defeatism

A Quote by Kenneth Smith on philosophy, intellectualism, passion, rationality, emotion, apathy, opinion, truth, freedom, boredom, and defeatism

From its abstractionist posture, intellectualism typically conveys the impression that it is chiefly or only from passion that rationality can suffer; the folk-wisdom among rationalists is that emotion is the primary pollutant obstructing rational processes. But it is also, and far more pertinently in our age, from apathy that rationality suffers: when people do not care enough to think about received opinions, when they have no inherent drive to dissociate themselves from the dogmas and biases of their age, when their own freedom and the transcendence of the truth mean so little to them that they will not endure the painful task of self-reflection, when the very scale or profundity of problems the modern age has generated invite a defeatist attitude, then indeed it is truer than ever what Kierkegaard wrote a century and a half ago: "What the age needs is passion," not barbaric but sublimated energy. Hegel's truism about history--that "nothing great is ever accomplished without passion"--explains a great deal about our effete culture, our sterile education and stagnant politics. Like Marx and Nietzsche, Kierkegaard and Hegel wrote out of a prodigious reservoir of passion that did not in the least prevent them from being critical and rational. In our present era--wracked by a morbid boredom and an unshakeable conviction that there is nothing worth learning and preserving--I believe the lesson is clear. Difficult and risky as it may be, heat as well as light is called for.

Kenneth Smith

Contributed by: Dave

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