The Wright Perspective: On Reason

My latest us up over at Every Joe:

If a vast, cool and unsympathetic intelligence from the remote and arid world of Mars were to observe the modern political scene of the post-Christian and English-speaking part of our world, his observation may note the lack of honesty in our public discourses, the lack of virtue in our agora, the lack of beauty in our high places, but he certainly would note the one central theme and theory – the pivot point and dead center about which all our public discourse turns:

The intelligence from Mars would note that we Earthlings do not trust intelligence.

No doubt the multiple brains beneath his carapace would pulse with confusion, and he would reach with his many pseudopods toward the metallic blocks holding of his previous records, thinking perhaps he had confused Planet Earth with the cubiform Planet Bizzaro or some other, stupider world. Nothing previously in the history of Earth implied the intelligent species there did not regard itself as capable of intelligence.

But there would be no mistake for our hypothetical Martian to find: at about the same time as the Earthlings brought forth industrial civilization, fathered a scientific revolution, landed on the Moon, and dispatched unmanned vehicles to Mars — in other words, at the same time Earth first showed what astonishing accomplishments man’s intelligence was capable of achieving — this is the generation when men lost faith in intelligence. They retained the capacity to think objectively, but since they had no faith in it, they steadfastly refused to use it. Men had brains, but they no longer trusted brains.

This mistrust of brains is the pivot point of our modern political discourse.

It is also the endpoint of all public debate and discussion on any topic, because once reason is no longer the umpire both sides of a debate recognize, nothing is left but acrimony and accusation.

It goes on in like manner.