The source of our problems . . .

Not for attribution

You’ve heard of blaming it all on television, especially when Elvis danced on the Ed Sullivan show. Or on Prohibition or the Reformation or the Edict of Constantine, or Milan (for its allying of Christianity with the ruling powers and thus allegedly weakening its prophetic function).

Well I have found one who blames it on the 18th-century philosopher Shaftesbury, a well-known apostle of sentimentalism — you feel and therefore you know — the state of mind that makes one unable to understand a news story without “human interest” thrown in.

Sentimentalism is only half the problem, however. The other half is association-of-ideas, a philosophical doctrine embraced by Hobbes and Locke: One idea leads to another? Pay attention: the two may be logically connected and you should take that very seriously, even as a guide in your pursuit of what’s true. Just go for it. It’s how we learn things.

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