Quote of the Day: The Truth and the Sacred Are Irrelevant

 

“As the cultural revolution has progressed, everything that was once honored has become a matter of public indifference. And as this has happened, every traditional constraint has been lost. At first, it was thought that the result would be only license and abandon. And indeed, this is a fine description of what Enlightenment liberalism looked like one generation after its triumph. At this time, one could win praise and honor for daring acts of transgression—for evading military service, for sexual profligacy and adventurism, for drug use, for blasphemy or an obscenity, for desecration of the sabbath, and so on. But by the second generation, this too has dissipated, and little is to be gained by violating the old norms with acts that are by now commonplace. No one is left who will be impressed by them.” – Yoram Hazony

As I am reading Hazony’s new book, Conservatism: a Rediscovery, I’ve been fascinated to learn so much about the origins of the decadence of our traditional values. This particular quotation struck me, because he points to the lure of “reason” to the Progressive agenda, and the disdain for tradition and a belief in G-d. Although the Progressives point with pride to their use of reason for constructing their view of the world, they neglect to realize that reason, by itself, can lead people in a multitude of directions; reason is no guarantee that people will reach agreement on a strategy, because every person will define his or her own understanding of a “reasoned” approach. Thus, we find ourselves in a confusing and unconstrained time, where everyone is free to decide for himself what is true.

The dangers of this viewpoint are many. First, this type of reason is not based in any sacred truth or tradition, so it meanders to find an opinion that suits the person whose reasoning is at stake. Since G-d is not the basis for reason, the possibilities for understanding depend on the reasoner (who adopts the role of a god). And although that person may try to frame his conclusions on reason, they actually are based on preferences and biases. Their foundation cannot be attributed to traditional understanding or to truth. When everyone is permitted to do his own reasoning, tradition is discarded and held in disdain, and the results are predictable—or one could say, unpredictable.

We are now living in a time of chaos and confusion, and truth and the sacred are irrelevant.

Published in Group Writing
This post was promoted to the Main Feed by a Ricochet Editor at the recommendation of Ricochet members. Like this post? Want to comment? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Join Ricochet for Free.

There are 49 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. I Walton Member
    I Walton
    @IWalton

    In the largest most complex economy in human history and the most diverse population, we can’t abandon bottom up governance, but what the hell can that mean in the modern infinitely complex economy?  I’ve not a clue,  but we have to figure it out because the US is not governable from the top and we’re seeing it daily.    The top will continue to consolidate, we’ll never get power away from them if they can steal the next election and we will collapse, even without the Chinese pushing us down.  We’re in the hands of absolute idiots and they’re consolidating their power not losing it. 

    • #1
  2. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    I Walton (View Comment):

    In the largest most complex economy in human history and the most diverse population, we can’t abandon bottom up governance, but what the hell can that mean in the modern infinitely complex economy? I’ve not a clue, but we have to figure it out because the US is not governable from the top and we’re seeing it daily. The top will continue to consolidate, we’ll never get power away from them if they can steal the next election and we will collapse, even without the Chinese pushing us down. We’re in the hands of absolute idiots and they’re consolidating their power not losing it.

    Maybe I’ll have some answers when I finish Hazony’s book! The strategy exists, but are we willing to implement it?

    • #2
  3. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Susan Quinn: We are now living in a time of chaos and confusion, and truth and the sacred are irrelevant.

    They are relevant, and it will be realized once more as the results of thinking otherwise come to pass.

    • #3
  4. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn: We are now living in a time of chaos and confusion, and truth and the sacred are irrelevant.

    They are relevant, and it will be realized once more as the results of thinking otherwise come to pass.

    Arahant, who are you looking to for providing the “thinking otherwise”? The churches? The religious leaders? Will they survive the onslaught from those who disagree with them?

    • #4
  5. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn: We are now living in a time of chaos and confusion, and truth and the sacred are irrelevant.

    They are relevant, and it will be realized once more as the results of thinking otherwise come to pass.

