Monday, November 15, 2010

Peter Kreeft: The Cybernetics of Liberalism

This is a very insightful and brilliant article by Peter Kreeft.  He takes the plunge, and explains the mental disorder known as liberalism. 

Cybernetics -- basically, the science of the brain qua computer -- explains much more than we realized. They used to think schizophrenia was due to demons. Then it was bad parenting. Now some think it may be bad brain wiring. They used to think déjà vu ("Hey! I've been here before!") was evidence of reincarnation. Now we know it's a cybernetic mixup that misfiles new perceptions into the brain's old memory banks.

Some are now claiming that homosexuality is cybernetic predestination. The jury is still out on that one, but I have come up with a cybernetic hypothesis about liberalism: It's a brain disorder, a confusion between right and left hemispheres. I have no hard data to prove this, but I think I see some strong clues, a recurring pattern in the symptoms that suggests such a diagnosis. Here are some of those clues.

You Might Be a Liberal If…

Ever since I began teaching philosophy to college students in 1962, I have been puzzled by the fact that some of them actually find Heidegger easier to understand than Aquinas, Kant than Aristotle, Dewey than James, Hegel than Plato. These students do fairly well when tested on the muddy, fuzzy ideological thinkers, but they get a mental block when they try to understand the clear, commonsensical ones. Clearly they cannot fathom clarity, and certainly not certainty. They simply cannot believe that a philosopher can be clear and certain about anything important.

I once read a batch of short critical student book reviews of my nonscholarly little book, Angels and Demons. I expected many diverse criticisms and arguments, but the only one I got, over and over, was a critique of my use of definitions and arguments as such. It was not only skepticism about the applicability of logical thinking to the topic of angels; it was a skepticism (or even more, a loathing and fear) of logical thinking as applied to anything real, especially in theology. They were simply dumbfounded that any sane person could think he could prove anything in theology. Not surprisingly, the most popular majors among such students are communications, sociology, English, and (heaven help us) theology. Never the natural sciences.

A second puzzling phenomenon I find in my students is what C. S. Lewis calls "chronological snobbery:" the view that an idea need not be refuted, just sneered at as unfashionable; that "we are the people, and wisdom will die with us;" that history presents us with a simple "good guys vs. bad guys" scenario -- not intellectually (the wise vs. the foolish) or morally (saints vs. sinners), but chronologically (the "tradition-bound," the "primitive," the "closed," or the "stagnant" vs. the "enlightened," the "nuanced," the "open," or the "dynamic"). They call this "the historical point of view;" I call it dissolving the rock of truth into the sands of time. Truth for them is a process, a river with no origin and no end, that never reaches the sea but always gets wider and truer as it flows on and on.  CONTINUED


Marco said...

Peter Kreeft is brillant! His books as well as his Thomism is very easy to understand,..yet Teresa, in philosophy, we have to remember that information will always be received by the mode of the receiver..

Teresa said...

He is indeed brilliant, Marco. While we must keep the mode of the receiver in mind, we can always tell the truth in various forms so that different people can understand and receive the message in its proper context.

God Bless!

Patrick Button said...

I love Kreeft's Socratic dialogue books. Thanks for sharing this!

Teresa said...


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