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Interview With Dienstag Online

Recently I interviewed Prof. Joshua Foa Dienstag for The Dallas Morning News on his new book, Pessimism: Philosophy, Ethic, Spirit, which had inspired me to write a number of blog posts on the book and the subject of pessimism.  The interview appears in today’s edition of the paper and has also been put online at the DMN website.  Here is a sample:

How dangerous to human freedom are “historical ideals” and the rhetoric of redeeming violence and injustice through appeals to an ideological cause? How do President Bush’s references to an “ideological struggle” relate to this?

What’s dangerous is to let a vision of the future blind you to violence in the present or, what’s worse, to let it justify one’s own moral compromises. I think it’s actually wrong to say that the recent efforts to abolish the right of habeas corpus and to legalize torture are driven by fear; that would be more understandable. What’s more frightening is the idea that the people who propose these policies believe there is some kind of historical logic that justifies them. Once you start down that road, you can justify anything. If we start from the assumption that we don’t know what our efforts will come to, and then ask ourselves what kind of people we want to be, whether or not we’re successful, we’re much less likely to stumble into these moral quagmires.

Read the entire interview here.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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