Friday, October 28, 2005

OpinionJournal Extra : The Future of Tradition

OpinionJournal Extra : The Future of Tradition

Can it withstand the onslaught of abstract reasoning?

Friday, July 22, 2005 12:01 a.m. EDT

America has been in the midst of a culture war for some time and will probably remain so for some time longer. But culture war is not peculiar to this country. Indeed, there have been at least three great culture wars fought in the course of Western history, including one contemporaneous with the rise of the Sophists in ancient Greece, the epoch identified with the French Enlightenment and the German Aufkl�rung, and our own current battle. The first two ended in disaster for the societies in which they occurred--and the outcome of the third is still pending.

Each of these wars has its own particular antagonists, each its own weapons of combat, each its own battlefield. But the essential nature of a culture war is invariant: A set of traditional values comes under attack by those who, like the Greek Sophist, the French philosophe and the American intellectual, make their living by their superior proficiency in handling abstract ideas, and promote a radically new and revolutionary set of values. This is precisely what one would expect from those who excel in dispute and argumentation. "

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