    Arahant, who are you looking to for providing the “thinking otherwise”? The churches? The religious leaders? Will they survive the onslaught from those who disagree with them?

    “The results of thinking otherwise” is one clause. Those who do not think that truth and the sacred are relevant will someday get slapped by the truth. History provides plenty of such examples.

    • #5
  6. Unsk Member
    Unsk
    @Unsk

    Great Post Susan!

    And much of what the Progressive Left calls “reason” is just rhetorical sophistry based  upon at best half truths, devoid of any deep logical analysis.  When faced with any true debate over issues based upon their “reason” they run and hide very quickly.

    Past societies, like Greece or Renaissance Florence,  that glorified knowledge and “reason” , also glorified debate where differing points of   view were argued rigorously so what happened is a process in which  ideas based upon “reason” were refined, clarified and developed to a much higher level.  The first thought to be Art Historian, Giorgio Vasari , who coined the term “Renaissance”, claimed that the reason Renaissance Florence developed so many artists, architects and thinkers was it’s culture of rigorous debate.

    Now contrast that culture of rigorous debate with the cancel culture of censorship promoted by our hallowed Progressives, where any semblance of debate is attacked as “domestic terroism” and those who attempt to voice differing views are viciously attacked as well. Such a culture will not develop ideas  but will stifle them, and that culture will quickly decline and essentially die as a result.

    • #6
  7. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn: We are now living in a time of chaos and confusion, and truth and the sacred are irrelevant.

    They are relevant, and it will be realized once more as the results of thinking otherwise come to pass.

    Arahant, who are you looking to for providing the “thinking otherwise”? The churches? The religious leaders? Will they survive the onslaught from those who disagree with them?

    “The results of thinking otherwise” is one clause. Those who do not think that truth and the sacred are relevant will someday get slapped by the truth. History provides plenty of such examples.

    Actually, I think you’re correct. At least I hope and pray that you are.

    • #7
  8. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Unsk (View Comment):
    Now contrast that culture of rigorous debate with the cancel culture of censorship promoted by our hallowed Progressives, where any semblance of debate is attacked as “domestic terroism” and those who attempt to voice differing views are viciously attacked as well. Such a culture will not develop ideas  but will stifle them, and that culture will quickly decline and essentially die as a result.

    Thanks, Unsk. Very well said. My hope is that, as Arahant suggests, we begin to turn the ship around.

    • #8
  9. Doug Watt Moderator
    Doug Watt
    @DougWatt

    There is a saying that is attributed to St. Thomas Aquinas that I will paraphrase. Few men are swayed by a logical argument, far fewer can construct a logical argument.

    • #9
  10. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    That is why I challenge materialists who toss about the concepts “good” and “bad”. Once you dip your toe into abstract concepts for which you have no basis of measurement, you are undone.

    • #10
  11. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    Doug Watt (View Comment):

    There is a saying that is attributed to St. Thomas Aquinas that I will paraphrase. Few men are swayed by a logical argument, far fewer can construct a logical argument.

    Facts on the ground is more persuasive to most folks than logical argument. It’s a shame we must go there.

    • #11
  12. Nohaaj Coolidge
    Nohaaj
    @Nohaaj

    A glaring and blatant example of your title : “Truth and Sacred are irrelevant” can be found in the Pulitzer Prize board’s recent statement about awards granted to the rags that produced and breathlessly covered RussiaGate false stories. 

    From the story: The board said it had commissioned two “independent reviews” of the contested coverage, which “converged in their conclusions: that no passages or headlines, contentions or assertions in any of the winning submissions were discredited by facts that emerged subsequent to the conferral of the prizes. The 2018 Pulitzer Prizes in National Reporting stand.”

    The Truth is irrelevant. The message is clear:  You peons must believe what we tell you.

    • #12
  13. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Nohaaj (View Comment):
    The board said it had commissioned two “independent reviews” of the contested coverage, which “converged in their conclusions: that no passages or headlines, contentions or assertions in any of the winning submissions were discredited by facts that emerged subsequent to the conferral of the prizes. The 2018 Pulitzer Prizes in National Reporting stand.”

