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    Quotables: Ideas Have Consequences

    July 10, 2012 by Brandy Vencel

    Ideas Have Consequences
    by Richard Weaver

    This difficulty is due in part to the widely prevailing Whig theory of history, with its belief that the most advanced point in time represents the point of highest development, aided no doubt by theories of evolution which suggest to the uncritical a kind of necessary passage from simple to complex. {p. 1}

    It is the appalling problem…of getting men to distinguish between better and worse. {p. 1}

    [S]igns of disintegration arouse fear, and fear leads to desperate unilateral efforts toward survival, which only forward the process. {p. 2}

    I take the view that the conscious policies of men and governments are not mere rationalizations of what has been brought about by unaccountable forces. They are rather deductions from our most basic ideas of human destiny, and they have a great, though not unobstructed, power to determine our course. {p. 3}

    Those who have not discovered that world view is the most important thing about a man, as about the men composing a culture, should consider the train of circumstances which have with perfect logic proceeded from this. The denial of universals carries with it the denial of everything transcending experience. {p. 3-4}

    [N]ature had formerly been regarded as imitating a transcendent model and as constituting an imperfect reality. {p. 4}

    Thus it is not the mysterious fact of the world’s existence which interests the new man but explanations of how the world works. {p. 5}

    The great pageant of history thus became reducible to the economic endeavors of individuals and classes; and elaborate prognoses were constructed on the theory of economic conflict and resolution. Man created in the divine image, the protagonist of a great drama in which his soul was at stakes, was replaced by man the wealth-seeking and -consuming animal. {p. 6}

    Here begins the assault upon definition: if words no longer correspond to objective realities, it seems no great wrong to take liberties with words. {p. 7}

    [P]eople traveling this downward path develop an insensibility which increases with their degradation. {p. 10}

    Hope of restoration depends upon recovery of the “ceremony of innocence,” of that clearness of vision and knowledge of form which enable us to sense what is alien or destructive, what does not comport with our moral ambition. {p. 11}

    [A] century and a half of bourgeois ascendancy has produced a type of mind highly unreceptive to unsettling thoughts. {p. 11}

    Whoever desires to praise some modern achievement should wait until he has related it to the professed aims of our civilization. {p. 12}

    The unexpressed assumption of empiricism is that experience will tell us what we are experiencing. {p. 13}

    It is not what people can read; it is what they do read, and what they can be made, by any imaginable means, to learn from what they read, that determine the issue of this noble experiment. {p. 14}

    [S]ince modern man has not defined his way of life, he initiates himself into an endless series when he enters the struggle for an “adequate” living. One of the strangest disparities of history lies between the sense of abundance felt by older and simpler societies and the sense of scarcity felt by the ostensibly richer societies of today. Charles Péguy has referred to modern man’s feeling of “slow economic strangulation,” his sense of never having enough to meet the requirements which his pattern of life imposes on him. Standards of consumption which he cannot meet, and which he does not need to meet, come virtually in the guise of duties. {p. 13-15}

    A great material establishment, by its very temptations to luxuriousness, unfits the owner for the labor necessary to maintain it. {p. 15}

    Man is constantly being assured today that he has more power than ever before in history, but his daily experience is one of powerlessness. {p. 16}

    -linked to the IHC book club hosted by Mystie

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