Speaking of Roger Kaplan, which I did in the previous post, (Did I mention that I've gotten an email back from Roger Kaplan? ) he's got something on his blog about New York Governor Eliot Spitzer's difficulties.
For those of you who don't follow politics every waking hour, Spitzer was a crusading D.A., he busted a lot of Wall Street firms, and then was elected governor. He's now been linked to a prostitution ring.
When I was in college....there was a story going around about the German philosopher Max Scheler (1874-1928). Scheler was known for inspiring ethical meditations with titles like “On Man’s Place in the Cosmos.” He was also, according to this story, known for his energetic philandering. A distraught admirer approached him about this discrepancy: how could he write all those noble, morally uplifting works and yet lead such a discreditable personal life? The response attributed to Scheler is illuminating. The sign that points to Boston, he said, doesn’t have to go there.
In effect, I noted, Scheler was defending hypocrisy. He was saying that the ideals he articulated were more important than his personal failure to achieve them. When the story of Bill Clinton’s liaison with Monica Lewinsky became public, there was plenty of condemnation, but almost nobody talked about hypocrisy: lying, yes; moral turpitude, by all means; but not hypocrisy. That is because hypocrisy is essentially an aristocratic failing. It extols “the best” even if the best is generally unattainable.
This indeed is one reason that hypocrisy, among all the vices, is regarded with particular disdain and horror by egaliatarians. A hypocrite publicly upholds noble values and standards of behavior even though he knows he may sometimes fall short of the conduct they require. He does this because he recognizes that those values are worthy of support and commendation even if he cannot always embody them.
Well said, Mr. Kaplan. We're all Whited Sepulchres. Some of us just require more paint than others.