My friend, the man who tried to kill Hitler

Raymond Geuss in The New Statesman:

“Who is to blame? Someone must be to blame.” The impulse to ask this question in times of distress is almost overwhelming, and control over the way in which the answer to this question is sought, is power. The proponents of Brexit won the referendum the moment they were able to convince a significant swathe of people that the causes of their genuine grievances were not (as they in fact were) changes in world trade patterns and specific decisions made by parliament, but orders issuing from “Brussels”.

This example shows the close connection between assignment of blame and assessment of causality. But Christianity adds a third component to this complex: “guilt”. “You caused this; I blame you; you should feel guilty.” One might say that just as science governs (or ought to govern) assessments of cause and politics watches over assignments of blame, guilt is the domain of religion. But if religions are as plural as forms of politics, are the congealed forms that guilt assumes equally varied? Might there even be religious traditions lacking a concept of guilt altogether, or which assign a central place to some other psychic configuration?

From the age of 12, I attended a Catholic boarding school run by Hungarian priests who had emigrated to the US after the failed uprising in 1956. My experience there suggests that “guilt” too is more fragile and variable than one might assume.

More here.