Sunday, March 11, 2007


Once upon a time intellectuals who sought to understand the modern world looked to the giants of intellectual thought from humanity's past. In the wisdom of their writings we would be able to find the words and meanings relevant to analyzing the events of today. But now, it is as if history has been turned upside down. We no longer look to the past to understand ourselves and our journey--instead we use our present feelings and our modern understandings and prejudices to reinterpret and deconstruct the past.

Is it any wonder that we are horribly confused and disoriented, not knowing who we are or where we are going? Is it any wonder that today's events do not seem to have any rhyme or reason? Modern philosophical assumptions distort and/or obscure any appreciation of our own past. Where once we strove to understand the thinkers and events of the past by placing them within their own context and culture; it is now common practice to judge them by contemporary standards and inclinations.

That this rather perversely condescending and ultimately nihilistic tendency is a direct result of the essential narcissism of our times there is no doubt. Only a narcissist of the most pathological sort could or would haughtily dismiss Plato or Aristotle as merely primitive Greeks; or reject the writings of a Thomas Jefferson or John Adams because they were white male slaveholders. Only a self-absorbed postmodernist who believes he has all the answers to not only current problems, but that his superior and perfect intellect has nothing to gain by considering the admittedly imperfect thinkers and ideas of the past.

The dilemma of the postmodern narcissist is thus an unqualified belief in his or her own righteousness and moral obligation to judge the past; that is simultaneously combined with an aggressive ignorance about it.

1 comment:

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