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'Desire Trumping Ideas': A Too Simple Diagnosis

'Desire Trumping Ideas': A Too Simple Diagnosis

The great analyser of relativist culture, Jeff Mirus, seems to have downplayed a bit too much the role of the intellectual. In part of his insightful series on “gender” ideology he argues: (our comments in blue).

Modern Western culture is weakened by a great vacuum of systematic thought about the nature of man.

Exactly right – but this has been developing at least since the first philosopher of experimental science, Francis Bacon.

To anyone with the slightest degree of intellectual discernment, it should be obvious that modern “ideas” in this matter are formed not through rigorous analysis but through wish-fulfilment—and, above all, sexual wish-fulfilment.

That would certainly seem to be key to keeping its momentum but like most un-thought-out beliefs, good and bad, there is usually a backdrop of use and abuse of reason.

The modern mind does not even attempt to understand traditional norms of sexual morality mainly because it prefers to ignore ideas whenever they impede desires. Thus, for example, the entirety of past systematic thought about sexuality, the relationship between men and women, and the nature of the family is summarily swept aside with a merely emotive question: “Why should we make judgements about anyone based on who he or she chooses to love?”

But this “sweeping aside” of “systematic thought” about human nature in favour of blindly following emotion has been fuelled by systematic thought at least as much as emotion. It is not just wilfulness. It has been an intellectual process. Nominalism was encouraged by the Reformation and boosted by the New Science’s challenge to scholastic “natures”.

Ever since the quarrel over artificial birth control in the 1960s, wayward Catholic theologians have led the way in dismissing Catholic sexual morality as mere “physicalism”, this [dismissal] being an attitude which ignores the dual character of human nature as a union of body and soul.

Yes indeed. Catholic thought always affirmed that Natural Law theory was about the whole human person, physical body and spiritual soul. “Ignoring” this has followed, at least in part, the intellectual defeat of the previous defences of the spiritual soul from abstract knowledge by nominalistic interpretations of scientific methodology (see our recent “Experimental Success” and “Human Dignity” posts). The discovery of the inter-relativity of physical natures is intrinsic to this process. There is a pressing need to interpret this properly.

Faith Magazine

January - February 2018 2018

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