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Somehow people relentlessly reject "much better ideas": Enlightenment was met with various forms of Counter-Enlightenment; American rational open-mindedness is regularly followed by religious Great Awakenings and anti-intellectualism. Further back, Christianity prevailed in the declining Roman Empire as an anti-intellectual opposition to the Greek classics; and most dramatically, Islamic Golden age ended with a decisive victory of anti-intellectual Asharites.

I see two reasons for that. For one, Reason proved to be an awkward, stilted leader of human tribes. It had its best time in the 20th century, when progress was obvious and engaging. Somehow it was not rewarded gratefully, and its appreciation decreases further. Even in Ancient Greece, where gods and heroes had vulnerabilities and vices (which helped to define philosophy as critical inquiry), common Athenians looked at philosophers dismissively. It is hard to be a congruent leader by self-defeatingly questioning any authority. Can this classical philosophy take a critical view at its critical method? Perhaps reverence to authority in ancient Persian, Indian, Confusian doctrines was not a disqualifying error, after all.

Secondly, Reason effectively assumes utility of all choices known, or that "unknown unknowns" would not change epistemology and ethics. That is a haughty stance. Notice how anti-intellectual currents gain strength "just before" major social-political transformations. It is plausible that Reason knows (and will ever know) much less about dialectical resolutions of Chaos into Order than its opposition. Major upheavals (including the coming climate change, presumably ) are survived not by any Bayesian knowledge but by faith that is already present in communal joints, bones and genes.

Peterson apparently communicates in this venue, for better or worse.

by das monde on Sat Nov 17th, 2018 at 01:46:13 PM EST
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