Notes From Babel

Sentiment and Reason

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That it does not matter what a man believes is a statement heard on every side today.  The statement carries a fearful implication.  If a man is a philosopher in the sense with which we started, what he believes tells him what the world is for.  How can men who disagree about what the world is for agree about any of the minutiae of daily conduct?  The statement really means that it does not matter what a man believes so long as he does not take his beliefs seriously.  Anyone can observe that this is the status to which religious belief has been reduced for many years.  But suppose he does take his beliefs seriously?  Then what he believes places a stamp upon his experience, and he belongs to a culture, which is a league founded on exclusive principles. To become eligible, one must be able to say the right words about the right things, which signifies in turn that one must be a man of correct sentiments.  This phrase, so dear to the eighteenth century, carries us back to the last age that saw sentiment and reason in a proper partnership.

Richard M. Weaver, Ideas Have Consequences 23 (Univ. Chicago Press 1948).

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Written by Tim Kowal

February 27, 2010 at 4:04 pm

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