The Stock In Each Man Is Small

“You see, Sir, that in this enlightened age I am bold enough to confess that we are generally men of untaught feelings: that, instead of casting away all our old prejudices, we cherish them to a very considerable degree; and, to take more shame to ourselves, we cherish them because they are prejudices; and the longer they have lasted, and the more generally they have prevailed, the more we cherish them. We are afraid to put men to live and trade each on his own private stock of reason; because we suspect that the stock in each man is small, and that the individuals would do better to avail themselves of the general bank and capital of nations and of ages.”

Edmund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France, 1790

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25 Comments

  1. Kevin Kim says

    I assume this quote is meant to reflect the elitist attitude of pro-Brexiteers who sniff disdainfully at the over-emotional, small-minded hoi polloi, not trusting them to be reasonable and to figure things out for themselves.

    “individuals would do better to avail themselves of the general bank and capital of nations and of ages”

    Rely on the collective! EU all the way!

    Posted June 29, 2016 at 12:09 am | Permalink
  2. Kevin Kim says

    Ah. With context (i.e., the rest of that paragraph), I take it that you’ve put Burke’s quote up to make the opposite point:

    Many of our men of speculation, instead of exploding general prejudices, employ their sagacity to discover the latent wisdom which prevails in them. If they find what they seek, and they seldom fail, they think it more wise to continue the prejudice, with the reason involved, than to cast away the coat of prejudice, and to leave nothing but the naked reason; because prejudice, with its reason, has a motive to give action to that reason, and an affection which will give it permanence. Prejudice is of ready application in the emergency; it previously engages the mind in a steady course of wisdom and virtue, and does not leave the man hesitating in the moment of decision, sceptical, puzzled, and unresolved. Prejudice renders a man’s virtue his habit; and not a series of unconnected acts. Through just prejudice, his duty becomes a part of his nature.

    So this is similar to the notion that traditions are grounded in their own sort of wisdom and can guide men’s conduct by turning virtuous behavior into reflexive habit. There’s also a part of the passage that sounds a bit like “Chesterton’s fence,” i.e., one shouldn’t remove a tradition/value unless and until one understands why it’s there in the first place.

    Taken out of context, though, the passage cited in the blog post seems subject to multiple interpretations, especially since, as a modern person, I instinctively take the word “prejudice” to have negative connotations.

    Posted June 29, 2016 at 1:54 am | Permalink
  3. Kevin Kim says

    Musical humorist Tim Minchin on prejudice.

    Posted June 29, 2016 at 1:56 am | Permalink
  4. Musey says

    Tim Minchin! Sorry Kev, that’s not going to fly with these folks. Sweary, disrespectful, divisive and Left in the extreme. He would not agree with you. Carry on sucking up though. It’s a fabulous joke. Your third world bathroom habits were roundly mocked, but hey, you sucked that up. Let me find you a large straw.

    Posted June 29, 2016 at 2:30 am | Permalink
  5. Whitewall says

    Burke spoke early about conditions in France. Some found that standing in the way could leave them swinging from a tree. Prejudices sometimes have a kernel of truth at the root. And at times, prejudices have their origin in some ugly real life experience. Prejudices done badly can be destructive and even deadly.

    Posted June 29, 2016 at 8:52 am | Permalink
  6. Whitewall says

    Maybe “Reason” is best left to the philosophers? For us average folk, we trade in the currencies of tradition, and experience and moral guidance and the like. If enough of us do that, we become a fairly civil society of average people with not a designated “philosopher” among us.

    Posted June 29, 2016 at 9:16 am | Permalink
  7. Malcolm says

    Kevin,

    I really didn’t put that quote up with Brexit in mind. It had just been looking something up in Burke’s book, and that quote popped out at me. I mentioned it more in the context of “Chesterton’s Fence” and the wisdom of tradition than anything else; but really it was just an impulse on an evening when I had prepared nothing else to post.

    Posted June 29, 2016 at 10:41 am | Permalink
  8. Malcolm says

    Musey,

    “Sucking up”? Are you suggesting that that’s what Kevin is doing here? If so, you embarrass yourself.

