THE PHILOSOPHY OF THE FUTURE, #4–The Uniscience and Pascal’s Dictum.
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 of THE PHILOSOPHY OF THE FUTURE HERE.
This fourth installment contains section 0.2.
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
0.2 The Uniscience and Pascal’s Dictum
Chapter 1. Natural Piety: A Kantian Critique of Science
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
0.2 The Uniscience and Pascal’s Dictum
It cannot be overemphasized that neo-organicism, when taken together with a new philosophy of human thinking that Otto Paans and I have called “The Theory of Thought-Shapers,” aka TTS (for a fully detailed presentation and defense of TTS, see chapter 3 below), is itself a science — in the maximally broad sense of being “an organized body of knowledge” — that comprehends the formal and natural sciences, the human or moral sciences (aka Geisteswissenschaften, aka “the humanities”), the social sciences, the applied and fine arts, religious experience and spirituality, and philosophy, alike. Or otherwise put and to create another neologism, neo-organicism together with TTS is The Uniscience; and so, not only punning but also riffing on Whitehead’s seminal book, I’ve subtitled this book Uniscience and the Modern World.
In his 1620 treatise, the Novum Organum — the “new organon” — Francis Bacon initiated empiricism, and proposed a radically new scientific methodology and basic mode-of-cognition, induction, thereby replacing and superseding Aristotle’s Organon and the tradition of Aristotelian/Scholastic logic and syllogistic deduction. But only eight years after the Novum Organum appeared, René Descartes initiated rationalism and proposed another radically new scientific methodology and two basic modes-of-cognition: logico-mathematical deduction,together with rational intuition, in his 1628 Rules for the Direction of the Mind, aka the Regulae, and again later in his 1644 Discourse on the Method of Rightly Conducting One’s Reason and Seeking the Truth in the Sciences, aka the Discourse. Jumping forward to the 20th century, and taking onboard Isaac Newton’s late 17th century mechanistic physics, Charles Darwin’s 19th century evolutionary biology, Auguste Comte’s early 19th century positivism, Ernst Mach’s late 19th century positivism, and the early 20th century Great Scientific Leap Forward including Albert Einstein’s special and general theories of relativity, and quantum mechanics — as developed by Max Planck, Henri Poincaré, Louis de Broglie, Niels Bohr, Max Born, Werner Heisenberg, Ernst Schrödinger, and others — in 1929, The Vienna Circle issued a profoundly important manifesto, “The Scientific Conception of the World” (Vienna Circle, 1996), dedicated to Moritz Schlick, and written by Rudolf Carnap, Hans Hahn, and Otto Neurath, in which they initiated logical empiricism, aka logical positivism. In so doing, Carnap, Hahn, and Neurath replaced and superseded Baconian empiricism and Cartesian rationalism alike, in three coordinated steps: first, by accepting as gospel truth the Darwinian evolutionist, relativity-theoretic, and quantum-mechanical-theoretic conception of the world; second, by accepting and building on Gottlob Frege’s 1879 Begriffsschrift, Whitehead’s and Bertrand Russell’s 1910/1918 Principia Mathematica, and Ludwig Wittgenstein’s 1919 Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, and the project of logicism (i.e., the explanatory and ontological reduction of mathematics to logic) more generally, together with C.I. Lewis’s 1918 Symbolic Logic, which created or discovered modal logic; and third, by accepting and updating David Hume’s 18th century empiricism and Comtean/Machean positivism. Combining these three intellectual atomic building-blocks, The Vienna Circle thereby proposed a methodological and cognitive molecule consisting of a strictly non-empirical or “pure”andfully formalized deductive logic (crystalized as analytic a priori propositions) including modal logic, and a logic of induction (crystallized as synthetic a posteriori propositions). And even despite the fact that logicism and the logical empiricist/positivist philosophical project were both dead-in-the-water by 1951, when W.V.O. Quine published “Two Dogmas of Empiricism” (Quine, 1961; see also his 1976b and 1976c), nevertheless our contemporary conventional wisdom about the formal and natural sciences — a conception which was intellectually, culturally, and sociopolitically locked in place by the beginning of the 1950s, hence it’s now more than 70 years old, seemingly forever frozen in time and ideologically impregnable, right up to 6am this morning — still falls fully within the rigorously bounded logical space of The Circle (Reisch, 2005).
