13 07 11 - 15:20Insightful narking on neocons:
Neoconservatism is but the most recent species of what most students of political philosophy now call âEnlightenment liberal rationalism.â That this is so is easily gotten from the causes that the neoconservative is disposed to support, especially the cause of âGlobal Democracyâ â the enterprise of toppling regimes throughout the Middle East and beyond for the sake of establishing âdemocraticâ governments in their wake.
On this account, reason is a unitary phenomenon whose capacity to supply âsolutionsâ to the worldâs problems is potentially unlimited. To realize this potential, to achieve infallibility, rational agents only have to strictly observe those relatively few fundamental principles of which reason consists. As for what these principles are, rationalists have differed among themselves. Descartes, for example, thought that as long as we didnât grasp for that which we didnât conceive âclearly and distinctlyâ â as long as the will didnât attempt to trespass the limits that reason imposed upon it â we could never go wrong. Others, like William Godwin, held that beliefs that were the fruits of prejudice, prescription, desire, custom, tradition, and, in short, any and every source that managed to escape the tribunal of the unencumbered Intellect, were species of irrationality to be stamped out. But what all rationalists seemed to share in common is the conviction that there existed one and the same rational power for all, a single standard by which all peoples in all places and at all times could be judged.
It is this belief, many now recognize, that was enlisted in the service of the colonial and imperial enterprises upon which European peoples embarked during just that period when the conception of omnipotent Reason was at its zenith. Blind to the culturally-specific character of what he took to be a universal understanding of Reason, European Man assumed that because most of the worldâs inhabitants in places such as Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and the Americas failed to satisfy his canons of rationality, they werenât rational as such. In spite of the frequency with which it is repeated, the notion that whites at this time viewed non-whites as non-persons is incorrect. Rather, failing to see his own image in this socially and historically particular conception of reason that he identified with Reason itself, European or Western man regarded the non-white peoples of the world, not literally as non-persons, but as potential persons who could actualize all of the potentialities of which their circumstances permitted only if their wills were made subservient to his. - The New American
In other words, all liberalism arose from the Enlightenment, a time when reason rose above empiricism and inner knowledge.
Not all are in favor of this Enlightenment jazz:
Long regarded as the foundation of contemporary political and intellectual culture, by way of influences ranging from the American Declaration of Independence to the scientific method as embraced from Isaac Newton on, the Enlightenment was based on the belief that all society's ills could be vanquished by the application of reason
"We cannot go on like this, just imagining that the principles of the Enlightenment still apply now. I don't believe they do. But if you challenge people who hold the Enlightenment as the ultimate answer to everything, you do really upset them."
Instead, the Prince advocated a holistic approach to the world's problems -- including housing, healthcare and agriculture -- that involved local initiatives rather than globalisation, and worked in harmony with nature rather than against it.
"I believe it is of crucial importance to work with, in harmony with nature, to rediscover how it is necessary to work with the grain of nature, as it is necessary to work with the grain of our humanity," he said."What is the point of all this clever technology if at the end of the day we lose our souls, and the soul of nature of which we are a part?" - The Times Online
In fact, there are many reasons to suspect reason itself -- rationalism -- as a giant human failing:
Rationalism is most often characterized as an epistemological position. On this view, to be a rationalist requires at least one of the following: (1) a privileging of reason and intuition over sensation and experience, (2) regarding all or most ideas as innate rather than adventitious, (3) an emphasis on certain rather than merely probable knowledge as the goal of enquiry. While all of the continental rationalists meet one or more of these criteria, this is arguably the consequence of a deeper tie that binds them together â that is, a metaphysical commitment to the reality of substance, and, in particular, to substance as an underlying principle of unity. - SEP
Reason as separate from the world is like dualism projected into science. Relying on certainty instead of approximation guarantees deconstruction in an uncertain world. Innate ideas guarantee a false universalism.
And then there is bringing the dualities -- faith/reason, tradition/logic, self/world, ego/id -- back into alignment:
Reason, conservatives from at least the time of Burke have insisted, is inseparable from tradition. That is to say, far from being the monolithic power that neoconservatives and other rationalists envision, rationality can and has been conceived in a multiplicity of ways. And since each conception varies with cultural and historical circumstances â habits and customs âwhat this in turn means is that rationality is a thing local and concrete â not universal and abstract.
Due to their tradition-centered understanding of reason and knowledge, conservatives â even during the height of the Enlightenment â have been, at the very least, reluctant to lend their support to enterprises designed to erode the traditions and customs of foreign peoples in order to coerce them into acquiescing in Western or Eurocentric ideals. - The New American
We venture forth bravely into this new era.