Posting 120, word count: 1,352
The story of science is an inspiring history about how, over a recent and well documented time period, humanity’s leading teams of theorists and researchers came to understand reality when they used the objective empiricism of scientific method to overcome superstitious belief in witchcraft and magic. Oddly, it is still considered proper and morally commendable to participate in a community of religious faith asserting the reality of angels, demons, miracles, and a cosmic moral judge decreeing rewards and brutal punishments after death. However, for the most part, events, that were once considered to be deliberately framed messages to humans from a supernatural universe of disembodied but personified (caring) entities with effective powers in our world, have been re-conceived in science as moments in merely concrete cause-effect sequences that can be understood and controlled by human intervention. The story science tells of itself suggests that this recent accomplishment of understanding reality has come to encompass everything including politics, social systems, and individual behaviour and experience, all of which are now claimed as substantially understood (and controllable by intervention) by experts in behavioural science, social and political science, psychology, and economics.
The scientific claim of understanding reality is used to legitimize all the economic, legal, military, and political institutions and practices of modern states, on the suggestion that educated individuals active in professions, business management, and government, all carry and act from this precious understanding, acquired as the core of higher education. Since key institutions of every nation license, regulate, and sponsor scientific research and have the resources to benefit from the most advanced discoveries, the impression is created that such institutions are themselves manifestations of the most profound understanding of reality, justified by humanity’s deepest knowledge.
However, there are two fatal problems with this story. Science claims to encompass the whole of reality, but it has no way of comprehending individual spirituality, the personal consciousness of creative freedom in time. Science can’t conceptualize intelligence as a particular, and each intelligence is a special particular, with a transcendent uniqueness in its teleology. All objective particulars fall completely under general laws, but the individual conception of time makes each intelligence a special particular, with temporal creativity giving each one a personally particular and transcendent indeterminacy. The ever-elaborating and always incomplete teleology of each individual creates a uniquely individual indeterminacy. So, while science is comfortable dealing with people as physical particulars and as statistical sets it fails completely in recognizing people as spiritual particulars, and that invalidates the universality and finality of all claims from behavioural science, social and political science, psychology, and economics. A better attempt at accumulating a store of wisdom about humanity as such would work to understand how to improve and empower individual creative freedom and self-possession.
The objective empiricism of science has an inescapable weakness, namely an obsessively blinkered gaze outward and a resulting inability to engage spirituality, the force of individual subjectivity. The scientific conceptual system does not prove the non-existence of creative individual spirituality, but rather begins with a constitutional refusal to conceive it. Scientific discourse rules out all claims about spirituality. On the scientific view, there is no such thing as transcendence, no transcendent spirituality, no individual spiritual interiority free of strict objective determinism. Science needs to measure, model, map, and visualize things without ever being able to question the questioning from which such operations fountain, because questioning is an act of subjective interiority, of spirituality. The gaze of science is strictly outward upon measurable objects, and the tool of mathematical measurement disqualifies science from any awareness or identification of the spirituality of subjective interiority.
There can’t be a current debate on metaphysics (transcendence) because scientific materialism is universally assumed in the intellectual community. However, the influence of Abrahamic monotheism is still so strong culturally and politically that there is also a taboo against thinking about metaphysics because such thinking immediately comes into conflict with the ideological monopoly granted to entrenched religion by a kind of gentlemen’s agreement. This cultural accommodation is managed by a mental dissociation in which the most highly educated individuals assume both the truth of scientific materialism and the agency of angels and demons without allowing their thinking in one system to touch the other. You couldn’t make this up. The comfortable coexistence of scientific materialism and antique monotheism demonstrates the scientific inability to remain coherent when attempting to confront spirituality within its externalizing conceptual universe.
The reason why science has to ignore and live with antique beliefs about angels and demons is because of the second problem with the science story. Science is funded and owned by the patriarchal hive minds which make wars and by global corporations spinning money for investors by whatever means possible. Science was appropriated early on by the sovereign hive minds which are the end users of armed forces (the arms race, nuclear weapons, biological weapons, the ICBM, Napalm, Agent Orange) in association with captains of industry (global climate change; Bhopal, India), and those culture pods adore the bonding effects that antique religions have on people generally, the way orientation to a commanding height binds individuals to a hive mind. This military-industrial patriarchy has very strong motives to discourage and minimize streams of the history of ideas that deal with spirituality outside traditional monotheism and which, in doing so, disrupt orientation to a commanding height.
Although sovereign hive minds and corporate hive minds are not entirely compatible with one another, they each value the benefits of their symbiosis. Since both are expressions of the hyper-masculine ethos of patriarchy, celebrating competition, strength, champion heroes, and trophy properties, they have much in common. Corporations certainly support war and preparing for war because so much profit is involved, but corporations operate essentially as independent fiefdoms, like military-estate families in medieval times, in a modern version of global feudalism in which many resource-and-culture-based systems of power are ready and able to act as a law unto themselves without meaningful homage to the laws of any outside sovereignty. Money as capital is not permanently attached to any nation and as much as possible seeks out secret tax havens where the rule of law is light and lax. The people who operate in that world of corporate feudalism (even as investors) are also unattached emotionally to any sovereign state, and will go where money flows. There is a living romanticism in the libertarian masculinity at the core of the corporate hive mind, a thrilling story of dominance and exceptionalism. Sovereign states which openly declare themselves as such are a different kind of hive mind, with a territorial definition, drawing on a selectively edited history of their territory to craft a compelling story for the inhabitants to attached to emotionally. In the culture of global capitalism, by contrast, there is a shared story of the triumphant great man in a vicious dog-eat-dog world, and, ironically, an elaborate social and cultural support system for the people who immerse themselves in this story and win their way in. The support system is crucial because trophy property always demands the protection of organized violence, either as the armed forces of a sovereign state or as private armed security forces, currently proliferating.
The Politics of Knowledge
Given these two problems with science, any claim that science is politically impartial, neutral, or disinterested is absurd. The politics of knowledge is hardly complicated. Any science funded by such forces will specifically rule out any understanding of reality which might question the legitimacy of currently dominant institutions. The military-industrial patriarchy, the power structure which pays for scientific work, is threatened by any information that explores spirituality outside traditional monotheism because it is the only historical stream of thinking able to disrupt orientation to a commanding height. It has done so already, spectacularly, in the radical Enlightenment. The purpose of science is not to understand reality, but to strengthen the patriarchal systems of power and wealth already operating, or give a competitive edge to a particular power centre by producing new power for the paymasters. Here comes artificial intelligence.
Copyright © 2017 Sandy MacDonald.