Wednesday, January 21, 2004

The Revenge of Conscience, last part...

I recently finished J. Budziszewski's book, The Revenge of Conscience: Politics and the Fall of Man. I heartily recommend it. It is his second book in a "trilogy" of sorts... Written on the Heart, The Revenge of Conscience, and What We Can't Not Know (that's next for me). J.B. has the ability to take complex topics, such as philosophy and ethics, and unpack them to the level of the layman. His writing is clear and concise and he weaves in examples that are understandable as well as informative. He truly has the gift of teaching. Joe at EO commented that the chapters in The Revenge of Conscience read more like a collection of essays than a single book, and he's right. But there is still a coherence within the topics discussed and a point to the book as a whole. J. Budziszewski tells us, in the Preface, of his trip into nihilism and then, ultimately, to God. He then explains why he wrote this book, "What I write about now is those very moral principles I used to deny - the ones we can't not know because they are imprinted on our minds, inscribed upon our consciences, written on our hearts... One might say that I specialize in understanding the ways that we pretend we don't know what we really do - the ways we suppress our knowledge, the ways we hold it down, the ways we deceive ourselves and others. I... try to show that in order to get anywhere at all, the philosophies of denial must always at some point assume the very first principles they deny." (emphasis in original) His prose is especially gripping in the first paragraph of Chapter 8 - Why We Kill the Weak: "If we may kill, we may do anything - and historians will write that by the last decade of the twentieth century, great numbers of men and women in the most pampered society on the earth had come to think it normal and desirable that their sick, their weak, and their helpless should be killed. When they were a poor country, they had not so thought; now in the day of their power and prosperity, they changed their minds. Babies asleep in the dim of the womb were awakened by knife-edged cannulas that sucked and tore at their soft young limbs; white-haloed grandmothers with wandering minds were herded by white-smocked shepherds into the cold dark waters of death. Many physicians came to think of suicide as though it were medicine." (emphasis added) Do yourself a favor and get this book.

No comments: