Marginalia, no.309

But in comparison with the debased culture of seventh-century Gaul, traditionalism itself was a progressive force, for it secured the survival of the Classical inheritance of Western culture. The words of Alcuin’s teacher, Aelbert of York – that it would be disgraceful to allow the knowledge which had been discovered by the wise men of old to perish in our generation – show a sense of responsibility to the past which is the mark of genuine humanism rather than of a blind adherence to traditionalism.

~ Christopher Dawson, Religion and the Rise of Western Culture

Impressed by the pace of technological innovation in 1932, H.G. Wells bemoaned the fact that “there is not a single Professor of Foresight in the world” to help humanity prepare itself. We have abundant futurists and would-be prophets now. It’s possible to look to the future while still being responsible to the past, but constant panting after the Next Big Thing is debasing. Offerings and prayers are rightly made to ancestors rather than descendants. Genuine humanism values history not as an index of folly and barbarism but as a repository of memory without which there can be no abiding sense of self.

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