MD Western achievement

From: Platt Holden (
Date: Sun Oct 26 2003 - 17:31:23 GMT

  • Next message: MATTHEW PAUL KUNDERT: "Re: MD What makes an idea dangerous?"

    Hi All,

    In his new book, "Human Accomplishment: The Pursuit of Excellence in
    the Arts and Sciences, 800 B.C. to 1950," Charles Murray concludes that
    a whopping 72 percent of the significant figures in the arts and
    sciences came from just four European countries: Britain, France,
    Germany and Italy. However, the rate of achievement in these countries
    appeared to plummet in the mid-19th century due to a collapse of social
    values and the advent of nihilism. When Christianity began to lose its
    appeal, things began to go downhill because Christianity provided
    incentives to achieve: not only a sense of autonomy and purpose but a
    coherent vision of what Murray calls "the transcendental goods" --
    truth, beauty and the good. A culture lacking such vision tends to
    produce art that is shallow, vulgar and sterile, Murray says,
    describing it as the difference between "Macbeth"and "kill Bill." "It's
    only being infused with that moral vision that 'Macbeth' is 'Macbeth,'
    " Murray writes. "Otherwise it's just people killing each other."

    The above is taken from a review in today's NY Times. Pirsig also
    traces the decline in social values with the rise of anti-religious
    intellectualism, and attempts with MOQ to bring back a sense of
    "transcendental goods" as well as a moral vision. That such vision is
    lacking today is clearly revealed in the postmodernist's view where
    such fundamentals as truth, beauty and good are considered relative and
    therefore futile to discuss.


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