    Let me assure you: he is not the sort to do that. Kevin and I have known each other for a long time now, and he is one of the most thoughtful and independently minded people I’ve ever met in the blogosphere. We agree about some things, and we disagree – always amicably, which is a rare pleasure – about others.

    Posted June 29, 2016 at 10:44 am | Permalink
  9. Musey says

    Malcolm, you know and I know that some commentators around here hang on your every word. You are scathing about one of them.

    Kevin chose to highlight the “work” of a man whose extreme left-wing views are completely at odds with the dearly held beliefs of most of your readership. Tim Minchin is a militant atheist who writes incendiary nonsense, most particularly about Catholics. Indeed Catholicism is his “least favourite religion”. Fuck the Pope and all that. I don’t think he dares to say too much about Islam though or he would be held to account.

    I don’t like Kevin Kim because he called me a c*nt amongst other things in one of the most foul mouthed rants that I have ever read. I don’t agree at all that your differences have always been amicable but keep telling yourself that. Anyway, I owe Kevin Kim no favours. He was not in the least amicable towards me and I am completely unembarrassed. Sorry.

    I’ve been giving you a hard time of late, disagreeing and causing strife around here. It’s just that I feel that it’s the right thing to do. I just can’t go along with your more extreme hard line views without feeling like a coward for saying nothing but it is time for me to bow out now. I’m getting nowhere and you don’t wish to hear.

    Kevin, seeing as you’re such a fan of Mister Minchin’s work you might like to appreciate his advice to fat people trying to diet. From memory, I think it’s something along the lines of “eat less f*cking food”.

    Posted June 29, 2016 at 5:36 pm | Permalink
  10. Troy says

    The mask is completely removed.

    http://foreignpolicy.com/2016/06/28/its-time-for-the-elites-to-rise-up-against-ignorant-masses-trump-2016-brexit/

    Malcolm, you know and I know that some commentators around here hang on your every word

    Not every word, but many of them. Malcom is a pretty smart guy and this blog provides me with cheaper therapy than drugs or counseling. That I am not insane coming to the conclusion that we live in a very sick age.

    Plus Malcom’s use of the English language is just….. well

    Posted June 29, 2016 at 7:07 pm | Permalink
  11. Troy says

    PS. I hope Blazing Saddles isn’t too offensive.

    Posted June 29, 2016 at 7:08 pm | Permalink
  12. JK says

    Hm.

    My cpu’s temperature seems to’ve … that can’t be right (fingerclick to “my tower”)

    Get me IT.

    Damn right. You ever heard me say “IT” without using adjectives?!!

    Oh and you. Grab me a fire extinguisher.

    (Screw this. I’m gone.)

    Posted June 29, 2016 at 9:39 pm | Permalink
  13. Musey wrote:

    “I don’t like Kevin Kim because he called me a c*nt amongst other things in one of the most foul mouthed rants that I have ever read.”

    This seems to be the passage in Kevin’s blog referred to by Musey:

    “I tried to be as civil with you as I could in my reply, instead of calling you an ignorant c*nt, which is what I was thinking at the time.”

    I couldn’t find any other evidence qualifying Kevin’s as “one of the most foul mouthed rants . . . ever.”

    Did I miss something?

    Jeffery Hodges

    * * *

    Posted July 1, 2016 at 7:34 am | Permalink
  14. Whitewall says

    I couldn’t think of a “rant” where anyone had used that sort of language directed at Musey but then I can’t remember everything. If it was used by any of us and directed at her, then that is a shame. Talking like that to a lady is just wrong. It is also unmanly.

    Posted July 1, 2016 at 11:12 am | Permalink
  15. Robert,

    Talking like that to a lady is just wrong.

    I agree with you, despite the commonplace opinion that chivalry is dead. Nevertheless, it is reasonable to assume that there are prerequisites for any woman to be accorded the honorific “lady”. If there aren’t prerequisites then the honorific would be pointless.

    So my question is, “What are your own implicit minimum expectations for any woman whom you would treat in accordance with your chivalrous guidelines?” For example, would you consider Hillary Clinton a lady?

    Posted July 1, 2016 at 1:14 pm | Permalink
  16. Whitewall says

    Hey Henry. Our Musey and HRC are not on the same level at all. With HRC the old saying that goes– “we know what she is, we’re just dickering over price”. Or that’s pretty close so you get the analogy. None of this would ever apply to Musey.

