The West is declining, and Wood blames it on the self-implosion of our intellectual cultural heritage. Modernism is collapsing under its own weight, as postmodern ideals eat away at the West's twin pillars of reason and responsibility. Our media-fueled, image-driven, non-linear recasting of the good life has led to the rejection of reason, the enshrinement of greed, ecological debasement, retribalization, and the erosion of democratic mores. Wood thoughtfully explains the origins of our current cultural malaise, and argues that western culture literally becomes more unreasonable as we abandon our Enlightenment heritage and become an anti-intellectual society.
There are steps we can take to reclaim our intellectual heritage. We need a sense of balance, and affirmation of the best qualities of modernism and postmodernism. Although science and religion must be championed, there is much value in passion and spontaneity, for religion and existential faith, for tradition and for community. Some remedies Wood considers include a return to the liberal arts, environmental restoration, economic restructuring and equity, and worldwide political reform.
About the Author:
DONALD N. WOOD is Professor Emeritus, Media Studies, California State University, Northbridge. He is the author of Post-Intellectualism and the Decline of Democracy (Praeger, 1996).