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The Philosophical Future

Man’s Psychic Journey: End or Beginning?


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 Fourteen: Mankind Evolving: Civilization, Power, the Individual


chapter fourteen

Mankind Evolving: Civilization, Power, the Individual

A secular society can evidently do without religion, or at least religious thinking. Or so it assumes. But can it do even without philosophical, and specifically, moral, thought? This largely unconsciously held supposition remains to be tested. We should recognize of course that religion, while far from dead today, has for centuries been losing ground as a belief system with upper- and middle-class populations. Many political systems find this swing of prevailing opinion quite in line with their current world views. Actions of secular totalitarian governments, like China, for example, demonstrate how the self-assertion of even small religious cults actually brings about often savage countermeasures. It is then more than plausible by now to conclude that a universal shift in the locus of power by which behavior, both individual and collective, is regulated, is under way. The political state, rather than some coterie of religious savants, or even the religious culture itself (e.g., Christian and Confucian), determines which behaviors are good, because acceptable within the bounds of a governing ideology, and which are outside the pale of allowed actions—and therefore evil. Otherwise put, the basis of these decisions no longer lies in the realm of mere ethical theory: It comes down to the practical issue of what is or is not beneficial for the state—as those who exercise real power in the avowedly secular state see it.

Nor are matters different in totalitarian religious...

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