That Book


Dan at Muscular Liberals cites Why Truth.

Considering the response of some to what can only only be described as Hezbollah propaganda dressed up as reporting called to mind a passage in Ophelia Benson and Jeremy Stangroom’s “Why Truth Matters”, a great book I read whilst on my travels a couple of weeks ago.

Well – that’s pleasing, because I suppose that was the idea. That generally is the idea in books of the ‘let’s all try to think just a little bit carefully’ variety: the hope is that things will link up that way, so that the abundant examples of propaganda dressed up as reporting the world is blessed with will seem not like bizarre one-offs but like examples of a nameable phenomenon such as propaganda dressed up as reporting. Sometimes patterns are illusory but other times they’re very useful; sometimes connections are merely paranoiac imaginings but other times they make sense of apparently random mistakes.

This is the passage he quotes (emphasis his):

There is a frivolity, a lack of responsibility, an indifference to canons of coherence, logic, rationality and relevance – which are reminiscent not of the Left or progressivism, but, as Richard Wolin argues, of counter-Enlightenment and reaction.

That is not an accidental association, it is what counter-Enlightenment and reaction are all about: the rejection of reason, enquiry, logic and evidence, in favour of tradition, religion, instinct, blood and soil, The Nation, The Fatherland. That is the sort of thing that remains standing once canons of coherence and relevance are stripped away. The Left is not well-advised to discredit or undermine reason and respect for truth, because those are ultimately the only tools the Left has against the irrationalist appeals of the Right.

Well, thanks, Dan. I quite like that passage myself.

And it’s pleasantly revelvant to the running argument over cultural relativism and rational argument that’s been going on here lately.

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