Gay racists in Hell

April 17, 2017 § 27 Comments

I’d be the first to admit – nay, I’d strongly assert – that there is no satisfactory comprehensive theory of the essence-accident distinction. On the other hand we can’t really even have a coherent conversation about basic matters like ‘what is a defect?’ without some metaphysical common ground.

But there is no need to make things too complicated. At the level of essence human beings are the same: we all are essentially human beings: not beasts, not rocks, not moss, not stars, not angels, but human beings.

My own belief is that sex is also essential: that is, that “Martha who is not female” isn’t really Martha. Attempts to de-sex Martha fail at the level of necessity: if “she” isn’t a she, we aren’t actually talking about the actual Martha.  We are writing Martha fan fiction.

(I’ve been accused of having Scotist tendencies for this sort of belief.)

In a nutshell, as an analog Platonic rogue in a digital Aristotelean (hate that spelling) world I’m pretty sure that essence has ‘deeper roots’ than the perhaps oversimplified picture drawn by Aristotlean realism.

So I’m willing to consider the possibility that we use the word “race” to refer to (technically essences which underly) essential properties: that abstracting away a person’s race leaves us with an idea of ‘something’ which isn’t – the ‘something’ isn’t – really that person at all [*].  Zippy the blogger imagined as a winged unicorn in one sense does successfully refer to me, of course: but successful reference probably accomplishes substantially less than meets the modernist eye.

Given all that though is also certainly the case that race — unlike deafness or gayness — is not an ontological defect. Gayness and deafness are ontological defects; blackness and whiteness are not ontological defects. The distinction between objective goods — which may in general be essential or accidental — and defects is, um, essential to discussion of the modern tendency to assert that objective defects are principles of identity.

The reason modern folks are always attempting to make their favorite defects into principles of identity rests on a deeper commitment.  This intuitively-appealing lie is that while politics must at times (out of unhappy necessity in an otherwise live-and-let-live context) discriminate based on what people do, it must never discriminate based on what people are.  So claiming something as a part of one’s identity shields that particular thing, whatever it may be, from the reach of authority.   If voluntary acts of sodomy by the incontinent are part of the makeup of what someone is, then voluntary acts of sodomy are a human right.

I’ve even considered the possibility, given my openness to speculation about man’s own powers qua Imago Dei, that Hell is a state wherein a particular man has successfully and ineradicably incorporated an ontological defect into his own essence through his own free choices.



§ 27 Responses to Gay racists in Hell

  • Roman Lance says:

    Hmmm…you make me cognate of the JQ. Just what makes a jew a jew? Is it essence or defect?

  • […] Source: Zippy Catholic […]

  • TomD says:

    I’m not above reposting comments; that postscript is interesting – it would make sense of the ineradicably of hell, because God letting you have the fullest extent of your free will to remake yourself in your own defective image would have to be a permanent change to your essence.

    So Heaven is the location of the God-made-Man; Christ, but also where the God-made man resides; hell is where the man-made man resides after refusing God.

    And from what I’m reading in The Porn Myth, the change to your essence by sin may even begin to be visible in the body before death; and the more I think of it, the more I think many sins are similar, not just sexual ones.

    And that’s why relying on “deathbed conversions” is not the way to go.

    Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us now and at the hour of our death, Amen.

  • That last paragraph is interesting. I’ve pondered something similar, that hell is just man remade in his own image,given over to what he has designed himself.

    Tom D speaks of sin as perhaps changing your essence even before death and I often think of Gollum in that sense. He became his own sin, so to speak.

    “So claiming something as a part of one’s identity shields that particular thing, whatever it may be, from the reach of authority.”

    This is somewhat true politically, culturally, but I don’t think God cares,or rather God as authority is completely disinterested in how we self identify ourselves. We’ll just say, God has intellectual property rights, so they trump all else.

  • Mike T says:

    If we were honest about the role defects would play in that form of identity, their role would be to put some distance between the ideal form of “humanness” and that person. So, in a sense, if we went there, it would make them less human.

    Ironically, it is perfectly possible to say that different races are different types of human in the same sense that different breeds are still fully dogs. It’s just a fact that being black or white or whatever does not take away the characteristics associated with being human. However, being born without 2 of your senses would be a concrete removal of essential physical traits of the human animal from your self.

    Granted, that would apply IFF we accept the identity argument as something other than a mental illness.

