The Threat to Reason
How the Enlightenment was Hijacked and How We Can Reclaim It
By Dan Hind
(Verso, Hardcover, 9781844671526, 184pp.)
Publication Date: June 17, 2007
Other Editions of This Title: Paperback
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Today, media commentators, intellectuals and politicians declare that westernscience and rationality are threatened by irrational enemies.Evangelicals, postmodernists, and Islamists are on the march, they say.The Rome that science built is under siege. But there’s a problem withthese stirring attempts to defend the truth. They aren’t true.
In this urgent new book, Dan Hind confronts the great machinery ofdeception in which we live, and which now threatens to destroy ourcivilization. In particular, he takes to task a group of prominentintellectuals who have exaggerated the threat posed by the so-calledforces of unreason—religion, postmodernism and other “mumbo-jumbo.”The commentators, says Hind, distract us from much more pressingthreats to an open democratic society based on freedom of speech andinquiry.
This book shows that the real threats to reason aren’t wacky or foreignor stupid; they reside in our state and corporate bureaucracies—and,one way or another, they probably pay your salary. In recovering theidea of Enlightenment, Hind explores its vital importance and revealshow it can help us to achieve a truly democratic politics, in which wehave a genuine say in the decisions that are taken on our behalf.
Dan Hind was a publisher for ten years. in 2009 he left the industry to develop a program of media reform centered on public commissioning. His journalism has appeared in the Guardian, the New Scientist, Lobster and the Times Literary Supplement. His books include The Threat to Reason and The Return of the Public. He lives in London.
“Hind’s The Threat to Reason is in the tradition of those great works that ask big and fundamental, yet curiously unexamined, questions. It is a profound and much-needed contribution, for what Hind carefully demonstrates is that the concept of Enlightenment is being used in today’s world to justify some very unenlightened practices. His work could hardly be more urgent today. In the spirit of Enlightenment thinkers, he both reveals the contradictions and hypocrisies of contemporary politics, and also points a way forward.”—Joel Bakan, author of The Corporation
“The exciting thing about Dan Hind’s book is his refusal to treat the Enlightenment as merely an episode in our past. Instead he sees it as an ongoing enterprise which has to engage with current developments, such as religious fundamentalism, in a new dialogue. The book is full of unexpected insights, not least about the United States.”—Larry Siedentop, author of Democracy in Europe