23 Jun

Prophets & Visionaries, a new book by Peter Mullen

Prophets & Visionaries: Writers of Judgement by Peter Mullen (Published by RoperPenberthy £9.99)

Prophets & Visionaries consists of eight extended critical essays on eight acknowledged thinkers and masters of English prose: Samuel Johnson; S.T Coleridge; John Henry Newman; G.K. Chesterton; T.E. Hulme; T.S. Eliot; R.G. Collingwood and C.H. Sisson. (2014 is the centenary of Sisson’s birth). Each chapter is an introduction and commentary on its subject’s contribution to English literature, philosophy and theology. But these essays are not merely historical studies detailing things which belong in the past. Rather they bring out the extraordinary relevance of these great writers to contemporary life, thought and politics.

“This is a book written by one who has so mastered the material that he can go to the heart of the matter. In truth, learning worn lightly” – Rev’d Dr Aidan Nichols OP

“In his own perceptive and inimitable way, Peter Mullen has produced a compendium of British thinkers of the first rank. All of these, in one way or another, have upheld the vital importance of the Judaeo-Christian tradition for all that is true and good about these islands and the people who live in them. The distortions of the tradition, over the course of history, and its more recent abandonment, should not blind us to its reality as the ground and informing principle of the State, Law, values and virtues in this nation. Its reaffirmation is undoubtedly needed for the moral and spiritual renewal which is so necessary if we are to resist the dangers with which we are beset” – The Rt Rev’d Dr Michael Nazir-Ali

“The kind of modernity here scrutinised through the eyes of some of its most mordant and insightful critics, from Coleridge to Sisson, claims to be self-consciously reflective, creative and boundary-breaking, whereas it is in practice a new Establishment peddling its own taken for granted assumptions by rote and setting limits on the things one is allowed to think and say. The word for this is hegemony and Peter Mullen’s lively and engaging study, by judicious selection and wide-ranging quotation, provides a thematic index or aide-memoire on how to puncture its pretensions” – Professor Rev’d David Martin

Rev’d Dr Peter Mullen in a Church of England priest with experience in town, country, schools and university, most recently as Rector of St Michael’s Cornhill in the City of London. He is Chaplain to several City livery companies. The author of more than forty books, including poems, novels and short stories as well as theology, philosophy and music criticism, Peter Mullen is available for interviews and may be contacted through his publisher or directly at: 3 Naomi Close Eastbourne BN20 7UU

Phone: 01323-655832 peter77mullen@gmail.com

09 Jun

Are you interested in morality?

Half a dozen times over the last fortnight I’ve come across newspaper and magazine articles in which writers, on the subject of politics and morality, speak of a choice between “morals” and “interests.” All these writers insisted that individuals and nations should act from moral principles rather than from perceived interests. There are several points to be made about this.

First I believe it is a false distinction. Why can it not be moral to act out of self-interest? Any father or mother who did not act in the family’s interest would rightly be described as irresponsible. Surely the leaders of nations are justified when they act in the nation’s interest. National politicians are elected precisely for this purpose.

This is where the discussion takes a sinister turn. For what is this “morality” which, it is alleged, should be preferred over interest? To uproot moral principle from interest is to commit oneself to abstractions. And of course different parties are bound to prefer differing abstractions, so how is the word “moral” to be defined? Really, when these political advocates of morality speak, they usually assume – entirely without justification, in my view – that acting morally means acting according to abstract concepts – such as equality, diversity and universal human rights. No reasoning is ever provided to demonstrate that such abstract principles are cogent and valid, let alone that they should be be accepted as normative.

The so-called international debate about morality in public life and foreign policy has effectually been settled in favour of something very much like the ethical dogmas of the French Revolution. This is pernicious.   

21 May

Going Forward or Going Down?

“Going forward” – it’s not just another tedious socio-linguistic tic like “like” and starting every utterance with “so.” “Going forward” has replaced “in future” and it carries profound philosophical weight, conveying the idea of unstoppable Progress and improvement. Belief in Progress is the new religion which began at the Renaissance when the wholesome medieval dogma of Original Sin was replaced by the sense that, as T.E. Hulme puts it, “Humankind is, after all, very satisfactory.” It is there in Renaissance painting, its delight in the human form and its equal delight in the world of nature. Next came the 18th century Enlightenment, the beginning of the slow death of Christianity in Europe and a burgeoning confidence that science, as it becomes ever more perfect, will answer all our questions and provide for all our goods. The idea of the existence of God was not disproved. God and the propositions of theology simply became irrelevant. Of God, Laplace said, “I have no need of that hypothesis.”

