“While fully recognising the superior excellence of unselfish benevolence and love of justice, we did not expect the regeneration of mankind from any direct action on those sentiments, but from the effect of educated intellect, enlightening the selfish feelings.”
John Stuart Mill
Illiteracy is uncommon in the Western world. Yet education, as a vehicle for the improvement of society, hasn’t yet bridged the lacuna that is prejudice and bigotry. It has no more defeated groundless thinking than has the Bible.
“Next to aristocracy, an established church, or corporation of priests, as being by position the great depravers of religion, and interested in opposing the progress of the human mind, was the object of his greatest detestation; though he disliked no clergyman personally who did not deserve it, and was on terms of sincere friendship with several. In ethics his moral feelings were energetic and rigid on all points which he deemed important to human well being, while he was supremely indifferent in opinion (though his indifference did not show itself in personal conduct) to all those doctrines of the common morality, which he thought had no foundation but in asceticism and priestcraft.”
John Stuart Mill
Literature – not only in the cherished mode of poetry – can amount to no more than a Château en Espagne. The oratory of the presentation can make the difference of conviction. It leads me to question the utility of argument at all as compared to what other less provocative avenues prevail down which to travel in search of human happiness. When we’ve focussed our investigation upon the central issue of happiness (which paradoxically reflects the etymology of “search” from the Old French verb cerchier from the Latin circare “go round” or circus “circle”) maybe then we stand a better chance to deal with what by any standard are elemental concerns. Complicating the inquiry with political, social or religious theses does nothing to accelerate existing needs. The problem naturally is that the objectives of factional thinkers are not equivalent. Indeed one would be gravely mistaken to assume upon any level of analysis that universal human happiness is the primary goal.
Obviously none of us wishes to degenerate into that medicated state of mind reflected in “Don’t worry, be happy” but neither should we ignore the contaminating level of self-absorption in the writings of many of our so-called greatest intellects. Many of them knew they were onto a good wheeze! Just try listening to anything by Steve Bannon!
Some organizations (of those involving mandatory principles – such as Freemasonry) may be excused for being doctrinaire though not inflexible. I won’t pretend to disapprove denominational groups – at least those to which I have chosen to belong. I do however preserve my critical analysis of them as a general caution against deceptive persuasion (including those to which I have chosen to belong). Most social conventions and images of corporate inclusion are fraught with potentially damaging regulation. This doesn’t mean they are to be avoided; rather that the rubbish is diluted. Throwing out the entire association does little to improve those embroiled.