Which would, of course, effectively prevent his writing anything at all except treatises on Dick and Jane primers and shoe-tying. And maybe brie.
I usually ignore him but sometimes his smug plastic complacency when he manages to get through a magazine article or, dawg forbid, a whole book without his head exploding is a little hard to take. He appears to have read two books in the last couple years or so and built his most recent column out of them, proving once again that conservatives can only be conservatives by fighting to maintain their ignorance and then bragging about it.
Think of what happens when you put a new food into your mouth. You don’t have to decide if it’s disgusting. You just know. You don’t have to decide if a landscape is beautiful. You just know.
Moral judgments are like that. They are rapid intuitive decisions and involve the emotion-processing parts of the brain. Most of us make snap moral judgments about what feels fair or not, or what feels good or not. We start doing this when we are babies, before we have language. And even as adults, we often can’t explain to ourselves why something feels wrong.
Of course the entire history, process and meaning of disciplines like theology, psychology, philosophy, ethics, justice, law, et al arose from the long-term human attempt to control those gut reactions and inject fair and humane rules into our dealings with each other precisely because unchecked emotions are destructive. But never mind all that. What's important to Brooks is that the (apparently conservative) writers he's been reading have been finding reasons for not using reason - a standard conservative paradox.
I say "apparently conservative" because two of the quotes seem to be the usual right-wing blather about how reason has no place in conceiving or promoting moral values, that's it's all a matter of what you feel is right. I don't want to assume that either of these books are any such thing on the basis of an analysis by an idiot like Brooks but if they are, it seems there is some sort of movement afoot in right-wing "academic" circles to redefine morality along 15th century lines and justify it with Heritage Foundation-style bogus "studies".
The rise and now dominance of this emotional approach to morality is an epochal change. It challenges all sorts of traditions. It challenges the bookish way philosophy is conceived by most people. It challenges the Talmudic tradition, with its hyper-rational scrutiny of texts. It challenges the new atheists, who see themselves involved in a war of reason against faith and who have an unwarranted faith in the power of pure reason and in the purity of their own reasoning.
Reason? Fuck that. It's too much work and it keeps getting in the way of fun feelings like revenge on our enemies (real or imagined) and hatred for anybody who's different.
Modern movement conservatism relies on raising hackles, getting people emotionally worked up over something they can't prove because no proof exists - what they believe is just plain wrong. They have no arguments justified by evidence or reason, in fact most of the ones they used to use exploded on contact with reality, so the only option they've got left is to convince people to believe what MC's tell them on faith alone - because it feels right. The US must be on the point of fascism because Glenn Beck keeps crying on tv, that sort of horseshit.
I tend to think these writers may be conservatives because in actual fact absolutely NOTHING they're saying is new. The only thing that's new is the bass-ackwards way they (or Brooks) are looking at the evidence we've had for decades and their attempt to suggest that the way we process morality is the way we ought to process morality when the entire history of the species suggests otherwise.
Having destroyed the economy, America's reputation, the Constitution, most of post-Magna Carta law, and the whole concept of a social compact (unless it favors the rich and powerful), they are now prepared to take the bold step of attacking all academic moral thinking after Torquemada. (In a cute bit of neo-Orwellianism, Brooks calls this "evolutionary". Apparently, conservatives believe in evolution after all, it's just that they think it's going backwards.) In fact, they're attacking the idea of "thinking" at all.
At least they're coming into the open about it.