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The dogmatism of common sense Politics is a place for ideas, not impulses

Tsarina McVey. (WIktor Szymanowicz/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Tsarina McVey. (WIktor Szymanowicz/NurPhoto via Getty Images)


December 6, 2023   6 mins

So Esther McVey has been made Britain’s Common Sense Tsar. One can imagine the scene around the Cabinet table, as Rishi Sunak calls on various of his ministers to sketch their plans for the future.

First to speak up is the Chancellor, who in a voice trembling with excitement outlines his vision of an economy which has abandoned money altogether and reverted to a form of barter. The Minister for Health follows with an update of her imaginative new scheme to ease staffing problems in the NHS: a limited number of patients will be allowed to carry out minor surgical operations on themselves, starting by extracting their own tonsils and progressing to self-appendectomies. Finally, the Climate Minister announces further details of his campaign to control the emission of methane gases by cattle: all cows will be issued with a neat pair of buttock-hugging Lederhosen, some of them manufactured from the hides of their relatives, which should ensure a dramatic upswing in the planet’s chances of survival.

At a nod from the PM, Esther McVey, dressed in cap and bells like an Elizabethan clown, swoops on these wretched visionaries and belabours them about the head with a pig’s bladder rattling with dried peas, while the rest of the Cabinet thump the table in approval. Common sense has been restored.

The problem, however, is that common sense isn’t just opposed to silly ideas. A lot of it is hostile to ideas as such, which is one reason why there is so much of it around in the philistine British middle class. Unlike the high-rationalist French, idealist Germans and mystical Russians, British culture is suspicious of grand abstractions. In the United States, the word “dream” is central to public discourse and used for the most part positively; over here, dreamers are people who forget to turn the taps off and bring the ceiling down.

If one wanted a figure typical of plain British sense, one could do worse than nominate the great 18th-century writer Samuel Johnson, whose bluff, downright, demystified observations raise common sense almost to an art-form. Asked whether the Giant’s Causeway was worth seeing, Johnson replied: “Worth seeing, sir; not worth going to see.” The dry, downbeat, practical tone of this is the tone of common sense. There are other examples in the literature of the nation. Asked what book he would choose if marooned on a desert island, George Bernard Shaw proposed Practical Hints on Boat Building.

If grand abstractions are to be avoided, it is partly because they are associated with the revolutionary Left. One wonders therefore why God, nation, law and order, all abstract notions beloved of many conservatives, aren’t to be spurned as well. Instead, we’re told that people who trade in ideas lack feeling, as well as being eccentric, unsociable and in sore need of a haircut. They are rootless, robotic creatures who cut you off from nation, family, lineage and locality, whereas what matters for the conservative is sentiment, piety, faith and intuition. The Left has concepts, while conservatives have customs.

We can’t dispense with thought, to be sure, but it should cling as closely as possible to the texture of actual experience. This is what the British know as empiricism. Ideas which come loose from the senses can be lethal. The word “sense” means “meaning”, but also bodily sensation like touching or hearing; and behind the notion of common sense lurks the wish that meaning should be as palpable and immediate as the feel of a rose leaf or the aroma of coffee. What’s true on this model is what we all recognise instantly as true, without any possibility of dissent.

Making meaning palpable is what happens in poetry. Poetry is concerned not just with meanings or ideas, but with what they feel like. Its aim is to translate them into the language of the body. There can be problems, however, when you think of everyday language in this way. If the right to private property is as obvious as the feel of a rose leaf, how come there have been whole societies which have no such concept? If my conviction that I am a divine being is as self-evident as the smell of coffee, how can anyone ever break the appalling news to me that I’m merely human? Common sense can be unnervingly close to dogmatism. Sentiments and customs sound more congenial than abstract ideas, but you can argue over ideas, whereas “I just feel it”, “Everyone knows that!” or “This is just what we always do” can be ways of closing argument down.

Most of our convictions aren’t as unquestionable as the smell of coffee. Roman Catholics believe that the Virgin Mary was taken up body and soul into heaven, a doctrine appropriately known as the Assumption — but only a seriously weird minority of them think it is obvious that she was. Catholics tend not to fall around in astonishment when they are asked why they believe this, as though it was as plain as the nose on your face. Likewise, people who are devoted to the idea of monarchy are usually well aware that there are a lot of societies which don’t have a monarch, but which don’t fall apart on that account.

