Self Deception and Evil

by Glenn Fairman2/19/17

The refusal to recognize the fundamental aspects of reality do not absolve us from the laws or authority that governs them, just as stepping off a ledge with the belief that one may not fall will prove catastrophic. Ignorance of the rules of the world can be plead by children, but in adults it is rank insanity.

There are so many whose moral imagination denies any foundational substance. Encased in the insular will, they deny the ripples of decay that flow from error and absolve themselves with an appeal to a specious definition of freedom. This is moral solipsism of the garden variety, and the earth is paved with the graves of those tried to beat God and the Devil by closing their eyes and declaring “all is permitted me by the force of my existence.”

Aristotle holds that men act from the pursuit of a good, but often this is a good sought by a wrong motive. A man may desire wealth, but it is the manner of his action in attaining his end that accords him the status of good or evil.

I am sure that men who act from unabstracted evil exist. Men who actively know the good and who, like Satan in Paradise Lost, invert the moral universe from some poisonous root that they nourish. It is these men who are most certainly lost, since they act from the soul that has embraced evil and shunned the Light and its works.

Milton writes in Book 3:

“The first sort by their own suggestions fell,
Self-tempted, self-depraved: man falls deceived
By the other first: man therefore shall find grace,
The other none.”

Milton’s Satan has actively chosen rebellion over service in his pride, and has made his piece with the consequences flowing from his self- corruption. He has looked upon the face of God and has still turned his back, not from deception, but from a malevolence that will not abide anything short of full sovereignty– and if he cannot rule over his enemy’s Creation, then he will at least rule within himself.

It is here that Milton’s Satan issues his famous quote:

“The mind is its own place, and in itself
Can make a heav’n of hell, a hell of heav’n.”


Glenn Fairman writes from Highland, Ca.
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12 Responses to Self Deception and Evil

  1. Timothy Lane says:

    An interesting version of this can be seen in Bedazzled, when the devil (Spiggott, played by Peter Cook) explains his revolt to Stanley Moon (played by Dudley Moore). He sits on a fire hydrant and has Stanley circle him singing his praises as if Spiggott were God (such as chanting, “The universe was a great idea”). After a couple of minutes, Stanley wonders if they could trade places — which, the devil says, was exactly what he thought. (In this case, pride really did go before a Fall.)

  2. Anniel says:

    Glenn,

    I have been so disappointed by the self deception being practiced by the dispensers of hate and evil for the past few weeks. Thank you for the context with Satan.

  3. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    I’m trying to go cold-turkey on intellectualizing — the kind of commentary that floats over the surface of things, perhaps sounds nice, but doesn’t touch ground in practical reality.

    Still, despite this man’s inability to actually apply his theory, I agree with Goldberg regarding the centrality of the narrative in social life:

    But the dynamic it captures goes to the very core of humanity. While working on my book, I’ve come to believe more than ever that man is a story-telling animal and that stories are what give us meaning, direction, and passion.

    How we come to our favorite narratives is a good question. But once we do, they are like complexly-folded biological proteins whose three-dimensional structure allows other (and often many) proteins or compounds to “stick” to them (out of electrical, chemical, and/or geometric affinity).

    Once we have assembled the landscaped of “what it’s all about,” bits of smaller stories and events float around in the bloodstream of society. The right ones will “stick” to the overall narrative, perhaps even extending the narrative as these add-ons become part of the basic structure and induce still other similar stories to stick to them. (Eventually clogging the arteries, but that’s another story.)

    Call this the protein-fold conception of society. I’ll pick up my Nobel Prize later. But the overall point is, facts, and well as good-and-evil, are not particular germane to these workings. And as Goldberg notes from the narrative emerging around Trump, this works both ways.

