THE PHILOSOPHY OF THE FUTURE, #32–Neo-Organicism Unbound.

By Robert Hanna

“FUTUREWORLD,” by A. Lee/Unsplash

***

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 thirty-second installment contains sections 2.5 and 2.6.

***

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

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

2.1.2 Two Philosophical Developments: Classical Analytic Philosophy and First Wave Organicism

2.1.3 Architectural and Artistic Trends

2.2 The Historical Black Hole, The Mechanistic Mindset, and The Mechanistic Worldview: 1940–1980

2.2.1 Formal and Natural Science After 1945, The Mechanistic Mindset, and The Rise of The Mechanistic Worldview

2.2 The Emergence of Post-Classical Analytic Philosophy

2.2.3 The Two Images Problem and its Consequences

2.2.4 Modernism and Countercurrents in the Arts and Design

2.3 The Philosophical Great Divide, Post-Modernist Cultural Nihilism, and Other Apocalyptic Developments: 1980–2022

2.3.1 The Rise of Po-Mo Philosophy

2.3.2 Po-Mo Architecture: Unconstrained Hybridity

2.3.3 Other Apocalyptic Developments: Crises in Physics and Big Science, and The One-Two Punch

2.4 From The Mechanistic Worldview to Neo-Organicism

2.4.0 Against The Mechanistic Worldview

2.4.1 Seven Arguments Against The Mechanistic Worldview

2.4.1.1 Logical and Mathematical Arguments

2.4.1.2 Physical and Metaphysical Arguments

2.4.1.3 Mentalistic and Agential Arguments

2.4.2 Beyond The Mechanistic Worldview: The Neo-Organicist Worldview

2.4.2.1 The Neo-Organist Thesis 1: Solving The Mind-Body Problem

2.4.2.2 Dynamic Systems Theory and The Dynamic World Picture

2.4.2.3 The Neo-Organicist Thesis 2: Solving The Free Will Problem

2.4.2.4 Dynamic Emergence, Life, Consciousness, and Free Agency

2.4.2.5 How The Mechanical Comes To Be From The Organic

2.5 Neo-Organicism Unbound

2.6 Conclusion

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 Neo-Organicist Turn in Formal Science: The Case of Mathematical Logic

Appendix 2. A Neo-Organicist Note on The Löwenheim-Skolem Theorem and “Skolem’s Paradox”

Appendix 3. A Neo-Organicist Approach to The Nature of Motion

Appendix 4. Sensible Set Theory

Appendix 5. Neo-Organicism and The Rubber Sheet Cosmos

BIBLIOGRAPHY

***

2.5 Neo-Organicism Unbound

Neo-organicism can be succinctly defined in six words:

Everything flows, grows, reposes, and repurposes.

It’s essential to recognize that this definition is not merely an updated version of Heraclitus’s famous dictum panta rhei, “everything flows.” Heraclitus is saying that the world is nothing but an undifferentiated “becoming” that never really “is”: a river you cannot really step into even once, much less twice. On the contrary, according to new wave organicism, “flows” means that everything belongs to a complex system of causally efficacious dynamic, natural processes; “grows” means that everything has a mode of activation, actualization, and kinetic energy; “reposes” means that everything has another mode of relative rest, power-in-reserve, and potential energy; and “repurposes” means that everything also has a further mode of “messy” creativity when it is temporarily dismantling some existing causal mechanism or mechanisms, in order to reconfigure it or them for new causal functions and operations (see also Kastner, Kauffman, and Epperson, 2018).

