The Most Important Intellectual Event of the Last Two Centuries

Has been the development and completion of the critique of Enlightenment rationalism. The figures who accomplished this included:

  • Edmund Burke
  • Alexis de Tocqueville
  • Fyodor Dostoevsky
  • Lewis Carroll
  • G.K. Chesterton
  • T.S. Eliot
  • C.S. Lewis
  • Kurt Gödel
  • Ludwig Wittgenstein
  • Michael Oakeshott
  • Eric Voegelin
  • F.A. Hayek
  • Michael Polanyi
  • Paul Feyerabend
  • Thomas Kuhn
  • Jane Jacobs
  • Alasdair MacIntyre
  • Nassim Nicholas Taleb

The job was difficult, because it required using theory to show the limits of theory. (Gödel's incompleteness theorem was an especially clever instance of accomplishing this.) But it is now done, and all that is required is to make the accomplishment more widely known.


  1. I agree, to the extent that I am able to agree with the limited knowledge I have. What I mean is this: I don't know exactly, for instance, how Gödel's theorems work (I haven't studied them). But I have an interest in studying them because I do think they shed light on this subject.

    If I'm not mistaken, the first author that helped me realize this was Hayek. And when reading Rothbard and his NAP, I used to think of some classmates I had, that asked the teacher for rules for solving exercises. They wanted an algorithm to solve the problems, automaton-like, instead of having to think through each case. And I knew things don't work like that. So, why would this work with ethics, which is quite complex, if it doesn't, e.g. with designing software: design principles are heuristics; it won't do to follow an algorithm to apply them; aren't moral rules the same? You have to apply them case by case, using your judgement. How is it possible to have a system, like Rothbard's system, that tells you what to do in every single case? Also, doesn't what we know about computation theory suggest this is not possible? If it's not possible to write an algorithm that tells you whether another algorithm will stop running with absolute certainty, how can you write an algorithm that solves with certainty every moral problem?

    Of the author's you list, some I have read (Hayek, Taleb, Chesterton, Oakeshott, Voegelin). Many others I haven't, but they are in my reading list precisely because I think they will help me see the point you're making more clearly (Gödel, Wittgenstein, Polanyi, Kühne, Feyerabend, Jacobs. MacIntyre).

    Oackeshott I read because of you, so thank you for that.


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