February 27, 2020

THIS IS THE TRUTH THAT THE LEFT/RIGHT CAN'T ACCEPT:

Insight of a prolix pluralist: Christopher Bray reviews The Philosophy of Isaiah Berlin by Johnny Lyons (Christopher Bray, March 2020, The Critic)

Following Machiavelli, Berlin came to see that certain values -- freedom and equality, say -- can both be true and in conflict with one another. Most people, that is, prize freedom -- but they champion egalitarianism too. But while you can want them both, you can't have them both (well, not unless you're Ronald Dworkin, says Lyons). Taxation, for instance, might make a society a little more egalitarian -- but in doing so it requires the surrender of some freedom on the part of those whose money is being taxed and redistributed. Whatever values we pursue, they cannot but come at a cost to other values, other people.

Worse, Berlin argued, ever since Plato the majority of philosophers had worked on the assumption that some kind of unified field theory of political philosophy that resolved everything for everyone forever was somewhere down the line. To believe that, he said, is to believe in just the same kind of fantasies that had mobilised the revolutions in France, Russia and Nazi Germany -- fantasies that had led not to utopia but to hell on earth.

Hoffer again: Free men are aware of the imperfection inherent in human affairs, and they are willing to fight and
    die for that which is not perfect. They know that basic human problems can have no final solutions,
    that our freedom, justice, equality, etc. are far from absolute, and that the good life is compounded
    of half measures, compromises, lesser evils, and gropings toward the perfect.  The rejection of
    approximations and the insistence on absolutes are the manifestation of a nihilism that loathes
    freedom, tolerance, and equity.

Posted by at February 27, 2020 9:59 AM

  

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