Tagged: reason

Two Myths of Enlightenment

The Enlightenment has thrived in today’s popular imagination and in the social sciences that are its children (products of the Enlightenment’s attempt to reduce human nature to just another subject of empirical investigation) on the basis of certain myths. As these myths are used to justify so many absurdities today, from our theories of public education to the sheepish surrender of our common...

Reflections on Knowledge

Failed rhetoric.— “Everyone knows that” is merely a rhetorically aggressive way of saying “Everyone believes that” — for there is literally nothing that everyone knows. And nothing could be more certain than this: Anything that “everyone believes” is likely false, since most people are completely ignorant of all but the most quotidian facts. Hence, when a person insists on a point of argument...

Surface and Depth

The great modern error, resulting from the spiritual dialectic of modernity: desire as depth. Thesis: Reason is a calculative response to the imperatives of passion; hence the passions comprise the original “state of nature.” Antithesis: If passion is our original nature, then reason, which dilutes or repurposes passion, is a corruption of nature. Synthesis: Desire is reality; reason is merely the deforming mask...

On the Passions

“Love is blind,” they say. The same, however, might be said just as surely about anger, envy, indignation, and above all, fear. Any passion, if allowed to become dominant in the soul, causes blindness. For by highlighting an object exclusively so as to make it appear overwhelmingly preeminent within its context — which is in effect to remove the object from its proper...

Fear and Shame

How many elderly people will spend the last year of their lives isolated from most of their kin, wishing in futility for one last family holiday gathering that will be denied them by holier-than-thou politicians and self-righteously “compassionate” family members? — all those politicians and family members pretending that they are depriving these old folks of their last moments of earthly joy out...

Reflections: Fear & Silence

It’s a quiet Saturday here in Day Something of the emergency to end all emergencies. I am hiding out in my favorite work space, trying to make the most of the unexpected time afforded by the corona-virus-delayed start of the spring semester. “Never let a crisis go to waste,” as Rahm Emanuel, a Clinton-Obama strategist and thug, famously said. Without further ado, then,...

How to become rational

A student sent me an e-mail yesterday which consisted of one simply-worded, but far from simplistic, question: “How can I be rational?”┬áThe question has perennial importance, of course, and may in a sense be the defining concern of the human soul. However, as the obstacles to living in accordance with reason grow more pervasive and pernicious with each generation, the notion of “being...