Friday, 3 May 2013

Kissing Cousins

Getting What We Want

Post-modernism has been called an anti-philosophy.  It asserts there is no truth, only perspectives.  It has lots of "kissing cousins" in the modern world.  Historicism, for example, asserts the same with respect to history: there is no meta-narrative of history--no over-arching, linking story which ties all human experience throughout its collective career into a coherent whole.  There is only what has been; each moment in history has its own meaning and interpretation.

What the Aztecs did with human sacrifice, to take a graphic example, must be studied in its own context in order to understand the perspective in which it occurred.  The context, the perspective, the particular granula warp and woof in which it took place provides its own authenticity and meaning and ethical justification.

Post-modernism is hated by old school Enlightenment rationalists.
  Autonomous human reason was always the great white knight of the Enlightenment and so it produced the era known as Modernism.  Post-modernism has reduced that particular tower to Babelesque rubble.  Post-modernists and rationalists don't get on too well in the university common rooms.

Darwinism and post-modernism is another kissing cousin.  In Darwinism, randomness is the ultimate reality of the universe.  It "drives" it in a particular direction.  Yes, we know that is an oxymoron, but what can you do?  Darwinism uses stochasticity or the random as a warranting concept to explain everything that exists.  But chance, of course, is inexplicable; it has no meaning.  So, the Darwinian dervish of the thousand qualifications begins and continues.  Chance has produced something which is not subject to chance any longer.  It apparently has meaning, truth, objectivity.  It can be studied and known rationally.  It can be described.

All Darwinists use randomness as their warranting concept for (literally) everything.  But, having done that, they all suspend it and qualify it, modifying  it so as to banish it  to the cupboard of dirty linen.  Darwinists tend to get mad when one innocently proposes some extreme outlandish possibility and then asks the Darwinist to explain why, in a random universe, an outlandish possibility could not possibly occur.  Dawinism always collapses in its own vicious paradox: if Darwinism were true it could not be rationally described and explained; if it can be rationally described, studied, and applied, it cannot be true. 

Darwinism and post-modernism are really lovers at first sight.  It's just taken it took a good while of blind internet dating to find each other.  But when post-modernism had its coming out ball in the first half of the twentieth century, Darwinists recognized their one true love.  Here is one account of the lovers' tryst:
If tying Darwinism to postmodernism seems a bit of a stretch, listen to the personal odyssey of the influential postmodernist guru Richard Rorty, now at Stanford University.  In an autobiographical essay, Rorty reveals that he was once attracted to Christianity.  But finding himself "incapable" of "the humility that Christianity demanded," he turned away from God--only to discover that a world without God is a world without aby basis for universal truth or justice.

Rorty then determined to work out a philosophy consistent with Darwinism.  Like Dewey, he accepted the Darwinist notion that ideas are problem-solving tols that evolve as means of adapting to the environment.  "Keeping faith with Darwin," Rorty writes,means understanding that the human species is not oriented "toward Truth," but only "toward its own increased prosperity."  Truth claims are just tools that help us get what we want."  (Which means, of course, that Rorty's own ideas are just tools for getting what he wants--including the idea of postmodernism.  Thus postmodernism refutes itself.) [Chuck Colson and Nancy Pearcey, How Now Shall We Live (Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, 1999), p. 94.]

And, of course, Rorty also condemns Darwinism in the same breath.  Darwinism is likewise an elaborate hoax, willingly subscribed to by the credulous, as a tool to enable man to get what he really, really wants: that is, to be at the centre of his own world, to impart his own meaning onto the world, to reify his own autonomy and central place in the cosmos.  Neither the post-modernist, nor the Darwinist have a logical, rational foundation to their stated positions; both alike are ripped apart by the paradoxes upon which they are built.

Nevertheless but both serve a real purpose--and it is that ultimate goal or purpose which justifies the self-deception.  The real goal is the autonomy of man and his increasing prosperity.  That is worth trading off and ignoring a thousand contradictions and paradoxes.

Behold the edifice of latter-day Western culture. Ain't it grand. 

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