Which is better, a tool or a friend?  If we have tools, do we wish they were more like friends?  If we have friends, do we wish they were more like tools?

-thus SPDI.  Tremendous essay, breathing truth and beauty.  I wish I had written it.  That Lewis quote!

Tools can serve our purposes in the ways we intend.  Well and good.  Friends don’t always.  But friends can serve our purposes in ways that we didn’t intend because we didn’t understand.  Friends can be worse than we wanted, but also better!  Tools are for a mechanical world that we fully understand.  Friends are for an organic world where the unexpected happens.

Further, tools do not change you.  They are only acted upon.  (Conceptually–in reality an actual tool has a little bit of a friend mixed in with it).  Friends can actually see the defects in your own will and help you to improve your ends.  Tools are for a world where what you want is fixed and what you are is always good enough.  Friends are for a world where your deepest ends are only imperfectly expressed through your conscious purposes and you have room to grow and change.

I am going to translate SPDI’s concept into a lower sphere.  Let me talk political ideas for a bit.  I am going to strawman, because over time all political ideas tend to operationalize their strawman version.

Strawmanning, the classical and reactionary political Idea was that the great mass of people are natural followers who need to be led around by the nose by their betters.  Even in this strawmanned version, they weren’t completely wrong, but there are obviously huge defects in that approach.  We know that because the old systems failed.  The ancien regime collapsed internally.

The replacement political Idea was that everyone was equal, everyone was the same, everyone was good.  Also not completely wrong in what it was getting at, but also deeply flawed.  We see the failures of that system all around us and in every bloodsoaked revolution.  Ironically, the more they reject the ancien regime in theory, the more they seem to live it out in practice.

What is needed is some middle ground that recognizes that we are all broken and base and natural sheep wanting to be led around, but that we all have the seeds of greatness and the desire for divinity within us.  That none of us are the same, but all of use are needing to head in the same direction.

The problem with the ancien regime is that their picture of mankind didn’t go far enough.  They correctly judged the mass, but they thought that there were philosopher-kings who were exceptions.   The further problem with the ancien regime is that they diagnosed the disease but didn’t think it was necessary to cure it.

The problem with modernity is declaring the goal to be the reality.

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