Traveling Cyberspace without a Compass: Hazards for Democracy?
Our Founding Fathers believed an educated populace is necessary for a vibrant participatory democracy. We rely on our educational systems to impart knowledge and critical reasoning skills to our future citizens. But are we truly educating our children to make good judgments via Plato’s ‘divine reason’? If we lack Plato’s ‘divine reason’, we will be trapped on Bacon’s utopian island, ignorant of Bacon’s hazards, believing what we sense is ‘real’ and ‘good’. Cyberspace can pose such a Baconian challenge to one’s judgment. The informational power of cyberspace can be dominated by the human will and quest for knowledge. However, cyberspace may also clutch those journeying without Plato’s ‘divine reason’ and be deceived by the ‘illusions and fallacies’ promulgated via cyberspace. James Madison warned of controlling for the effects of the passions of men. Does cyberspace exacerbate those who do not possess the internal compass of ‘divine reason’? The Internet has ushered in the Information Age of the 21st century. The dearth of information one can receive is astounding. But some websites and bloggers may conceal what they think ‘fit’ to keep secret for their own purposes, purporting what they perceive as universally accepted general ‘truths’. Some may tap into mankind’s emotions or passions to arouse them. Misinformation can charade as information. Plato’s ‘divine reason’ is required as a compass for our travel through cyberspace.
Keywords: Cyberspace, Democracy, Plato's "Divine Reason", Bacon's Illusions and Fallacies
Sharon Lynn Keranen
Doctoral Student, Political Science Department, Wayne State University