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The Metaphysics Of Carlo

On the blog about Jed Perl’s essay critical of liberal approaches to art, Reader Carlo comments:

I think Perl conflates two related but distinct problems: the relationship between an artist’s personal life and his art and contemporary liberalism inability to appreciate art for art’s sake.

The first issue is eternal, but in our time it is affected by the second one, which to me boils down to the following: to today’s liberal ART CANNOT BE A FORM OF KNOWLEDGE because the paradigm of knowledge is found in the empirical sciences. This brings us back to my usual refrain: that what passes for”liberalism” today has very little to do with the liberal traditio because its philosophical foundaton is first and foremost a form of technocratic scientism.

The same phenomenon is very visible in education, in the division between STEM and non-STEM departments. To “liberal” STEM education is about knowledge. Non-STEM (say, literature) is not primarily about knowledge, and therefore it is mostly about politics (literature is about describing society, oppressed vs. oppressors etc)

This a general law that I claim credit for: as soon as a human activity is no longer about knowledge of reality, it immediately becomes about manipulating it, i.e. it gets politicized. Outside science, contemporary “liberalism” is forced, by its own internal philosophical necessity, to POLITICIZE EVERYTHING.

That’s an astute remark. And I like Carlo’s Law: As soon as a human activity is no longer about knowledge of reality, it immediately becomes about manipulating it.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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