This Dark Age

A manual for life in the modern world.

By Daniel Schwindt

This Dark Age is now available in paperback on Amazon. The print version is MUCH cleaner than this online version, which is largely unedited and has fallen by the wayside as the project has grown. If you’ve appreciated my writing, please consider leaving a review on the relevant paperback volumes. The print edition also includes new sections (Military History, War Psychology, Dogmatic Theology).

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Scita and scienda

 “…we have pointed out before that the discrepancy between the things which are theoretically known, the scita, and those which ought to be known by the “politicized” masses, the scienda, is increasing by leaps and bounds. Even if it is true that general education is improving and that the general level of education is rising—which we sincerely doubt—the political and economical problems with their implications as well as the scientific answers for their solution are growing in number as well as in complexity. This is a race between an arithmetical and a geometrical progression.”

~ Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn[1]

We have examined the problem of knowledge as it pertains to the candidates and to specific political roles. Closely related to this point, but different in that it addresses human knowledge more generally, is Kuehnelt-Leddihn’s problem of scita versus scienda.

By setting these two terms in opposition he is pointing to the intersection between the information that is theoretically available to the modern man, and that which actually makes it into his head. The distinction could also be described from a slightly different angle, as between what is actually known by the people, and what should be known in order to reach rational-moral conclusions about complex problems.

To use the problem of global warming, it seems clear that, with our sciences as developed as they are today, that those who work in this field probably know whether or not the problem is real or imaginary. Yet we find that, in the end, none of that really matters. All that matters is whether or not the accurate bits information, accompanied by the most appropriate interpretations, actually get absorbed into the popular mind; and at this point in the climate debate it is pretty clear that this is not happening with any efficiency.

This is the illusion of the so-called ‘information age’. We do indeed live in an “information age,” but we tend to forget that the sheer availability of information may or may not have any impact on whether or not that information can be distributed effectively, much less utilized properly. In fact, we could say that the greatest lie of the information age is that, just by piling up trillions of bits of data, we perpetually increase the intelligence of the human race as a collective whole. This optimistic assumption about the human mind has been almost universally accepted since the rise of humanism, and is completely false. There is a very rigid limit on the amount of knowledge that an individual can absorb and utilize, and it is never very much. We all live and die in ignorance of almost everything there is in the world to know. To say this is not pessimism, but is simply an honest acknowledgment of the vastness of our reality, its laws, and its mysteries.

If we begin with a proper view of man, then we are faced immediately with man as the limit. Only then may we turn our glance to the information heaped up in databases. We then see that this is in large part irrelevant to the average intelligence of a nation, since each individual still has his own limits. And neither can we cite the specialists, or those few individuals of incredible intelligence, for my neighbor’s knowledge is not in any way mine, and it does not make my ballot sheet any more intelligently completed.

For example, there is an unprecedented amount of information available on the Internet. This gives the impression that everyone with access to the Internet, because they have such a wonderful resource before them, should be able to use this resource to evaluate and decide on any problem they face. But is this at all feasible?

In the end: No. The sheer availability of information does not in any way guarantee that the right bits of information will be discovered by the right people at the right time. The Internet holds an incomprehensible amount of data, and sifting through it to find information that is both timely and true can turn into an equally incomprehensible enterprise, even if the voter has the stamina to wade through the mountains of partial statistics, slanted reports, adware, and pornography that will interfere with his search.

The ability to split the atom is an example of scita. Scienda, on the other hand, is the knowledge necessary to use our accumulations of knowledge in a moral and prudent fashion. An example of scienda would be the wisdom to judge properly whether or not one should weaponize atom-splitting technology and then immediately utilize it in that form. Our civilization is characterized by great accumulations of scita (power), to the detriment of scienda (wisdom). The chasm between the two, which represents a gap between power and wisdom, is ever widening. Think of those scientists who brag about future parents who will supposedly be able to design their children in regard to height, eye color, and personality. Everyone will be able to give birth to the “ideal child.” Whether or not this feat is scientifically impressive is a question of pure power. Entirely separate from that question, and what seems to have entirely escaped these scientists, is how the responsible and moral use of this power will be ensured. What signifies the “ideal” person changes from generation to generation, and it may be a bit of an injustice to design generations by a set of specifications which will certainly fall out of style. And, what is far more disturbing, it is easy to see how quickly the randomness of natural reproduction will come to be seen as socially unacceptable. Real reproduction and natural birth, the risks they imply, will of necessity be shunned and eventually made illegal. That is the tyranny of scientific advance: what can be done, must be done. It is why, as soon as the atom bomb was developed, it had to be used. It is why children now must be injected at birth with a hundred chemicals, and it is why those who opt out of this mandatory medical treatment are considered irresponsible and may even have their children publicly branded as dangerous. The natural child, it seems, is already an abomination to be sterilized by the rites of science, and the natural parent is already being ostracized for heresy.

[1] Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, Liberty or Equality, p. 278.

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