Friday, October 16, 2009

I Am Darwin Man, Destroyer of Worlds!

Last night while walking the dog and trying to forget about the Dodgers, it occurred to me that if you bother trying to adapt your mind to the latest findings of science, you know in advance that you are building your mind on sand. In short, you know ahead of time that the theory is ultimately wrong (or wrong in the ultimate sense), and will eventually be overturned or transcended. So why go to all of the trouble of adapting one's being to it, as opposed to merely using it as a temporary probe to investigate the material world?

I'm not talking about empirical reality, which is an entirely different matter. No future discovery of science will obviate the need to get out of the way of that hurtling bus. There is no machine that will ever reverse the flow of time, since time is irreversible by ontological necessity.

In contrast to science, if you adapt your mind to religion, you are adapting it to the timeless, the unchanging and the eternally true. Indeed, that is the whole point. I can commune with, say, Denys from the 6th century or Eckhart from the 14th, and both of them speak to me in a way that most 19th century science -- which was the pinnacle of material reductionism and mechanical determinism -- does not. The Ten Commandments still apply over 3000 years later, while countless scientific theories have come and gone.

This is why in my book, I tried to rely more on philosophy of science than science per se -- e.g., people such as Whitehead, Polanyi, and Robert Rosen. Or, if I did rely on more specific findings, I tried to do so in such a way that the overall vision would not stand or fall based upon them.

For example, in my account of human evolution, I endeavored to use the most up-to-date findings, knowing in advance that they were subject to change. One of the most helpful books was Steven Stanley's Children of the Ice Age, which was published just eleven years ago. But now the latest discovery of that old broad in Africa completely overturns Stanley's narrative.

But it really doesn't matter to me, any more than it matters whether human infants spend 9 or 9.5 months in the womb. The main point is that we come out neurologically incomplete, which is the evolutionary prerequisite for the acquisition of humanness. Nor will any finding of science ever alter my view that natural selection alone cannot account for the human station. For if it does, then we really know that everything we believe is wrong, and that there is no reason whatsoever to believe it except for pure pragmatism.

This actually goes back to the previous book we were discussing, Living Constitution, Dying Faith. In it, Watson points out that what we know of today as "progressivism" is grounded in a combination of Darwinism and philosophical pragmatism, which render the whole notion of timeless truth null and void. The elimination of timeless truth is both the origin and goal of progressive thought, just as timeless truth is the origin and goal of our liberal Founders (and which again makes genuine evolution possible).

As mentioned yesterday, we are not in any way trying to be polemical. In fact, Watson cites abundant sources in support of his assertions, and Sowell dispassionately covers some of the same ground in A Conflict of Visions. As Watson explains, "Social Darwinism began to dominate American thinking just as transcendentalism was on the wane" in the late 19th century. And if you want to know what "social Darwinism" is, it is simply Darwinism drawn out to its inevitable ontological, epistemological, and ethical implications. It is Darwinism with no apologies, and no recourse to Judeo-Christian principles and other so-called "eternal truths." Among other things, it is the tyranny of the ephemeral.

For the herd of self-appointed elites of the time, "natural selection was seen as an all-purpose explanatory tool that could put the human sciences, especially politics and jurisprudence, on a parallel track with modern natural science" (Watson).

Thus, with a single stroke, these anti-intellectual mediocrities such as John Dewey and Charles Sanders Pierce were able to elevate themselves above the Founders, and affirm that "there are no fixed or eternal principles that govern, or ought to govern, the politics of a decent regime." Rather, all truth was situated in a strict historicism, meaning that "truth" was simply what was believed to be true at the time, and nothing more. With the passage of time, we'll arrive at better truths, just as natural selection has produced better eyes and more clever apes. But there is no truth that is true for all time -- no annoying natural rights to interfere with the prerogatives of the state.

Again, this view begins and ends in change as opposed to permanence. But anyone who has studied a bit about dissipative structures knows that organisms change in order to remain the same, and remain the same in order to change. Well, forget about that. Under the new Darwinian regime, there is only change. Yes, it's absurd, since change can only occur in relation to the unchanging, but no one ever accused Darwinists of being philosophically coherent.

Armed with this new philosophy of eternal stupidity, the goal "is no longer to search after absolute origins or ends," only the reduction of everything, both subject and object, to ceaseless change. Thus, "in the absence of fixity, morals, politics, and religion are subject to radical renegotiation and transformation."

