Science and Teleology
It is clear from all that has been said in the first part of this essay that science is and must be premised on an utter rejection of teleology, or what Aristotle called the ‘final cause’. The reasons for this rejection are by now evident: the final cause, exceeding the bounds of temporal causality, would determine effects in an atemporal, non-linear, and (from the perspective of empiricism and the experimental method) fundamentally unpredictable way. The very idea of an ‘end’ must be requalified by science in terms of ‘cause and effect’ – whether or not this entails violence against the concept of the end.
Thus, to take but a simple example, the hungry man is not moved by the apple to reach out and grasp it (which is to say, he is not moved by his aiming at a given end, the satisfaction of his hunger in the consumption of the fruit, by which he barters his present moment on a future goal, and which is the reality present to his very consciousness), but rather he is pressed ‘from behind’ as it were, by causes which are secret and obscure to him: the chemical make-up of his body, the silent work of his glands, the evolutionarily determined structure of his organism. Science therefore cannot help but understand the living being as a complicated automaton, whose mechanism works in strict analogy to that of the simplest robot, though in a thousandfold greater complexity and subtlety, and which is granted for mysterious reasons a thing called ‘consciousness’, which might even be an utterly superfluous epiphenomenon, useless to his ‘survival’ or his ‘evolution.’ This to say nothing of the fact that science simply denies, from the start and once again without the least real evidence, the existence of a teleology inherent to ‘matter’ or to the universe itself.
We ignore this latter problem, which pertains to the special domain of classical metaphysics or theology, preferring instead to remain with the more evident difficulties that science will inevitably encounter in its attempt to view the living as a species of machine, or at the very least as a kind of complex intersection of so many lines of temporal causality. We can state our objection as follows: to understand the teleological in the light of the linear-temporal is to fail to understand the teleological at all.
This goes a long way toward explaining the evident difficulties and complications which science stumbles across the moment it attempts to lay its suddenly quite clumsy hands on the living world, and especially the human world: all at once, science, that monster of precision and care, becomes something like a man attempting to capture a field mouse with a caliper. The living world, the human world, are inseparably bound up with ends and aims, with goals and strivings, with desire – with final causes. To attempt to reduce these to temporal causes alone is thus to eliminate that in them which is precisely living, human, or, at the highest level, perhaps divine. In this way, one understands them merely partially and incompletely; one misunderstands them.
The charge of ‘reductionism’ which is often levelled against science is in large part comprehensible in these terms. To reduce the human being, with all his loves and hates, all his hopes and purposes, to the inanimate world which does not know (or does not know in the same way) that entire realm, is to strip the human being of his humanity. It is to conceive of the human being as something other than the human being, and then to attempt to explain him in that feeble light. Everything which is lowest in the human being is thus presented as being fundamental to the human being; everything which is highest is finally explained away as an illusion, an ‘epiphenomenon’ or a subjective misinterpretation of these fundaments; and those human beings which best fit into the schema presented by science are taken as representative of the entire race of man.
More yet, and yet more problematic for science as a universal study of the cosmos: Science would be ‘value neutral’, and this value-neutrality is touted as a fundamental element of its impartiality and its quality as a falsifiable, and ‘therefore’ verifiable body of research. But the human world, as indeed the animal world or the living world more generally, is imbued with value and cannot be severed from it; sooner will one suck all the blood from a man’s body, than all the value from his life. Science therefore cannot ignore human values, but must understand them without reference to human values; it posits (and here, again, without ever demonstrating or even knowing how to demonstrate such an idea) a distinction between ‘facts’ and ‘values’, and works on one half of this remarkable dichotomy without ever having defined these queer terms. The most that one can say is that ‘facts’ are those elements of the universe which are susceptible of scientific method, while ‘values’ are not. But this is almost even to admit the natural limitations of science; if one is truly to bolster and defend the palisades of scientific thought, one must go a step further: facts are real, values figmentary and fantastical. The human being thus lives in a world of nigh total illusion, and science, to pierce to the solid bedrock underlying that illusion, must utterly ignore the illusion, at least in the terms that it is understood by the human being. It must describe these human things with reference to the material world that underpins them, using words and descriptors that the human being would never use in his own discourses or self-understanding. Love is not love; it is the ‘interaction’ of one or more ‘chemicals’ in the ‘brain’ or ‘physiology’ of the ‘organism’, brought together by the essentially ‘mechanical combinations’ in a ‘process’ whose ‘unintended consequence’ is ‘reproduction’, ‘DNA replication’ through the ‘laws’ of ‘Darwinistic evolution’. Justice (supposing the scientist ever even sees it necessary to discuss so high a concept) is not justice; it is but the ‘outcome’ of any number of ‘social mechanisms’, various ‘arrangements’ of ‘social capital’, thus ‘positively or negatively influencing’ ‘welfare enhancing activity’ and ‘group cohesion’, all of which is probably just the ‘by-product’ of ‘instincts’ ‘wired’ into the ‘brains’ of various ‘actors’, which have proved to be ‘instrumental’ in the ‘spontaneous development’ of ‘social networks’. And so forth and so on.
The human being as understood by science, reconstructed from out of the evidence to which science has exclusive recourse, is unrecognizable to himself, is unrecognizable as a human being. This in itself does not disprove the scientific understanding of man, for it may be that that understanding is superior to the grossly inadequate ‘common sense’ or commonsense understanding of man; but such can only be supposed or upheld insofar as one is ready to accept science as a suitable arbiter for the knowledge of human things. And as we have seen, there is, at the very least, sound reason to cast that particular role of science into doubt.
The clearest indication of the justice of this doubt: science, which would understand the world in a strictly non-teleological way, is itself inherently teleological. Science, which proposes absolute neutrality as a staple of its method and means, is and cannot help but be itself value-directed. Science seeks knowledge, however that word might be understood; that knowledge is its necessary aim and goal, its telos; and intellectual honesty and epistemological clarity are absolutely valued by every true scientist as the necessary prerequisites toward the attainment of this end.
An older generation would have spoken here of the love of truth; science would shun this description in both its terms, but by now we have had good enough reason to suspect science’s competent hegemony over our terminology. There is no way around it, science values and aims, and understands itself as valuing and aiming; yet any scientific explanation of the world would implicitly deny both the value and the aim of science, and would reduce science to factors which, in the everyday practice and the overall development of science, are never so much as alluded to by the scientists themselves. Science would understand itself in the same indirect and materialistic way that it understands the human being, which is to say – the theoretical understanding that science would derive of itself through its own method would in no way be identical to how it understands itself in and through its practice. This means that science in its conclusions cannot comprehend itself as it understands itself in its work; and this basic contradiction, this utter inability of science to arrive at even remotely adequate self-knowledge, is alone sufficient demonstration that science is not capable of being an ecumenical or universal study.
One might suppose, of course, that science is still, despite its failings, the best or only valid study of the universe or cosmos: yet the very fact that we are able to arrive at these conclusions via a non-scientific route – indeed, that we can only come to these conclusions via a non-scientific route, while the exclusive use of the scientific route evidently dooms us to wander through a kind of labyrinth from which no higher perspective can be reached, blinded at each turn by the unscalable walls closing us in – at the very least suggests that the old argument between science and philosophy has far from come to a close, and if anything has merely been ignored, artificially and unfairly, by men whose ears have been deafened by the awesome roar of the atom bomb.
The Scientific Study of Man
We touch finally on a point which would be served by much greater and more detailed investigation: the natural limitations of the scientific study of the human being, from a strictly scientific point of view.
Science, if it is to apply its experimental method to human things, must have recourse to one of two sources of information: ‘data’ or ‘meta-data’ (primarily of a statistical nature) gathered on human interactions and societies on the one hand, and laboratory experimentation on specific human beings or groups or samples of specific human beings on the other. The first course is fraught with any number of difficulties, as: how does one acquire ‘data’ on things like human happiness, human thriving, human values? One must necessarily sooner or later refer to the ‘subjective’ utterances of large numbers of human beings, whereby one runs into any number of difficulties, as: the limits of a human being’s self-knowledge; the possibility that a human being might lie; the erratic or inconsistent use of one and the same term between one human being and another, or even between one and the same human being at different moments of his life; similar inconsistencies in the meanings of superficially similar terms between a variety of languages;1 the evident disparity between these utterances and laboratory measurements on similar questions; etc.
The use of language is especially problematic, since a great majority if not all of the terms involved in these scientific studies, surveys, etc. are inherently entangled with questions of value, which, to say it yet again, science actively refuses to consider. Science therefore cannot accept these terms with their ‘dictionary definitions’, which are meaningless to science: science must, in preparation of all its research, and before the empirical moment itself, define these words in terms accessible to its method. But this involves a fundamental violation of the terms in question, a distortion and indeed perversion of human language, which inevitably colours the results of the studies that are performed, in ways that are unpredictable to the subjects of the same, since they are not supplied these definitions and indeed are not expected to know anything about them. Science must act in this manner and not in another on account of its need to control variables within its research; it cannot establish correct experimental method without being able to establish the terms in question as set variables. This small but absolutely decisive fact makes science incapable of approaching the human world philosophically; it is intrinsically incapable of asking Socratic questions (‘What is justice?’, ‘What is courage?’, ‘What is man?’ etc.), and indeed turns the philosophical model, founded on Socratic ignorance, on its very head: while the philosopher presupposes his limited knowledge of human things and sets out from that limited knowledge to understand the broad world of human things as they are, science presupposes a broad artificial knowledge of human things and sets out to understand, through that utterly refractive lens, a set of highly delimited questions.
The methods employed by the scientists themselves for navigating these difficulties, which we cannot dwell on particularly here, are ever and always at best but half-measures, and retain always the feel of scientistic artificiality. The root difficulty in all this can be traced back to what we have already stated in the foregoing reflections: science would understand human ‘values’ in terms of human ‘facts’, and for the rigid limitations it imposes on itself cannot so much as make that distinction perfectly clarion to itself.
