How Evil Appropriated Virtue from “The End of Virtue”

Under the influence of Charles Sanders Peirce, I have launched an idea called Triadic Philosophy. It is summarized in the Kindle book Triadic Philosophy 100 Aphorisms . A free sample can be accessed by clicking Look Inside.

Triadic Philosophy grew into several more books outlining specific methods of triadic meditation and thinking. “The Death of ‘Nature’ “ is among several follow-up texts that examine expressions of, and propose actions related to, triadic thought.

How Evil Appropriated Virtue

See The Falstaff Intervention from “The End of Virtue” — Everything Comes — Medium

I suppose all recorded history is a poster child for the appropriation of virtue for the purposes of achieving evil. But when did we become woefully aware this was the case?

The 20th Century. Two World Wars, the first based on pride masked as honor, the second on racism masked as mastery. Holocaust and an atomic genocide. If disillusion with the ethics of virtue has a name, try the 20th Century.

What we call post-modernism was, I think, an effort to peel away hypocrisy and unveil the evils it masked.

Racism and sexism were at the top of the list, followed closely by militarism. The inherited world became creaky. Protest began. Thinkers like Robert Nozick said the holocaust changed everything. Jacques Derrida demanded the unprecedented. Rachel Carson wrote of collapsing environment. Hannah Arendt flagged the tackiness of evil. James Baldwin evoked the fire next time. Martin Luther King wrote from the Birmingham jail.

Still the system and culture rolled. Through needless wars and an immense waste in lives and resources. Our inherited world was becoming a distinct liability. It ran on debt. It emulated the wasteful consumer model of America. It grew sclerotic and polarized. And its politics combined continued aggression with mindless abdications of leadership.

Virtue was no help. Values were ignored.

Now the system is falling of its own accord. Its economies cannot continue to rely on ever-expanding debt. War is senseless when veterans routinely kill themselves as a result of the traumas they have suffered. And when killing is increasingly coming to be seen as the greatest of evils.

And a huge volkerwanderung is melding once-discernable nationalities despite right wing attacks on immigrants.

Honor-based faults are enumerated by Falstaff in the section just completed. They lead to death. Senseless. Final.

We have two choices for the future.

To live fat and happy with our thumb in our mouth, watching increasingly boring replays of an untenable history based on superstition, violence and thoughtlessness.

Or we can move forward and help build a world of tolerance, helpfulness and democracy that aspires to truth and beauty.

The direction of history is up to us.

All is not lost.

As we lament the seeming strangle-hold of fossil fuels and the assault on what used to be called “nature”, we are witnessing advances in solar and wind power that will make them supreme sooner than later.

We also have some hope that after eight years of politics poisoned by hate and suspicion of change, we are finally waking up to our rulership. To the power of a democracy when its beneficiaries are awakened.

We are told that past civilizations perished. But this is not an option. The existence of democracy means that we are caught in a reality where the only slavery that remains is of our minds. As we wake up to the ontological value of democracy, we see that we can and must exercise control.

We can overcome. We can lead.

Providence is another name for the continuity at the heart of our cosmos. Providence proceeds in the face of an increasingly frenetic and shrill backlash. Providence can achieve its purpose only as we manifest the resolute will of a majority of the world’s peoples to allow it to unfold.

Evil appropriated virtue because virtue was an easy mark. But virtue could not sway us. It spawned a culture neither true nor beautiful. Truth and beauty lie in in the handful of values that make up the basis for the ethics of now and the future.

The ethics of the future sees goodness in the embrace of tolerance, helpfulness and democracy. It sees equality emerging as a testimony to universal community. It sees shared abundance and achievement of this result as the wealthy see there is no other way. We see failure of the binary and the rise of the triadic. We see that what was there all along can now come more and more to light.

It took the denouement of the 20th century for us to see that cathedrals are not as arrestingly beautiful when one reflects on the corpses of those who suffered obliteration, the injustices of patriarchy and cruel iterations of racism. Today’s young see that the future lies in grasping the elements of decency: basic income, halving defense expenditures and nonviolently achieving democracy in every corner of the globe.

We can bury honor. We can never do that to truth and beauty.

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