But above all, the catastrophic, tragic ultimate result of all these earlier attempts at scientific unification, especially including The Vienna Circle’s, is nothing more and nothing less than The New Apocalypse. Therefore, in order to subvert, and, if it’s somehow really possible, also finally begin to reverse this galloping world-catastrophe, I’m claiming that neo-organicism and TTS provide a new Novum Organum, by methodologically replacing and superseding empiricism, rationalism, and logical empiricism/positivism alike, via the constructive use of a characteristically uniscientific method and mode-of-cognition, that I call creative piety.
By way of anticipation, and deploying some neologistic terminology and novel notions that will be defined and defended in due course, creative piety is
the meta-cognitive acknowledgment of specifically how it is that organic, generative thought-shapers radically restructure some or another determinate domain of representational content, thereby revealing new rich structures in that domain, as represented from a higher-order perspective, and producing correspondingly shaped human thoughts that are original insights with respect to that domain.
As we’ll see, formal-scientific examples of pure creative piety can found in Georg Cantor’s demonstration of the existence of non-denumerably infinite numbers (Cantor, 1891, 2019); in Kurt Gödel’s incompleteness theorems about the logical formalization of Peano arithmetic (Gödel, 1931); in Alonzo Church’s demonstration of the undecidability of classical first-order predicate logic (Church, 1936); in Thoralf Skolem’s discovery of primitive recursive arithmetic as a specially-restricted fragment of Peano arithmetic that’s consistent, complete, sound, and decidable, precisely because it lacks polyadic quantifiers (Skolem, 1967); in Alfred Tarski’s semantic conception of truth (Tarski, 1943, 1956); and in Ernst Zermelo’s well-ordered set theory plus the axiom of choice (Zermelo, 1930, 1967a, 1967b, 1967c; Potter, 1990: ch. 7).[i]
Correspondingly, natural-scientific examples of pure creative piety can be found in Whitehead’s Concept of Nature (1920); in C. Lloyd Morgan’s Emergent Evolution (1923); in Erwin Schrödinger’s What is Life (1944); in David Bohm’s “hidden variables”/pilot wave interpretation of quantum theory (Bohm, 1952; Bohm and Hiley, 1975; Goldstein, 2017); in non-equilibrium thermodynamics and complex systems dynamics, as developed by Ilya Prigogine and his associates, and by J.D. Bernal (Bernal, 1967; Nicolis and Prigogine, 1977; Prigogine and Stengers, 1984; Prigogine, 1997); and in the autopoietic approach to organismic biologyworked out by Francisco Varela and his associates during the 1970s (Varela, Muturana, and Uribe, 1974; Varela, 1979).
For reasons I’ll explain in chapter 4, the early 20th-century creations or discoveries of relativity theory and quantum theory by Mach, Einstein, Planck, Poincaré, de Broglie, Bohr, Born, Heisenberg, Schrödinger, and the others, were not pure or unmixed examples of creative piety, but in fact impure or hybrid examples of it.
In any case, perhaps the least sophisticated and yet also most vivid example of pure creative piety, is what’s called the “overview effect” (White, 1987; Siegel, 2021b), a meta-cognition that’s generated by thoughtfully experiencing views of the Earth from outer space:
[In 1987,] Frank White coined the term “Overview Effect” to describe the cognitive shift in awareness that results from the experience of viewing Earth from orbit or the moon. He found that, with great consistency, this experience profoundly affects space travelers’ worldviews — their perceptions of themselves and our planet, and our understanding of the future. White found that astronauts know from direct experience what the rest of us know only intellectually: we live on a planet that is like a natural spaceship moving through the universe at a high rate of speed. We are, in fact, the crew of “Spaceship Earth,” as Buckminster Fuller described our world. (AIAA, 2014)
And here’s perhaps the most famous example of the overview effect:
In short, in each of its modes, whether sophisticated or unsophisticated, or pure or impure, creative piety constitutes a meta-cognitive Gestalt-shift and a “Copernican revolution” in human thinking. More specifically, creative piety is the ultimate human cognitive source of all paradigm shifts and scientific revolutions in Thomas Kuhn’s senses of those terms (Kuhn, 1970), including of course the impure or hybrid case of creative piety expressed by the fateful shift from classical Newtonian physics to modernist relativity physics and quantum physics in the early 20th century.
Flowing naturally from this new conception of human thinking, I’m also claiming that by means of the life-affirming Uniscience — neo-organicism and TTS — and its characteristic uniscientific method and mode-of-cognition — creative piety — the supposedly never-to-be-bridged, dichotomous difference between (i) the formal sciences and natural sciences on the one hand, and (ii) the humanities and the social sciences, as well as C.P. Snow’s “second culture” (Snow, 2012) — i.e., the applied and fine arts — religious experience and spirituality, and also philosophy, on the other, will simply disappear, but without either relativizing the logical and mathematical, objective cores of formal science and natural science or mechanizing the teleological, normative cores of the humanities, social sciences, arts, religious experience and spirituality, and philosophy.