As for the laboratory study of specific human beings specifically, it is in some ways much more promising from the scientific point of view, insofar as it does not depend, or does not depend to such an extent, on the ‘subjective’ proclamations of any given person, but can take real-time measurements from such things as brain activity, pulse rate, pupil dilation, and other purely physiological cues. Insofar as the soul of the human being is identical to or reducible to or necessarily connected to his physiology, these results must be regarded as, if not conclusive, then at the very least highly suggestive.
The discerning reader will already have seen indications in that simple statement of any number of philosophical difficulties; we set those aside. We will also set aside the special problem indicated by science itself, in the occasional lack of consistency between the subjective experience of a human being (what they claim they are experiencing internally) and the ‘objective’ measurement of that experience (the mathematical figures which science is able to derive through its studies). We even lay aside the question, which is by no means trivial, of how science has any idea of what a ‘human being’ is at all, since the identification of such a creature must precede its study, and so must be the presupposition rather than the product of scientific enquiry.2
Quite apart from all this, there is another problem in this scheme, this one much greater from the practical point of view, which haunts the scientific endeavour from the start. Science, to study individual human beings in a laboratory setting, must first find individual human beings to study, and in large enough numbers that it can reduce sampling errors to a minimum. Given the presuppositions of our present liberal societies, it cannot force anyone to participate in these studies; it must rely then on volunteers. And even if it were to exist under extraordinary social conditions which would permit it to force human beings to subject themselves to its studies, insuperable difficulties would arise from their very unwillingness. This reduces science’s potential pool of human subjects, generally speaking, to very specific strata of human societies. In general, the members of the contemporary bourgeois world who are well disposed toward science and in general toward the ‘collection of data’ and the production of ‘scientific studies’. The ignorant and the poor can be enticed with financial rewards, and in some cases it is possible as well to derive samples from Third World countries through a variety of means. Even given these possibilities, however, it must be clear that scientific studies are limited to a very small segment of contemporary humanity; they can access any number of specific human groups existing today only with great difficulty, and cannot access at all the human beings of other times, be they past or future. Any knowledge derived via this route, therefore, is necessarily radically limited, and must be taken at the very best as partial knowledge of a partial sample of a partial temporal cross-section of humanity as such – which is not precisely a resounding commendation of its results.
To our purposes, it suffices to note a limited but decisive point: the noblest human beings, and certainly the most spiritually advanced, are highly unlikely ever to volunteer themselves for scientific prodding in laboratory conditions; science then is almost utterly denied any sufficiently numerous contact in its ‘laboratory studies’ with the best of men. More, it is congenitally unable to differentiate between the best of men and the worst, so that even were it granted access to such, any discrepancies in their individual results would be drown out in those of the masses; which means that science can come to not even the most superficial and partial determination about the highest of human beings, of human things.
The very idea of ‘sampling errors’, which science arranges its entire statistical method toward dispersing, indeed contains beneath its modest guise a number of insurmountable difficulties, the foremost of which can be articulated as follows: Science, in its value-neutrality, cannot judge of good or bad, high or low; science must then take the average as the normal, despite the fact that in any given society or human age it is entirely possible that the low and common is in fact an example of a corrupt and perverse human nature, while the rare and high is the completion, the consummation of human nature. Science is constrained to develop its comprehension of man on the broad run of man, be that broad run a mass, a herd, a people or a mob, without regard to its quality, its distinct historical characteristics, and above all its moral failings and inadequacies. The scientist as scientist must judge the exception in the light of the rule, the extraordinary in the light of the ordinary, the superior in the light of the average, and thus proves himself a poor sage and a worse legislator.
And in an age like ours, an age which is characterized essentially by decadence and the general debasement and ignobling of man, science left to its own devices becomes a kind of echo of the jungle it seeks to comprehend, howling back into the already numbed ears of man, assuring him of his low nature, his base origins, his lack of destiny and his utterly indifferent quality within the cosmos.
The Rank of Science
It must be clear by now that we men of the Right, we who propose indeed a Deep Right, cannot permit ourselves to bow uncritically before the present reign of science, but must look upon it from a wholly suprascientific perspective, a critical and sceptical clarity which far transcends the mere boundaries of science itself, and which seeks with all its power to be liberated from the trappings and the tendencies of scientism, which are so ubiquitous and so effective in our day.
The most important point which follows us throughout all such critique is the following: science would understand man in terms of the inorganic rather than the organic, the inhuman rather than the superhuman, the material rather than the spiritual, and consequently must understand man (an intermediary being, as the Ancients said, standing between beast and god) exclusively in terms of what is lowest in him. Science thus represents, not the comprehension of the human, but his belittling and distortion. It is able to understand the human being to the extent that the human being is not a human being; it takes this partial low piece of humanity for the comprehensive and essential element of the same. Worse still, it is limited in this understanding exclusively to the inhuman or the subhuman, the superhuman being yet more inaccessible to it than the human itself. To habituate oneself to understand one’s own soul or the nature of societies or the quality of mankind as such in the standards and antiseptic pale glow of scientific research, is to habituate oneself to understand man as non-man; it is to understand man, that eternally and richly ambiguous creature, endowed with awareness and spirit and soul, as a mere beast or a complex of chemicals or a hyper-complex node of molecules.
To look to science, with hope and expectation, as to the arbiter of these things is thus to bring the de-humanization of man; it is to encourage man to become fit for science, rather than the other way around, which means – it is to transform man, slowly but surely, into an automaton, a dead thing, by which transformation alone can he become perfectly susceptible to the Procrustean bed of scientific research, by becoming mere matter, soulless and inanimate.3
This process must be resisted with all our powers, not least of all because it is the general trend of modernity itself. To that extent, we must not merely be critical of science, but even adversarial toward it. For though our contemporary science might be regarded in a saner time as an eminently useful and convenient tool at the disposal of human development and material well-being – when placed exclusively, that is to say, at the discretion of such morally competent, wise and responsible human beings as are today most manifestly lacking to our societies – in a day such as ours, science takes on a frightful and essentially dangerous role as the engine by which a mechanical and despiritualized modernity most effectively grinds itself down to the very dust.
Science is rightly understood as a method for coming to partial understanding, and increased power of manipulation, of a specific aspect or sphere of reality. This sphere is not the greater sphere of reality, but rather the lesser, and indeed in some respects the lowest. Science in the hands of a cultured and spiritually cultivated humanity might represent indeed a true achievement, capable of improving human life in those special respects for which it is fit, and where such improvement does not bring corresponding degradation; in the hands of our heedless, feckless, uncultured, and essentially blind modernity, it represents at best a mortal threat, and at worst an active element of spiritual corruption and corrosion and potential annihilation of an already much suffering and much reduced humanity.
The inescapable implication is that science, in a healthy and high society, would be subjected to the moral and political control of men who are not, or are not merely, scientists; while technocracy is in many ways the natural conclusion of modernity, an anti-technocratic aristocracy is the only solution to the problem it poses. This is sure to be regarded as unacceptable to any scientifically minded man, as it without any doubt would compromise the growth and working of science, which requires, for its fullest development, full liberty, untrammelled openness, and a free economy. But the compromise of the workings of science can be regarded as deplorable only insofar as science itself is the highest thing, or is of greater dignity than that which would lash it down and place boundaries upon its research or the development of its technology. Science can only claim such a rank by ignoring its own commitment to value-neutrality, and disregarding the natural limits imposed by its method; science must become unscientific if it is to defend its present unfettered role in society.
In so doing, the defender of science must perforce transcend that lesser sphere wherein he commonly dwells; no matter the outcome of his defence, in his very act of committing it, he contradicts his very premise, and demonstrates the justice of our claim, along with all its unsettling implications: philosophy, and not science, is the true and natural king over the many realms of human knowledge.
1In some cases, indeed, words exist in one language which do not exist in another, leading to an entire series of problems which are not easily addressed (and which are but seldom even noted). This is particularly the case in any comparison of the modern languages of the West and the East as compared to the many primitive tongues of the South, but similar problems can easily be identified by anyone who has sufficient knowledge of two comparatively related languages, as for instance one Germanic and one Romance tongue.
2This problem, incidentally, holds in all aspects of scientific investigation, and not only in this; quite apart from science’s tendency to prematurely define its terms in scientistic hue, which we have already discussed, science builds necessarily on the foundation of ‘common sense’, according to which one simply knows what is a human being, what is life as against non-life, what is language, what is a hand, what is a house or a wife or a shoe, etc. etc.; but all of this is the product of a pre-scientific understanding, which originates within that very realm of human cognition which science proposes to analyse and discipline. Here too, science, which would be master, demonstrates itself upon investigation as but some poor haughty servant at play in the house of the master, who believes he understands that house with greater clarity than his displaced lord, even as he misuses its implements, dons the clothing of the mistress and sleeps in the bed of the dog, quite willy-nilly.
3For a deeper investigation into this particular aspect of modern thought – its tendency toward death itself – see Monika Hamilton, ‘Philosophia Mortis’.
Hey John, have you heard of “A Theory of Natural Philosophy” by Roger Joseph Boscovich? It was one of Nikola Tesla’s favorite books.
Modern science is garbage. In modern science the truly wise are usually either ignored or if they aren’t ignored the wisdom these people possessed becomes distorted. In modern science the unwise are usually promoted and their bs theories and so-called “science” promoted again and again and again, like Einstein, Hawking, Feynman and many other high IQ idiots that don’t think clearly.
Dale, no, I have not read Boscovich’s book. I have begun to look into it – not least of all because it comes on Tesla’s recommendation. It indeed looks to be of great interest; thank you for kindly bringing it to my attention.
