The Fallacy of Chronological Privilege

Caleb McCary
Caring For Souls
Published in
3 min readOct 12, 2021

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Famed author and professor, C.S. Lewis defined the term “chronological snobbery” as:

The uncritical acceptance of the intellectual climate common to our own age and the assumption that whatever has gone out of date is on that account discredited.

We have a tendency to view whatever is new, cutting edge, and sexy as superior to the staid and outdated methods and ideas of the past. It’s an intellectual shortcut that permits us to march ever onward to the steady drumbeat of progress while ignoring everything that has gone on before. No need to study history. No need to try to empathize with and understand our forebears. Simply put your head down and charge into the future.

Photo by Roman Kraft on Unsplash

I believe that a branch of chronological snobbery is chronological privilege. Chronological privilege is the intellectual fallacy of failing to recognize that the comforts and achievements of today are built on decades of sacrifice, trial and error, and failure. One of the clearest places we see this today is in the political firestorm that surrounds everything related to COVID.

  1. We have the chronological privilege of dismissing a safe and effective vaccine because we have seen so many diseases effectively eliminated or their impact dramatically reduced because of vaccines. Ask someone old enough to remember polio to tell you about the…

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Caleb McCary
Caring For Souls

Experienced Chaplain. Photography Enthusiast. Lover of learning. Reader of books. Sci-Fi fan.