"...I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me..." [Deuteronomy 5:8-10]

Friday, June 18, 2004

A Dialogue with Darkstar218 - Aldous Huxley

An aside... I think I've found your Huxley quote. I had seen one bandied about from a novel, but this comes from a 1937 essay called "Ways & Means":

"I had motives for not wanting the world to have a meaning; and consequently assumed that it had none, and was able without any difficulty to find satisfying reasons for this assumption. The philosopher who finds no meaning in the world is not concerned exclusively with a problem in pure metaphysics. He is also concerned to prove that there is no valid reason why he personally should not do as he wants to do. For myself, as no doubt for most of my friends, the philosophy of meaninglessness was essentially an instrument of liberation from a certain system of morality. We objected to the morality because it interfered with our sexual freedom. The supporters of this system claimed that it embodied the meaning - the Christian meaning, they insisted - of the world. There was one admirably simple method of confuting these people and justifying ourselves in our erotic revolt: we would deny that the world had any meaning whatever."
This quote commonly appears on Christian websites as a supposed "smoking gun" showing that rejections of Christianity are motivated only by personal self-interest.

The words are taken out of context, of course. Huxley's argument was that personal self-interest must not be used as a sole justification for behaviour. He came to reject nihilism and existentialism - and argued that mankind must have a positive, reasoned, and rational basis for our behaviour. That is certainly what I believe. There are a couple of other Aldous Huxley quotes which are in point here, I think:
"Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored" (Proper Studies, 1927)

"At least two thirds of our miseries spring from human stupidity, human malice and those great motivators and justifiers of malice and stupidity, idealism, dogmatism and proselytizing zeal on behalf of religious or political idols." (attributed)


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