The Enlightenment begat Romanticism,  which is the religion of sentimentality and feeling and with it the idea of art as entertainment. Beauty became detached from truth. Instead of being the natural accompaniment of truth – as you might say, truth’s by-product – beauty became something merely aesthetic, to be pursued for its own sake. (And, incidentally, subjective – only a matter of opinion.) Concomitant with all this was the rejection of the ancient and traditional belief in absolute moral values, the collapse of deontological ethics: actions were no longer performed because they were the right things to do – that is right in themselves – but only in order that desired consequences might result. And so these desired consequences were the start of the search for further desired consequences and so on forever – like an overture by Rossini, a series of penultimate climaxes postponed into everlastingness. There was, as Hamlet said, “Nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.” Hamlet’s statement was incomplete: we should add and feeling.

The Copernican revolution had the very opposite result of that which is generally thought: it did not locate the centre elsewhere but in mankind. God had died and man became the measure of all things. And as science enabled him to construct a brave new world, Utilitarianism enabled him to create his own values, to declare the rights of man universal. The significance of the idea of evolution does not lie so much with Darwin as with the likes of Herbert Spencer and H.G. Wells who really did think that, as the species was evolving physically, it was also progressing morally: getting better all the time. Commentators in the press and radio and TV presenters forever refer to things which are cruel and barbaric as medieval – and somehow manage to ignore the fact that in the wonderfully progressed 20th century there were more people slaughtered in wars than perished in the wars of all the previous centuries added together.

“Going forward” then is what, it is said, we are always doing. We have only the linear notion of time which continues in a straight line, always onwards towards the sunlit uplands. But there are other notions of the character of time and hence of history. One of these notions, to be found in ancient and classical civilisations, was of time as cyclical – the eternal return.  This view was revived by Oswald Spengler and applied to history and civilisations in his Der Untergang des Abendlandes  – The Decline of the West – (1918). In a spectacular analogy, Spengler likened a civilisation to a tree or a plant which has its life cycle: so it grows from seed to sapling, to mature foliage and then it begins to fade and weaken towards its eventual death. There could not be a more stark contrast with our secular dogma of Progress. Eliot puts the cyclical view of history epigrammatically: “Do you need to be told that what has been can be again?”

So where are we today in the cycle? With Spengler, I believe we are towards its end. Since it is not a straight line but a cycle, we have been here before. C.H. Sisson has something illuminating to say about St Augustine: “What makes St Augustine so interesting is that he lived through times which are very much like our own – and rejected them.”

And what did Augustine himself have to say?

“Why do you seek an infinite variety of pleasure with a crazy extravagance, while your prosperity produces a moral corruption far worse than all the fury of an enemy?”

There were theatres putting on gross pornography and the sadism and blood lust of the gladiatorial arena. Augustine described and condemned these scenes of depravity:

“Full publicity is given where shame would be appropriate; close secrecy is imposed where praise would be in order. Decency is veiled from sight; indecency is exposed to view. Scenes of evil attract packed audiences; good words scarcely find any listeners. It is as if purity should provoke a blush and corruption give grounds for pride.”

And the public squalor was accompanied by intellectual bankruptcy: Augustine said, “Listen to sense, if you can still hear sense – your minds so long clouded with intellectual nonsense.”

And so the squalor and the nonsense come round again: Renaissance anthropocentricism; Enlightenment atheism; Utilitarian ethics; the dogma of Progress. All alongside the loss of decency, the decay of public life – what Augustine called full publicity given to things which are shameful.

From the theological perspective, there is something to be added to Spengler’s picture of the death of the tree. In the Judeao-Christian tradition – now abandoned by Europe – after death comes judgement. And after judgement, one can go up – or, of course, one can go down. 

19 May

Syntactic Tyranny

Nigel Farage has been driven to apologise for saying on television that he would be uncomfortable if a group of Rumanians moved in next door to him. An Australian professor of government has had a petition got up against him and signed by 10,000 for writing an article which claimed that Russian leaders since Stalin have done more to the detriment of civil society than to uphold it. The accusations made in both these cases is of “racism” – but what meaning can we attach to the use of this word?

