Monday, 23 January 2023

"It is sometimes forgotten that New Zealand is a securely post-Enlightenment society..."

"It is sometimes forgotten that New Zealand, as a neo-European society, is a securely post-Enlightenment society... a very particular example of post-Enlightenment experimental practice…. The thinkers of the Scottish Enlightenment … [argued] that men were governed by interest if not reason and that those interests could be orchestrated for beneficent purposes….
    “[W] e still live in a world first codified then, a world seen as 'a unified and self-sufficient Nature, governed by orderly laws, and including man within itself as part of Nature'….
    “Such a view underwrote 'the autonomy and sovereignty of knowledge'…. Thereafter the world was to be located and constituted through knowledge….
    “By the last quarter of the nineteenth century economic and moral progress would be widely considered fruits of knowledge. The myth of the Garden of Eden, where knowledge brings the Fall, had been stood on its head.”
~ Erik Olssen, from his article 'Mr Wakefield and New Zealand as an Experiment in Post-Enlightenment Experimental Practice' [NZJH (Vol. 31, No. 2, October 1997), pp 198-200]

1 comment:

  1. Olssen recounts that it was Francis Bacon, in the seventeenth century, who was the prime author of the reversal of the Edenic myth. Otago history academic John Stenhouse, in personal communication with Olssen, thus describes Bacon as “the patron saint of New Zealand intellectuals in the nineteenth century.”