In Praise of Prejudice: How Literary Critics and Social Theorists Are Murdering Our Past

In Praise of Prejudice: How Literary Critics and Social Theorists Are Murdering Our Past

by Theodore Dalrymple

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Today, the word prejudice has come to seem synonymous with bigotry; therefore the only way a person can establish freedom from bigotry is by claiming to have wiped his mind free from prejudice. English psychiatrist and writer Theodore Dalrymple shows that freeing the mind from prejudice is not only impossible, but entails intellectual, moral and emotional dishonesty. The attempt to eradicate prejudice has several dire consequences for the individual and society as a whole.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781594032691
Publisher: Encounter Books
Publication date: 09/25/2007
Series: Brief Encounters
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 144
File size: 183 KB

About the Author

Theodore Dalrymple is a psychiatrist and prison doctor who treats heroin addicts. He writes a column for the London Spectator, contributes frequently to the Daily Telegraph, and is a contributing editor of the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal. He lives in Birmingham, England.

Table of Contents

Prejudice Is Wrong, So Lack of Prejudice Is Right     1
The Uses of Metaphysical Skepticism     6
History Teaches Us Anything We Like     8
Why We Prefer the History of Disaster to that of Achievement     13
The Effect of Pedagogy Without Prejudice     17
Prejudice Necessary to Family Life     21
One Prejudice Always Replaced by Another     25
The Cruel Effect of Not Instilling the Right Prejudices     30
The Inevitability of Prejudice     33
The Conventionality of Unconventionality     39
The Overestimation of Rationality in Choice     42
Authority Necessary to the Accumulation of Knowledge     47
The Supposed Equality of All Opinions, Provided They Are One's Own     52
Custom Supposedly Wrong Because It Is Custom     55
A Partial Reading of Mill Leads to Unbridled Egotism     60
The Difficulty of Founding Common Decency on First Principles     63
The Law of Conservation of Righteous Indignation, and its Connections to the Expansion of Human Rights     68
The Paradox of Radical Individualism Leading to Authoritarianism     72
Racial Discrimination Being Bad, All Discrimination is Bad     75
Rejection of Prejudice Not a Good in Itself     79
The Impossibility of the Mind as a Blank Slate     85
The Ideal of Equality of Opportunity Necessary to a World Without Prejudice     90
Equality of Opportunity Inherently Totalitarian     94
The Rejection of Authority as Egotism     100
Prejudice a Requirement of Benevolence     104
The Dire Social Effects of Abandoning Certain Prejudices     107
The Inescapability of Commandments of Which Justification Is Unprovable     114
The Exercise of Judgment Unavoidable, Even in the Absence of Metaphysically Unassailable Principles, and Therefore Prejudices Necessary and Salutary     119
No Virtue Without Prejudice     123
Index     127

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In Praise of Prejudice 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Novanglus70 More than 1 year ago
The first reviewer obviously has not bothered to read the book, but instead, has decided to simply judge the book by it's cover, literally it seems. That is ironic because the strikes me as prejudicial. The truth is the author is making the argument that a well trained and experienced mind can and should make life decisions based on those experiences. It is the sign of a simple mind that assumes the author is arguing for racial prejudice, which the author takes the pains to dispel, just because "Praise" and "Prejudice" is in the title. Read the book. Dalrymple presents an excellent argument.
jahn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a conservative¿s attack on individualism coupled to egotism with a comma. Which is a favourite enemy of the whole of the left as well, ¿individualism, egotism¿ there being contrasted with collectivism, that is with obedience to the people¿s elected ¿progressive¿ leaders. The good authority opposing said ¿individualism, egotism¿ in this book is never really attempted defined, but I think one can appreciate something like old people, traditions, and the elite authorised as such by educational institutions.The author is somewhat weak when it comes to definition of the terms he uses in his argumentation. At the end of one chapter he tells of argumentatively crushing a neighbour on an airplane, who dislikes authority, by suggesting he take over the plane¿s controls in dismissal of the pilot¿s authority. This is nonsense, as the competency of anyone, like the ability to walk, and so being capable of aiding people in a wheelchair, can hardly be seen as identical to making others follow roads the choice of which they have not been party to. Much of the arguments are only half thought out. As an example of things necessarily to be taken as true on authority¿s demand, and so demonstrating the weakness of a subjective or pragmatic judgement, is the information that the battle of Hastings took place in 1066. Since this information has no relevance beyond the favours obtainable through a demonstration of one¿s ability to repeat it, the relevance lies wholly outside the information itself. If a school examiner has the idea that the year should be 1067 and flunks you on 1066 ¿ then 1066 is definitely the wrong answer at that moment. Wholly different is information meant to be instructive in a process, and where its value as such demonstrates its truthfulness.The necessity of more obedience to authority the author finds exemplified in British youths putting their feet up on seats opposite to them on trains. He might be accurate in his assumption that a protest might well get you knifed, but certainly, if more people stood up as ¿individualists, egotists¿ and protested against what surely must irritate a majority, instead of waiting for a spontaneous collective uproar or the arrival of an authoritarian ticket collector, I believe better behaviour among youths would be a result. (A fear of violence in such a situation might be mitigated by appealing to others on the train to accept a collective denouncement of the disliked practise - people will become a bit braver if forced to take a stand.)The corrupting influence is seen as emanating primarily from J. S. Mill. But this vilification is possible only through downgrading the first part of his dictum, namely that it is only when the individual does not force others into participation that he should be free to do as he pleases. Though admittedly it is sometimes hard to ascertain when such coercion takes place, and though Mill, as Dalrymple proves, might have been something of an elitist himself, the contingent surely can¿t be dismissed.In spite of protesting against his arguments, and his lack of clear conclusions as regards the implementation of more ¿good authority,¿ I think the problems addressed are real enough and well described. Dalrymple is an expert on fiasco lives: his experience as a prison doctor, and of work in a slum hospital, has given him unique knowledge of some of our most serious socio-political problems. But a lack of discipline can be addressed with other means than that of authority: if forced to suffer the natural consequences of self destructive behaviour (which includes other people¿s censure), as individuals responsible for their own well being, most people prefer acquiring the necessary capacities. A general cultural swing towards individual responsibility for both oneself and ones influence on others would help ¿ and this does not necessitate giving more power to either a socialist or a conservative elite - it might rather appear with the removal of that author
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
willyvan More than 1 year ago
In praise of prejudice? Against reason then? He writes in favour of following our preconceived ideas. Surely this raises the question - which are preconceived ideas? In Pakistan, for example, these ideas are fairly likely, not inevitably, going to be reactionary and Muslim. Is that really OK by Dr D? What if your preconceived ideas are those of liberty, equality and fraternity? Would DR D be happy with that? Really, his thinking is just a silliness and a muddle, confused and confusing.