October 6, 2009

What in the name of Holy Bobo paradise is self-anointed philosopher-chieftain David Brooks talking about?  Anyone?  I’ve read this twice now and I still have no idea.  One thing is clear: it has nothing to do with Bentham or Hume.

I sure hope he’s not intimating that we should create institutions that give the Orwellian impression that every move of ours is being watched, that no misdeed will go unseen or unpunished.  I also hope he isn’t suggesting that we itemize all pains and pleasures and tabulate them on some twisted Sadian ledger.  Even Mill could improve on that tragic oversimplification.  If that’s what Brooks wants, I hate to disappoint him.  On the other hand, I suppose it’s true that I’d rather be Brooks dissatisfied, than a pig satisfied… so maybe he’s onto something.

Oh, right, David Brooks has repeatedly demonstrated that he has no idea about philosophy.


  1. I think that “Bentham” is supposed to be a stand-in for someone who is willing to measure everything very carefully (whether it’s really measurable or not), and make very specific recommendations on that basis; “Hume” is supposed to stand for someone who gets so bogged down in the human details that he falls to the floor and weeps.

    Or, more simply, Bentham is a “good” Republican, and Hume is a “typical” Democrat.

    Oh, and? Brooks is almost always a dolt.

  2. In fairness, Brooks is clearly more sympathetic to “Hume,” not “Bentham.”

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