Dalrymple has often warned of the modern trend toward rationalism, the belief that a commitment to abstract principles can or should be absolute. Complete philosophical consistency is often in conflict with a desirable outcome, he says, and the latter is more important. In a new piece for Volume 2 of The Journal of Modern Wisdom, he gives several clear examples of this, one being the argument that High Court judges should be selected in a more democratic manner. These judges perform their duties extremely well, he says, but those who argue for a different selection method are not interested in “whether what they are replaced by will work any better (or worse)”.

Even more interesting is his examination of the controversy in Germany over male infant circumcision, which shows how “the heedless application of general principles to real life… can conjure problems, potentially serious and very divisive ones, from the air.”

This new volume of The Journal of Modern Wisdom features ten essays in total and, like the first one, is beautifully illustrated throughout. It is available for purchase here.

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