Tower of Babel Circa 1960: A Dramatic Rendition of the History of Modern Thought and Desecrates’ Omnipotent Demon.

By: Justin Wishart

The demon Babel sits and waits. He is patient. He knows that sooner or later someone will open his door, that man is very careless with their ideas and is unaware of the power that they hold. He has already put captive the minds of Eastern man, and prowls around waiting for an opening to the Western man. A hero by the name of Augustine had shut the doorway to Babel, but over the centuries the door was slowly opening. His time has come. Rene Descartes, the necromancer, does his incantations and re-exposes Babel to the Western minds, talking about an omnipotent demon. He asks that if an omnipotent demon were real, that this demon created this universe but wanted to toy with us, to make us believe in things that were not true; then how could we know anything at all. Is there anything we could be sure of by ourselves? The demon would love it if the necromancer’s analogy were correct, but he knows it is not. This is all the demon needs however. Even though the door is now open, the demon doesn’t rush out and instead let’s Descartes think he has been defeated. He’s patient, and his impression is now in the Western mind. He begins to build.

The sceptisism, the impression of the demon, is strong indeed. Many are not convinced that Descartes actually finished the job and start seeing him in the corners. The crafty Babel exposes himself just at the right time and vanishes before his full hideousness is seen. Before long, people realize that the demon is still alive and well.

Many heros come through the centuries to slay Descartes’ demon. Names like Locke, Hume, Hegel, Russell and Dewey. Each one trying to find out the weak point of the demon, to see where he is vulnerable. To end the confusion and rest knowledge on the shoulders of man. One particularly valiant hero was a man named Kant. He picked up his sword and wrote one of the most influential books of all time, “A Critique of Pure Reason”. He attempted to synthesize Empiricism with Rationalism, and judging by the way his system of epistemology swept through Europe and became the only accepted approach in higher learning, it seemed as if many thought that Kant had slayed that old demon at last.

But, as time when on, the demon started whispering again. This was all part of Babel’s game. People ran around trying to fix any errors in Kant. Hegel possibly saw the errors of Kant better then anyone and knew Kant had not slayed the demon, so he took up the mantle and attacked. Yet, he failed and it was two of his students that pointed out his failure; Soren Kierkegaard and Karl Marx. But the philosophers that followed, this new breed of philosopher, instead tried a new approach. They decided to work with the demon instead of trying to kill him. The age of the Existentialist philosopher was upon us. The thought was that if we play the demons game we could out smart the crafty old demon at some point. Different existential formulations sprang up all around, each competing to be heard. The direct attack on Babel was now feebly done by Logical Positivists and other groups but were failures before they even set out. Existentialism and the demon had already defeated the old human reason.

However, this demon is very clever. The philosophers thought they were working with the demon, but didn’t realize that they were working for the demon. Each new formulation simply made it appear that there was actually no true formulation. As the philosophers squabbled with each other, and as philosophies fell, the demon laughed. In the end, the demon was using people to rebuild the Tower of Babel again; brick by brick, ism by ism, philosophy by philosophy. Then the demon played his master stroke, thus completing the Tower. In frustration and confusion, Western man turned to the old philosophies of the East, but failed to realize that the demon made these philosophies long time ago. The sheer volume created a tower so impressive, and so terrible, that people scampered inside. It seemed as if there were no other real options available. The smart people couldn’t base a valid epistemology in man, they disagreed, fought, and with all these options who knew what was right anymore.

In the tower they thought that darkness was enlightenenment, that confusion was order, and that insanity was sane. The demon had won and Descartes was a failure.

But, in this darkness, which is thought of as light, there is a real Light that shines. In the dusty past there lived a Logos, a man who was not truly a man. He yelled that He was the way, the truth, and the life. His voice still echos around the hills of the Tower, and some have wandered outside, enticed by the voice. However, most look from the New Tower of Babel in disbelief at these stupid people. Just look at this massive terrible Ivory Tower we are in, they yell down. There is no truth out there and our Tower proves this, they scream. But, something inside them pulls them towards this voice as well. Yet, they hate that pull. They hurl insults, trying to convince us that we on the outside of the Tower are arrogant and close minded, yet they are simply trying to convince themselves that they are not those things. We show them the Light we have found, the real Light, and this infuriates them. How can these stupid people think they are right, what arrogance! They look at our Tower and see that all the philosophies of man make them right, that there actually is no right, they insist amongst themselves. Can’t the people on the outside see this magnificent Tower, can’t they see that there is no way of knowing truth?

But, the outsiders insist, the truth comes in a little manger and not a large Tower. That one book will contain all necessary truths, even if it goes against the volumes of books the Tower of Babel is made from. Just because all opposing philosophies contradict each other, doesn’t mean one of them cannot right, we respond. We show the Truth to the people in the Tower, we show them the Light, yet it blinds them. They hate the Light and they hate us for showing it to them. They run back into the Tower cursing us.

And in the deep recesses of the Tower, Babel waits with open arms. Embracing them even though his children cannot see him. They don’t even think he is real, they even aren’t sure they are real, they don’t know what is real. And Babel gently washes the minds of his children with confusion and doubt, while a sinister smile is spread across his hideous face.