Why is a man not at liberty to speak his mind and say that the arrival of neighbours of a particular sort and reputation would make him feel uncomfortable? Farage seemed to say that he would rather live next to a German – his wife is German – than to a Rumanian. I don’t think for a minute he meant all  Rumanians. I imagine he meant that generally he would be happier living next to a German than to a Rumanian. I think most people would interpret Farage’s remark in that way; and I dare say many would agree with him. This does not imply that all Rumanians are nasty and all Germans nice. Alex Boot in a recent blog puts the matter into perspective when he says, “I would rather live next to a Rumanian doctor than to a German lout.” This doesn’t imply that all doctors are nice people either! The shocking fact is that political correctness forbids us the rational use of general terms. Common sense understands that the use of general terms means exactly that – in general. The reductio ad absurdum of literal-minded political correctness would be the assumption that, if a man said, “I like the Germans,” one should conclude from his statement that he was an admirer of Hitler and his gang. Most people would understand Farage’s statement about Germans and Rumanians to be shorthand for something such as: “If you were to ask me, I should say that generally speaking I’d rather live next to a German than to a Rumanian. Of course this doesn’t mean that I like all Germans and dislike all Rumanians.”

I’m sorry to labour the point, but unfortunately such labour seems to be necessary.

Similarly with the professor. If he says, “Since Stalin, the Russians have done more harm than good,” no one in his right sense would conclude that the reference was to every single Russian man, woman, child, dog and pet rabbit.

And then, as again Alex Boot points out, there is the larger matter of truth. Looking at the record of Russia, including Stalin’s genocide of his own people, the red army’s viciousness in the invasions and occupations of Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Chechnya and Georgia, it might indeed seem to an observer that there is some truth in the Australian professor’s statement. But here’s the rub: political correctness has no concern for the truth; it is the preferred tool of the elite which governs us and its motive is social and political control. The word for this is hegemony. The vocabulary of political correctness is ideological. Its key words – diversity, inclusivity, democracy, equality, freedom, racism, sexism and the resthave no truth-functional context: they are merely emotive and their aim is compulsion and control. This is what makes political correctness irrational. But, though irrational, it is pervasive and all-powerful.

As C.L. Stevenson in The Emotive Meaning of Ethical Terms (1937) admitted: the purpose of the emotive use of language is to persuade and coerce; and essentially there is no practical difference between persuasion by words and persuasion by a big stick. Our very own A.J.Ayer in Language, Truth and Logic (1936) agreed with Stevenson. (For those forensically inclined, it’s in chapter six) Those two philosophers wrote at the time when Hitler and Stalin were engaged on their vicious sprees. The two totalitarian dictators were as one with the two philosophers. And political correctness and newspeak are one and the same – the servants of totalitarianism.

09 May

Murder? It’s Killing Innit?

Perhaps to demonstrate that it’s not so dumbed down after all, the BBC is making one of its periodic incursions into the realm of intelligence. There is to be a programme in which it is asked whether there should be a connection between the law and morality. The presenter previewed this item by giving the example of Holland where, he said, there is no connection between law and morality – because the Dutch judiciary takes a liberal line on incidences of illegal drug use and prostitution.

The BBC discussion is to be presented by “experts.” Don’t need ‘em mate. Any first year philosophy undergraduate who couldn’t spot the flaw in that argument should be chucked off his course and advised to try something else: media studies, perhaps.

For the plain truth is that any attitude towards illegal drug use is bound to be a moral attitude. The particular moral attitude which the Dutch take just happens to be a liberal, permissive attitude. It is a moral attitude nonetheless. As strict enforcement of the law against prostitution and illegal drug use would also be a moral attitude. What is it like, this BBC expert’s argument and to what shall I liken it? It’s as if I should say, “Because this wren is not a sparrow, it’s not a bird.” But that’s to put the matter in plain language, such as we speak in the street. Let me translate it into academese, so that the philosophers on Radio Four might better understand it: there is the set called morality; and then there are the subsets called permissive morality, strict morality, utilitarian morality, deontological morality and so on; and all the subsets are parts of the whole set.  

I looked a bit further into this unhappy relationship between the BBC and philosophy – did a bit of research, as they say – and found that the Corporation offers full coverage of philosophical ethics. But things don’t get any better. For example, there is an introduction to subjectivist ethics. Here the subjective view is said to entail the opinion that there are no objective moral values. So far, so good. That is an accurate description of the subjectivist view. But the example the BBC gives us is: “So a subjectivist could never say that murder is wrong.”

