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My Mother's Rotten Cottage

Marie-Claude next to my Mom's cottage.

1) Introduction

(Warning: this article could have been called "The underlying philosophical principles of Love Tubes", but that would have been less funny and memorable.)

My Mom has a cottage on the south shore of the St-Laurence River. The land itself is worth a small fortune, but the cottage was already old when my Grandfather bought it in the 1940's. Carpenter ants, leaking roof, high humidity because of so many tall trees, old age, and should I mention everything is made of wood? Suffice to say it could be declared some sort of National Museum of Wood Rot.

One of my old memories is of my Mom asking me to investigate some corner of the porch, because "it might need some paint". Kneeling down to get a better look, I started scratching a bit at the paint with my finger. Lo! Some rotten wood came off right away! So I kept on scratching: scratch scratch, oops, there goes one board, then another, and look at that, even the beam holding the boards is rotten! So I "cut" part of the big wooden beam with my finger. Eventually my Mom came back and screamed: "ARGH! You've broken everything! You were supposed to just put a bit of paint to fix it!"

2) The Mighty Inquisitorial Finger?

The Mighty Inquisitorial Finger, and a Love Tube.

I did try to calm down my Mom, explaining that a silly finger cannot harm a healthy wooden board, and even less a big healthy wooden beam. But my recollection of the event is that this argument did not calm her down. (In defence of my poor Mother, my memories of an event tend to "improve" my side of the story over time, and this story happened many decades ago.)

I can't help but see similarities with Love Tubes. How could a respectful and rational debate cause any harm to a Country? Just like my "Mighty Inquisitorial Finger" cannot cause any damage to healthy boards and beams, a good debate cannot hurt a healthy democracy.

If a Government starts persecuting citizens that are just trying to have a respectful and rational debate about one of their policies, something is wrong with that Government. No, just adding a fresh coat of paint to some social taboo will not fix the underlying problem. If there is a social taboo about something, it prevents the finger of reason from scratching to see if there is a political disease rotting away that part of our Society.

3) Is Aristotle a complete moron?

Love and Hate.

While we're talking about Love Tubes, we also need to talk about Aristotle. Our entire civilisation is built upon a few key ideas, many of which come either from Aristotle, or some other ancient Greek dude whose brain had a lot of mileage because he thought many thoughts.

Aristotle had figured out that the emotions of love and hate are not really good or evil by themselves. As one of his more astute students put it:

Si igitur secundum se considerentur, prout scilicet sunt motus quidam irrationalis appetitus, sic non est in eis bonum vel malum morale, quod dependet a ratione, ut supra dictum est. Si autem considerentur secundum quod subiacent imperio rationis et voluntatis, sic est in eis bonum et malum morale.
[Summa Theologiae, Ia-IIae q. 24, a. 1, co.]

In plain English, an emotion or feeling (i.e. a "passion" in old-timey philosophical jargon) is good or evil depending on whether it's in accordance with reason or not. So a bank robber who loves to rob banks has an evil love, and a drunken man who throws his car keys into the river because he hates drunk driving, has a good hate, because it's according to reason.

The claim that "Love = Good" and "Hate = Bad" is a very common claim, and also a very stupid one.

4) The distinction between human dignity, and bad deeds

Jesus forgiving the adulteress.
Jesus forgiving the adulteress.
[Source]

You've certainly heard the old saying: "Love the sinner, hate the sin". Underneath that Christian belief is a Philosophical principle that participated in the construction of our civilization: the distinction between somebody's human dignity, and their bad deeds. Look for example at our whole penal system (or the few good parts of it that remain): we respect the criminal's human dignity, but that doesn't mean we respect his crimes.

If you eliminate that important distinction, either the good human dignity will "contaminate" bad actions, and you'll start to respect things that are bad in themselves, or the evil of bad actions will "contaminate" human dignity, and you'll start to attack human persons because you don't agree with what they say or do.

5) Conclusion

Had I been alive a thousand years ago or so, maybe my Love Tubes would have had titles like:

"Love Witches, Hate Witchcraft!"

or

"Love Pestilential Persons, Hate The Bubonic Plague!"

or some other title like that, which might seem funny to us today, but might have gotten me in trouble back then. I sure hope I would have had the courage to alert my fellow citizens to potentially rotten areas of our society, by scratching taboos with my Mighty Inquisitorial Finger!

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