Everybody Knows

What happened in the 19th Century? Whatever it was we haven’t yet come to terms with it. Neil Postman wrote Building a Bridge to the Eighteen Century in an attempt to skip those one hundred years completely. What was it that has some of our most critical thinkers blanking out 1801-1900?

Something happened. Was it Darwin’s book? There’s a theory that hasn’t really sunk in after all these years. Or was it more the thought that made Darwin possible?

I’m reading Capital right now to prepare for a class this Fall. I’ve just finished chapter one. The entire chapter can be summed up in five words: Value is a social construct. I could also do it in four words: There is only matter. How about: God is dead.

Values are the product of human brain power. This is Marx and this is Nietzsche and this is happening in the 1800s. This is when man became a physical thing. Marx finds in the misty realm of religion, an analogy to the value of commodities: "There the products of the human brain appear as autonomous figures endowed with a life of their own, which enter into relations both with each other and with the human race."

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