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Voltaire's Bastards: The Dictatorship of Reason in the West ePub download

by John Ralston Saul

  • Author: John Ralston Saul
  • ISBN: 067083940X
  • ISBN13: 978-0670839407
  • ePub: 1445 kb | FB2: 1549 kb
  • Language: English
  • Category: World
  • Publisher: Sinclair-Stevenson Ltd (October 12, 1992)
  • Pages: 95
  • Rating: 4.3/5
  • Votes: 742
  • Format: azw doc txt lrf
Voltaire's Bastards: The Dictatorship of Reason in the West ePub download

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Voltaire's Bastards is a hand grenade disguised as a book

Voltaire's Bastards is a hand grenade disguised as a book. will leave you challenged, intrigued, and at times troubled. -Jim Hoagland, The Washington Post "This is a wise, civilized, and deeply democratic book. John Ralston Saul wants to persuade us that real enlightenment lies not in the modern cult of Answers but in the stubborn, skeptical and human pursuit of Questions, and he does this in a beautifully-argued work.

Voltaire’s bastards: the dictatorship of reason in the west. 2013: 20TH Anniversary Reissue by Simon & Schuster with a forward by John Ralston Saul and an introduction by Chris Hedges. Published in Australia, Canada, Chile, France, Italy, Japan, Russia, Serbia, Spain, United Kingdom, United States. Inspiration for opera Dennis Cleveland (1996) by Mikel Rouse. In a wide-ranging, provocative anatomy of modern society and its origins, John Ralston Saul explores the reason for our deepening sense of crisis and confusion.

John Ralston Saul is the International President of PEN International, an essayist, novelist, and long-time . What can be felt today is that populations throughout the West no longer believe in the certainty of their elites. They do not have confidence in the dominant utilitarianism.

John Ralston Saul is the International President of PEN International, an essayist, novelist, and long-time champion of freedom of expression.

All these problems, John Ralston Saul argues, are largely the result of our blind faith in the value of reason. Over the past 400 years, our rational elites have turned the modern West into a vast, incomprehensible, directionless machine, run by process-minded experts- Voltaire’s bastards -whose cult of scientific management is empty of both sense and morality. The result, Saul maintains, is a civilization of immense technological power.

John Saul makes the argument that when the world swung away from the faith-based beliefs of the Middle Ages to. .Ralston Saul finally answers the question.

John Saul makes the argument that when the world swung away from the faith-based beliefs of the Middle Ages to the rational thinking of the Age of Reason, it over-reacted in equating rational thinking with truth. In other words, rational arguments may lead to false conclusions  .

Voltaire's Bastards: The Dictatorship of Reason in the West by John Ralston Saul.

JOHN RALSTON SAUL Toronto Terry Teachout replies.

Meanwhile, Mr. Teachout entirely ignored the central theme of the book, which follows the parallel progression of reason and humanism in the West. JOHN RALSTON SAUL Toronto Terry Teachout replies

Voltaire's bastards: the dictatorship of reason in the West. Saul locates the source of many of the contemporary world's problems in a perversion of reason.

Voltaire's bastards: the dictatorship of reason in the West. He argues that while Voltaire had hoped to use reason as a tool to overthrow outmoded and harsh customs. Tam incelemeyi okuyun.

