Friday, October 14, 2016


Francis Fukuyama dealt a blow to Hegelian dialectics when he wrote The End of History and the Last Man and before that the sociologist Daniel Bell had written The End of Ideology. Both of these tomes offered a form of historical revisionism that proposed its own millenarian view, to the extent that they forecasted the prospect of a society that wasn’t riven by conflict. Samuel P. Huntington’s The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order was a countervailing jeremiad that warned of the prospect of cultural conflicts that would replace the paradigm of the cold war conflict with something far more pernicious, a prophecy that, in fact, has come true (interestingly Fuyuyama was Huntington’s student.) The concept of the “paradigm shift” outlined in Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, has in fact made us wary of the perceptual apparatus that we employ to make decisions. But what about a tome entitled The End of Knowledge or The End of Wisdom, since the illusion of knowledge itself with the concomitant specter of ego raising its ugly head may be the villain? “The best lack all conviction” are Yeats over-used words, but there are some who would argue that one of the few redeeming aspects of age is the kind of satori or enlightenment that seems to derive as knowledge drains out of you. Unless you’re someone who’s living in the delusory universe of a tyrant, then you’re ready to admit that much of what you've held dear is merely a way of encapsulating reality and pretending that you understand what often confounds understanding. Einstein died without ever creating a unification theory (between gravity and electromagnetism) and perhaps the conclusion that will someday be reached is that there isn’t one—though to prove that the universe doesn’t make sense may turn out to be as exacting a task as showing that it does.

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