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Morality, Liberty and Totalitarianism
June 28, 2008, 1:25 pm
Filed under: Culture, Philosophy, Politics

In other words, while a radical denial of absolute obligations cannot destroy the moral passions of man, it can render them homeless.  The desire for justice and brotherhood can then no more confess itself for what it is, but will seek embodiment in some theory of salvation through violence.  Thus we see arising those skeptical, hard-boiled, allegedly scientific forms of fanaticism which are so characteristic of our modern age.

{snip}

[Academic freedom] consists in certain metaphysical assumptions without which freedom is logically untenable, and without the firm profession of which freedom can be upheld only in a state of suspended logic, which threatens to collapse at any moment and which in these searching and revolutionary times cannot fail to collapse before long.

Man’s rapidly increasing destructive power will soon put the ideas of our time to crucial test.  We may be faced with the fact that only by resuming the great tradition which embodies faith in these realities can the continuance of the human race on earth, equipped with the powers of modern science, be made both possible and desirable.

Michael Polanyi, The Logic of Liberty, 58.

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