Well, I just started reading Mr Rawl’s Political Liberalism … just starting to break into the introduction. And so far, I’m unimpressed. His writing is sloppy and careless, not that I really should complain, but this is a book by an Academic philosopher who should be more careful than an amateur blogger. However, of interest (for tonight) is this following excerpt quoted as the beliefs belonging to “comprehensive” as opposed to “political” liberalism. Three tenents are given, the second of each is the “liberal” tenet.

Is the knowledge or awareness of how we are to act directly accessible only to some, or to a few (the clergy, say), or is it accessible to every person who is normally reasonable and conscientious?

Again, it the moral order required of us derived from an external source, say from an order of values in God’s intellect, or does it arise in some way from human nature itself (either from reason or feeling or from a union of both), together with the requirements of our living together in society?

Finally, must we be persuaded or compelled to bring ourselves in line with the requirements of our duties and obligations by some external motivation, say by divine sanctions or by those of the state; or are we to constituted that we have in our nature sufficient motives to lead us to act as we ought without the need of external threats inducements?

It seems, I am not a “comprehensive” liberal because I view the latter in all of cases as fatally flawed. Let’s consider this case by case.

  1. Is the upper floor of a house available to all or only to those who climb the stairs. Knowledge and awareness on a more than passing level is only available to those who practice and engage in self-examination and introspective thought on ethics and morals. That is not easy. It is not available to everyone for it is not reasonable to expect any more than a distinct minority to be conscientious. Thinking otherwise is hopelessly Utopian.
  2. Well, my answer to this is a little more confused. Our moral sense and the “moral order required of us” is derived from external source (God), but alas, God (and our connection to Him, e.g., “made in His image”) is in fact human nature.
  3. Well, as avidly and emphatically demonstrated by Charles Taylor in his book A Secular Age, one of the major pushes by Church, State, and Academia for the last 500 years has been to civilize and make polite society. 500 years ago, the medieval Emily Posts of the Europe were encouraging the masses not to take a dump in the living room. We’ve come a long way, baby … but it hasn’t been easy or a fast road. The idea that politeness and reasonableness is “in our nature” is to deny and ignore so so so much of our history (ancient and modern) it isn’t funny.

Filed under: Ethics & MoralityLiberalMark O.Politics

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