So in its appeal not only to the metaphysics of process, but also to the metaphysics of causally efficacious actuality (aligned with activating immanent form or structure), potentiality (aligned with activated-or-able-to-be-activated matter or stuffing), and what Kant called natural purposes, especially including living organisms (Weber and Varela, 2002), neo-organicism is also in fact importantly neo-Aristotelian and broadly Kantian. Neo- organicism, then, is essentially a neo-Aristotelian and broadly Kantian continuation of the first wave of organicism that briefly appeared between 1900 and 1940 as a serious but neglected alternative to the mechanist worldview in its guises of high modernism and scientism.[i]

Neo-organicism is a direct rejection of the mechanistic mindset and the mechanistic worldview, that by a diametric contrast to those, consists in an anti-scientific-naturalist, yet also robustly pro-scientific, anti-mechanistic, anti-scientistic, and anti-anti-scientific conception of the world and ourselves. I’ve already cited leading examples of first wave organicism and neo-organicism in the formal and natural sciences of the late 19th century, early 20th century, and mid-to-late 20th century (Cantor, 1891, 2019; Gödel, 1931; Church, 1936; Skolem, 1967b; Tarski, 1943, 1956; Zermelo, 1930, 1967a, 1967b, 1967c; Whitehead, 1971; Lloyd Morgan, 1923; Schrödinger, 1944; Bohm, 1952; Bohm and Hiley, 1975; Bernal, 1967; Nicolis and Prigogine, 1977; Prigogine and Stengers, 1984; Prigogine, 1997; Varela, Muturana, and Uribe, 1974; Varela, 1979). But recent and contemporary examples can also be found in David Bohm’s theory of a cosmological “implicate order” (Bohm, 1982); in Evan Thompson’s “mind-in-life” theory, directly inspired by Varela’s work on autopoiesis (Thompson, 2007); in new applications of intuitionist mathematics to modeling “time’s arrow,” i.e., its asymmetrically forward flow from the past to the future (Wolchover, 2020); in new processual approaches to biology (Nicholson and Dupré, 2018); and in new work towards the unification of biology and physics (Torday, Miller Jr, and Hanna, 2020).

Above all, however, neo-organicism is committed to the metaphysical doctrine of liberal naturalism (Hanna and Maiese, 2009; Nagel, 2012; Hanna, 2018b). Liberal naturalism says that the irreducible but also non-dualistic mental properties of rational minded animals are at least as basic in nature as biological properties and any other physical properties, and metaphysically continuous with them. More precisely, according to liberal naturalism, rational human free agency is an immanent structure of essentially embodied conscious, intentional, caring human animal mind; essentially embodied conscious, intentional, caring human animal mind is an immanent structure of organismic life; and organismic life is an immanent structure of spatiotemporally asymmetric, non-equilibrium negentropic matter/energy flows. Each more complex structure is metaphysically continuous with, and embeds, all of the less complex structures. Again, and now put in terms of dynamic emergence, according to neo-organicism and its liberal naturalism, human freedom is dynamically inherent in and dynamically emerges from essentially embodied conscious, intentional, caring human animal mind. And essentially embodied conscious, intentional, caring human animal mind is dynamically inherent in and dynamically emerges from life. Therefore, human freedom is dynamically inherent in and dynamically emerges from life. Moreover, life is dynamically inherent in and dynamically emerges from spatiotemporally asymmetric, non-equilibrium negentropic thermodynamic matter/energy flows. Therefore, human freedom, human mind, and life are all dynamically inherent in and dynamically emerge from spatiotemporally asymmetric, non-equilibrium negentropic thermodynamic matter/energy flows. By way of a quick summary, here’s a diagram of the basic metaphysical continuities and structural embeddings according to the neo-organicist, liberal naturalist conception:

Diagram by Otto Paans (2020)

In view of neo-organicism and its liberal naturalism, to borrow an apt phrase from the later Wittgenstein in Philosophical Investigations, our rational human free agency is just our own “form of life,” and free agency, as such, naturally grows and evolves in certain minded animal species or life-forms. Correspondingly, freedom naturally grows and evolves in certain species of minded animals, including the human species, precisely because rational minds like ours naturally grow and evolve in certain species of animals, including the human species.

