Let Us Depart Hence
Written by Douglas Wilson
Monday, April 25, 2011
In Saving Leonardo, Nancy Pearcey writes very helpfully about the fact/value distinction that modern secularism depends upon. In doing this, she is taking one of Francis Schaeffer’s basic illustrations and pushing it into the corners.
One particularly helpful observation she made is that postmodernism, despite all the posturing, keeps this quintessential modern dichotomy intact. Postmodernism applied to both fact and value would be nihilism, pure and simple. We haven’t heard from many of these guys because they all shot themselves.
But postmodernism that applies itself to the values side only is just playing intellectual dress-ups. You can talk as though all knowledge is situated knowledge, based on nothing more than tribal customs . . . until a bright sophomore raises his hand and asks if Darwin is just a tribal legend.
Well, he is or he isn’t. Right? If he is, then let us depart hence. If he isn’t, then it would seem that there is some knowledge that is not time-bound and situated. And that is the point when the embarrassed professor concerned will retreat to some version of the fact/value distinction. “Well, that’s not something that we would ordinarily call ‘knowledge’ . . . it is more like a fact.” Heh.