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.