The idea of common sense first emerged when people began to worry that we had too little in common to maintain political unity. It is, in other words, a concept typical of a fragmented modern age. The more liberal individualism flourishes, the more you must look to some deep communal framework which regulates our otherwise anarchic actions. The problem with appealing to common sense here is that you need something rather more substantial for unity than the universal belief that putting your finger in the fire isn’t the wisest thing to do. But the more substantial beliefs get, the less everyone spontaneously shares them. One way you can think of political unity is temporal: we should think and act as our ancestors did.

The name for this is tradition. What counts in the end isn’t so much what I think and do, as the liberal tends to maintain, as what others have thought and done before me. How could my own tuppence ha’penny-worth of insight possibly outweigh those vast resources of communal wisdom? What a great many people have collectively maintained over the centuries may turn out to be untrue, but it’s unlikely to be pure stupidity either. There is usually a kernel of insight to be extracted from it. If people once thought that the sun moves round the earth, they did so for respectable reasons. Nobody thought that the sun was just a smear on the eyeball caused by chewing too many betel nuts. Jesus presumably thought that the world was flat. Given his historical context, it would be astonishing if he had believed anything else.

The trouble with tradition, however, is that our forefathers did a number of different things, many of them deeply unpleasant. If they produced some splendid epic poetry, they also burnt witches and deported trade unionists. Some of this behaviour they even saw as plain common sense, which suggests that common sense isn’t as common as it thinks it is. What was self-evident to them isn’t self-evident to us. What was common sense in 9th-century Byzantium?

In his study The Tacit Dimension, Michael Polanyi argues that we know more than we can tell. Much of our knowledge is tacit rather than theoretical. It is know-how rather than know-that, and there are kinds of know-how which can’t be explicitly formulated. The way in which we know our own bodies is nothing like the way physiologists talk about them. You can know how to whistle the National Anthem, but you couldn’t teach someone else how to do so because you can’t articulate it to yourself. You can sense that someone is fearful or mortified but find it impossible to spell out why you can be sure of this. This tacit awareness of each other underlies all of our activity and relationships, and someone who didn’t have it would strike us as an alien who had gleaned his knowledge of human affairs from manuals and textbooks. He would be like someone who spoke English perfectly well, but entirely without tone.

A lot of common sense has this tacit, intuitive dimension. It would be too laborious to keep spelling out the axioms and assumptions which underpin our behaviour, so we have to take a whole number of them for granted. The trouble begins when we take for granted what’s thoroughly questionable — when it becomes common sense to believe that Tom Cruise is exemplary of modern manhood, or that the West needs a foothold in the Middle East known as Israel. This is why we can’t live by common sense alone. We also need ways of speaking which subject it to criticism. Having a Tsar for Common Sense assumes that our politicians are fantasists in the grip of grandiose visions which need to be deflated. Since they’re much more drably prosaic than that, the appointment doesn’t make much sense.


Terry Eagleton is a critic, literary theorist, and UnHerd columnist.


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Malcolm Webb
Malcolm Webb
7 months ago

A sad demonstration of a lack of common sense on my part. Common sense, coupled with past experience, should have prevented me from wasting my time in reading another essay by Mr Eagleton. Regrettably it didn’t and so I was treated to another serving of nonsense. But I will be wiser next time.

Bret Larson
Bret Larson
7 months ago
Reply to  Malcolm Webb

I think he’s just trying to identify the useful idiots to better target his schemes.

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
7 months ago
Reply to  Malcolm Webb

I’m not convinced this is fair and I like moaning about lefies as much as the next man.

Someone described common sense to me once as “whatever seems obvious to me at the moment” and I think there is some value in that. Yes, I know, we’re living through a time when mad ideas are calmly accepted by our betters (men can be women, the world will end in a decade, all white people are racist). These ideas delivered in an almost scientific manner (even though they’re daft) so it takes a bit of effort to counter them.

Gut instincts, common sense have their place alongside rationality but we have problems when one or the other becomes dominant.

Chipoko
Chipoko
7 months ago
Reply to  Malcolm Webb
Kathleen Burnett
Kathleen Burnett
7 months ago

Standard Eagleton fare. ‘Common sense’ derives from tradition (prejudices collected over centuries), and hence is ‘conservative’ and hence ‘bad’. Taking refuge in the notion of tacitness (with its hint of pre-scientific ‘the world works in mysterious ways’), is pretty weak, even for an unreconstructed 20th century lefty-dinosaur like Eagleton. He still has to bridge the gap between what he would like humans to be, and what humans actually are.

