Can a material reductionist honestly declare that he “likes” anything?

In a January 2008 entry, “A Darwinian nihilist who undercuts our civilization while boasting of getting a ‘free ride’ on it,” I told commenter “Albert Nock” that as a radical material reductionist he had no right to undercut the entire basis of values and the entire basis of civilization, and then declare that he “liked” European civilization.

In the discussion thread, Laura Wood wrote:

You took Albert Nock to task for saying he “liked” European civilization. But, it seems perfectly reasonable for an evolutionist to say he likes European civilization. If the horse could speak, he would say he likes oats. The hen would say she likes dried corn. That is what Nock means. He likes European civilization because it causes pleasant intellectual sensations. To him, these are similar to the oats and corn in aiding physical survival.

I would never say something so vapid or filled with hubris as “I like European civilization” any more than I would say “I like my mother” or “I like oxygen.” I would not exist without my mother or oxygen or European civilization. I can try to define what European civilization is in the way I would try to know or define my mother or oxygen. But, saying I like it or dislike it would only expose my failure to understand what it is.

I am, however, free to engage in European civilization in a way Albert Nock is not. It is natural for the evolutionist to say he likes European civilization because there’s not much more he can say about it. He cannot engage in its ideas anymore than the horse can make oats. He can chomp on them and peck at them, but can only tell us whether they taste good or not.

- end of initial entry -

LA writes:

I just told Laura Wood in an e-mail that her January 2008 comment about “Albert Nock” was “not just brilliant, but brilliantissimo.”

Posted by Lawrence Auster at August 22, 2012 12:54 PM | Send

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