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the mystical and the managerial are secretly in cahoots
Post #368 • September 16, 2004, 6:55 AM • 1 Comment
Frank Furedi asks: Where Have All the Intellectuals Gone? Reformed postmodernist Terry Eagleton reviews.
A society obsessed with the knowledge economy, Furedi argues, is oddly wary of knowledge. This is because truth is no longer precious for its own sake. Indeed, the idea of doing something just for the hell of it has always put the wind up philistine utilitarians, from Charles Dickens's Mr Gradgrind to our own Mr Blair. At an earlier stage of capitalism, knowledge was not so vital for economic production; once it becomes so, it turns into a commodity, while critical intellectuals turn into submissive social engineers. Now, knowledge is valuable only when it can be used as an instrument for something else: social cohesion, political control, economic production. In a brilliant insight, Furedi claims that this instrumental downgrading of knowledge is just the flip side of postmodern irrationalism. The mystical and the managerial are secretly in cahoots.
September 16, 2004, 4:14 PM
"In a brilliant insight, Furedi claims that this instrumental downgrading of knowledge is just the flip side of postmodern irrationalism."
This seems certainly true but perhaps too obvious to quite qualify as a "brilliant insight". If there can be no truth, as claimed by Postmodernists, knowledge is downgraded by definition. Furthermore, I would say that both Postmodernism and the depreciation of knowledge are products of a deeper undercurrent which finds satisfaction in any kind of easing of standards. This is a persistent human proclivity which has, in recent years, been allowed by circumstances to become a virulent virus.