I mean not this post to be funny. Rather, I see the chance to point out this book, Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self: Cultural Amnesia, Expressive Individualism, and the Road to Sexual Revolution, by Carl R. Trueman, and its scope and intent.
I have just started this book and am about to start chapter 3 on page 105. It is a big picture view of what the ‘self’ is as a concept that of late has become increasingly psychologized (and more). I agree with that fundamental argument and premise. The ‘inward turn’ it is often called.
I have seen a lot of people discuss René Descartes in different ways over the years of reading philosophy. I have seen great analysis of the power of doubting as sign that we are real and that humanity is really here. But I had never ever thought about Descartes as one of the major philosophers marking the ‘inward turn.’ To put it another way, if one asks one’s self if one doubts as a sign of one’s existence, then one has necessarily turned inward to ask ‘ultimate’ questions. I had never thought of that before, but can see Trueman’s point.
Trueman examines the second order world vs the third order world. In this, the second world is the one that involves contexts of the sacred and grand worldviews while the third world is one that has rejected such things and can do what it wants without reference to God or His Word. In America, and in the European traditions of the ‘West,’ these changes from a second world to a third world have not come overnight.
I have a critique already though. Trueman may cover what I am about to consider later in the book, but I am going to write this thought. He says that the movement from the second to the third world is built on a worldview that has rejected the sacred. In a sense that is true. But I think he is not considering one important element here, that the new pagan culture of America and much of the world of the ‘West’ is actually still defined by a religious order. Does anyone remember the words stated by Richard Dawkins, oft quoted, though I think from The Blind Watchmaker, where he says that Darwin made it possible for him to be an ‘intellectually fulfilled atheist?’
A refrain of mine is that the great deception of neo-paganism is that it is just as pagan as the old ‘religions’ but suggests to its believers that there is no God, no sacred. But Dawkins’ comment above infers the opposite. He needed a worldview of ‘truth’ on which to base his unbelief. In other words, the materialist worldview has its own version of the ‘sacred’ on which it makes decisions, evaluates the dignity of human beings, and defines what ought to be done (even if the ‘ought’ is actually being decided by the human who lives in that worldview).
So, I think there is something here that can help in this discussion – though it may not be as weighty as Trueman’s own analysis because I believe it offers the idea up that the materialists’ worldview simply has its own view of the sacred, but is deceptive because it does not name it as ‘religious’ in nature, thereby, presenting that it is not religious. I believe this is mistaken because it still proffers in worldviews and attempts at explain why there is something rather than nothing. I mean, the ‘third world’ can not justify any of its own morality of statements on why we should treat each human with dignity, but it is still a religious order tryng to hide its identity (and I think that is quite ironic since it is used to justify the advocacy of several false ‘identities.’)
In another observation, it is appropriate that Rod Dreher wrote the Foreword for this book because this book aligns, albeit with a greater reliance on philosophy and its history, with many of Dreher’s more political cultural focused ideas in Live Not by Lies: A MANUAL FOR CHRISTIAN DISSIDENTS. That book is excellent.
Just so I am clear in this post, I am a Christian who believes what the Bible says about man and woman being made in the image of God, male and female He created them, and that whatever is true of the human self, is defined by the Lord Jesus Christ, the Creator of all. I believe there is a ‘sacred order’ defined by the One who created everything that has been made. All true sense of self starts and ends with Christ.