Carry on Tradition

As mentioned before, the human soul – which is the essence of the human existence – is in a process of perfection. In turn, the perfection of one’s essence – namely, the perfection of the human soul – equates to the perfection of one’s form. As the Quran states: “We have indeed created humankind in the best of molds.” Thus, the development of the human soul – which has both an animal dimension and a rational dimension – has a direct impact on one’s physical form and physical well-being. The Quran also states: “We have eased thee of the burden, which weighed down on your back.” Moreover, the nexus between religiosity and spirituality on one hand, and mental and physical well-being on the other hand was demonstrated by the late 19th and early 20th century philosopher and scientist William James, in a book titled “The Varieties of Religious Experience.”

Thus, the American intellectual and philosophical tradition is very much a “pragmatic” tradition to borrow from the American philosopher Richard Rorty, in the sense that the American intellectual and philosophical tradition has been defined by an attempt to reconcile religion with science from as early as the “Early Republic” period – which was shaped by the intellectual and philosophical contributions of “Transcendentalists” such as Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau – all the way down to the late 19th and early 20th century where American intellectual life acquired vibrancy through the contributions and work of intellectual greats such as John Dewey and William James.

Radical hedonism and radical secularism – which reared its head in the late 20th century and early 21st century in American civic discourse – in addition to the authoritarian measures taken by the American establishment and elite at the beginning of the 21st century – are very much antithetical to the long-standing intellectual and philosophical tradition in America, which is based on a unique form of “pragmatism” that reconciles religion with science.

Without the reconciliation between religion and science in one’s civic and intellectual discourse, one is left with the “Social Darwinism” and buffoonery of people like Boris Johnson and his staff at 10 Downing Street, who have now been largely discredited for their defiance of both religion and science. Moreover, “pragmatism” in one’s civic and intellectual discourse is essential for democracy, given that democracy sustains itself mainly through an educative process that is societal in scope. As John Dewey argued, there is a “democratic ideal” in the development of intellectual discourse, in the sense that the essence and form of a civic and intellectual discourse can highlight “shared common interests” as well as “mutual interests” as factors in “social control” which results from “freer interaction between social groups.” Taken altogether, the points which Dewey made characterize a “democratically constituted society.”

Otto Weininger, an obscure but very powerful and impactful natural philosopher of Fin de Siècle and early 20th century Europe, wrote: “A person can perish from nothing other than a lack of religion.” Weininger added: “The genius shows this most horribly, for the man of genius is the most devoted man, and when devotion leaves him, his genius leaves him.” As a result, one who preserves a discourse and tradition must also give credit where credit is due.

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