September 13, 2015

Brilliant Meme Explains The Difference Between Liberals and Conservatives On The Internet

People are shouting about political correctness again…

It’s not surprising that the political correctness embodying and enforcing these beliefs set up shop in the universities first. In the U.S., those undergraduate and graduate students who had been swept up in the turmoil of the 1960s before going on to academic careers were becoming established scholars and administrators in the 1980s. (Roger Kimball’s book about academia’s political extremism, Tenured Radicals, was published in 1990.) Furthermore, by this time the works of leading ’68 philosophers—especially Paul de Man, Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, and Jacques Lacan—had been translated into English, then absorbed and championed by American scholars. As a result of these influences, deconstructionism became an important force in several scholarly fields, literature and cultural studies in particular. Its counterpart, critical legal theory, found a home in many prominent law schools.
In Reading Obama: Dreams, Hope, and the American Political Tradition (2011), historian James T. Kloppenberg delineates the core tenets of these systems of thought. (Barack Obama would have been exposed to them as an undergraduate from 1979 to 1983, and as a law school student from 1988 to 1991.) The key idea, laid out in a chapter titled, “From Universalism to Particularism,” is that true wisdom culminates in rejecting the whole notion of true wisdom. The “denial of universal principles” he writes, rests on “the belief that everything we see is conditioned by where we stand.” Since “all human values and practices are products of historical processes and must be interpreted within historical frameworks,” it follows that there “is no privileged, objective vantage point free from the perspective of particular cultural values.”

This argument appears vulnerable to a damaging objection: if there are no universal principles, doesn’t it follow that the denial of universal truths and corresponding insistence on the impossibility of escaping the influence of particular values is, itself, nothing more than the expression of the denier’s particular values? If so, then there’s no reason to take this argument seriously, which reopens the possibility of transculturally valid universal principles. But if, on the other hand, the denial of universal principles is a true account of objective reality, period, then the truth of this assertion raises the possibility that other truths might exist, ones ascertainable from a variety of cultural perspectives.
This objection isn’t right, contend those who deny universal principles. It’s not even wrong. According to Richard Rorty, the influential philosopher and leftist theoretician, to ask whether the rejection of universal principles is “true” is to judge particularism—or, to use Rorty’s preferred term, non-foundationalism—by the very set of standards it rejects as pointless and fraudulent. The whole purpose of non-foundationalism, he wrote inPhilosophy and Social Hope (1999), is to discard the “picture of a mind seeking to get in touch with a reality outside itself,” in favor of the understanding that humans’ only real concern is “the distinction between the more useful and the less useful.” Ideas, and the words in which they are expressed, are among the tools humans employ to “cope with the environment,” and the sole test of this coping is whether the tools “enable [humans] to enjoy more pleasure and less pain.”

The non-foundationalist denial of universal principles, then, means rejecting altogether the metaphysical distinction between true and false. It also entails, Rorty makes clear, rejecting the ethical distinction between right and wrong. The “moral struggle is continuous with the struggle for existence,” he maintains, “and no sharp break divides the unjust from the imprudent, the evil from the inexpedient.” To this assertion Rorty appends the thought that what matters in this moral struggle “is devising ways of diminishing human suffering and increasing human equality, increasing the ability of all human children to start life with an equal chance of happiness.”
Such generous and inclusive sentiments must be regarded as expressions of social hope rather than of philosophy, however, if the harshest condemnation non-foundationalists can lodge against Auschwitz is that it was imprudent. …

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