Pat Davers
Pat Davers
7 months ago

In his defence, I don’t think Eagleton is dismissing tradition out of hand. On the contrary, he come across as quite sympathetic towards it, and recognizes its importance in human affairs. Where he draws the line, it would seem, is that tradition is _necessarily_ good, and that received wisdom and prejudice do need to be examined, from time to time as circumstances change. Even Edmund Burke conceded as much, if I recall correctly.
Yes he may be a cantankerous old commie, but he does write in a funny, thought-provoking way and I’m almost prepared to forgive him for that. Only almost though.

Kathleen Burnett
Kathleen Burnett
7 months ago
Reply to  Pat Davers

Your drawing of him as ‘old socialist’ is probably accurate; back then there was a strong sense of community and a common sense attitude to life. But now there are the new luxury ‘socialists’; and they don’t have Eagleton’s little funny bits. I wonder where Eagleton would place himself between those two poles.

mike otter
mike otter
7 months ago

Very true – note Eagleton avoids talk of any theory of knoweldge that might give “common” sense a value. Ontological or empirical knowledge may have merits similar to traditional academic logic and reason and no one method can remain supreme as our paradigms are refuted and replaced over time. Consider his words about Russians, Germans and French then substitute these groups for “Gingers”, “Jews” and “Blacks” and you can see the paucity of his thought. He seems to lack sense – common or otherwise….

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
7 months ago

Britain’s (or maybe England’s) dogged attachment to the kind of “come off it!” common sense that Kate Fox wrote about in “Watching the English” and the tendency to scoff at big ideas (which Eagleton refers to here as “philistine”) is the reason why it’s never fallen to totalitarianism.
German idealism might have its merits. And in my experience, the Germans are far more given to thinking deeply and thoroughly, while the British like to “just get on with it” and DO stuff. However, the 20th century showed them (and us) how dangerous big ideas can be.
In the vast area beneath the kind of societal cataclysm that Nazism brought – both ways of being have things to commend them and both have drawbacks.
When, like 21st century Britain, you need huge state reform – people with big ideas should be welcomed. But they need to be the kind of rare creature who is clever, but also charismatic and clubbable enough to be able to get people on their side. The kind that can think in great abstract arcs, but bring their ideas “down to earth” by communicating them in earthly, common sense terms.
Good luck with finding that person.

Last edited 7 months ago by Katharine Eyre
Kathleen Burnett
Kathleen Burnett
7 months ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

Indeed; why would such a person step into the current political arena given the attitude of the Media and the Civil Service. Little wonder we have the present load of dross.

Last edited 7 months ago by Kathleen Burnett
Simon Neale
Simon Neale
7 months ago

Unlike the high-rationalist French, idealist Germans and mystical Russians, British culture is suspicious of grand abstractions.

Perhaps that’s because the grand abstractions have not turned out all that well. Genocide, expansionist invasion of sovereign countries, economic experiments that enslaved and decimated populations. And now allowing the Third World to come and live in a welfare state.
Yes, Terry old chap, we really are a nation of dullards and we must try harder to obey your rules.

Matt Hindman
Matt Hindman
7 months ago

As an American I have to ask, is Eagleton taking the piss here or did someone really do something as mind bogglingly stupid as creating a “common sense” cabinet position? Things have become so stupid now that the line between parody and reality is getting hard to tell at times.

Right-Wing Hippie
Right-Wing Hippie
7 months ago
Reply to  Matt Hindman

Not too long ago several cabinets had “blue sky” advisors, encouraged to present ideas to the government which may or may not have had any inherent practicality. I imagine they eventually realized that position was redundant, and brought in the common sense tsar to give true balance.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
7 months ago

Politicians love to have grand ideas that they may be remembered for – and they frequently brook no common-sense intervention. Vital to have a non-toady around.

Simon Neale
Simon Neale
7 months ago

This bit gets more chilling with re-reading:

The trouble begins when we take for granted what’s thoroughly questionable — when it becomes common sense to believe that Tom Cruise is exemplary of modern manhood, or that the West needs a foothold in the Middle East known as Israel.

