Tuesday, August 2, 2016

It's all been downhill since the Battle of Avarayr

If you asked me why I think the West is in the current state it's in - why the Church is in the current state it's in - I'd float some answers. A change in the popular metaphysics of intellectuals, as Feser describes. Advances in technology and unforeseen impacts on society that resulted. This movement, that movement. Humanity is complicated, and I admit, I tend to pay most attention to problems for which I see a possible solution. Possible solution meaning 'things I and others can do to help encourage a change for the better', not 'bemoaning it all'.

You can convince me with a bit of evidence to believe that X was a factor, or Y wasn't much of a factor. Give me the evidence, talk to me, I'll change my mind. But I am skeptical when someone distills the problems and ills down to a particular, singular act or change in mentality from which - almost entirely - several dozen problems have sprung. Outside of the Fall or the Resurrection, anyway.

The thing is, I can easily be convinced that the singular act was an influence. Tell me that the Great Schism caused some problems and sure, I'll grant it. Henry VIII? Yep. Ockham? You got it. Introduction of the car? Sure, to a degree. But once you tell me that it was some singular change of mind, some particular intellectual event - it was the Battle of Avarayr! It was Vatican II! - then my skepticism rises up. It's rarely that simple. Worse, it's rarely helpful to frame things as if they were that simple.

But this kind of thing is a little common. Why are black americans in, collectively at least, a sorry state? Racism! Has to be. Why has Japan apparently lost almost all interest in sex? Pornography! No wait - nukes! Wait - patriarchy!

It reminds me of an old Dilbert comic strip, with a punchline paraphrased as: 'The only possible solution to the problem is, coincidentally, the only solution you know.' Cue 10 people all sitting around with wildly different but just as certain solutions to the problem, complete with the beaver saying 'We must chop down trees and dam their rivers! It's the only way!'

And, of course, if you're skeptical of the totality of the explanation, you're part of the problem. Good luck finding a feminist who's even willing to concede that, aside from patriarchy and maybe racism, there are other reasons for the historical limitations they see with women. Good luck finding the person at the Black Lives Matter march who thinks that racism is even just one of a number of problems besetting blacks ('and chinese!' says the very, very desperate chinese person, clawing for People of Color cred.)

What can I say: I think things are more complicated. I do not think it all comes down to the Battle of Avarayr. I may be wrong, but I'll need more to convince me than huffing and passive aggression.

1 comment:

B. Prokop said...

1648. It's been all downhill since the Peace of Westphalia.