Special Opinion by Paul Plante
In a prior edition of the always interesting, always informative, always educational, and yes, always fascinating Cape Charles Mirror, fascinating because one never knows what one will encounter next in its pages, including a veritable wealth of high intellectual content that is a feast for the inquisitive and searching mind that is not found in the pages of the dry and dusty New York Times or staid Washington Post, in an intellectually-stimulating article which confronted the reader right off the bat in the opening line with an observation by H.L. Mencken that the entire aim of politics is to keep the populace in a state of alarm by menacing it with imaginary hobgoblins, which existential thought neatly dovetailed, in my estimation, with another intellectually stimulating essay on what I consider that same subject, government manipulation of thought, titled “1984 and My Age of Anxiety,” the anxiety being caused by the menacing of imaginary hobgoblins in real life right here in our America, four logical premises were put forth in support of the now-unrefuted proposition that in the United States of America today, the Age of Reason is in fact dead and gone, to wit:
LOGICAL PREMISE 1: The AGE OF REASON in the United States of America is unequivocally and officially dead as of December 2005 when now-Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayer, then an appeals court judge on the 2d Circuit Court of Appeals in New York City, ruled that it was for the good of society-at-large that a professional engineer who would not lie to them or deceive them with “scientific falsehoods” should be declared “mentally ill and dangerous” by the State of New York and consigned to a gulag (state mental hospital) for drug-induced “mind wiping.”
LOGICAL PREMISE 2: The AGE of UN-REASON, or ANTHROPOCENE, a Greek word which translates roughly as AGE of ABSURDITY, came into being definitively in December of 2005, when society-at-large in America accepted without question the ruling of now-Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayer, then an appeals court judge on the 2d Circuit Court of Appeals in New York City, that it was for their own good that a professional engineer who would not lie to them or deceive them with “scientific falsehoods” should be declared “mentally ill and dangerous” by the State of New York and consigned to a gulag (state mental hospital) for drug-induced “mind wiping.”
LOGICAL PREMISE 3: The premise that the AGE of Reason is dead in the United States of America is a thought that follows logically from the observation of H.L. Mencken that the entire aim of politics is to keep the populace in a state of alarm by menacing it with imaginary hobgoblins as little Greta Thunberg did just recently in Davos, where little Greta told not only the Davos crowd of rich dudes but the candid world, as well, that “No political ideology or economic structure has been able to tackle the climate and environmental emergency and create a cohesive and sustainable world, because that world, in case you haven’t noticed, is currently on fire.”
LOGICAL PREMISE 4: Stark proof that we have departed the Age of Reason and advanced firmly into the depths of the ANTHROPOCENE, or AGE of the TOTAL BIZARRE can readily be found in the unchallenged statement of little Greta Thunberg in Davos that the world is on fire, when it is not on fire at all, and where I am, it snowed this morning.
Now, with respect to these four logical premises or propositions put forth in that prior article asserting the end of the Age of Reason in the United States of America, Reason, which must itself have a tangible and palpable existence for an Age of Reason to have an existence, philosophically, is defined as the ability to form and operate upon concepts in abstraction, narrowing information to its bare content, without emotion.
In other words, an ability to reason one’s way through a statement such as “the world is on fire,” to discern the truth or falsity of it, as opposed to accepting it blindly, on faith, because of who it was said by, or where the words came from, which stands in stark contrast to the observation of H.L. Mencken above that the entire aim of modern-day politics is to keep the populace in a state of alarm by menacing it with imaginary hobgoblins, which is true post-Age of Reason, in this AGE of UN-REASON, or ANTHROPOCENE, a Greek word which translates roughly as AGE of ABSURDITY that we are now firmly entrenched in, because if one is able to use reason, as was demanded of us children by society in America when I was young right after WWII, one can clearly see that the world is not on fire, at all, and thus, the hobgoblins are not real.
And thus, the aim of modern-day politics to keep the populace in a state of alarm by menacing it with imaginary hobgoblins is easily defeated by a populace trained from the time of being children, as I was, although not perfectly so, given that I like many others got sucked in by the GREAT SHINING LIE that if we did not fight the Russians in Viet Nam, we would have had to fight them here, just as we now have to fight them in Ukraine, so we don’t have to fight them here, even though we are not at war with Russia and have no intentions of being so, given how close Bill and Hillary Clinton are with Putin of Russia.
So, what has happened to the use of Reason here in the United States of America?
Why have people in America lost the ability to use it?
An existential question for our times, when we as a nation and as a people are beset by imaginary hobgoblins all the way around!
As to the Age of Reason, that which once was in the United States of America, but is no more, for reasons being probed in here, although it is freely admitted that it is insane to try to use rational methods to delve into the reasons for or causes of irrationality, the sciences and academic disciplines including social sciences and the humanities as we knew them when I was young, back before the Anthropocene and its rigid dogmatic thinking set in, a sort of modern-day Puritanism, were based on empirical methods, which were rooted in the Age of Enlightenment, where empirical methods require the ability to use reason and critical thinking, which means to be a sceptic.
Puritanism, on the other hand, is behaviour or beliefs that are based on strict moral or religious principles, and as the original Puritans who came to this country from England to settle New England and impose their views on everyone in the Massachusetts Bay colony believed that God had formed a unique covenant, or agreement, with them, and that God expected them to live according to the Scriptures, to reform the Anglican Church, and to set a good example that would cause those who had remained in England to change their sinful ways, so are we being confronted with a new Puritanism today, this time to reform not the Anglican Church, but the whole of life itself in the United States of America.
So where is this train we are now on in this Age of the Anthropocene, or Age of Un-Reason and Dogma, taking us as a nation and as a people?
Over a cliff like a bunch of lemmings?
The candid world would like to know.