Far better, I guess, to allow the Jews living there to be murdered or displaced (they all belong in Manhattan anyway, right?) and to have a swathe of vying Islamic states stretching across Asia and Africa.
Looking at the first few paragraphs of this article with its sixth-form levels of humour, it’s easy to dismiss or mock poor old Terry as a daffy old academic Marxist who has lost the plot. But dig deeper, and there’s some really nasty stuff.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
7 months ago
Reply to  Simon Neale

I’ve refrained from commenting on this article until now, but you’ve written what i would’ve anyway, so thanks.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
7 months ago

The use of empowered “red hat” team members is a vital tool in all types of successful commercial and political environments. It’s a smart move to start to establish this kind of activity at the cabinet level to reduce the amount of dreadful legislation/policy being created on the hoof.
For example, I suspect the awful 2050 Net Zero initiative (from the awful Theresa May) would have been strangled at birth.
Any late maturation in this way of thinking has come way too late to save the Conservatives.

Last edited 7 months ago by Ian Barton
Addie Shog
Addie Shog
7 months ago

Snide shoehorning of Israel into a subject that has nothing to do with it.

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
7 months ago

One death is a tragedy, a million is a statistic. People rooted in ideas can think like that. People rooted in community tend not to.

Susan Grabston
Susan Grabston
7 months ago

Given the paucity of ideas in politics right now, I’ll settle for common sense.

Russell Sharpe
Russell Sharpe
7 months ago

“One wonders therefore why God, nation, law and order, all abstract notions beloved of many conservatives….”
I leave others to speak up for God and nation, but “law and order” – an abstract notion beloved of many conservatives? Maybe Mr Eagleton should spend some time in, say, Somalia to de-abstractify his understanding of what law and order – and the lack of it – actually entails, not just to ‘conservatives’, but to everyone.

Last edited 7 months ago by Russell Sharpe
Right-Wing Hippie
Right-Wing Hippie
7 months ago

Having a Tsar for Common Sense assumes that our politicians are fantasists in the grip of grandiose visions which need to be deflated.
That’s not an assumption, it’s just common sense.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
7 months ago

I think what we need is a Tsar Tsar or should that be Zar Zar

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
7 months ago

Well, for at least the past thirty years we’ve been governed from Oxford University and it hasn’t been a resounding success, has it Mr Eagleton? So perhaps your snottiness about the notion that maybe someone else could have a go is a little inappropriate?

Caradog Wiliams
Caradog Wiliams
7 months ago

Common sense can’t win any battles because it is an age thing. Try telling any 18-year-old that something is coomon sense. Awful, stupid article.

Bernard Hill
Bernard Hill
7 months ago

In this age where chaos is ascendent, having a beacon of commonsense has merit. But appointing a female to the role is contradictory.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
7 months ago
Reply to  Bernard Hill

I tend to agree with you. I’ve noticed, even among highly intelligent and capable women, a tendency to go-along to get-along. Many such women are in charge of public institutions or enjoy positions of power in corporations and governments. As such they create policy that is supposedly inclusive (read popular) in order to appear kind and benevolent, no matter how silly or retrograde it is. There are of course women who buck this trend, but they are quickly ousted or publicly pilloried. I ultimately believe that the ascendancy of women within the spheres of work and politics has derailed the West, and completely demoralized and alienated young men.
https://www.wolfsheadonline.com/young-western-men-are-being-destroyed/

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
7 months ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

I completely agree with you.

Pat Davers
Pat Davers
7 months ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows
Last edited 7 months ago by Pat Davers
Bernard Hill
Bernard Hill
7 months ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

…very brave of you to speak your mind Julian. Consensus building is a valuable feminine trait, as is risk avoidance. But human consensus descends into catastrophic groupthink, when it is settles on maximum risk avoidance, and a focus on the particular at the expense of the at large. And as your comment implies this has become the default modus operandi across the public and private sectors, at least in the West. China of course, experienced the awful consequences of Yin ascendency let loose by the communist revolution in the 1960’s.

Bret Larson
Bret Larson
7 months ago
Reply to  Bernard Hill

I think women can be more attuned to common sense than men.

Their clock ticks faster and longer.

Course then you have my grand mother telling me “just vote for the ones that will give you the most”. As a young man I was quite perplexed with her comment. Around 35 I figured it out though. Good governance provides security and opportunity and hard work doesn’t care about your skin colour. So that’s what gives everybody the most.