    How pathetic, Nohaaj. That the original “facts” were false was irrelevant.

    • #13
  14. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    they neglect to realize that reason, by itself, can lead people in a multitude of directions; reason is no guarantee that people will reach agreement on a strategy, because every person will define his or her own understanding of a “reasoned” approach.

    I found buried in my personal notes this:

    Reason is the ability to change our thinking when provided new information by use of logic.

    The way the progressive left has used it would justify one man’s truth as it being perfectly safe to run into the middle of the road simply because they have never personally been harmed while doing so. Never mind that the more people embrace this truth, the more likely many people will choose to run into the road and the more likely someone will discover the real truth that running in the road is dangerous.

    That is the entire justification of libertinism.

    • #14
  15. Jim McConnell Member
    Jim McConnell
    @JimMcConnell

    Unsk (View Comment):
    Such a culture will not develop ideas  but will stifle them, and that culture will quickly decline and essentially die as a result.

    I worry about how much that we all cherish will perish with them.

    • #15
  16. Jim McConnell Member
    Jim McConnell
    @JimMcConnell

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Nohaaj (View Comment):
    The board said it had commissioned two “independent reviews” of the contested coverage, which “converged in their conclusions: that no passages or headlines, contentions or assertions in any of the winning submissions were discredited by facts that emerged subsequent to the conferral of the prizes. The 2018 Pulitzer Prizes in National Reporting stand.”

    How pathetic, Nohaaj. That the original “facts” were false was irrelevant.

    The board’s statement is simply and example of what we in the Army termed “CYA.”

    • #16
  17. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Jim McConnell (View Comment):
    The board’s statement is simply and example of what we in the Army termed “CYA.”

    And yet if you read it carefully, it makes no sense at all. Sigh.

    • #17
  18. Jim McConnell Member
    Jim McConnell
    @JimMcConnell

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Jim McConnell (View Comment):
    The board’s statement is simply and example of what we in the Army termed “CYA.”

    And yet if you read it carefully, it makes no sense at all. Sigh.

    Yes, I think that’s why they made it, “nothing to see here…”

    • #18
  19. Caryn Thatcher
    Caryn
    @Caryn

    Hazony, as I’ve said before, is one of my favorite teachers.  He has a not-to-be-missed series on Nationalism at Tikvah (I’ve listened to all 6 lectures twice and will likely do so again).  Also his recent interview with Peter Robinson on Uncommon Knowledge about the book you’re reading.  I like him very much!

    • #19
  20. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Caryn (View Comment):

    Hazony, as I’ve said before, is one of my favorite teachers. He has a not-to-be-missed series on Nationalism at Tikvah (I’ve listened to all 6 lectures twice and will likely do so again). Also his recent interview with Peter Robinson on Uncommon Knowledge about the book you’re reading. I like him very much!

    I’ve signed up for the series!

    • #20
  21. Jon Gabriel, Ed. Admin
    Jon Gabriel, Ed.
    @jon

    Reminds me of the constant phrase in the Book of Judges: “In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” Any time you read that, you know ancient Israel will be further from G-d in the following chapter.

    • #21
  22. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Jon Gabriel, Ed. (View Comment):

    Reminds me of the constant phrase in the Book of Judges: “In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” Any time you read that, you know ancient Israel will be further from G-d in the following chapter.

    And we can look at governance in Israel today, and they still can’t get it right

    • #22
  23. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Jon Gabriel, Ed. (View Comment):

    Reminds me of the constant phrase in the Book of Judges: “In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” Any time you read that, you know ancient Israel will be further from G-d in the following chapter.

    And we can look at governance in Israel today, and they still can’t get it right

    They bounced Benny for bottle deposits?

