19 May 2010
The ancient view that saw happiness as the by-product of virtue, and virtue as suspended from the four 'hinges' of courage, temperance, prudence and justice, does not exhaust the precepts of morality. It tells us how we should care for ourselves and for others; but it does not tell us how to care for the world. Discovering the extent of our trespass on the natural order, we have come face to face with categorical imperative to live in another way. The message that Rilke read in the headless, legless torso of an antique statue of Apollo, we read now in every portion of our mutilated earth: you must change your life.
It is appropriate to begin from the feature of wine that has been most absurd: its ability to intoxicate. What exactly is intoxication? Is there a single phenomenon that is denoted by this word? Is the intoxication induced by wine an instance of the same general condition as the intoxication induced by whisky, say or that induced by cannabis? And is 'induced' the right word in any or all of the familiar cases? Why all this fuss about wine? Is there something about wine that removes it altogether from the class of drugs, as Chesterton once suggested, when he wrote that 'the dipsomaniac and the abstainer are not only both mistaken, but they both make the same mistake. They regard wine as a drug and not a drink'? It would be strange if Chesterton, who was right about most things, were wrong about wine.
- Roger Scruton, I Drink Therefore I Am
Find the answers to these and other questions of great importance here.