Have you ever wondered why English people have such a sense of superiority? You know the sort of thing.
No matter how many setbacks their sports teams suffer it’s always assumed they’re about to conquer the world.
Those who have to live in other countries are vaguely unfortunate in one sense or another. For instance the poor people who live in ‘Euroland’ have to contend with the terrible euro.
They live “over there” or “out there”. They need David Cameron to help them to understand things.
British forces have to intervene all over the place, like in Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan and Mali to help the poor locals enjoy a better life.
And don’t we know only too well how indebted we are to the British for helping to civilise Ireland?
We might lazily have assumed that the British attitude came from having ‘enjoyed’ a mighty imperial past.
You know Queen Victoria’s great empire on which the sun never set?
People of my age will remember the globes proudly displayed in primary schools with countries all over the world coloured in red to show they were British “possessions”.
As it turns out we’d have been wrong. Fortunately the Daily Telegraph is on hand to tell us how the world works. In that paper Peter Oborne enlightens us.
He says the British are the inheritors of the great philosophical tradition of empiricism. It’s associated with the 18th century philosopher David Hume (1711-1776). It holds that all knowledge must be based on experience.
On the other hand many Europeans have been influenced by lesser philosophers like Hegel, Kant and Plato into believing that ideas matter more than experience. That explains it!
Empiricists believe in rules says Osborne. They value honesty, decency, accuracy and “care for a particular community.” In contrast, the Europeans are much less worried by rule-breaking, especially if it serves the greater good. I think it’s safe to assume that that includes the lawless Irish. Still it’s good that the English are willing to explain things to us.