These days we live in a culture that is more diverse, decentralized, interactive and democratized…Public debate is now undermoralized and overpoliticized…Intellectual prestige has drifted away from theologians, poets and philosophers and toward neuroscientists, economists, evolutionary biologists and big data analysts. These scholars have a lot of knowledge to bring, but they’re not in the business of offering wisdom on the ultimate questions.And there you have it. Per Thomas Wolfe, “You Can’t Go Home Again.” Brooks’ "neuroscientists, economists, evolutionary biologists and big data analysts" have let the genie out of the bottle. We are very clear now that “purpose” is a human invention in the service of passing on our genes. I have seen no more clear statement on purpose than that given by E. O. Wilson, which I excerpted in my Dec. 5, 2014 post.
Wednesday, May 13, 2015
The recent NYTimes David Brooks Op-Ed piece “What is your purpose?” has drawn a lot of feedback and comment. He laments the passing the era of lofty authority figures like Reinhold Niebuhr who argued for a coherent moral ecology. (I remember as a Quincy House Harvard undergraduate in 1962 having breakfast with Reinhold and Ursula Niebuhr during their several weeks residence in the house.)