Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Left's hijacking of the higher planes

Stephen Hicks
And that is exactly what Hicks concludes. He chronicles the utter failure of socialist ideas in the past three centuries, beginning with pre-Marxist leftists such as the odious paleofrog Rousseau. But the key figure in the descent into modern irrationalism and illiberal leftism was the figure of Immanuel Kant, for it was Kant who divided the world into phenomena (what is accessible to our senses and categories of thought) and noumena (the ultimate reality behind them).
By closing off the noumenal reality to reason, Kant thought he had spared religion from the onslaught of scientific skepticism, when he had actually opened the door to all the baleful forms of irrationalism that followed. For in the Kantian system, all we can really know is our own nervous system--reason and science merely toy with the phenomena, leaving the deeper reality unknown and unknowable. The next time some cliche-ridden boob says to you, “perception is reality,” know that they are a metaphysically retarded son or daughter of Kant.
As an aside, one can trace the history of philosophy in a pretty straight line from the ancient Greeks to Kant. But Kant represents the end of that line and its subsequent ramification into the many streams, creeks, drainage ditches and sewer lines that reach us today. Virtually every philosophy since Kant has been either a rational extension of his ideas (Schopenhaur, structuralism, phenomenology), an irrational exploration of his ideas (e.g., reality is absurd, we are impotent to know anything, feeling and instinct trump reason, the irrational yields more valid insights into reality, etc.), or attempts to undo his ideas (e.g., Hegel, who reunited noumena and phenomena in his notion of the Absolute Subject, and Hegel's upside-down disciple, Marx).
Postmodernism involves a smorgasbag of these various reactions to Kant. Ever wonder why leftists are so irrational and unreasonable? According to Hicks, postmodernism is “the first ruthlessly consistent statement of the consequences of rejecting reason.” This is why leftists routinely resort to ad hominem attacks, extreme hostility to dissent, speech codes, and authoritarian political correctness. Ultimately, according to Hicks, postmodernism is “the academic left’s epistemological strategy for responding to the crisis caused by the failures of socialism in both theory and practice.”
Ironically, they have an a priori and unfalsifiable belief in the moral superiority of socialism over capitalism. But since capitalism has repeatedly disproved every one of socialism’s predictions, postmodernism provides the “skeptical epistemology to justify the personal leap of faith necessary to continue believing in socialism.”
Ironically, Kant was trying to save traditional religion from being eroded by scientific skepticism, but his ideas are now used by the secular left to shield the false religion of socialism from rational scrutiny. The choice for leftists is simple: either follow the evidence and reject their utopian ideals, or hold to their beautiful ideals and undermine the notion that logic and evidence matter. Obviously they have chosen the latter course, which is why a casual stroll through the halls of academia, the editorial pages of the New York Times, or the darker corners of the internet reveals that language is no longer being used as a vehicle to understand reality, but a rhetorical club with which to beat opponents. In this context, “Bush bashing” can be seen as a completely impersonal and inevitable phenomenon, for if your only tool is a rhetorical hammer, you will treat everything as an ideological nail.
And this also explains the common observation that the left is devoid of constructive ideas, for without logic and evidence, leftism has been reduced to a knee-jerk critique of Western civilization. It is essentially irrational and nihilistic, because language is not about reality, but simply about more language. Therefore, language cannot build anything but illusions. Moreover, this explains why the left is so incoherent and contradictory--why, for example, all truth is relative but leftism is absolute, why all values are subjective but homophobia and American exceptionalism are evil, why tolerance is the highest ideal but political correctness is higher still, etc. Leftism is simply an absolutism masquerading as a relativism.
The only problem with Hicks’ book is that he stops short of explaining how to overcome what I call the logopathologies of the left. This is because he appears to be an objectivist or secular libertarian, and seems vaguely hostile to religion. In reality, there is no defense against these destructive ideas within the bounds of common reason--as soon as you descend into mere reason, you have already given the game away, for there is almost nothing the human mind can prove that it cannot equally disprove. In a subsequent post I will explain the only way to combat the left's hijacking of the higher planes. posted by Gagdad Bob at 6:58 AM 14 comments links to this post


  1. Edward Berge Says:

    August 18th, 2006 at 7:24 am
    If integral includes and organizes the partial truths of all knowledge quests into a coherent meta-view (i.e., if you accept that premise), then what partial truth does pomo contain? It would seem none at all from a view that sees it as “completely out of touch with reality” uttering “inane pseudo-profundities” that result in “portentous vacuities.” It’s not only hard to argue with that but impossible, since anthing I might say is sure to be inanely vacuous. Thanks for clearing that up for me.

  2. Hi, Its John from Melbourne Australia.
    First I must say that the title of your post is garbage and so too is most of the content.
    The mind of western man has been thoroughly secularised for over 200 years. That was the significance of Nietzches famous god is dead statement.

    These related essays provide a unique perspective on the origins & consequences of that process.

    1. www.dabase.net/ilchurst.htm
    2. www.dabase.net/spacetim.htm
    3. www.dabase.net/noface.htm
    4. www.dabase.net/coop+tol.htm
    5. www.coteda.com

    Item #5 is essentially a critique of the politics & "culture" which drives the globalisation process.
    Brought to one and all in the name of "freedom" by western imperialism which is as strong as ever. The most strident champions of which are ALL on the right wing side of the culture wars.

    What higher planes??