How We Got Here
For this reader, the name Dewey immediately conjures the importance of education in psychosocial and moral development and stages in the life span.
Dewey believed education played a crucial role in the growth of a human in all aspects. The product that is a chronological adult in developmental terms (a 7 year-old is not the same as a 70 year-old ) and legal terms (an adult and a juvenile are treated differently in both civil and criminal law) is not a happenstance. Just as the body grows into what it eats, the mind grows into what it reads or receives.
Significantly this precept neither interferes nor contradicts any moral teachings that address an entirely different sphere of “knowing”. On the contrary, it complements and bolsters them. I shall leave out in this brief comment what constitutes morals (a life time of learning will not suffice, let alone efforts to articulate fully what’s been played out in macro and micro terms). Suffice it to say I personally believe moral is what sets us apart from beasts, and Thomas Aquinas teachings get it so endearingly (to me) right. I recall Aquinas wrote that the master principle of natural law was that "good is to be done and pursued and evil avoided." He stated that reason reveals particular natural laws that are good for humans such as self-preservation, marriage and family, and the desire to know God (I personally construe God as an Almighty Being who is omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent - Nature with a capital “N”). Thus I shall never read Aquinas’ teachings or Common Good Constitutionalism, indeed Catholicism itself, as foreclosing inquiries on matters of and in the natural world - the subject matter of Science. Had Catholicism foreclosed questions asked by scientists, howcome the Jesuits were the earliest astronomers in the Western world?
The irony of history in the manner it has continued to evolve since the “official” ending of WWII (“devolve” is a better word perhaps as far as the Western World View is concerned) is that "Liberalism", as we see in the social justice policies promulgated under the label in 2022 America, which I call NeoLiberalism or Uberliberalsim, has made a 180 degree turn, i.e., a full return, to being the very thing it abhorred in Pre-Enlightenment Europe. I shall call this strand of “Liberalism” (everybody these days have epithets for things they disagree with; grant me therefore the liberty to indulge for 20 clock seconds - “Liberalism”, as practiced by the Uber-Liberals in 2022 is “Superstition Exemplar”. It is that because its thesis is grounded on the belief that by letting go of all constraints, restraints and moral standards in human relationships, moral GOOD will magically consequence - sort of back to Adam & Eve's Eden, with Dance of Seven Veils as everyday dinner liqueur. I shudder to think whose head is on the silver plate when this "Liberalism" accomplishes its purpose. Referring back to the title of this essay, this “Superstition” is at the center of the crisis of democracy as practiced by UberLiberals in 2022 America.
In terms of IQ measurement, IQ is a *construct* and the IQ Test is designed to measure the innate *attributes* this *construct* suggests, as distinguished from actual *achievements*. Both measurements are administered at different chronological stages of neurocognitive development (e.g. 7 yo, 17 yo, 70 yo). The IQ test is an *aptitude* test; the SAT is an achievement test. SAT teases the requisite measurable readiness for college, LSAT for law school, MCAT for med school, etc. They bear no relevance to the moral beliefs or attainment of the test-taker.
I thank Patrick Deneen for another thought-provoking essay. As always, I respect Prof Deneen’s views and moral values - immensely.
Conflict of Interest: None.
My thought lineage: Confucian in the main, and history of Western Philosophy as written by Bertrand Russell.
Key Influencers with respect to this comment: Piaget, Winnicott, Main &, their respective progeny. Numerous literary figures of significance, old and new, East and West.
This back fills your notion of “the political Gnosticism of the liberal imperium.” It is will-to- power, justified by their special knowledge, their science, deployed against the benighted masses, enemies of science.
Patrick, I used Purcell's book extensively in my decades of teaching jurisprudence in law school, having been introduced to it, perhaps surprisingly, by Harvard's Morty Horwitz in a summer seminar he gave for law professors. Most relevant to my teaching, as I recall, was Purcell's description of the temporary retreat from materialist (a word I prefer to "scientific naturalist" because I hate to sully the word "nature") skepticism by progressives during the second world war, when skepticism about democracy and its rule of enacted law was a mainstay of our wartime enemies. But shortly after the fascist movements in Europe had been defeated, our own skeptics came back with a vengeance. (Perhaps, however, the contemporary emergence of right wing "alternative facts" thinking in the US has again turned progressives against overt skepticism regarding truth claims, as seen in their newfound adulation of the truth of "the science" and of a non-ideological Supreme Court, for example.)