Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Future

Leonard Peikoff on the future:

There is no future for the world except through a rebirth of the Aristotelian approach to philosophy. This would require an Aristotelian affirmation of the reality of existence, of the sovereignty of reason, of life on earth—and of the splendor of man.

Aristotle and Objectivism agree on fundamentals and, as a result, on this last point, also. Both hold that man can deal with reality, can achieve values, can live non-tragically. Neither believes in man the worm or man the monster; each upholds man the thinker and therefore man the hero. Aristotle calls him "the great-souled man." Ayn Rand calls him Howard Roark, or John Galt.

In every era, by their nature, men must struggle: they must work, knowingly or not, to actualize some vision of the human potential, whether consistent or contradictory, exalted or debased. They must, ultimately, make a fundamental choice, which determines their other choices and their fate. The fundamental choice, which is always the same, is the epistemological choice: reason or non-reason.

Since men's grasp of reason and their versions of non-reason differ from era to era, according to the extent of their knowledge and their virtue, so does the specific form of the choice, and its specific result.

In the ancient world, after centuries of a gradual decline, the choice was the ideas of classical civilization or the ideas of Christianity. Men chose Christianity. The result was the Dark Ages.

In the medieval world, a thousand years later, the choice was Augustine or Aquinas. Men chose Aquinas. The result was the Renaissance.

In the Enlightenment world, four centuries later, the founders of America struggled to reaffirm the choice of their Renaissance ancestors, but they could not make it stick historically. The result was a magnificent new country, with a built-in self-destructor.

Today, in the United States, the choice is the Founding Fathers and the foundation they never had, or Kant and destruction. The result is still open.

The Ominous Parallels, Leonard Peikoff, p. 311-2

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