Mr. Leonard, I have just read (listened to) Part 2 of this essay after reading and commenting on Part 1. Okay, every field has practitioners whose activities can be criticized. Zealots of all sorts win the P.I.A. Award, not the Pia Award. What I liked about Part 1, where you clearly kept the distinction of science and scientism in mind, is precisely the topic where–here in Part 2–I would like, if you allow, to give a gentle nudge to the approach that you chose. Science (maybe we should not capitalize it, me included), is a method of doing things. It is as valuable and worthwhile a method. It is about applying logic and orderly thinking to things we encounter in the world. It is useful and good just as is auto repair, running a railroad, filling teeth, maintaining a library and painting houses. We all do it, but perhaps we overdo it when we talk about big-S, SCIENCE. There is “Big Science” that deserves examination and criticism. When I do that it has to do with scientific activity in the service of government and the pet ends of the oligarchs. I also criticize the bureaucratization and feudalism of the funding apparatus. But it is all too easy to encourage people to get on a crank about science in a way that makes the honest efforts of some people who do science–well, like yours truly–very difficult. This occurs when people–like their opponents—allow people who happen to do science to encroach into areas where their tools are inadequate, either presently or canonically. Sometimes these overreaching self-acclaimed “Defenders f Science” actually do not even do science, as in certain popularizers of puff scientism. And people such as myself wind up getting it from both (artificial and misconceived) sides. I am also a Christian (of the mackerel snapping, philosophizing, R.C. version). So, my life has pretty much been a Hell, but when handed a Hell, make something useful out of it—like a barbeque pit. It certainly does not help to have people with whom I share many agreements regarding traditionalism, and whose reasoning skills I greatly respect, dive into on to the artificially maintained chasms. I use to go through this regarding that most obnoxious of all fake debates: the evolution-creationism divide. This was a controversy manufactured and fueled, I think, in the aforementioned place for the benefit of publishing houses. I would provide in various settings what I thought was a beautiful reduction and resolution of the relevant issues. I would patiently and painstakingly present these “solutions” to some very intelligent, but somewhat fragmentarily educated, people. I would recast the matter into terms these folks should have understood: terms from engineering, information theory, poetics, Church teaching—whatever was necessary for their case. We would seem to come to a pleasant understanding and then a year or two later they would prove my labors all for naught. They would regress to really dumb creationist blathering that they had absorbed in traffic listening to some radio preacher or commentator. The atheists, in the other corner of my intellectual Hell, were simply disengaged, would soon manifest a purulent and vicious anger and for the most part tromp away in a petulant and cowardly huff after issuing one of their sniper attacks filled with nonsequitors. Generally, I believe, these people’s core issue always seemed to eventually reveal itself to be some sort of sexual disorder that they needed to defend by inept deflection and misattribution. Enough said about that for the moment. I think that I am doing science (the activity) properly as well as doing philosophy (not the fancy-pants academic kind perhaps, but maybe aspiring to reach the Eric Hoffer brand). Doing science, being a thinker and being a Catholic are absolutely easy things to do. I simply cannot grasp what troubles people so much. Explaining how I do it does take some effort—which is delightful enough and a labor of love. Steeling oneself for the battering of one’s livelihood is, on the other hand, something that requires training over a lifetime. I fear that I am approaching graduation.
Science is not done by simply writing or philosophizing about it. In our times, in which dilettantism is rampant in a number of fields, throwing around the word ‘scientism’ and then writing elaborate essays about its misconception and malfunction has become a metaphor to appear erudite to equally uninformed audiences and readerships. It takes a lot more expertise and profound knowledge of how science actually works in order to discuss such matters. Ingratiating comments like the previous one refering to pieces of writing that in reality merely serve the purpose to stir up a discussion on matters the whole community here knows very little about (well, maybe with some exceptions here and there) seem trite and inauthentic. I am sorry for the harsh words, Mr. Schmitt. However, I am of the opinion we should all keep a realistic perspective on what the we can accomplish here. Mr. Leonard also made it clear in the beginning that his work is simply done out of the limited perspective as a scientific amateur, not as someone who “does science”.
Dear Mr. Boskic (or Ms. Boskic—I have been warned here not to assume that a screen name indicates the sex of the commenter), Thank you for the reply, but I confess that I do not know what your point is other than that you found something vaguely objectionable about my response to the Mr. Leonard’s article. “Science is not done by simply writing or philosophizing about it.” I agree. Is this comment supposed to be leveled at me? If so, what makes you think that the comment is apt? If it is leveled at Mr. Leonard, is he not permitted as an observer of the human activity of doing institutional science not permitted? “[D]ilettantism is rampant in a number of fields, throwing around the word ‘scientism’ and then writing elaborate essays about its misconception and malfunction has become a metaphor to appear erudite to equally uninformed audiences and readerships. Again, I am not sure which of us–perhaps both–are the targets of your comment. Regarding the readership, I assume that if they are reading material at ‘Arktos’, then they have the interest and ability to read Mr. Leonard’s article and my response. Does one have to be an expert to be exposed to a topic? I am not an expert in political theory, but I read essays outside on my area of expertise and I try to engage in a discussion. How else to I learn about such things? Who is it that you feel is attempting to “appear to be erudite?” ho is it who is as “equally uninformed” as the audience and readership? What was “ingratiating” about the “previous comment” beyond simple politeness? Indeed, was my above comment in Part 2 not critical? Why is your reaction to refer to the comment as “trite” and “inauthentic?” That puzzles me. I certainly do not recall any intention to be disingenuous or desire to trick anyone. It is a discussion. Someone writes and article. The content evokes thoughts in reaction to it, and someone writes a response. What exactly are you looking for? Who forced you to read any of this? “However, I am of the opinion we should all keep a realistic perspective on what the we can accomplish here.” That remark seems like an insulting statement directed at the audience, I think. And finally, Mr. Leonard also made it clear in the beginning that his work is simply done out of the limited perspective as a scientific amateur, not as someone who “does science”. Again, I ask, what is your point? Why the edginess? If you are interested in the topic that Mr. Leonard raised, why not comment on the topic itself? If you disagree with my approach–whether I have agreed or disagreed with Mr. Leonard or not–then please address that topic. What is you opinion on Mr. Leonard’s take on how science is done or is promoted as a thing that is promoted to be bigger that what it can hold?
Mr. Schmitt, my words might have been somewhat sharp. I did not intend to insult neither you nor Mr. Leonard. My comment was rather a testimony to the movement of the New Right. I am male, by the way.
I have become interested in the New Right only recently and have been negatively surprised about the grandiose self-image many of its advocates uphold when it comes to intellectual knowledge and prowess. Despite or maybe because of this, there seems to be the tendency to congratulate each other on the – at times, painfully limited knowledge – since there is no proper corrective, i.e. people who professionally teach what they preach. Today, everybody seems to claim to know as much as someone who is a field-related expert. This is not only narcissistic, it is downright delusional. Reading about political theory or science – to take up your point – does not make anyone privy to assess its contents adequately. So in order to reiterate my point, nobody here “does science”. This is what I consider critical. Assuming this allows false knowledge to spread quicker than we can realize. Arktos pieces are interesting and there seem to be a few experts writers in their respective field, but after my experience in the New Right, I would advice anyone to enjoy the discussions here, of course, but to take the articles with a grain of salt when it comes to the proper interpretation of knowledge. That’s what I intended to say. I realize that I am not the only one making this point. There seemed to have been other voices raising the same concern on other topics related to science and philosophy presented here. Mr. Schmitt, my position may be that of an outsider looking in. In any case, as a fellow Christian, I wish you and other Christian readers at Arktos a merry Christmas. God Bless!
Thanks for your response, Sir. No insult taken. Now we are getting somewhere. I do not mind sharp words if people think I deserve it. If they convince me of it, then I am all the better off. If not, I have thick skin anyway. I suppose Mr. Leonard does too. If you are referring to my compliment of his analysis in Part 1, I stand by my remarks. I sincerely meant everything that I said. And I think that I have the experience doing benchtop science that my opinion has merit, and the same too with some serious metaphysics. I have taught college and have given talks at professional conferences. Perhaps you have as well. If so, great. I also am well aware of the fact that there is much I do not know. By the way, I am not here to demonstrate “prowess.” I have been in professional environments where plenty of people possess much more “prowess” than me. If they are willing to converse with me, answering my questions and thereby teaching me—then I come out ahead at their intelligence and hard effort and training. What a deal! For instance, I am learning plenty enough about Dissident Right (DR) things by visiting this, and other, sites. If you would like to suggest some, please do so. I will be grateful. I am in a major life transition. I have not had the opportunity to build my DR library of read books yet, but I look forward to it. You stated: “Today, everybody seems to claim to know as much as someone who is a field-related expert. This is not only narcissistic, it is downright delusional.” I have run into this in real-world situations. Perhaps I am just not attune to it here. Forgive me. I suppose that you would have give me more specifics. Alternatively, please do challenge either me or some other author if you believe we have gone off track. I know that I have gone off track before, in big ways. Are we so embarrassingly unprepared for the possible challenge that you cannot, with charity, give us a proper prodding where it belongs? You say: “There seemed to have been other voices raising the same concern on other topics related to science and philosophy presented here.” Alright, please direct me there. Perhaps I need my comeuppance if I am the offender. Isn’t conversation the way we all improve or grow? As for your Christmas wish, thank you. I am returning from the Christmas Vigil Mass. Afterwards, many of us wound up at the same all-night restaurant for food and fellowship.
I thank you for the seriousness with which you offer your remarks, Mr. Boskic, and I’ll take the opportunity before anything to wish you a very merry Christmas.
In response to your comments: I do suppose that many of those who write on what they perceive to be the dangers or limits of science, dilettantes though they be, risk their imperfect opinions to (often harsh) public scrutiny far less from any will to polish their reputations than out of a pressing disquiet and concern over the situation in which we find ourselves today. While you are certainly right that in order to speak sensibly of these matters (as indeed about anything) one requires adequate preparation, I do not believe it takes a professional scientist or an expert technician to perceive that science as a practice and method has led us to a place of distinct and growing hazards, not to say to a generalized crisis. It is to that extent but natural for a man to wish to get to the heart of the causes of the distraught conditions in which we find ourselves.
