On The Constitution of Knowledge, 1/4
My latest book review
I was impressed and persuaded by his emphasis on knowledge emerging from a social process. Second, I concur with his view that this process is undermined by what he calls “trolling” on the one hand and “cancel culture” on the other. Third, I agree that social media has disrupted the information order of the last century, and that this works to our detriment. And fourth, Rauch writes as if a return to the twentieth-century information order can be achieved by taming the disruptive forces. I think that this ignores the decay and corruption that have afflicted the key institutions of journalism and academia. Where Rauch focuses on the attacks on the twentieth-century information order from without, I would emphasize the rot from within.
In the essay, I point out what irritates me about Rauch’s stance. In general, I find him insufficiently critical of established institutions.
But I should stress that I found The Constitution of Knowledge to be an eloquent articulation and defense of liberal values. I find myself referring to it often in discussions, just as I find myself referring often to Julia Galef’s The Scout Mindset.
In Galef’s terms, we have a media environment that gives prominence to soldiers. My hope is to find a way instead to bring prominence to scouts, like Robert Wright, Scott Alexander, Emily Oster, John McWhorter, and Yascha Mounk.
In our universities, fallibilism and empiricism seem to be giving way to a dogmatism and standpoint criteria (“As a black woman. . .”). We need to revive the Constitution of Knowledge. If it does not return to the campus, then we need to stand up alternative institutions.