What is obscurantism?
What Does obscurantism Mean
The concept of obscurantism , which comes from the French word obscurantisme , is used with reference to the systematic rejection of the transmission and propagation of culture . Also mentioned as obscurantism , its pillar is the defense of thoughts and positions that are reactionary and even contrary to reason .
Obscurantism, therefore, is a practice that consists of opposing certain knowledge and events to be made known . The exponents of the Enlightenment accused the most conservative sectors of society as obscurantists, for example.
In this framework, during the 18th century it was common for religious men to be identified as defenders of obscurantism by philosophers who postulated the need to promote reason over faith. Even today it can be said that an obscurantist position is one that does not support scientific progress or cultural changes.
In short, obscurantism is linked to the retrograde . This is the trend whose essence lies in denying progress and preventing the free circulation of knowledge.
There is also an obscurantism that is dedicated to deliberately hindering access to knowledge . When content is difficult to understand due to its impenetrable characteristics, its author can be identified as obscurantist.
The obscurantism, in this case, would imply the appeal to abstractions to generate gibberish that cannot be verified or verified. It may even be a philosophical decision of the author.
Let us briefly recall the meaning of the term gibberish to understand the previous paragraph in greater depth. It is a complicated language that can border on the absence of meaning, either because the ideas are presented in a confusing way or because the sentences are inappropriate. It is even possible to build it with a ciphertext. The lack of clarity of a gibberish is not due to the intellectual formation of the receiver but to the way of expressing himself of the sender.
The notion of obscurantism, finally, is used to refer to the lack of transparency : "The government promotes an institutional obscurantism to conceal their actions" , "The judiciary relies on obscurantism" .
The origin of the term takes us to the 16th century , despite the fact that obscurantism had already been practiced a long time before. At that time the work Letters of the Dark Men was published , a satire that is based on the intellectual dispute between the Dominican friars and Johann Reuchlin , a humanist from Germany, about the decision to burn the Jewish books simply because they did not belong to the Christianity.
At the beginning of the century, the friar Johannes Pfefferkorn had obtained permission from the Roman emperor to carry out the cremation of all copies of the Talmud (the work where rabbinic discussions about Jewish customs , ethics and law meet ). Precisely, in the aforementioned satire, the Dominican friars were ridiculed for their ideas against these works and in favor of burning them.
In summary, we can say that obscurantism is at the opposite extreme to the disclosure , the openness and the transmission of knowledge with the aim of growing and progressing. Attitudes such as the threat of burning a literary work simply for containing ideas different from their own arise from poor minds, unable to accept diversity or even defend their ideas in front of others.
It is not uncommon for obscurantism to be associated with the Christian religion , for stories like the one mentioned above and many others that include censorship, persecution and the imposition of "revealed truths" that were presented in an unquestionable way. There are those who claim that the Church stopped the evolution of humanity for several centuries because of these retrograde practices.