From this false premise the left pulled off the ultimate fraud, by identifying the liberating belief in absolutes with authoritarianism, and the acceptance of radical relativism with "liberation." Yes, it is a sort of liberation -- into nihilism on the one hand, and the omnipotent state on the other. For if there is nothing but change -- "permanent change" -- this is just another way of saying "absolute relativism" and pure subjectivity, which is a self-refuting metaphysic that elevates Will over Truth. Truth becomes a function of raw power and eventually pure, unredeemed tenure.

Under Darwinism, there can be nothing special about human beings, no vertical intersection with the eternal. Rather, all is horizontal. The ontological divide that separates human and animal is completely effaced, as is the bright line between matter and life. Ultimately this reduces to Atoms in the Void, just as Whitehead said some eighty years ago. Or Adams in the Void, as Petey said just a few seconds ago.

The most dangerous stage in the growth of civilization may well be that in which man has come to regard all these beliefs as superstitions and refuses to accept or submit to anything which he does not rationally understand. The rationalist whose reason is not sufficient to teach him those limitations of the power of conscious reason, and who despises all the institutions and customs which have not been consciously designed, would thus become the destroyer of the civilization built upon them. --Hayek

37 Comments:

Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

Bob, speaking of brain occurring things, you often speak of the purpose of the different hemispheres of the human brain – how they are used together to create that infinitely valuable third translightbulb in-between. Considering that ontological membrane that separates us from the other garden variety mammals (pick one, preferably a non-domesticated one) how does say a dog or a cow employ his two hemispheres? Or why doesn’t he? Of course, biologically they necessarily need them, since they are descendants of us :-) Can’t turn back the clock, as they say. But beyond that…well, my hemispheres are just having a swell time considering why they have them yet, no evolving transcendent, happening-place going on between their hemis. Obviously something is going on between my dog’s hemis, but creative and progressive? I love my dog, this has nothing to do with that. I guess, my question is, if Darwinianism is correct, why are say dogs’ potential so limited (as great as it is, it appears to be capped) but ours appears to not be. I suppose, anything that happens in that space is still infinitely great.

10/16/2009 09:03:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"Thus, with a single stroke, these anti-intellectual mediocrities such as John Dewey and Charles Sanders Pierce were able to elevate themselves above the Founders, and affirm that "there are no fixed or eternal principles that govern, or ought to govern, the politics of a decent regime.""

Damn... that's good to see in print.

Ok, back to reading.

10/16/2009 09:05:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Rick:

Not sure how to answer your question. You might want to describe the problem to your vet -- just tell him your dog is having a philosophical problem.

10/16/2009 09:15:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"Again, this view begins and ends in change as opposed to permanence. "

Change and action, the talismans that leftists use to ward off the frightening necessity of thinking.

"Armed with this new philosophy of eternal stupidity..."

Ha! Oh so literally True!

"From this false premise the left pulled off the ultimate fraud, by identifying the liberating belief in absolutes with authoritarianism, and the acceptance of radical relativism with "liberation." Yes, it is sort of liberation -- into nihilism on the one hand, and the omnipotent state on the other. For if there is nothing but change -- "permanent change" -- this is just another way of saying "absolute relativism" and pure subjectivity, which is a self-refuting metaphysic that elevates Will over Truth. Truth becomes a function of raw power and eventually pure, unredeemed tenure. "

Truthwise, that little paragraph, pound for pound, holds it's own against entire volumes.

10/16/2009 09:17:00 AM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

The vet already doesn't get any of my jokes.
Come on, "Hey it smells like dogs in here." That's a good joke.

10/16/2009 09:26:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Speaking of superstitions, riddle me this B'Atman:

What do the Upanishads and Thunderbird have in common?

I don't know either, but apparently I really need to read the Upanishads. And also apparently, Thunderbird nests in the ground, erupting from the earth when it wants to fly and diving back in to roost. I tried to take pictures, but people kept distracting me. Needless to say, they hadn't seen it.

And if that wasn't random enough, I kind of miss Petey's turn table. Just sayin'.

***

Ricky, Darwinists might argue that dogs only seem limited, but in fact they could be made smarter. Some dogs seem very intelligent, relatively speaking. Of course, the darwinists would miss the fact that it is still and will always be a canine intelligence, not a human one, not to mention that a dog that was significantly changed from what we know of as "dog" would no longer be "dog."

