Christopher Hitchens makes you smarter

You can agree or disagree with him, love him or hate him, but however you feel about him, there is no denying that Christopher Hitchens is a remarkable intellect. Nearly every time I read something he wrote or hear him speak, I learn something remarkable. Further, no one I have read recently has done more to improve my vocabulary.

Today’s Christopher Hitchens Word of the Day ™ is “casuistry,” which Merriam Webster defines as:

1 : a resolving of specific cases of conscience, duty, or conduct through interpretation of ethical principles or religious doctrine

2 : specious argument : rationalization

Interestingly, Answers.com reverses the order of those definitions, giving precedence to the negative connotation:

1. Specious or excessively subtle reasoning intended to rationalize or mislead.

2. The determination of right and wrong in questions of conduct or conscience by analyzing cases that illustrate general ethical rules.

Hitchens used this word in describing the argument made by some casuists (important to reinforce the new word to make it stick)¬†regarding homosexuals that they “love the sinner but hate the sin.” Hitchens said this during a debate on the Catholic Church; here is part 1 and part 2.

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