A Short and Sobering History of Vandalism

“In all quarters pillage and destruction were the order of the day.”

Henri Grégoire, Memorial (1794)

We have our word vandal from the name of the Germanic tribe that sacked the city of Rome in 455 A.D., thereby abetting the collapse of the Western empire and setting an example for all subsequent and eponymous barbarians.  There were, to be sure, many other malignancies crippling the sinews and thews of Rome, and this was not the first time the city had been sacked, but the sack of the Vandals was for many an omen of the end that would soon be upon them. Continue reading

2,000 Posts

We reached something of a milestone the day before yesterday: 2,000 posts.

The Orthosphere has been in existence for 8 years now. While we remain tiny in the grand scheme of things across the blogosphere, nevertheless the sheer numbers we’ve accumulated so far are enough to raise my eyebrows in astonishment: we’ve garnered 2.8 million page views, 1,300 followers, and almost 44,000 comments from readers and contributors.

I am pleased that we have continued to refrain almost completely from commentary on the political news of the day, most of which is noise, or else stupid, or both. We’ll try to keep that up, so that our stuff is more or less timeless.

That said, we’d like to hear from readers if there is anything you wish we did more of – or less.

Thanks to all the Orthosphereans – contributors, commenters, readers, and participants in the broader orthosphere at many sites – for what has been so far a most edifying progress over the orthological formscape. There is much still to explore of that great continent, in all its dimensions – intellectual, moral, aesthetic – much still to learn. I look forward to the next 8 years.

Spare Us the Clamor and Din

“When you find more spiritual sustenance in an empty church than the actual service, something has gone badly wrong.”  William Wildblood, Meeting the Masters Blog (October 10, 2020)

“But when alone—really alone—everyone is a child: or no one.”  C. S. Lewis, That Hideous Strength (1945)

“Unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.”  Matthew18:3.

I have spent many hours alone in empty, silent churches, and I will confess that those hours were, for me, superior to the many hours I have spent in churches that were packed with people and full of sound.  My preference is no doubt partly due to a discreditable streak of misanthropy, but I think it is primarily due to distaste for the dreadful clamor and din.  As Wildblood says, something has gone badly wrong when men prefer an empty church to a worship service, and I say that what has gone badly wrong is the service and not the men. Continue reading

On the conservative quarrel with reason

Left-liberalism is the ideology of the elite, and the inculcation of its doctrines is what is regarded as education, so of course liberals are on average smarter, better behaved, richer, more industrious, fitter, and more sexually attractive than conservatives. Failure to conform is almost always a sign of defect; almost never a sign of being more perceptive than one’s host society. However, when liberals say that conservatives are hostile to reason, they are making a more interesting claim, one about the role of public reason in our system compared to theirs.

Unfortunately, there have been few first-rate conservative epistemologists, and some, like Burke and Maistre, have spoken rather too sweepingly on this matter, so liberals cannot be blamed for any inaccurate conclusions on our attitude toward reason. We should admit that, while reason has a role in conservative governance, it is more subordinate than in liberal governance. We really do have a lower estimation of man’s ability to deduce principles of social justice from a priori reasoning. In this sense, conservatism is anti-reason in the same way that empirical science is anti-reason. Just as scientific reasoning begins from observations about the world and may not appeal to a priori reasoning to demand the data be different, so conservative moral reasoning begins with inherited practices and may not appeal to a priori reasoning to demand an overthrow of tradition.

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Philosophical Skeleton Keys: Ideas Cannot Conceive Themselves

I feel sure that I am nowise unique in having struggled for years with the difficulty of the ontological status of the Platonic Forms. On Plato’s account, so far as it went, the Forms subsisted in a different realm – indeed, a different sort of realm – than our own. I could see well enough that, as immutable, that Realm must be more actual than our own. But, what is that Realm, where is it (is that even an appropriate question to ask?), and what relates it to our own? Indeed, how could a purely formal realm link up at all to our material world? I found I could not even begin to think about it.

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The Argument from Perfect Generality

If there are perfectly general statements that are true, they must be necessarily true, for only a necessarily true statement can be true in all possible worlds, so as to be perfectly general. Bearing in mind that ideas can’t have themselves, and cannot be true in the absence of any domain of reality to which they might appertain, so as to be true thereof, there must be at least one actual necessary being in virtue of whose knowledge of their truth such truths might be true necessarily.

The only question then is whether there are perfectly general statements that are true. “There are no true and perfectly general statements” is a perfectly general statement. If it is true, it is false. So it is false in all possible worlds. So there are perfectly general statements that are true, ergo etc.

Eschew Calumny and Chauvinism

“Calumniate, calumniate: something will always stick.”

Beaumarchais, Le Barbier de Séville (1773)

“I am French, I am Chauvin”

Cogniard, La Cogniard Tricolore (1831)

Orthosphere gadfly a.morphous opines in recent comments that liberals are vastly more rational and empathetic than conservatives, forgetting to mention better looking and more skillful in both bedroom and kitchen.  He also says that conservatives oppose progress, offering their opposition to Hillary Clinton as evidence.  If the thought that Hillary Clinton might be president made you throw up a little in your mouth, he evidently believes you must also sputter and spit every time you think of anesthetics, steel bridges, or toilet paper on a roll. Continue reading

Question to readers

Books of a certain persuasion are being purged and are getting harder to acquire. I notice, for example, that two books that I own, The Camp of the Saints and The Culture of Critique, are no longer carried by Amazon. Are there any books that you are thinking you’d better buy very soon if you ever hope to read them? Anything you’d recommend I buy a copy of while I still can? For example, when I first noticed this, it seemed likely that pro-confederate books would be disappearing first, so I bought my own copy of the Southern Agrarian manifesto I’ll Take My Stand, which I had read and appreciated many years ago. I don’t particularly feel like re-reading it, but it’s nice to know that now I’ll always be able to.