Monday, August 4, 2008

Deep Thinking

From time to time I am amused to see what passes for serious thinking. Take this sentence from Slavoj Zizek's most recent book on violence:
"One thing that never ceases to amaze the native ethical consciousness is how the very same people who commit terrible acts of violence towards their enemies can display warm humanity and gentle care for the members of their own group."

Beyond the obvious fact that Zizek needs a better translator-- I assume that he is talking about naive, not native, ethical consciousness-- his sentence makes no sense.

It says that the rubes of this world are constantly surprised-- as opposed to occasionally surprised-- by the fact that people who violently defend their families are not equally violent towards the people they are defending.

But doesn't common sense tell us that a man who goes out to fight people who want to harm his family intends to spare them harm... not to inflict it himself?

Simple-minded rubes have no difficulty grasping this concept. I would not say the same about supposedly great philosophers. Who but a philosopher would think it logical that simple-minded people are so sophisticated that they can believe that a man who is capable of violence in one circumstance is a violent man in all circumstances.

If such were the case, the person would be fighting off enemies to have the thrill of inflicting violence on his family himself. Dare I say that the common people of this world are smart enough not to be surprised by this phenomenon. I would not say the same of philosophers.

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