    I had always sort of envisioned StubbornThings as an antibody to the mindless “narrative” nonsense that can cause society to go nuts because it has lost all footing in reality. But I’ve pretty much given up on that. I’ll take my vitamins by reading and spending time with the better, smarter, and nobler aspects of our culture (present and past…mostly past). I’ll try to strengthen the immune system (particularly by not endlessly regurgitating counter-narratives). But I have no hope that today’s favorite narratives can even be scratched by brushing up against reality.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      This is why the evidence presented to support a given policy should include not only statistics, but the sort of anecdotal evidence needed to create narratives. No matter how many crimes illegal aliens commit, one still needs the Kate Steinles (and their survivors) to make them real for most voters.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        One of the weaknesses I see in Trump is that he’s not creating a counter-narrative to the left — basically filling in a rationale behind his actions.

        Now, by “narrative” I don’t necessarily mean just another version of someone’s preferred fantasy. But (and I may have missed this) has Trump gotten up in front of the cameras and made a case for the simple rule-of-law regarding illegal aliens? Is it not right and logical to ask why certain classes of people are exempt from our laws while others are not?

        This is why I think Trump’s presidency can’t help but be a mess. The Left has a very strong (and often racist) narrative. And they stick to it. But “Make America Great Again” is not a narrative or rationale. Trump is not running against the Left (who also want to make America “great” via their own definition). At the end of the day, he’ll institute policies because he has the power. But it seems almost certain that he’ll create nothing that will “stick” other than perhaps a non-Leftist Supreme Court Justice (and we have yet to see with this guy).

        “Might makes right” is not the good foundation for a society. We can’t expect every single decision to be run through three levels of logic and explanation. But without the overall articulation of a vision, it’s just “might makes right” with power itself being the only legitimizing force.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          Occasionally he makes efforts in that direction, such as bringing Bill Clinton’s sexual assault victims forward, or discussing Kate Steinle and other victims of illegal aliens. I haven’t paid close enough attention to his rallies to go into much more detail.

          • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

            I can see where lining up Bill Clinton’s bimbo eruptions (and connecting Hillary to her role in trying to dismiss these women as trailer trash) fits an overall argument that “I’m not against women’s issues.” But it’s a tough sell for anyone.

            As I see it, the left has sown such distrust and sense of victimhood (it is, after all, very good politics) that women aren’t likely going to be responsive to any notion other than that they are “victims” deserving various “free stuff” and privileges. Feminism is perhaps *the* single guiding philosophy of our culture. It has a hand in explaining nearly everything. And, frankly, I’m tired of talking about it. That’s not a rebuke of you. Not hardly. But spitting into the wind is only good sport for so long.

            • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

              Feminism is perhaps *the* single guiding philosophy of our culture. It has a hand in explaining nearly everything.

              Heh, what’s not to like about feminism? It gives males loose women and, in case any mistakes pop up, abortion.

              • Timothy Lane says:

                That no doubt is why, whenever I’ve seen a poll on abortion broken out by sex (which is rare), males are likelier to support it. I first noticed this in the summer of 1972, while women at the DNC were saying that only women should have any say on the issue. I found that ironic, though I now understand that they meant only their group should have any say.

  4. Timothy Lane says:

    The February 20 National Review had an article by David French on the subject of gun control. French points out, logically, why the crime rates in white and black communities explain why the latter favor gun control so strongly. But he also points out the problem with actually enforcing the laws against criminals: this inevitably means a lot more blacks going to prison — and many would be those who happen to provide guns to criminals friends and relatives, not the actual criminals.

    In other words, it isn’t going to happen. But they have to Do Something about all the guns illegally in the hands of black gang members. So the natural liberal answer is to go after white gun-owners even though they’re law-abiding. (French doesn’t make this point, but it seems obvious to me given the peculiar workings of the liberal mind.)

  5. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    I have mentioned before that I think this nation is culturally insane. As to percentages, I’m not sure. But I’d say 90% are significantly affected.

    Mike Adams pens a profoundly relevant piece: My Philosophy of Mental Illness. This is what I am talking about. It’s worth a read.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      I read it last night, and it seems reasonable — which is why liberals don’t like him. Ideological conformity trumps everything for them. This is one reason why liberalism is a form of insanity.

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