May 6, 2011


GW: The world is full of people with split conscience


  "If mankind had wished for what is right, they might have had it long ago. The theory is plain enough; but they are prone to mischief, 'to every good work reprobate.'"
   -- Hazlitt + Heidelberger Katechismus
  "Enjoy and give pleasure, without doing harm to yourself or to anyone else - that, I think, is the whole of morality."


This is another quote I like, in a series of quotes I like and abbreviate GW, that would have been, perhaps, more in place yesterday, when it was the Dutch National Day of Liberation, namely of Nazism, on May 5, 1945, although these days the Dutch authorities extend it to anything and anyone they somehow want to tie in as "good" or "noble", thereby also mostly  trivializing and bureaucratizing all of it.

But that is not my theme, which is what the title says: "The world is full of people with split conscience" which comes from Dagobert Runes's "Handbook of Reason" (*), that consists of mostly fairly brief items, such as this, that is not my subject, that follows below, but that is very much related:


    It is pitiful that so many sensible persons feel that they
must always deride their party opponents and praise their
party colleagues. My party, right or wrong—that is wrong.
(D. Runes, op. cit. p. 137)

Incidentally (not in Runes):

I always voted at my party's call,
And I never thought of thinking for myself at all.
   -- W.S. Gilbert

Now as to explaining the quotes just given, and much besides - and as before I preserve the original formatting, except that I paragraph with an extra empty line:

    Split conscience is a form of empathy or partial res-
ponsive action in a movement or issue. The Christian minis-
ter in National Socialist Germany would feel responsible for
the spiritual welfare of his flock, preach his weekly sermon,
tend Sunday school, and the like. Yet the fundamental social
upheaval resulting in multiple degradation, incarcaration and finally gas-choking of a million Jewish and Gypsy children touched not the minister of Christ. He preached with regularity; he blessed Hitler's weapons as requested; he planted Hitler's hooked-cross standard right at the altar. The minister's conscience had split: it covered only one phase of his life.For the great bestialities of the street and death camps he had no eye; for tortured voices of aliens, no ear.

     The world is full of people with split conscience.
     Such split conscience, reserved for certain limited res-
ponsibilities only, is the tragical dominant element in hu-
man society. Thus we can observe that the German members of societies for the protection of animals would choke to death Jewish or Gypsy infants with equanimity. Russian scientists leading a life of dedication to knowledge would encourage by signed appeals to American students the assassination ofAmerican statesmen and demand the extermination of Jewish émigrés to Israel.

     Leftist lawyers who are most sensitive to the refusal of
a passport to a professional rabble-rouser in America fail to
see the total suppression of freedom of travel in the Leftist

     They all live with a split conscience. Nothing matters
to those so bereft but their own carefully guarded limits of
opportunism. Only in such a world is it possible that highly
educated Roman patriarchs could enjoy a circus of wild
beasts devouring captives of another race, or Russia's intel-
lectual leadership supply deadly booby traps and long-dis-
tance missiles to reckless guerillas, or the disciplined chur-
ches of Europe put thousands of families of the faith of Jesus
to the rack and torch.

      I am speaking of the nice people, the educated people,
who made no move to free the serfs of Europe or the blacks
of the Americas. Where were they, the gentle members of
society, those in uniforms, in black cloth, in stylish dress,
those on horses and in carriages—where were they
when nine-tenths of the population of Europe, Asia and
the Americas lived in squalor and anguish? Where was their
conscience? It was split near the edge and that little was de-
dicated not to man at large, but to their own social equals
and interests.

     The crux will not salve this horrid globe of ours; Con-
science is the true crux of the matter. Without an all-embra-
cing conscience, undivided and undistracted, the world will
remain in miserable shambles with hyenas and vermin on the

     Let the whole conscience speak:

     I do not wish to please the clergy. I do not wish to
please the saints. I do not wish to please the judges. I do not wish to please the official regiment. I have seen fifty priests and ministers sit around a fettered heretic and rip the living trembling creature's skin off inch by inch.  I have seen a group of black-robed administrators of justice condemn men and women on their assembly line of justice to Siberian death camps and Chinese executioners ax heads off on acclamation.
I have seen men robbed of their livelihood by a stroke of
the pen of subservient superiors. I have seen men butchered in the name of Jesus, Marx, Hitler, Mao, Caesar, the Pope and evil little kings.

     I do not wish to please anyone but my conscience.
     My conscience does not murder.
     My conscience is clear.
     My conscience is my guide.
     May your conscience replace the dogmas of a torturous
world. It has no ax to grind.
(D. Runes, op. cit. p. 43-45)

Whether this is feasible for the majority of men and women, such as they are, in the world Ilive in, is quite questionable - though it also clearly sometimes is, for some.

Here are some relevant links, in Englishand Dutch:

As to one's conscience: In the end one is personally and individually responsible for one's own actions and omissions, modulo one's capacities, and unless one is insane, for whatever reason - but it is true, alas, that most men and women live by the morality of groupthink rather than by a comprehensive ethics:

(*) From: Dagobert Runes's "Handbook of Reason", Philosophical Library, New York, 1972, SBN 8022-2078-9. Incidentally, Runes makes no secret of his Jewish background - I don't mind, but some do - and see above, under CONSCIENCE - and my reason to mention it is that this Handbook is basically a set of brief personal essays and aphorisms. Runes was an interesting man in his own right, and a personal friend of Einstein.

P.S. Corrections, if any are necessary, have to be made later.
-- May 17, 2011: Rectified some formatting

Incidentally... what is and is not in Nederlog is mostly a matter of health, mood and chance, and in this case my eye happened to fall on the Runes passage.
Also, it happens to explain much of what is related in ME in Amsterdam quite well: Conformism and egoism often trump conscience.

As to ME/CFS (that I prefer to call ME):

1. Anthony Komaroff

Ten discoveries about the biology of CFS (pdf)

3. Hillary Johnson

The Why

4. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf)
5. Eleanor Stein

Clinical Guidelines for Psychiatrists (pdf)

6. William Clifford The Ethics of Belief
7. Paul Lutus

Is Psychology a Science?

8. Malcolm Hooper Magical Medicine (pdf)

Short descriptions:

1. Ten reasons why ME/CFS is a real disease by a professor of medicine of Harvard.
2. Long essay by a professor emeritus of medical chemistry about maltreatment of ME.
3. Explanation of what's happening around ME by an investigative journalist.
4. Report to Canadian Government on ME, by many medical experts.
5. Advice to psychiatrist by a psychiatrist who understands ME is an organic disease
6. English mathematical genius on one's responsibilities in the matter of one's beliefs:
   "it is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence".
7. A space- and computer-scientist takes a look at psychology.
8. Malcolm Hooper puts things together status 2010.

    "Ah me! alas, pain, pain ever, forever!

No change, no pause, no hope! Yet I endure.
I ask the Earth, have not the mountains felt?
I ask yon Heaven, the all-beholding Sun,
Has it not seen? The Sea, in storm or calm,
Heaven's ever-changing Shadow, spread below,
Have its deaf waves not heard my agony?
Ah me! alas, pain, pain ever, forever!
     - (Shelley, "Prometheus Unbound") 

    "It was from this time that I developed my way of judging the Chinese by dividing them into two kinds: one humane and one not. "
     - (Jung Chang)


See also: ME -Documentation and ME - Resources

Maarten Maartensz (M.A. psy, B.A. phi)

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