Monday, January 30, 2006

Loftus and the fallacy of chronological snobbery

This post, from John Loftus. seems to me to commit the fallacy of chronological snobbery, as described by C. S. Lewis in Surprised by Joy. Here Lewis is talking about his discussions with Owen Barfield:

In the first place he (barfield) made short work of what I have called my "chronological snobbery," the uncritical acceptance of the intellectual climate common to our own age and the assumption that whatever has gone out of date is on that account discredited. You must find why it went out of date. Was it ever refuted (and if so by whom, where, and how conclusively) or did it merely die away as fashions do? If the latter, this tells us nothing about its truth or falsehood. From seeing this, one passes to the realization that our own age is also "a period," and certainly has, like all periods, its own characteristic illusions. They are likeliest to lurk in those widespread assumptions which are so ingrained in the age that no one dares to attack or feels it necessary to defend them.


Lippard said...

Just as dismissal by an age or culture is not a guarantee of falsity, continued acceptance is not a guarantee of truth. However, falsity is often a reason for a view to fade away, and truth is often a reason for it to continue to be maintained.

Human conservatism might result in more falsehoods being carried along than truths being allowed to fade away, but I don't have evidence at hand to defend that claim.

Victor Reppert said...

Lewis's argument is that ther mere displacement of belief is far from the best grounds for thinking it false, because if a belief is displaced, we can examine the reasons why it was displaced.

Grano1 said...

I made this same argument (chronological snobbery) against one of Mr. Lofton's statements a few days ago. See "The Achilles Heel of Christianity" on his website.