Do Hermes’ actions defy the sun? They defy only the idea that a herd of animals can stand in for the meaning of the sun.
The loss of some can be compensated by a gain in beauty. A moral orientation toward the sacred is the orientation of testing, within limits, the boundaries of the putatively sacred in order to test the legitimacy of authority and the justice of the community. This higher mischief may go so far as to cause offence and strife, but it refuses to break the fundamental bonds of solidarity by denying moral standing to anyone. The desecrator recognizes the equal standing of others not by sparing them discomfort but by holding them answerable for the commitments of their faith. Thus, responsible sacrilege subjects public claims to scrutiny in the space of reasons, exercising the key civic virtue of holding all authority accountable to reason.