Beyond Pleats and Plain Fronts

1. Morality asks, "What should any person do?" Ethics asks, "What should I do?" To a theorist, the two disciplines appear identical, but until one has been confronted by the latter question in life, he cannot know whether he's moral or not.

2. How many have "refuted" Socrates' notion that knowledge is virtue, and then proceeded to convey the knowledge of "true" virtue to our lucky souls!

Socrates defined the science of ethics.

3. If morality's a science, then how come everyone's morally omniscient? Go ahead, ask them!

4. Dare we proclaim that knowledge doesn't cure stupidity, but merely conceals it?

5. It's absurd to think that a person should blindly follow a moral law without examining the specifics of the situation. Should a thinker kneel before a moral code at all?

The moralist instructs people on how to act, while the thinker helps his audience to decide such things for themselves.

6. Nothing is objectively funny; for if no one laughs at a joke, it's unfunny. Thus it also stands with morality.

7. The conviction that moral laws are objectively true has given birth to the illusion of moral progress, since when the possessor of a common morality examines the past, he observes a clear, well-defined evolution that has resulted in himself.

But what does our hero see in the future? Since he believes in progress, he expects further moral improvement. Unfortunately, he also believes in the perfection of his moral code, for if he had perceived a flaw therein, it would have been amended in favor of his genuine belief. Thus our utopian's ethic envisions only one chance of progress: the indefinite replication of himself.

8. A man's moral code is like his photo album: you can tell who owns the camera by who's not in the pictures.

9. To express pity is popularly accepted as compassionate. This maxim originates from those who believe it's humane to drown an unwanted kitten in a sack--humane because the murderer can't see the victim expire.

10. "Sensitive" has come to mean "weak," but in reality it's those who are insensitive that are weak--who are unable to empathize with another's suffering.

11. Many years ago, a grizzled old barkeep and a lovely young lady arrived at the door of an inn at precisely the same moment. The gentleman held the door open, stepped aside, and allowed the lady to enter first--so he could get a good look at her ass. And that was the birth of chivalry.

12. How can a word be profane? If a word can be profane, then so can truth. The fact is that only ideas are profane--only stupidity is capable of authentic offense.

13. Unlike the ancient marketplace, we no longer barter as equals; we use money, so whoever doesn't have enough at hand must take a turn playing the servant rather than the aristocrat.

14. Intolerance results when we lose sight of the essence of politics: the clash of rival moralities, the impossibility of political philosophy.

16. Individuals remember, but we forget collectively.

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