Thursday, 30 November 2017


Is discrimination a good thing or a bad thing? Increasingly these days it seems to be stigmatised as the latter but surely there is a big difference between an emotional reaction and a rational judgment, which is what discrimination actually is. For the one is centred purely on personal feelings while the other is both reasonable and objective, being based on evidence and dispassionate observation. For example, it is clearly wrong to discriminate between one person and another merely on racial grounds, but it is certainly not wrong to recognize that one culture may be superior to another in that it explores more deeply the reality of what a human being is or has a more developed understanding of what goodness and virtue really mean. Its philosophy may be wiser, its art more beautiful and its religion more spiritually profound.

Discrimination has to do with quality, and determining what has the greater and what the lesser quality. This requires an absolute standard, or the recognition that there is such a thing, and the understanding that reality is not merely relative. But we live in a quantitative age when everything is supposed to be equal with nothing better and nothing worse except, of course, if that premise itself is disagreed with which is automatically worse than agreeing with it.

In traditional Indian philosophy, discrimination or viveka is one of the main virtues to be acquired by the aspiring spiritual disciple. Principally it entails the ability to discern between the real and the unreal but, by extension, that becomes the ability to distinguish the higher from the lower. It is an essential virtue in a world of form in which one must learn to penetrate behind outer appearance, but it is also necessary in order to discern which forms reflect reality and which forms obscure it. We might say that Christianity is a form that reflects reality while leftism is a form that obscures it, and we need discrimination to see this. Without it how can we really know anything?

Lack of discrimination means lack of judgment. It opens the door to a steady reduction of quality because if everything is worth the same then nothing is really worth anything. Cliché but true. No discrimination closes the door to the  appreciation that there is a greater or higher to which we should aspire, and a lower which we should avoid if we are to develop in the way we should. But we know this. Unfortunately we've been duped into thinking that oneness is the highest condition and everything else must be sacrificed to gain that. But the only real oneness is the unified ground of the prima materia when everything is reduced to nothing. Spiritual oneness, on the other hand, is hierarchical because everything descends from God and aspires, when rightly ordered, to climb towards him.

The reason God created was to introduce the glories of many-ness into the state of oneness. In a world that had not fallen this would be apparent. Everything would be valued for itself but it would still be recognised that there are degrees of closeness to God, and some beings who reflected more of him than others. But we live in a fallen world and that means that there is another factor at work. Some beings have fallen away from God and their works reflect that. It needs discrimination to sort this out and to orientate ourselves to the good.


Ron Krumpos said...

Because of the negative connotations of 'discrimination' it might be better to use 'discernment'(you did use discern). Both words can mean to distinguish the difference.

William Wildblood said...

Yes I see what you mean. But I'd quite like to reclaim the original meaning of the word and not bow to the attempt to manipulate language so as to inculcate false ideas. So I'd like to say discrimination is always good.