    • #23
  24. Nanocelt TheContrarian Member
    Nanocelt TheContrarian
    @NanoceltTheContrarian

    Unfortunately, Hazony continues to attack the American Founding (based too much on “Enlightenment” thinking for his taste) as well as Reason. His apparent hostility to the American Founding seems to indicate his disdain for our  freedoms as originally set out in the Constitution. He does not seem to realize that the American Founding was not so much an “Enlightenment” event as it was a Reformation event–based as it was on a Calvinistic theology (see the works of Jonathan Edwards, one of the drivers of the First Great Awakening, who, contrary to Hazony or Moehler, understood the actual science of his day and address its relation to Theology, which Hazony and Moehler cannot do–Edwards can be credited with a significant contribution to the American Founding, which differed as night from day from the overtly atheistic, violently so, French Revolution). The primary “Enlightenment” thinkers (Including Adam Smith and David Hume) were overtly hostile to religion (Christianity), yes, and Enlightenment thinkers (who coined the term themselves–it was a PR stunt, and in my view, Pinker’s view of Enlightenment Now is more like Enlightenment NOT) were atheists, but that does not mean that Newton or Locke were hostile to religion. Quite the opposite. That others later utterly distorted their work does not mean the blame for our current state of depravity is due to them. Unfortunately, Hazony’s recent podcast with Albert Moehler was a love-fest of hostility to the American Founding, at least as I heard it. Dr. Moehler should know better, but apparently not. Perhaps there is some truth to the charge that Evangelicals ARE hostile to the American Founding, which comes as a surprise to me, as much as I identify (sorry about the term) as an Evangelical Christian, or at least attempt to follow a Christianity based on Reform Theology. 

    And by the way, Israel as it existed under Judges, did not start out as estranged from God. And Israel was warned against wanting a king. So, is Hazony advocating for a theocracy/monarchy, of the Judaic sort? That apparently is his preferred form of governance. If we could only get God to select such a king, perhaps that would work out, but then it didn’t work out so well with Saul.  Mostly the problems seem to arise from the iniquity of the people, as well as of their rulers. 

    From what I can gather at this point, not having read Hazony’s book, or books, I am quite offended by his apparently labelling of anyone who has any vested interest in Science as somehow not a conservative. I would argue that Science that is actually Science is what Hazony is advocating for in his call for endless discussions of issues from various perspectives to arrive at some grasp of Truth or reality. Science adds empirical and experimental evidence to the discussion, rather than just pontification. He contradicts himself and destroys his own thesis. “Science” of the real sort is Hazony’s ultimate Conservatism.

    • #24
  25. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    Unfortunately, Hazony continues to attack the American Founding (based too much on “Enlightenment” thinking for his taste) as well as Reason.

    There is a lot more enlightenment thinking in our current iteration, regardless how the founders were going about it.

    The Semitic and eastern people elevate wisdom over other forms of information, and the enlightenment destabilizes foundations of wisdom founded in religion (especially Christianity). It may not have been a pure effort of the enlightenment to make religion obsolete, but the thinking birthed from it has led to that. Consider the heritage of philosophy and science post enlightenment vs pre- enlightenment. There’s a pretty solid move from the height of Christian scholarship to the atheistic nihilism that exists today.

    Be careful with elevating the enlightenment over God. It is flawed, as is anything developed by man.

    • #25
  26. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Nanocelt TheContrarian (View Comment):
    Edwards can be credited with a significant contribution to the American Founding, which differed as night from day from the overtly atheistic, violently so, French Revolution).

    The biggest problem the French Revolution had was too much Rousseau. A little Rousseau spoils a lot. A lot of Rousseau spoils everything. The French had a lot of Rousseau.

    • #26
  27. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Nanocelt TheContrarian (View Comment):
    Perhaps there is some truth to the charge that Evangelicals ARE hostile to the American Founding, which comes as a surprise to me, as much as I identify (sorry about the term) as an Evangelical Christian, or at least attempt to follow a Christianity based on Reform Theology.

    Nanocelt, you are clearly very knowledgable regarding some of these issues, but I think you are at at distinct disadvantage, not having read Hazony’s work; you’ve drawn conclusions that I don’t understand. That you believe Hazony was hostile to the American Founding–is based on what? No wonder you are surprised. What he refuses to accept is a life view based solely on reason without any appreciation of the role of religion and traditional values.

