Modern discourse, inner discourse as well as public, is not just hampered but well-nigh crippled by the positive connotations of Big Hoorah Words like education, science, peace, law, democracy, freedom, art, medicine... all the Big things we are supposed to like, to favour, to promote, to support with taxes.
Although this produces cognitive dissonance - mental cramp - when somebody uses the words to support something we don't like; somehow we cannot break free from the grip these words have upon us: we cannot deny them.
But these Big Hooray Words are not virtues; they are specialized social functions, many or most of which have not existed on previous human societies.
The time is long since past that we ought to have broken free from their grip.
Why should these positive connotations be the object of our worship?
Education - just for example: why should we favour this thing?
What does this 'education' actually entail? What stuff is being taught, and by what means? What people are to be educated, and with what end?
Does this person benefit from this information being imparted in this was (compared with other things this person might be doing)?
In any formal sense, education is neither good nor bad because it is a content-free concept; in practice it boils down to the social system labelled as education - in a more- or less-restricted definition.
Science is much the same: what can we do with this idea?
Are you pro- or anti- 'science'? Are you pro- whatever may at some time or another be absorbed into the social system of science - because science now is an utterly different thing than science was 150, 100 or even 50 years ago.
Are you in favour of a social system called 'science' merely because it is the lineal descendent of something that you liked?
Science now is a different size, has different kinds of people, who are differently motivated, and do different kinds of things, which are differently funded, and differently evaluated - the broad sweep and fine grain of science are all different now than a century ago when Einstein was starting work in the patent office in Berne.
And yet we, I, keep getting drawn into thinking about and talking about these vast nebulae of swirling gas!
Somebody, somewhere must be laughing at this!
Discernment. That is what is needed. A concept much used by Fr Seraphim Rose, and applied to the precisely analogous situation of 'christianity' (lower case).
(Are you in favour of christianity? Are you in favour of a nebulous, vague gaseous entity - definitions to be provided later and changed as required by expediency?)
If there is anything we need - in the world as it has becomes and is becoming - it is discernment.
Perhaps the reason why Natural Law has lost its grip, for the first time in human history, is that it is forced to grapple with vague abstractions asif these were reality.
If discernment is applied, and we are specific about concrete, actual people, things, situations - then natural law will return.
The 'gift' of being ruled by generations of intellectuals is now that concrete specific situations are regarded as delusions, and the only reality is fluid abstraction.
We are not supposed to evaluate this person in front of us, doing - or not doing, such-and-such a thing. Because... well I don't know why because...
But we are supposed (as sophisticated moral entities) to evaluate this actual person and their actual action through what purports to be the lens of abstract principle and reason - but which is, or has become, not a lens but a fog.