Now, the consequence of the view you have sketched appears to be that only professional scientists or men long and rigorously trained in the practical sciences are permitted to speak, not only of specific scientific theories, but of science as a venture and as a body of knowledge. I fancy this a chilling doctrine, which would divest laymen of the power to seek to comprehend something which touches so immediately and comprehensively upon their lives. As I stated in my essay above, I for my part believe that it is indeed incumbent upon us to attempt to address this issue, even if our knowledge should fail the task, precisely from the hope of improving our limitations and winning a fuller perspective; to that extent I do indeed plead acutely guilty of having the ‘purpose to stir up a discussion on matters the whole community here knows very little about’.
Precisely for this lack of knowledge on our part, we must rely on the aid that men of greater expertise can give us; from your remarks, I am supposing you to be such a man, Mr. Boskic, and so I implore you not to remain satisfied with what well might be a fair assessment whose ultimate consequence is solely to censor words of good will if inadequate grounding, but to descend rather to the positive level of rectification of distorted or partial views. I at least would gratefully accept any guidance or correction offered by a man who is wiser than I in these matters, and would willingly defer to anyone who could set me right where I have erred.
Mr. Schmitt, I am belated in my responses to you. I apologize, and I sincerely thank you as always for the useful and productive comments you have offered.
I’ll respond on the basis of something that you have said: ‘Science … is a method of doing things. It is as valuable and worthwhile a method. It is about applying logic and orderly thinking to things we encounter in the world. It is useful and good just as is auto repair, running a railroad, filling teeth, maintaining a library and painting houses.’
I meant some challenge to this ‘down to earth’ view of science. The first three examples you provide point to the scope of the problem, for automobiles, trains and advanced dental procedures are the fruit of modern science alone, whereas libraries have always required maintenance, and houses paint. The former three are technological novelties which we owe to science and to science alone. But then science cannot be considered merely a pragmatic method for dealing with the workaday things in the world around us; it is, much more than that, an attempt to master their innermost workings through the use of a special method — an attempt to ‘master nature’, to put the matter in an older language. This gives to science a remarkable power, which manifests in forms of ever more complex and ever more puissant technologies. If these technologies are not controlled, the risks that they pose to humankind and to our humanity itself will continue to grow apace; yet if they are to be controlled, then it is clear that the method itself which produced them must be in some way controlled, and here the risk to science itself must be evident.
I believe that there is a real problem concealed here. Science as we understand it in our world today demands liberal society. The ‘scientific community’ is but an outgrowth of the ‘Republic of Letters,’ itself intended to produce new ‘aristocrats of thought’ or ‘thought leaders’, and it is no accident that that ‘republic’ grew apace with increasing demands for what has come to be known as ‘liberalization’ and the ‘open society’. It would be impossible to imagine the present ‘scientific community’ without the particular freedoms guaranteed, or purportedly guaranteed, by our present political and social orders. Yet in the ‘open society’, science as a body — independently (though not altogether independently) of any individual scientist — is grossly irresponsible. To responsibilize science would require the reinstatement of rulers endowed with an educated or an inborn sense of moral and social responsibility — it would require, that is, a return to aristocracy. But it might well be that science as we understand it is possible beneath an aristocracy.
Put otherwise, the blurring of the lines that you perceived in the second part of my essay between the concepts of ‘scientism’ and ‘science’ might well be the consequence, not of my own failure to maintain a rigorous line between them, but rather something in the nature of science itself. I meant to point in that direction, as to a problem. I would be greatly interested to hear your opinion on this matter.
Mr. Schmitt, to answer your question: the pieces written by Henrik Jonasson “To Love Death” and Mr. Leonard’s essay “Disquisition on the Origins – Part 3” have interesting discussions related to scientific matters in the comment sections.
Mr. Leonard, I would be glad to point anyone interested in exploring these issues further to the works of Ernest Nagel, Willard Van Orman Quine, Carl Hempel, Rudolf Carnap or Edward MacKinnon. For anyone criticizing or philosophizing about modern science, this is where one starts. The study of Aristotle and Newton should be self-evident. It should then become apparent that philosophizing about science is a craft which requires study and a strong analytical mind. A dead giveaway on who has been trained well in such a craft and who is an amateur is the use of words and defintions. The more wobbly an author uses words and definitions, the more his work should be taken with a grain of salt. Unfortunately, it usually takes a pair of well-trained eyes to spot it. Therefore, it is of paramount importance to remember that any critique of science is an exercise in diagnostics, it is very precise since the quest for truth usually does not allow ambiguities. The excellent piece you have referenced above by Mrs. Hamilton as well as the recent book excerpt of Mr. Jorjani are two good examples of works in scientific critique. You can tell that these authors have been trained in their craft.
But as I have mentioned before, there is nothing wrong with writing about science as long as one makes his/her position clear and where one stands on a respective knowledge level, which, I believe, you have done, Mr. Leonard.
Mr. Boskic. It is fine to provide some reading homework for me. But I am kindly asking that you please not be oblique. Please formulate for me specific claims on your part, who is making a divergent claim, and what specifically you believe that I need to address for you. At this point, I am not even sure whether you and I disagree and, if so, about what. If I am getting this straight, you seem to be of the opinion that Mr. Leonard is not qualified to be critiquing a collective of science (in some form of practice or as the generator of memes, myths or quasi-political narratives). In fact, I also suggested, less harshly perhaps, that Mr. Leonard treat natural science as a a monolithic “thing,” though I do share some of his deep concerns about how government and the oligarchic elite use Big Science. For my part I am merely trying to create a fresh-air craw space through which scientists that are diligent in not exceeding the justifications that their good work permits not be crushed by a blanket criticism of “SCIENCE.” I have read a bit of all of the authors you suggested to Mr. Leonard, except for MacKinnon. Couldn’t you please give us both, again, a single, simple statement that you believe would make a good entry point. We can progressively expand the surgical wound if necessary.
Science of today has not only roots in philosophy, but also in magic, the chemistry of old were the idiots looked down upon by the ALchemists. The latter understood the transmutation of lead into gold as metaphor, the former took it literal.
It seems that in these latter days, men of a materialist disposition gain prominence.
I would also like to draw attention to Evola‘s introduction of his „Doctrine of power“ in which he classifies the power of the scientists in for example exploding an atomic bomb, as highly fragile and dependent. An exact sequence of circumstances must occur in order for the science to work, practically.
If magic is the transformation of reality according to will, then science is a form of magic. It is highly advanced and has still further horizons to conquer, especially when physics will self correct away from the idea of ether-less space. However, as it does not address the spirit of the scientist, it will always be a very dangerous kind of magic in all respects.
Einstein and later Oppenheimer, too, resented having enabled the atomic bomb.
Who knows what happens when the spirit of science will henceforth be carried forth not by men seeking the truth of being, but by men who seek ultimate power?
The distinction between a science of knowing and a science of manipulating if fine enough for me, Jürgen. The atomic bomb, the blending of genetics across species, or the neuroscientific invasion of the privacy of one’s perception and will are examples that quickly come to mind of looming applications. Even the purest of desires to know can produce results that can be used by others–or the self–for troubling purposes. Funding one’s work is rarely easy. Here is where the public becomes culpable. It is unimaginable that university administrators will permit the hiring of a potential candidate for a faculty position simply because the applicant demonstrated that his or her research topics are inherently interesting and clever. Applicants must show, in detail, that one’s research is inextricably imbedded within a particular feudal kingdom of research, with the blessings of that community–especially its key figures–and that most importantly the money will continue to flow for some time. Conformity is king. Perhaps in decades long past, there was room, at least at small colleges, to support scientists who conducted “neat” projects and who could present themselves as excellent teaching professors. This type of broadly trained intellectualism does not make a candidate particularly hirable today. The elites want to quickly move the technological football down the field and the public possesses little interest in things other than cell-phone apps, televised sports and gory crime-scene dramas. A well-educated and courageous public could do much more in thwarting the culture-destroying designs of the elites than the general public imagines. But it is such imagining that is precisely what being well-educated is about. I will await further clarification from Mr. Boskic, but his recommendation for the work of the likes of W.V.O. Quine is pretty heavy duty. I know for a fact that only a very few young scientists would even recognize the names of Quine, Hempel or Carnap. I maintain that Mr. Leonard did an excellent job in Part 1 of this essay in identifying a root issue. Limited as my expertise is, I believe that this issue is one that is overlooked by very intelligent students of the above-mentioned philosophers of science. (By the way, in my previous comment, I intended to write: “I also suggested … that Mr. Leonard NOT treat natural science as a monolithic “thing”…” And though the typo, “craw” could work, I actually meant, “crawl” before my sleepy brain continued with a garble of mixed metaphors. Sorry everyone.)
Mr. Schmitt, I have been reading this Journal every since it published its first article. The problem with Part 1 of this series, which you seem to be impressed by the most, is that Mr. Leonard’s thoughts were not original. Part 1 is basically a rehashed summary of the deep and well-thought out arguments Mrs. Hamilton brought up in her essay “Philosophia Mortis”, also published here. If you have read Part 1 attentatively, you would have noticed that Mr. Leonard mentions this himself in a footnote. There, he also claims to offer simply supplemental arguments to the original points made. The reason for this, he states, is that Mrs. Hamilton tried to rescucitate a pre-modern defintion of science – a conclusion, by the way, I did not come to at all after reading her piece a year ago. Unfortunately, Mr. Leonard’s supplemental arguments resulted more or less in an agglomaration of as much cursory knowledge as Mr. Leonard could find on each topic. Together with Part 2 and 3, Mr. Leonard’s “analysis” seems to be a little all over the map and lacks cohesive arguments and definitions, like you have mentioned yourself with the delineation of “science”. I believe this is why there seems to be something off with this whole piece to scientifically trained eyes. In order to offer supplemental arguments to an already excellent piece, expertise in a given area is required. This was not the case here. Maybe, Mr. Leonard overestimated his abilites at this point, I am not sure.
