“A Happy Snow-Flake Dancing in the Flaw”: Reflections on Santayanan Alternatives and Surviving a New Dark Age

in The Life of Reason in an Age of Terrorism
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Social instability and moral confusion (wrote Santayana) were characteristics of the present age—his own. Today in 2016, more than a hundred years later, moral confusion and social instability, coupled with a strong presence of terror, appear to be givens of our own times. A degree of European confusion and vulnerability tinges basic, everyday talk and discussion. This can be more dangerous than terrorism itself. Europe and the United States demand global answers and solutions, but nationalisms and populisms seem to be clouding the issues, and offering extreme solutions. Santayana’s maintained that perceived chaos was only a manifestation of natural contingencies. I would like to argue presently that Santayana’s philosophy gifts us a serene critical approach to the everyday that can help us deal with what seem to be unprecendented, novel problems.

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