10/16/2009 09:28:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Ricky said "...why are say dogs’ potential so limited (as great as it is, it appears to be capped) but ours appears to not be."

Operationally? I'd speculate that it has to do with "The main point is that we come out neurologically incomplete, which is the evolutionary prerequisite for the acquisition of humanness.", we develop ourselves in virtual RAM, rather than just read from ROM. We come out half-baked, whereas Fido has a full loaf, hot and ready, straight from the oven.

All our big deicisions are undetermined, for humans, natural selection is all about choices.

10/16/2009 09:32:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Julie said "What do the Upanishads and Thunderbird have in common?"

Thunderbird? And Upanishads? Oh... I'd hate to wake up from that One.

;-)

10/16/2009 09:35:00 AM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

I’ll tell you, if my little buddy ever figures out the chow is in the paper bag with the picture of the dog on it, I’m history.

By the way, when I said my hemis are having a swell time on this, I meant I was enjoying it. I’m not conflicted by any means. I don’t know where it’s going yet, buy it’s going.

10/16/2009 09:38:00 AM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

Oops. I spelt "swirl time" rong.

10/16/2009 09:41:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Van - I just clicked the link, lol. I won't be having any of that for about 8 more months...

10/16/2009 09:59:00 AM  
Blogger Northern Bandit said...

Sometimes Bob writes a post that acts as a concise, clear map to a vast unruly landscape. This one just dinged all the little open checkmark boxes for me, one by one.

The coon life is as much practice as it is just downloading "facts" (which goes a long way toward explaining why progressives literally cannot grasp what One Cosmos even is at all). The practice of reading the daily posts -- though we may cover the same ground again and again -- gradually brings us into alignment with Truth.

For all their limitations in a religious sense, the Eastern creeds certainly nailed the concept of practice being central to one's sanity and health. Many Westerners tend to equate this with physical exercise alone, if that.

10/16/2009 10:25:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Julie said "What do the Upanishads and Thunderbird have in common"

Some interesting stuff to be found by googling that question - not much worthwhile - but interesting in themselves for reasons they don't intend. One claims that Mythic images and stories are "... inspired by extraordinary celestial events, observed and chronicled by ancient man the world over."

My guess would be that that is a mind that is ripe for, or over ripened by, the darwinista's. Personally, any answer to the myth of King Arthur, for instance, that led me to discover an old but really sharp sword at the bottom of a lake... would lose value to me, geometrically quick.

A Thunderbird, rising from, bursting out of, the ground... would lead me to thoughts of Ricky's Hemi's and the body which unites the flapping wings, the eyes which direct its flight... and bursting from the earth... I'll leave that to the fertile minds of Mothers to be to ponder upon.

Interesting stuff... as long as it leads further within... interesting stuff that leads to artifacts alone? Yawn.

10/16/2009 10:27:00 AM  
Blogger Warren said...

>> you know ahead of time that the [scientific] theory is ultimately wrong... and will eventually be overturned or transcended

This is exactly what C. S. Lewis meant when he commented that "it is the glory of science to progress". It was kind of a snarky comment, but hardly anyone picked up on it.

This post reminded me of one of the big themes of Feser's "The Last Superstition". Namely, that the modern world believes that the metaphysics of Aristotle and Aquinas are outmoded, having been refuted centuries ago. Actually, the only thing outmoded about Aristotle and Aquinas is their science - their metaphysical arguments are still as solid as ever. As Feser points out, A&A often gave examples to illustrate metaphysical points which drew on outmoded scientific notions of their day - but the same metaphysical points can still be made just as well using examples from modern science.

In short, in their exclusive concentration on scientific developments, moderns in general have become too stupid to even understand what metaphysics is. Which is why you see the pathetic spectacle of people like Dawkins and Dennett constantly making the category error of trying to refute metaphysical arguments by appealing to scientific findings - and what is worse, imagining that they have succeeded brilliantly!

10/16/2009 10:28:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Warren said "As Feser points out, A&A often gave examples to illustrate metaphysical points which drew on outmoded scientific notions of their day - but the same metaphysical points can still be made just as well using examples from modern science."

Yep, good point, same as Gagdad's Ice Age ref... the fingers that point towards the moon, are neither the moon nor the point.

