Word of the Day: MW
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Now, Belford, I had really some apprehension of treachery from thee; which made me so miserably evade; for else, I could as safely have sworn to the truth of this, as to that of the former: but she pressing me still for a categorical answer, I ventured plumb; and swore to it, [lover’s oaths, Jack!] that they were really and truly Lady Betty Lawrance and my cousin Montague.Clarissa, Volume 6 (of 9) Richardson, Samuel 1748
“What, dost thee open upon me?” cries the squire: “if thee dost begin to babble, I shall whip thee in presently.”
“Fie, brother,” answered the lady, “is this language to a clergyman? Mr Supple is a man of sense, and gives you the best advice; and the whole world, I believe, will concur in his opinion; but I must tell you I expect an immediate answer to my categorical proposals. Either cede your daughter to my disposal, or take her wholly to your own surprizing discretion, and then I here, before Mr Supple, evacuate the garrison, and renounce you and your family for ever.”The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling Fielding, Henry 1749
“Do you think it was the true light?” with clandestine geniality again filling the other’s glass.
“I would prefer to decline answering a categorical question there. Shakespeare has got to be a kind of deity. Prudent minds, having certain latent thoughts concerning him, will reserve them in a condition of lasting probation. Still, as touching avowable speculations, we are permitted a tether. Shakespeare himself is to be adored, not arraigned; but, so we do it with humility, we may a little canvass his characters.The Confidence-Man Melville, Herman 1857
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This satisfied the scruples and interests of all concerned, and soon afterward I made my first appearance in Pianura. My success was greater than we had foreseen; for I threw myself into the part with such zest that every one was taken in, and even Don Serafino required the most categorical demonstration to convince him that I was not my own brother. The illusion I produced was, however, not without its inconveniences; for, among the ladies who thronged to see the young Mirandolino, were several who desired a closer acquaintance with him; and one of these, as it happened, was the Duke’s mistress, the Countess Belverde. You will see the embarrassment of my situation. If I failed to respond to her advances, her influence was sufficient to drive us from the town at the opening of a prosperous season; if I discovered my sex to her, she might more cruelly avenge herself by throwing the whole company into prison, to be dealt with by the Holy Office. Under these circumstances, I decided to appeal to the Bishop, but without, of course, revealing to him that I was, so to speak, my own sister. His lordship, who is never sorry to do the Belverde a bad turn, received me with the utmost indulgence, and declared that, to protect my innocence from the designs of this new Potiphar’s wife, he would not only give me a lodging in the Episcopal palace, but confer on me the additional protection of the minor orders. This was rather more than I had bargained for, but he that wants the melon is a fool to refuse the rind, andThe Valley of Decision Wharton, Edith 1902
“It’s the dread of hell if you sin and the hope of Heaven if you are virtuous.””But I believe in neither.” “That may be. Neither did Kant when he devised the Categorical Imperative. You have thrown aside a creed, but you have preserved the ethic which was based upon it. To all intents you are a Christian still, and if there is a God in Heaven you will undoubtedly receive your reward. The Almighty can hardly be such a fool as the churches make out. If you keep His laws I don’t think He can care a packet of pins whether you believe in Him or not.”Of Human Bondage Maugham, Somerset 1915
Macalister reminded him of the Categorical Imperative. “Act so that every action of yours should be capable of becoming a universal rule of action for all men.”
“That seems to me perfect nonsense,” said Philip.”You’re a bold man to say that of anything stated by Immanuel Kant,” retorted Macalister.
“Why? Reverence for what somebody said is a stultifying quality: there’s a damned sight too much reverence in the world. Kant thought things not because they were true, but because he was Kant.”
“Well, what is your objection to the Categorical Imperative?” (They talked as though the fate of empires were in the balance.)
“It suggests that one can choose one’s course by an effort of will. And it suggests that reason is the surest guide. Why should its dictates be any better than those of passion? They’re different. That’s all.”
“You seem to be a contented slave of your passions.”Of Human Bondage Maugham, Somerset 1915
What did he fear?
The committal of homicide or suicide during sleep by an aberration of the light of reason, the incommensurable categorical intelligence situated in the cerebral convolutions.Ulysses Joyce, James 1920
But in Australia, it seemed to Somers, the distinction was already gone. There was really no class distinction. There was a difference of money and of “smartness.” But nobody felt better than anybody else, or higher; only better-off. And there is all the difference in the world between feeling better than your fellow man, and merely feeling better-off.
Now Somers was English by blood and education, and though he had no antecedents whatsoever, yet he felt himself to be one of the responsible members of society, as contrasted with the innumerable irresponsible members. In old, cultured, ethical England this distinction is radical between the responsible members of society and the irresponsible. It is even a categorical distinction. It is a caste distinction, a distinction in the very being. It is the distinction between the proletariat and the ruling classes.
But in Australia nobody is supposed to rule, and nobody does rule, so the distinction falls to the ground. The proletariat appoints men to administer the law, not to rule. These ministers are not really responsible, any more than the housemaid is responsible. The proletariat is all the time responsible, the only source of authority. The will of the people. The ministers are merest instruments.
Somers for the first time felt himself immersed in real democracy–in spite of all disparity in wealth. The instinct of the place was absolutely and flatly democratic, à terre democratic. Demos was here his own master, undisputed, and therefore quite calm about it. No need to get the wind up at all over it; it was a granted condition of Australia, that Demos was his own master.
And this was what Richard Lovat Somers could not stand. You may be the most liberal Liberal Englishman, and yet you cannot fail to see the categorical difference between the responsible and the irresponsible classes. You cannot fail to admit the necessity for rule. Either you admit yourself an anarchist, or you admit the necessity for rule–in England. The working classes in England feel just the same about it as do the upper classes. Any working man who sincerely feels himself a responsible member of society feels it his duty to exercise authority in some way or other. And the irresponsible working man likes to feel there is a strong boss at the head, if only so that he can grumble at him satisfactorily. Europe is established on the instinct of authority: “Thou shalt.” The only alternative is anarchy.Kangaroo Lawrence, D. H. 1923
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