What is mental hell? Nominalism in service to national suicide

Last night I added the following update to the entry about the “Virginia man” named alternatively Awais Younis, Sundullah “Sunny” Ghilzai, and Mohhanmed [sic] Khan who boasted on the Web about his plan to set off bombs in the Washington, D.C. trains and kill as many commuters as he could:

UPDATE, December 15, 10:45 p.m.: Note that neither the police nor the Examiner ask why a man named Mohhanmed [sic] Khan from Afghanistan wanted to mass murder Americans. The fact that Muslim terrorists are trying to kill us has disappeared from media accounts of Muslim terrorism—or, rather, it has never been present in those accounts. Just as the nation’s newspapers display, month after month, year after year, an endless series of photos of black thugs who have killed whites and raped white women, without ever once verbalizing the fact that black thugs are killing whites and raping white women, the nation’s newspapers print an interminable series of stories about men named Muhammad who have attempted to mass murder Americans, without ever once verbalizing the fact that Muslims are attempting to mass murder Americans. Nominalism is bad enough. Nominalism in service to national suicide is a horror on the face of the earth.

- end of initial entry -

Kristor writes:

Horror on the face of the earth is right. Nominalism is satanic, I’m telling you. It’s a device to destroy man. Convicted nominalism has to end in suicide, whether cultural or personal. If there are no transcendent values, but rather only and merely our own personal, private preferences, then our personal private preferences are false to facts. This is a little tricky to see, until we draw the analogy to the schizophrenic. The schizophrenic’s impression that there are black helicopters pursuing him are peculiar to him. The black helicopters are not really there. So we understand that his impressions are illusions. But nominalism says that the values we apprehend in things and people and activities, like the black helicopters, are not objectively real. And this means that our feelings of value are—just like the schizophrenic’s black helicopters—hallucinations. They are false. Nominalism says that there is in reality no value out there to be had.

But to say that there is no value really to be found in the world is nihilism. And the consistent nihilist, who has the courage of his convictions, cannot believe that his own life, or anyone else’s life, or the life of his nation, are worth a hill of beans. So he cannot find any way to defend them—none at all. And this will result in death, one way or another, even if only through the sheer lassitude of utter ennui.

LA writes:

For readers who aren’t quite sure of the meaning and application of the word “nominalism” in this entry, nominalism is the idea that larger categories—such as man, woman, adult, child, citizen, foreigner, Muslim, Englishman—do not contain any common truth or essence, but are merely names under which lots of individual things, persons, and phenomena are conveniently grouped. Nominalism is inseparable from liberalism. How many times have you heard a liberal say that we must not generalize, that we must look at each person solely as an individual and completely ignore any group characteristics he might have? In politics, the 1965 Immigration Act, which gave to the peoples of every nation on earth the equal right to immigrate to the U.S., based on the idea that we must only look at people as individuals, never as members of cultures and nations, is a quintessential expression of liberal nominalism. When we refuse to identify racial patterns in crime, but instead look at each racial crime as though it were an isolated instance bearing no relationship to other, similar crimes, that also is a typical nominalist expression.

If that is nominalism, what is nominalism in service to national suicide? It is, for example, when we refuse to recognize our Muslim jihadist enemy as our Muslim jihadist enemy, but instead look at each instance of Muslim terrorism as an isolated event bearing no relationship or similarity to other instances of Muslim terrorism. It is our refusal to group the various phenomena of Islamic jihadism into a concept and form conclusions about that concept.

Gintas writes:

Another way of putting it is that nominalism is an inability or a refusal to do basic pattern matching. I have seen that pattern matching is a crucial stage of childhood development. If you do some searching, you find that there are a number of pattern matching games and exercises, all for young children. Children who are slow struggle with pattern matching exercises. Once a child has developed this ability he is then assaulted on all fronts by our liberal culture for doing what all healthy humans do. What does this say about liberals, unable or unwilling to do pattern matching, or both?

Debra C. writes:

I appreciate your excellent discussion of nominalism, as it has been a long time since I encountered the term in my reading and had forgotten what it means. I think I’ll remember it now.

As it happens, I was at B&N last night and found myself in the philosophy section (can’t remember why), and came upon a title by Peter Singer, the Princeton ethicist, whom I believe (from knowing of his utlitarian views that condone the killing of children well beyond infancy if they are not useful to society) is a radical secularist. The book was One World: The Ethics of Globalization. So I thumbed through it, wondering about what he was selling. And sure enough he’s selling the ultimate Nominalism: One World Government with no borders and all the totalitarian implications that come with it.

All these “lesser” nominalisms, about which you’re writing (and others here too) today, are merely precursors, the conditioning exercises, if you will, to the ultimate one.

LA replies:

Yes, if you eliminate all the categories and “wholes” by which men organize their lives, you ultimately end up with only one “whole”—the “whole” of the entire human race, ruled from above.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at December 16, 2010 07:45 AM | Send

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