Saturday, May 06, 2006

Trilling on the difficulty of arguing with experts

Rereading Lionel Trilling’s review of Jane Jacob’s The Death and Life of Great American Cities, I came across this passage:

It seldom occurs to us to take account of an inertia of a different kind [than the inertia of society], that which makes it virtually impossible to debate an idea on its merits, that which leads us to abandon intellectual effort in the face of experts who can muster against opposition not the convincing arguments but the social and moral attitudes which have the effect of suggesting that adverse views are impious.
—Lionel Trilling, “No Mean City” in Arthur Krystal, ed., A Company of Readers: Uncollected Writings of W. H. Auden, Jacques Barzun, and Lionel Trilling from the Readers’ Subscription and Mid-Century Book Clubs

This second inertia makes serious discussion between parishioners and the liturgical design consultant virtually impossible, so that “parish involvement” is often an elaborate deception.


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