It was a great piece of common sense.

Last edited 7 months ago by Bret Larson
jane baker
jane baker
7 months ago
Reply to  Bret Larson

I’m very impressed by your Grandma. That’s what I do. I now realize. Until I read those words I hadn’t analysed it. I’ve NEVER voted Tory in my life but thats not really because I care about social justice. I don’t. In my partial circumstance my voting choice best protects MY interests.

Bret Larson
Bret Larson
7 months ago
Reply to  jane baker

A high tide floats all boats.
I was unhappy with all parties, so I got involved. At least now they have to listen to me whine and snivel.

Last edited 7 months ago by Bret Larson
Richard Craven
Richard Craven
7 months ago

“The problem, however, is that common sense isn’t just opposed to silly ideas. A lot of it is hostile to ideas as such, which is one reason why there is so much of it around in the philistine British middle class. Unlike the high-rationalist French, idealist Germans and mystical Russians, British culture is suspicious of grand abstractions. In the United States, the word “dream” is central to public discourse and used for the most part positively; over here, dreamers are people who forget to turn the taps off and bring the ceiling down.”
When, Terry, you people come up with an idea or dream which doesn’t end up inflicting terror, torture, famine and mass murder on the huddled masses, do let us know!

Bret Larson
Bret Larson
7 months ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

It may not be good for people now. But in a hundred years their children’s children will be better off. (We are still waiting)

R S Foster
R S Foster
7 months ago

…when I read the sentence “…what’s thoroughly questionable…(is)…that the West needs a foothold in the Middle East known as “Israel”…” – bearing in mind that the purpose of that State, by international agreement, was to provide the one place in the World where Jews had an absolute right to be, and to live in peace…
…and that although it shares many values ascribed to “The West”, many of it’s people are not now nor have ever been in any sense “of the West”…having been driven out of Muslim states by the modern equivalent of “fire and sword” in the years after it was founded…but having then taken on values that the UN mostly assert to be “universal”…
…I’m afraid my “Common Sense” leads me to assume, at best, that the writer is so unthinking in his belief that “Anti-Imperialism” is the seat of all meaning and virtue, that he is no longer applying either common sense, or even rational reasoning in his pronouncements…
…and if I make the leap beyond my commonsensical approach, I’m afraid the term I would use to describe his position would be rather different…
…but I will leave the reader to make their own leap as to what that word might be…

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
7 months ago

I thought the author was going to mock the fact that Britain actually has a commonsense tsar, something worthy of a satirical essay. Afterall, if common sense is in such short supply that does deserve some serious barbs. Gotta say I was a little disappointed.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
7 months ago

Engineers learn from experience. It was the freedom which Britain enjoyed which enabled craftsmen and farmers to create the Agricultural and Industrial Revolutions. J Brownowski of the Ascent of Man said the IR was Britain’s Enlightenment was the Industrial Revolution.For exmple Watt’s steam engine was an improvement of Newcomen’s and G Stephenson used the already existing rails for his steam locomotive.
Common sense is nothing more than learning from experience. As Orwell pointed out, left wing middle class intellectuals are divorced from physical reality and do not know fire burns.

Mark Kennedy
Mark Kennedy
7 months ago

The headline suggests we’re about to find out what’s wrong with common sense. Instead, we’re treated to a rant on the evils of philistinism, dogmatism, hostility to abstraction, empirically-rooted caution, over-veneration of customs and tradition, insufficient awareness that common sense might not be universal, over-valuing some modes of cognition while neglecting others, and other unrelated failures of the intellect and imagination. Oh, well. When you can’t find any real fault with what you’re supposedly criticizing, change the subject and attack some contextual straw men instead, while pretending you’re still on topic. Common sense has traditionally awarded poor grades to student essays guilty of such transparent logical equivocation. For the sake of the country, may this particular tradition continue to survive awhile longer.

[Edited to add:] If the article’s author wishes to improve his grade by submitting a new paper, including in it a research-backed demo that the commonsensical are more prone to philistinism, dogmatism and confirmation bias than are (for some strange reason that would certainly require explanation) dreamers, German idealists, or those who favour grand abstractions would give him an excellent start on the road to improvement. But no one is going to accept his initial implied assumption that terms and phrases like ‘dogmatic’ and ‘hostile to ideas’ can be substituted for ‘common sense’ in a proposition without changing the proposition’s meaning. To the extent that he persists, ‘dogmatically,’ in committing the fallacy of logical equivocation, the author will not rise to the basic reasoning level attained by his more scrupulously commonsensical classmates, never mind vault past them to the icy heights of grand synthesis and metaphysical speculation.

