Wednesday, May 29, 2019

The Quality Of Life

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves wide acceptance: Most of the people who blather on about other people's "quality of life" have never actually lived.

I used to be scared to lose my mind, to get Alzheimer's, or some other dementia. But you know what? I don't need my wits; I just need my joy. And if I have no consolation from the gospel, my faith is enough. Faith proclaims what is true, even if it has no companions.

If people say of me, "He believed, and he loved, and therefore, he lived," then it'll be a good life, no matter what I suffer at its end.

A Reductio Ad Absurdum Worth Considering

It is often claimed that individuals have the right to claim absolute sovereignty over their reproductive faculties; it is argued that frustrating, blocking, or even mutilating them is an indispensable part of freedom. Let's simply call this "reproductive freedom." If every man and woman actually chose this option, we would literally all die, and there would be no one to replace us. The human race would not survive.

Let's put it in a syllogism:

 Reproductive freedom is the right to regulate the natural human capacity for reproduction, up to and including the absolute prevention of conception (or the termination of the products of conception at will);

If every person chose to exercise this right--in the direction of prevention of conception or termination--the human race would become extinct;

It is not good that the human race should become extinct;

Therefore, the right of reproductive freedom as described above is bad.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

The Poison In The Well

I don't want to control uteruses; I want us to stop killing people, intentionally and systematically. But do you notice how we can't really have a conversation about anything else important, because the politics of abortion are so stark?

Please don't tell me that "Until you..." support all these other policies, you don't trust my motives, because that's no way to have a discussion. Suppose, my liberal friend, that you were right on every other issue you brought up. It would still not be morally acceptable to intentionally kill a child in the womb. That's really the key, and it's why this well-poisoning isn't going to work.

And you don't know me, or what I think about all the other issues of concern, because you didn't ask. I'd actually be a "liberal", in many minds. Perhaps you don't actually care, because you've decided that to be a good feminist is to support abortion. I can't imagine why. You know, we'd have a lot more women in the world, if we never legalized and nationalized abortion. China intentionally does sex-selective abortion, though now with their imbalance and aging population, they regret it. (On the other hand, if you want to erase "male" and "female," maybe this doesn't bother you, anyway.)

I'm a proud kitchen sinkist on this, in the sense that I believe economic pressures, sexism, social isolation, and perhaps other factors play into the choice to have an abortion. Whatever I can do to take those things away--that is itself morally licit--I will do. But in the end, to procure an abortion, to assist in it, to support laws making it more available, etc. is to be a morally responsible party to a grave evil. We will have to answer for this.

Monday, May 27, 2019

I Didn't Order A Package (Confusedly Yet Passionately Loving Truth)

I need to start in an odd place: Mark Shea. If you talk to some fairly prominent "conservative" Catholics, they'll talk about how "sad" it is now, and they'll pretend that they aren't a bunch of unprincipled tribalists. On the other hand, I've tangled with The New And Not Improved Shea, and it hasn't been fun. Anyway, he still strikes me as that guy who got really justifiably upset at the numerous outrages and absurdities of the GOP primary,--Ted Cruz actually asserted that bombing an entire region indiscriminately based upon their religion was a good idea--and never had someone vaguely conservative go, "Actually, you're right. This is completely immoral and insane. This entire thing." And if someone is angry, and no one cares, they get more angry. I don't know about him, but I can't really think clearly when I'm really angry. I will turn a person I love into Pol Pot, and not even regret it, if no one tries to talk me down.

It's the curse of the stubborn genius, if it's not too vain to say that. And if someone is outraged for about 4 years in public, they'll have a long string of stuff that's barking nuts, that sounded like a good idea at the time. I may have achieved an equilibrium; I'm no worse than mildly agitated these days. You had better believe, people who love me had to watch me cry, and not with joy, at the events of these last couple of years. Friendship is my gateway to re-visit ideas; I give Left-liberal ideas their due--and make the best case I can--because darn near everyone I love is in the helping professions, living flat-out heroic lives of service to all manner of vulnerable and under-served people. If there were a case to be made against conservatism (whatever that even means, anyway) these are the people to make it. You know, the Kochs or the Walton heirs don't put up the money that my friends use to help the struggling; the government(s) do/does.

This is of course quite aside from the fact that the Church's attitude toward American rightist individualism is...not favorable. I've had two friends tell me they lean libertarian as Catholics. They might as well have said they planted a dozen square circles in the garden yesterday morning.

Insofar as "politics" teaches us to find weaknesses in people, instead of our own arguments, it's worse than useless. Oddly, too many people settle for a package deal, instead of thinking. If you ask me about spotted owls, or bees, or Arctic sea ice, I'm going to come up with a plan for those things. I'd be kind of a jerk to go, "But what about abortion?" Or maybe a better example is undocumented immigrants, in terms of their rights and dignity. Too soon?

What Is A Person? Further Abortion Thoughts

"At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life." ---The United States Supreme Court, in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, widely attributed to Justice Anthony Kennedy

(Author's Note: I can't find a juicy opposing quote. Find your own! I am neither a trained philosopher, nor an expert in Google, nor do I have an encyclopedic memory, despite some claims to the contrary. Who do you think I am, Bryan Cross? [No one would make that mistake.--ed.] I know, right? [At least you have hair.--ed.] For now.)

When you ask a metaphysical realist philosopher--or better yet, someone schooled in the Catholic Philosophical Tradition (CPT) what's wrong with societies today, he or she might point to this quote right here. It's not merely because this case reaffirmed abortion-on-demand in Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton. Look instead at what it says about the nature of reality. We make our own reality. We define it. Words themselves become not expressions of meaning aiming at the truth, but self-expressions of personal desire. Post-modern deconstruction is a great example of this, and another name for it is emotivism. That is, every statement is reduced to an expression of preference. Post-modern deconstruction assumes emotivism, and then speculates. In the end, though, it ends up being a list of reasons why we don't have to listen to an old dead guy, because we don't want to.

Metaphysical realists had always operated under the assumption--to put it in simple terms--that reality was discovered, not made.

Idealism says that all reality originates in the mind. Other ideas, like nominalism (Ockham) and skepticism, (Descartes) undermined people's confidence in their capacity to know reality. Our political system, while encouraging us to be radical individualists and idealists, more fundamentally supposes that a collection of individuals creates the political society, in some sense trading absolute autonomy for the securing of certain rights (see Locke, Hobbes). The older thinkers, meanwhile, believed that the society predates any human political machinations, and no one is absolutely autonomous. Today, we have majoritarian will to power in slightly nicer words (Nietzsche, with some help from John Rawls).

7 justices (and then 5) on the Supreme Court said we can make our own reality, and we eventually went along with it. Then we said, "No one will take away my rights to do with my body what I want!" Conveniently, we re-defined that other body, that other person, as a "blob of cells" (scientism, reductionism). As I am fond of saying, reality has a way of asserting itself. On almost every conceivable issue, from city planning to euthanasia to divorce to alternative families, there will a reckoning. It'll be a reckoning for this arrogance, and it won't matter much who's in power, because true reality will leave us all with egg on our faces.