Saturday, January 01, 2005

In response to a comment by Nathan Newman on the same post (see below) by Richard Posner at Leiter Reports. The beginning is a reference to Nathan's title for his comments as they appear on Nathan's page.

Democracy is not amoral -and a process can not be 'ignorant' (but that's a quibble)- democracy is sloppy. Posner, and Leiter, base their arguments more than anything on a form of intellectual snobbery that posits an unbridgeable gap between the truly enlightened and the great unwashed. They both then posit mechanisms, Leiter science and Posner the market, as self regulating systems to simplify and 'govern' in those ways that people can not be expected to.
This is crap.
As I said in my comments, the basis of secularism is Jews arguing with Protestants over Catholics. There must be a common language if there is to be communication. It is that shockingly simple. And never mind their claims to atheism, neither Posner nor Leiter seem capable of self doubt, and that inability- or the choice to think it unnecessary- is a basic tenet of simple faith.

For all my annoyance at his liberal fuzzyheadedness, Jack Balkin is right. There is are such things as high politics and low politics. I won't credit him with my conversion, since I was raised with that assumption, as I was raised not to know but to wonder where in any individual case the distinction lies. I refer again to the sloppiness of the thing politics itself. We try to communicate with each other in a common language, without which again there would be no communication. That language is changing; the definition of words change; people change. For a time the intelligence of self styled intellectuals seemed to be in advance of the mental life of the people. This was never really the case; in fact the relationship is always reciprocal, but it seemed to fit the bill.

Now we live in the age of the angry peasant and the rump intelligentsia, and both rely on the empty mechanism of cheap faith. But people are not simple machines, and self-styled geniuses should remember- how many times have I said this?-that Shakespeare was not an intellectual but an entertainer. He kept the groundlings happy.

The middle ground is banality, but also resilience. How to tell one from the other? That's a question that Posner and Leiter and how many others I've read over the past years, choose to ignore. And in ignoring complexity they ignore the world and their responsibility to it.
They commit the mortal sin of the uncurious.

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