The Moral Idea That Influenced Everything

Thursday, July 26, 2012

R. Jay Magill, Jr., host for NPR Worldwide's Berlin Journal in Germany and the author of Sincerity, discusses the single ideal that pervades history, religion, art and politics and has inspired everything from religious wars to "hipster chic."


R. Jay Magill, Jr.

Comments [14]

kevin from upper LS

sounds like a good book to me. i sincerely think, that those who don't want to look into it,have their own "sincere" political bias.

Jul. 27 2012 10:33 AM

Ha. The author just made the case that we should not care about his book. Sorry -- but he set himself up for it.

Jul. 26 2012 11:58 AM
Orla from NYC

That Americans are "obsessed with sincerity" surprises me, as the perception--in Europe, at least--is that Americans are phoney.
But the anonymous quote sums up the global situation:
"A hypocrite is...
but, then again, who isn't?"

Jul. 26 2012 11:57 AM


Is an addict who really wants to quit, but routinely fails, sincere or hypocritical?

Jul. 26 2012 11:56 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

Art is just entertainment, and has been since the cave painters. But it can set you thinking about how lousy reality can be.

Jul. 26 2012 11:56 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

Germans are sincerely for Germans and Germany. Not particularly so for others, unless shamed into it.

Jul. 26 2012 11:52 AM
Amy from Manhattan

Isn't hypocrisy the opposite of sincerity?

Jul. 26 2012 11:52 AM
Kevin from Mamaroneck

Please make the distinction between authenticity and sincerity, as Lionel Trilling does. This is very important.

Jul. 26 2012 11:48 AM

I never heard of a more sincere person than George W. Bush.

He said what he was going to do, then he did it.

For some people, it seemed, that alone was enough to get their vote.

Jul. 26 2012 11:05 AM
John A.

Will listen intently, but there is this:
People who are genuinely self obsessed are indeed sincere.

Jul. 26 2012 10:53 AM
gary from queens

I will mention a problem with sincerity I experience with liberals. They don't find me sincere because I'm conservative.

I favor supply side economics so I must be rich or I'm insensitive to the poor. (But I am poor!)

I favor an end to racial preferences so I must be racist.

I favor a consumer driven healthcare system, instead of the nanny state Obamacare, so I must be insensitive to the sick.

I favor a strong defense so I must be an imperialist.

I listen to the aims of Islamists in their own words, and warn against them, and so I must be "Islamophobic."

Liberals have a label for everything. What they don't have is an intellectually honest rebuttal.

One issue most emblematic is Islamic Jihad. It's an issue of national security that should never have become politicized.

At the same time, it's an issue in which one side of the partisan divide refuses to accept the sincerity of the other.

Part of that distrust, in my opinion, is based on a caricature liberals have of "national security" conservatives, plus a willful ignorance of Islam.

Another part has to do with their own precepts being challenged, and they may not be cognizant of it.

HOW? We happen to be confronted with an existential enemy, because the enemy's values are:

(a) inseparably linked to its religion and culture (as opposed to conventional state interests)

(b) and said values are totally in conflict with our ideals and culture.

The reason liberlas are put off by the above facts is because modern liberalism teaches that all cultures are of equal worth. It's a subset of multiculturalism and identity politics----in which people's worth are measured by their ethnic origins. Contrary to ML King's preference for one's individual character.

That explains (a). the reason (b) puts them off is because most liberals are anti war. Not anti war against enemies. just anti war period.

But because of recent events, they have an opportunity to at least gain a correct understanding of the concerns that some have with Islam, Islamists and Islamism.

And to learn it from Andrew McCarthy, former US Attorney and someone who has taken a serious study of this for over 20 years.

But Republicans too are before a crossroads too. They must choose between two substantially different Republican officeholders:

The Islamist hawks, who are mostly among the less interventionistic paleo-conservatives. And the more dovish ones (mostly neoconservatives), who seem more aligned with Democrat on the left.

Personally, I regret that this issue has been tainted by politics. it's not helpful. I recommend the following which elaborates further:


Jul. 26 2012 10:24 AM
Jeff Pappas from Dumbo

We need to look Way outside the box that we call our Constitution. A Constitutional Convention and re writing has to occur. Politicians by their very nature Can Not be Sincere! A Government For , Of and by the People is Paramount.

5 year term limits on Congress , Senate and the President ( say a total of 15 years combined, with 5 of those only if you become President ) That would totally remove the waste of time on pandering to get re- elected. Focusing on solving problems instead of the Crap that goes on now in DC. This would creat Citizen involvment in our Government and stop the Professional Mud slingling self centered and corrupt Dudes from Killing out Nation. Out law Lobbists totally.

Truth and Facts are to be held Supreme in Campaign adds and Especially in Debate. Lets have the same debate rules as an 8 th grade debate team; Stay on topic and speak of facts and answer the question ! No Fillibuster when in office.

Hypocrisy , Advertising and Torquing/ Spinning the statsistics , facts and promises to SELL Yourself / Your product to the American People is ruining our Democracy.

SOS Help !

Jul. 26 2012 09:49 AM
Ed from Larchmont

Perhaps if one has integrity, one is not capable of being insincere. And perhaps it's integrity that people are looking for?

Jul. 26 2012 06:05 AM
Ed from Larchmont

Please compare the idea of sincerity and integrity. I understand the question in Plato's Republic, What is Justice?, can be translated 'What is integrity.

Jul. 26 2012 06:03 AM

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