• CountVictorClimacusIII
    61
    From reading Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, Sartre and exploring ideas from Camus, then relating these to the current cultural climate in the West, I'd like to stir discussion on whether you think we are in decline, or in despair as modern individuals living in our times?

    This video is also fascinating in my opinion, and perhaps sets the tone of what I'm trying to ask:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ifbbaqwteEU

    Is the modern West in decline? is the culture corrupt? Are we lost and in despair?

    Happy for all of your thoughts.
  • praxis
    3.6k
    Don’t worry, modern artist still paint depressing pictures like this...

    109+sketch-of-christ-on-the-cross+delacroix%5B1%5D.jpg
  • Tom Storm
    1.3k
    Is the modern West in decline? is the culture corrupt? Are we lost and in despair?CountVictorClimacusIII

    How would you measure this? Seems to me a lot of marketing, popular culture and Youtube posturing is energetically selling this idea. Probably aligned with the familiar whining that everything was so much better in the old days.
  • CountVictorClimacusIII
    61


    Could very well be the case. I guess as a very rudimentary starting point, perspectives here on the topic would be interesting to read, especially if they are backed up by accounts in your own cultural / societal contexts of what the climate looks like to you.
  • praxis
    3.6k
    A quick glance at a few of the videos gave me the impression that the Academy of Ideas is the brainchild of some Koch brothers think tank, designed to promote traditional values and glorify the individual so that working class folk will be less likely to get uppity (unionize or whatever). Insidious.
  • CountVictorClimacusIII
    61


    Who knows? I was just trying to use the contents of that one video to spark conversation on the overall topic, or I should say, my original question.
  • Ciceronianus the White
    1.7k
    Is the modern West in decline? is the culture corrupt? Are we lost and in despair?CountVictorClimacusIII

    I think paintings tell us more about the artists who made them than anything else. So, for that matter, do videos like this one. I don't know the answers to your first two questions. I'm not lost and in despair, though listening to all those portentous pontifications read by the narrator was disturbing. I don't know how anyone else feels.
  • Banno
    12.7k
    Did anyone notice the sudden interest in Gödel hereabouts?

    It seems to me that one can get a rough understanding of Gödel's ideas form watching a video.

    But any depth in that understanding requires a concerted effort to engage with the argument step by step - that is, specifically seeing how to move from each step to the next. As one reads an argument one's eye flicks from premise to conclusion and then back to premise, until one takes in the path between them

    I suggest that a video does not encourage such engagement.

    This is testable; show one group a video of some mathematical proof, and another a document. See which group can solve related problems most effectively.

    I'll put my money on those who read the paper.

    Back to Gödel; the increase in nonsense around his ideas, displayed in this forum and elsewhere, might be directly attributable to YouTube encouraging folk to think a superficial viewing is sufficient for them to engage critically with the material.

    It isn't.
  • frank
    7.4k


    It's because there isn't enough war and pestilence. Those things make people feel alive. See Fight Club.
  • Apollodorus
    1.3k
    I'd like to stir discussion on whether you think we are in decline, or in despair as modern individuals living in our times?CountVictorClimacusIII

    Well, the West is in decline in demographic terms to begin with. And as Western culture is apparently being replaced with multiculturalism, probably in cultural terms too. Quite possibly, we will be speaking Mandarin and eating stir-fried bats in the near future. But I can't say that I'm despairing to be honest.
  • frank
    7.4k
    Quite possibly, we will be speaking Mandarin and eating stir-fried bats in the near future.Apollodorus

    They don't actually eat bats. The vector was supposedly some animal that was bitten by a bat. Maybe a scientist.
  • Joshs
    1.5k
    Not decline, intellectual stagnation. No one is moving on from Husserl, Merleau-Ponty, Heidegger or Derrida . Instead, the
    leading edge of philosophical thought is regurgitating ideas from 140 years ago ( James, Nietzsche, Kierkegaard) and that passes for ‘new’ thinking. Since philosophy is the crystal ball pointing to the future of other cultural modalities we see the same stagnation in literature, music, the visual arts , film and dance, political theory. Lots of activity and passion but mostly centered around recycled ideas( news flash: physics is no longer the queen of the sciences). Why is this happening? One can point to slowing birth rates, especially among progressives, and an aging population. When life expectancy was only 55 years and there was an explosive birth rate in the West a rapid transformation of ideas took place from generation to generation.