  • Ian says:


    In a nutshell, as an analog Platonic rogue in a digital Aristotelean (hate that spelling) world I’m pretty sure that essence has ‘deeper roots’ than the perhaps oversimplified picture drawn by Aristotlean realism.

    What would an Aristotelean disagree with in the paragraphs preceding the one quoted?

  • TomD says:

    Aristotelean? I’ve always used Aristotelian.

    Is there a subtle Scotus or Homoiousian-Homoousian distinction I’m missing?

  • Zippy says:

    My version has less saturated fat.

    My brain treats words like guitar riffs. They should be recognizable, but each player instinctively improvises a little and makes it his own.

  • Step2 says:

    If a defect is ineradicably incorporated into a person’s essence, doesn’t that mean it is in fact their essential identity?

  • Zippy says:


    The language of “ontological change” when it comes to sacraments is pertinent here.

    The suggestion is not that anyone living is in an actually irredeemable state, since repentance and the sacraments always remain available. The suggestion is that this process completes itself and becomes irrevocable when a person dies in mortal sin or in a state of grace.

    Basically (goes the speculative theology), man qua Imago Dei is in fact capable (to some degree) of choosing his own ontological nature — and when he does so on his own he mostly chooses poorly. The Good News is that this is always reversible in this life — under the usual conditions, that is, through repentance and concrete acceptance of Christ’s redemption through baptism, valid sacramental confession, etc.

    Absent those things man upon death becomes precisely and irrevocably what he has chosen to become.

  • TomD says:

    Zippy: – sounds very Vatican IIish and will probably get us all labelled modernists!

  • Step2 says:

    Unless you accept a fan fiction account of a person’s history, he typically becomes what he has chosen to become long before death arrives, and this elides the question of unchosen defects. I get that you have a profound faith in the power of repentance and the sacraments but not everyone does. By granting that people can choose their ontological nature, even with the caveats you gave about degrees and the best/proper choices, it reinforces the notion their essential identity is chosen.

  • Zippy says:


    I get that you have a profound faith in the power of repentance and the sacraments but not everyone does.

    That is itself a defect.

  • TomD says:

    In fact, it can be the unforgivable defect; losing hope in repentance (final obstinance).

  • Step2 says:

    Skepticism is not an intrinsic defect.

  • Wood says:

    “Skepticism is not an intrinsic defect.”

    It certainly *can* be. And often – not always -in those instances, skepticism is just despair without the courage of convictions.

    I think it will be interesting to see what all happens if moderns push too far the idea that essential human identity is chosen since so much emotional mileage has been achieved from the fact that “baby, I was born this way.”

  • TomD says:


    I guess in a way it’s all a gigantic “proof by contradiction” of the doctrine of original sin. Born this way, indeed.

  • Mike T says:

    “Skepticism is not an intrinsic defect.”

    If it is intrinsic to their nature, it can be. Case in point, that person in every horror movie who sees clear signs of the monster/demon/whatever and declares that X does not exist. It’s the respectable opposite of being a conspiracy theorist.

  • I think we people often confuse our “unchosen defects” with the beauty for ashes that God sometimes hand us for them. So something like deafness, as one of Zippy’s links mentioned, becomes in our minds anyway, good, not a defect at all, but our very identity.

    So birth, the “unchosen defect” of being a sinner, is true enough, but one should not just incorporate it into one’s identity and call it good, because than it becomes a “chosen defect.”

  • Giuseppe says:

    Thank you for another thoughtful post!

    1. I think the distinction under discussion should be substance-accident, not essence-accident. Until we properly consider the question of how general essences (=substantial forms) are actualised within particular individual substances, we’ll be inevitably constrained to inadequate solutions that ignore much of the actual reasoning behind the Aristotelean position.

    2. If race and sex were essential properties (in the sense you seem to use here) then there would be in reality no such thing as a human being but just a white-female-human being, a black-male-human being, etc. for all combinations. Moreover, we’d be actually forced to posit a separate essence specific for every human being because a person’s very personality must be made an essential property for the same reason as the person’s race. So humans would be like angels, each human having his own special essence, in which case it’s however hard to see how the doctrine of original sin can hold.

    3. A useful exercise might be to contemplate the state of a dead human being not yet resurrected. He/she/it lives as an incomplete substance, without a body which is essentially proper to him. Is it a human? Is it a person? Is it male/female? White/black/…?

