Our Desire for Innocence

“Reflection requires that the plain opposition of positive and negative be left behind. Thinking is not content with the abstraction of mutual exclusivities, but struggles to conceive of a structured wholeness nuanced enough to contain what appeared to be contradictories.”

– Rowan Williams, quoted in Giles Fraser’s foreword to Andrew Shanks’ Against Innocence

” . . . the sort of peace negotiation suggested by Rose and Shanks has a definite strategy: it attempts to dismantle our desire for innocence.”

Most useful in this context is Fraser’s elucidation of Williams’ definition of innocence as “longing to be utterly sure of our rightness”, which is quite brilliant.

[Gillian] Rose’s work is an encouragement to pay attention to the philosophical condition of human fallenness. Human beings are haunted by complexity, compromised by mixed motives, and debased by threads of complicity with cruelty and untruthfulness. We constantly seek to represent ourselves with various fictions of innocence . . .”

– Giles Fraser’s foreword to Andrew Shanks’ Against Innocence