Another name for liberal naturalism is weak transcendental idealism (see chapter 1 above, and section 4.4 below — see also Hanna, 2022a). Weak transcendental idealism is sharply distinct both from subjective idealism, which says that the world is nothing a phenomenal mental construction of an individual cognizer (defended in interestingly different ways, for example, by Berkeley, the neo-Kantians, early Carnap, C.I. Lewis, and Nelson Goodman) and also from absolute idealism, which says that the world is nothing but a giant mind, its thought-forms, and its thought-processes (defended in interestingly different ways, for example, by Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel[ii]). As opposed to either subjective idealism or absolute idealism, liberal naturalism, i.e., weak transcendental idealism, says that rational human mindedness naturally grows and evolves in the manifestly real physical world, in organisms whose lives have an appropriately high level of non-mechanical thermodynamic complexity and self-organization. The manifestly real natural physical world necessarily includes our real possibility and is immanently structured for the dynamic emergence of lives like ours and minds like ours. Or as per Thomas Nagel’s apt, crisp formulation, that I’ve quoted twice already: “rational intelligibility is at the root of the natural order” (Nagel, 2012: p. 17).

By now, it should be self-evidently clear that neo-organicism’s liberal naturalism/ weak transcendental idealism is directly opposed to the doctrine of universal natural mechanism. The doctrine of universal natural mechanism, as we’ve seen, says that all the causal powers of everything whatsoever in the natural world are ultimately fixed by what can be digitally computed on a universal deterministic or indeterministic real-world Turing machine, provided that the following three plausible “causal orderliness” and “decompositionality” assumptions are all satisfied: (i) its causal powers are necessarily determined by the general deterministic or indeterministic causal natural laws, especially The Conservation Laws, including The 1st Law of Thermodynamics, and also The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, together with all the settled quantity-of-matter-and/or-energy facts about the past, especially including The Big Bang, (ii) the causal powers of the real-world Turing machine are held fixed under our general causal laws of nature, and (iii) the “digits” over which the real-world Turing machine computes constitute a complete denumerable set of spatiotemporally discrete physical objects. In direct opposition to universal natural mechanism, however, organicist philosophy’s liberal naturalism/weak transcendental idealism says that the causal powers of, at the very least, biological life (and in particular, the causal powers of living organisms, including all minded animals, especially including rational human animals) are neither fixed by, identical with, nor otherwise reducible to the Conservation-Laws-determined, 1st-and-2nd-Law-of-Thermodynamics-determined, Big-Bang-caused, real-world-Turing-computable causal powers of thermodynamic systems, whether these causal powers are governed by general deterministic laws or general probabilistic/statistical laws. So if neo-organicism liberal naturalism/weak transcendental idealism is true, then universal natural mechanism is false — even leaving aside the seven arguments against the mechanistic worldview that I spelled out in sub-section 2.4.1 above.

It’s essential to recognize that neo-organicism’s liberal naturalism or weak transcendental idealism does not postulate any supernatural, extra-spatiotemporal or sub-spatiotemporal, and essentially mysterious, aether-like and/or external divine causal force that somehow creates, designs, and guides the natural universe. On the contrary, neo-organicism’s liberal naturalism is radically agnostic (Hanna, 2018d: part 1), and also committed to the doctrine of what, as we saw in chapter 1, the early 20th century British first-wave organicist philosopher Samuel Alexander — following the Romantic poet Wordsworth — called natural piety. Again, according to Alexander:

I do not mean by natural piety exactly what Wordsworth meant by it–the reverent joy in nature, by which he wished that his days might be bound to each other–though there is enough connection with his interpretation to justify me in using his phrase. The natural piety I am going to speak of is that of the scientific investigator, by which he accepts with loyalty the [phenomena] which he cannot explain in nature and has no right to try to explain. I may describe it as the habit of knowing when to stop in asking questions of nature.

[T]hat organization which is alive is not merely physico-chemical, though completely resoluble into such terms, but has the new quality of life. No appeal is needed, so far as I can see, to a vital force or even an élan vital. It is enough to note the emergence of the quality, and try to describe what is involved in its conditions…. The living body is also physical and chemical. It surrenders no claim to be considered a part of the physical world. But the new quality of life is neither chemical nor mechanical, but something new.

