Friday, May 20, 2011

More from the Good Doctor

Two great Theodore Dalrymple asides.

#1, in reference to Dr John Shebbeare (born in 1709):
Fanny Burney mentioned him in her diary, and says that his conversation was extraordinarily coarse and consisted mainly of the abuse of women and Scotsmen, whom he claimed to be “the two greatest evils upon earth.”
Ha! To identify these as the greatest evils sounds a little, shall we say... intemperate.

#2, on the tendency of intellectuals to ascribe motivations for bad actions to material circumstances, instead of temptations towards evil:
In my own country, for example, the motives for criminality have been so mystified for so long by proselytising academics that efforts at repression have been, if not abandoned entirely, so weakened as to have turned one of the best ordered western societies into one of the worst within the space of a few decades, while at the same time reducing many of its civic freedoms. The motives of criminologists are far harder (on the whole) to discern and understand than those of thieves.
 Ah, so true.

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