As I’ve often suggested on this blog, I think that one of the greatest moments in the history of philosophy was Hume’s declaration, in the introduction to An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, that the abstruse language and questions of the schoolmen is just an elaborate defense of superstition dressed up in pretty clothing to mislead the ignorant. In other words, there is very little point in taking the intricacies of these positions seriously, delving into their myriad distinctions and arguments, because they are already pigs with lipstick. Their bristling language, distinctions, terminology, arguments, etc., might appear to be saying something convincing, yet at the end of the day it’s just the same old tired superstitition.

Nowhere is this more relevant than in a recent quasi-interview with Radical Orthodoxy giant John Milbank (via An und Fur Sich). As Milbank remarks:

He urged the movement’s followers to “grasp the hands of labour unions, feminists, gay and lesbian activists”, and warned that “if they remain content, as I fear some of them do, to carp and posture before gatherings of the anointed, then the movement will become at best a beloved clique and at worst another academic vaudeville show”.

The groups mentioned may not want to shake Milbank’s hand: he opposes gay marriage (“I don’t want to get into the situation where we deny there is something special about being attracted to the opposite sex”).

He says he is concerned about working-class women being left to raise children alone, “in part – alongside economic factors – because of the collapse of the male ethos of supporting the woman”, and has written most stridently in opposition to in vitro fertilisation treatment for single women.

“By supporting the total disjuncture of sex and procreation, the Left is really supporting a new mode of fascism,” Milbank says.

I am not sure what else should have been expected from a movement that refers to itself as “Radical Orthodoxy”. Clearly, at the end of the day, this position simply becomes an apologia for a particular sort of social order at odds with freedom, gender equality, and equality of sexual orientations. That is, it becomes an apologia for the reigning positions of the church. Why listen to the arguments behind this position at all given that we already know what it is ultimately arguing for?

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