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Reply to Ralph Whaley MD

Reader comment on item: Reflections on the Revolution in France*
in response to reader comment: Rousseau vs Locke

Submitted by Reuben Horne (Australia), Nov 8, 2005 at 20:39

Dr Pipes,
Whilst I consider myself a child of reason and one of "Voltaires Bastards" as John Ralston Saul disaffectionately put it, I must respectfully disagree with Dr Whaley on his point in relation to Russeau and Locke. Respectfully in the sense that I would openly invite further comment or clarification from him if he feels that my understanding on this particular matter is awry, as it may well be.

That aside, I would point out that reason in the broadest sense need not be moral and the future surrendering game of the French could be seen to be as much of a product of the bastardisation of a form of reason as a surrender to superior faith. Faith itself is lacking in our institutions as one earlier commentator quoting a former American President turned apologist: "Our armies retreat from every corner of the world motivated by guilt, their armies advance spurred on by grievance". Grievance that may be real or imagined - thus faith instead of logic or reason resides at the core of their (the Islamists) political being and their steady advance in the face of our retreat despite our superior technology and training stands testament to the strength of this model.

Evil need not be irrational. Consider the example of the humble psychopath who murders to fulfill a need possibly sexual gratification and proceeds about it logically in the knowledge that it is extremely unlikely even in this age of DNA testing that he will be caught. Consider the dictator Saddam Hussein who, in knowing that persons of a certain ethnic extraction (Kurds) are primarily political opponents, then moves to systematically exterminate people of this ethnic extraction. This act is logical and hence reasonable.

It is instead the fusion or synthesis of reason and faith that makes a country such as America strong not the action of one to the exclusion of the other. Note that it is our faith (whether it be in our religions, our political and legal institutions, our moral right to exist and ourselves) that has been consistently targetted by the left wing in our own society - a move which has paved the way for the Islamist expansion into the moral vacuum of relativism that it has left behind - the latter also being a product of reason.

So a great deal depends on how broadly or narrowly you define reason. In the broadest sense it has played a big role in creating the problem to which you would propose it consitutes the solution. In embracing reason therefore I have been cautious to maintain an awareness of its limitations. I would suggest others do so as well.

Reuben Horne.

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