We may and must observe with care our of what previous conditions these new creations arise. We cannot tell why they should assume these qualities. We can but accept them as we find them, and this acceptance is natural piety. (Alexander, 1939: pp. 299, 310–311, 306)

According to natural piety, neither are you alienated from nature (a Cartesian ghost-in-a-machine) nor are you a “lord and master” of nature (a Baconian/Cartesian technocrat). To believe both of these at once was Victor Frankenstein’s tragic mistake, repeated endlessly and magnified infinitely in the adoption of deeply misguided epistemic and metaphysical doctrines, combined with the scientistic-technocratic ideology of natural mechanism:

Learn from me, if not by my precepts, at least by my example, how dangerous is the acquirement of [naturally mechanistic] 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)

In a closely-related way, neo-organicism and its liberal naturalism/weak transcendental idealism, as we saw in section 2.4 above, fully conform to non-equilibrium thermodynamics, under the non-deterministic interpretation of it developed by Prigogine, who also wrote this sharp, Shelley-like criticism of natural mechanism:

The attempt to understand nature remains one of the basic objectives of Western thought. It should not, however, be identified with the idea of control. The master who believes he understands his slaves because they obey his orders would be blind. When we turn to physics, our expectations are obviously different, but here as well, Vladimir Nabokov’s conviction rings true: “What can be controlled is never completely real; what is real can never be completely controlled.” The [natural mechanist] classical ideal of science, a world without time, memory, and history, recalls the totalitarian nightmares described by Aldous Huxley, Milan Kundera, and George Orwell. (Prigogine, 1997: pp. 153–154)

In other words, neo-organicism and its liberal naturalism/weak transcendental idealism take natural science seriously precisely because they reject natural mechanism. It’s the profoundly false and pernicious mechanistic worldview that can no longer serve as a workable paradigm for scientific activity. To be a neo-organicist and a liberal naturalist/weak transcendental idealist, is to integrate all the formal and natural sciences in an essentially anti-mechanistic way.

So, I’m hereby directly challenging the mechanistic worldview’s approach to the formal and natural sciences, and rejecting it root-and-branch: why should we continue to believe that all the sciences be interpreted in accordance with universal formal and natural mechanism? After all, Gödel’s incompleteness theorems show us that every logico-mathematical system at least as rich as Peano arithmetic contains undecidable, unprovable, uncomputable truths, and that more generally, truth-in-a-logico-mathematical-system cannot be determined by Turing-computable algorithms/recursive functions or by formal proof, nor can it be determined internally to that system (Gödel, 1931; Boolos and Jeffrey, 1989), and therefore mathematical truth cannot be formally or naturally mechanized; Church shows us that logical truth in every system at least as rich as classical first-order polyadic quantified predicate logic with identity, aka “elementary logic,” cannot be determined by Turing-computable algorithms/recursive functions, and therefore logical truth in all such systems cannot be determined by Turing-computable algorithms/recursive functions (Church, 1936); and Tarski shows us that no determinately-structured language — whether a formal language or a natural language — can contain its own truth-predicate without paradox, and therefore truth per se cannot be determined by Turing-computable algorithms/recursive functions (Tarski, 1943, 1956). Yet no one regards Peano arithmetic, elementary logic, and the semantic conception of truth as less than seriously scientific. If formal piety about logic, mathematics, and the semantics of natural language is intelligible and defensible, as it surely is, then by the same token, so too is natural piety about physics, biology, chemistry, and all the other natural sciences.

Therefore, if one can be fully serious about logic, mathematics, and the semantics of natural languages without reducing them to mechanistic models, then it follows that in order to be fully serious about physics, biology, chemistry, and the other sciences, then we must do away with the mechanistic models on which they have hitherto been based, since all the natural sciences presuppose logic and mathematics. And in particular, if all logico-mathematical systems at least as rich as Peano arithmetic are formally incomplete, then so are the natural sciences that presuppose them, namely, all the natural sciences.

