Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Listen To Dennis Prager: The Age of "Foolishness"

Anyone who has recurrently looked in on this Blog, knows that I often refer to questions and emphases raised by Dennis Prager on his radio program. I emailed for over a decade before beginning it approximately a year ago, and always referred to questions and comments raised on television and radio talk shows. The most marked differences in the case of Prager, are the relative profundity of the questions raised (much of the discussion on other programs is relative pablum, by which I mean simplistic – see note at bottom), and the extent to which I often agree with his conclusions.

There are occasional instances in which I deeply disagree, which often seem rooted in my comprehensive Christianity relative to his Judaism. But, I very much appreciate his focus on moral beyond dogmatic considerations and his oft-stated maxim: “I prefer clarity to agreement,” which more tersely states Ludwig Wittgenstein’s century old definition of the philosopher’s task as that of defining questions more than promoting answers.

Anyway on Tuesday, Prager’s program in his “Ultimate Issues” series was a more focused discussion of his common assertion that his (baby-boomer) generation was the initiation of “the age of stupidity.” He clarified that he didn’t intend to imply unintelligence but a lack of wisdom. As he is an Old Testament student and Hebrew teacher, Prager will be familiar with Proverbs’ juxtaposition of “wisdom” with “foolishness.” I’ve heard him discuss this countless times and tend to agree with the observation and that it arose from the generally unprecedented ease and pampering of that generation’s youth. But, “the age of foolishness” works for me. There are plenty of brilliant people stewed in common errors of this time. I’m slightly younger, but I remember watching it from my youth.

I could discuss some of the details touched upon, but mainly there were just what I see as some low-level misconceptions about human nature that it was easy for a young generation to get swept up in, in an impertinent swirl of mass-culture consensus. But, it’s easier if you can listen to that hour (Hour 3 - The Age of Stupidity) of the program. http://www.townhall.com/TalkRadio/Show.aspx?RadioShowID=3&ContentGuid=e9c6008e-6187-4257-950c-24b5e9fd323a

“Pablum” is an interesting word. That’s what leapt to mind as what I wanted to say. But the word-processor identified it as a misspelling. Another online dictionary recognized it and confirmed the definition as trite or simple, but many did not. It is a shortening of the word “pabulum,” which is an infant’s porridge or cereal. The word is used for discussion that requires little in the way of chewing or thought. A more widely used word is simply “pap.”

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