Saintly Thoughts

A Sentimental World

We now live in Rousseau's world.  Or, put more clearly, we live in a world governed by sentiment.  This may come as a surprise to many people.  Are we not a world governed by laws?  Yes, but our laws are nothing more than the reflection of our sentiments writ large; this is inevitable in any society which strives after democracy.  Do we not perceive ourselves as a world beholden to the unshakable rigors of science?  Ironically, I think science is responsible for our present conundrum.  For prior to science, we perceived the world as an interlocking chain of unbroken causation leading ultimately to God and the Divine moral order.  In such a world, all that occurred was necessarily rational and explicable, because all things flowed from the God who understood all.  Science broke that order, or at least, it appeared to break it.  Science denied the efficacy of deductive reasoning and broke the world into disconnected packets of information.  Perhaps someday, someday, those packets might be reassembled, but in the meantime...the rules were up for grabs.  It did not appear, at first, that this disintegration of the Medieval Synthesis need affect our legal and moral understanding, but slowly, over the course of the generations, such thinking permeated humanity's consciousness and destroyed her sense of herself.  What is good, what is right?  Confusing questions in all times, what we are only now beginning to understand is that the very categories which allow us to think in such terms have already been overturned.  Whenever anyone speaks to you of "right" you may know that he is either stupid or a liar or both.  So we have abandoned reason and order.  What then is left?  Two things are left: power and sentiment.  Power is the stronger of the two, and it is into the world of power the we will eventually descend, for her laws are evident in her actions and none may deny her efficacy and live.  But we, in our age, have forgotten the use of this power.  We are afraid of her and turn from her in horror.  In this, we lie to ourselves.  But how do we hide from her if we may no longer rationalize her within the bounds of a rationally structured religion?  We turn to the only other thing left, and that is our sentiment.  We may no longer know why it is wrong to turn away or slaughter innocent women and children as they clamber at the doors of Europe, desperately seeking asylum, but we feel that it is wrong, and our feelings are all that really matter to us.  This is because all that we have left is our feelings, and in a pseudo-democratic society, feelings will always be the thing that ultimately leads us.  Right now our feelings have become soft and pliable; our historic blood-lust has for a season been quenched and we cannot bear to even slaughter a fly.  But our feelings shall not appear so soft forever.  Eventually, as power becomes ever more ascendant, we will awaken from our sentimental stupor as we are forced to fight the assailant before us or perish.  In that moment, our sentiment will merge with the demands of power, and in that moment, we will cease to be human beings and fall once again into the role of the unthinking animal, driven by his lust for food, and sleep, and sex, and survival.  This is the cascade that stands before us if we trust nothing but our feelings.  For we ignore our sentiments at our peril, but we should yet not be ruled by them.  But what is left to rule us?  For we have destroyed God, and the ideology of science is not fit for humanity as it now is.  I suspect at some point we will raise up a new God, or perhaps rediscover the old one.