Sunday, October 15, 2006

Meocracy now

by Jeff Mirus

In this article Dr. Mirus contrasts theocrats with meocrats. What are meocrats? "Those who ultimately regard their own materialistic selves as the measure of all things."

How do we identify meocrats, and how does one become a meocrat? There is some difficulty in identifying meocrats because a meocrat looks very much like a person of principle caught in an inconsistency, or a religious person caught in sin. You become a meocrat only when you persistently, over an extended period of time, deal with your inconsistencies (or sins) by redefining your principles to suit your inclinations. If you do this, you will also find yourself taking delight in the failures of persons of principle to live up to what they believe, and you will publicly denounce sin and failure as hypocrisy whenever you can, the better to discredit those who claim a transcendent point of view.
If this sort of behavior sounds familiar, it may be because meocracy is one of the most potent forces in American politics today, and it is rooted in that unbridling of the passions which we call vice. By its very nature, vice clouds the intellect. It begins by making it difficult for people to reach sound conclusions about how best to live personally and how best to promote the common good politically. It continues by causing increasingly stupid people to deny that transcendent principles and values are anything more than peculiar prejudices. And it ends in the blind defense mechanism by which people define good as evil and evil as good, adopting false principles to protect their passions.
Why make up "meocrat" then--let's just call a spade a spade--what Dr. Mirus is talking about is rule by the vicious and the corruption of reason.

Although it is very hard to find a theocrat in America, it is not hard to find those who create the same kind of conflict by denying transcendence and redefining reality to suit their own inclinations. Yet transcendence is essential to both public discourse and the proper exercise of authority. Without transcendence, there is only meocracy, because without transcendence there is only me.
Is it more important to have knowledge of the transcendent than to have a genuine love of the political common good? Is it possible for a virtuous agnostic to exist and rule well? It seems to me that this is a false dichotomy--one does not need to believe in God or recognize His existence in order to be aware of the common good and to live in accordance with it.

Evangelical Catholic Apologetics


Of particular interest, philosophy page, writings on creationism

Incompetence as a punishment

God's permitting of the vicious to have positions of authority is certainly a punishment for the community or people. But what about the ascendancy of the mediocre, the incomptent, and those who are unqualified in other ways?

Whether it be leadership roles in a political community, or the position of teacher within academia (with the noble but serious role of imparting the truth), where is merit recognized?

Confucius could not serve in government, though he wanted to. Teaching for him was a fall-back; if he could not serve, perhaps he could pass the tradition along to the next generation and they would succeed in obtaining a position. One recalls in A Man for All Seasons, St. Thomas encourage young Roeper to teach instead of seeking a post in government, because he did not have the integrity or character to serve the common good (but apparently he had the gift to be a good teacher? or maybe not even that).

Now? Academia itself is filled with those who seek status and fame and the incompetent. The imparting of wisdom and truth? There is no such thing, within the Humanities, and in the Sciences usually some form of materalism undergirds what is being written and taught. The medieval project was to restore secular learning to its proper place, but subordinated to God as the ultimate end. If God is not the Standard of Truth, then what else could be? Now, instead we have the ignorant and unreasonable passing off their ignorance as wisdom, and they have made themselves the standard of truth. They have no training in logic, and cannot evalute the epistemic status of their own first principles and presuppositions, nor defend them.

Clyde Wilson writes:
In all countries, the bulk of the population are mediocre in talent. In the U.S. we put them in charge of government, armies, news media, public discussion, universities, and most of our other important institutions. Especially if their mediocre talents are accompanied by impenetrable self-importance.

Sir Anthony Kenny

He will be honored with the Aquinas medal at this year's ACPA meeting.
School of Advanced Study
British Academy
Gifford lectures
Portrait at Balliol College.
Review of Aquinas on Mind by Gyula Klima
Review of Aquinas on Being by Robert Pasnau
Review of Aristotle on the Perfect Life
Sir Anthony Kenny - an Oxford philosopher expelled for talking about Aristotle
An agnostic happy to nurse the 'vice' of religion

Peter Geach (wiki)
Portrait of Dr. Geach and Dr. Anscombe

A review of his Truth and Hope. A review by Fr. Kerr.

Notes on Geach on the resurrection (not sure what the source is for the notes--an obsession with personal identity?)

In the Ryle Room

GEM Anscombe, Contraception and Chastity
Oswald Sobrino comments
Obituary in First Things; John Haldane; Fr. Rutler
Anscombe's Virtues: Simply Wrong?
Remarks on Anscombe's "Causality and Determination" by Dr. Freddoso
War and Murder

Luke Gormally (Linacre Centre for Healthcare Ethics)
(married to Mary Geach, daughter of Peter Geach and GEM Anscombe)

Whatever happened to Thomism?

The Analysis of Memory

In Our Time programs

"In Our Time" is a program on BBC4. While I can't say all of the experts invited on to the show are good, there are some of interest:

Henrietta Leyser, medieval historian and Fellow of St Peter's College, Oxford

Alexander Murray, medieval historian and Emeritus Fellow of University College, Oxford

Anthony Kenny, philosopher and former Master of Balliol College, Oxford

AVERROES (audio file)

Amira Bennison, Senior Lecturer in Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at the University of Cambridge

Peter Adamson, Reader in Philosophy at King's College London

Sir Anthony Kenny, philosopher and former Master of Balliol College, Oxford

(audio file)

Angie Hobbs, Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Warwick and author of Plato and the Hero: Courage, Manliness and the Impersonal Good (Cambridge University Press, 2000)

Anthony Grayling, Reader in Philosophy at Birkbeck College, University of London

Paul Cartledge, Professor of Greek History at the University of Cambridge

DUTY (audio file)

Angie Hobbs, Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Warwick

Annabel Brett, Fellow of Gonville and Caius and Lecturer in History at the University of Cambridge

Anthony Grayling, Reader in Philosophy at Birkbeck, University of London

FREEDOM (audio file)
John Keane
Professor of Politics, University of Westminster, author of a forthcoming history of democracy

Bernard Williams
Professor of Philosophy, University of California, author of the forthcoming Truth and Truthfulness (Princeton Press, October 2002)

Annabel Brett
Lecturer in History, University of Cambridge, editor with Quentin Skinner of Liberty, Right and Nature (Cambridge University Press).

VIRTUE(audio file)
Galen Strawson, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Reading
Miranda Fricker, Lecturer in Philosophy at Birkbeck, University of London
Roger Crisp, Uehiro Fellow and Tutor in Philosophy at St Anne's College, Oxford.

Quentin Skinner, Regius Professor of History at the University of Cambridge
Evelyn Welch, Professor of Renaissance Studies at Queen Mary, University of London
Lisa Jardine, Director of the Centre for Editing Lives and Letters at Queen Mary, University of London

THE OATH (audio file)
Alan Sommerstein , Professor of Greek at the University of Nottingham
Paul Cartledge , Professor of Greek History at the University of Cambridge
Mary Beard , Professor in Classics at the University of Cambridge

The rest of the archive.