Open thread, Dec. 8 - Dec. 15, 2014

The Enlightenment began with Epicurus. Perhaps even earlier, but Epicurus is the earliest source we have. Perhaps for as long as one man has said "God", another has said "Man".

I've been reading "Nature's God: The Heretical Origins of the American Revolution", by Matthew Stewart, since seeing a quote from it on the current quotes thread. That, and another book I read this year, "Victorian Sensation", suggest a different history of all this.

This is just a quick outline, or I'd have to spend days writing this up. "... (read more)

It should be noted that a moral tradition needs not be theistic in nature, much less Abrahamic-Zoroastrian - Confucianism is a case in point here. And even a "material universe" cosmology may be sen in a variety of quite diverging ways. A particle physicist may argue - much as Democritus and Epicurus did - that our ontology should be a reductionist one, founded on some kinds of irreducible elements, and that it is a moral imperative to understand these tiny elements of nature by running huge, incredibly costly and perhaps risky experiments using ... (read more)

5RichardKennaway5yAnd an even briefer sketch of now a neoreactionary might answer that last challenge. The problem in former times of virtue, the neoreactionary might say, is that people did not know enough to be able to demonstrate what is virtue and what is vice. People have always known right from wrong, but they have not known how they know, any more than they knew how they see. Having God as the explanation, even though it be a false one, had the beneficial effect of protecting their knowledge from their ignorance. When people generally began to see that there was no God (including those who believed they believed, but whose God had dwindled to the shadowy ghost in the background), virtue decayed, for we are all like Chesterton's fence-lifters, discarding a thing, however useful, when we notice that we do not see the reason for it. But now, the neoreactionary might continue, in the last century, or perhaps just the last few decades, we have discovered the material origin of virtue. This knowledge comes primarily from evolutionary biology and neuroscience, and history reinterpreted in its light. We know how societies flourish and how they decay. We know how we know right from wrong. With this new knowledge, we shall restore virtue to the world.

Open thread, Dec. 8 - Dec. 15, 2014

by Gondolinian 1 min read8th Dec 2014293 comments


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