Sunday, December 9, 2012

Education and the Revolution

How we got where we are as well as some proposals for reform. To quote:
Babbitt demonstrates that it was Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) who first grasped the “liberating” potential of the ethical nihilism implicit in Baconian Science. If Nature (including human nature) is blind and dumb, then each individual being is free to follow its own whims, shrugging off the constraints of conventional morality as nothing more than the heavy hand of a dead past. Science has debunked the moralists of the past as superstitious worshippers of a rational and meaningful order thought to predate the emergence of the individual consciousness. Instead, human beings must be “compelled to be free,” taught to treat every felt impulse within as an unquestionable authority, fully realizing Plato’s nightmarish vision of the “democratic soul” in Book VIII of The Republic.

Rousseau proposed a new “morality” of feeling, to replace the dying morality of reasoned self-discipline. Justice and virtue were to be replaced by an amorphous compassion, which subsequent history has revealed to be almost infinitely malleable, producing holocausts and gulags as easily as free dental plans and kindergartens. As Babbitt puts it, “Rousseau confounds the law for man with his own temperament.” To be clear, let me emphasize that Babbitt was no foe of either science or compassion. As he explains, “The more scientific progress and the more social pity the better. Exception can be taken to these things only when they are set up as absolute and all-sufficient in themselves.”[4] (Read entire article.)

1 comment:

May said...

I recently saw a pro-euthanasia article that tried to answer religious objections by arguing that God was everything, including the "compassionate" urge to euthanize. Seems related to the nihilism discussed here.