Thursday, July 12, 2012

I Am An Ideologue Because I Am Human...or I Think, Therefore I Am

In the first video of a new series at Prager University, Jonah Goldberg guides us through the twists of logic employed by liberals to avoid admitting that they, like all human beings, are ideological.  In the final moments of this excellent video, Mr. Goldberg quotes a few lines from G. K. Chesterton's "Heretics".  This is the entire quote:
“The vice of the modern notion of mental progress is that it is always something concerned with the breaking of bonds, the effacing of boundaries, the casting away of dogmas. But if there be such a thing as mental growth, it must mean the growth into more and more definite convictions, into more and more dogmas. The human brain is a machine for coming to conclusions; if it cannot come to conclusions it is rusty. When we hear of a man too clever to believe, we are hearing of something having almost the character of a contradiction in terms. It is like hearing of a nail that was too good to hold down a carpet; or a bolt that was too strong to keep a door shut. Man can hardly be defined, after the fashion of Carlyle, as an animal who makes tools; ants and beavers and many other animals make tools, in the sense that they make an apparatus. Man can be defined as an animal that makes dogmas. As he piles doctrine on doctrine and conclusion on conclusion in the formation of some tremendous scheme of philosophy and religion, he is, in the only legitimate sense of which the expression is capable, becoming more and more human. When he drops one doctrine after another in a refined scepticism, when he declines to tie himself to a system, when he says that he has outgrown definitions, when he says that he disbelieves in finality, when, in his own imagination, he sits as God, holding no form of creed but contemplating all, then he is by that very process sinking slowly backwards into the vagueness of the vagrant animals and the unconsciousness of the grass. Trees have no dogmas. Turnips are singularly broad-minded.”–G.K. Chesterton, Heretics
To my mind, the essence of what Chesterton was arguing is that man, unlike any other animal, has the ability to gain wisdom through discerning the truth, indeed, this discernment is REQUIRED in order to be human. We are not really human from what we know; we are human from what we believe.  So when the modern liberal says he cares only for facts, that he is only committed to what "works" and holds himself above the rigidity of ideology, he is saying, "I am an educated dog.  I do lots of tricks.  Oh...and they work."

He may be very educated, but he is not very wise.

This is key:  he IS free of the restraints imposed by admitting to an ideology.

At any rate, this is an excellent video from Jonah Goldberg on the value of ideology.  It's what makes us human.

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