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The Philosophical Future

Man’s Psychic Journey: End or Beginning?

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Charles R. Reid

This book surveys the breadth of mankind’s postmodern malaise, which is achieved through a discussion of the major challenges, social and psychological, which every individual faces in the effort to live fully in the twenty-first century. These challenges lay in broadly familiar domains: self- and group-consciousness; common man and his place in a future society in which mental activity dominates; work and leisure; knowledge and values accruing from it, both for self and others; possibilities in education; civilization, with its “Dark Age” phenomena and its dreams of progress; the role of the past in contemporary life; and power, both in society and within the sovereign individual who, though bound by physical and intellectual limits, functions as a seeker after the freedom and self-fulfillment which are so wholly integral to the human condition. And finally a serious question: What fate awaits the perpetual non-conformist, whose views, however unwelcome in his own time and in a contemporary environment, may in fact anticipate future living conditions?

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Chapter Nine: Education (III): The Learner and His Cultural Bonds: An Enigma of Modern Times

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chapter nine

Education (III): The Learner and His Cultural Bonds: An Enigma of Modern Times

A remarkable feature of late twentieth and early twenty-first century global development has been the persistence of ethnic, racial, and religious group identity. Face to face with the psychological and economic bulldozer of the industrial system, hundreds of tribal cultures have stubbornly refused to give way before it, but continue struggling to preserve an often fragile yet always distinct identity. Some, like the Ik and Yamamono, were unable to survive. Many others, less threatened by circumstances or better prepared by experience, have tenaciously pursued their course, maintaining a clear identity and in certain cases (as with some native Indian tribes in the United States) even relatively thriving—though not without the cooperation, perhaps grudging, of political authority.

Why have so many of these indigenous cultures not already yielded to a fate dictated by the broader pattern of human social evolution and disappeared? How is it that their remnants have not already been submerged and absorbed into a single, technically superior global culture? This phenomenon has been explained by various theories. Still, no theory seems very convincing without acknowledging two persisting core factors: the emotional strength of tribal traditions and the tribe’s continued uniqueness as a functioning society. For both these elements of a still-living culture are being regularly passed from one generation to the next. Time past and its content, in short, has made a difference. Yet what may...

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