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The New Criterion

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The Media

November 2012

Get real

by James Bowman

On the nature of "reality" in the political arena.

A couple of years ago, I bought a Dell computer. Almost every day since then, I have received one or more spam emails from Dell offering to sell me something else. As I write, the latest one is titled: “We have unreal deals. You only have three business days.” Why should Dell think I would be interested in an unreal deal? There used to be a saying that somebody or something was “the real deal.” Now should we say instead “the unreal deal”? And if, as I suspect, “unreal” is just an ironic superlative—so good that it seems unreal, or too good to be true—what then becomes of St. Anselm’s Ontological Proof of the existence of God, which holds that no Being with the attributes of God could exist without also having the attribute of reality? Maybe, on the contrary, God is all the more perfect for not being real, or not seeming so. But then it wasn’t long ago that a learned man told me Ans ...

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James Bowman is the author of Honor: A History (Encounter Books).


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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 31 November 2012, on page 60

Copyright © 2014 The New Criterion | www.newcriterion.com

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