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The Restless Heart of Darkness –(a philosopher speaks)

13 May 2014, 09:06

John C Wright wears many hats, a practising philosopher, retired attorney and newspaper editor, in addition to being an acclaimed science fiction author, but his insights on contemporary society are likely to strike a chord. 

I will highlight some nuggets from his four-part collection of essays by the title of the above caption.  

He is not an admirer of current mainstream modern thought as he refers to it, labelling it desperate, illogical and pointless in nature.   

  1. Intellectual  deficiency

He speaks of the darkness creeping into intellectual life in the West which aims to abolish a belief in objective truth.   Modern thought claims to be scientific and to rely on the certainty of empiricism, but takes everything on authority, of the anonymous kind at that.  

Anonymous means no modern man would attempt to discover the qualifications of the members of the UN panel on climate change for example, nor is there any impulse to question the findings of bribed bureaucrats or political appointees drawing conclusions about the relative dangers of DDT.

The modern man is proud of scepticism, but has no ability to question the authority of nameless and faceless experts who are immune from question or contradiction.

 In ontology, - a branch of metaphysics that deals with the nature of being- the modern drift is subjectivist i.e. knowledge is restricted to the conscious self and its sensory states, in language modernists are nominalists- holding that abstract concepts have no independent existence but exist only as names- and magicians, believing words have the power to mould thought and perhaps change reality; in metaphysics, moderns are materialists, meaning physical matter is the only reality, and thought, feeling, mind and will can be explained.

These various principals contradict each other (one cannot be a materialist and a nominalist, for example) but modern thought takes no account one way or the other about logic.

  1. The four world views

    1. Worldliness

    The legacy of the enlightenment thinkers like Rousseau and Voltaire, they diminish the importance of the Church, seeks disestablishment and promises world peace providing all religious activity becomes a matter of private conscience rather than public organisation. Capitalism and political liberty are the agreed-upon highest principle of the social order. Of course many that fall into this category are deeply privately religious, providing a balance to that worldliness.

    1. Ideology

    The basic assumptions of Marxism underpin all progressive thinking. Marx divided the world into the Elect and Reprobate. The Reprobates are the sadistic oppressors. The Elect are the helpless victims.   

    The reprobates have no redeeming qualities; the elect have no flaws whatsoever. The two are locked in a Darwinian struggle for survival at any cost, in which no quarter or mercy is possible, and negotiation serves no purpose. This is the simplistic black-and-white analysis and mind set of our time and can be applied to any cause, witness the racism struggle, the feminist one, the environmental et al.

    Interestingly, the ideologue is compared to the worldly as one revealing more zeal and fervour of a religious mind set despite being antireligious.   

    1. Spiritualism 

    The most popular form of spiritualism in the modern world was the blood- and–iron mysticism of the Nationalist Socialist Worker’s Party of Germany, known as the Nazis; other variations were theosophy of Madame Blavatsky, the occultism of Crowley, the ideas of Blake and Shaw as well as any number of modern New Age claptrap. The principle of individual and secret enlightenment prevents them from forming a unified organisation, the exception being Nazism which attempted to syncretize Christianity into their programme and present themselves as opponents of Communism.

    The Nazi’s were in essence spiritualists or occultists (embracing an inverse type of Christianity) and the Communists ideologues therefor different in world views.  

    1. Nihilism     

    This states there is no truth applicable to all circumstances. Truth is relativistic, plastic, variable, and inconstant.  The best examples of this train of thought would be Nietzsche and Sartre.

    All philosophies are worthless since they are narratives, that is, social myths or lies.

    The Nihilists do hold as absolute truth that no one seeks truth for its own sake, or for any honest reason, all have agenda’s therefore. They believe that man can, by willpower establish the laws of reality as he sees fit. Their motto’s being ‘Believe in yourself’ or ‘Embrace your own truth.’

    One can never persuade a Nihilist that objective standards exist.  

    1. The Alliance

    The question to be asked is; if the Ideologues hate the worldliness of the Worldly man, and the Spiritualists hate the atheism of the Ideologues etc. why do they all agree with the default position of the Nihilist that truth is private and faith in vain?

     Yet all parties allude to Christianity being the enemy.  So they are united in agreement with this one aspect. Ours is not the first age to adore and support totalitarianism but the first to support such in the name of liberty. Ours is not the first Dark Age, where ancient learning was lost; but the first where  ancient learning has been lost deliberately, wilfully, purposely, not through societal collapse, but as if to bring this about.

    Perhaps how it is hoped to accomplish this is a discussion for another day.       

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