Sunday, December 25, 2016

Obama vs. Coates on the Arc of History

The Atlantic has an important cover story by Ta-Nehisi Coates on the Obama presidency

In the opening editorial of that issue, editor Jeffrey Goldberg contrasts the view of history of the two men.

President Obama often quotes Martin Luther King the "the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice."

Mr. Coates, by contrast, believes that the arc of the universe "bends, in fact, toward chaos." He elaborates that he does not mean history tends toward meaninglessness, but rather that it is open, and subject to disruption.  He regards Obama's election as "a sign of chaos, of disruption."

Still, on this matter I am with Obama, and King, and Theodore Parker, the Unitarian minister from whom the metaphor originally came:  "I do not pretend to understand the moral universe, the arc is a long one ... But from what I see I am sure it bends toward justice."


Barry said...

All of this points toward the meaning, if there is any, of our lives within the universe. Is there a point to our actions, and a real moral improvement as history moves forward? It also questions whether there is absolute good and evil. I like to think that my life is important to me and those around me, and I hope that I can improve the world somewhat by my life standards

Gruntled said...

The belief that life is meaningful is ultimately, I think, a theological question. I don't see how we can root confidence that existence is meaningful in just our own feelings that my life is important to me and those around me. True?