And He saw that it was good

July 12, 2014 § 11 Comments

Utilitarianism – optimization as a wicked substitute for the good – is a peculiarly modern phenomenon, a deceptive intellectual and spiritual rat hole down which many a man has gone.  It is one of the subtle errors of modernity that fools the wise, that infects the minds of many, even many who falsely believe they have rejected it. Every optimized future is a dystopian future. Crime frequently pays in the short run, but in the long run it makes you a criminal.

The real world is good, though, and one way this manifests itself is in the Creator’s whimsy: in the manifest fact that the world itself is not optimized toward worldly ends.

Japanese Chins may not be optimal burglar alarms, but they get the job done. And chickens probably don’t appreciate the fact that they are more populous than humans because they taste good, but I certainly do, even though I am just as certain that more optimal sources of nutrition are possible.

§ 11 Responses to And He saw that it was good

  • Graham says:

    They say that locusts taste just like chicken.

  • […] The darwinian idea ‘survival of the fittest’ is a funny little meme. That little ‘est’ suffix implies optimization, despite the naked emperor. […]

  • Kristor says:

    Crime makes you a criminal in the short run, too. I.e., damned. So crime can pay in the short run, but only if you sufficiently discount the fact that doing evil makes you evil, and damnable to everlasting torment.

  • Kristor says:

    I wrote:

    “Crime can pay in the short run, but only if you sufficiently discount the fact that doing evil [damns you to everlasting torment.]”

    I should have written:

    “Crime can pay in the short run, but only if you sufficiently – and *mistakenly* – discount the fact that doing evil [damns you to everlasting torment.]”

    The only way you can ever think that crime can ever truly pay is if you (wrongly, stupidly) forget that there are consequences to every act that never ever stop ramifying down through history, in such a way as utterly to destroy any short term profits you might have reaped on your crime. In the long run – i.e., in the short run as truly and accurately accounted – only virtue can possibly pay. Were it otherwise, crime could be virtuous.

  • Zippy says:

    Kristor:
    That’s all true. As I said in the opening post for this theme, evil has more options than good for achieving any goal other than Heaven. Utilitarianism is (on one view) the mistake of treating some proximate goal – any proximate goal, no matter how laudible – as more important than choosing good means. The reason people make the mistake is because it works — in terms of achieving the proximate goal.

  • vetdoctor says:

    Simply an anecdote: A client in the other day with a mixed breed dog not much bigger than the Chin told me of how the dog chased a daytime intruder out of the house. She was noisy and barking like crazy. Barking dogs are good burglar alarms.

  • Bill McEnaney says:

    Kristor, some do seem to discount damnation, Protestants who believe the eternal security doctrine. I’ve even met Protestants who believed that, if they asked God to do it, He would forgive them for a sins before they committed them.

  • craig says:

    It’s easy to discount damnation. It’s harder not to discount it, because damnation is invisible and imperceptible in the near term. So is salvation. But salvation involves the harder path, which is why we are more likely to ‘just fall into’ damnation without really trying.

  • jf12 says:

    It’s also easy to discount salvation. I personally know too many people who reject salvation because they don’t think it is good enough for them. Or rather, they discount Him because they don’t think He’s good enough. “You call This a Savior?

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