On “On the Disappearance of Basic Human Decency”
Until this point, whenever I made a mistake in one of my posts I'd go back and silently redact it through the edit function. I figured I could get away with doing this because my readership so far has been little more than 'me, myself, and I' in shameful self-indulgence, and the occasional poor soul stumbling over my content on the Write.as public feed. Even so, to the ends of accountability and following through on the odd personal ideal of mine, and in a more remote sense to contribute to this project, that's not something I should be doing. In short, it's unnecessarily lazy, and somewhat dishonest. Going forward, I'll either do what I intend to do here and address myself, adding comments and redacting in a separate post, or append to the end of a post a list of relevant edits alongside links to archived earlier instances of it. So, what fuck-up did I make here? It's not a mistake per se, likely nothing I'd have to apologize to anyone for in a personal context. This post 'properly' speaking intends to be a theoretical refinement, as one of my earlier posts (yes, the one referred to in the title, surprisingly) draws on a notion I find obsolete, and which is founded on certain false or dubious presumptions. I'm sure with some mental gymnastics on my part and forgiveness on the reader's said presumptions are contextually justifiable, but that's not really a recipe for a long-term relationship, is it? If I want this project to live a long life I'll have to address myself properly. I can't do anything but treat the erroneous content in question as a mistake to be openly rectified. The object of refutation is here what is meant by, as I wrote,
Things accorded the title of common sense and basic human decency may right now not be what we say they are. Being basic and common, they're the first to fall away when we really want to denigrate somebody as a person.
It's not so much that we're prone to refuse a person the basic when we want to denigrate them. Few consciously do this, knowing what they're doing. I know, and I know precisely when I've done it. I suspect that with a healthy conscience and the awareness of what detracting the basic means you'd be regretting doing so immensely. I'd say most people have at least the capacity for a healthy conscience. It then stands to reason that most of the time it's not that we decide to deprive a person of the basic with malicious intent. It's simply that we're unaware of the severity of such a move. Basic decency and common sense in this view retain their character. Presuming that it's conscious evil that motivates depriving somebody of their personhood is committing to an unhealthy fatalism and a subtle moralization on my part, as it shuts out from the outset the possibility that it's simply ignorance of the character of one's actions that underlies somebody's doing so. More importantly, however, it shuts out the possibility that I could do anything reasonable about this. If you're intent on evil, then, well, what could I do to stop you that wasn't equally heinous, if not worse? If I posit that you're simply ignorant, however, lending a helping hand through informing you of the potential dangers of your behavior becomes possible.
I'll lastly note that this post has itself been edited a few times, but for the most part to clarify ambiguous statements, and rectify bad grammar and structuring, to the end of improving readability. The only exception is that I changed “If you're intent on evil, then, well, what could I do to stop you that wasn't equally heinous, if not worse?” from “[...] then, well, what could I ever do?” This, because positing that a person is intent on evil is depriving them the right to be intent on good, and evil, to what sees itself as irreducibly good, always necessitates radical action, as has been stressed several times already.