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How We Got Here and How to Fix It


This is part three of my three part response to Preston Stovall’s essay On the Role of the Public Intellectual in the United States on the web site of Heterdox Academy.  Parts one and two are here and here.

Stovall’s admonition to exercise greater fidelity to the facts is essentially meaningless because facts don’t matter inside the Telos, the Moral Matrix, the consensual hallucination, the Grand Narrative, of Social Justice. Only feelings matter. Feelings are the ultimate trump card that enjoys primacy above all else, especially facts. The narrative is the only “fact” that matters.

The culture war is no longer between two competing ideologies. It’s now between the dominant ideology and reality itself. Facts and reason are nearly ineffective weapons in this war They are appeals to the rider that ignore the elephant. They are the intellectual equivalent of expecting a college course in ethics to result in more ethical behavior.

In the recent elections it was the side of reality that triumphed, and the dominant ideology is beside itself, literally morally dumbfounded, as to how this could have happened.

How Did We Get Here?

The answer, I suggest, is the following:

The greatest single reason for the contentious divisions in American society today (over which we have any significant amount of control) is the stunning lack – the near total absence – of understanding OF the human animal BY the human animal.

The blame for our profound ignorance of ourselves lies with the education industry, which has failed to achieve its purpose, its Telos, of imparting that understanding.

Academia, long ago, abdicated its pursuit of the Telos of Truth in favor of the Telos of Social Justice.

I’m not saying it was deliberate. I’m not saying it was part of some nefarious scheme. I’m sure the education system is populated by people like Stovall with hearts and the best of intentions.

What I AM saying is that the absence of intellectual diversity within the super zips – in which the industries of education, entertainment, and the press are owned and operated – has allowed them to become a Tribal Moral Community; a closed epistemic system that answers all of its own questions; a mutual admiration society of self-fulfilling prophesies about itself and about “others.”

How Do We Fix It?

Fortunately, thanks to academic social science, including not just psychological social science but, for example, the study of history as well, we ALREADY KNOW THE ANSWERS TO THE QUESTIONS I POSED ABOVE.

Why, at bottom, do “contentious divisions in American society today” exist?

What, specifically, is the nature and character of the problem to be solved?

What, exactly, are the reasons and values that motivate our fellow citizens?

And so the fix, in concept, is simple: tweak K-16 curricula in age-appropriate ways to include basic principles of Human Nature 101, including concepts like the following:

  1. Intuition comes first, strategic reasoning follows
  2. There’s more to morality than care and fairness
  3. There’s also liberty, loyalty, authority, and purity.
  4. Morality binds and blinds.
  5. Basic rules of evidence, logic, and debate (e.g., don’t interrupt, take turns, and maybe even CBT)
  6. Apply, employ, and expect students to be able to show, these in the curricula of
    1. Civics
    2. History
      1. American v French Revolutions
    3. Economics
      1. Keynes v Hayek
    4. Even “health”

The fix, in practice, will probably be quite difficult because the members of the Church of Social Justice will recoil from and fight mightily against the blasphemy that the Telos of Truth as represented by the above listed examples represents to their religion.

But, in my humble opinion, this is the path that must be followed if we are to avoid continuing the slide down the slippery slope of illogic and illiberalism our culture is currently on as it drifts ever farther from the Telos of Truth and ever closer to the Telos of Social Justice.

Discussion

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  1. Pingback: The Culture War has Mutated but Nobody’s Noticed | The Independent Whig - November 30, 2016

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www.heterodoxacademy.org

A politically diverse group of social scientists, natural scientists, humanists, and other scholars who want to improve our academic disciplines and universities. We share a concern about a growing problem: the loss or lack of “viewpoint diversity.” When nearly everyone in a field shares the same political orientation, certain ideas become orthodoxy, dissent is discouraged, and errors can go unchallenged.

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Venn Diagram of Liberal and Conservative Traits and Moral Foundations

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