The End of Mechanism, #9–Frankenscience, the Future of Humanity, and the Future of Science.

By Robert Hanna

“The Sea of Ice,” aka “The Death of Hope,” by Caspar David Friedrich (1824)
“Evergreens by the Waterfall,” by Caspar David Friedrich (1828)


Table of Contents

I. Introduction

II. Natural Piety and the Limits of Science

III. From Kant’s Anti-Mechanism to Kantian Anti-Mechanism

IV. Organicism Unbound: In Defense of Natural Piety

V. Scientific Pietism and Scientific Naturalism

VI. How to Ground Natural Science on Sensibility

VII. Sensible Science 1: Natural Science Without Natural Mechanism

VIII. Sensible Science 2: Natural Science Without Physicalism

IX. Sensible Science 3: Natural Science Without Scientism

X. Frankenscience, the Future of Humanity, and the Future of Science


This final installment contains section X.

But can you can also read or download a .pdf version of the complete essay HERE.


X. Frankenscience, the Future of Humanity, and the Future of Science

37. If the Baconian/Cartesian technocratic “mastery of nature” attitude towards the natural world is both deeply wrongheaded and deeply wronghearted, then the all-too-familiar and all-too-intimate modern and contemporary sociocultural and political connection between natural science, the military-industrial complex, technocratic global corporate capitalism, and the apocalyptic threat of permanent eco-disaster — aka what I will call, collectively, Frankenscience — is completely broken.

Indeed, subverting and resisting and exiting the death-trap world of the military-industrial complex, technocratic global corporate capitalism, and the apocalyptic threat of permanent eco-disaster, essentially depends on our philosophically accepting, “taking to heart,” and then freely acting on the basis of, Kant scientific pietism.

38. In this way, Kantian scientific pietism not only motivates and guides the salvation of nature and humanity, but it also saves natural science itself from “a fate worse than death,” that is, from the senseless and insensible tragic transformation of natural science’s supposed endless rational human progress of knowledge and technology into an endless mechanistic, physicalist, and scientistic devolution and regress, namely, the permanent scientific night of the living dead, Frankenscience.

So the bottom-line message of Kantian scientific pietism is not just that humanity needs to undertake a serious epistemological, metaphysical, aesthetic, ethical, and sociocultural-political critique of natural science in order to save nature and itself, but also that natural science itself needs to be critically saved and liberated from its own scientific naturalist ideology.

According to Kantian scientific pietism, freedom, mind, and life are not mysteriously metaphysically shot out of matter that is essentially mechanical, unminded, and inert.

That way madness lies.

Free minded animals are not made out of fundamentally physical atoms, whether Democritean, Bohrian, or X-ian.

On the contrary, freedom, mind, and life are nothing more and nothing less than irreducibly novel dynamic immanent structurings and re-structurings of forward-directed energy flows in orientable space and irreversible time.

Dynamic processes, not atoms, are what we are made out of.

39. That being so, one can speculate that if contemporary physics were to incorporate Kantian scientific pietism fully into its own self-concept, then some amazing immanent structural, processual, organicist integration of phenomenologically-driven cognitive science and cognitive ethology, ecosystemic organismic biology, relativity theory, and quantum field-theory should be really possible, by analogy with the amazing way that complex numbers and real numbers immanently structurally integrate with rational numbers and natural numbers.[i]

Then the necessary prolegomenon to Grand Unified Theory would be essentially an attitude: natural piety, not mastery.

Starting with that attitude, then, in the essentially embodied mind or minds of some natural pietist mathematico-biophysical genius or geniuses, the required structure-integrating formalisms would be spontaneously created/discovered, and natural science could authentically move forward.

40. And in fact, the first natural pietist scientific forward-steps of genius towards a processual, organicist Grand Unified Theory have already been taken: in A.N. Whitehead’s “philosophy of organism” in Process and Reality; in Ilya Prigogine’s The End of Certainty;[ii] in Stuart Kauffman’s Origins of Order,[iii] At Home in the Universe,[iv] Investigations,[v] and Humanity in a Creative Universe;[vi] and in Daniel Nicholson’s and John Dupré’s Everything Flows: Towards a Processual Philosophy of Biology.[viii]

Here, the mathematics of non-equilibrium thermodynamics and complex systems more generally jointly provide the right structure-integrating formalisms; liberal naturalism provides the right background metaphysics; and natural piety provides the right attitude towards nature and natural science.

The combined influences of Newton’s Principia and his natural mechanism, together with Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason and his transcendental idealism, together with appropriate formal advances in mathematics, produced relativity physics and quantum mechanics.

But in the philosophically foreseeable future, the combined influences of relativity physics, quantum mechanics, contemporary mathematics, and Kantian scientific pietism could also produce an organicist New Scientific Revolution.

And this fully unified Kantian natural-scientific cum human-scientific conception of the world is what I’m calling the end of mechanism.


[i] I owe this extremely insightful mathematical analogy to Tim Dolch, and also the basic idea about the non-reductive life-in-matter-&/or-energy metaphysical continuity. Immanent structural integration can occur between cognitive-semantic contents, and between theories, as well as between worldly properties, facts, events, processes, systems, etc.

[ii] I. Prigogine, The End of Certainty: Time’s Flow and the Laws of Nature (New York: Free Press, 1997).

[iii] S. Kauffman, Origins of Order: Self-Organization and Selection in Evolution (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 1993).

[iv] S. Kauffman, At Home in the Universe: The Search for Laws of Self-Organization and Complexity (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 1996).

[v] S. Kauffman, Investigations (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 2002).

[vi] S. Kauffman, Humanity in a Creative Universe (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 2016).

[vii] D. Nicholson and J. Dupré (eds.), Everything Flows: Towards a Processual Philosophy of Biology (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 2018).


Mr Nemo, W, X, Y, & Z, Sunday 23 February 2020

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Mr Nemo

Mr Nemo

Formerly Captain Nemo. A not-so-very-angry, but still unemployed, full-time philosopher-nobody.