We do not live by bread and technology alone because our lives gain meaning and purpose from the morals, mythology and metaphysics of our non-material heritage. We absorb these animating principles from our contacts with parents, teachers, preachers and peers, also from religion, art, literature, science, business, sport and politics.
This non-material heritage contains a mixture of good and bad ideas, and a society that loses the capacity to subject these myths and traditions to imaginative criticism is likely to die. Constant efforts are required to eliminate error and muddled thinking because the risk is ever-present that the bad will drive out the good. The task of imaginative criticism falls to all thinking people, although it has been institutionalised with certain organisations such as the universities and with occupational groups such as academics, including philosophers.
This process of institutionalisation has almost proved fatal and it sometimes seems that the institutions and groups who have the most responsibility for the health and vigour of our thinking have in fact done much to mutilate and debilitate our heritage. This has been described as 'the treason of the intellectuals'. This process deserves further investigation in the hope that it can be reversed.
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Ian D. Suttie
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