Dialectic of the Enlightenment?


Syncretism is the true currency of our time. Living in London, this is more than an erudite remark, is an everyday experience, as this photo taken in a massive technology store in central London shows.

The old complain by Carl Sagan that we have built a society increasingly dependent on science and technology and less and less (on average) productively engaged with them (given declining STEM in the West), can be coupled to the point raised by late Eric Hobsbawm regarding the ubiquity of diametrically different Weltanschauungen.

Granted, Enlightenment is no guarantee of civilization, as Adorno and Horkheimer perceptively noticed: Buchenwald was only few kilometers from Weimar and great metaphysicists were spelling oaths to Hitler in their University Rector’s speech in Freiburg, Baden 1933.

Still, one does not feel at ease with the above photo: premodern habits of male-female interaction coupled with the differential geometry of Google maps in the background. Something is clearly not working here.

“Any metaphysics is ethnocentrism in disguise”, someone would probably counter, “astrology is as good as astronomy”, and “homeopathy can  be given money from the government, as long as people like it”.

Against the above noise stemming from poor understanding of what gives the modern world its foundation, one is left pondering whether the last argument in favor of science, rationality and hard facts must be based on pure taste: whoever fails to notice a contradiction in the photo above seems to have no sense of proportions, seems to lack the intellectual rigor coming from the very foundation of our world, i.e. Science.

Categories: Society

2 replies

  1. Fantastic observation of a glimpse of our society. Is there a formula that combines the theoretical explanation of things (science) with senses (empirical evidence)? Will we see some day the harmonic dance of both and, perhaps an enlightened being?


  2. I remember reading a Charles Darwin’s old age remark where he said he as a mature scientist had lost all interest in poetry, novels and fiction; while as a young man he used to be in love with Shakespeare.
    So I don’t know. Probably not. Maybe life is just that trade-off.

    Liked by 1 person

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