10/16/2009 10:36:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Van's right about the dogs. They are much more hardwired -- though they still have some development after birth, it's a development of inborn traits. A pedigreed fox hound is easy to train to run foxes, slightly more difficult to train after coyotes, very difficult to train to tree coons (don't panic), probably next to impossible to train to herd cows. One of the working shepherd breeds that haven't been ruined by show breeding, on the other hand, is going to herd something given half a chance. Mongrels -- like the dog I currently have -- are less specialized. There's actually a breed called the Mountain Cur that is bred as more of a generalist.

The canine most like us -- in my opinion -- is the coyote. And coyote parents seem to take the pups out and teach them the nuances of hunting.

10/16/2009 11:17:00 AM  
Blogger Northern Bandit said...

Speaking of dogs, a most amazing experiment involved selecting puppies (forget which dog breed) based on their aggressiveness. After about 7-8 generations of this the dogs began to literally change back into coyotes -- their appearance changed dramatically. Some micro-evolutionary voodoo in play there.

10/16/2009 11:49:00 AM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

NB, I believe that experiment was conducted at the Kennedy campus.

jus kidding!

10/16/2009 12:05:00 PM  
Blogger Anna said...

Once I became aware of the historical chain of Darwin, Dewey, and Woodrow Wilson, I stopped seeing relativism as innocent probing and curiosity. When you take it out and pull off the hood, it is so malignant as to lose all sense of philosophical agnosticism. It is a very violent philosophy with violent implications. When people don't take a closer look, these philosophies have a way of influencing them - causing despair, a sense of powerlessness, confusion, cognitive and moral dissonance, etc... Just one closer look would show what a violence they do and one is shocked and appalled. But they (the false philosophies) stay hidden in an the unconscious murk zone like a seething, ambiguous beast trying to appear meek, tucked under a deep hood, receded in the shadows.

10/16/2009 04:14:00 PM  
Blogger Anna said...

The first (cohesive, conscious) tip off was reading Dewey earlier this year (last spring?) while looking into the origins of public education. I remember staring at the computer screen with jaw-drops that would last about ten minutes each. Okay, maybe only four minutes, or something, but quite extended moments. I had found essays by Dewey online. I didn't even begin by looking him up, just the history of public, (tax-supported) education in the US. Then I think came Wilson's contribution.

10/16/2009 04:33:00 PM  
Blogger Anna said...

Aha... It probably started with discussions here at OC (combined with other probings, books on tap at the time, etc...) An article of great initial impact was given in a comment by Van: "Who Killed Excellence" by Samuel L. Blumenfeld in 1985.

http://www.hillsdale.edu/news/imprimis/archive/issue.asp?year=1985&month=09

(I really need to look up how to link properly. I've given myself til Christmas to learn how.)

10/16/2009 05:06:00 PM  
Blogger Anna said...

This is another article percolating at the time that touches on the issue of Dewey's influence. I don't know if it was referenced here or not; I might have found it separately. And I don't have time at the moment to see if it originated in the OC comments to give proper credit... :)

"Textbook America" by Walter Karp

http://www.sourcetext.com/grammarian/textbook2.html

I also don't know upon quick glance if it is gold. I'd have to look at it again... But I do remember it did shed some light on the matter!

10/16/2009 05:14:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Anna, lots of good points & ref's.

And foul as Dewey was (and I certainly don't want to 'take away' from his just condemnation), he was just cashing in on what had been prepared for him. Once Kant laid the intellectual groundwork, the nascent proregressive wrecking crew tore into the Vertical with a vengeance; Hegel made it possible to replace any higher ideals of Right and Wrong with a process for splitting the difference and by raising the State over Man, quantity trumped quality on all fronts.

From a few years ago Spreading the flames, "The center court of philosophy of the early 1800’s had been moved to the German lands, particularly noticeable in the fields of Philosophy, Psychology and Educational theory. How influential was the new German ideas and practices? Guess where the concept of a “Phd.”, and the legendarily difficult process of earning one came from? It originated with educational reformer and linguist Wilhelm von Humboldt who founded, what was originally the University of Berlin, where Hegel also lectured. Interestingly, his linguistic theories are often cited by our old buddy Noam Chomsky, as one of the foundations of his theory of language structure. "

From the same school of thought, came William Wundt, the father of behavioral psychology, who believed education was the result of reactions induced by stimulation, stimulation which had nothing to do with intellectual content, but the stimuli provided by the 'teacher'. Their ideas resulted in the idea that it was utterly unimportant for a teacher to be familiar with the subject they were teaching, they only had to deliver material 'properly' - and that has been the central tenet of teachers colleges. Wundt was also a strong advocate of Gottlieb Fichte, the uber-hegelian popularizer of Hegel (Fichte gave us the 'Thesis, Anti-Thesis, Synthesis' catch phrase for Hegel's methods of splitting the difference between right and wrong). Fichte was the head of psychology at the University of Berlin in 1810, and he felt strongly that "Education should aim at destroying free will so that after pupils are thus schooled they will be incapable ... of thinking or acting otherwise than as their school masters would have wished."

