Trump’s electoral fiction floats free of verifiable reality. It is defended not so much by facts as by claims that someone else has made some claims. The sensibility is that something must be wrong because I feel it to be wrong, and I know others feel the same way. When political leaders such as Ted Cruz or Jim Jordan spoke like this, what they meant was: You believe my lies, which compels me to repeat them. Social media provides an infinity of apparent evidence for any conviction, especially one seemingly held by a president.
How sweet it would be to live among us, if the exterior appearance was always an image of the heart’s tendencies; if decency was a virtue; if our maxims served us as rules; if true philosophy was inseparable from the title of philosopher! But so many qualities too rarely go together, and virtue hardly ever walks in so much pomp. Richness in dress can announce a man with money and elegance a man with taste. The healthy, robust man is recognized by other signs. It is under the rustic clothing of a labourer and not under the gilded frame of a courtesan that one will find physical strength and energy. Finery is no less a stranger to virtue, which is the power and vigour of the soul. The good man is an athlete who delights in fighting naked. He despises all those vile ornaments which hamper the use of his strength, the majority of which were invented only to conceal some deformity. Before art fashioned our manners and taught our passions to speak an affected language, our habits were rustic but natural, and differences in behaviour announced at first glance differences in character. Human nature was not fundamentally better, but men found their security in the ease with which they could see through each other, and this advantage, whose value we no longer feel, spared them many vices. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau in Discourse on the Sciences and the ArtsBACK TO TOP