Oh yes he could. In fact he must. Because “murder” means “wrongful killing.” Murder is thus distinguished (by its wrongness) from other forms of killing – in warfare, for instance – which might not be considered wrong. This has nothing to do with whether you take a subjectivist ethical stance or some other. “Murder is wrong” remains true in virtue of the meaning of the words themselves.

To relapse into the academese again: “Murder is wrong” is a tautology. And tautologies are always true (for everyone) “on pain of contradiction,” as they say

In future, better stick to the Tellytubbies

19 Apr

World Snooker Championship

Bemerkungen Uber Die Grundsatzlichkeit Des Snooker

( Editor’s note: In 1948, Ludwig Wittgenstein, aged 59, paid a brief visit to Sheffield, Yorkshire, England in order to study Gemeinschaft there. One Saturday afternoon when there was nothing particularly interesting on at the pictures, he went into the snooker hall known as ‘The Crucible’ {’Der Schmelztiegel’} where he became instantly fascinated by the play. Following this visit he went again to Norway where, putting aside his already well-advanced work on the final version of ‘Philosophical Investigations’ {’Philosophische Bemerkungen’}, he began a lengthy treatise on the art of snooker. This previously unpublished fragment was discovered in the tap room of ‘The King’s Arms’, Cable Street, Attercliffe in 2014).

35. I am teaching a friend the game of snooker and he accidentally plays the green ball before the yellow. I remind him of the sequence which must be followed, explaining that this sequence is the syntax or depth grammar of the game. (Remark on the concept of following a rule).

36. Then he plays a red ball and the cue ball rolls into a pocket. I exclaim – my exclamation is accompanied by a gesture – “Ah so you’ve gone in-off!” (In-Entfernt). My friend expresses astonishment at this locution and replies, “But I thought in English ‘In’ is contrasted with ‘Out’?” I explain that the language game (Lebensform) “In-Off” is what is known as an exception to the rule-following procedure. I give him a list of such exceptions and add four points to my score. (What does it mean to make a list here?)

37. I say, “The brown is on the blue spot”. His face wears a look of unbelief (Unglaubigkeit) and he lifts the brown ball from the table. I explain that lifting the brown is not part of the Lebensform. (But the idea of lifting the brown deliberately as a joke – Ein Witz oder Ein Scherz).

37.1 He says, “But this spot is not-blue! (Unblaulichkeit). It is only a little black mark on the table!” I explain that here “a little black mark” means “the blue spot”. I laugh out loud and he looks offended.

38.2 (Whether my laughter and his being offended are also part of the game?)

38.3 The mistake is always to look for a definition of being offended where we should look for a criterion. Taking offence cannot be defined: it can only be shown (Eine Pracht). We might make a list of what is shown when one takes offence:


Leaving the table and sullenly taking a sip of one’s beer.

Ripping the cloth with one’s cue – with a grimace. (But the grimace too is also part of the criterion).

38.4 Imagine this language-game: I say, “That’s not just a little black mark, you idiot! It’s the blue spot”. My friend comes over to where I am philosophising and sticks his cue up my nose. So we say, “Yes, sticking a snooker cue up Ludwig Wittgenstein’s nose is also a criterion for an instance of offence-taking”.

39. “Ouch!” too is designated part of the language-game here.

40. “But the blue spot is also a little black mark”. (remark concerning the open-textured nature of ontology).

41. It is a mistake to think of it as being a little black spot or the blue spot (Ein Klein schwartz Punkt oder Der blau Punkt), we should rather look for its use.

42. Is the blue spot still blue in the dark? Questions such as this produce a feeling of giddiness (Schwindelgefuhl). This is a particular sort of giddiness which might be called philosophical (Philosophische Schwindelgefuhl).

43. Compare the various occasions of giddiness which we might experience and note the family resemblance among them:

Standing on the sloping roof of a house built by Wittgenstein

Playing snooker with Wittgenstein

Sitting on the blue spot in the dark etc

What all these have in common is not a particular sensation. Rather they are governed by the use of the word Schwindelgefuhl.

44. I see a man at the table and he is bending over his cue, taking careful aim, following through, potting (as it might be) a red ball etc and I exclaim, “Ah, so he is playing snooker!” Then I see his opponent who is sitting on the seat drinking his beer and I say, “He also is playing snooker!”

45. Then someone says, “I saw a man sitting on a bench outside a cafe yesterday and he was drinking beer. Does that imply that he also was playing snooker?” (What does “playing snooker” mean here? The inadmissibility of beer-drinking as a criterion for snooker- playing).