Dr. Sanity had a post on this as well, or as I've ref'd before, Richard Mitchell's "The Graves of Academe", or if you've got a really strong stomach, the "Leipzig Connection" by Paolo Lioni.

Education has always been the central front in the war on America, also the first anyone who thinks politics can overcome what the vast majority of Americans have been 'educated' (indoctrinated) to believe, is dangerously mistaken, and as Jefferson said “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, it expects what never was and never will be”... but if it turns to a form of 'education' that increases their ignorance... they, meaning we, are thoroughly hosed.

10/16/2009 09:15:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Dr. Sanity's article links to a page of horror quotes, such as this,

""Education should aim at destroying free will so that after pupils are thus schooled they will be incapable throughout the rest of their lives of thinking or acting otherwise than as their school masters would have wished ... The social psychologist of the future will have a number of classes of school children on whom they will try different methods of producing an unshakable conviction that snow is black. Various results will soon be arrived at: first, that influences of the home are 'obstructive' and verses set to music and repeatedly intoned are very effective ... It is for the future scientist to make these maxims precise and discover exactly how much it costs per head to make children believe that snow is black. When the technique has been perfected, every government that has been in charge of education for more than one generation will be able to control its subjects securely without the need of armies or policemen."
Bertrand Russell quoting Johann Gottlieb Fichte, the head of philosophy & psychology who influenced Hegel and others – Prussian University in Berlin, 1810
"

Leftist politics are merely convenient after thoughts to proregressive educationalism.

One of the quotes Goldberg made in "Liberal Fascism" that sent the left into a tizzy, was that "The quintessential Liberal Fascist isn't an SS storm trooper; it is a female grade school teacher with an education degree from Brown or Swarthmore.
", but far from being over the top, it was an understatement.

10/16/2009 09:29:00 PM  
Blogger Contra Rebels said...

Anna,
Two other jaw-dropping texts are "The Underground History of American Education" by John Gatto, and "The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America" by Charlotte Iserbyt"

10/17/2009 06:01:00 AM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

Sorry to interrupt the thread, but one more thing about the “separation of the hemispheres”. Could it be (but not only) what was suggested when God separated the upper waters from the lower?

Actually, Bob, you may have suggested this in a previous post if not a number of them. I’m slow and often need to bounce them off my own words for them to sink in and take root..

10/17/2009 07:55:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

That's certainly one way of looking at it, since we would have no access to the upper waters in the absence of a right hemisphere. Bomford touches on this as well in The Symmetry of God, although he tends to commit the fallacy of reducing the reality to the perception of it.

10/17/2009 08:01:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Contra Rebels said "Two other jaw-dropping texts are "The Underground History of American Education" by John Gatto, and "The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America" by Charlotte Iserbyt"

Btw, free online version at Gatto's site, Underground History of American Education, and while I haven't heard of Iserbyt before, her book is also available free online (seems that Mitchell, Gatto, Iserbyt might think there's far more value to be gained from the information being disseminated, than from $ through sales) Deliberate Dumbing Down of America.

10/17/2009 09:02:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Tried to show someone the horror quote link, and it didn't work, here's Dr. Sanity's horror quotes link again.

10/17/2009 10:24:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope you realize that Social Darwinism was a far Right movement that advocated a minimal state, not an expansive or authoritarian state. The free market, from a Social Darwinist perspective, was the playing out of natural differences in fitness, and to interfere with it using welfare, social security, public education or any of those statist things the Left has tended to advocate for, is to simply go against nature by allowing the least fit to breed despite their unfitness.

So, natural selection worked through the free market in human societies, and that was good and fitting, no pun intended.

This is not to say that anybody who supports the free market is a Social Darwinist, of course. But it is to point out the absurdity of labelling an ideology of minimal-to-no statism and a complete end to welfare as Leftist.

Tip of advice: distinguish between the religious Left and the secular Left, and the religious Right and the secular Right.

