I have a piece with that title in the Spring 2012 edition of the Intercollegiate Review. Most of it’s a pretty routine review of the problems with liberalism, and I had to play the religious aspects down quite a bit. In the second half though I get into how the counterrevolution might come about, and that may be of some interest. (Basically, liberal institutions stop working, people start relying more on natural connections, and eventually official theories change to match realities.)
Do you think when you look at your children that their value is just a matter of your happenstance psychology (which may result from early conditioning or evolutionary advantage)? Probably not. Most likely you think that they really are valuable. But that like all beliefs about what is real raises metaphysical issues.
I don’t think the Bill Gates situation would change if he had acting lessons so he could do the noble aristocrat shtick. Your second point seems the key: extreme sacrifice for the sake honor makes sense only in a very different spiritual world in which ideas like sacred obligation and something more precious than life make sense.
(Incidentally, why on earth does everybody think Nietzsche is the big authority on everything?)
The “which Christianity” issue applies to anything whatever that might be proposed as a fundamental principle. The majority form of Christianity, Roman Catholicism, by the way, has a systematic way of maintaining coherence and deciding disruptive issues.
I’ve read it but it’s been a while. Wasn’t that the one where the guy meets a bear and whacks him with an ax? The sagas have scenes that stick with you.
Anyway, I had a different response. It seemed to me the author admired Grettir but didn’t really approve of him. And the way he ended up did more to show problems in the old idea of honor as a supreme standard than to debunk the Christianity that succeeded it. As I recall Grettir was basically anti-social, although he wasn’t psycho like Egil in Egil’s Saga, and the way of life he pursued was admirable in its way but hardly seemed worth it unless you happened to be obsessive about certain particular issues.
BTW, saying “honor is good and wimpiness is bad” or for that matter “Christians are jerks” wouldn’t have gotten you burned. In order to be guilty of heresy you had to obstinately deny some particular doctrine.
(Also BTW, if this discussion gets a few more people to read the sagas it’ll be worth it.)
By “good” I meant ultimate good.
People ask themselves what it’s all about in the end. To answer the question honor seems to need other higher goods to give it its point.
If my honor requires me to lay down my life fighting for my king that makes sense if there’s something glorious about my king.
But what’s glorious about him? If I say he’s glorious because he has lots of money and power that doesn’t seem satisfying. Who wants to lay down his life fighting for Bill Gates? But if I say the king’s also noble in the sense of having lots of honor it all seems circular.
So we need a larger system than natural goals, self-assertiveness, and honor. We need some sort of higher goal. I think the same applies even if we add in courage, wisdom, generosity and loyalty if those things all ultimately just relate to self-attertiveness and securing natural ends like getting enough to eat. One can always ask “why bother”?
From the standpoint implicit in Njal’s Saga, that’s what was lacking in Iceland and it’s the reason it made sense for them to become Christian. (Plato’s Republic though is the classic treatment of the relation between honor and whatever it is that’s ultimately good.)