Correction: this series conists only of 2, not of 3, parts.
Verus, Jürgen, Dennis and John—I did not expect to get such a break of the billiard balls. I hope we sink some balls into the pockets. I appreciate the conversation. I did indeed look up “Philosophia Mortis,” To Love Death” and “Disquisition on the Origins – Part 3,” paying attention to the comments–as directed–for the latter two. I have been rather under the polar ice cap since November 2018, but I do remember reading the former two articles. It was indeed my reaction back then that Monika Hamilton did a masterful job. There were some things I found worthwhile in Henrik Jonasson’s “Death” article as well as some things that I found contradictory. I understand now, only after reading the comment sections that filled in after my distraction to other things this past year, that there developed a controversy involving John’s claim to be extending aspects of Monika’s excellent work. There is, as I was able to gather today, concern as well about John’s keeping open a rift between philosophy and science. (If I am getting this thumbnail sketch wrong, please correct me.) Dennis, I hope to explain my expressed appreciation for John’s “Science…Part 2” article. Specifically, John’s explicit introduction of the concept of Aristotle’s Four Causes into his article really grabbed my attention. Given my interest in this in my developing work on the Mind-Brain topic, this became a salient feature in my assessment. It is like dragging a magnet on a string through Iron-fortified cereal only to discover to one’s amazement that this “fortification” is in the form of fairly large, rough, iron filings coating the magnetic. The corn flakes get ignored in the experience. Yes, I filtered out what I wanted from John’s article. Indeed, Monika hit it out of the park in bringing the Aristotelian-Thomistic synthesis to bear in her assessment of the consequences of Modernity’s dismantling of the same. Her erudite work did indeed incorporate this topic on Causes. I presume that you gentlemen would immediately have recognized the implicit implications as your read her work. Monika and you would be acting at a high level of scholarly communication at that point. In Aristotelian terms, your talents and education had prepared you to receive the impression. You and she have well-developed powers of transmission, reception and ample channel capacity in between for deft and subtle communication with the least bit effort. I think that John’s explicit mention of the Four Causes, for example in citing Bacon’s rejection of the necessity of all four in doing scientific theorizing, has value as well. I confess, the backdrop of this challenge between Monika’s and John’s view was hitherto missed on me. I did see the reference of the Hamilton, two-part article in the footnotes. It was just not the object of my focus until Dennis put it on my microscope stage. ‘Mea culpa’, I suppose. I have my practical limitations amidst the other things that I do. I will think about enhancing how I use this site, if I can. Now, we get to the role of Arktos Journal. I certainly appreciate it, even as is. I do not yet feel that I am up to speed in this area of scholarship to submit an article for acceptance for publishing in these areas of cultural, political and theological philosophy. AJ seems to be a place for intermediate thinking and expression on the scholarship scale. I am thrilled that a place like this exists where people who are non-academics, or academics outside of their principal area of expertise (e.g., me), can interact. I saw that someone suggested a two-tiered platform for peer-reviewed and non-peer reviewed articles. This idea has potential. This would, for fellows like me, make it an ideal place to learn by reading well-honed pieces by people who merit critical stature, while allowing others to develop the craft while still providing very interesting ideas. This is not a catechism, after all. And people are free to provide correcting comments after the article. In this sense, there is the potential for open review—imperfect and haphazard though that may be. In this difficult period of European history, it seems desirable to be moving people in various stages of development in the practice of intellectual activity to find an entranceway into the informal, independent academy, library or the forum for becoming better Citizens and neighbors, if not competent cultural defenders or innovators. Actually, this is precisely what is needed to provide a smooth transitional bridge to our future as a people. This seems like a very Aristotelian-Thomistic way to progressively actualize a good end, no? Lastly, I have my little, shabby soapbox and I hope that I do not annoy too much by dragging it to various intersections like here, and then going into one of my rants. Here it is, the “education as conversation” rant. I have a particular zeal for treating conversation as a much needed, though much ignored, component of education. It is odd, perhaps, since I like the lecture format both as student/listener and as the big-ham lecturer. At every opportunity I believe that two parties–including those of unequal, but sincere, platforms of talent and expertise–should be communicating. This necessitates that the one possessing the greater comprehension, knowledge and powers of articulation make the most effort in fashioning the discussion to envelop and empower the learner. Of course, we need to presume and expect docility and diligent effort on the part of the disciple. There are naturally all types of intellects and teachers. Some teachers are a bit harsh. They offer a realistic mirror for their students to use for correction. There are people who need to sort and decide competency of surgeons and airline pilots and who should publish in high-ranking, professional journals. And there are people who are able to bring the seeking and yearning into the emergency room and to be stabilized for better intellectual activity and even, in some cases, advanced learning. A patched-up patient of the mind can be sent to surgery, ICU, the main floors and maybe stepped into physical therapy for ongoing strengthening and daily living (thinking). I was amazed how vicious social media sites can be. Especially men seem to love those watermelon-seed spitting contests. Pursue what you consider to be your role and calling, by all means. I think my calling is to find respectful, though no less demanding in the final form, ways of encouraging. If I see something really good in a pile of straw, I like to rescue that item and then–maybe later–doing something to put the straw to good use too. I had to learn this on the job as a classroom teacher; I think I got better at asking myself how I can bring even the oppositional student or the contentious interlocutor (if they are even that) into a conversation. I get it, some sharp folks want a whole piece of work to be in near-perfect form. We need those curmudgeons too. This brings us back to the idea of a two-tiered site. To conclude, you all have given me somethings to do better if I am going to be a better contributor to AJ as a commenter and, perhaps, an author. AJ is good. I love the experience. But maybe it is time for a next step. As for the John-Monika controversy, is it time as well to resolve that in conversation? Whole less acrimony from the bleachers foster the discussion. It seems as though the commenting spectators have important insights that could address what seems to still be an open controversy. Take it away…
My continued thanks to all those who have commented here.
I think it fit that I respond in some measure to the critiques that have been made of my essay, particularly since I am grateful for all constructive criticism. Yet since these critiques so far seem to concern more the character of my work than its substance, I admit I am somewhat at a loss as to how to reply to them. In the interest (or at least in the hope) of furthering the conversation, I am happy to forthwith accept at least several of these critiques so as to move beyond them. In the first place, and to state it again, I am clearly not an expert in the natural sciences. Secondly, the essay above could surely have benefited from more careful organization, and a clearer guiding line. I will also hasten to admit that the essay is derivative and unoriginal. Yet if the essay’s major flaw is that it fails to attain to the lofty level of philosophical originality, I will certainly be permitted a sigh of relief for having avoided so many other much more serious pitfalls — and many worse temptations — along the way. I willingly offer apologies to any readers I might have bored — but if our standard for what constitutes worthwhile writing should be that it must show something at once new and valuable, I fancy that we would do well to inure ourselves to disappointment, since we are bound to encounter it at almost every turn.
Though I might be wrong in this, it would appear from several of the comments above that several readers have taken issue, thus far largely unspecified, with the substance of I have said. It appears moreover that we are dealing less with a divergence in views, than a perceived inadequacy on the part of the essay’s author, due evidently to his lack of adequate preparation. Since the essay’s author has no intention whatever of holding to views which are so totally ungrounded, and would be still more averse to inflicting similar errors upon his readers, I might kindly request that my critics (to whom I am already indebted for their frank assessment of my work) would state with greater clarity precisely where they see my errors to lie. I emphatically second David Schmitt in his call to this effect above. I can of course hardly expect them to offer as much merely for my sake, but I hope they will consider doing so for the sake of the conversation itself.
I have not read through all comments, but still here are my two cents:
As a scientist and practitioner I have personally educated myself on exactly the problems your essay discusses during the last 15 years. The scientific establishment from Dawkins to Popper, Bertrand Russell to Einstein and many more, practices various forms of obfuscation that in effect masks the very very real religious pretensions of modern scientism.
I only after a thorough study of Guenon, Schuon and Evola, along with medical statistics proper, have become able to discern this and draw conclusions like Mr. Leonard does in his essay.
I actually very much appreciate that this impetus to re-evaluate scientism is emerging on Arktos because scientism is a very extreme impediment to an intellectually harmonious inner life. The critique of scientism and the proper contextualization of science itself is a major task for the right.
For everyone interested, existentialcomics.com regularly humorously addresses scientism and concisely points out it‘s philosophical failures.
I don’t think there is much of a controversy left, Mr. Schmitt, you made the main points perfectly clear. I think you and all the other commentators said it well, a two-tiered set-up of the journal would indeed help and would keep the curmudgeons (like me) satisfied. Above all, I believe it would benefit the diaologue and help it to evolve to the next level.
Almost enough has probably been said. Looking back on yesterday, there seemed to be a taint of trolling going on. My offense seems to have been merely complementing one-half of John’s two-part essay. I still have not seen the short, simple critique appearing that would lend itself to constructive conversation. There really was only smearing. Serious criticism is clear, not wandering, not oblique, and–thus–it can afford to be courteous and generous. I still am pleased with John’s injection of the Four Causes into his essay. I believe that I am quite rare in the scientific field for doing so. I can count on one hand those I have known and with whom I have talked who appreciate the concept. It was an oasis to have this treated as a missing component of modern science. Yes, Monika implicitly covered the Four Causes with powerful erudition which was pleasing in its own right. She did not do so in the explicit manner in which John did. His purposes and action had separate value whatever other context was being dealt with. Lots of important ideas are introduced in the context of something else. There is a hanger at the nearby international airport. Up close, one sees that it is a large hanger, but it does not seem to stand out against all of the other, surrounding structures. From a vantage several miles away, it is possible to see that this hanger alone stands out from the horizon as a prominent feature.
