THE PHILOSOPHY OF THE FUTURE, #49–What’s So Special About Human Dignity?
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 forty-ninth installment contains section 5.1.0.
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. 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
0.2 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
2.1 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
22.214.171.124 Logical and Mathematical Arguments
126.96.36.199 Physical and Metaphysical Arguments
188.8.131.52 Mentalistic and Agential Arguments
2.4.2 Beyond The Mechanistic Worldview: The Neo-Organicist Worldview
184.108.40.206 The Neo-Organist Thesis 1: Solving The Mind-Body Problem
220.127.116.11 Dynamic Systems Theory and The Dynamic World Picture
18.104.22.168 The Neo-Organicist Thesis 2: Solving The Free Will Problem
22.214.171.124 Dynamic Emergence, Life, Consciousness, and Free Agency
126.96.36.199 How The Mechanical Comes To Be From The Organic
3.1 A Dual-Content Nonideal Cognitive Semantics for Thought-Shapers
3.2 The Cognitive Dynamics of Thought-Shapers
3.3 Constrictive Thought-Shapers vs. Generative Thought-Shapers
3.4 Some Paradigmatic Classical Examples of Philosophical and Moral or Sociopolitical Constrictive Thought-Shapers, With Accompanying Diagrams
3.5 Thought-Shapers, Mechanism, and Neo-Organicism
3.6 Adverse Cognitive Effects of Mechanical, Constrictive Thought-Shapers
3.7 How Can We Acknowledge Organic Systems and Organic, Generative Thought-Shapers?
3.8 We Must Cultivate Our Global Garden
Chapter 4. How To Complete Physics
4.1 The Incompleteness of Logic, The Incompleteness of Physics, and The Primitive Sourcehood of Rational Human Animals
4.2 Frame-by-Frame: How Early 20th Century Physics Was Shaped by Brownie Cameras and Early Cinema
4.3 How to Complete Quantum Mechanics, Or, What It’s Like To Be A Naturally Creative Bohmian Beable
4.4 Can Physics Explain Physics? Anthropic Principles and Transcendental Idealism
4.5 The Incredible Shrinking Thinking Man, Or, Cosmic Dignitarianism
Chapter 5. Digital Technology Only Within The Limits of Human Dignity
5.1 What’s So Special About Human Dignity? The Metaphysics of Human Dignity
00. Conclusion: The Point Is To Shape The World
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. Complementarity, Entanglement, and Nonlocality Pervade Natural Reality at All Scales
Appendix 6. Neo-Organicism and The Rubber Sheet Cosmos
5.1 What’s So Special About Human Dignity? The Metaphysics of Human Dignity
What’s so special about human dignity (Etinson, 2020)? Well, to focus on our contemporary world for a moment, during early 2022, perhaps you’re wondering why you should (still) be wearing a mask, social-distancing, isolating or sheltering, and taking other reasonable precautions during the latter stages of the 2020–2022 COVID-19 pandemic, even though it’s annoying, depressing, inconvenient, stale, flat, and/or unprofitable to do these things, and even though you and many others have been fully vaccinated and perhaps also boostered, worldwide. The principal reason for doing these things — leaving aside either narrow self-interest or publicly-oriented utilitarian calculations — is that it’s morally required by sufficient respect for everyone’s human dignity. It’s morally wrong to fail to do those things and thereby to put other people and/or yourself at significant risk of contracting and spreading the deadly disease and its variants, principally because you’re thereby violating their human dignity and yours.
But, philosophically backpedalling for a moment, does human dignity really exist? If so, then what is its nature and how is that nature grounded, what are its essential moral implications, how do we know them, and how can this dignitarian knowledge be applied in real-world political contexts? No questions could be more important for humanity. Therefore, it’s a rational human imperative to provide a clear, distinct, consistent, complete, and true — or at least philosophically intelligible, defensible and plausible — theory of human dignity.
By way of a preview, here are capsulized versions of the answers I’ll give to those questions in the rest of this section and section 5. 2 below.
First, human dignity really exists because (i) no one, not even a dignity-skeptic, could give their actual or possible rational consent to being treated either as a mere means to someone’s ends (i.e., their desires or goals) or as a mere thing, and (ii) its being absolutely impermissible to treat any people (including oneself) either as a mere means or as a mere thing is an essential property of human dignity.
Second, human dignity is the absolute, non-denumerably infinite, intrinsic, and objective value of human real persons as ends-in-themselves, and human real personhood is metaphysically grounded in an essentially embodied, unified set of innate cognitive, emotional, and practical capacities present in all and only those human animals possessing the essentially embodied neurobiological basis of those capacities.
Third, the essential moral implications of human dignity are an hierarchically-ordered set of (either absolutely or ceteris paribus) universal moral principles specifying ways of always treating all human real persons with sufficient respect for their human dignity, the essence of which is the absolutely universal obligation never to treat any human real person (including oneself) as a mere means or as a mere thing, in a thoroughly nonideal natural and social world.
Fourth, human dignity and its essential moral implications are known by a multifaceted systematic method that includes (i) essentially reliable a priori moral intuitions of basic principles supplemented by logical rationality and reasoning, (ii) fairly reliable cognitive and practical constructive knowledge of non-basic principles under those basic principles, (iii) considered moral judgments in real-world contexts and in thought-experiments by way of applying and further specifying those basic and non-basic principles, and (iv) empathetic intersubjective moral phenomenology.
Fifth and finally, this dignitarian knowledge can be applied in real-world sociopolitical contexts only by enacting human dignity: that is, only by means of designing, creating, and sustaining all and only specifically dignitarian social institutions that Michelle Maiese and I have called constructive, enabling social institutions (Maiese and Hanna, 2019: esp. chs. 1–3 and 6–7).
It should be already obvious that the theory of human dignity I’m presenting and defending in this chapter is Kantian in philosophical inspiration (see also chapter 1 above). But although I’ll sometimes refer to Kant’s writings, this theory of human dignity is neither intended to be an interpretation of Kant’s writings, nor in any way restricted by the requirement to remain consistent with or defend any of Kant’s own doctrines (for example, his alleged noumenal realism, hatred of emotions, moral formalism and rigorism, political liberalism, etc.) or his personal prejudices (for example, his alleged racism, sexism, xenophobia, etc.). Therefore — to play another riff on Royce’s definition of idealism: ‘‘the world and the heavens, and the stars are all real, but not so damned real” (Royce, 1970: p. 217) — the theory of human dignity I’m presenting and defending in this chapter is Kantian in philosophical inspiration, but not so damned Kantian. In other words, the theory of human dignity that I’m presenting and defending involves a creative use of some Kantian ideas that are also independently defensible, and it diverges from either Kant’s own writings or orthodox Kantianism whenever that’s required by attentiveness to manifest reality and/or critical reflection. In view of the social-institutional facts I’ve called the Kant wars, one element of which is a widespread anti-Kantian bias in contemporary philosophy (Hanna, 2020f), it’s (unfortunately) necessary to make this point explicitly. And in order to emphasize that point, I’ll call it the broadly Kantian theory of human dignity.
AGAINST PROFESSIONAL PHILOSOPHY REDUX 745
Mr Nemo, W, X, Y, & Z, Monday 28 November 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!