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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Battle of the Books: Persuasion and Force

This quote is also from James Fitzjames Stephen's Liberty, Equality, Fraternity.

On the other hand, when a priest says,'Vote as I tell you or you will be damned,' he employs force just as much as if he held a pistol to his parishioner's head, though the arguments through which the force is applied are more elaborate than in the other case.  A surgeon tells a patient that he will die unless he submits to a painful operation.  Is this persuasion or force?  No man would lose a limb if he were not forced to do so by the fear of losing what he values even more, but the surgeon would usually be said to persuade his patient, and not to compel him(p77).  There is one other point in Mr. Harrison's article which calls for notice.  He totally misapprehends the object of my chapter on the distinction between the temporal and the spiritual power, and he naturally misrepresents what I have said on the subject.  As to his misrepresentations, I have dealt with them as far as I thought necessary in foot-notes to the passages misrepresented, and I will only say here that they may be summed up in a few words.  Mr. Harrison supposes me to teach 'the paradox' of 'the essential identity of material and moral power,' in order to establish the conclusion that the 'State ought to be the Church,' that it is not to be a Pope-king, but only a King-pope.'  If Mr. Harrison had read the chapter in question with any care, he would have seen that I said nothing of the sort.  I admit as fully as anyone can the difference between temporal and spiritual power.  The one I say is the power which rests upon temporal sanctions, and the other the power which rests upon spiritual sanctions, and I think that when for this expression, Mr. Harrison substitutes the word 'hell,' he does me great injustice.  I mean by spiritual sanctions all the hopes and fears, all the feelings of various kinds which may be excited by the prospect of a future state.  What I deny is the right of positivists, who do not believe in spiritual sanctions at all, and who do not accept the distinction between spirit and matter, to make use of the word 'spiritual,' and I say that their theory becomes nonsense without it.  Again I do not deny, but assert, the distinction between persuasion and force.  What I deny is that this distinction corresponds to the distinction between temporal and spiritual power.  I observe indeed, in passing, that persuasion and force run into each other, as do many dissimilar things, but the whole of my argument shows that I recognise the distinction, as, indeed, Mr. Harrison himself proves from other parts of my book, thinking to catch me in a contradiction.  This, however, is unnecessary to my argument, and the passage which Mr. Harrison refers to as if it conveyed the substance of the whole chapter might have been struck out of the book without interfering with its principal positions.  The whole chapter forms a carefully constructed argument, and it is difficult to answer it without an equally careful consideration of it as a whole(p244-45).

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