Enlightenment, Postmodernism, and the Spirit of Truth

As the smoke of the two World Wars cleared for the blue, but indifferent, sky to canopy the chaotic world of human design, someone wondered if pre-Enlightenment man was better than the man who “had come to age”. Perhaps, the monster was better unborn or just a child. But, that which is born grows, and that which grows doesn’t remain the same. Darwinism dismantled the myth of birth; hitherto, for the past uncountable millennia, man was a child; now, a man – evil man, wild but restrained by the conscience of some “primitive-minded” fideists that the Lokayatas (this-worldly-people) wanted to purge. These fideists were still immature.

Kant annunciated the “Enlightenment” by pounding his fist on the flat table of independent thought. He thought his thought was independent and he felt this to be mature. Every child craves independence and self-determination and every child believes he is mature, if he’s able to raise his fist and pound the floor. When does a child stop being a child anyway, and when does a man start becoming a man, after all? Who has solved this Sorites paradox? Why use terms when even the boundaries of thought, of ideas that build thought, lie undefined?

The World Wars destroyed the mature man. As the Tower of Reason fell, humanity emerged intensely plurified and the world rebooted into the age of Post-Modernism. Post-Modernism is the cultural matrix that possibilizes the unification of plurified, diversified humanity. Nothing is certain, nothing is absolute, nothing is right, nothing is wrong; everything is certain, everything is absolute, everything is right, everything is wrong. It is an attempt to wed nihilism and pluralism with profitism and put an end to the war of ideas, to all wars. It is where ideas converge and die. It is the culture of capitalism, of secular politics, literature, and arts. Its intention is survival; its goal, profit; its ethic, anything that passes censorship and is acceptable to mankind in general. Truth ceases to be a category and turns into a function, a relation between situation and security. That which functions to address a given situation to obtain an intended result is Truth. Truth is not intellectual and final; it is situational and functional. But, Post-Modernism is bad terminology; for, it is not post-modern at all: it has existed from the beginning of history in the cultures and chronicles of man, wild man. Said Isaiah regarding the Israel in disorder:

“Justice is turned back,
And righteousness stands afar off;
For truth is fallen in the street,
And equity cannot enter. So truth fails,
And he who departs from evil makes himself a prey.
Then the LORD saw it, and it displeased Him
That there was no justice.” (Isaiah 59:14-15)

Interestingly, the ancient problem also has an ancient solution: spiritual faith, justified by the experience of the Spirit. The test of this experience is 8-fold: purity, reasonability, gentleness, openness, fullness of mercy and good fruits, impartiality and absence of hypocrisy (James 3:17); the result, 9-fold: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23). Therefore, Jesus said: “You shall know the Truth and the Truth shall set you free” (John 8:32). He then went on to say “If the Son makes you free, you are free indeed” (8:36), claiming thereby that the knowledge of Christ constitutes the apprehension of Truth and the reinstalling of man into his proper place in relation to the world and his Creator. Christ is the revelation of who God is and what man is to be through God. In this revelation is the salvation of mankind, his deliverance from the chaos of the wild into “the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Romans 8:21).

© Domenic Marbaniang, April 2010.

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