Saturday, June 19, 2004

The Descending Limb of the Parabola

Feminism, democracy, and rationality have had a remarkable run over the last 200 years, but it remains to be seen if any of these rockets has achieved escape velocity from the gravitational pull of human nature. The historical and anthropological record suggests that males normally dominate women, the thugs normally intimidate peaceable people, and the population at large finds crazy religious ideas irresistible. Under the circumstances, I’m thankful and a little surprised that my neighbors haven’t gotten around to murdering me in my bed. Of course it may be that the special conditions of a complicated, high technology civilization really do automatically promote the persistence of enlightenment, at least in the long run. Or maybe they don’t. Or maybe, though the suggestion is rather strenuous, the liberal option remains open if and only if people keep it open by an exercise of their collective will.

No comments: