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Aranoff, S. (2014). The Enlightenment and Western Civilization. PHILICA.COM Article number 402.

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The Enlightenment and Western Civilization

Sanford Aranoffconfirmed userThis person has donated to Philica (Mathematics, Rider University)

Published in humani.philica.com

Abstract
The Enlightenment was a revolution in human thought. This way of thinking was that rational thought begins with clearly stated principles, uses correct logic to arrive at conclusions, tests the conclusions against evidence, and then revises the principles due to the evidence. Morality is not given by a superior power such as God or government, but by human rational thought and supporting evidence. Western Civilization is based on these ideas. America was founded on Enlightenment principles. The Enlightenment was responsible for the boom in world economy and prosperity.

Sadly and dangerously, America is regressing to pre-Enlightenment ideas. Those of us who still cling to Enlightenment principles need to fight back hard to expose the irrationality of these regressive movements, even at the expense of losing our jobs. We need to take the example of Galileo who fought against the scientists of the day, and so lost his freedom.

This article gives examples of Enlightenment thinking, to Newton?s and Einstein?s theories of gravitation, other examples, and how best we can communicate and defend our rational way of life against the irrational people all around us.

Article body


I. Introduction

 

The Enlightenment was a revolution in human thought. This new way of thinking was that rational thought begins with clearly stated principles, uses correct logic to arrive at conclusions, tests the conclusions against evidence, and then revises the principles due to the evidence. Morality is not given by a superior power such as God or government, but by human rational thought and supporting evidence. Western Civilization is based on these ideas. America was founded on Enlightenment principles. When the word God appears in the original ideas, it means a sense of nature and life, not a powerful controlling force.

 

Evidence includes history, observations, or experiments.

 

The age of Enlightenment had a profound positive effect on the economy. Ideas of free trade or laissez faire were propagated, leading to economic globalization. The tremendous growth of the American economy in the 19th century was due to Enlightenment. The economic growth caused a surge in human health, a major decline in misery. The personal happiness Americans experience today is due to the Enlightenment.

 

Some reject the Enlightenment ideas, such as devoutly religious people. Moderately religious people accept these ideas. Progressives and Communists reject these principles, for they insist on their ideas and policies regardless of the evidence. The Church was partially influenced by the Enlightenment. Islam never experienced the Enlightenment. Religion, such as Christianity or Judaism, is good as long as one accepts the religion partially, and not the irrational and controlling aspects.

 

Sadly and dangerously, America is regressing to pre-Enlightenment ideas. The priests of the Progressive religion, namely, politicians, professors, and media people fight hard using pseudo-logic and overt lies to win. Those of us who still cling to Enlightenment principles need to fight back hard to expose the irrationality of these regressive movements, even at the expense of losing our jobs. We need to take the example of Galileo who fought against the scientists of the day, and so lost his freedom.

 

II. Examples

 

This idea may be too abstract for some. Here is an example to clarify it. The ancient Greeks thought that the postulates of geometry (the basic principles) were in someplace like Heaven waiting for people to discover them. Now we say otherwise. These postulates are arbitrary (man-made) statements, valid only if none of the conclusions (theorems) conflict. All scientific explanations (theories) are based upon arbitrary statements, valid only if the conclusions are consistent, and agree somewhat with observations.

 

Here is another example. Newton’s theory of gravitation is a valid theory, and evidence from the tides and planetary orbits agree. More refined observations of the planet Mercury shows discrepancies; however, these do not invalidate the theory. Einstein developed a different theory, based upon different principles (arbitrary statements), and yields better agreement with observations. The more accurate theory of Einstein is responsible for the current accuracy of GPS devices in our cars.

 

III. How leaders must communicate to people

 

We note that observations cannot be perfect. When a person, such as a politician, speaks with confidence, we say that he does not understand Enlightenment principles. We must demand our leaders speak with diffidence. If a stock broker speaks with perfect confidence about a certain investment, we know the broker is not honest. If the President speaks with perfect confidence, we know with certainty the President is not honest.

 

If we accept the Enlightenment principles, and are decent honest people, we must know how to discuss with other people who do not fully accept the Enlightenment principles. In all discussions we must discuss both principles and evidence; discussing principles without evidence or evidence without principles is not the way to discuss.