10/18/2009 11:16:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

There were of course left and right versions of Social Darwinism 100 or more years ago, but only the left wove it onto their ideology in such a way that it is still very much critical to their ambitions today. That is the point of Watson's book. No contemporary conservative would dream of applying Darwinian principles to the Constitution or to truth in general.

10/18/2009 12:11:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

anonymous said "I hope you realize that Social Darwinism was a far Right movement that advocated a minimal state, not an expansive or authoritarian state."

Social Darwinism grew out of Herbert Spencer's philosophy, which brought a final corruption of Liberalism. Spencer was of the scientistic mindset that came from Godwin, Bentham, J.S. Mill, Darwin and the like who were thoroughly on the 'quantity' side of the Quality vs Quantity divide that separated the Classical Liberalism of our Founding Fathers from that which defines the leftist 'liberal' of today.

Spencer was the one who coined the term "Survival of the fittest", but you would be better advised to discard your attempts at defining terms with "religious Left and the secular Left, and the religious Right and the secular Right", and keep it to where there really can be some useful distinctions made, between those adopting some degree of Progressive ideas, and those trying to adhere to classical liberalism.

Neither is easy to give a specific definition for, but the classical liberal sees the world as knowable, and principles of Right and Wrong as being identifiable, and best supported through a politics which defended the root of mans political Rights, Property Rights, and the Individual Rights which rested upon them.

Proregressivism, at root, denies that the world is knowable or that it can be integrated through anything other than social convention. It's hallmark is to propose the division of all into various specialties, and promoting political rule by x-spurts.

Classical Liberals believe in objective laws which uphold principles of political rights which leave the individual free to make the choices which they deem best required in their pursuit of happiness.

Proregressives believe in x-spurts making and enforcing whatever rules seem necessary for littler people to follow, so they'll have to do what they would do, if they were as smart as the x-spurts in charge.

Both outlooks, especially in the 1800's, cut across political parties, religious creed or the lack of them. The first successful breach of the constitution, where it allowed the federal govt to become directly involved in the lives and decisions of the people, came through the efforts of the progressive Republican bigwig, Senator Morrill, and the Morrill Act, earlier vetoed by Democrat President Buchanan, but passed by Republican President Lincoln, as a war measure.

It established federal involvement in land grant colleges, eventually extending federal involvement into the authorizing of college curriculum's, and who could and couldn't be considered legitimate to teach them, by Teacher's colleges, which led to a mandate for reforming and establishing elementary, middle and high schools.

As proregressive ideas were injected into the populace, the rule by experts gained popularity, and the first Progressive President, republican Teddy Roosevelt, was elected. We didn't begin to get the modern Left/Right division, until the backlash against Progressive President, democrat Woodrow Wilson, drove proregressives to escape the lable of 'progressive', and they swiped the label of 'Liberal' and took over the party more friendly to their authoritarian regulatory ideas, the democrats, eventually forcing the actual Liberals to flee into the Republican party, where they've been uneasily living since with traditionalists and conservatives.

10/18/2009 01:49:00 PM  
Blogger Anna said...

Van said...

"Once Kant laid the intellectual groundwork, the nascent proregressive wrecking crew tore into the Vertical with a vengeance; Hegel made it possible to replace any higher ideals of Right and Wrong with a process for splitting the difference and by raising the State over Man, quantity trumped quality on all fronts."

This comment comes at a major gap in time since the post but I've been meaning to get to it and haven't yet...

I guess what ticked me off is that Dewey was an American and Wilson was an American president. Kant conceived this stuff and Hegel took it to bat (and then Marx did his up-side-down, in-side-out thing) but Dewey let the fleas loose all over education. I had a class in the spring of 2002 called German Intellectual History, and indeed we traced the intellectual lineage from Kant to Hitler. The professor that said in his mind he is a Marxist and in his heart a Nietzschean, so you can do some math there! But it was application of these things - systematically - to education that was I was pointing to (in the comments).

From a great distance (or actually close up to it), Relativism stops seeming like an open-ended philosophy with a primrose path. Close up (within its milieu), it seems like generosity (like your truth is just good as mine because there is no actual Truth or Reality), but it actually is extremely dark. To reject that people can know anything at all is highway robbery... a prickly bush, lots of shrapnel. One can see its fruits on large, historical, national, even continental scales but also in small circles, relationships, private dialogues, etc... When people hear that there is no sacred thing (including themselves), it is like sand in the gears, teeny grains splashing throughout and thwarting and stunting decisions and life (with television-hypnosis as a standard, often, filling the operational void.)