    4. Perhaps we should try to turn our “hateful” religion into an identity that should be respected as-is, too? How would proselytism work then? Would the converts simply discover they were Catholics the whole time and then just “out” themselves? But wait, that’s exactly what Islam does!


  • Mike T says:

    Whether the story of the tower of Babel is fully historic or metaphorical, it is clear that God permitted humanity to branch into distinctly different physical directions. In fact, it is entirely possible that some of the related, but different hominids, are simply naturally extinct branches of God’s original creation plan that for whatever reason didn’t make it. Just as nations die, it’s possible for larger segments of humanity to die off without God’s salvation plan to be fundamentally thwarted.

    I think the most obvious insight from our genetic tree is that it is likely that homo sapien is not actually our primal ancestor from which God started. The fact that the various branches of hominid that are now extinct could inter-breed while being very different paints a much harder picture than racists/race purists would want to believe, but is also part of a less rosy picture of human material reality than the race blind want to believe.

  • Zippy says:

    I think the general Current Year reactionary obsession with race and HBD is an “agree and amplify” anti-purity spiral.

    Mommy and daddy insisted that the emperor wore the most wonderful clothes (the liberal insistence on political equality), that it was despicably wicked to suggest otherwise, and that if you don’t see his clothes there is something terribly wrong with you. Little Johnny rebelled and insisted that clothes (our common humanity) are just an illusion: that our common humanity means nothing.

  • Zippy says:


    Thanks for the interesting comment. The relationship between categories/ideals/forms and particulars is something I am a long way from having worked out. I can see the appeal (especially for Aristotelians!) of approaching the OP through substantial form vs accident; but I think that might be stealing a few bases when it comes to precisely what is at issue, at least in my mind.

    The term “substantial form” itself implies “particularized generality”, or “a particular in this category”, if you will.

  • Jesus established His Church for two reasons


    Via His Sacramental System, Jesus gives us part of His Divine lIfe (The Risen Christ has passed over into the Sacraments – Leo the great) and that is one reason He’d became man, so that we could become God (St. Athanasius) but one must be properly disposed (free from serious sin) to receive His Grace/Life

    One could live five consecutive life times as long as Jiroemon Kimura lived and never hear a Pope, Prelate, or Priest teach that because Ecumenism is the universal solvent of Tradition.

    However, this is the truth and even the most deceived, deluded, and decadent man, while he is still alive, can repent and return to the sacraments.

    O, and race exists as a category because if it didn’t it would render Mit brennender Sorge nugatory, if not insane

  • Jack says:

    The shrill monotonous whine died away as the speaker, still accompanied by the bright patience at her side, moved out of hearing. “What troubles ye, son?” asked my Teacher. “I am troubled, Sir,” said I, “because that unhappy creature doesn’t seem to me to be the sort of soul that ought to be even in danger of damnation. She isn’t wicked: she’s only a silly, garrulous old woman who has got into a habit of grumbling, and one feels that a little kindness, and rest, and change would put her all right.”

    “That is what she once was. That is maybe what she still is. If so, she certainly will be cured. But the whole question is whether she is now a grumbler.”
    “I should have thought there was no doubt about that!”
    “Aye, but ye misunderstand me. The question is whether she is a grumbler, or only a grumble. If there is a real woman – even the least trace of one – still there inside the grumbling, it can be brought to life again. If there’s one wee spark under all those ashes, we’ll blow it till the whole pile is red and clear. But if there’s nothing but ashes we’ll not go on blowing them in our own eyes forever. They must be swept up.”
    “But how can there be a grumble without a grumbler?”
    “The whole difficulty of understanding Hell is that the thing to be understood is so nearly Nothing. But ye’ll have had experiences . . . it begins with a grumbling mood, and yourself still distinct from it: perhaps criticising it. And yourself, in a dark hour, may will that mood, embrace it. Ye can repent and come out of it again. But there may come a day when you can do that no longer. Then there will be no you left to criticise the mood, nor even to enjoy it, but just the grumble itself going on forever like a machine”

    C. S. Lewis, The Great Divorce

  • GJ says:

    Skepticism is not an intrinsic defect

    I would say that it is the orientation away from God, like a deviating compass, which is the defect.

  • Step2 says:

    Vaguely off-topic, but I remembered the reason why Zippy can’t be a winged unicorn or any sort of unicorn. There was a tragic mistake long ago that led to their extinction.

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