 

IV. Examples of improper discussions

 

Here is an example of an improper discussion. Romney spoke on TV criticizing the Obama administration. He meekly said that for 5 years the economy did not improve, implicitly blaming Obama. The correct way to talk is to remind people that our country was founded on Enlightenment principles. Obama said that if we do such and such the economy will improve. This is a clear statement of principles. However, since evidence contradicts this, it means that Obama’s principles are faulty. Romney’s failure to stress that the lack of improvement to the economy means that Obama’s Progressive principles are wrong. Note the need to use the word “wrong”. We must not be polite. If the principle is contradicted by evidence, we must say the principle is wrong. Those who avoid saying “wrong” do not fully accept Enlightenment principles.

 

Obama frequently says that we should just get it done. It is wrong to push legislation just to get something done, without careful examining the principles and evidence.  We must clearly state the problem, that is, our goals, before pressing on to do it.

 

Here is another example. Democrats are struggling to raise the minimum wage. We must state our goals, which the Democrats did not. The goals are to increase the income of people working at minimum wage, while simultaneously increasing the profitability and success of businesses. This goal conflicts with the goal of “fairness”.

 

V. The Arab-Israeli conflict

 

World leaders are seriously mistaken in their comments about the Arab-Israeli conflict. One frequent error is using the phrase “cycle of violence”. This means Arabs attack Israelis, Israelis respond with an attack, and then Arabs respond with further attacks. People who say this simply do not know why the Arabs started attacking. Another error is saying Israelis need to give land back to the Arabs in order for the Arabs to cease attacking Israel. This is simply wrong, for world leaders do not understand why the Arabs attack.

 

Let us return to our fundamental principles, the Enlightenment, that never influenced Islam. People who are uneducated in Enlightenment principles may make statements that are both illogical and have no bearing with reality. The only way to get peace with the Arabs, both in the Middle East and the terrorists who are attacking us, is by education. We need to educate and propagandize the Arab people on the Enlightenment principles. We need to send in Western teachers to teach Arab children. We need to discuss the Enlightenment on the Internet and television. We need to fully discuss these ideas with all Arab leaders we come in contact with.

 

For example, Sec. Kerry meets with Abbas. Prior to Kerry entering the room, we need an American professor to meet with Abbas to clarify Western thinking. Talks with Kerry can begin only a day or so after the professor explains things.

 

The only way we can counter the murderous influence of Arab thinkers and leaders is by fully discussing with the Arabs the basis of Western Civilization, namely, Enlightenment principles. We need to directly confront Islam thinkers with the contradiction with the Enlightenment.

 

 

The Enlightenment was a revolution in human thought. This way of thinking was that rational thought begins with clearly stated principles, uses correct logic to arrive at conclusions, tests the conclusions against evidence, and then revises the principles due to the evidence. Morality is not given by a superior power such as God or government, but by human rational thought and supporting evidence. Western Civilization is based on these ideas. America was founded on Enlightenment principles. The Enlightenment was responsible for the boom in world economy and prosperity.

 

Sadly and dangerously, America is regressing to pre-Enlightenment ideas. Those of us who still cling to Enlightenment principles need to fight back hard to expose the irrationality of these regressive movements, even at the expense of losing our jobs. We need to take the example of Galileo who fought against the scientists of the day, and so lost his freedom.

 

This article gives examples of Enlightenment thinking, to Newton’s and Einstein’s theories of gravitation, others examples, and how best we can communicate and defend our rational way of life against the irrational people all around us.

 

 

Before we can properly confront Islam, we have to properly understand Enlightenment ideas ourselves. We need to have public lectures and television shows devoted to the topic of the Enlightenment, rational thinking starting from clearly stated principles, supported by empirical evidence. Whenever a politician makes a proposal for a policy change, we must demand two things. We must demand that the politician state the goals clearly, and maybe saying why he desires these goals. Secondly, we must demand the politician discuss evidence completely, giving both supporting and contradictory evidence. We must not tolerate people talking like lawyers, giving only evidence supporting their positions.

 

We must take these ideas very seriously, for our lives and the lives of our children depend upon correct thinking and examination of evidence.

 

VII. Education

 

The only way to change people is by education. This has been verified by the millennia of human existence. If we wish to change Islam, we must educate Moslems.

 

There are two ways to accomplish this. One is for America to set up schools in Arab lands, with American teachers, paid for by the U.S. We give them an offer, to finance their education like foreign aid, only if they agree to accept our teachers.

 

The other way to accomplish this is to do what the Allies did to Germany after the war. The Allies used military force and police to force German schools to stop teaching hatred, and to ban things like Hitler’s book Mein Kampf. Israel must reconquer the “territories” and force schools to cease teaching hatred and murder. Israel can use the two approaches – first, economic aid, and then to proceed with force, in possibly defiance of protests and complaints.




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Aranoff, S. (2014). The Enlightenment and Western Civilization. PHILICA.COM Article number 402.


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