Wednesday, 18 December 2019

"Neither evidence nor logic penetrates the fog in which they have been reared. It is difficult to bring one to any conclusion, when detached from the group. They will say, 'Well, I just don't think so,' as if there could be no facts or connected mental processes which should lead to one opinion rather than another, or distinguish a conviction from a taste." #QotD


"Western education has moved steadily towards the [group] basis; that is its 'progressive' tendency. Class acitivities, group interests, social influences have become predominant. And the prevailing philosophy with which pupils are indoctrinated is that of 'instrumentalism' [i.e., pragmatism], which  denies that there are any universal or permanent [facts], moral values, or standards.
    "The most striking result is precisely that ... neither evidence nor logic penetrates the fog in which they have been reared. It is difficult to bring one to any conclusion, when detached from the group. They will say, 'Well, I just don't think so,' as if there could be no facts or connected mental processes which should lead to one opinion rather than another, or distinguish a conviction from a taste.
    "They have an impression that 'everything is different now' from anything that may have been in the past; though they have no idea what or how. Do not two and two still make four? Does not a lever operate on exactly the same principle today as it did for Archimedes? They do not quite know. They may say, 'Oh, I don't agree with you,' but they can give no reason for dissent. They are 'not quite convinced,' but they can offer no argument in rebuttal.
    "That is to say, when called upon to think, they cannot, because they have been trained to accept the class, the group, the 'social trend,' as the sole authority. As far as it can be done, they have been reduced to 'ganglions,' neural processes in a collective 'body,' instead of persons."

        ~ Isabel Paterson, from her 1943 book The God of the Machine.

2 comments:

  1. It's interesting this was stated in 1943, and sounds similar to complaints you hear about modern millennials. On the one hand I think there's a tendency for every generation to look at the younger generation and think something similar. Older minds tend to take what they know for granted. Younger minds are developing, and will often have opinions without being able to articulate well the reasons for them. On the other hand, if you consider what was happening around 1943 and the decades prior, it shows how the world can go to hell if youth aren't guided through this stage of immaturity into something more solid.

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    Replies
    1. Or it could be that the behaviour observed in millennials et al is the *result* of developments in education that Paterson was observing back in 1943 ...

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