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Freedom and equality are not enough: Remarks on the attack on Charlie Hebdo in France.

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The intellectual class in the West needs to be educated on its own moral and spiritual philosophy. Three centuries of commercialism have undermined our ability and courage to do so. We need to learn how to talk about the Idea of the Good in public. We need to gain clarity that freedom and equality alone do not constitute a society. Or at least its intellectuals better understand the difference between the conditions of a good society (freedom and equality) and the values that actually make the society good (ends and goals that are pursued in freedom and equality.) To say that we need to talk about these ends and goals seems to scare some intellectuals, as if talking about values implies that there is only one value; or that doing so will mean that some will be excluded or ostracized. The highest moral and spiritual value that must be talked about in the US in particular is the value of what it means to be a good person. Being a good person in the West is defined in simple terms as caring about and telling myself I should care about my own deep moral well being and the well being of others. The core of what it means to be good in a Western context is “caring about being good.” This is our highest value. If we want to talk about what constitutes “being good”, that should be able to be done, and easily so, in a public space. But today it is not. So we leave the floor to fanatics and those who think the good can be found in old text that has little to tell us about how to live well now.

Not talking about positive moral and spiritual values only leaves the floor open to fanatics. So it is not the case, as is held in New York and some other areas of the West that talking about moral and spiritual values promotes intolerance and fanaticism. The opposite is so: Not talking about them does so.

One Response to “Freedom and equality are not enough: Remarks on the attack on Charlie Hebdo in France.”

  1. John Creet says:

    Hi Terence
    Your quite right in your dissection of thought.but unfortunately the perpetrators of the incident still follow that old book blindly. They have no other horizon to measure their deeds by. They care less about our norms or values. You have to look at their world from a 10th century lens.
    In other words the Crusaders vs the Saracens. It is unfortunate but true.
    On a lighter note,I do enjoy your articles. Write on.

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