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February 24, 2005



Given the emotional/motivational profile of most people I know, I'd say that a) most people are guilty of this in some way, and probably more than they're willing to admit, and b) that's a good thing, probably. "Figuring out" a personal theory of justice often isn't enough to motivate action. Mixing justice with sentimentality often is.

So in other words--we can't all be Immanuel Kant, and that's OK.


that's me, posting under my actual initial name, rather than my usual initials. Off to coffee....


I'm supposed to be on vacation but I can't stay away from the blogs ... I got a problem I think. :-)

Anyway, I agree with the above. We're all guilty to some degree. But Hugo, I admire how you never stop challenging yourself and never stop growing. It's a good way to be.


These are good things to consider for us emotional types, particularly if our thinking leads us to countenance supporting something which violates a core principle (such as being a pacifist or against sexism) to support another core principle (such as supporting humane treatment of fellow creatures).

On the other hand, being in touch with the full range of reason, including body knowing, intuition, and feelings raises reason to a relational wisdom, something quite distinct from a calculated logic, and something that looks somehow more fleshy and messy in its ethical frameworks and decision-making.

I'm often more troubled by those that 1) don't acknowledge their own feelings and emotions and tastes in building their ethical frameworks and so claim that they are "objective" and 2) those who build ethical frameworks from a purely logical fashion. Our thinking is more than logic.
As one Jesuit scholar wrote recently, "I'm learning to discern the difference between the best and the good. The good is often more human than the systems we build from a focus on the best."


Having a set of ethical values grounded in sentiment and emotion is not a problem but falling into the trap of believing that "the ends justify the means" is a problem.


Christopher, that's a terrific quotation from your Jesuit. Thanks.


And last, the rending pain of re-enactment
Of all that you have done, and been; the shame
Of motives late revealed, and the awareness
Of things ill done and done to others' harm
Which once you took for exercise of virtue.
Then fools' approval stings, and honour stains.
From wrong to wrong the exasperated spirit
Proceeds, unless restored by that refining fire -- T.S. Eliot

True for us all brother. Remembering will save us from the worst of self-righteousness. The troubling fact is that we must remind ourselve daily..


Steve, I didn't know that Eliot. Love it. Thanks for sharing today.


That Eliot is gorgeous, Stephen. And true. Hugo, go with God.

"Happy are they who know their faults while they are still able to amend them." as the Hermit of the Western March reminds us.


You are much too hard on yourself. Your reactions are indicative of the particular nature of the situation. I think we all need a reality check once in a while, it's important to be grounded.__ I admire your ability to be as honest with yourself as you are with other people.___Don't change a thing, you are wiser than your years, it's not your fault if others are impractical.__ You are right, no need for the 'mia culpa' thing __ Your heart is in the right place, but you still have a brain and you must use it.



I deeply admire your ability to so publicly say you might be wrong about something you obviously care about very deeply. We all can learn from your example.



I think some associated with organizations like PETA forget that humans are themselves animals (mammals). And what would our biodiversity be like without the presence of carnivorous and omnivorous animals. It's great to be proud of being a vegetarian, but don't lose sight of the bigger picture. Our ecosystem and food chain would collapse if all living creatures depended on primary food sources (ie.... plants)

I love animals too, and would never willfully harm any living creature.

But does that mean that we should all deny ourselves leather shoes, jackets and purses? (yeah, a cow is not as cudly as a chinchilla).... but life is life right?

Hugo Schwyzer

Well, Johnny, when there are reasonably priced alternatives to leather, why not make the cruelty free choice? Every dollar is a vote, I think; I know where I intend to cast my ballot.

Hugo Schwyzer

I ought to add, johnny, a basic rule of my brother's I have come to adopt: I'm not willing to consume what I am not willing to kill. Carnivores, at the least, ought to have the moral willingness to understand exactly how their food is prepared. Those who wear fur ought to be willing to watch a live pelting process. I can have a grudging respect for those who hunt and kill and eat; I have less respect for the squeamish types who "just don't want to know."

I've got good friends who are hunters and sport fishermen/women; I don't like what they do but I also understand that in their own way, they are honoring and protecting nature. I respect those who are willing to raise animals for food in humane ways on a small scale. But since I'm not willing to watch them kill the cow, I damned well have no right to eat the cow in blissful ignorance.


Although knowing is not the same as observing; I know exactly where my meat comes from, but I don't spend weekends at the slaughterhouse.

What they said about owning up.


"But my real flaw, I realize, is that I confuse sentimentality with justice."

nah, your real flaw is that you pretend to righteousness and justice, while using scapegoats to further your self-interest

basically, the collective psychosis that your supposed model, jesus, spent his life trying to cure you and your fellow-hypocrites of

it's been a loooong road, but a familiar one!


you seem clever to youself now, hugo, but that god you supposedly honor in your church -- you think he don't know your true name?

ooooweee baby, rocky as my road's been, i wouldn't trade places w/you for all the gold in solomon's mines


ok, well, it's been . . . ah . . . typical

this place disappears in a blink, hugo, but forever is a long time


You realize how much of our morality is tied up in emotional reactions?

Of course, I've always wanted to take Chauncey, the Moluccan Cockatoo, to a PETA protest - and give him a drumstick bone.

Watching him crack open the bone for marrow would make most of the PETA people pass out, which I would find disturbingly entertaining.

I don't even like to watch Chauncey eat, but mostly because I think about what his beak could do to my fingers.

The morality of eating chicken bothers me. As a diabetic who has to reduce carb intake, there's just no other option.

The morality of eating chicken doesn't bother Chauncey one wit. Of course, he's a 2 on the old What'shisname 6 Stage Morality Scale, and I'm a 7.

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