It’s a meme now to call any radical mind-changing moment or idea a “red pill,” hearkening back to the red pill which awakens Neo to the nature of his machine slavery in The Matrix. Everybody has their own version of the red pill, and their own idea of what is being revealed when it is taken. I think studying history – and particularly studying the history of thought – is one such red pill.
In order for “progress” to be worthwhile, it must meet some requirements. One of those requirements is testability – there must be a control group against which to test the claims of progress. Another is consent – it shouldn’t have to rely on forced adoption.
“History” is a product of human beings. History of the same events and people may be done (will be done) differently from generation to generation. Sometimes, due to advances in archaeology or new discoveries of old texts, history done 500 years after the fact will be better than history done 100 years later. Similarly, changes in dominant ideology might make later history less reliable than earlier historical works. Best to read histories from multiple perspectives and times.
There are billions of people who don’t know about the latest political hypocrisy, “woke” overreach, leftist neologism, or cultural depravity with which we “tuned in” people bathe our brains each hour. Imagine the happiness of living life assuming the best about your common man and not attaching shame or fear to things as simple as sitting in a chair (now a “micro-aggression” of “manspreading” according to some).
I have to admit I was a little disappointed when I learned my line of farming ancestors was interrupted by the presence of a banker. Now I mean no offense to the wonderful, hardworking, and valuable members of the banking […]
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From one era to another of human history, human energies seem to be dedicated either to social salvation – think “progress” – or individual salvation – think “enlightenment” or “sanctification”. Sometimes this takes religious guises, other times more secular ones. We live in a time that, despite its frequent pandering to individual *lusts* and frequent spastic efforts to find “enlightenment” (yoga, New Age, etc), does not really have a structure that encourages individual salvation.
It is far more efficient to deal with identifying the errors in logic than the errors in fact (though correcting all kinds of errors are important). Logic works by a series of first principles that everyone can learn and no one can evade. Contradictions, fallacies, false equivalencies, and other errors in thinking are much easier to dislodge than disputes over evidence (often evidence can be ambiguous).
It’s no new insight to say that the loudest proponents of virtuous utopia often lack virtue themselves. I only want to confess to the same sin.
We’ve only been a few generations without continuity. It’s still possible to imagine going back, and it’s still possible to return and cling to the communities and institutions and places that make us different, singular, and free. But we have to do it while the memory of a different way of living is still with us.
Conformity may be craven, but it is a powerful and common survival strategy throughout nature. “Blending into the herd” works often enough. But for many reasons, conformity fails in the long run. Why?