I just started reading Aristotle's work on the Art of Rhetoric. Actually, I just read the introduction. It seems that all the latest trends in philosophy were thought of long ago. This was nothing new to me, but what did surprise me was that every philosophical idea that has become popular in the history of Western philosophy was discussed by Aristotle or Plato. When I mentioned this to George he noted that in Athens at that time many different philosophies were championed by different schools of thought. They all existed together and wrote against one another in their dialogs. Plato and Aristotle were simply responding to the current set of ideas discussed in their day.
This interested me because today there is only enough room in for one philosophical system. The metaphysic (if I can call it that) of the day is "post modernism" and if you are hip to the jive you will communicate as a post-modern. It's not that your ideas have to adhere to the post-modern mind, they just need to be acceptable to a post-modern reader. If you speak as though you believe in absolutes or in the relevance of faith you will be derided as "oh so last century." The scholar fashion police will be on you before the end of 'bad boys' finishes playing. There is enormous pressure to adhere to the current accepted standards of what constitutes scholarship and evidence. If you prove something the wrong way you will not just be proven wrong, but you will be ousted... kept out of the inner circle of scholarship.
I think this all goes back to the foundations of scholarship, nerddom. All the nerds in middle and high school ever wanted was to fit in and to be frenched by a cheerleader. They were never part of the in-crowd and were perpetually unable to keep up with what was "cool". By the time they figured it out the trend had past and the shirt, pants, hat they bought to help them fit in only served to show how nerdy they were. Their entire scholarly career, up to that point, was defined by social rejection.
Oh how the tables have turned. The world of advanced scholarship is their world and they can now do as they please, or so it seems. My theory is that some how a couple of jocks got into the upper ranks of scholarships and are still playing the same games with the rest of us they played in high school. How did they get to this advanced position, you might ask, as though a bone headed football jock could never become a scholar. Perhaps they were polo jocks. The feminists are the cheerleaders of the intellectual game, no nerd would dare cross them. Either way, the jocks are still in control and all the nerds are just trying to fit in. Nothing has changed, just the social game. Speak against the feminists by suggesting that men and women might be different and your reputation as a scholar will get swirlied by the jocks of the academy. Suggest that evolution doesn't make sense and you won't get invited to that party next week.
Yes, times are changing, but the game remains the same and there is nothing new under the sun. What blows my mind is that the current trends in scholarship are presented as new ideas. It is thought that a certain philosophy becomes fashionable and dominate because it is supported by fact, either in science or in some social study that has been done. This just isn't true. The ideas that we tout as so novel and educated were discussed and dismissed by philosophers thousands of years ago. We do not adhere to a certain way of thought because it is backed up by the facts but because it is in fashion, because the scholar jocks and cheerleaders have told us it is okay to think this way in our advanced age. I am not suggesting that we give up our pursuit of a better system since it has been done before, but we should at least acknowledge that our trends in philosophy are more like trends in music than developments in science. They are based on little more than the current fancy of the public and a few men and women who define what is scholastically cool.