Oh goodness, I meant “complimented,” not “complemented.” Let’s not go there.
Mr. Leonard, I will address some issues I see with your piece in a concise way. I am currently traveling over New Year’s but will revert back to you in the new year. Mr. Schmitt, your critique of the way I worded my previous criticism is valid, I hope to clarify my thoughts as we are moving forward.
Mr. Boskic, I appreciate it. I will look forward to your further comments, and in the meantime I wish you a happy New Year’s.
You bet, Versus. Travel safely. I look forward to reading your discussion with John.
I hope you had a good bit of travel, Verus I hope this thread has only stalled and has not died. I still look forward to your promised addition. I fear that I may have dropped a shoe in the punch bowl, though I am not sure how. Perhaps others can advance or restart the volleying forward. I certainly came to things differently or more clearly as a result of the exchange. I look forward to John’s response to Part 1 of “Science, the Lesser Sphere” and the other commenters, too.
As requested, and subsequently promised, I am offering a more detailed comment on the issues I see with Mr. Leonard’s essay. I will keep it short and only address two salient points since addressing all issues would take an entire class and I don’t intend to draw out the discussion any further.
As I have mentioned before, the first thing that strikes a scientifically trained mind is the lax and sometimes irreverent use of technical terms and jargon. The stringing together of erudite words don’t make for a good argument; it is the precision of their use that counts. Terminology always lays the foundation for any analysis and therefore determines its quality – which in this case, given its perfunctory usage, can only be poor. It does make the impression – as a reader has pointed out in a previous comment – that the author has a cursory understanding of things through a superficial study of anything and everything, but lacks proper insight and depth.
When writing about science, superficiality is always to be avoided. The problems sketched here, pertaining especially to ‘science’, ‘causality’ and the ‘scientific method’, are obvious and have been discussed at length within the last 100 years. Elaborate expositions on it can be found anywhere in the seminal works of philosophical literature. What would have been needed here is a focused analysis on one of these issues in light of the philosophers this movement favors. In other words, something new and original. I will therefore not address Mr. Leonard’s unilateral understanding on how data can be or is collected, as it is obviously misguided. Further reading on the use of the scientific method and data collection in various disciplines, especially in the inter- or transdisciplinary field, would help in order to gain broader knowledge and understanding. It is also worth mentioning that in order to set up a trenchant method, creativity is required. When scientific inquiries employ the same methodology, yielding the same results, it is oftentimes a lack of creativity and not the shortcoming of the actual method in question. This. however, might even be surprising to some scientists who refuse to relinquish their acquired monotony.
To the layman, science may indeed still look like it is haunted by sheer scientism; to the insider, despite the prevailing crisis, things look a little different. Many things have already been successfully disputed, a lot of progress has been and continues to be made – especially in regards to the definition of transcendental categories. This might be new to the author, because a) there is a steadily growing power differential between the evolvement of science and the public mind, and b) there is certainly a phalanx of academics using this differential to its advantage and thereby steering our intellectual discourse in a certain direction. This, however, does not mean that science is not evolving to incorporate the question of consciousness. A look into the major contributions to scientific journals, especially ever since the ‘complexity turn’ has been proclaimed, might give an informed reader an idea what has already been realized in various disciplines and what potential we are facing in the upcoming future.
Regarding a point in one of your comments, Mr. Leonard: philosophy is never lofty. Once again, it might be to you since you seem to lack in-depth insight into its workings. Philosophy is always bound to sound logic. Hence, it follows rules. When it is lofty, it is usually not philosophy but rambling. Likewise, philosophy of science does not concern natural sciences alone, but science in general as an art of understanding the universe and obtaining knowledge. This is the reason why most logicians have been primarily linguists.
And finally, I would encourage you to always prefer originality over superficial imitation. Study something in depth, become familiar with the subject and its terminology and then develop your own thoughts about it. Mrs. Hamilton has done a fine job, there was no need for a supplemental argument, especially since the uninformed criticism of lumping her work together with that of Leo Strauss is complete rubbish. From what I can tell, her work very much reflects contemporary thought loosely related to the thinking of Pierre Hadot. In the future, if you become inspired to use someone else’s thought as an intellectual trajectory, I think it would just be ethical and fair to mention it in the beginning of your essay and not bury it in the reference section. Such actions always appear deceptive and don’t reflect well on anyone who calls himself a deep thinker.
My thanks for taking the time to write these comments, Mr. Boskic. It is appreciated.
I hope you will humour me if I ask you several follow-up questions. I will limit these questions to a manageable few, in hopes that you might find the time to offer some further thoughts.
First, you state that creativity is required in order to ‘set up a trenchant method’. I certainly recognize the necessity of a strong imagination for producing valid experiments to test specific hypotheses. Yet you seem to be saying something more when you state ‘When scientific inquiries employ the same methodology, yielding the same results, it is oftentimes a lack of creativity and not the shortcoming of the actual method in question.’ In the first place (please correct me if I am wrong) I believe you mean ‘different results’ here? Do you mean to suggest that even reproducibility itself is somehow dependent on human ‘creativity’?
As regards the ‘complexity turn’, might I ask you how you see this as standing in relationship to contemporary science as a whole? I mean to ask: is ‘complexity’ generally understood as transcending the limits of science and the method proper thereto, or is it rather understood as being simply of a higher order of difficulty for that science to analyze and to empirically test? Is it a matter of an essential limitation of scientific method, acknowledged as such by scientists, or rather a limitation due to various practical, and hence potentially superable, shortcomings (as for instance the lack of sufficiently advanced technology, the lack of sufficient quantity of data or sufficient means to parse the enormities data already acquired)? If the former, do scientists generally view the ‘transcendent’ portion of the world as being incomprehensible as such, or do they allow that there might be a means of arriving at knowledge of it that does not depend on scientific method?
I would be grateful if you could spare more of your time to expand a little upon these questions.
Given several remarks made by several commentators, I find myself obliged to leave a general statement regarding my second footnote to the first part of my essay. This footnote has (to me utterly unexpectedly) become the source of some digression, which has been critical more of me than of my ideas or my writing; and as my intention in that footnote has been much misunderstood – a fact for which I accept full blame, as I expressed myself altogether unclearly in it – I hope I can set the record straight here.
First, I did not intend to draw any philosophical equivalency between the thought of Leo Strauss and that of Monica Hamilton, beyond merely suggesting that they are both critical of modern science and open to the pre-modern idea of science. I am hardly in a position to compare them, as I know nothing whatever of Ms. Hamilton’s work beyond the single essay she was so kind as to publish with Arktos Journal, and which in all likelihood I did not understand as well as I ought. Because I thought (and think) very highly of that essay, I wanted to draw my readers’ attention to it in case they had not already read it; that is the full extent of my motivation for mentioning her in the footnote in question. I regret doing so, not least of all because my awkward way of carrying out this aim brought me to make statements about her thought I had no right to make, and to apparently set my own thought in false relation to hers. I willingly rescind these statements. I profess my ignorance of the general contours of Ms. Hamilton’s thought, and offer any due apologies to her or to my readers, if my clumsiness has wronged or confused either.
So much for my comments on Ms. Hamilton’s work. As for my presumed debt to her, it has been altogether exaggerated. So far as the two names which I mentioned are concerned, I personally owe much more of my ‘orientation’ to Strauss than to Hamilton, so if such obligations are to be weighed somehow against me, let it be on his behalf. While I was duly impressed with Ms. Hamilton’s essay, it hardly made for a pivotal moment in my thought, nor was it of particular inspiration when I was writing the essay above. I did not then, and do not now, consider my essay to be the mere aping of Ms. Hamilton’s; I would regard such blind mimicry as superfluous to the journal, prejudicial to my honor, and disloyal to Ms. Hamilton’s trust. I honestly doubt that anyone independently reading these two essays would have supposed any direct parallel standing between them, had I myself not mentioned Ms. Hamilton by name; the two pieces seem to me altogether unalike in terms of style, subject and scope. However this may be, I can at least affirm that I came to the conclusions expressed in my essay long before so much as knowing of Ms. Hamilton’s existence. Bearing all of this in view, I believe I can be safely absolved of any suspicion of plagiarism, or of the improper use of a fellow author’s thought, which suspicion seems to be tacit to some of the comments published above.
Thanks to you both Mr. Boskic (VB) and Mr. Leonard (JBL). JBL, your conciliatory tack is noted. I think this is mainly a discussion between you two at this point. I believe, VB, that the principal point that JBL was aiming at was to demand a subordination of the use of scientific operations and their results to the moral inquiry of philosophy—and I would add the restraint of theology (thus, my Queen of the Sciences remark). I was a bit puzzled as well, VB, regarding the comment about reproducibility and creativity. I do not know what your discipline is, but there is indeed a problem with reproducibility, sample sizes and statistical methods in the fields of sociology, biology and medicine. I am not aware of complaints about too much reproducibility unless, perhaps, you are referring to conformity and staleness in the generation of hypotheses. For example, researchers in the fields of the biology of intelligence, ethno-ethology, molecular neurobiology, neurobiology of sexual differences and climatology must tread on eggshells concerning topics while have been made unnecessarily controversial in political fora. Though I know we can all get edgy in the heat of trying to make a point, perhaps I would suggest a bit less of the ‘ad hominem’ directed at JBL’s education and training. No human is omniscient and this is why it is fun to exchange ideas. Maybe, JBL, there may have been an approach to chiding scientists that would not have been abrasive to scientists such as VB, I do not know. I think the discussion has reduced itself now to where both of you could inch towards either agreement or respectful disagreement. I was, as mentioned before, grateful for the door that you (JBL) opened in this platform for the application of the Four Causes–whether absolutely original or not–in his essay. I have nothing else useful to add regarding the mode of citation employed in connection with Dr. Hamilton’s earlier article. I never detected anything approaching plagiarism that needed reproach. As for how much a physics of consciousness can explain, why do we not simply play and see how far it can go. My own suspicion is that we will explain much, but not everything. My guess is that there will be canonical limits and that this is precisely why we want to continue to exercise our capacities for properly honed philosophical and theological reasoning and the prudent use of the freedom implied and the protection of that freedom of creativity and will.
