Are we leading a schizoid existence – an alienation of heart from mind? James Davison Hunter would answer “yes”:
- We say we want a renewal of character in our day, but we don’t really know what we ask for. To have a renewal of character is to have a renewal of a creedal order that constrains limits, binds, obligates and compels. This price is too high for us to pay. We want character, but without unyielding conviction. We want strong morality, but without the emotional burden of guilt or shame. We want virtue, but without particular moral justifications that invariably offend. We want good without having to name evil. We want decency without the authority to insist upon it. We want moral community without any limitations to personal freedom. In short, we want what we cannot possibly have on the terms that we want it. (The Death of Character)
Do we know what we are asking for? No, according to Hunter! We want guilt, shame, and punishment but only for those who have wronged us. We want sex free from any restraints as long as this doesn’t apply to our girlfriend. Thus, we embrace double-standards even when we know that they violate logic and justice.
Usually, if a philosophy doesn’t work, it is either junked or revised, at least it should be! However, we don’t want to think about such disturbing things. After all, what is truth but an arbitrary social construct, right? It, therefore, can be used to serve our needs and whims.
However, there’s a cost. We wonder why our relationships fail and why our only guiding principle – satisfaction (what feels right) – seems to be increasingly unobtainable. Perhaps we have become alienated from whom we are truly intended to be?