More generally, if the non-deterministic interpretation of non-equilibrium thermodynamics, together with Gödel’s incompleteness theorems, Church’s discoveries about undecidability in elementary logic, and Tarski’s semantic conception of truth, are all true, then universal natural mechanism is false even about physics itself and yet we can still be fully serious about logic, mathematics, the semantics of natural languages, physics, and the other exact sciences. Neo-organicism and its liberal naturalism/weak transcendental idealism, together with the doctrines of formal piety and natural piety, self-evidently collectively meet this theoretical high standard of formal-scientific and natural-scientific full seriousness.

For all these reasons, the neo-organicist worldview can also be the source of a range of new and productive philosophical analogies and metaphors that override and supersede those of the mechanistic worldview, and can guide us cognitively, affectively, and practically into the future. Roughly sixty years before Turing’s breakthrough paper in 1936, in 1874, here is how the ultra-Darwinian biologist and propagandist Thomas Huxley analogized and compared human and other minded animals to natural automata:

The consciousness of brutes would appear to be related to the mechanism of their body simply as a collateral product of its working, and to be completely without any power of modifying that working as the steam-whistle which accompanies the work of a locomotive engine is without influence on its machinery. Their volition, if they have any, is an emotion indicative of physical changes, not a cause of such changes… It is quite true that, to the best of my judgment, the argumentation which applies to brutes holds equally good of men; and, therefore, that all states of consciousness in us, as in them, are immediately caused by molecular changes in the brain substance. It seems to me that in men, as in brutes, there is no proof that any state of consciousness is the cause of change in the motion of the matter of the organism. If these positions are well based, it follows that our mental conditions are simply the symbols in consciousness of the changes which take place automatically in the organism; and that, to take an extreme illustration, the feeling that we call volition is not the cause of a voluntary act, but the symbol of that state of the brain which is the immediate cause of that act. We are conscious automata, endowed with free will in the only intelligible sense of that much-abused term — inasmuch as in many respects we are able to do as we like — but nonetheless parts of the great series of causes and effects which, in its unbroken continuity, composes that which is, and has been, and shall be — the sum of existence. (Huxley, 2002: pp. 29–30)

Radically in opposition to Huxley’s mechanistic worldview, according to neo-organicism, human and other minded animals are not nothing but highly complicated locomotive engines, steam whistles, and Turing-machines, belonging to “the great series of causes and effects”: radically on the contrary, we and all other minded animals are nothing less than processual, purposive, self-organizing, nondeterministic living organisms, ineluctably and irreducibly embedded in, complementary to, and in an endlessly delicate homeostatic balance with, our microphysical, ecological, geophysical, and cosmological environments, whose minds, freedom, and social activities are all and only forms of life.

Pictorially now, human and other minded animals, and our world, are all and only as portrayed by Kelly McConnell’s highly evocative 2016 painting, “Evening Organicism” —

By means of an elective affinity with such artwork, the contemporary British philosopher Helen Steward has remarked that

[t]he task [of understanding free will and agency] requires some reflection on the organizational principles of living creatures, for it is only through such reflection … that we can start to understand where the difference really lies between, on the one hand those things that are true agents, and, on the other, mere machines, entities that nothing will ever be up to, however impressive they may be…. I am exceedingly hopeful that the next few years will see the beginnings of a revolution in our conception of the human person, as philosophical and everyday conceptions of the scientific picture of the world are freed from outdated Newtonian ideas and begin to take more note, both of the complexities of science as it really is and of the undeniable fact of our animal nature. (Steward, 2012: pp. 198–199)

Indeed, along with Steward, I believe that we’re at the beginning of a neo-organicist cognitive Gestalt-shift in philosophy, the applied and fine arts, the formal and natural sciences, the human sciences, the social sciences and society, politics, and civilization itself, that’s fully comparable to Kant’s 18th century “Copernican Revolution” in philosophy.

