Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Incest is for Hicks? Not @ Columbia U: Or, is it even wrong anyway?

Ivy League poly-sci proff, whose wife is tenured at the same institution, sleeps with daughter. Wow.

Here we have more interesting and heated issues to THINK through. Again, bumper-stickers be damned! These issues are complex and their positive/negative ethical status stands atop the iceberg of an entire worldview. Who is man? What is his sexuality? Is he, or not, accountable to any sexual norms beyond the ever changing mores of cultures, subcultures, and the privacy of his bedroom?

Original story:

Slate's version:

Mohler's take:

Where do I stand? On the Nietzschean extreme per usual (Oh how I thank Zarathustra for his forceful and delightful reductio ad absurdams). If there is no personal absolute, then moral norms are a fictional power-structure implemented by weak Apollonians in their sickening attempt to overcome the tragedian spirit of Dionysus. Or, with Arthur Leff, apart from an authoritative and revealed moral norm that is not arbitrary, every question of right is rebutted with "the grand 'says who?'"


  1. Thanks Mark. Time to go repent and spend some time with Strunk and White.

  2. Hey Mark, you missed "then, not than"

  3. Thanks Griego. Its fixed. Its nice to have editors as friends...or is it the other way around?

  4. I take issue with your use of Nietzsche! (Of course I would!)

    Even Nietzsche believed that a society that has no direction except that of "do whatever you feel like doing" is a decaying society. He just didn't want some metaphysical soothsayer telling us what "true reality" would have of us.

    And this is interesting for this particular issue. Is there more to what is right and wrong in sex than the matter of consent between adults? And is our only recourse as Christians in dealing with the public sector an immediate jump to claims like "if you don't believe in revealed God, then you're hopeless."

    I believe what we have lost is a sense of a meaningful unity of purpose in our nation. Purpose seems to me to be a bridge between the Christians' claims about God' authority and the greater society's claims about right and wrong. Purpose, even when foolishly formed, always drives back the attempt to ground all right and wrong on simple matters of personal desires. And that may be all the "consenting adults" rule is - a codification of the "I want = it's OK" grounding of ethics.

    But it is also weird for the gov't to decide what I am and am not allowed to do sexually with another consenting adult.

    Someone must give a reason why incest is bad, and bad in a way that has a negative impact on the nation (or state) as a whole. This would be difficult I think, even if we had a kind of purposeful unity. It seems well nigh impossible in our present state.

  5. Dr, thanks for your thoughts.

    First off, let me say that I deeply appreciate Nietzsche and his insights.
    Second, my 'use' of FN in this instance was by way of reductio. I'm thinking of the first few chapters of Beyond Good and Evil here. You're exactly right that he was fed up with metaphysics. However, it seems some of his most scathing critique was left for those who leaned in his direction (ethically) but were not willing to go all the way, as Paul says, and emasculate themselves. That is, they were hanging on to a particular metaphysics that met their needs, ultimately, a need to impose particular principals of power. I appreciate this thought:

    "Even Nietzsche believed that a society that has no direction except that of "do whatever you feel like doing" is a decaying society. He just didn't want some metaphysical soothsayer telling us what "true reality" would have of us."

    As a friend of mine, Travis Coblentz, has successfully argued, FN was acting as a philosophical corrective to both the secular and religious sides of his miliue. However, I do not think he was successful in escaping metaphysics. He becomes, in Zarathustra, just another soothsayer, complete with presuppositions and logical conclusions to his view of the world.

  6. Oh, I should let you know that drrocketanski = Travis :)

  7. Hahaha. The ironies, Nietzschean ones at that, keep stacking up. Wow. I'm slow. Well Trav, how's that for singing in the chorus, I'm using you against yourself.

  8. Here we go, from Nietzsche's "Twilight of the Idols" (Kaufmann's translation):
    "The whole of the West no longer possesses the instincts out of which institutions grow, out of which a future grows: perhaps nothing antagonizes its 'modern spirit' so much. One lives for the day, one lives very fast, one lives very irresponsibly: precisely this is called 'freedom.' That which makes an institution an institution is despised, hated, repudiated: one fears the danger of a new slavery the moment the word 'authority' is even spoken out loud. That is how far decadence has advanced in the value-instincts of our politicians, of our political parties: instinctively they prefer what disintegrates, what hastens the end."

    This is obviously a critique - the "do what you want" attitude to him = a confusion of the meaning of "freedom" = a desire for the death of a society.

    I think in his notion of the instinct underlying institutions (what I think is similar to "purpose", or that from which purpose can be derived) is the bridge between religious belief and secular law. When this bridge is gone, then religion's voice can sound only like babbling nonsense.

    And I happen to believe that Nietzsche has a kind of metaphysical view of the world - but he affirms an epistemological gap - and so fights (perhaps dogmatically?) against those who claim to have bridged that knowledge gap.

  9. Great insights man. Thanks for posting. I love me some Thunderdome as well.