The evidence is mounting that Western Civilization’s long and stormy love affair with Reason is becoming increasingly dysfunctional. An unhealthy relationship is emerging between rapidly rising IQs (a bizarre phenomenon described by the Flynn Effect), the abandonment of traditional belief systems (most notably religion), and the accelerating demographic death spiral (plummeting birth rates) throughout Westernized societies. I started this blog to explore the following thesis, one that has historically been the province of philosophers alone, but which has become too important to remain sequestered in academia:Reason, masquerading as both the minimum prerequisite of intellectual coherence as well as the apex of human ingenuity, has systematically undermined every traditional and modern attempt to find a satisfying and compelling meaning of life. This ongoing, and perhaps accelerating, demolition of meaning has left us so devoid of purpose, so unsure of ourselves and our culture, that we now lack the conviction needed to defend ourselves or our values, and we are slowly committing demographic suicide.
Esoteric as this topic may appear on its face, it dominates, more or less explicitly, nearly every aspect of our political, cultural, scientific, and religious conversation. The reviews, essays, commentaries, and discussions on this blog, if successful, will illustrate the depth of the crisis and the urgency of a solution. My goal is to show that Reason, though it has been an unrivaled engine of technological progress, destroyer of ignorance, and root cause of peace, also has been a malignant cancer that is gradually devouring our will to live. Reason is second to none in getting us there, but tragically, it has nothing to say about where we ought to go.
Over the course of my life I have, in fits and starts, gradually pieced together Reason’s paradoxical nature– its great power to both create and destroy. And while I certainly don’t claim to have all the answers (or maybe any of the answers), I have in recent years at least built up the confidence to pose the relevant questions. It is my contention that Reason is not primarily a faculty of our minds but is, like mathematics, largely independent of man, its conclusions predetermined, etched in stone, and awaiting discovery. In that respect, Reason has its own momentum, its own agenda, if you will, and there is no guarantee that it is willing or able to take us anywhere we’d want to go. On the contrary, it is becoming increasingly clear that the judgment of Reason is so harsh, so cold, and so inhuman that we must, if we have any hope of reversing our demographic death spiral, draw a sharp distinction between those areas where Reason is reasonable and those where it serves only to undermine us.
I won’t try to predict exactly where this blog may go. If history has proven anything about Reason it has proven that our love-hate relationship with it will not succumb to facile therapies. At least we can enjoy the journey with some interesting commentary and debate.
Andrew M. Ryan was born and raised in Michigan. He earned his bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Louisiana State University and continues to pursue his own studies in cosmology and cognitive science. He is the author of two books, each of which deals with Reason in its own way:
The Substance of Spacetime: Infinity, Nothingness, and the Nature of Matter is a work of philosophical cosmology (a largely extinct discipline) and asks a simple question: Is there an interpretation of existing empirical observations that simultaneously acknowledges the great success of the standard models, but also paints an intuitive, comprehensible, and above all physical picture of the universe? In this book I introduce a non-rational, but nonetheless coherent, first principle, demonstrating that Reason, even in the realm of science, is not the ultimate source of truth. This principle is necessary because it is not enough to show that Reason is merely harmful unless it can also be shown to be irrelevant. That is, man will not (and probably should not) abandon Reason until it is proven that a better alternative exists.
The Labbitt Halsey Protocol is a novel that explores the societal consequences of taking Reason to its ultimate conclusion. Set in the highly competitive landscape of Washington DC, it chronicles a single mother’s struggle to save her son from the tragic consequences of a groundbreaking genetic procedure. It was initially hoped that the XEN protocol, designed to dramatically enhance intelligence, might produce insights and breakthroughs to benefit all mankind. Instead, it created a subculture, the inhabitants of which are plagued by nihilism and for whom suicide is often the only escape. Risking her high-powered career, and ultimately her life, she immerses herself into the inscrutable Xen world in a desperate attempt to reach her son.