THE PHILOSOPHY OF THE FUTURE, #14–Sensible Science 3: Natural Science Without Scientism.
By Robert Hanna
This book, THE PHILOSOPHY OF THE FUTURE: Uniscience and the Modern World, by Robert Hanna, presents and defends a critical philosophy of science and digital technology, and a new and prescient philosophy of nature and human thinking.
It is being made available here in serial format, but you can also download and read or share a .pdf of the complete text–including the BIBLIOGRAPHY–of THE PHILOSOPHY OF THE FUTURE HERE.
This fourteenth installment contains section 1.9.
We know the truth not only through our reason but also through our heart. It is through the latter that we know first principles, and reason, which has nothing to do with it, tries in vain to refute them. (Pascal, 1995: #110, p. 28)
If there is any science humankind really needs, it is the one I teach, of how to occupy properly that place in [the world] that is assigned to humankind, and how to learn from it what one must be in order to be human. (Rem 20: 45)
Natural science will one day incorporate the science of humankind, just as the science of humankind will incorporate natural science; there will be a single science. (Marx, 1964: p. 70, translation modified slightly)
TABLE OF CONTENTS
A NOTE ON REFERENCES TO KANT’S WORKS
1.9 Sensible Science 3: Natural Science Without Scientism
Chapter 2. This is The Way The Worlds Ends: A Philosophy of Civilization Since 1900, The Rise of Mechanism, and The Emergence of Neo-Organicism
Chapter 3. Thought-Shapers
Chapter 4. How To Complete Physics
Chapter 5. Digital Technology Only Within The Limits of Human Dignity
00. Conclusion: The Point Is To Shape The World
Appendix 1: A Note on The Löwenheim-Skolem Theorem, “Skolem’s Paradox,” and Neo-Organicism
Appendix 2: A Neo-Organicist Approach to The Nature of Motion
Appendix 3: Sensible Set Theory
Appendix 4: Neo-Organicism and The Rubber Sheet Cosmos
1.9 Sensible Science 3: Natural Science Without Scientism[i]
If natural science is metaphysically grounded on pure sensibility, and if transcendental idealism for sensibility is true, then at least transcendental philosophy is not the Lockean “underlaborer” of the natural sciences: on the contrary, transcendental philosophy is autonomous from natural science, epistemically and metaphysically prior to natural science, and transcendentally presupposed by natural science: that is, transcendental idealism for sensibility is the condition of the real possibility of natural science. Moreover, given the truth of transcendental idealism for sensibility, perhaps very surprisingly, we can also show that scientism is false on Kantian aesthetic and ethico-religious grounds alone, in two steps.
First, given the truth of transcendental idealism for sensibility, since natural mechanism and physicalism are both false, then we can take fully seriously the sensibility-grounded, essentially non-conceptual evidence provided by the aesthetic experience of the beautiful in nature outside us, as veridically tracking natural purposive form, without a purpose, in a way that is inherently disinterested and therefore divorced from all possible self-interest (CPJ 5: 204–211). In short, the experience of the beautiful shows us that beautiful nature outside us cannot be and ought not to be regarded or treated purely instrumentally, that is, merely as a means, or exploited.
Second, given the truth of transcendental idealism for sensibility, since natural mechanism and physicalism are both false, then we can take fully seriously the Romantic/natural-religious/natural-theological reverential experience of the mathematical sublime (“the starry heavens above me”), which, because nature outside us is thereby experienced as having a specific character and normative value that is expressible only as a transfinite quantity, it inherently cannot reduced to a denumerable quantity, no matter how great (CPJ 5: 244–260). Hence, nature outside us, experienced as sublime, cannot have a “market price” and is experienced as beyond price, or priceless, since all “market prices,” or exchangeable economic values (say, monetary values) “related to general human interests and needs” (GMM 4: 434), are expressible only as denumerable rational number quantities, even infinite ones. Thus the specific character and normative value of nature outside us inherently transcends any economic calculus.
This is what I call the proto-dignity of the cosmos. The cosmos — the all-encompassing natural or physical world — is not itself a person, and therefore it does not have dignity. Nevertheless, the cosmos, as sublime, inherently cannot (without eco-disaster) and ought not (without moral scandal) to be merely exploited, or merely bought or sold, that is, treated as a mere capitalist resource or commodity, aka commodified. This, in turn, is precisely because our experience of the sublime in nature outside us (“the starry heavens above me”) shows us that nature outside us is the metaphysical real ground and “home”of real persons and their dignity and autonomy (“the moral law within me”). As per Diogenes, we are citizens of the cosmos. And in that sense, to borrow Thornton Wilder’s lovely phrase, sublime nature outside us is metaphysically our town. Or as we’ve seen already, Mary Shelley’s tragic natural scientist, Victor Frankenstein, negatively formulates the same point:
Learn from me, if not by my precepts, at least by my example, how dangerous is the acquirement of knowledge, and how much happier that man is who believes his native town to be the world, than he who aspires to become greater than his nature will allow. (Shelley, 1818: vol. 1, ch. 3)
Therefore, on Kantian scientific pietistic grounds alone, it follows that the Baconian/ Cartesian technocratic “mastery of nature” attitude towards the natural world outside us is not only deeply philosophically mistaken and wrongheaded, but also deeply aesthetically, ethically, and natural-religiously wronghearted. Wrong, and wrong again.
[i] See also section 4.5 below.
AGAINST PROFESSIONAL PHILOSOPHY REDUX 643
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