Email buddy SG sent me a link to a transcript of a keynote address that E. L. Doctorow gave about a year ago. He was speaking to "a joint meeting of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society on the theme of 'The Public Good: Knowledge as the Foundation for a Democratic Society.' "
What does it say about the United States today that this fellowship of the arts and sciences and philosophy is called to affirm knowledge as a public good? What have we come to when the self-evident has to be argued as if--500 years into the Enlightenment and 230-some years into the life of this Republic--it is a proposition still to be proven? How does it happen that the modernist project that has endowed mankind with the scientific method, the concept of objective evidence, the culture of factuality responsible for the good and extended life we enjoy in the high-tech world of our freedom, but more important for the history of our species, the means to whatever verified knowledge we have regarding the nature of life and the origins and laws of the universe.... How does it happen for reason to have been so deflected and empirical truth to have become so vulnerable to unreason?