Why a 400-Year Program of Modernist Thinking is Exploding

Naked Capitalism has the article Why a 400-Year Program of Modernist Thinking is Exploding.

To illustrate one of its signature follies, Kanth refers to that great Hollywood ode to the Western spirit, “The Sound of Music.” Early in the film, the Mother Superior bursts into song, calling on the nun Maria to “climb every mountain, ford every stream.”

Sounds exhilarating, but to what end? Why exactly do we need to ford every stream? From the Eurocentric modernist viewpoint, Kanth says, the answer is not so innocent: we secretly do it so that we can say to ourselves, “Look, I achieved something that’s beyond the reach of somebody else.” Hooray for me!

I think “The Sound of Music” example was grossly misunderstood. One of the reasons to climb every mountain is to achieve a personal or team goal. For the really big mountains, climbers go out in teams. They tie themselves together to get the team to the top of the mountain. It is humans vying against inanimate obstacles to see what they can achieve. It is a group of self-actualized people working in cooperation to achieve a goal they set for themselves.

The article does provide some food for thought, but like any idea of this type, reducing nature and humans to a single overriding principle is too simplified. It is just a model of reality. Models of reality leave things out so that the model can be understood. Modelers always have to remember the process that got them to the model so that they can always be on the look out for situations in which what they have left out becomes essential.

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