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Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe

On-line version ISSN 2224-7912
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SCHOEMAN, Marinus. Critical remarks on our time and some of its most harmful illusions. Tydskr. geesteswet. [online]. 2017, vol.57, n.1, pp.22-33. ISSN 2224-7912.

In the first part, this article explores an important phenomenon of our time, i.e. the resurgence of revolutionary liberation movements. Basically, all revolutionary movements since the 18th century rest on at least two assumptions which, on closer inspection, are exposed as fallacies. The first one is the assumption that we humans are born free, and the second is the assumption of the zero sum. Both these assumptions are discussed critically, with the aim of showing how they help to give rise to all sorts of illusions that pose a serious threat to democracy and to standards of civilised behaviour in society. Attention is focused primarily on the phenomenon of radical Islamic terrorism and the ideology of "third worldism" that underpins much of the movements for postcolonial liberation. The second part of this article deals with the late-modern phenomenon of what could be called a "culture (or rather counter-culture) ofrejection and indifference" which is currently prevailing, primarily in the most technically and industrially advanced societies. I argue that this counter-culture of uncivilised (even barbaric) and provocative behaviour emanates from an attitude of profound ingratitude, disrespect and a total lack of scruple. I conclude the article with some suggestions as to how this counter-culture could be effectively opposed and contained. What is needed is a thorough reflection on the preconditions for a genuinely civilised society. Together we must ask anew the age old question about the "good life" - for us as individuals, as a particular community and also for society at large. In wrestling with this question we can draw sustenance and inspiration from the classical sources of our tradition. In this regard, the humanities and particularly philosophy has an extremely important role to play.

Keywords : revolutionary liberation movements; radical Islamic terror; misconception of freedom; zero sum fallacy; third worldism; social justice; egalitarianism; resentment; counter-culture; civil society; respect; preconditions for a civilised society.

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