Author and scholar Neal Gabler had an idea about big ideas in this past Sunday’s New York Times:
It is no secret, especially here in America, that we live in a post-Enlightenment age in which rationality, science, evidence, logical argument and debate have lost the battle in many sectors, and perhaps even in society generally, to superstition, faith, opinion and orthodoxy. While we continue to make giant technological advances, we may be the first generation to have turned back the epochal clock — to have gone backward intellectually from advanced modes of thinking into old modes of belief.
It’s a terrible thing that so many of our leaders and talking heads, especially on the right, demonize knowledge the way they do. It’s as if they are afraid that learning things that challenge preconceptions is a direct threat to their sense of self. To a degree, they’re right, but real learning is at its most profound when it jars a person out of ignorance. But I guess comfort is more important than truth.