Sapere aude

People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own souls.

– Carl Jung, Psychology and Alchemy

Enlightenment is man’s release from his self-incurred tutelage. Tutelage is man’s inability to make use of his understanding without direction from another. Self-incurred is this tutelage when its cause lies not in lack of reason but in lack of resolution and courage to use it without direction from another. Sapere aude! ‘Have courage to use your own reason!’- that is the motto of enlightenment.

– Immanuel Kant, What is Enlightenment?

They trespassed upon my thoughts. They were intruders whose knowledge of life was to me an irritating pretense, because I felt so sure they could not possibly know the things I knew. Their bearing, which was simply the bearing of commonplace individuals going about their business in the assurance of perfect safety, was offensive to me like the outrageous flauntings of folly in the face of a danger it is unable to comprehend. I had no particular desire to enlighten them, but I had some difficulty in restraining myself from laughing in their faces, so full of stupid importance.

– Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness

I was recently scrolling through homeschooling pages and saw one mother advocating for teaching history using Francis Schaeffer’s How Then Should We Live? I am pretty sure I groaned out loud. There’s something appropriate, I guess, in seeing someone still clinging to a 1970s evangelical attack on the Enlightenment during a week when Jerry Falwell, Jr.’s threesomes with a Miami pool boy owned the headlines.

It struck me, however, how completely out-of-touch evangelicals in particular are with the problems of our society. I have stumbled in this direction in past posts, talking about how evangelicals have largely turned Christianity into a group therapy session. But really, if you think about it, there’s not much distinguishing evangelicals from critical theory and the political religion of wokeness. Both dwell in an emotional universe of increasingly Manichean power struggles and virtue-signaling. Both center their beliefs on the defiance of reason.

If there is anything I am going to make sure our daughter understands about history, it’s going to be the Enlightenment. I can’t think of anything that more succinctly captures our current misery and depravity better than “western cultures have turned their backs on Enlightenment ideals.” A belief in the sovereignty of reason over emotion. The value of empirical knowledge and the thoughtful use of data and mechanics instead of storytelling to arrive at verifiable and intelligent conclusions. The value of logic. A sense of fraternity and solidarity, built on a concept of dignity, that belongs to every person in equal measure without narrative qualifications. And more than anything, a sense of liberty as the single trait that defines what it means to be human.

K-12 education is shit. Higher education is shit. Government bureaucracy is shit. Journalism is shit. Family life is shit. We blew up a $21 trillion economy in the service of a totally manufactured health crisis. Communities are disintegrating in the face of riots because a morally buggered and cowardly populace refuses to take any meaningful risk to protect their personal liberties and hard-won private property. How did we get here? I think it is kind of obvious.

Another mother seemed to be having my kind of week. She told mothers to look up the lyrics of Cardi B’s new chart-topping song, WAP. “How did we get here?” she asked. She wondered about the fates of young women who idolized Cardi B. It’s a reasonable question. Many young women (and men) watched Cardi B interview Joe Biden, Democrats’ presidential nominee. Remarkably, she did not ask him when the last time he had his nose swiped by a wet ass pussy was, because that’s pretty much her standard level of discourse. But she is the idea of Blackness the Democratic Party likes to promote. The theme of Cardi B’s WAP is how glorious it is for women to prostitute themselves, to be demoralized and dependent on men for material security. Such a brave feminist, she is.

Most of these ills derive from rejecting the ideals of the Enlightenment, upon which our country was founded, with much courage and personal sacrifice. The dumbest thing you can do in the context of current events is give your child an understanding of history that hinges upon a denial of the Enlightenment. The dumbest thing you can do is raise a child that denies their own capacity for reason or the idea that they have intrinsic value. If you think 2020 is the best year ever and the ideal vision of society, keep rejecting the Enlightenment.

2 thoughts on “Sapere aude

  1. Outside of reading (and writing) and arithmetic, history is the most important thing to teach. (I would put Culture up there, too, but that may be a big part of History.
    The problem with teaching history is that it’s not ‘concrete’, like math. It is also subjective. We have Zinn, for decades trying to tell us that American history is one sad misadventure after another. The NYT’s 1619 Project takes it up another level – and that is being grafted onto our public school curriclum. Small wonder there are so many dissolusioned young people today.
    One pretty good American history book:
    “Land of Hope”, McClay, W. M.
    ““Too many recent historians have tried to rewrite America’s history as a tale of squalor and exploitation. Wilfred McClay tells it like it is: as a story of hope.”
    ― Glenn Harlan Reynolds, Beauchamp Brogan Distinguished Professor of Law, University of Tennessee”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. One of the things I love about homeschooling is there are so many fantastic history books out there that do not cave to some bizarre sociological agenda. And beyond that, you can build an entire curriculum purely off of primary sources if you wanted to.


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