I believe Mr Boskic was referring to the ‘complexity turn’ as set forth by John Urry in 2005.
Greg Fenton, Verus Boskic, the topic of complexity and emergent properties are potentially very interesting starting points for discussion. Though I am a biologist with interest in emergent properties vis-à-vis evolution of nervous systems and with respect to consciousness, I do not presume to be an expert in the mathematics of complexity, especially as it applies to social systems. But I am interested. If either of you do have a grasp of even some aspects of that large field, perhaps you could present your understanding and some of the most interesting hypotheses in a language accessible to a wider audience, perhaps here. You might assume an audience with some college-level mathematical skills, enough to employ essential symbolism if well-described (of course, skip the algebraic derivations en route). I found it absolutely possible to describe to introductory students, in prose as well as in mathematical notation, enough of even sophisticated ideas to give the initially naïve listener a beginning taste of more in depth arguments. For example, I once set out to present to introductory students a derivation of PV=nRT as a bridge equation between the phenomenon of moving gas particles and the phenomena of pressure and volume observable to the eye. Both I and the students were delighted how much fun we had. They appreciated that they were not expected to merely memorize the equation, something that generally happens in less-than-advanced courses. The students were now equipped with the tools and the confidence to make the argument for themselves ‘why’ pressure time volume equals the (molar) number of gas molecules times the temperature times the ideal gas constant. I hope it made a difference in the rest of their careers.
I do not know if you would consider this a worth-while use of your time or not. If not, I understand. Nonetheless, I am sure a treatment of the ‘complexity turn’ would be gratefully received.
Here is a starter link for exploring the idea of nonlinear systems, emergence and complexity for readers whose curiosity has been stimulated:
Thank you, Mr. Schmitt. I also am very interested in it. I also mentioned it in regards to Mr. Leonard’s questions concerning a more creative methodology. I believe the creativity which is displayed in this field (I am referring here only to social sciences) should satisfy -at least superficially – the questions Mr. Leonard has raised. I hope it can be useful as a precursor.
Mr. Fenton, I am getting a good run out of revisiting these topics. ‘Nature’ is reporting a possible advancement in thinking in an article entitled: How ‘spooky’ is quantum physics? The answer could be incalculable,” 16 January 2020. This is a work that is awaiting peer review. (I see advantages in release before review.) Yesterday, I posted a link for a little YouTube primer on non-linearity (and complexity) in case someone might benefit from it. I did notice that the presentation equivocated on whether top-down influences did, or did not, play a role in more local, distributed or subsidiary interrelationships. There was also the obligatory homage paid to “diversity,” though other aspects of the simplistic tutorial could be used to argue for more, not less, homogeneity in local demographics. And lastly, there is something irritating about video clips that does put them in the category of propaganda: the temporal juxtaposition of a logically and strategically restrained verbal statements with tendentious and simultaneous images for the purpose of psychological association and the manipulation of extra-rational conclusions. But, I assume people here have their junk detectors working. Enough of that. Back to the discussion of complexity and emergent properties and so on, I think it is an important area to familiarize others and ourselves with more. I would like to see a discussion about emergent properties in light of Aristotelianism. For myself, I see no conflict, in fact, I see a potentially fascinating collaboration of ideas fusing the two. Nonetheless, I would bet that it would be a lively discussion—hopefully a respectful one. Zooming out even further, my desire would be to see those interested in traditional topics, as well as our instruments, will be increasingly competent and confident in discussions that advance scientific adventures and technological advances. Only in this way will we have the standing to exercise moral restraint in morally dubious scientific activities. We do not need to lock ourselves in ghettos. I just listened to Tim Kelly interview a fellow Jesse Russell on thkelly67. I heard brief mention of this critique of science and technology where words like ‘alchemy’ get dropped. Well, of course, there is a Faustian bargain which we risk—so don’t do it. But taking a butter knife out of a kitchen drawer is a tiny hint of the same desire to fashion and manipulate the world around us. We want to learn the “secrets” of how to do that better. The practice of scientific method and technological innovation is really the means that we have at our disposal for bounding these activities with the guardrails of rationality and for erecting highway lighting for helping to prevent off-road detours into occultic backwoods. Clearly, we need to do much better at this. Recently, I watched Elon Musk deliver a presentation about wiring up the brain. Yikes, I swear that he seemed like they had that guy on something psychoactive. Anyway, We need the money adventurers and the technical people both to be better trained philosophically. And for my taste, the real capstone to rational restrain would be a proper moral and theological formation for the intellectual elites. We do not have these kinds of people leading us now and it is destroying us all. It is an even greater problem than all of our material challenges.
David, I agree with your points here, and especially endorse your last statement here. If you do not mind I would like to continue our ongoing conversation from Part 1 here rather than there, since I believe the two strands, if the are not identical, are certainly leading in similar ways.
I agree with you that the question of technology can only be rightly addressed with reference to moral responsibility. The case of the kitchen knife you mention is of course an obvious example of this; insofar as it really can be considered ‘technology’ at all, in the way we mean the term today (and I have my doubts about this), it does indeed point to the double-aspect of all human products and activities, their potential for misuse or wickedness. It was hitherto the case that the use of a given ‘technology’ was permitted only to men who were responsible in strict proportion to the power of the implement they were to wield. For instance, normal parents would not permit a child to use a kitchen-knife until the child had reached a certain level of maturity and physical capability; and this age would be raised accordingly before a boy could learn to use, say, a sword or a gun. Or to extend the example, since the development of advanced firearms – really since the advent of the cannon itself, maybe even the simple firearm – it has always been understood that only certain adequately qualified men should be permitted to administer and oversee the use of such weapons. This was not question of simple physical training exclusively, nor perhaps even primarily (our English preserves the metaphor of the ‘loose cannon’ for a reason).
Well and good; so far we are dealing with common sense. But if we drastically expand the scale of this — if, rather than a knife or a gun capable of killing at most a dozen people at a go, we speak of a weapon capable of killing millions — we have entered into an entirely new territory, and it may well be that the analogy ceases to function at all. I am most obviously speaking of atomic weapons, of course, but it is clear that the same reasoning applies to any number of contemporary technologies, either real or at presently under active development. You suggest that we are in need of morally formed elites, and to that I can only say hear, hear! But I do wonder if a really morally responsible elite, only supposing it were not constrained by blind necessity (i.e. the pervasive logic that we must beat our enemies to the production of new techne, which reasoning already represents a kind of moral concession), would have countenanced even half of our contemporary technological ‘miracles’, or whether it would rather have long ago enforced a severe restriction of these to an extent which to our modern and science-soused eyes must regard as amazing and almost inexplicable.
I wonder what you think of this, David? I have in mind such (relatively ‘innocuous’) inventions as the internet, the television, not to speak of greater cases like that of genetic engineering and artificial intelligence. Leaving aside the question of ‘arms races’, would a truly morally competent elite have allowed the development of these? And if it had, would it ever have permitted their widespread liberal diffusion?
