Sunday, February 02, 2014

Stimulus and Response

"Master thy self then others shall ye bear."

I've described wisdom and love as, respectively, the master concept and the master emotion. Perhaps it would be more precise to say the master of concepts and the master of emotions. Perhaps "master" should go only with love, and "teacher" would serve as a better image for wisdom. In any case, love denotes the harmony of all other emotions, just as wisdom denotes the harmony of our concepts.

A thought occurred to me the other day. While I am fully aware of the lessons of history, I think I understand the appeal of both communism and fascism. In part, I guess, I just don't like to think of, say, Pablo Neruda and Ezra Pound as having been simply "wrong". I want to believe they were on to something, if also blind to other things. So here's the thought. Perhaps historical communism was an attempt to be wise without temperance in love. And perhaps historical fascism was vice versa. Don't understand that too quickly: I mean fascism was an attempt to order society through intense emotion, a kind of love, but completely unfettered by wisdom.

Their failures have left us with a society that attempts to administer itself with neither love nor wisdom. It invests none of its hopes in precision of thought or feeling, indeed, treats both with contempt. Instead, it presumes that civilization can be run on mere stimulus and response.

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