The Catholic ‘Enlightenment’ predates the Secular-Atheist-Deist philosophy of the same by almost a century – a little known fact. Indeed, many of the ideas purloined by the cult of Reason, were lifted from the 15th and early to mid-16th century Church reforms and ideals. Humanism was originally a Catholic movement designed to guarantee natural law and human rights within both the religious and secular realms. It sought to understand pagan non-Catholic civilisations in the context of their own writings and languages, to better understand their philosophies around laws, rights and responsibilities. It looked out to the Americas (La Casas and Amerindian rights), as well as to pagan Greece and Rome. Humanism as of course ‘mutated’ into an Atheist platform directing un-truths and half-thought-out ideas against the Church.
‘Enlightenment’ rationalism, though steeped in cult dogma and much irrationality, is said to have begun with the writings of Francis Bacon (1561-1626), and Rene Descartes (1596-1650). Both men were Catholic, and both were in the general zeitgeist of Church and state reform. In the 18th century the ‘philosophes’ built on Catholic Enlightenment concepts to develop and promote materialist-Deism and Atheism, leading to the cult of ‘Reason’ and the barbarity of the French Revolution, with all the atavism, nihilism, destruction and irrationality that Atheism brings to society. Voltaire, Diderot, Condorcet, d’Alembert, Jefferson, Kant and Paine all believed in a singular rationality, a standard of ‘reasonableness’ and the disavowal, or at least separation from ‘reason’, of the immaterial, mystical or ‘irrational’ as exemplified by the mystery of faith, miracles and creation. Their cult was the blind acceptance of the ill-defined ‘rational’ and only the material.
These philosophies when presented in the 16th and 17th centuries, were immediately met with criticism. The critics who have persisted over 300 years, identified quite early, that there can never be one standard of rationality or reasonableness, given presuppositions, differing methods of analysis and logic, context, culture and necessity. In epistemology (natural limits of knowledge), this is termed ‘scientific reductionism’, in which all knowledge must be viewed as ‘legal’ definitions which allow for accurate interpretation and even prediction. This reductionism is known today as ‘scientism’, which is the cult that only ‘science’, whatever that may be, or however that could be defined, is the reductionist prism through which all natural laws and reason flow. This entails a ‘single’ decision procedure, a ‘single’ view of reason, and a ‘single’ interpretation of all facts. We see this scientism-reductionist philosophy (there is only one science), with the religion and cult of Corona. No other explanation, interpretation or solution is allowed except the official narratives.
An example is Edmund Burke (1729-1797). The Irish-English Burke is famous for his critique and prediction of the horrors which would accrue from the ‘rationalist’ French Revolution. Burke was a Catholic, who promoted the Christian doctrine of prudence, which finds echoes in the Aristotelian idea of phronesis and Roman stoicism. In his famous work ‘Reflections’ Burke frames his critique of the cult of Reason and the carnage generated by the Atheist-French totalitarianism ending the old regime and instituting, inevitably, the dictator Napoleon, framed by the Christian-Roman ideals of prudence and rationality. Burke does not attack the Enlightenment and its bastard child the French Revolution on its irrationality, but rather, on the impossibility of there being just one form of rationality.
Burke rightly argued that human reason cannot create new social or political systems based on ‘reason’ or one intellectual approach. In reality, humans are also emotional, cultural, social and contextual. Further, the limits of human reason are obvious and apparent, and at times, ‘feeble’. It is the folly of pride, egocentricity and overweeing hubris to declare that human reason can triumph over all of life. This is impossible, given the various types of realities which exist, and different contexts for different types of people which are obvious and apparent, with Burke stating, ‘to fortify the fallible and feeble contrivances of our reasons’.
The ‘Enlightenment’ is wrong at its core because the key assumption, hinted at by Burke, is that humans are little Gods.
Hume influenced Burke and Hume was adamant that reason was subservient to passions in real life. He believed as did Burke, that great sweeping political and social changes inevitably lead to chaos and bloodshed. The reason is that human reason, as different between people as it is between cultures, does not necessarily provide the right authority to guarantee an acceptable power over a population. As Burke clarified, the life of a human is not mathematical. You are not a symbol, nor part of an equation. You cannot be moved around to fit patterns or provide ‘acceptable’ answers.
“The science of government….a matter which requires experience, and even more experience than any person can gain in his whole life, however sagacious and observant he may be’.
Quite right. A political system must respect culture, heritage, pre-existing conditions, history, and context. There is no ‘singular’ way to organise a political system. What works in one location may fail in the next. What is known to one culture, may be rejected by another. What is built in one situation, may be irrelevant in another. Unlike Hume, Burke believes in an equilibrium between the immaterial or emotional and reason (Hume believed in a hierarchy).
The French Revolution was ‘irrational’ because it ignored those attributes of life, human existence and social reality, which have nothing to do with a singular interpretation of ‘reason’.