As I write this, Islamic riots are killing people around the world. Our government's response is, to say the least, lackluster. The policy of extending our hand has failed. A question arises: What led to this failure? Nor is this the first time unanswered questions have assaulted the west with brutal reality.
Eons ago the ancient Greeks attempted to provide many answers to the problems of their era: What are the causes of wars; what is the best way to live; what is the best way to form a society? The Greeks were trying, in their words, to bring order to chaos, to understand a world in which everything seems disconnected and disorderly. In their attempt they created literature, democracy, science, historical analysis, and more. With few exceptions, this rigorous attempt to bring order to our world has ceased.
One such exception is Dr. Leonard Peikoff's new book "The Dim Hypothesis: Why the Lights of the West are going out."
He brings order to the most paradoxical and seemingly unconnected concretes spanning the millennia. Is there, for instance, any relationship "between Roman schools and Louix XIV, medieval teleology and the theory of everything [in science], Gertrude Stein and John Rawls, Stoic physics and Stalinist literature, Demosthenes and [Victor] Hugo, Virgil and Einstein, FDR and quantum mechanics"? Each of these examples is what Dr. Peikoff calls a cultural product, whether they are a work of literature (e.g., Victor Hugo's Les Miserables), a scientific school of thought (e.g., quantum mechanics), an education system (e.g., Roman schools), or a political system (e.g., the Greek Polis). In this new work, DIM, we are given a new theory in which to order the world of our past, our present, and project into the future.
This method of bringing order to chaos is all but dead today. What else can be said but that people still have trouble understanding the connection between Communism and Fascism, two theories which baldly decreed man's place in society is subservience? People see nothing but a confused juxtaposition everywhere they look. As Dr. Peikoff puts it: "The American people... do not understand what is today called art. They do not understand what is called science. Their children do not understand what the schools teach. And the politicians, people think, understand nothing. It adds up to a historic popular feeling: Something fundamental has gone wrong with the United States."
The new theory that is put forth in the book provides answers. It brings order. While the book does not provide a detailed analysis about every single issue facing us today, what it gives us is an unprecedented new tool to objectively, and methodically, assess the world of our past and present (thus enabling us to better see in which direction we are headed.)
A cultural product, like the political movement "environmentalism," can be analyzed and understood in a new light with this tool. Questions such as what is the real cause of America's acceptance of this new anti-American movement? Where might this acceptance lead? Is it merely an attack on our pocketbooks, or a much more dangerous weapon? This same analysis can be applied to Obamacare. How has universalized healthcare continued to progress in America, despite its universal failures?
The DIM theory can help us bring order to America's foreign policy and the accruing results. It can help us understand the complete lack of positive values projected by our artists today. It can help us understand the result of our broken education system. It can even help us understand most American's continual acceptance of blasé pseudo-scientific statements (e.g., Global Cooling, Global Warming, Climate Change.)
If you, like me, have felt that there is just "something wrong in the world today," and yet answers elude you; this book is for you. If you look into your future (assuming you have the courage to do so) and see uncertainty in the career you've chosen, blindness about the values you pursue, terror about the inevitable climax of many current institutional endeavors, then this book is for you. If you have a desire to know the world, to bring order to chaos, do not seek salvation at a pew or a bottle, seek it through your reasoning mind.
In this effort, and to help you get the most out of the DIM book I would like to make a few suggestions. As one would not attempt to engage in chemistry experiments without a basis of knowledge, so one should not attempt to use a new tool in philosophy without a firm basis of knowledge. This does not mean an average person cannot teach themselves. You do not need a PhD to acquire knowledge. All one needs is an active mind, and motivation. The active mind is up to you. The motivation is all around you. A basic understanding of philosophy is helpful. A start on your journey could be Ayn Rand's Philosophy: Who Needs It, which gives one the fuel to investigate other philosophies.
The DIM book does presuppose Objectivism. Thus, to get the most out of the book, I would recommend at minimum studying: Rand's Atlas Shrugged, to get a vision of Objectivism as a whole and in practical implementation; Rand's theoretical work in concept-formation, Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology: Expanded Second Edition; Then the systematic presentation of Rand's philosophy by Peikoff, Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand; lastly, Dr. Peikoff's The Ominous Parallels: A Brilliant Study of America Today - and the 'ominous parallels' with the chaos of pre-Hitler Germany, to help gain a view of an earlier (and still relevant) cultural analysis, in order to gain a view of the field as such.
This is a tall order. But nothing less than all out intellectual war against the deluge of irrational and chaotic powers possessing our cultural elites can give mankind the victory it deserves.
Dr. Peikoff's book gives us the tools necessary to fix a broken culture. From the soil of Rand's philosophy Peikoff plants something new--the seed of a new theoretical understanding of man's fundamental nature. We are now all living in a new world, one given light by a great visionary.
In the preface Dr. Peikoff poses a question to his readers: "Is [DIM] a pioneering epic, a recycling of the obvious, or the maunderings of a mind that has lost it?
I know my answer."
And I know mine.