Modern Thought: Constantly Reinventing the Wheel

window-700770_960_720One of the tragedies of the modern world is the great fear of dependence upon others. People have the idea that the fact one depends upon others represents a sign of extreme weakness and lack of character.

Society exists in part to address the shortcomings of every person. When a person seeks out the help of another, it is something that helps, not hinders, one’s full development. It actually involves an act of courage to acknowledge the reality of one’s weaknesses and seek the support of another. In addition, the combined efforts of many united together is stronger than the isolated endeavor of a single individual no matter how strong that person may be. A person has everything to gain by a balanced dependency.

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This phobia of dependency reaches an extreme in the formation of modern thought. Descartes taught that true thinking comes from putting aside all supposed knowledge coming from “example or custom.” The real thinker is one who formulates one’s own thoughts built upon a foundation, which belongs completely to the individual. He only is because he thinks.

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Emmanuel Kant takes this yet further by declaring: “Enlightenment is “man’s emergence from his self-incurred immaturity… [The immaturity consists not in a] lack of understanding, but a lack of resolution and courage to use [one’s own understanding] without the guidance of another.”

Dependency, tradition and guidance are not curses but true guardians of progress. The ability to build upon the work and thoughts of others prevents society from constantly reinventing the wheel…or inventing crazy things to take the place of wheels.

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