45.1 “Waiting one’s turn” is also part of what we mean by the game.

46. Is it possible that you see a brown ball where I see a blue one? We must guard against the bewitchment of our intelligence by our tendency to slip into (ausrutschen, ausgleiten) the ontological mode. Questions of this sort are only solved by asking, “What rule is being followed here?”

46.1 We see that he pots a ball and scores himself four points. “Ah!” we conclude, “So it was the brown ball after all”.

46.2 But we object, “Is it possible that I see him score four points where you see him score five?” (remark on the notion of the infinite regress (unendlich sich ruckwarts bewegen.)

46.3 Cases in which we may be mistaken about whether the ball is blue or brown:

When my opponent scores himself five points, perhaps only four were due to him? (The concept of cheating Betrugen)

His arithmetic may be very poor

The lights went out. (But could we see that the lights had gone out?)

47. But the fact that my opponent is a cheat is not the cause of the ball’s being brown (or blue). It is only a proto-phenomenon (Ein Proto-phenomenon) where we ought to say, “This language-game is being played”.

48. The rest is silence

12 Apr

Was Heidegger a Boozy Beggar?

According to those masters of philosophical commentary Monty Python, and in their Urtext, The Philosophers’ Song (Das Lied des Philosophes), “Heidegger, Heidegger was a boozy beggar who could think you under the table.” I love the song but I know Martin H was no such thing: but a disciple of the great phenomenologist Husserl and guru to the utter charlatan (and therefore adored by the whiizziwigs in the Church of England 1960s avant garde) Rudolf Bultmann. Now strike me down if I tell a lie, but today in a review article I have actually read an Oxford philosopher – one needs to put those last two words in inverted commas these days – with a good word for the alleged boozy beggar. Though, of course, the PPE creep couldn’t help talk up the gossip about Heidegger’s “Nazi past” and again make the false assertion that Hannah Arendt, the narcissistic Jewish socialist and spiritual poseur, “had coined the phrase “ (to quote the Oxford meagre-prof): “the banality of evil.” It wasn’t blessed Hannah, prof; it was Tommy Aquinas – thought he said it in Latin – which I conjecture is too elitist for Oxford these days – and Aquinas called evil a privatio boni.

Which being translated is “empty”, “devoid of all reality”, in a word, dear Ms Arendt, “banal.” We mustn’t be too hard on the Oxford prof though. Loads of elite lefties have made the same mistake

But to get back to the boozy beggar. He was the greatest philosopher of the 20th century. Why? Because he rejected the Enlightenment arrogance which has plagued anglosaxon philosophy since the 18th century and which sees philosophy from the point of view of the detached individual observer who stands apart from the world and evaluates his experience of it in terms of sense data, perception, philosophical idealism or whatever. Heidegger by contrast starts from the very commonsensical view that we are not detached observers but part of the flux that we observe. We are Dasein – thrown – into the world and have to be content with just (as it said in the Peter Sellers film) being there.

We are, as that other Tom said, “the music while the music lasts”

Of course Heidegger is despised among the intellectual fashionistas because of his alleged Nazi sympathies. But the lefties and the desperately progressive luvvies who love Sartre’s plays – despite the fact that Sartre was a psychopath who all his life moved in and out of Stalin’s communist party as if it were a revolving door – never mount the same criticism of that Left Bank nihilist 

Heidegger never once, in the days when he was my constant drinking companion at the Dichtung und Warheit corner pub in Freiburg, put down his pint to affirm a belief in God. But he believed in Being.  (Which is probably the same thing, isn’t it, God?) And thus he aligned himself with the great medieval philosophers – I think particularly of my friend St Thomas who, downing his glass in one gulp would always says, “One swallow doesn’t make a Summa” – those so tragically usurped by the 18th century Endarkenment

This is us, Dasein, in the pub, thrown here, we know not what. This dart board. All these bloody games of dominoes and the woman selling The War Cry . We are consumed with Angst. We know we must die. Therefore we must adopt not Vorhanden but Zuhanden – a “being towards death” (Dasein aus Tot). And how do we do that?

The boozy beggar says by attending to the greatest art and music and literature, by noticing that the reality in which we partake is greater than we who partake of it; and and by avoiding becoming reductionist professors of philosophy in bloody Oxford

Here’s to you, Martin baby. And, if you’re buying, mine’s a pint.

