As discussed by Matt Walsh earlier this week, chronological snobbery, a term first used by C. S. Lewis and Owen Barfield, is an argument which posits that the ideology, science or culture of an earlier time is inferior to that of the present, supported entirely by temporal priority or the view that advancement itself indicates that those of the past were less intelligent or less able.
The term was first mentioned by C. S. Lewis in Surprised by Joy, his 1955 autobiographical work. Barfield explained chronological snobbery to be the belief that “intellectually, humanity languished for countless generations in the most childish errors on all sorts of crucial subjects, until it was redeemed by some simple scientific dictum of the last century,” while Lewis described it as “the uncritical acceptance of the intellectual climate common to our own age and the assumption that whatever has gone out of date is on that account discredited.”
Our current generation is as guilty of chronological snobbery as any other. For example, six Dr. Seuss books were removed from circulation because they allegedly portrayed “people in ways that are hurtful and wrong.” Then there are the numerous historical figures, including Founding Fathers like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, who have been “canceled” after elements of their lives were deemed unacceptable using our modern and apparently enlightened moral lens.
One element of chronological snobbery which further cements the levels of arrogance required to assume such conclusions about those in the past is the notion that our point in time is the pinnacle of human existence, both in the past and the future. We, unlike the countless before us, have achieved superiority.
Given the valid assumption that chronological snobbery will continue as the years pass, what would future generations think of our current “modern” society? Presumably, given the evidence they will one day analyze, they may view us not as enlightened moral superiors, but as barbaric and ignorant.
For example, what will humans think of our society’s obsessive worship of abortion? Even with our current scientific methods, we have visual evidence that human life exists during pregnancy, and further biological evidence that unique human life is created at the moment of conception. In a few hundred years time — or hopefully far sooner — how will our actions be judged, given that they include the murder of human beings in the womb, their dismemberment using primitive tools, and their evacuation into a sink? Will abortion be viewed as nothing other than a societally-endorsed mass murder under the shocking guise of protecting “women’s rights?”
What about other areas of life we continue to cling to? Will our political — and almost Pagan — obsession with climate change be viewed as laughably misinformed? Will our rejection of unique Judeo-Christian principles which provided the foundation of the United States be judged as a tipping point which eventually resulted in global chaos? Will our intentional dismissal of human rights abuses across the world in favor of cheap consumer goods be condemned as callous and evil?
Before we judge those in the past, perhaps we should judge ourselves.
Ian Haworth is an Editor and Writer for The Daily Wire. Follow him on Twitter at @ighaworth.
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.
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