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The Age of Nonreason

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Hasn’t everyone asked the question of “who am I?” It’s a question that’s been around for centuries and still prevalent today along with questions stemming from that, like “Why am I here?” “Do I mean something?” “What is the meaning of life?” People have thought that at least once in their lives, at least in the angst-filled time of life. People have always looked for meaning, but every theory was crossed out, from philosopher to philosopher, each theory of what man is was crossed out throughout time… Until now, which is when man found meaning, or is it?

Theories took a turn with philosophers like Rousseau. He believed primitive man was more than civilized man that the modern inventions and technology were chains and man was free as he was born. He demanded freedom from man and the Bible as well as culture and authority leaving the individual as the center of the universe. This was the Bohemian ideal: that the hero was man who fought all restraints and standards society put on him. Sounds peachy and pretty fun, man gets to think only of himself. However, the result was tyranny: the reign of terror in the French revolution was the logical outcome to Rousseau’s theory.

Paul Gauguin sought after this freedom Rousseau spoke of by going to primitive Tahiti to find the noble savage, someone uncivilized, but good. He did not find anyone in Tahiti that was naturally noble, in fact in a ballad he wrote there, he said “Fate how cruel thou art” reflecting what he found in Tahiti: death and cruelty. Gauguin concluded that man is good by nature is no more truer in primitive man than in civilized man, so man is not naturally good. Gauguin tried to commit suicide after writing the ballad and finding his answer, but failed and died due to alcohol poisoning and syphilis. His life ended with no meaning and very painfully alone.

If nature is all, then what is right is right and it is what it is. If that is true, then Rousseau is right when he said: “As nature has made us [man] the strongest we can do with her [woman] whatever we please.” There is no room for morals or law. Immanuel Kant and George Hagel wrestled unity and reason with meaning and values. Humanistic man concluded he was only a machine with no place for love and freedom, and no place for God. However, modern man could not possibly be a machine because they had tensions in life and intellectual positions. If they acted on these, breaking away from machinery, they would be “leaping away from reason” and searching after meaning in life. According to Kant and Hagel, they would be going against their own theories and against reason, but they had to have meaning. Why else were people here with thoughts, ideas, different feelings, and theories?

Once one has broken away from reason, anything can take its place because in the age of non-reason, reason gives no basis for a choice. It happened because proud, humanistic man insisted on only learning from himself and did not succeed. Jean Paul Sartre, an existential philosopher in the 1900s, believed that in the area of reason everything is absurd. He gave validity to existence as an act of will, i.e. one can help a woman across the street or run her down, reason was not involved. However, he couldn’t live his own position. He signed Nigerian manifesto claiming that the Nigerian war was a dirty war which he needed reason to make this decision, reasoning that there were some things that were right and some that were wrong.

Huxley proposed drugs as the solution, finding truth in our own head at any time we wish. The drug culture formed along with psychedelic rock, which found this truth without drugs. Some tried drugs and ended up turning to eastern religions that were not reasonable at all. This fits exactly into the modern existential thinking and methodology of modern man, trying to find optimistic hope in non-reason when he’s given up hope on a humanistic view of finding any unified meaning to life in reason.

People have even turned to demons to oppose everything being one big machine taking on the occult as some kind of meaning even if it is horrific meaning.

Philosophers started mixing Aristotle with Christianity, which resulted in religious liberalism. They did this to try to get the rationalism of the enlightenment lined up with Christianity. This was disproven by supernatural events, such as the resurrection of Jesus. Albert Schweitzer tried saying that the historic Jesus and supernatural Jesus could not coincide; one could only have one or the other. This theory failed because the supernatural events involved historical events, which could be proven. Carl Bart introduced the theological version of existentialism, he stated that the Bible has many mistakes, but a religious word can be taken out of it. After Bart, many writers started speaking out against the validity of the Bible in the areas of science and history. In adherence with this theology, the Bible does not give absolutes to what is right and what is wrong.

Modern man has come to the conclusion that it is impossible to find right and wrong. As far as biblical right and wrong go, people have determined God to be just a word so that the religious words of the Bible are taken out of the context they were given in and used for manipulation. Manipulation in the sense of ethics, politics, and legal manipulation. People just take the religious emotion that come with these words out of the content. If content about God is dead, as well as God, then the knowledge of a personal God full of truth is dead. Out of all texts and theories, God, through the Bible, is the only one that claims to give an answer for truth and offers meaning along with right and wrong. Modern man has killed this possibility, but they still cry out for meaning and values.

According to these humanistic values we’ve created, it would be impossible to accept that Christ died so selflessly for us. If we accepted this with no humanistic value, reading the Bible expecting what was being given as a straightforward statement of what was being meant, that is where we can have real life. In having a personal relationship with God, he offers more knowledge than man could have made for himself.

Since humanism has failed over and over again throughout history, can the opposite of humanism be the one, true answer to questions of life every person has written in them?

So, basically society has accepted that life in meaningless. They search to find meaning in their heads, making up what sounds good, but people know that can’t be right because truth isn’t negotiable. It is either true or not true. We keep looking for truth, turning into ourselves, but it fails. Over & over. I think most of us want truth, we have this morality plugged into our brains trying to find out what is right and what is wrong, but the line is easily shaken. Since we are people, we also have this urge to benefit ourselves selfishly, so right and wrong get thrown out the door, or more accurately, what’s right for me is this even if it’s wrong for you because it benefits me. Humans are so lost on their own.

This was written by Elli Morscher.

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