Coiwield
I'll be honest -- this book is pretty deep. And it recalls historic events and figures so casually that it made me, a college-educated man, feel like I slept through history and philosophy class. I didn't get through hardly any of it -- but I wish I had the patience. The premise is exceptional, but so is the text. If you've got plenty of time, this book explores some pretty important ideas. It's not a coffee table read -- and unless you chill with academic elites, it's not something you'll be able to discuss over coffee cake, either.
Ishnllador
As most everything written by Saul, this is not an easy read, but as usual, ...well worth the read. Saul is a truly rare and precious mind when it comes to of a thinker along the lines of Noam Chomsky when it comes to finding and unraveling the common thread that is really the one that counts, that is at the core when one digs below the superficial surface. Very cerebral. Highly recommended but definitely stay away if you're simply looking for a nice little something that is quick and easy. Will definitely make you think beyond the usual dimensions once you manage to grasp the key. A new level of consciousness similar to depths that only certain divers can reach.
Gold Crown
It takes tremendous courage to open a book with such a subtitle. It is human nature to construct an ideology based on our favorite thoughts, and then live cozily inside as master of the realm. For then we can use that ideology as shield and weapon.
But then John Ralston Saul comes face to face with you, removes his glove, and with a gentleman's flourish, whips the leather across your face. Saul is the master of gauntlet-throwing, and after one read of this hefty tome, you will be begging for more.
"The undoubted sign of a society well under control or in decline is that language has ceased to be a means of communication and has become instead a shield for those who master it."
Does this remind you of your country's political process? Or possibly of those ivory-tower publications that you so treasure? How is it that our species has been able to use words to cloak double and triple meanings within the most seemingly innocuous sentences? Is this what we truly want?
"The structures of argument have been co-opted so completely by those who work the system that when an individual reaches for the words and phrases which he senses will express his case, he finds that they are already in active use in the service of power. This now amounts to a virtual dictatorship of vocabulary."
The Inquisition, Machiavellian belief, the Napoleonic Wars, and the Holocaust can be rationally justified, says Saul. The tools of rationality provide the means to any desired end. Men participated in these events of their own free will, and even added their input to make said processes more `efficient'.
"The Inquisitors were the first to formalize the idea that to every question there is a right answer. The answer is known, but the question must be asked and correctly answered. Relativism, humanism, common sense, and moral beliefs were all irrelevant to this process because they assume doubt. Since the Inquisitors knew the answer, doubt was impossible. Process, however, was essential, for efficient governance and process required that questions be asked in order to produce the correct answer."
Is it worth having the tools of reason if they can be manipulated to cause the deaths of 200 million human beings? We all know the answer, as gut-wrenching as it may be... regardless, we can't disassociate our minds from reason any more than we can live without lungs.
So how do we move forward? How do we evolve with such a legacy behind and such uncertainty ahead? First, says Saul, we must remember:
"Memory is always the enemy of structure. The latter flourishes upon method and is frustrated by content. Our need to deny the amorality of reason ensured that memory would be the first victim of the new structures."
Secondly, we open our eyes. Who is it that truly controls our society and its governance? Saul has correctly identified the "men behind the men", the counselors and courtiers whom our leaders turn to for advice, and the bureaucrats, none of whom are elected or held to accountability by our constitution. These puppeteers, say Saul, are the "technocrats" who co-opt reason for limited ends:
"In the context of the technocratic mind, truth, like history and events, is what suits the interests of the system or the game plan of the man in charge."
Thirdly, we do not allow rationality to freeze our minds and our humanity in the cement of process. We employ skepticism (not cynicism) to constantly keep our eyes fresh. When skepticism reveals doubt, we employ common sense and morality, neither of which can or should be defined by, you guessed it, rationality.
Saul is not an enemy of reason. Quite the opposite, his purpose here is to rescue reason from those who fly its banner upon high while secretly using it to shine their shoes.
And how does Saul go about making his argument without using... argument? His method is brilliant. He has constructed a book that reads like a great speech, an enthralling lecture. Saul is discursive... he introduces literally dozens of seemingly unrelated subjects, draws truth from each, and makes his points without needing to build upon the pages before. Saul doesn't lead you from point A to point Q, as his enemies would; he simply enlightens you on many topics and allows your mind to form the connections... a truly satisfying experience.
This book is a fine wine, with the strong tang of truth. These pages are filled with aphorism and information on the widest variety of topics: national defense, economics, television, the Supreme Court, warfare, Congress, science, and celebrity; all of these cloths are woven with the same fundamental threads. Saul unmasks many clandestine operations, most of which are still being played out today.
Your hunger for knowledge will be greatly satisfied (almost satiated) here. Page one will be distinguished as an important point in your life, and we all know how precious such eye-opening works are.
Shak
The only thing that leads to my giving this book four stars instead of five is the abstruse level of writing therein. It displays the most creative thinking I have seen in a modern book.

To me the greatest value in Voltaire's Bastards is that it causes us to think more deeply about fanaticism in our society. While in our culture people generally define fanaticism as OTHER people's views held unconditionally as the only right path for everyone, few if any ever define their OWN similar unconditionally held views as fanaticism. This book is the only widely circulated book wherein I have seen it pretty straightforwardly stated that exclusive adherence to reason and what we currently call scientific method is just as shackling to human development as was the same exclusive reliance on unquestioned faith and authority that was current in Voltaire's time. The editor states that, indeed, if Voltaire were alive today he would be writing something along the lines of this book, which states that imagination, intuition, various right-brain methods of arriving at conclusions are methods equally as valid as reason. It is implied (I believe) that most of the other conditions harmful to society which are discussed in the book are rooted in that fanaticism.

I think that if we follow the thoughts of this book to their logical conclusion, we will come to the idea that (for example) instead of fighting over whether to teach creationism or evolution in the public schools, we should arrive at the concept of teaching BOTH and teaching those who believe in one but must show that they understand the other that (if they are creationists, for example) they can answer saying "according to current scientific belief, the world is millions of years old" which shows they understand the concept being taught without violating their own belief that the world is 6,000 years old. Similarly things like the Navajo creation story, Alaskan beliefs, etc. should be taught at least in areas where it would be desirable for everyone to be aware of them.

Thus, this book could be seen as opening a little bit the doorway through which the Western world must pass in order to be part of a world that is truly multicultural. When we mouth belief in multiculturalism but force all to express belief in our current understanding of reason and scientific method, we are creating the conditions (described my Michener in the last chapter of his book Alaska and experienced by me and many others who taught long term on Native American reservations) that cause despair, low self-esteem, and general disillusionment with life that many minorities experience in Western industrialized countries. We create that despair by our own fanatic adherence to reason and the scientific method which is so brilliantly exposed as fanaticism by the editors and authors of this wonderful collection of essays.
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