    I suspect populations will noticeably shrink over the next decades , which is a good thing. I think not only will economies survive this but in the long run it will allow them to thrive. We’re simply not going to need the numbers of workers we have now. But I think this trend is already impacting intellectual culture. Going forward I don’t think we will see the creative movements in the arts and theoretical fields we have been accustomed to in previous eras. Instead it will just be a tiny handful of individuals scattered around academic departments around the world. Meahwhile, rest of the culture will accelerate the current trend toward a lowest common denominator, with more and more derivative and bland product in the arts and ideas.
  • Apollodorus
    1.3k
    They don't actually eat bats. The vector was supposedly some animal that was bitten by a bat. Maybe a scientist.frank

    It was supposed to be a joke. But we might be eating scientists instead, who knows?
  • Apollodorus
    1.3k
    I suspect populations will noticeably shrink over the next decades , which is a good thingJoshs

    Indigenous populations, maybe. But chances are they will be replaced with non-Europeans especially Africans once they've run out of water or other resources. Colonization by China is another possibility if Western economies decline.
  • Joshs
    1.5k
    Colonization by China is another possibility if Western economies decline.Apollodorus

    I’m not talking about a declining economy. I’m talking g about the paradoxical , contentious proposition of an increasingly roboticized and thriving economy run by progressively fewer people.
  • Maw
    2.5k
    I think it's worth quoting the video's main thesis, "if the creations of great artists reveal psychological and spiritual atmosphere of the times, then an honest survey of modern art must lead one to consider the possibility that modern civilization is suffering from a spiritual sickness".

    I think the creator of the video is interpreting historical artistic changes with a highly shallow perspective, i.e. psycho-spiritual.

    The video's creator states that "prior to the 19th century, the great artists focused on works that beautified the world and transfigured the human being," but this is true only at a cursory glance across art history. First however, it needs to be said that much of the famous Renaissance and Baroque artwork that the video's creator describes were commissioned by the church or wealthy individuals, so it is understandable why so much artwork in this time depicted a famous biblical scene or a idealized individual or "transfigured human being", etc. The market was dominated by money.

    But of course, his statement is not unequivocally true. Take, for example, Pieter Bruegel's The Triumph of Death? Or the panel of Hell within Hieronymus Bosch's Garden of Earthly Delights? Grünewald's Isenheim Altarpiece, while religious, has one of the most sickly-looking depictions of Jesus in art. What about Caravaggio's The Beheading of Saint John, depicting a religious event (the beheading of Saint John the Baptist) in a strikingly irreligious and brutally insignificant manner? There are numerous examples of course, showing the shallowness of his thesis.

    There is in fact a lot of questionable material and analysis in this video, and I'm not sure how much I care to analyze a Youtube video essay, but I don't see any issue with humanity or religion being de-focused from art, nor do I see it as de facto evidence of cultural decline, as if Mark Rothko, Fernand Léger, or Jackson Pollack and many others could possible be offering that suggestion in their artwork. Seems like the video creator is just glib about modern art, as are many people, unfortunately.
  • Apollodorus
    1.3k
    I’m talking g about the paradoxical , contentious proposition of an increasingly roboticized and thriving economy run by progressively fewer people.Joshs

    Well, we aren't even out of the pandemic situation yet. So it's all very much in the air at the moment. God only knows what's coming our way next.
  • frank
    7.4k
    It was supposed to be a joke. But we might be eating scientists instead, who knows?Apollodorus

    I'm vegetarian these days, so not unless it's a black bean scientist.
  • Maw
    2.5k
    Man, I'm so wary of these types of faceless content creators who churn out videos that are seen by hundreds of thousands of people, mainly young and impressionable, without providing any information about who they are, their background, who is funding them, etc. The 'About Us' page on their website states that they are "two brothers from Canada". Ummm ok?...and a scroll down their recommended book page displays an odd arrangement, seemingly random assortment of books, while most revealingly, their economics section exclusively lists right-wing material from Thomas Sowell, Henry Hazlitt, Rothbard, von Mises, et. al.
  • Bitter Crank
    9.4k
    from reading Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, Sartre and exploring ideas from Camus, then relating these to the current cultural climate in the West, I'd like to stir discussion on whether you think we are in decline, or in despair as modern individuals living in our times?CountVictorClimacusIII

    Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, Sartre, and Camus didn't invent despair or anxiety. History has had many episodes where people felt like a Christian Scientist with severe appendicitis. [That's a joke; it means suddenly discovering that one's beliefs are decidedly not up to the demands of the moment.)

    Society is always in decline, always being renewed. Culture rises and falls like waves on the shore. The details depend on who is pontificating at the moment. There IS real decline and renewal, but it isn't society wide, generally. Not unless events shred the very fabric of society -- such as what happened to the society of dinosaurs when the big rock hit the Yucatan 65 million years ago. Even the plague didn't wreck societies, even when 35% of the population died.

    How's the cultural climate? You can't tell in the middle of it.
  • bongo fury
    1k
    I'll put my money on those who read the paper.Banno

    Or, there's my plumbing diagram. 500 days and no blowback :grimace: (what's that sound...)
  • CountVictorClimacusIII
    61


    Haha, yeah, big fan of Fight Club :ok:
  • CountVictorClimacusIII
    61


    An interesting take, I too have often wondered about a kind of intellectual stagnation in the contemporary West. It will be interesting to see how this will evolve (or not), in the coming years.
  • CountVictorClimacusIII
    61


    It needs to be said that much of the famous Renaissance and Baroque artwork that the video's creator describes were commissioned by the church or wealthy individuals, so it is understandable why so much artwork in this time depicted a famous biblical scene or a idealized individual or "transfigured human being", etc.

