(Dear Reader- it’s been a while since I did a nice thoughtful rant….this felt good!)
I read this the other day and have been mulling it over for a while. This is the kind of article that confirms my belief that we are all royally screwed.
Mr. Brook’s main argument is that humankind has advanced in science and technology, which has, over the past 600 years, given us a new (improved!) vision of the world. We no longer wallow in our own filth and spread germs everywhere (someone please inform my daughter’s first grade class of this). Instead, we have SCIENCE to guide us to a more thorough (and thus *correct*) view of the universe. Thus we have “our method of knowing: careful, mathematically precise observation, step-by-step inference and generalization, and systematic, evidence-based theory building.” Since we have thus progressed in science, he argues that our morality must also progress. That we cling to outdated methods of morality like a Navy vessel using a sextant.
Fine. Science can teach us what IS. I’m granting him that. In a limited, flawed, and much of the time, erroneous way- yes. Careful observation of our world gives us….information about our world.
What is does not do, and what Mr. Brook fails to understand or address, is that science and technology cannot teach us the ought.
Careful observation of what is cannot make the leap to what we ought to do, or even why we should care.
Case in point: Mr. Brook contends that we should idolize not people who did great moral things for humankind (thbbbbpptt to you, Mother Teresa!) but that we should laud those who make strides in progress and self-serving achievement. Bill Gates should be our hero- not because he is a philanthropist, but because he has achieved so much.
Epic fail in logic, Mr. Brook.
How is what Mr. Brook is contending any different than what a person of faith- any faith- would profess? His moral code is newer= better. Why should I accept a theory of morality simply because it’s “progress”? Who determines progress when one is talking about morality, anyway? The author’s statements are moral statements, based in his own faith system which hails the individual to the exclusion (and sometimes detriment) of the majority.
Mr. Brook- no. Morality is emphatically NOT “a guide in the quest to achieve your own happiness by creating the values of mind and body that make a successful life”. Your “ifs” lead nowhere- just to a cold and lonely (albeit splendidly gilded) existence.
I think I’ll pass.