The benefits of magic mushrooms

A study of the effects of psychedelic mushrooms is being hailed as revealing positive benefits.  What interests me is what the scientists and the media consider to be beneficial.  The active ingredient in the mushrooms makes people more emotional, puts them in a continual dream-like state, turns down their higher cognitive abilities (that is, makes them less rational), and dissolves their ego, making them less “narrow-minded.”  Note that  in our postmodern culture, such assaults on the mind are all considered good things! [Read more...]

Homosexuaity as a social construct

Michael W. Hannon reminds us that postmodernist philosopher Michel Foucault, himself a homosexual, has maintained that homosexuality is a social construct.  Until the late 19th century, there was the vice of sodomy, but no one assumed that those who committed it had any kind of special psychology, much less a particular defining identity.

Then again, Foucault believed that virtually everything is a social construct.  And even if homosexuality is a social construct, that doesn’t mean it isn’t real.  But I’m curious about Foucault’s postmodernist disciples, many of whom are champions of the gay cause.  Gay activists seem to take an esssentialist view of homosexuality, that same-sex desire inheres in a gay person’s very nature.  But postmodernists tend to deny essentialism in everything else, including the notion that a human being has any kind of fixed identity.  So when postmodernists make the arguments that they do, are they just employing rhetoric in the pursuit of power? [Read more...]

From the Humanities to the Subhumanities

Part of the problem with the way the humanities are often taught today and part of the problem of postmodernist academia in general is that human beings and works of art are reduced from their complexity into ciphers of gender, sex, class, and race.  Instead of reading an author for what can be learned or appreciating the artistry of the work, he or she is “interrogated”–some scholars actually use that term, a metaphor from the totalitarian police state–for his or her ideological transgressions.

The estimable Anthony Esolen has a piece in the Intercollegiate Review that challenges this reductionism.  He does so with the help of Marilynne Robinson’s Christian novel Gilead. [Read more...]

Triumph of the Will

In my book Postmodern Times, I write about how the will has replaced reason in contemporary thought.  In my book Modern Fascism, I discuss  the great filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl’s celebration of Hitler, The Triumph of the Will, and argue that the phrase encapsulates the philosophy of Fascism. I also contrasted this worldview with that of Luther, who wrote The Bondage of the Will.

I am pleased to see R. R. Reno discussing the same topic, how today the will–what I want, what I desire–trumps everything. [Read more...]

Breakthrough in implanting false memories

Scientists have successfully implanted false memories into mice.  The researches are excited at prospect of applying the same processes to human beings, which they say holds promise for treating emotional problems such as post-traumatic stress disorder.  Read about the experiment after the jump, and then I want to pose some questions. [Read more...]

Why relativism leads to totalitarianism

I’d like to spin off from our reflection a comment Lars Walker made, as we blogged about yesterday in the post The Bible and Liberty:

As Paul Johnson notes in Modern Times, moral relativism always leads to Totalitarianism. Because in a morally relative age, power alone can settle any question.

[Read more...]


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