instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Friday, February 14, 2014

As long as I'm riffing on Mark Shea taglines

The saying, "Sin makes you stupid," means that choosing to act against your own happiness weakens your virtue and clouds your intellect, leaving you both more likely to sin again and less able to comprehend what is good.

In this sense, to sin does indeed make you stupid -- but that's no excuse for someone else's sin to make you stupid.

Here's the process that brought this to mind:
  1. Someone -- Pope Francis, say, or the governor, local bishop -- says or does something that makes the news.
  2. People of weak virtue and clouded intellect misapprehend the Pope and draw unsound conclusions about what he has said or done.
  3. Others observe the unsound conclusions, and draw the subsequent unsound conclusion that the fault lies with Pope Francis or the governor or the local bishop.
Note that I am not implying the Pope (or governor, or bishop) can do no wrong. It is possible that, in a given instance (even a great many instances), the fault lies with the Pope (or governor, or bishop). With Step 3 above, I have in mind a subsequent unsound conclusion along the lines of, "What the Pope (or governor, or bishop) did made THEM happy. THEM should be unhappy. Therefore, what the Pope (or governor, or bishop) did was wrong."

In this process, it's not actually the sin of someone else -- Step 2's people of weak virtue and clouded intellect -- that causes the stupidity of the moral actors in Step 3. The Step 2 folks don't necessarily sin at all, they just act in accordance with their sin-weakened hearts minds. The Step 3 folks, meanwhile, are primed for stupid by their a priori US vs. THEM thinking -- well, and more than thinking; they have set their hearts against THEM and are eager for their fall.

In short, the actors in Step 3 have weakened their virtue and clouded their intellect in such a way that the entirely foreseeable stupidities of THEM will cause them to react stupidly.

Which is stupid.