May 14, 2005
How do you FEEEEEEEL about it? :-)
Well, I've finished my exam! Summer break, here we come! Yipeeee!
So now I shall post something, and what I shall post is an essay from the exam:
Discuss the factors that promoted individualism and materialism in the West, and the empact of the Enlightenment on Christendom.
The Christian philosophy is an interesting paradox of perspective-- it emphasises both outward behaviour and inner spirit, both relationships with others and our relationship with Christ, both being salt and light to this world and longing for the next. These and many other paradoxes really function as a system of checks and balances, ensuring that the inner life and outer life, that law and grace, all are balanced, and all set in the light and context of truth.
Enlightenment philosophy turns this beautiful, functional, balanced system upside down. Instead of enterpreting the self in the context of truth, it sets truth in the context of self. Enlightenment thought says that the three measuring rods for truth are Feelings, Experience, and Reason. But each person's feelings are different, no two people have the exact same experience and each person's reason will lead him in widely differing directions, so truth is not the same for each person. What is true for me may not be true for you-- maybe you didn't have an experiece I had, or maybe your emotions are not stirred by the same thing.
The end result of this philosophy is a society of self-serving individualists. For if the only reasons to serve others are reason, experience, and feelings, then that is a shaky foundation for goodness. What if you don't feel like saying please? Feelings are, after all, the only standard for truth.
The followers of this system of thought have only themselves to judge by, and with no clear commandments to 'love thy neighbor as thyself' self-service becomes both an end and a means. All things are done for the purpose of pleasure, and nothing is done that is not somehow pleasurable. materialism and cruel individualism run rampant.