Irony Meet Gratuitous Offence
Aren’t philosophers supposed to avoid contradictions? Or do I have that wrong.
Now of course it is wrong to give gratuitous offence to people of other faiths; it is right to respect people’s beliefs, when these beliefs pose no threat to civil order…
I disagree with that, to the extent that it’s meant to apply to public discourse as opposed to private conversation; but accept it for the sake of argument. But then –
Whenever I consider this matter I am struck by a singular fact about the Christian religion, a fact noticed by Kierkegaard and Hegel but rarely commented upon today, which is that it is informed by a spirit of irony…Such irony is a long way from the humorless incantations of the Koran. Yet it is from a posture of irony that every real negotiation, every offer of peace, every acceptance of the other, begins. The way forward, it seems to me, is to encourage the re-emergence of an ironical Islam, of the kind you find in the philosophy of Averroës, in Persian poetry and in “The Thousand and One Nights.” We should also encourage those ethnic and religious jokes which did so much to defuse tension in the days before political correctness. And maybe, one day, the rigid face of some puritanical mullah will crack open in a hesitant smile, and negotiations can at last begin.
Well which is it?
I hope it’s the second; I go with the second; but it doesn’t mesh seamlessly with the first. Actually the first simply seems to contradict the second, and quite thoroughly. Did Scruton just lose track of his own thought in the course of the article?