26 Mar

History is not junk

The Dean of King’s, Cambridge – Wittgenstein’s college – said something good on Thought for the Day this week. It would have been even better if he had not delivered his talk as one struggling with English as a foreign language. But that’s academics for you. It was laboriously constructed and took me back to the days when we were nine and were asked to write a composition. And, discarding the bad influence of the Bible, we must not begin a sentence with and or finish it with of.

Never mind his charmless fabrication, the Dean said something that needs saying. He said we should not think of the period between the departure of the Romans and the start of the Renaissance as the Dark Ages. Great things were accomplished in science, literature, philosophy and art during those centuries.

Well said Mr Dean

But he spoilt it at the end by saying that the phrase Dark Ages could be consigned to “the dustbin of history.”

This is a common enough misunderstanding, though perhaps not one we should expect from a senior Cambridge man. History is not a dustbin. And history is not the past – as if it still enjoyed a shadowy existence way back like a fading tapestry. History, I repeat, is not the past. History is our conversation about the past in the here and now. History is not a place, or a collection of events – still less a dustbin.

History is ideas of the past in the minds of historians now living.

For a fuller explanation of how this is so – in good, plain English – see The Idea of History by R.G. Collingwood.

11 Mar

Hurrah for Thought for the Day!

Three cheers for Thought for the Day! You never thought you’d hear me say that, did you? Naturally, I’m not extending to the programme a universal enconium, but today’s talk, given by the former Chief Rabbit Jonathan Sachs was a model of what such things should be and a flash of light in the encircling gloom. Dr Sachs reported new findings to the effect that male birds do not, as Darwin preached, sing only as part of a show of sexual advertisement – in the attempt to find a lady bird and get their genes passed on – but to announce their presence and tell anyone listening they’re glad to be alive. And the lady birds do the singing too.

This is so refreshing for it pulls the rug from under the satanic hypothesis of genetic determinism, that reductionist notion that our whole sense of beauty, truth, value and love is nothing but the accidental and meaningless spin-off from ineluctable evolutionary theory.

While we’re at it, we should apply Dr Sachs’ antidote to those other two deterministic, reductionist monsters Freud and Marx. For Freud, we are little more than our unconscious motivation which we are powerless to influence – short of turning up on his couch for seven years’ worth of narcissistic blather and, of course, paying the psychoanalyst’s fees. For Marx, the motivations for all our human and political relationships are mere economics. The fact that Darwin, Marx and Freud have been for so long worshipped as our true – and perhaps only – teachers and prophets is the supreme intellectual tragedy of our time.

Satanic indeed. There is no better word to describe the dirt that these deterministic ideologists have done on human beings. For we are not entirely in the grip of unconscious motives, economic laws or selfish genes. There are first-order experiences of which we are all acutely and continuously conscious, and which are real: self-sacrifice, wit, humour, self-mockery, the power of music, poetry, fine painting. Beauty, Truth and Love – these three. And the greatest of these is love

Darwin, Freud, Marx?  Aw shucks, they’re just for the birds…

10 Mar

More Gorm, Please, Professor Wilkinson

God help those being taught theology at St John’s College, Durham where the principal is Rev’d Professor David Wilkinson. He came on Radio Four’s Thoughtless Today at a quarter to eight this morning to tell us that we’ve learned more about the brain in the last fifteen years than in all previous history. A pity we haven’t at the same time learned to use the brain a bit better than Wilkinson did. I suppose it was rather early in the day. First he caricatured Greek philosophy to a degree that would have Plato and Aristotle suing for misrepresentation, for neither of those gentlemen believed what was attributed to them by Wilkinson: “Body evil, mind good.”

We were then treated to Wilkinson’s own view on the subject. He reckons that the body, the mind and the soul are three different parts of the human person which interact. Now forgive me if I comment on this opinion with the use of some technical jargon. Wilkinson’s view is what we philosophers call gormless. For body, mind and soul are not three things; they are three aspects of one and the same thing. The mind and the soul do not inhabit the body like ghosts in a machine. For the body is material, and the only things that can exist inside a material thing are other material things. Thus the body is the material aspect of the person, the mind is the mental aspect of the same person, and the soul (if there is such a thing) is the person’s spiritual aspect.

Wittgenstein warned us against first forming a picture of something and then becoming enslaved by that picture. For the picture may be a false picture – just like the one drawn by Wilkinson, in fact.