    Specifically with HRC, I know who and what she is. She is no lady. However, for my own sake and self respect I would speak to her as if she was. If it is an unknown woman whom I just met, I assume she is a lady and behave accordingly. If I learn otherwise, I still do so if I can’t avoid her after that. Sometimes it is just as much about me and my own self respect as anything.

    How about you?

    Posted July 1, 2016 at 2:29 pm | Permalink
  17. Well, Robert, I was careful not to imply anything about Musey in my comment, because what you have been discussing above is not, in my opinion, a topic appropriate for discussion in Malcolm’s salon. The reason I think it’s inappropriate is that it pertains to a dispute between Musey and Kevin that occurred on Kevin’s own blog/salon. And, in my opinion, it had no business being introduced, as a spillover, here at Waka.

    My comment strictly pertained to your strong statement about how a lady should or should not be treated in general, and I really wanted to know what your personal conditions are for according such an honorific to a woman.

    Having clarified that, I will say that my own criteria for according to any woman the honorific of “lady” are based on my judgment of how she behaves in public. If I have no knowledge about a woman’s behavior then, as you do, I will give her the benefit of the doubt. If I have had occasion to witness or experience behavior that I would not be willing to accept from a man, I wouldn’t treat that woman as a lady. You see, I do support equal rights for women, so long as they are willing to accept equal personal accountability.

    As for HRC, her atrocious, if not criminal, behavior is an outrage, to me, which I would certainly not accept from any candidate for public office, be it man, woman, or other.

    Posted July 1, 2016 at 3:19 pm | Permalink
  18. Malcolm says

    Musey,

    I’ve been giving you a hard time of late, disagreeing and causing strife around here. It’s just that I feel that it’s the right thing to do. I just can’t go along with your more extreme hard line views without feeling like a coward for saying nothing but it is time for me to bow out now. I’m getting nowhere and you don’t wish to hear.

    I don’t mind disagreement; reasonable people disagree all the time. If nobody ever disagreed with me I’d never learn anything.

    I don’t know which of my “extreme hard-line views” seem so evil to you that you feel a moral obligation to respond (so much so that not to do so would be cowardly). I really don’t say anything in these pages that wasn’t just ordinary common sense not very long ago. You should not, however, imagine that I “don’t want to hear”; hearing things doesn’t bother me at all. It is much simpler than that: I hear what you say, and I disagree. Moreover, I try always to explain why I disagree. I don’t really see why there’s a problem here. This is what I do. It’s why I have a blog in the first place.

    I really don’t have any need for feuds in my comment-threads, though, so if we could have no more of that I’d appreciate it.

    There’s no need to “bow out”, but if you feel you must, that’s up to you.

    Posted July 1, 2016 at 4:02 pm | Permalink
  19. Whitewall says

    Henry, makes sense. Have you been following the Lynch/Bill Clinton “let’s all meet on the tarmac saga”? More unbelievable by the hour. Awfully fishy. Sounds like Bill is behaving like a POI…person of interest.

    Posted July 1, 2016 at 4:03 pm | Permalink
  20. Robert,

    I have always thought Bill is an interesting person, depending, of course, on what the meaning of “is” is.

    Posted July 1, 2016 at 4:30 pm | Permalink
  21. Kevin Kim says

    She gone? Oh, too bad. Then she won’t see this.

    A shame she’s gone, really. I admired her many stellar qualities: her firm grasp of reality, her warm sense of humor, her keen intelligence, her rigorous logicality (with nary a hint of overemotionalism or exaggeration), and most of all, her ability not to take herself seriously.

    (Malcolm, feel free to delete this comment. I promise, unlike some, not to use your blog as my personal toilet.)

    Posted July 2, 2016 at 12:33 am | Permalink
  22. Musey says

    Thanks Whitewall. I’m feeling a bit lonely here.

    I did have a dispute with KK a few months ago which he has rehashed over at his place. Evidently I am a complete fool who should have known that that what appeared to anti-Catholic commentary really wasn’t, and some spiel about the Irish was irony. I got the most tremendous lambasting for my crassness, inadequacy and stupidity which I felt was out of all proportion. I made a remark about Koreans and plastic surgery which went down like a lead balloon and I shouldn’t have but it wasn’t that serious, to me anyway.

