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"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Exploring ‘Explaining Postmodernism’ By Stephen Hicks 3: Reason Is Over-rated

Posted on | November 29, 2011 | 11 Comments

by Smitty
Heidegger, Heidegger was a boozy beggar who could think you under the table.’
The Enlightenment triggered vast improvement in the human condition, but also triggered reactions on the European continent. If Kant laid a left full rudder on philosophy, and Hegel brought philosophy’s engineering plant to ahead full, then Heidegger steadied the philosophy on a Postmodern course to ruin. This post covers roughly the first half of the 20th Century, when Postmodernism was busy planting the crappy seeds that are bearing the crappy fruit we see in our culture.

Like Kant, Heidegger believed reason to be a superficial phenomenon, and he adopted the Kantian concept of words and concepts as obstacles to our coming to know Reality, or Being. (Hicks, 58)

Do not think objects, Heidegger counselled, think fields. Do not think subject, think experience. (Hicks,59)

Where this seems to be headed is some watered-down Eastern-style direction, where individuality is scuttled. Reason is discarded in favor of an emotionally-centered, present-tense existence.
The Question (“Why is there Being and not rather Nothing?”) is apparently undecidable via reason. Therefore, Reason and Logic must be chucked. As well, since the lung does not support breathing seawater, we should rip out our lungs. Past the sarcasm of the previous sentence, is the point that, when you approach a problem with the wrong tool, strange results follow. In other words, Reason is no failure; rather, Philosophers who think that the central questions of existence yield to Reason are the failure.

Heidegger’s six poison pills (Hicks, 65-66)

1. Conflict and contradiction are the deepest truths of Reality.
. . .that is, if you are a fool who rejects the proper place of Reason and fails to understand that Reality is only approachable spiritually, in that ultimate sense.

2. Reason is subjective and impotent to reach truths about Reality.
So, what? All this is saying is that God does not yield to a closed-form, mathematical solution for anyone. Otherwise, there would not be so much contention among men about Faith. Just because truth is hahrd is no excuse to quit.

3. Reason’s elements–words and concepts–are obstacles that must be un-crusted, subjected to Destruktion, or otherwise unmasked.
This is blaming the tool for not being the project. One could as reasonably throw out all clothing for having failed to prevent coldness. Such a course might have been a good therapy for Heidegger, in fact. Shuddering in the cold may have helped dislodge his head.

4. Logical contradiction is neither a sign of failure nor of anything particularly significant at all.
This explains so much of the Left’s idiocy, from saying government solves problems while attacking government relentlessly while conservatives are in office, to denigrating Christianity whenever possible while pandering to Islam. The Left understands that these contradictions have a corrosive effect on civilization.

5. Feelings, especially morbid feelings of anxiety and dread are a deeper guide than reason
This is a thorough perversion of the idea of the Holy Spirit communicating to the human and offering positive hints as to resolving life’s conflicts.
Furthermore, if anxiety and dread execute in the same wetware as Reason, how can they be more reliable?

6. The entire Western tradition of philosophy–whether Platonic, Aristotelian, Lockean, or Cartesian–based as it is upon the law of non-contradiction and the subject/object distinction, is the enemy to be overcome
There is an enemy, all right, and it is Postmodernism, and this series of posts, if anything, will help pump a few shotgun rounds into this Zombie philosophy of Postmodernism.

Wittgenstein was a beery swine

Philosophy cannot answer its questions because its questions are simply meaningless. (Hicks 72-73)

This sounds fine, but as long as you’re wrecking all meaning, you need to quit living in a house and communicating with words. That is, do not bore me by decadently decrying the meaninglessness of the civilization wherein you derive comfort. Be consistent and go live a feral exisentence, where your foolishness will have better context.

Logical Positivists

The standard Humean/Kantian dichotomy of analytic and synthetic propositions immediately yields a problematic implication: Logical and mathematical propositions are disconnected from experiental reality. (Hicks, 75)

Consider the bar scene in The Inglorious Basterds where the British spy blows his cover by ordering three shots with his ring, middle and index fingers, after the British fashion, vice the thumb, index and middle fingers, as a proper German.
It seems that these Logical Positivists tended to wet themselves that there is no way to go from the abstract concept of “three” to any specific hand-gesture representation of the idea of a whole number between “two” and “four”.
Whoopdy doo! All they are saying here is that metadata is hahrd. Would that the Information Age had commenced in time for these guys to try some coding. Restated, you can’t use your own inability to score a base hit as an argument against the existence of baseball. At least not seriously.

Situational philosophy becomes a moral copout

Logical principles become a matter of which formulations we are “willing” to accept, depending upon whether or not we like the consequences or accepting any given principle. Logical justification, Rorty wrote of Quine’s doctrine, “is not a matter of a special relation between ideas (or words) and objects, but of conversation, of social practice.” (Hicks, 77)

This line of drivel may make sense to an atheist, someone who rejects an absolute Truth and fears no judgment of his soul after this life. If you have no moral bones left in your body, then you are unable to tell that a sexual predator is evil. And if you lack that jugement, then you deserve to be ignored.

