their enemies of doing, using words or “narratives” to cast a spell to oppress and deceive the weak.
For the modern or postmodern ethicist (and, for the final time, I use the word as a courtesy) there is no discipline of ethics, no philosophy, and nothing to study nor discuss. Postmodern ethics is the crudest possible version of Epicureanism, where any pleasure is sacred: but perverted pleasures, particularly when destructive of human souls and human lives, are more sacred than decent, natural, normal or harmless pleasures.
Please note that the real Epicurus held only that the good was the pursuit of enlightened and long-term pleasures consonant with the social order. His philosophy requires discriminating judgment between true pleasures, those that ennoble the soul, and false pleasures, those that destroy it. Needless to say, discrimination and judgment are anathema to the Postmodern mind.
The reason why we have Political Correctness is to invent dishonest and lunatic excuses to justify ignoring duty to indulge in desires, particularly and especially abnormal sexual desires.
Men with souls, which means, men who follow any honest philosophy, refute such excuses and inculcate a sense of shame into the human breast. Philosophy instills an ability to face the turmoils and disappointments of life unelated by success and undespairing of failure — to this day, we speak of “taking something philosophically” meaning with the stoic dignity of a civilized man.
The purpose of Political Correctness is to do the opposite, to reduce man to barbarism.
This is done in such writers as Marx and Nietzsche and Freud by glorifying the envious desires and the pride of the will and the spontaneous yet infantile emotions so that any opposition to self-gratification is seen as a sacrilege. Instead of bearing privation with manly fortitude, or practicing chastity or courage or calmness, the modern philosophers invent bogus arguments to sacramentalize any and all abnormal, infantile, or selfish human desire, so that the gullible victim of modern philosophy reacts to any hindrance or criticism of instant gratification as if his sacred rights were being trampled. This allows for the curious and specifically modern spectacle of men publicly waxing wroth with righteous indignation whenever their unrighteousness is not praised as righteous!
Please note the behavior displayed by activists who engage in objectively meaningless protests. Occupy Wall Street was particularly postmodern in its lack of defined goal or purpose. But equally postmodern, hence post-civilized, are the behaviors of activists who mau-mau sellers of chicken sandwiches for being Christian, or ruin the careers of makers of Bible story films by labeling them antisemites, or who ostracize and bedevil those who do not care to have public funds pay for killing babies in the womb.
Such post-modern political causes follow the same general rule: all four causes swell up like toads with self righteous indignation when crossed. All causes stoop to criminal means, vandalism, death threats, and so on, to support and spread their agenda, because their philosophy says their cause is so righteous that the ends justify the means.
All these causes howl like barbarians when they are beaten, and all of them boast like barbarians when they beat others, and none of them treats their opposition with the manly firmness or manly chivalry or evenness of temper which is the hallmark of civilized behavior.
Philosophy teaches that some basis exists for the customs and laws of men, and some goal toward which the laws and customs seek.
Without philosophy in the soul, poetic imagination in the heart, nor the faculty of reason in the brain, and most of all without honesty in the use of words on the tongue, life is reduced to squalor and language to Newspeakish jabberwocky. Customs and laws are reduced to a conspiracy of the strong to bewitch and oppress the weak, contracts and covenants are void for being meaningless, honor and honesty reduced to mere words, and, in short, civilization itself is found to have no foundation.
Don’t miss the previous two columns in this series:
John C. Wright is a retired attorney and newspaperman who was only once hunted by the police. He is a graduate of St. John College (home of Mortimer Adler’s “Great Books Program“). In 2004 he foreswore his lifelong atheism and joined the Roman Catholic Church. He has published over 10 SF novels, including one nominated for a Nebula award, and was described by Publisher’s Weekly as “this fledgling century’s most important new SF talent.” He currently lives in fairytale-like happiness with his wife, the authoress L. Jagi Lamplighter, and their four children.