Kant’s Copernican Revolution says that in order to explain rational human cognition and authentic a priori knowledge, we must hold that necessarily, the manifestly real world structurally conforms to our minds, rather than the converse. The neo-organicist cognitive Gestalt-shift, in turn, says that the real possibility of human consciousness, cognition, caring, rationality, and free agency, and therefore also the “Copernican” necessary structural conformity of world-to-mind, provided that we actually do exist, is built essentially into the non-equilibrium, negentropic thermodynamics of organismic life, and necessarily underdetermined by any and all mechanical processes and facts. Hence the neo-organicist cognitive Gestalt-shift in philosophy, the fine and applied arts, the formal and natural sciences, the human sciences, the social sciences and society, politics, and civilization itself, not only includes Kant’s Copernican Revolution, but also goes one full revolutionary cycle beyond it.

Since the 17th century, philosophical revolutions have happened roughly every one hundred years, and each revolution takes roughly twenty years to unfold: (i) the late 17th and early 18th century anti-Scholastic Rationalist revolutionDescartes, Spinoza, and Leibniz, but also including Newtonian scientific mechanism, followed by an Empiricist reaction, (ii) the late 18th and early 19th century anti-Rationalist, anti-Empiricist Kantian Copernican Revolution and absolute idealism — Kant, Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel, followed by an anti-Hegelian reaction, including Kierkegaard and neo-Kantianism, then by Brentano, Husserl, Heidegger, Sartre, Merleau-Ponty and phenomenology (especially existential phenomenology) more generally, (iii) the late 19th and early 20th century anti-idealist Analytic philosophy revolutionFrege, Russell, Moore, and early Wittgenstein, followed by Vienna Circle logical empiricism/positivism, then by Quinean and Sellarsian scientific naturalism, alongside the later Wittgenstein’s work and ordinary language philosophy, then by Strawsonian conceptual analysis, direct reference theory and scientific essentialism, and currently, Analytic metaphysics (Hanna, 2021a: chs. II-XVII). Now, at the beginning of the third decade of the 21st century, it has been almost exactly one hundred years since the neo-Kantian and British neo-Hegelian traditions went down into the ash-heap of history and were superseded by classical Analytic philosophy, in the late 1920s and 30s. So if the historical pattern persists, then we are actually at the beginning of another philosophical revolution, over the next twenty years, and fully into the heart and soul of the 21st century, although it may be difficult to see its precise shape because we don’t have the benefit of historical hindsight or an adequate emotional and reflective distance from actual historical processes, and because we are naturally distracted by our own everyday affairs, domestic and international politics, and global crises like the 2020–2022 COVID-19 pandemic. But in any case, we can be certain that there’s a serious alternative to Eliot’s pathetic whimper at The End of the World: namely, neo-organicism in philosophy, the applied and fine arts, the formal and natural sciences, the human sciences, the social sciences and society, and politics, encompassing what Gare and others have called “ecological civilization” (Gare, 2017), drawing on the radical enlightenment and broadly and radically Kantian philosophy (Hanna, 2016a, 2021c), and on the ill-fated first wave of organicism.

