Thursday, November 17, 2011

Look behind you, but not too far behind you!

Most alarming to learn that universities are discouraging the researching of events and the writing of books on the 17th and 18th Centuries; apparently the 20th Century will do!  How can we know who we are if we don't know where we've come from and why, why we think the way we do, or why we speak the way we do?  (If any of you attended the lecture by David McCullough at the Speakers Series at Symphony Hall this fall, you will have been reminded of the many ways in which the past impinges on our every day lives. )   Now who can suggest the reason(s) that universities may be taking this contemporary bent?


  1. When I saw the headline of this post, I thought MG was referring to the slip by Sistah Sarah at a restaurant today, witnessed by MG and many others - SS was saying her farewells and stepped backward to depart, without looking behind, and discovered a 6" difference in where she had been standing with MG and where her foot wound up - she had not noticed that they were on a raised platform, until that moment. Luckily no harm was done, but SS has since reflected that we are all only a moment from injury, or worse - and that the odds improve GREATLY if one looks behind! (not only the odds for good health, but also the odds for looking poised, elegant and graceful ... sigh)

  2. those two centuries witnessed the overwhelming of statist (centripetal)(to the center)forces by the the forces of individualism (centrifugal)(away from the center). this is the effect the Reformation had on the divine right of kingship philosophy and the Catholic Church, both of which had monopolized the political and religious philosophy of western civilization since Charlemagne. indeed,the divine right of kingship philosophy has characterized all political power centers as far back as we have historical records. deriving one's authority from divinity, or being a divinity, makes one's power unassailable, whether it was the egyptian pharoah, caesar augustus, or the leaders of the mayan,aztec, incan societies. it has always been a curiosity to me, a vivid disconnect, if you will,why the modern intellectual in the western world characteristically supports an ever growing statism which is really at war with the intellectual's freedom/individuality. the only explanation i have been able to muster is that the repudiation of christianity, with its ethical/moral imperatives were seen as more onerous than the yoke of the 'state'. thus, the modernist, at war with religion, i.e., the christian religion, really has done nothing more than to don one religion, the religion of the state, in the act of casting off another. in the 17th and 18th century we had the scientific and industrial revolutions,respectively, sparked by the outworking of the implications of the Protestant Reformation with its emphasis on pursuing the truth and the rights of the individual, at the expense of the authority of the state and its heavy handed attempts at controlling scientific and philosophical inquiry.
    Darwin provided intellectual cover for those elites chafing under the strictures of the ethical/moral imperative of the Protestant Reformation, a religious tide that had reached its zenith the century before and had been receding in the face of the rise of the true counter-reformation, i.e., 'the enlightenment', a solipsism whose bit pulled one away from any and all restrictions on man's power, and which birthed a new religion to substantiate itself, deism in the continent and its american variant, unitarianism. in both, we observe a fervor for a creator who creates but then removes himself from his creation, thus, no Christ, and no redemptive forces that have to be confronted, leaving the world open to those who can fashion it on their own terms. this was a marvelous and perfect substratum for the 19th century muscling of man's power over nature in the industrial revolution,and the restoration of the deity of man over all contending forces, including the Messianic force of Christianity. The capstone of this dynamic was Nietsche, whose description of 'superman', was the basis of the horrors of 20th century warfare, and those fabulous fabians (socialism)in england whose avowed purpose was to restore 'man' to his rightful place as God in politics and society. once religion rooted in the power of man, rather than a loving God is established, it seeks to root out all memory of the former religion's liberating force. thus, we have the attack on the study of the 17th and 18th century intellectual and political and social thought. broad generalities, granted, but time was against a tome.

  3. @Sistah Sarah Answering Sistah Sarah -- We've been trained to watch where we step, our assumption being that we're moving forward, not backward! Your balance, Sistah Sarah, is to be admired!