The Twilight of American Culture

PDF-file by Morris Berman

The Twilight of American Culture PDF ebook download Eh, not as great a book as I was hoping it might be.In summary, the author tells us what a lot of us already know - America is getting dumber, inequality between rich and poor continues to grow, we all exist only to serve as consumers of what the corporations sell us, etc.The problem is I don't think that most people who are going to read Twilight would dispute any of these ideas before having read the book.Is America in relative cultural, intellectual, and societal decline?Absolutely.That being the case, what more does the author have to say beyond this fact?Nothing much.

Not to say the book is a complete waste.There is admittedly a certain kind of morbid pleasure in reading about how absolutely ignorant some Americans are, not excluding those who are post-secondarily edumacated.(The author helps confirm my own view that the value of an advanced degree has become so overinflated in the last 50years so as to make it virtually meaningless.That is to say there is no reason to assume someone with an advanced degree is necessarily better educated or learned than someone without one.)

But again,the question is, so what?What disappoints me is that some of Berman's ideas seem to be kind of simplistic and out-of-date.(And I don't mean the way he complains about the popularity of New Age thinking.)Berman seems to have this faith in Enlightenment rationalism as the answer and the ultimate good. "If only people were better educated, more scientific, more knowledgeable, things would be better." But this philosophical idea has been in question since Kant's critiques at the tail end of the so-called Age of Enlightenment (and long before that, even).

The value of Enlightenment rationalism has been shown to be wanting by thinkers during the last couple of centuries.One cannot just assume that a better educated people will be a better people.(The machine gun, world wars, poison gas, atomic bombs, colonialism, etc. are all products of the modern, scientific, post-Enlightenment world.)One can no longer just take it for granted that knowledge and reason have value in and of themselves or that their acquisition will provide satisfying answers to life's questions.These larger philosophical issues seem to have eluded Berman.

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