2.6 Conclusion

Inspired by Whitehead’s brilliant early 20th-century first-wave organicist scientific insights into the nature of the cosmos, although not restricted by his metaphysical atomism and panexperientialism, and also by the equally brilliant mid-to-late 20th century new wave organist scientific insights provided by Prigogine, Varela, and others, in this chapter I’ve undertaken a radical re-thinking of our concept of nature by radically re-conceiving the cosmos as inherently processual, purposive, and self-organizing, in a single unbroken metaphysical continuum that runs from The Big Bang Singularity forward, via temporally asymmetric/unidirectional non-equilibrium negentropic thermodynamic matter/energy flows, to organismic life, conscious animal minds, rational human animals, human free agency, and human dignity. This, in turn, entails radically re-conceiving the mind-body relation, the free will problem, and emergence, according to the essential embodiment theory, natural libertarianism, the theory of dynamic emergence, and liberal naturalism/weak transcendental idealism, all of which are fully embedded inside The Dynamic World Picture, in accordance with the neo-organicist thesis. And I’ve also proposed a workable way of explaining how mechanical systems come to be from the fundamental organic systems of the cosmos: namely, by logically or naturally/nomologically strongly supervenient systematic abstraction. So I conclude that I’ve proved — or at least that I’ve made a very strong case for — the neo-organicist worldview. But radical cognitive Gesalt-shifts in worldview are not generated by conceptual and logical reasoning alone: on the contrary, something that’s essentially non-conceptual and non-logical must also fundamentally shape human thinking. And that’s what The Theory of Thought-Shapers, aka TTS, that I’ll present and defend in the next chapter, is all about.

Finally, and by way of concluding this chapter, let’s now consider the current world-situation as of 6am this morning. It might well seem that this time around it’s, really and truly, The End of The World, and that the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020–2022, like the Influenza pandemic of 1918–19 (Kent, 2013), is at once a global natural evil and also a global symbol of humanity’s moral incompetence and tragic folly. Indeed, here at the beginning of the third decade of the 21st century, humanity’s hardest problems are epitomized by The Four Horsemen of the New Apocalypse: (i) global corporate capitalism, (ii) political neoliberalism, especially neofascist neoliberalism, (iii) the digitalization of world culture via information technology and social media, and (iv) an all-encompassing scientistic, technocratic, ecologically-devastating, philosophical conception of non-human nature and human nature alike: universal formal and natural mechanism. Nevertheless, in a truly dialectical and neo-organicist way, The End can also contain the vital seeds of a new beginning. For if I’m correct, then in a direct and spontaneous reaction to the economic, ecological, political, sociocultural, and spiritual depredations and devastations of The New Apocalypse, we’re currently also in the earliest stages of the second wave of organicist thinking, aka new wave organicism, aka neo-organicism, which will finally bring to completion what the most brilliant and radical philosophy and formal-and-natural science of the early 20th century — first wave organicism — initiated, before Russell’s pro-Analytic-philosophy propaganda, fascism, World War II, the Cold War, and The New Apocalypse all so violently intervened. Beyond The End of The World, then, lies the serious alternative of the neo-organicist worldview. Correspondingly, my proposal for the philosophy of the future, bounded in a nutshell, is that neo-organicism, together with TTS — jointly comprising The Uniscience — not only can but most urgently should provide a new Kuhnian paradigm and a grand synthesis of philosophy, the applied and fine arts, the formal and natural sciences, the human sciences, the social sciences and society, politics, and civilization itself, and arise like a phoenix from the ashes of The New Apocalypse, during the rest of the 21st century.

NOTES

[i] There are interesting parallels here with the sociocultural career of 19th century Romantic organicism and its cultural context: see, e.g., (Beiser, 2005: ch. 4).

[ii] Leaving aside their absolute idealism, however, there are also some significant organicist themes in Schelling’s and Hegel’s works that provide a philosophical bridge between Kant’s third Critique and early 20th century process metaphysics, i.e., in my terminology, first wave organicist philosophy. See, e.g., (Gare, 2011, 2019). Indeed, there are many overlaps and similarities between what I’m calling “neo-organicism” and what Gare calls “speculative naturalism”: see, e.g., (Gare, 2017).

AGAINST PROFESSIONAL PHILOSOPHY REDUX 697

Mr Nemo, W, X, Y, & Z, Monday 1 August 2022

Against Professional Philosophy is a sub-project of the online mega-project Philosophy Without Borders, which is home-based on Patreon here.

Please consider becoming a patron!

--

--

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

Love podcasts or audiobooks? Learn on the go with our new app.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Mr Nemo

Mr Nemo

1.2K Followers

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