I still haven’t hung out my ‘shingle’ at the front of the Story Ark where I reside and create and plan unrandom acts of creativity, but something has come up, calling me to action.
My son Daniel sent me links to a certain noble but pessimistic thinker and prolific blogger, who has written a major paper critiquing what he calls the current Western secular ‘religion’ – ‘PC’ (political correctness). In that paper:
Thought Prison: the fundamental nature of Political Correctness
Bruce G Charlton
University of Buckingham Press, Buckingham, MK18 1EG, UK, 2011
ISBN: 798 0 9563953 45
which he posted here: http://thoughtprison-pc.blogspot.co.nz/
he quite rightly attacks PC as being anti-rational and destructive of the West – but
he goes on to say its errors are intrinsic to Westernness itself. I strongly disagree! PC is a sickness
of the reason, a reason turned (irrationally) against itself. But to me the true foundation of the West – what makes it so strong in spite of all its parasites and viruses – is acknowledgement of the transcendental reality of Truth – and Ethics. And dammit, Beauty. And yes, of course, Love.
But there were false steps in the course of its pursuit of Truth, and ugly ideas took root, bad arguments were believed, that were undermining of this acknowledgement. Perverse philosophers did deviously use the tools of the reason to undermine reason. Scepticism and relativism did become entrenched, and became the dominant paradigm. And the social forces, still all too powerful in the universities and other bastions of intellectual culture, entrenched this scepticism and relativism. They became the fashion, no less! The Spirit of the Age.
We are at a time of tidal change where we are reaping the results of this undermining of Reason – but does this mean the tide cannot be turned? NO! Why? because it is not inevitable like the brute forces of physics. It is a tide of human minds all tuned to certain false ideas – ideas which were created by us and can be just as easily revised by us, or refuted. The human tide of ideas that could destroy the West is definitely flowing; but WE CAN turn it back. We are part of it, and our ideas can spread, if they are worthy and carry the power of truth.
But I was about to quote Bruce Charlton’s paper, lest I be accused of misrepresenting him:
“By secularizing knowledge, by creating The University – by making philosophy autonomous of the Church (instead of having learning institutionally focused in monasteries) the West eventually made political correctness – which is now everywhere and inescapable.
And PC is the West’s Nemesis, because the West cannot decisively overturn PC without overturning that which made it The West.
The West cannot overcome PC without ceasing to be The West.
Yet, if this overturning of PC does not happen, then the West will itself be subverted by PC.
In other words, The West is built upon error: its strength is also its weakness; its power is also that which is self-destroying; even as The West built its great structures it was simultaneously gnawing at their foundations.
Here is the double-bind:
To be anti–PC is to be anti-The West (always in tendency, albeit not by intention)
Yet at the same time, to be pro–PC is to be anti-The West (always in tendency, and also by intention)
And/ So/ But The West never was sustainable.
Looking back, The West was a blip on the graph of history – albeit a thousand year ‘blip’! –with a hundreds year long, gradual up-tick and the rapid decades long collapse looming ever-closer.
Just so soon as The West began to implement its assumptions towards completion (which is political correctness), just so soon The West began actively (as well as passively) to destroy itself.”
What? ‘The West cannot overcome PC without ceasing to be The West‘? No! By BEING TRUE to our heritage of clear and fearless RATIONAL INQUIRY we can overcome the sickness, which is at root a sickness of ideas. Who said the arguments of relativism and physicalism are irrefutable? When were they truly proved? How could they have been, when they are inherently, logically, self-contradictory? ‘Dear me, what do they teach them in these schools?’ (Professor Kirk, Chronicles of Narnia).
‘How shall a man judge what to do in such times?’
‘As he ever has judged,’ said Aragorn. ‘Good and ill have not changed since yesteryear; nor are they one thing among elves and Dwarves and another among men. It is a man’s part to discern them, as much in the Golden Wood as in his won house.’
So, calling all wizards in the tradition of Gandalf the Grey: become what you are, servants of the True West and ‘Numenor that was, and beyond to Elvenhome that is, and to that which is beyond Elvenhome and ever will be.’ (- Faramir, in the wonderful chapter ‘The Window on the West’ in The Two Towers.)
Cast off the grey rainments of doubt, throw down the Balrog of fear, and become what you are, white riders of the True West!
Which all leads me to think, we need
those Schools which teach the true foundations. If they can be founded physically, all to the good, but even if virtual – they are needed! My Schoolofwisdomandwizardry.com
is, in intention at least, such a place.
PS: I haven’t addressed a major, major issue in all this: the vexed question of whether we need a religious underpinning in order to be the True West, or be good – many would say we do, including Bruce Charlton, who is I gather a Christian. Or he would presumably say that the good things the West has enjoyed have come from its association with the tradition and beliefs of Christianity. I can’t agree. I think an acknowledgement of the transcendental Truth and Ethics and the Good, IS enough: all else falls into place if we honour these. We can benefit from open-minded study of any sacred texts, or any secular ones too, but the evidence for any one religion having the monopoly on the Truth does not seem at all convincing to me. This doesn’t make me a relativist, of course: They take the irrational step of saying all religions and teachings are EQUAL – ie equally meaningless, at bottom – they say there is NO truth of the matter. I say all religions, like all scientific theories, are better or worse – more (or less!) valuable GUESSES at the truth of Life, the Universe, and Everything.
This doesn’t make me a sceptic, because although the complete theories are guesses, some truths ARE self-evident. The ones about logic and ethics. We cannot build a complete irrefutable theory of everything on these truths, I guess, but we can build a glorious and wise civilisation on them.
That possible civilisation is what I call the True West.