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June 05, 2005

From Science, editor Donald Kennedy's Twilight for the Enlightenment? (from the 4/8/05 issue) is well worth reading. He contemplates how the current Rightwing and the religious evangelical movements are working together to roll back science, healthcare, and separation of church and state, among other things, and says that those of us who have benefited from the Enlightenment (that would be all of us, in case you're wondering) should be stewards to protect what we've learned.

Posted by AnneZook at 04:00 PM


As much as I am a child of Enlightenment myself, I'm enough of an historian and realist to know that Enlightenment was never the only strain in Western affairs, European or American. It is one strain, and as much as I like to rail against obscurantism and irrationalism, it is not going to die anytime soon.

Yes, it's important to take these fights seriously. But the minute we panic, as soon as we allow that we're losing the debate (not the politics), we are digging ourselves in deeper.

Englightenment was a good thing -- though not a perfect one -- and even those who claim to despise it benefit from it in many ways. Hold to that firmly but not clingingly, and remain loud but not shrill [ranting, though, is entirely permitted for you, Anne, because you're so good at it], and we will remain the voice of reason. Lone (a duo, at least, you and I) or a great chorus, we must remain that voice of reason.

Posted by: Jonathan Dresner at June 6, 2005 05:30 AM

I thought about mentioning how the Englightenment wasn't the be-all and end-all of civilization but upon considering the article carefully, I decided that that wasn't what he was trying to say. (And a certain latitude is allowed for commentary, versus "journalism.")

I also decided that the "warning" that we're losing our grasp on reality (my words, of course, not his) was worth repeating from this different source.

(Thank you for the exemption...I don't believe I could stop ranting if I tried. And I have tried!)

Posted by: Anne at June 6, 2005 12:28 PM

I may have read more into it than was there: it sounded a lot like this eulogy for Enlightenment thinking, which provoked this critique of academia, to which I replied, in part, with this. So I have some, ahem, history there.

Posted by: Jonathan Dresner at June 6, 2005 04:00 PM