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Noted elsewhere: Shall we fight for King and Country?

By ALGIS VALIUNAS [The Claremont Review of Books] – In the 1939 memoir “My Early Beliefs,” John Maynard Keynes—perhaps the past century’s most influential economist, and a writer of elegant clarity whom Saul Bellow called the foremost English prose stylist of his time—describes the impact of the Cambridge philosopher G.E. Moore’s Principia Ethica (1903) on the young Apostles who sat at his feet.

Nothing mattered except states of mind, our own and other people’s of course, but chiefly our own. These states of mind were not associated with action or achievement or with consequences. They consisted in timeless, passionate states of contemplation and communion, largely unattached to “before” and “after.” …The appropriate subjects of passionate contemplation and communion were a beloved person, beauty and truth, and one’s prime objects in life were love, the creation and enjoyment of aesthetic experience and the pursuit of knowledge. Of these love came a long way first.

Keynes and his friends turned Moore’s philosophy into a religion—and one without morals. To have said so explicitly, however, would have offended their belief in the scientific rationality of Moore’s thinking and their own. (Continued at The Claremont Review of Books | More Chronicle & Notices.)

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