True common sense acknowledges the need for inspired hunches and flights of imagination, just as competent grand synthesizers acknowledge the need to have all nuts and bolts in the right place to avoid talking nonsense.

Last edited 7 months ago by Mark Kennedy
Sam Brown
Sam Brown
7 months ago

Each of Terry Eagleton’s articles should be pretexted by the following statement in order to save the prospective reader the waste and pain of setting out on their intended course: “Terry Eagleton’s contribution to Marxist cultural theory is broad in its range. While his earlier writing examined in some depth certain Marxist categories of literary-cultural analysis, his later, more popularizing, work has argued persuasively the need for theory. Eagleton has revaluated the English literary-critical tradition, redefined the critic’s function, and reappraised specific authors from his historical materialistic perspective. These are substantive aspects of the general task of a Marxist critic”

Saul D
Saul D
7 months ago

The USA has foundations in Common Sense (Thomas Paine 1776). Sometimes it needs revisiting…

Simon Neale
Simon Neale
7 months ago

Duplicate post deleted

Last edited 7 months ago by Simon Neale
Benedict Waterson
Benedict Waterson
7 months ago

Unfortunately someone as out of touch as Eagleton cannot do satire, and shouldn’t attempt it. Very cringe-worthy.
Thanks again, Eagleton.

Deb Grant
Deb Grant
7 months ago

I think that as this article got written and published, we do need a bit more grounded common sense.

Mark Kennedy
Mark Kennedy
7 months ago
Reply to  Deb Grant

I think we can safely surmise it’s Don Lightweight who’s running around dealing out down votes to anyone who doesn’t see things his way. 😉

Don Lightband
Don Lightband
7 months ago

I for one appreciated this essay very much! The notion of “common sense” normally gets away with conceptual murder, and i must thank Mr Eagleton for sending in the probe here!

The fact that the Unherd will now gather around and make so many disdaiinful ‘superior-sounding’ moos, would be hilarious if it wasn’t so disappointing..

Mark Kennedy
Mark Kennedy
7 months ago
Reply to  Don Lightband

(?) This comment is incoherent. No one concerned about “conceptual murder” would “appreciate” the scourge of logical equivocation.

Jane Davis
Jane Davis
7 months ago

Missing from Eagleton’s quite interesting piece is the choice of ‘Tsar’. McVey is a grotesque sociopath who spent her time at the DWP bulling the disabled and chronically sick. For this, among her other charming traits, she was unceremoniously dumped by the ordinary, common sense people of her original Liverpool constituency and given a seat so safe that a stuffed monkey with a Tory lapel could win it.

Spencer Dugdale
Spencer Dugdale
7 months ago

Eagleton is an undermine everything academic.

jane baker
jane baker
7 months ago

Just one sentence in this struck me as supreme irony. Talk about running up the beach to avoid having the advancing SEA (of FAITH) soak your feet. I’ve heard Mr Eagleton on radio discussions about Faith,on the BBC,on Unbelievable,etc. He is,or was,one of those secular humanists who,being clever,could easily demolish the person of faith he was pitted against and his main point was always – we don’t need anything outside ourself,we can find supreme transcendency in music,art,even religious art,in nature,in landscapes,in beauty. Just because you know there isn’t anything further beyond the material world,ie what you can see and feel and touch doesn’t mean you can’t feel your spirit soar at wonderful things. He was always definitely in favour of common sense until the Tories (who I’ve never voted for).espoused it. Now Mr Eagleton has wised up to the danger of thinking “there is no more than this”,the danger being that,if there is no more than this then whoever has political control of “this” owns you body and soul. In just one sentence in this piece Mr Eagleton says you have to believe in something out there beyond comprehension,Good Lord,he’s discovered God even if he hasn’t Got Jesus. The Turncoat. He’s seen the shipwreck approaching and he’s doing what rats do. But then,he’s clever. He could become a celebrity.vicar who never mentions Jesus like the smiley vicar of Dibley blonde one,the Doctor Who lookalike one,or the ex 80s pop star one.