Events yesterday have afforded us an opportunity to explore some issues that mean a lot to us. Referring to Rocket Man’s stellar coverage of the Miss World competition, Glenn Reynolds observed yesterday that while learned men are writing of war and war’s alarms, Rocket Man is channeling Yeats.
Glenn to the contrary nowithstanding, Rocket Man is a student of philosophy and I have understood Rocket Man’s beauty pageant coverage to be an extension of Rocket Man’s interest in philosphy. Has no one heard of Schopenauer or the philosophy of aesthetics?
Beauty has its own claims; it teaches us that forms have a natural perfection. Physical beauty has a natural claim of its own, yet the contemplation of female beauty, for example, can teach us that physical beauty has moral counterparts. It teaches us that “beauty’s only skin deep.” Physical beauty can be accompanied by moral squalor, moral beauty, or something in between.
From the study of the moral counterparts to physical beauty we learn that human nature finds its perfection in the virtues, culminating in magnanimity. Think here of Abraham Lincoln or Winston Churchill, vivid exemplars of the virtue of magnanimity. What would we give if we could learn to be like them? Rocket Man’s coverage of the beauty pageants is an essential component of our effort to restore public discussion of the virtues to its rightful place in our public life.
By the same token, Rocket Man’s discourse yesterday on liberal cheating continues the same kind of investigation as his coverage of the beauty pageants. We discovered yesterday that liberals had gone to extraordinary lengths to hijack Kevin Aylward’s Wizbang Best Overall Blog Award competition. The contemplation of physical ugliness teaches us that ugliness has a moral counterpart, and that ugliness can therefore be observed in human nature. Here’s what Rocket Man wrote:
This is sickening, but typical. Kevin Aylward of Wizbang goes to a lot of trouble to set up a competition that is intended to recognize as many blogs as possible and introduce people to blogs they don’t already know. It’s done in a spirit of fun, and relies on a modicum of good faith among the participants. But liberals don’t seem to be able to do anything honestly, to follow the most minimal standards of sportsmanship, or to do anything in a spirit of good will and good humor. Since Kevin hasn’t designed the competition using national security-level safeguards against cheating, the liberals think it’s OK to ruin the contest for everyone else by writing code that racks up thousands of fictitious votes for “their” blogs. Not only do they see nothing wrong with this, they brag about it openly.
I got to know Kevin during the Republican convention. He’s a good guy and I know that he takes a lot of pride in the Weblog awards, and invests a lot of work in setting them up. Now he’s been put in an impossible situation where he must either disqualify the liberal blogs en masse for cheating, or let them ruin the contest. Is this a big deal? No, but that’s sort of the point. The liberals’ instinct to cheat is so strong that they can’t even participate in a fun little contest without trying to spoil it for everyone else. That’s sad, but, as I said, it’s also typical.
The impulse to cheat and destroy is natural — we can of course observe it, for example, in the larger political picture to which Rocket Man alludes — but it is ugly. In the rank ordering of human nature, it is low.
The existence or occurrence of wrongdoing does not prove that nature observes no moral distinctions. Rather, the distinction among the types of men and behavior is the impetus for our desire to learn the right, and to practice it. We must avail ourselves of education to learn that there is such a thing as good for man by nature, to learn what it is, to practice it, and to overcome the temptation to do wrong.
Otherwise we run the risk of ending up, morally speaking, shrivelled runts of men like the readers of Markos Moulitsas. (With apologies to Paul Simon for borrowing the heading above.)
HINDROCKET adds: I was explaining the philosophical implications of beauty pageants to Mrs. Rocket just last night…