The new Star Wars and the postmodern crack-up
It is sometimes unconscious asides that tell us everything about what needs correction in modern culture.
In the recent round-up of Star Wars reviews Instapundit writes
UPDATE: I like this from Chris Suellentrop:
What's great about Star Wars—and one of the reasons I think it has greater appeal—is its acknowledgement, even celebration, of the irrational, the mystical, the religious. More than one friend of mine—OK, me and one friend of mine—sat in our separate backyards as children trying to move rocks with our minds. Star Wars isn't political, but liberals are now trying to adopt it as their own, by claiming that Revenge of the Sith is an allegory for the Bush administration. Um, does that mean that Osama Bin Laden is a Jedi?
The whole thing is amusing.
The boldface on the irrational is mine--and it summarizes in a nutshell exactly what is wrong with postmodern thinking. For Aristotle, belief in God is fundamentally about rationality not irrationality.
For rationality is fundamentally about the quest for causes. It is precisely the quest for causes that is the essence of what rational creatures do. Hume may have raised doubts about causality, but in the real world, if a living creature can't identify causes, it ends up as lunch for something higher up in the food chain.
For Aristotle, the network of causes that we see in the universe is not self-explanatory; it is precisely a critical analysis of causality itself that requires us to posit an uncaused cause, an unmoved mover, a God to explain the order of the universe.
Hence it is precisely human rationality that places us in contact with the divine.
More: it is in exercising our rational faculties that we are most divine, that we come closest to the rational God who rules the universe; in learning to think, we become like the gods.
This is not to exclude the mystical--but mysticism is arational and super-rational; it is not irrational, and it is not contrary to reason. One of the strengths of Star Wars as a myth is that it does not accept a dichotomy between reason and the divine: the Jedi work simultaneously in a high-tech universe AND link themselves mystically with the divine. These two aspects of their lives are NOT in an Aristotelian perspective contradictory, but precisely two halves of one whole.
I stress this point because it highlights why the current generation does not understand the Declaration of Independence: the God whom the founding fathers declared to be the source of human rights is not the result of "irrational faith". He is rather the God accessible to human reason itself, whose existence is or should be "self-evident" to every thinking human, and who needs to be acknowledged in the public square as the source of human liberty because without him the survival of liberty cannot be secure.
Hence the recent debate over the "conservatism of faith" versus the "conservatism of doubt" is a false dichotomy based on the postmodern assumption that belief in God is fundamentally irrational. For Aristotle, what is needed in the public square is more confidence in reason, not less; and with that confidence in reason comes confidence in reason's roots in the God who rules a reasoned and ordered universe. That is the philosophical basis for the American Republic, and it is by reaffirmation of that basis that we restore reason to the center of public discourse.