    Nanocelt TheContrarian (View Comment):
    And by the way, Israel as it existed under Judges, did not start out as estranged from God. And Israel was warned against wanting a king. So, is Hazony advocating for a theocracy/monarchy, of the Judaic sort? That apparently is his preferred form of governance. If we could only get God to select such a king, perhaps that would work out, but then it didn’t work out so well with Saul.  Mostly the problems seem to arise from the iniquity of the people, as well as of their rulers.

    Israel was warned against a king, but ultimately G-d accepted their desire for one. They didn’t fare well. Where do you come up with Hazony recommending a king? Certainly the Jews caused a lot of their own problems, but that was a problem over the ages.

    Nanocelt TheContrarian (View Comment):
    From what I can gather at this point, not having read Hazony’s book, or books, I am quite offended by his apparently labelling of anyone who has any vested interest in Science as somehow not a conservative.

    Again, you don’t understand Hazony’s point. A strict reliance on science and the material is clearly a mistake. It isn’t science, per se. You’d be helped in your critique if you were better informed.

    • #27
  28. Brian Scarborough Coolidge
    Brian Scarborough
    @Teeger

    Nanocelt TheContrarian (View Comment):

    Unfortunately, Hazony continues to attack the American Founding (based too much on “Enlightenment” thinking for his taste) as well as Reason. His apparent hostility to the American Founding seems to indicate his disdain for our freedoms as originally set out in the Constitution. He does not seem to realize that the American Founding was not so much an “Enlightenment” event as it was a Reformation event–based as it was on a Calvinistic theology (see the works of Jonathan Edwards, one of the drivers of the First Great Awakening, who, contrary to Hazony or Moehler, understood the actual science of his day and address its relation to Theology, which Hazony and Moehler cannot do–Edwards can be credited with a significant contribution to the American Founding, which differed as night from day from the overtly atheistic, violently so, French Revolution). The primary “Enlightenment” thinkers (Including Adam Smith and David Hume) were overtly hostile to religion (Christianity), yes, and Enlightenment thinkers (who coined the term themselves–it was a PR stunt, and in my view, Pinker’s view of Enlightenment Now is more like Enlightenment NOT) were atheists, but that does not mean that Newton or Locke were hostile to religion. Quite the opposite. That others later utterly distorted their work does not mean the blame for our current state of depravity is due to them. Unfortunately, Hazony’s recent podcast with Albert Moehler was a love-fest of hostility to the American Founding, at least as I heard it. Dr. Moehler should know better, but apparently not. Perhaps there is some truth to the charge that Evangelicals ARE hostile to the American Founding, which comes as a surprise to me, as much as I identify (sorry about the term) as an Evangelical Christian, or at least attempt to follow a Christianity based on Reform Theology.

     

    I agree. The Founding was much more Christian than Enlightenment. Besides, the American form of Enlightenment was much milder than the European version. Other than Paine, we have Franklin and Jefferson who were pro-religion much like conservative atheists today. 

    I have no idea why anyone would think that evangelicals are in any way hostile to the Founding. They strongly emphasize its Christian roots and the participation of the churches before and during the Revolution. And it was not just the Reformed (Puritans and Baptist) who supported it either. It was across the board with the exception of the Methodists. (John Wesley opposed the rebellion of the colonies.) 

    • #28
  29. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Brian Scarborough (View Comment):
    I have no idea why anyone would think that evangelicals are in any way hostile to the Founding.

    Did you see this in Hazony’s writing or are you working off the previous comment?

    • #29
  30. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    I have known Yoram Hazony since 1989. He is a brilliant and deeply good man. But even then, I was aware of an unbridgeable division between us.

    Yoram wants a good world. But he does not agree that freedom is the sine qua non of goodness.

    My understanding of the Torah is that G-d does not want us to merely be good. He really wants us to be free to choose good. Without that freedom, there is no choice, and ultimately no good.

    • #30
Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.