Monday, June 16, 2008

Is Conservatism The Doctrine of Human Exceptionalism Of Of Least Expectations?

Human Exceptionalism refers to a belief that human beings have special status in nature based on their unique capacities. This special status conveys special rights, such as the right to life, and also unique responsibilities, such as stewardship of the environment.

Some believers in human exceptionalism base the concept in Abrahamic religions, such as the verse in Genesis 1:26 "And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth."

Others take a secular approach, such as pointing to evidence of unusual rapid evolution of the brain and the emergence of "exceptional" aptitudes. As one commentator put it, "Over the course of human history, we have been successful in cultivating our faculties, shaping our development, and impacting upon the wider world in a deliberate fashion, quite distinct from evolutionary processes.[1]


I always thought it was, but JR Dunn at The American Thinker starts his post today this way:

Conservatism is the doctrine of least expectations. Conservatives tend to view the world from the bleakest of perspectives. Man is a fallen creature, a rickety bridge between the beasts and the angels, driven by appetites and urges perhaps best not examined too closely. Mankind takes two steps (and sometimes two hundred) backward for each step forward, and often enough, those forward steps are in the wrong direction. Humans are steeped in error, and any change holds within it the danger of catastrophe.

This is the tragic vision of life, a philosophy of limitations. As such it is not unimpressive, and may well be close to the truth. (I find it a pretty apt description of the human universe as I've experienced it.) But it's not much of a formula for practical application, particularly when it comes to politics.

This is so foreign a concept and belief system to me that I had to reply saying this:
Wow, that introduction was so wrong, so far off the mark that I had a hard time finishing what ended up being a good piece on Obama.

In my experience Conservatism is the expectation of greatness in each of us, understanding and working with human nature, rugged individualism, an optimistic belief that achievement takes hard work and struggle.
Okay, I just reread what you wrote and it is so foreign, to everything I know and believe, so negative, that it actually made me feel bad for the author personally.

I have been typing and deleting my words for 15 minutes because I just can't describe how wrong I believe this to be -- I have forgotten everything I read beyond this introduction.

How this conservative could believe that man's progress has been negative (hundreds of steps backward) is beyond me;

Conservatism is not the doctrine of least expectations, if anything it is the doctrine of Human Exceptionalism.

Wow -- just -- Wow.
His piece is a good one on how Barack is not inevitable, but Wow!

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