THE PHILOSOPHY OF THE FUTURE, #17–Wrestling with Modernity: 1900–1940, Six Sociocultural or Sociopolitical Developments.

Mr Nemo
6 min readApr 4, 2022

By Robert Hanna

“FUTUREWORLD,” by A. Lee/Unsplash

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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 seventeenth installment contains the Introduction to section 2.1 and section 2.1.1.

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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)

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

A NOTE ON REFERENCES TO KANT’S WORKS

PREFACE AND ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

0. Introduction: Science, The Four Horsemen of The New Apocalypse, and The Uniscience

0.0 How Uncritical and Unreformed Science Is Literally Killing The Modern World

0.1 My Aim In This Book

0.2 The Uniscience and Pascal’s Dictum

Chapter 1. Natural Piety: A Kantian Critique of Science

1.0 Kantian Heavy-Duty Enlightenment and The Uniscience

1.1 Kant’s Neo-Aristotelian Natural Power Grid

1.2 Kant, Natural Piety, and The Limits of Science

1.3 From Kant’s Anti-Mechanism to Kantian Anti-Mechanism

1.4 In Defense of Natural Piety

1.5 Scientific Pietism and Scientific Naturalism

1.6 How to Ground Natural Science on Sensibility

1.7 Sensible Science 1: Natural Science Without Natural Mechanism

1.8 Sensible Science 2: Natural Science Without Materialism/Physicalism

1.9 Sensible Science 3: Natural Science Without Scientism

1.10 Frankenscience, the Future of Humanity, and the Future of Science

Chapter 2. This is the Way the World Ends: A Philosophy of Civilization Since 1900, The Rise of Mechanism, and The Emergence of Neo-Organicism

2.0 Introduction

2.1 Wrestling with Modernity: 1900–1940

2.1.1 Six Sociocultural or Sociopolitical Developments

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

APPENDICES

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

BIBLIOGRAPHY

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2.1 Wrestling with Modernity: 1900–1940

From the turn of the 20th century and into the mid-&-late 1930s, at least eight different profoundly important philosophical, artistic, scientific, social, and political trends all converged, interacted, and intertwined in complex and fateful ways. I’ll call these developments, taken collectively, wrestling with modernity.[i] More precisely, humanity “wrestled with modernity” insofar as its intellectual and cultural inheritance from the 19th century failed to provide it with the resources to comprehend or control the onset of certain fateful social and political processes, the new formal and natural sciences, and a radically new world-picture that emerged as a result of these developments.

2.1.1 Six Sociocultural or Sociopolitical Developments

First, from 1900 to 1940, humanity experienced radically increasing industrialization and the physical mechanization of production processes, driven by worldwide free-market economics and capitalist speculation.

Second, simultaneously, humanity experienced radically increasing sociopolitical nationalism, imperialism, and militarism, flowing disastrously into the global cataclysm of World War I (Strahan, 2005), the Russian Revolution, the 1918–1919 Influenza pandemic (Kent, 2013), and then the civil wars and other international conflicts in central, northern, and eastern Europe that immediately succeeded the official end of The Great War and stretched into the early 1920s (Gewarth, 2016).

Third, these developments were followed, in the mid-to-late 20s and early-to-mid 30s, by hyperinflation in Germany, the Stock Market Crash in 1929, the worldwide Depression, and by the rise of fascism and imperialist militarism in Germany, Italy, and Japan. Indeed, the unabsorbed and unresolved sociocultural and sociopolitical fall-out from World War I primed Nazi fascism and its ideological mirror image, Bolshevik communism, alike.

Fourth, at the same time, there were revolutionary advances and transformations in the natural sciences, especially including (i) relativity physics, (ii) quantum mechanics, and (iii) cellular/molecular, evolutionary, and genetic approaches to biology (Kumar, 2010; Mayr, 1985). In particular, the classical Newtonian model of physics was overturned, and biology rejected models of Lamarckian inheritance and vitalism, paving the way for what later would become evolutionary development, aka evo-devo, Darwinism.

Fifth, simultaneously, and overlapping with these developments in the natural sciences, there were revolutionary advances and transformations in the formal sciences (especially including mathematical logic and pure mathematics) via Alfred North Whitehead’s and Bertrand Russell’s Principia Mathematica (Whitehead and Russell, 1962), Kurt Gödel’s incompleteness theorems (Gödel, 1967), Alonzo Church’s demonstration of the undecidability of classical first-order predicate logic (Church, 1936), Alan Turing’s work on computability and artificial intelligence (Turing, 1936/1937; Turing, 1950; Boolos and Jeffrey, 1989: ch. 3), the Church-Turing thesis — which asserts the necessary equivalence of Turing-computability and recursive functions (Boolos and Jeffrey, 1989: pp. 20, 52–56) — Ernst Zermelo’s work on well-ordered set theory (Zermelo, 1930, 1967a, 1967b, 1967c; Potter, 1990: ch. 7), L.E.J. Brouwer’s work on intuitionist logic and mathematics (Brouwer, 1981, 1999), David Hilbert’s work on formalism and finitism (Hilbert, 1967; Tait, 2010), and Alfred Tarski’s semantic conception of truth (Tarski, 1943, 1956), which formally captures the collective logical upshots of the failure of Whitehead-Russell logicism, together with Gödel’s profound insight into the logical independence of truth and proof.

Sixth, in the 1920s and 30s, there was an emerging set of anti-authoritarian, anti-totalitarian, dignitarian, democratic versions of socialism, for example, the Popular Front in France, Labor parties in the UK, Germany, and the Netherlands, the New Deal in the USA, and “prairie populist” socialism in Canada, as well as various forms of communism that rejected the authoritarian, totalitarian, anti-dignitarian, and anti-democratic models of their Bolshevik counterparts.[ii] These movements also expressed a general critique and a vigorous rejection of the alienation, dullness, and monotony inherent in industrial mechanization, advanced capitalism, and the modern division of labor.

NOTES

[i] My use of this term is inspired, via Otto Paans, by (Hollestelle, 2011).

[ii] In particular, the Dutch communists developed a concept called “radencommunisme” (council communism), intended to replace the idea of a Party vanguard. Notably, e.g., Anton Pannekoek (1873–1960) published widely on this theme, as well as on the relationships between Marxism and Darwinism.

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Mr Nemo

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