In The Uniscience, as Pascal so crisply and lucidly puts it,
[w]e 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)
I’ll call this Pascal’s Dictum. As I’m construing it, Pascal’s Dictum says that all science whatsoever, in the maximally broad sense of “an organized body of knowledge” — including the formal sciences, natural sciences, applied sciences, humanities, social sciences, the applied and fine arts, religious experience and spirituality, and philosophy — has an essentially embodied, essentially non-conceptual, and essentially sensible (where sensibility includes desire, feeling, passion, and all forms of essentially embodied imagination) grounding in creative piety, which thereby also takes its place foundationally beneath deduction, induction, C.S. Peirce’s “abduction,” aka “hypothesis,” aka “inference to the best explanation” (Douven, 2017), and rational intuition, as the fifth and most basic method and mode-of-cognition in the formal and natural sciences. Creative piety is most basic, and indeed it’s a cognitive foundation, precisely because the applications of any of the other four methods and modes-of-cognition — deduction, induction, rational intuition, and abduction — presuppose the establishment of some or another overarching Kuhnian cognitive framework or paradigm that shapes those applications.
The full recognition and internalization of the methodological and cognitive fundamentality of creative piety is the core unifying and synthesizing insight provided by neo-organicism and TTS. So, driven by Pascal’s Dictum, the new philosophical triad consisting of neo-organicism, TTS, and creative piety can and should replace and supersede Aristotle’s Organon, Bacon’s Novum Organum, Descartes’s Regulae and Discourse, and The Vienna Circle’s “Scientific Conception of the World,” alike. Therefore, it’s impossible to overstate the extent to which the inherently disembodied, conceptualist, intellectualist, mechanistic, and scientistic post-16th century conception of the formal and natural sciences, humanities, social sciences, and applied sciences, as well as its extension to the applied and fine arts, religious experience and spirituality, the world, ourselves as individuals or as groups, and our social institutions, that are all deeply entrenched in contemporary conventional wisdom as hegemonic ideology, and therefore are all part-&-parcel of The New Apocalypse, can and should be re-revolutionized by taking Pascal’s Dictum, well, to heart.
In short, then, I’m talking about a radically new Kuhnian paradigm shift, the paradigm shift to end all Kuhnian paradigm shifts, the mother of all Kuhnian paradigm shifts, The Big Kahuna of all Kuhnian paradigm shifts, and the alpha-&-omega of all Kuhnian paradigm shifts: namely, the paradigm shift that produces the life-affirming, anti-nihilistic, anti-mechanistic, robustly pro-scientific, anti-scientistic, and anti-anti-scientific Uniscience — i.e., neo-organicism and TTS, together with its characteristic uniscientific method and mode-of-cognition, creative piety, comprehending all large-scale or small-scale meta-cognitive revolutions in human thinking, including, of course, all Kuhnian paradigm shifts and scientific revolutions — and finally saves and sustains the world, in every relevant sense of that phrase, including science itself, thereby effectively and fully solving the problem of science and the modern world.
In the final chapter of The Fate of Analysis, I predelineated, presaged, and proposed, beyond the end of both the 140-year tradition of Analytic philosophy and of so-called “Continental” philosophy, alike — borrowing a phrase from the subtitle of Nietzsche’s 1886 iconoclastic masterpiece, Beyond Good and Evil (Nietzsche, 1966) — a broadly and radically Kantian neo-organicist philosophy of the future.[ii] Well, this is it: the philosophy of the future. For if we don’t effectively and fully solve the problem of science and the modern world, then humankind won’t have a future.
[i] Choice is logically equivalent to the power set operation, which generates the set of all subsets of a given set; and correspondingly, the axiom of choice says that every non-empty set has a set of subsets that’s larger than the membership of the original set.
[ii] Ludwig Feuerbach published Principles of the Philosophy of the Future in 1843, and Ernst Bloch published A Philosophy of the Future in 1970: the former deals mainly with atheism, materialism, and embodiment; the latter deals mainly with utopian neo-Marxism; and of course Nietzsche’s book deals mainly with skepticism about the very idea of morality, especially Christian morality. So although their books were brilliant, critically penetrating, and prescient, none of them explicitly dealt with, or faced up to, the problem of science and the modern world.
AGAINST PROFESSIONAL PHILOSOPHY REDUX 623
Mr Nemo, W, X, Y, & Z, Monday 3 January 2022
Please consider becoming a patron!