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History, Evolution, and The Darwin Debate

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Views of the Enlightenment

March 16th, 2015 · No Comments

http://darwiniana.com/2015/03/15/pinker-on-peace-in-world-history/
John Gray’s conservative take on the Enlightenment is tired fare at this point. Who wishes to deny a ‘dark side to the Enlightenment’. I think that general commentary here, next to postmodernism, has lost the correct perspective on the place of the Enlightenment in world history. The macro model of world history makes the issue transparent: the model forces us to see, not a series of isolated ‘events’ such as the Enlightenment, but their place in a larger framework of the modern transition. There the Enlightenment falls into place at once as the setting of a keynote for a new era to come, and that reverberates even into our own time. So what if there was a dark side? And the attribution of all sorts of conservative bugbears to the Enlightenment is incorrect. Blaming all the evils of revolution on this period is absurd (meanwhile conservatives never criticize the economic revolution of capitalism in its dire aspects). In the larger context of world history the Enlightenment is both a profound breakthrough and a kind of ‘grand cliche circus’ of modernity. And it did its main job beautifully. Especially confused is the attempt to blame the evils of Stalinism, say, on the Enlightenment. The model in WHEE can help to see how these profound/superficial movements stage turning points and in the wake of the Enlightenment a new era commences that continues to this day. In fact the danger is the loss of the early modern heritage altogether. Conservatives miss the point: they themselves are creating disaster: look at the destruction of the heritage of democracy in the last generation of the US, a staged neo-con coup d’etat, complete with false-flag fascism on a grand scale.

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