Zenster: The Toxic Nihilism of the Academy

Over at The Belmont Club, Zenster contributes a brilliant comment on Wretchard’s post about the year the Clintons spent in Berkeley. I have reprinted it in total for ease of reference.

Boomers were one of the first generations to grow up completely immersed in liberal academia’s toxic brew of uncertainty and nebulous definitions.

It is impossible to overstate how damaging to young minds modern academia’s school of nihilist “thought” truly is. Let’s examine its “tenets”: (Try to recall how many times you told the following.)

1. You can never know anything for sure.

2. There’s no right or wrong, just shades of grey.

3. Truth is subjective.

4. Logic is conditional.

5. There are no absolutes.

6. Life is without meaning.

All of the above—now commonly held—”tenets” engender belief in a malevolent universe. They spawn pessimism, insecurity, cynicism and the ready dismissal of established norms. All of these behaviors are prerequisites for the subordination of less capable minds by those who seek to control them. Loosing an individual from the moorings of rational philosophy makes those cut adrift extremely vulnerable to programming of any sort. Cults and brainwashers are notorious for using such methods in recruiting new members or inducing political defections.

Let’s examine these modern “tenets” one by one:

You can never know anything for sure.

I’ve had people actually try to argue with me about how I can be so sure that the sun will rise tomorrow. My simple reply is that such debate is irrelevant because if the sun does not rise, all life will end and further dispute serves no valid purpose. Ayn Rand addresses this in her law of identity: A=A. Certain laws do hold with a degree of immutability whereby they can be accepted as absolute. The lack of surety bred up by this one supposition is amongst the most damaging of all to young minds.

There’s no right or wrong, just shades of grey.

Whenever confronted with this utter nonsense simply ask, “When is rape permissible?” There are certain things in this world that are wrong and to think otherwise is indicates an unwholesome degree of moral flexibility. It fosters an ability to tolerate the intolerable. This particular “tenet” serves as a cornerstone of moral relativism and represents a core driver of Multiculturalism’s refusal to condemn even the most hideous of traditions.

Truth is subjective.

There can be no better way of undermining an individual’s personal convictions than by making truth circumstantial. Welcome to the brave new world of “truthiness”. When a person’s moral compass is demagnetized its poles become interchangeable and from thereon it’s all a downhill slide. Once you leave the mountaintop of moral clarity all perspective is lost and certainty perishes swiftly thereafter.

Logic is conditional.

This is how you strip the mind’s gearbox and destroy any transmission of meaningful reality. Critical analysis is impossible without the guideposts of logic. Once this guardian of intellect is slain any barbarian can crash the gates of reason. Constructive criticism and the assassination of ideas suddenly become indistinguishable. Deform this vital toolset and there is no way to repair the damage done by the preceding “tenets”.

There are no absolutes.

Tear out the moorings of mental discrimination and personal judgment becomes impossible. Witness the recent pejorative cast given to the word “discrimination”. Although wholly different in meaning, it is now demonized with the same negative connotations attributed to the word “prejudice”. Little value is held in the ability to discern between right and wrong. Especially so when the difference between right and wrong has already been denied. When people cannot make up their own minds the time is ripe for someone else to do it for them.

Life is without meaning.

Here is the grand finale for those who seek to subvert humanity and civilization. Eliminate a sense of individual purpose in life and blind obedience becomes—not just a welcome relief from crippling disorientation—but an easy descent into conformity and total lack of free thought. Communism sought to do this by alienating workers from their labor, product and compensation. Make a person’s work irrelevant to their daily living and life rapidly becomes meaningless. Have the result of human labor bear no direct relation to personal survival and existence loses its importance. Reward individuals in ways that have little connection to their efforts and soon they lose all contact with reality.

Authoritarian religions do this as well. They attempt to channel all human spirituality into a more narrow definition that serves only their own ends. True liberation of the mind represents a least desirable outcome. Life’s meaning can only be perceived within the limited confines of hidebound doctrine and not via an individual quest for uplift.

Now, combine all of these “tenets” together and you brew up an intellectual poison so toxic that there is little chance of escaping its fatal effects. The antidotes of reason, logic and morality have all been diluted into impotence and little more remains than being led to the slaughterhouse. Welcome to Htrae, the Bizarro World of Politically Correct thinking and Multiculturalism.

Trackposted to The Pink Flamingo, Big Dog’s Weblog, Cao’s Blog, Rosemary’s Thoughts, Chuck Adkins, Adam’s Blog, Right Voices, and Shadowscope, thanks to Linkfest Haven Deluxe.

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8 responses to “Zenster: The Toxic Nihilism of the Academy

  1. You might like this. I heard a discussion once about what is the definition of a fact.

    The speaker stated while it’s extremely hard to prove things absolutely, a fact is something that is so well known and understood that it wouldn’t serve any purpose to dispute it. For example, saying that it’s colder at the North Pole than at the equator really doesn’t deserve any further discussion.

