Western civilization has always had an uneasy relationship with reason – “the power of the mind to think, understand, and form judgments by a process of logic.” When Thomas Paine wrote The Age of Reason in 1794, he ushered in a broad discussion in the United States and Europe of about natural law, the scientific method, egalitarian republicanism, reason over revelation, deism over Christianity – and more. Over 200 years, the advancement of knowledge, of science, of reason, was considered to be a benefit to the population.
But science has made great changes in human existence in recent decades. Changes that have benefited some and displaced others. This rapid change in economic power and tradition has lead to fear – and to a wave of ethnic and religious nationalism. Nationalism that is sold politically as populism (“the political doctrine that supports the rights and powers of the common people in their struggle with the privileged elite” but borders on fascism in its execution – “a political system headed by a dictator in which the government controls business and labor – and opposition is not permitted.” In countries around the world – most recently in the United States – we have seen the fears of the population fanned by despotic leaders. The fear and pain of the population is real – and renders people unable to exercise the good judgment of reason.
“Fear is the most powerful enemy of reason. Both fear and reason are essential to human survival, but the relationship between them is unbalanced. Reason may sometimes dissipate fear, but fear frequently shuts down reason. As Edmund Burke wrote in England twenty years before the American Revolution, ‘No passion so effectively robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear.”
The difference between the American Revolution and now is the influence of technology on both fear and reason. Technology makes it easy to create fear (and provide false facts) in large segments of the population in a relatively short period of time. The antidote is in quelling fearing and promoting reason using these new medium. And, not forgetting – “The medium is the message” (to quote Marshall McLuhan).
This web site is devoted to creating a new age of reason. To debunking the mongers of fear – and to amplifying the voices of reason. It is raising the cry for the war on fear.
Vigdis, The Norse Goddess Of War