Our skeptical doctor reviews a new book on the subject of depression in his latest Law & Liberty essay.
The author does not (in my opinion) sufficiently consider the cultural significance of the replacement of the word unhappiness by depression in common parlance. The practical effect is considerable. An unhappy person must either put up with his unhappiness, or analyse the reasons for it and try to change either himself or his circumstances. The depressed person is declaring himself ill and placing the responsibility on someone else to cure him.
Dr. Dalrymple discusses how the habit of smoking has undergone a profound change during his lifetime over at The Epoch Times.
It is true that the causative connection between lung cancer and smoking, first drawn in Nazi Germany and then, with better data, in Britain and America, led to a rapid decline in the numbers of people who smoked, so that now less than a quarter of the population smokes. But there is something more to the decline than this.
Upon returning to England from France, the good doctor takes advantage of the mandatory quarantine to make progress through his massive library by reading a book on the once-famous British judge, Lord Darling.
Well, even Homer slept, and in any case there is no suggestion that Darling let his very strong private prejudices interfere with his administration of the law, in which he scrupulously tried to be fair, if (like all human beings) he was not always right. And this is a very important point that goes to the heart of the jury system (in which I believe), and indeed of human life itself, namely that people are able to abstract themselves from their prejudices in certain circumstances and deliver themselves of an opinion—for example, of guilt or innocence—according to the evidence presented. Indeed, if this were not the case, what would be the point of ratiocination at all?
In the April issue of New Criterion, our favorite doctor writes about the life of Stephen Hawking in light of a recently published biography on this world-famous scientist.
On one occasion, he let his guard drop: asked if he would exchange his exceptional intellectual prowess for the ability to walk and talk normally, he replied “Yes.” There is a wealth of tragedy in that monosyllable.
The dubious doctor recounts the saga of another overrated, pseudo-intellectual, sexual deviant French writer whose well-known pedophilia (child molestation) has finally been attacked by his former admirers among the fickle, amoral French “intellectuals.”
I have little sympathy with Matzneff either as a writer or as a man. Of course, I have read only a tiny fraction of his oeuvre, but he strikes me, quite apart from his morals, as a bad writer, self-indulgent, self-centred and self-important, in a word boring. Perhaps libertines always are boring.
But this is not my point. In the 1970s, many eminent French intellectuals such as Sartre and Foucault were supporters of paedophilia and argued publicly for the abolition of laws against it.
For the Winter 2021 edition of City Journal, the skeptical doctor covers the life and works of the famous 16th-century French essayist, Michel de Montaigne.
We cannot derive a coherent doctrine from Montaigne. He was skeptical about the profound finitude of human knowledge but believed in facts, which he used to establish points that he wanted to make. He was not a rationalist but did not disdain logic to make an argument, and was therefore not an irrationalist, either. Rather, his skepticism was a call to intellectual modesty, and his appreciation of the immense variety of the human and natural world a reminder that the ocean of truth lies all before us and will forever do so.
Over at The Epoch Times, Dr. Dalrymple once again highlights the politicization of the British Medical Journal after reading a typically leftist, SJW editorial. #Science?
Those who, for political reasons, keep past oppression or crime constantly before the mind of the descendants of the victims (that is to say, descendants of the victim group, not necessarily of the individual victims) help to foment and foster a deep mistrust or resentment that is no longer justified, but which can lead people in effect to cut off their noses to spite their faces.
The dissenting doctor severely chides that paragon of modernist architects, Frank Gehry, over at City Journal.
A glance at this structure induces a state of anxiety, or, alternatively, a feeling of sea-sickness. Has there been an earthquake, or perhaps a terrorist attack, to twist the metal in this way and set windows at peculiar angles? Has it been designed by a brain-damaged patient with perceptual difficulties?
The good doctor attempts to come to terms with his mobile phone dependence in this week’s Takimag column.
A sensible person does not have to be permanently contactable, and indeed, when I look back, some of my happiest times have been the months in which I was totally incommunicado. My recent dependence on my phone, however, has revealed to me that I am exactly like others in my folly, no worse but no better. I am humbled, if not humiliated, by my phone.
In his The Epoch Times column, our favorite doctor pens a penetrating piece on the standard leftist, politically-correct ideology running amok in British academia.
The most important tenet, perhaps, in the drive for totalitarian social engineering of the proto-Stalinist variety is that all differences in desirable—or at least desired—outcomes between identifiable groups, even in the most open society, can only arise from injustice or the exercise of illicit influence by the already powerful.