    By the way, the sun doesn’t actually rise. We’re orbiting around the sun and not the other way around. It comes from old beliefs that Earth was the center of everything.

  2. As a pragmatist myself, that definition of fact is easy for me to accept. To a pragmatist, a fact is something that is so obviously and easily useful that it doesn’t make any sense to dispute it. To a pragmatist, usefulness is the measure of truth.

    From a more philosophical point of view, to dispute that anything can be proven is to deny rationality, the applicability of knowledge, and even that mathematical facts hold with concrete objects. If you have one apple and someone gives you another how many do you have? Two? If nothing can be known then this does not follow.

    Finally, the attack on life’s meaning is not just nihilistic, it is anti-science. For even the Darwinist theme of the selfish gene tells us that human life does have a meaning, which is the continuation and growth of life like ours, and the more like ours the more meaningful that life is. Personal immortality is best, then immortality of children, then immortality of siblings and their children, and gradually decreasing with genetic and cultural distance.

    And that is not even going into the moral values of a traditional religion, but into the moral values that come from taking Darwinist theory seriously.

  3. Just watched a fabulous show on Discovery. They were recaping the discoveries that were made in 2007. One that might interest you is the now know that the difference between humans is 5 times greater than they previously throught. That’s way one medicine might work well for one person and not another.

    They also discovered DNA is a leg bone of a T-Rex. What they found is that a Dinasours DNA is most like a chicken.

    It looks like there’s a lot more to come to shake up a lot of what we believe is true now.

    They also discovered that the universe is not curved as Einstein said but rather seems to be flat wherever they look. This boosts the case for parallel universes.

    Finally, they’ve create a map of dark matter. They don’t know what it is, but it seems to make up 96% of the known universe…go figure?

  4. Dear Steve,

    I’m not sure what you are getting at by listing some of the ways that scientific theory is progressing. Does it have an impact on nihilism or is it an interesting tangent?


  5. Just an interesting tangent. But it opens up that what we believe is constantly challenged as we learn more. Since the start of nihilistic philosophy was introduced over 200 years ago, it was based on a very limited understanding of what’s really going on.

    They would have probably told you that something can’t be in two places at once. But we know can demonstrate easily that they can. So not knowing the answer to the question “why” doesn’t mean there isn’t an answer. We just don’t know it yet.

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  7. “Finally, the attack on life’s meaning is not just nihilistic, it is anti-science. ”

    To me, this explains rather a lot about the Left’s embrace of New Age (rhymes with “sewage”) pseudo-science. Be it astrology, homeopathy, scientology, wiccanism, crystals or any other of myriad contrived “systems”, all of them must literally reject the scientific method wholesale in order to retain any credibility.

    Neither does it help to have religious conservatives battering at science with creationism. It is important to note that “intelligent design” is just creationism dressed in a shabby tuxedo. Willfully ignoring the geological record in order to justify a fundamentalist interpretation of allegorical Biblical text is nothing more than belief in the supernatural. It has little to do with the more honorable examination of humanity’s mystic spiritual experience and whatever role a Supreme Being might play in that. Rest assured that life, indeed, does have meaning. It is found most often in productivity and rationality. I’ll remind people that Darwin himself was originally trained to be a clergyman and remained deeply religious to his dying day. Quite curiously, for him there did not seem to be too much conflict between religion and science. He quite reasonably noted that even an omniscent God could not preordain the path of every single raindrop. Well ahead of his time, I would say.

    So, now we have science being eroded from the Left with waves of populist superstition and battered by the Right in collisions with religious fundamentalism. Yet, both sides somehow manage to enjoy science’s many fruits without any sense of contradiction or hypocrisy. I can only compare this with how pious Muslims constantly berate the West’s decadence and revile all things Jewish in their quest to impeccably emulate the pristine life of Mohammed. This, even as they take up modern Western-designed weapons and immunize themselves with Jewish discovered inoculations. Evidently—for all of the above parties—such devout rejection only encroaches to edge of their collective comfort zone but, rather conveniently, no further.

    I’ve even had a liberal suggest in open company that science is just another religion. I challenged her to name one single religion that voluntarily abandons even its most long-held and cherished articles of belief when confronted with their disproof. She had no response when asked which religions intentionally subject their own tenets to tests for falsification and other such methods of validation. This only demonstrates how badly current society has degraded the concept of what science actually is.

    Finally, it is less than amusing to see people approach science with a “cafeteria” attitude, as if they can adopt some but not all of its implications. Anyone should feel free to doubt whatever scientific conclusions they wish but only so long as they make the effort to correct any perceived errors therein. Science is no more infallible than religion, it just happens to more cheerfully adopt the onerous task of redefining itself when faced with internal errors. Far too many people seek out the refuge of pseudo-science or religion in an attempt to avoid confronting glaring inconsistencies within their personal philosophical and perceptual constructs.

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