10/24/2009 06:35:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

10/25/2009 09:10:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Ooh... sorry... grammar and a comment box don't go to well together for me.

wv:frownise
I see one too

10/25/2009 09:19:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

(a little clean up seemed in order)
Anna said "...Dewey was an American and Wilson was an American president..."

Yes... but don't forget to look at where their 'American' ideas of education came from. Charles W. Eliot, who became the president of Harvard who turned it from its sound classical liberal course onto the progressive footing of a slapdash of offerings and electives, he got his ideas of education from visiting Europe, and primarily from what was being done in Germany.

The center of the intellectual universe, fashion wise, shifted to Germany with Kant, Hegel, Fichte (not to mention Goethe, Shiller, Mozart, Beethoven) etc. Especially in America, it became fashionable for the best and brightest to go to Germany and get a REAL education. They brought back either extreme materialism, or the the idealistic innovations of Kant, which at their core were just a dressing up, or disguising of Hume's skepticism, that we couldn't really know anything at all, and so arbitrary assertions were necessary, especially if you felt passionately about them and clothed them in Idealistic positions. Kant asserted that you couldn't be moral if you had ANYTHING to gain, only if you were doing your duty, and he laid out his 'morality' in his Categorical Imperatives which you were to follow 100%, with or without (preferably without) benefit to you.

Do-gooderism took flight.

And that 100%alism lingers to this day in the left, especially as a way to discredit any opposition "Oh, you weren't perfectly moral every second and action of your life, therefore you are a hypocrite!", for the proregressive, all that has to be said to provide absolution, is 'I did what I did for the benefit of the little people' - that all came through the train of Rousseau, Hume, Kant, Hegel, Godwin & Bentham, and all the elaborations of Marx or J.S. Mill, were merely paint jobs and hood ornaments on the shiny new car of proregressivism - all it really needed then was a better transmission... and the Americans supplied that with Pragmatism.

Americans took in the Rousseauian & German philosophies with a typical 'can do' outlook to it, and said 'heck with this idealistic morality stuff, what we're going to say is that the mark of 'right' and 'wrong', is if it works! If it DOES something! What else matters! I mean if you can't really know anything anyway, the only thing that matters is if something seems to work for the moment... and then when it stops... just switch to doing something else! Action! Action! Action!', which is the essence of the Pragmatism school of Dewey, James, etc.

Btw, the chief founder of Pragmatism, Charles Sanders Peirce, had as one of his professors at Harvard, Charles Elliot. They didn't get along, but I'd say he learned much from him nonetheless.

Progressivism was completed through the unification (got to love good comedy) of Rousseau, Kantian-Hegelianism, Utilitarianism and Pragmatism, which believes that x-spurts should decide for the ignorant masses how they should live every aspect of their lives. Their justification for doing anything they feel they need to do, is in order to make 'progress' - but with nothing whatsoever to progress from or towards, except efficiency; and any action which eliminates the inefficient, like free speech and debate, individual choice, property rights, etc, is to be applauded.

Straight forward Power, shorn of contemplative wisdom. Aka death, which is why it appealed to Europeans like Hitler, who wrote fan letters to American promoters of eugenics; death was proregressivism's most successful product throughout the 20th century. My fear, is that that was just a warm up. And unless all of us who see it's errors, speak up and point them out, I'm afraid we'll find out.

10/25/2009 09:47:00 AM  
Blogger Anna said...

"Yes... but don't forget to look at where their 'American' ideas of education came from."

Most certainly. I was upset that they had the nerve to take that stuff and *apply* it in their own country, on home turf, to education (and society in general.) Americans! As Americans they should be watching the gate - not bringing wolves across the gate into the US. (Ultimately, and on a less specific day, or US-centric day, meaning my mood, I'd be focused on the originators.)

Also, I wasn't saying those ideas are American - they were imported from Europe, from Germany (as you described.) Goldberg's Liberal Fascism discusses a lot of this, though I had encountered it on other occasions previously.

The German Intellectual History class actually did start with Goethe, and then went onto Schiller, before Kant. I've always liked a lot of Goethe though... color theory, some poetry. I'll have to reexamine!

10/26/2009 07:07:00 PM  

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