Hicks summarizes:

Postmodernism is the first ruthlessly consistent statement of the consequences of rejecting reason, those consequences being necessary given the history of epistemology since Kant.(Hicks, 81)

Reason makes the world go round. Postmodernists should therefore bark like dogs or imitate other animals to express fully their rejection of reason.

Where are we now?
Having stepped away from faith, and sought salvation in intellect, we are spiralling downward into a hellish idiocy.
If we follow my suggestion of cleaving morality and ethics just a little bit, let us say that philosophy targets the ethical end of things; the non-transcendental. This blog post series is not intended as an evangelical foray, after all.
The information that makes up reality, the ideas of ‘three’ or ‘United States’ that inhabit peoples’ conscious, are all stored in individual brains. Each brain is its own database. Deriving the notion of ‘ethical’, therefore, involves the messy task of aggregating and sychronizing all of those subjective databases into societal norms.
This does not mean that ‘truth is a social construct’, however. Morality still provides an objective input to the discussion. Morality is based upon transcendental inputs that are rejected by many (fools).
Thus, at least temporarily, the notion that ‘truth is a social construct’ has certainly proven true; a small group of liars has successfully played the “Hath God said?” card over the last century. What the liars have failed to do, other than damage the foundations of society with lies, is somehow fashion their lies into a new truth.


  1. Introduction
  2. Counter-Enlightenment


11 Responses to “Exploring ‘Explaining Postmodernism’ By Stephen Hicks 3: Reason Is Over-rated”

  1. RS
    November 29th, 2011 @ 9:25 am

    Nice summary.

    I think what we tend to forget is that Kant saw himself in some sense, as the savior of faith. With the advent of the scientific method, and his realization that reason could not “prove” questions of “faith,” he sought to divorce the two into what amounts to “spiritual” truths v. everything else, i.e. empirical truths. The moment Truth was divided is the moment Western Philosophy was doomed, because everything else follows.

  2. richard mcenroe
    November 29th, 2011 @ 9:36 am

    Thinking “fields” not objects tends to break down rather rapidly in intersections… as does the thinker.

  3. John Thomas
    November 29th, 2011 @ 10:51 am

    Solipsism: Still f**kin’ stupid after all of these years.

  4. The Hairy Beast
    November 29th, 2011 @ 2:30 pm

    Twenty years or so ago when Feminism was on the verge of philosophical self destruction (although feminists were still a staple on network news), National Review published an article titled (paraphrasing here) “Feminists Abandon Reason”.  The issue was that feminists at the time were striving mightily to reconcile their need to belive totally opposing concepts as simultaneously true. Hence, they would argue no difference between the sexes, yet women were superior. On one given day they’d hop on the bus to protest all male academies, insisting they allow women in, then the next day they’d ride out to an all female school insisting they keep men out. They’d rail against male privilege then battle to keep female privileges wherever possible. By the late 80’s this dissonance was becoming a bit of an embarassment and postmodernism was trotted out to save them. When your ethos is irrational and you want to save it, you simply abandon reason. As one Feminist said: “If all things may be true, why not Feminism?” Well National Review savaged that sentiment by countering: “Yes, but if all things may be true, why Feminism and not something else?”. Postmodernism did not save feminism, it faded quite a bit over the years anyway and I suspect it won’t save Progressivism either. People understand at an instictive level that when your arguments are so contradictory that you have to abandon rationality to make them,  then what you have to say isn’t worth consideration.

    Meaty stuff, Smitty! I’m hanging on every word!

  5. smitty
    November 29th, 2011 @ 2:36 pm

    Meaty stuff, Smitty! I’m hanging on every word!

    Please, no asphyxiations!

  6. The Hairy Beast
    November 29th, 2011 @ 2:53 pm

    Ok, maybe I was exaggerating a tad.

  7. The Hairy Beast
    November 29th, 2011 @ 3:35 pm

    BTW – the point I was trying to make with the little tale above is that by the late 80’s the left as a whole was deserting Reason because they knew full well that their belief set was shot through with inconsistency. Postmodernism was the alternative – they crafted it to replace Reason, thus allowing them to lurch forward into history for a little while longer.

  8. Anonymous
    November 29th, 2011 @ 3:42 pm

    There was never any good reason for the left.

  9. Jorge Emilio Emrys Landivar
    November 30th, 2011 @ 7:06 am

    Now that the left and much of western society has rejected reason… what can we do?  

    How do you fight conscious irrationality?  It will eventually destroy what is left of our culture if we do not.

  10. Signs of the End
    December 1st, 2011 @ 5:14 am

    […] Exploring ‘Explaining Postmodernism’ By Stephen Hicks 3: Reason Is Over-rated ( […]

  11. doodooecon
    December 1st, 2011 @ 11:42 am

    Let me restate this article in a more general way: humans primary flaw is our ability to rationalize anything. Postmodernism is a rationalization against reasonable objections against the left.