    Recently, it became obvious that Henry had picked up on this dispute and (seeing as we have a very volatile history) went from being overly cruel in his response to KK’s bathroom habits, to ostentatious linking and a suggestion that we should all appreciate his wise words. A bit of a stretch for me to accept. But who knows?

    Any suggestion that I have been hounding kevin Kim is risible. I’ve only recently started looking again at his ramblings. Unfortunately, my son who was also aware of the row thought it would be funny to look through my computer history and send Kevin a message. He insists it was a stupid joke and he only wrote one word..prat or twat..he can’t even remember. I apologized to Kevin.

    My husband looked briefly at Kevin’s post yesterday and he just laughed, urged me to just leave things be. As he says, you have all of us here who love you, all our friends who think you’re a fine person, a real life which is more important. There is no reason to be upset over harsh words and crazy language.

    This is not to continue a feud Malcolm. It’s to wrap it up and put it to bed. This has become insane. I won’t look at what kevin has whipped up now. Maybe he’s got a load of people who hate me to pile in and give me a kicking. I don’t know. My dislike of Tim Minchin was a big part of the ferocity of my remark which was taken to be entirely a rant against Kevin. It wasn’t. I really despise the man and all he stands for, all his divisive hateful words.

    Thanks for telling me that I can hang around Malcolm. You don’t sound overly bothered which is sad because I had thought you were my friend too. If I wrote a couple of flaky emails a while back it was because I was horribly tired due to radiation treatment for breast cancer. Not because I was drunk or incapable. I should have explained but life was going on and it was party-time for my son who had no idea what was going on. This is absolutely not a call for pity or sympathy. I’m right now, hopefully, very lucky that it hadn’t spread and the treatment was relatively easy. I hope to live to be as old as Kevin seems to think I already am! Which is younger than you Malcolm so you must be completely decrepit:)

    It’s best I shut up now and stay shut up. I’ll read quietly.

    Posted July 2, 2016 at 1:09 am | Permalink
  23. “Recently, it became obvious that Henry had picked up on this dispute and (seeing as we have a very volatile history) went from being overly cruel in his response to KK’s bathroom habits, to ostentatious linking and a suggestion that we should all appreciate his wise words. A bit of a stretch for me to accept. But who knows?”

    WTF?!

    Overly cruel? I have always been at pains to keep my cruelty reined in. I have never (to my knowledge) been overly cruel to anyone. Kevin seems to me to be a nice half-Korean half-American guy. I would never be overly cruel to him, especially not about his bathroom habits, which admittedly seem a bit strange to me. But hey, everybody has a right to be weird about shit like that. Feel free to do your “you know what” as you please, Kev. I will refrain from being overly cruel about it. To be honest (as I am usually wont to be) I really don’t give a shit.

    Ostentatious linking? What the f*ck does that even mean? It sounds dirty. I am a happily married man. I am not inclined to do anything even remotely dirty, except, of course, in the privacy of our own bedroom.

    “A suggestion that we should all appreciate his wise words”? Well, why not? It can’t hurt, and some of you could benefit from a little wisdom. Moreover, it’s free of charge. So how can you go wrong?

    Posted July 2, 2016 at 4:06 am | Permalink
  24. Kevin,

    I just read your commentary about Musey that you linked in your remarks above. I was stunned by the following excerpt:

    If you despise him enough to attack him on Malcolm’s blog when he hasn’t attacked you there, why would you try to leave a comment on his own blog, BigHominid’s Hairy Chasms, warning him that he’s “being used by Henry”? Why warn someone about a danger if you hate that person?

    I was trying to avoid any interaction with Musey here once I realized (several months ago) the extent of her vindictiveness. But such a brazen violation of personal accountability can not be ignored. So I state categorically, for everyone who has interacted with me here at Malcolm’s blog, that I did no such thing as Musey accused me of, behind my back, to Kevin.

    Posted July 2, 2016 at 11:26 am | Permalink
  25. Malcolm says

    OK, we are done here. I don’t want to hear any more about this.

    Posted July 2, 2016 at 1:32 pm | Permalink