Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Reductio ad absurdum

There is a kind of argument, admitted of old, that is called reductio ad absurdum: to bring a position to the ultimate, patently absurd consequences.

The difficulty, though, is to make the interlocutor to see that his positions lead to those consequences.

The New York State legislator passed a law that I don’t quite know how to define. It is commonly described as legalization of “gay marriage”. But I am not sure what that could mean.

Simple, I could be answered: that in the face of the law the union of a man with a man or a woman with a woman is the same thing as that of a man with a woman. No, I didn’t say it right: what is meant is that for the law the sexual union of a man with a man or a woman with a woman is no different from that of a man with a woman.

Really? The law (trough the legislator who makes it) can do that: turn different things into the same?

Again you don’t understand: the law doesn’t turn different things into the same. See how gross you are: we are not dealing with raw sexual matters, but with the love bond that can tie a man with a man or a woman with a woman as well as a man with a woman into an enduring unity.

I could still play dumb, and say: now I understand, I too have many male friends whom I really love and feel enduringly tied to – let’s say the LD. No, I know what my opponents mean: a love relationship implying sexual intercourse. But then, aren’t we back to the first case: that of the law making different things the same?

You just don’t want to understand. It isn’t the law making them the same, because love relationships are the same.

Well, I’d have my qualms with that, because I really have a hard time understanding what it means. I know what sexually involving love between a man and a woman is, and perhaps, with some effort of the imagination (working on the fact that homo sum, nihil humanum a me alienum puto), I could have a notion even of that between two men or two women. But I simply don’t understand what could a sexual love relationship be, making abstraction so to speak from sex. What else could in fact mean a sexual relationship in which sexes (always male and female) are made irrelevant.

Oh come on…

At this point my interlocutor would probably hesitate. His answer could become tautological, in whatever way claiming that I know it, that love is… well, love. and whoever has the right to pursue it in the way it makes him happy.

Did I claim otherwise? I just don’t see what the law has to do with it.

Well, you know… No, I don’t know.

Hmm, the law should guarantee everybody’s right to realize his desires in love matters.

Should it? Imagine I am a mature man, having a daughter of age of whom I am taken: say, I love her. I should then have the right to pursue my happiness with her, and if I want to marry her.

Oh, you always exaggerate. Incest is forbidden and repels.

Of course it is. But up to some time ago even homosexuality was so forbidden, and now…

At this point my reduxio ad absurdum is completed. But I am afraid that the only answer it would find is the one I said: to negate, always to negate the logical consequence it draws, by an appeal to the evidence of feelings that for the “gay marriage” has been excluded.

I could pursue the reduction ad absurdum also on other sides of the matter. But this perhaps another time.


Tuesday, June 14, 2011


A couple of thoughts about Pentecost, suggested to me by a priest’s homely and a conversation with the LD.

We all know the story: tongues of fire descended on the apostles gathered, together with Mary, in the last supper hall.

Nice fable, like all the rest, one could say. But true, because people full of apprehension, doubtful of themselves, came out (should I say of the closet?) and started talking in a language that anybody could understand.

They announced the “word made flesh”. So, men made dumb could speak again.

Without fear. Better, full of courage for the fights ahead.

That’s what the priest stressed at the mass I attended, addressing a little group of children who had recently taken first communion.

Out without fear at the fight for the good, which might take our life.

Why not to have fear? I thus paraphrase the priest's answer: because the King is with us, and nourishes us with life eternal.

Here you are, always talking of fights and battles. Don’t you know that Christianity is essentially about peace? Of course I do, but I also know that only a man at peace with God and himself can honestly fight and defeat evil.

Let me quote St. Paul, from the Letter to the Ephesians:

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

While relating the homily to the LD, we realized what a good comment it makes to his last post for Memorial Day.