John, yes, I left my last statement incomplete. In addition to a well-formed elite (philosophically, poetically, and theologically) a societal-cultural structure needs to be provided for them as well as for the non-elites. No man can act without an external form and boundaries to act within, including the elites. Hereby asserting that a breakaway model of the human experience would be an onerous thing, societal structure must share a unity encompassing all classes in common with due roles and privileges. As I see things, the 800-pound gorilla that tends to be avoided, but that is critically important to recognize and discuss more freely, is intelligence. Certainly, this is not to be done in a condescending, demeaning or arrogant way. Our understanding of this human characteristic does not imply a categorization of human worth. Intelligence, like other human gifts, is for the good of all of a societies members. Properly appreciated, intelligence can and must underlie the hierarchical form of society if it is functioning well. This will come into direct conflict with its misapprehended role in dying democratic societies where it is resented by the less gifted and indulged in in vainglorious ways by those possessing more of it. This is not to say that less intelligent people do not happen to finagle their way higher than they should naturally go. In fact, the inversion of talent is a broad and demoralizing problem in today’s institutions and this inversion is unnaturally forced by a number of artificially and awkwardly imposed factors, such as Affirmative Action, feminism and what may be a concerted and malicious effort to diminish the natural ordering and vitality of societies. Further, the converse is also true, many intelligent people, due to causes in their control or not, either lack the desire or the opportunity to flourish in the fullness of their intellectual potential—though a good society should possess an urgency to enable the willing and eager achieve their potential. This mentioning of intelligence as the frame of hierarchy points to the need for a qualification, already, to the identification of its importance in developing a strong society, a society that can manage its creative scientific and technological activities. That is, there are other dimensions of cognition and personality that overlay the effect of intelligence in institutional leadership: emotional makeup, intensity of personality, sex, predispositions towards ingroup preferences, capacity to trust, etc. All of these features of the human mind demand, further still, greater development of this topic than can fit in this comment. The integration of all of the aspects of mind, personality and behavior with intelligence, and its execution in decision making and action, are all the stuff of virtue theory and moral theology. Let me then return more clearly to the matter of structure and its importance for situating, specifically scientific and technological endeavors. I beg your audience’s forgiveness if I have already mentioned the following—I think I have. It is a paper by Alasdair MacIntyre: “Social Structures and their Threats to Moral Agency,” delivered to the Royal Institute of Philosophy, February 24, 1999 and reprinted in ‘Philosophy’ 74 (1999): 311-329. It is available online. I am using this work of MacIntyre’s in developing my own ideas on corruption in institutions, whistleblowing, the weaponization of organizational mobbing, managerialism, the concept of ‘malignant obedience’ and how things like government agencies or corporations should process intellectual as well as positional authority—especially when decisions are critical for human welfare. So, stated more directly, individualistic approaches to education, training and formation of elites will alone will not suffice. This will result only in dissolute versions of former aristocrats, bloated and scheming mandarins, and an avaricious class of cloaked nomenklatura. The almost entropic loss occurring with successive generations will quickly lead back to where we are currently—to where these subsystems always degrade when the corrective context is not in force. This context acts as a permeant force field, if you will, that aligns the individual domains within (by analogy to magnetic systems). So a contextual framework is also needed, a proper scaffolding that is system-wide across all levels of society. Again, a secular-bureaucratic framework of rules alone cannot be entrusted or expected to “make” people good or to maintain the organization with ethical integrity to its purpose and in service to the more general society. This has not worked for either Communism, the Church stripped of its spiritual vitality, or for capitalistic republics tending towards turbulent and babbling democracies. Organic analogies always seem to be best suited for deriving important principles for understanding other organic systems, including human societies and polities. The analogies that I would like to propose for re-building, or building anew, European civilization or any others that chose to adopt it are the following. I will just list the organic half of the analogy here for the purposes of provocative conversation regarding what the corresponding elements of the societal framework and system would be. The first is a self-correcting germ line serving continuity. Second is a process of maturation that produces adaptation and efficacy in the world as it is. Third is the process of natural and sexual selection that is unmolested by malevolent, hostile external forces. Fourth is maintenance of identity (epithelia, territories and spatial proximity). And fifth is senescence and the progression of generations with a balance of identity and adaptation. Sixth would be both immunological resistance to infection and parasitism internally, and strategies for thwarting predation externally. Seventh would be means of communication and coordination of behavior. To clarify and conclude this intentionally open-ended comment. I would reply that there are means by which science and technology can be returned to their roles as tools for mastering he environment for mankind at large, not merely as “disruptive” crowbars admitting more opportunities for economic pseudo-elites to consolidate more land, resource wealth and fiat currency. This will require both a re-discovered hierarchy based upon intelligence, primarily, within a reconstructed framework of institutions that more closely model organic realities rather than contrived, greedy, rapacious, distorted, usurious, schemes based upon breakaway and predatory or parasitic populations. As stated above, though intelligence is the central pillar of this ordering of human talent, other aspects of personality and biology (like the sexes) come into play. The virtues are the product of hard work by the individual and society in making all the aspects of the human psyche and will work together. Once valued, the virtues can figure more prominently in selective and filtering processes for choosing leaders and defining a new aristocracy other than dubious qualities such as capacity for a pernicious secrecy, obsequiousness, malignant obedience, amorality and economic potency. A revivified social order is precisely the world in which science and technology can find full, creative, adventurous expression and do so in a manner that is not odious, destructive and diabolical in its mistreatment of people and the external structures, natural and social, that they require in order to flourish.
Yes, thank you Mr. Fenton. I think it does indeed address the question of creativity.
On the other hand it seems to me (I open this to all commentators, and I am as ever open to correction) that the questions I posed in response to Mr. Boskic above regarding complexity yet stand, and are of some importance for adjudicating the character of the ‘complexity turn’ (or any related developments), as well as the relation of the same to the problem of scientism. To take the example to which Mr. Fenton has kindly turned our attention: as of 2005, at least, it would appear that John Urry, in his ‘announcement’ of the ‘complexity turn’ (so far as I am able to garner from the little of his work to which I have access), himself considered these questions still open. It seems (and anyone with familiarity with Urry’s will please correct me if I err) that he tended to fall down on the side of complexity being irreducible (i.e. not equivalent to mere ‘complicated’, as he put it) and of science being one legitimate means of knowledge-pursuit among several, rather than the only legitimate, or the necessarily architectonic, means. I suspect that one has to allow both of these points if one is to avoid the mere sublimination or subtilization of scientism within the folds of mere intricacy or complication.
If we do allow these two points, then the ancient question of the rank-ordering of the various human activities comes once more into view. Modern science qua modern science cannot address this hierarchy, nor rightly locate itself within it, precisely on account of the very limitations (among others) brought to light by such developments as the ‘complexity turn’.
To bring the moral question back in at this point (which David has rightly indicated as the core of my essay above): if modern science qua modern science is neither capable of single-handedly comprehending the world, nor of adequately understanding, not to speak of guiding, human morality, these two facts alone suffice to relegate it to a lower rank on the ladder of human knowledge-seeking, than that which it has hitherto occupied. Practically speaking, the ‘complexity turn’ would then have implications, not only for how science is done (as in the necessity of trans-disciplinary studies; the increasing use of complex mathematical models whose elaboration is dependent on high technology; wariness regarding reducing all phenomena to simpler physico-mathematical or chemico-mathematical laws; etc.) but also for its very status in our discourses and in our society at large, the independence and freedom (not to say funding and trust) that it is generally afforded, and the limits which are (or more often are not) placed around its technological expressions.
I see work being done on the first half of this question by the scientific community itself; if much work is being done on the second half, I should be grateful to know it, and where a man might look to read up on it. For my part, I do not doubt that science is capable of determining, after its fashion, the point at which its methods no longer avail in the quest for knowledge of the world; but I do not think that modern science is even minimally equipped to analyze, by its own unaided lights, where the moral confines should be established around its own activities.
I have the impression — and here I gladly defer to the judgement of the better-informed — that even if the pretenses and expectations of contemporary science have been decisively qualified by the ‘complexity turn’, non-linear analysis, chaos theory etc., nonetheless there is a way in which the ‘scientific mood’ which was the pre-condition for our modern science itself has been not only preserved, but is still insisted upon as though its rights here were somehow absolutely inviolable. Examples of this might include 1.) the expectations surrounding how ideas ought to be discussed or presented or written about (in terms of tone, style, value-neutrality, scholarly apparatus, etc.); 2.) the prejudice in favour of the universal open and uncensored publication of all ideas and all debate (i.e. the notion that there exists no knowledge which it might be better to conceal, or about it which it might be better to keep silent); 3.) the (historically unprecedented) rights which are granted without ado to the (externally) unrestrained speech and research of the scientific community; and 4.) the sense that technological development should be broadly encouraged, or permitted with only very few, almost vestigial, restraints. I do not mean to pass any judgement on these matters here: for the moment I would simply be curious to know, from our professional scientists or researchers or anyone knowledgeable in these matters, whether these moral problems are openly and ‘scientifically’ debated in the scientific community today with anything like the same interest that is given to the practical consequences of the aforementioned developments.
(Incidentally, in case it might be of interest to Mr. Boskic to pursue these points further: it seems to me that this question also has ramifications for the right use of and relation to our terminology and teachers on the one hand, and the question of ‘loftiness’ in philosophy on the other.)
I just listened to E. Michael Jones (EMJ) here: https://youtu.be/I8NWgGYIgGw
My usual criticism of EMJ obtains, but he nonetheless gets quite a bit right on the money (no pun was intended). It would be nice to get people like E. Michael Jones to cease from referring to Bill Nye and Neil deGrasse Tyson as the spokesman for “Science,” or as I would prefer to call real science–for emphasis–‘scientific method’. Let’s use the term for the Nye/Tyson corrupted, silly version: “scientism.” In other words, the employment of terms borrowed from legitimate scientific endeavors to create this thing, “scientism,” for consumption by the uneducated. I know little of Tyson except via second-hand accounts. I have seen enough of Nye in videos to consider him a cultural charlatan. Though we just recently went through a round, in this very thread, of criticism of using the term ‘scientism’, I am going to adopt ‘scientism’ as a useful concept. I will do so while still asserting that scientism is a thing that bears no real relationship to actual scientific processes in human activity. These purveyors of scientism, like Nye,, are artificial characters and unreliable doorways to serious research and behavior and should not be used as exemplars of scientific activity by traditionalists of the Right. Such popularizers are propped up and promoted to create a version of science-like culture into which such things as sexual degeneracy is encouraged. (It is always the same tune with these people: sexual promiscuity as a cultural weapon.) Let’s certainly point to abuses and abusers of culture, but let’s not take over the role as their publicists and promoters. Instead, we need to talk about what is correct, what is useful and most of all what is good. As I pointed to in a previous comment, the Right needs sound science, it needs adventure and it needs enterprise. Let’s work on making sure that its activity does not exceed the banks of its moral channel. This is done only by the existence of a well-ordered, religious culture within which scientific endeavors are contextualized and subordinated.
Mr. Leonard, giving you a specific list of references to study would be impossible since the work done since 2005 is vast. If you have access to an academic database, I would encourage you to take a look. But even then, you would have to be trained in more than one discipline to weave things together as it spans over various disciplines). In any case, these things are very complex and not to be simply perused over. I can assure you though that the issues you have addressed above have begun to be dealt with in science. There is a great reorientation towards moral/religious questions and a growing cognizance that science as it is is not complete. As Mr. Boskic said, it does take an insight look into this to grasp the implications and the potential we currently hold in science.
All: Here is relevant discussion, perhaps: https://youtu.be/6eS17F7nuTM. I remain agnostic about the sanguine aspects of Annie Jacobsen’s report. In my opinion, investigative reporters always become at least partially captured by the governmental agencies or corporate organizations. Greg and Verus: I believe that the impetus for questions, like those from John, are aimed at addressing the power of scientific and technological (ST) progress from becoming unmanageably malevolent forces. Do you fellows believe that ST represents a problem? What role should the public have in being informed about the topic (as former U.S. President Eisenhower recommended)? Greg: I believe that you are presenting scientific processes and the philosophy of science in obscurantist terms. I do believe that this is an opportunity–in good will–for you to grasp the opportunity to educate. John: perhaps you could crystalize you questions into one, or a few, very pithy questions.