a transparent, secular, liberal democracy. Think about those words, for they each has profound meaning. Transparent because government must be openly accountable to the people and never abuse their trust. Secular because in a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural society such as ours, secularism offers the only common ground by which we might all be united. Liberal because we recognize that all human beings are created different, and we need to accept others for what they are and not what we would like them to be. And democratic… well, if you need me to explain why that is important
As expected, it took students much longer to assess the veracity of true scientific statements that cut against our instincts. In every scientific category, from evolution to astronomy to thermodynamics, students paused before agreeing that the earth revolves around the sun, or that pressure produces heat, or that air is composed of matter. Although we know these things are true, we have to push back against our instincts, which leads to a measurable delay.
the European Enlightenment. Two fundamental ideas were at its core: the individual is rational, and the individual is endowed with inalienable rights. These two beliefs formed the basis of a secular faith in modernity, of which the ultimate political manifestation is democracy.
For all the variations, the common theory of human nature underlying contemporary secular humanism seems to be cosmopolitan utilitarianism, the conviction that human beings, if liberated from superstition by science, would behave less like selfish, scheming social apes and more like self-sacrificing social insects, giving their all for the good of the 7 billion members of the global human hive.
Now we live in an age of distraction, an age dominated by bombardment coming from the screen … We live, too, in the age of the Tea Party, a movement that cherishes stupidity and zealotry and hates thinking, reading, and teaching. If these people had their way, we’d be done with teaching. It shows the weak-mindedness that has descended upon America, the proclivity for nonsense and political hatred, the disrespect for literature, history, and serious thinking. There is only one remedy to the current predicament, and that is to encourage people to think independently. And that, in turn, begins with reading. People need to remember the best that has been said and thought in the past. That is the starting point, and that is the path, out of our current appalling situation.
even as our culture, in Bloom’s words, races “down the cliffs to intellectual suicide in the gray ocean of the Internet.
If we can cure ourselves of our longing for some sort of god-like conspectus of what it means to be human, or the construction of ourselves as some new prosthetic God through technology, bound by the self-satisfied myth of unlimited human progress, then we might let be. This, we would insist, is why we need theater, especially tragedy— “absent thee from felicity awhile.