I’m going to comment on the Aussie Nationalist’s post The problem with rationalism. While our opinions on both rationalism and the coronavirus vaccine differ in the details, the Nationalist’s thoughts bear witnessing.
In large part, the definition of ‘rationalism’ varies from source to source. Though, the fairest definition can be drawn from Pope Leo XIII in his 1888 encyclical ‘On the Nature of True Liberty’, where he held rationalism to be belief in “the supremacy of human reason.” A close corollary of this view is that reality itself is “confined entirely within the field of phenomena, that is to say, to things that appear, and in the manner in which they appear: it (reason) has neither the right nor the power to overstep these limits” (my emphasis). Further, if human reason is supreme, anything which cannot be entirely understood through our reasoning faculties must be dismissed.
This is a very poor definition. Empiricism is the belief in only things that can be experienced by the senses. Rationalism embraces mathematics and logic, things which are entirely conceptual. The addendum, that “reason is supreme [and] anything which cannot be … understood through … reasoning … must be dismissed” is a more apt description.
On first instance (at least for myself), rationalism is an alluring concept. It is true that humans are rational creatures who should live according to both reason and reality; not on a blind faith, misguided prejudice, or baseless hope.
To clarify the matter, the problem with rationalism is not that it holds a proper regard for human reason. Rather, the problem is that rationalism unduly extols human reason, holding it to necessarily and limitlessly result in the discovery of more advanced truths–when this is clearly not the case.
Reason has certainly succeeded in discovering ever more advanced truths–relativity and quantum mechanics, for example. I think the real problem with rationalism is that it holds reason to be the only way to discover truth. Einstein himself used imagination when coming up with the theory of relativity. Kekulé, the chemist who determined the structure of benzine, did so after having a vision of the ouroboros. Jung brought the mystical knowledge of alchemy to bear on the subconscious mind. Intuition is a powerful tool that the rationalist throws away. Rationalists excel at analysis, but often fail at synthesis.
The early proponents of rationalism, beyond a shadow of doubt, have fulfilled the objectives they once set out to achieve. Liberalism is our state ideology; secularism is ubiquitous; the population is literate; people generally only trust in and live for phenomena.
This is certainly true of the west, as a whole.
Those key metrics being fulfilled, however, they have not led to the intellectual and open-minded society once vouched for. In fact, people are more docile, superstitious, averse to independent thinking and most strikingly, servile to arbitrary authority than ever before.
When Neitzche declared that God is dead, he did so in horror, knowing that the foundations of philosophy, morality, and the enlightenment had been destroyed: “How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent?” In the words of Psalms 11:3, “If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?”
As of 2021, this hideous submission to untruths has reached its peak in common responses to the coronavirus vaccines. In objective terms, it is becoming clear that:
1. The coronavirus vaccines do not reduce adverse health outcomes caused by the virus, be it transmission or death.
2. The vaccines are visiting serious injuries and death on previously healthy recipients.
3. Higher national levels of vaccination are correlated with a rise in cases and new ‘strains’.
This contradicts the media, which claims:
- The vast majority of new cases are among the unvaccinated.
- Side effects are rare and dangerous side effects are extremely rare.
- Higher vaccination levels have coincided with a massive decrease in cases.
You can choose to distrust their claims. Here are the facts I can personally attest to:
- Covid-19 killed my elderly mother.
- I know many people who have been vaccinated for the coronavirus, and no one has had more than mild flu symptoms from the vaccine.
- A friend in his forties who had Covid-19 said it was like a bad case of the flu.
- I have never contracted any disease I’ve been vaccinated for.
Notwithstanding the above, it is still being fervently urged that we “get the jab”–and many have acquiesced, 10 million Australians so far.
I see nothing wrong with fervent urging. The coercive tactics that the French government is undertaking, however, will earn them the righteous ire they deserve.
In the words of David Solway from Lifesite News, such people “Are not governed by reason but by a species of magical thinking, a kind of voodoo conviction. Despite whatever inner tremors they feel or doubts they may have struggled to suppress, they insist on the soundness of the vaccines and rush to the inoculation booths. These confections are like magical elixirs, bunches of dill or lavender laid at the door to keep out demonic beings, or talismans affixed to the lintel to ward off the angel of contagion.”
Having studied immunology and molecular biology, I can say that calling vaccines nothing more than magical elixirs is absolute rubbish. While MRNA vaccines are new, the science behind them is not, and the principle of using our own cells to generate viral proteins is sound. Whether you believe the efficacy clams of the vaccine manufacturers is up to you. They should probably be taken with at least a grain of salt.
Our society, continues Solway, is increasingly beholden to “proclaimed opinions that are ephemeral or manifestly not sensible,” with faith now being placed in “shamans and medical men.”
The old Russian proverb quoted by Reagan applies when dealing with doctors: Doveryay, no proveryay (trust, but verify). While doctors are human, comparing someone with an MD to a shaman is stupid.
By now, 232 years after the French Revolution, it is clear that unaided human reason is not going to usher in a promised new age of enlightenment, curiosity, and human learning. Instead, having rejected the possibility of objective truth and the source of it–God, because His infinite mysteries could not be fully grasped by the finite bounds of human reason–rationalism is moving our society ever closer towards a “bottomless pit” (Apoc 9:2).
One need not believe in God to know that there is objective truth. Rationalism and relativism are two different things. I think the real issue is that while individuals can still seek the truth, and in fact have more freedom to do so that in the past, the bulk of humanity who do not seek have no Truth to have faith in. It takes a rare man to realize that his life is his to make as he pleases and not make a terrible mess of it. Religion provided guardrails. There may be a few who do not need them, and are even constrained by them, but they protected the vast majority from losing their way.
Such would appear to be the end point for a society predicated on rationalism. This being so, much more than unaided human reason shall be necessary to reconstitute an orderly, functional, and intelligent society.
I don’t count reason out entirely, though I do think intuition and the beginner’s mind are also essential tools for the mental tool box. The question is, will those who need moral guardrails be prevented from destroying the west. If not, perhaps Islam, which retains much of its faith in the deity, may supplant western democracy as the dominant world power. I think this is probably more likely than a world ruled by Chinese communism or the current western cult of social justice, both of which are ideologies that, when their failings are exposed, fold like houses of cards.