The Cul-de-sac of Modern Thought

by Jan 4, 2023

It was about 2:00 am Sunday morning during the Fall of 2008. It was not unusual for my night owl wife to still be up working at her computer. It was also not unusual for me to be sound asleep in bed. My wife’s thoughts were interrupted when she heard an automobile speeding down the road. Since we live at the cul-de-sac of a dead-end road, it is also not unusual for teenagers to race up and down the road late at night. As the vehicle was coming to the end of the road, she expected to hear the engine throttle down. However, rather than slowing down, she heard the vehicle accelerate. As the engine roared louder it approached the cul-de-sac and crashed through the dead-end. 

By the sound of the engine, it had hit the end of the street at a very high rate of speed. The sound of the crash was not as loud as might be imagined, but it did wake me up. At that point I almost went back to sleep except I heard my wife on the phone calling 911. I got out of bed to find out what was going on and she explained what had happened to me. I was going to get dressed and investigate the situation, but the response team quickly arrived on the scene, so I did not want to get in their way. 

Eventually, I just went back to bed. Since I am the morning person in the family, I decided to go and see what had happened. It turned out that the vehicle had shot up the embankment, gone air born, and hit the second floor of the assisted living facility some hundred yards or more on the other side of the cul-de-sac. It was estimated that the car had hit the dead-end at over 100 mph. I spoke with an officer who was still on the scene, and she indicated that the two teenagers in the car were killed. That turned out not to be the case. Only the passenger died that night. Since my wife had called 911 so quickly, rescue workers were able to revive the driver and to get him to the hospital where they were able to successfully treat him.

It turns out we heard later that both boys had a history of run-ins with local law enforcement. They had been out partying that night and mistakenly thought they were racing down a different road. The cul-de-sac was an unexpected ending. While the driver had not planned on killing his friend, nevertheless, that is what happened.

Given the title, you might wonder what this event has to do with modern thought. Let me explain why the event is relevant. Beginning during the Enlightenment, an increasing number of academics aimed at explaining everything in scientific terms. That is, it became more and more fashionable to assume the only knowledge that can be had is that which is empirically verifiable. Since that assertion cannot be empirically verified, according to the proposition itself, it cannot be known. Thus, the assertion is a contradiction in terms. Put bluntly, it is irrational. This has resulted in a trend toward irrationality in the halls of academia. Thought along these lines has moved from Modernism to Post Modernism. The Post Modern has abandoned all hope of gaining knowledge and assumes that you are free to make up whatever you want even if it is a blatant contradiction of obvious facts. In fact, there are only two genders: male and female. That is a biological fact. Nevertheless, academics today are willing to embrace almost anything even if it is the most outlandish nonsense. It is as if the academic car is being driven by Thelma and Louise as they speed toward the canyon. I doubt there will be survivors.

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Paul Cleveland

Boundary Stone was started by Dr. Paul Cleveland. Working as a professor for over 35 years has allowed him to study and think deeply about issues of political economy. He has discovered ways to communicate these sometimes illusive concepts to today's students, often through story telling, which makes understanding these principles more accessible to all of us.


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