    Agreed. I thought that too while watching it. I'm sure if it was the common folk of that era commissioning paintings, the work itself would be very different. I suppose the thesis of the video does still raise interesting questions (at least to me), and it's exciting to read all the wonderful replies and analysis on this Forum.
  • CountVictorClimacusIII
    61


    So it's all very much in the air at the moment. God only knows what's coming our way next.

    Well, Aliens, apparently :brow:
  • CountVictorClimacusIII
    61


    Society is always in decline, always being renewed. Culture rises and falls like waves on the shore. How's the cultural climate? You can't tell in the middle of it.

    This I very much agree with, however, I often wonder if we are in the decline phase. Suppose we'll find out.
  • Bitter Crank
    9.4k
    I often wonder if we are in the decline phase.CountVictorClimacusIII

    Well, we could be -- depending on how you define "our culture" or "my culture".

    I'd say that the average person who completes high school this year is in general less well educated in general than someone who graduated 50 or 60 years ago. The function of high school for the hoi polloi has changed, as has the nature of labor (to some extent). This has resulted in a cultural decline among the majority of the population who are younger (under 55 or 60, say). For a minority of high school graduates, the function of high school is college prep, and for this minority of students who go on to professional work, the culture of education, and their lives later on is excellent.

    Those who like classical music are alive at a time of abundant high quality live and recorded performances. This area of culture is better off now (IMHO) than at any time in the last 100 years. Bookstore (local or Amazon/Barnes & Noble, etc.) now have more high quality science fiction than ever before. They also have a lot more schlock. I find too many interesting historical and sociological studies to read should I live another 25 years (I'm 75 now). The INTERNET makes a huge amount of interesting and at least very good quality material available that would once have been very inconvenient to access. That's a cultural improvement.

    Do popular music consumers think the culture is getting better or worse? (I don't know -- I'm too old to judge; there are current bands that I like the sound of, but most not so much.). I don't think fast food is improving; good Chinese restaurants are getting harder to find in the midwest, alas. Are sports teams improving or deteriorating? Don't know.

    We have a very good technical culture. Smartphones are remarkable pieces of tech. On the other hand, a lot of stuff one buys at big box stores (Walmart, Target, Cosco, Amazon, et al) is quite often cheap plastic junk. That part of the culture is in the dustbin. I can buy excellent shoes (costs an arm and a leg) or I can buy cheaper tolerable shoes which won't last as long, won't be as comfortable, and so on. But... I don't have to go barefoot in the snow.

    So, it all depends.
  • Bitter Crank
    9.4k
    Well, Aliens, apparentlyCountVictorClimacusIII

    Or it could be evil spirits. Don't count them out.
  • T Clark
    5.4k
    For a minority of high school graduates, the function of high school is college prep, and for this minority of students who go on to professional work, the culture of education, and their lives later on is excellent.Bitter Crank

    For what it's worth, according to the web, more than 60% of high school graduates go on to college. That surprises me. I can tell you from my family's experience significantly fewer graduate in four or five years. It took me 17.

    Those who like classical music are alive at a time of abundant high quality live and recorded performances. This area of culture is better off now (IMHO) than at any time in the last 100 years. Bookstore (local or Amazon/Barnes & Noble, etc.) now have more high quality science fiction than ever before. They also have a lot more schlock. I find too many interesting historical and sociological studies to read should I live another 25 years (I'm 75 now). The INTERNET makes a huge amount of interesting and at least very good quality material available that would once have been very inconvenient to access. That's a cultural improvement.Bitter Crank

    I'm not a classical music fan, but the sentiment of this section is paragraph is correct. There are thousand and thousands of books written in English every year. If only 5% are good, that's more books than I can ever read. That doesn't even count older books, which are often available electronically for free from libraries and other sources. I'm not a big movie or TV watcher any more, but an incredible amount of good video is easily and cheaply available. My children are pretty sophisticated music listeners. They like a lot of the music around today, but they also listen to and know more about the music of my youth than I do. You can take free college courses by famous professors on-line. Wikipedia is wonderful. Google Earth is fantastic. If you can't find high-quality culture, you're not trying. "Caddy Shack," "Animal House," "Evil Alien Conquerors," "Dumb and Dumber."

    I think you and I are fortunate. We came along at just the right time. We can pick and choose the aspects of the newer technologies that we want and discard the rest. My children; 39, 36, and 31; can also. Partly because of their age and partly because I was too cheap to get a computer and cable until they were mostly grown. Anyone younger than them will be immersed in the technology like fish in a pond.
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