THE PHILOSOPHY OF THE FUTURE, #5–Kantian Heavy-Duty Enlightenment and The Uniscience.
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 fifth installment contains section 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
Chapter 1. Natural Piety: A Kantian Critique of Science
1.0 Kantian Heavy-Duty Enlightenment and The Uniscience
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
Chapter 1. Natural Piety: A Kantian Critique of Science
When nature has unwrapped, from under this hard shell, the seed for which she cares most tenderly, namely the propensity and calling to think freely, the latter gradually works back upon the mentality of the people (which thereby gradually becomes capable of freedom in acting) and eventually even upon the principles of government, which finds it profitable to itself to treat the human being, who is now more than a machine, in keeping with his dignity. (WiE 8: 41–42)
1.0 Introduction: Kantian Heavy-Duty Enlightenment and The Uniscience
In the 17th and 18th centuries, the official enemies of the classical Enlightenment were (i) any kind of Scholastic, theistic metaphysics, including classical Rationalist metaphysics in the Leibniz-Wolff tradition, (ii) the oppressions of tyrannical, war-mongering, despot-governed/monarchical States, and (iii) the hegemonic ideology[i] of State-enabled and State-supported religions of any kind. Voltaire’s Candide, for example, famously, satirically, and metaphilosophically unloads on all of these targets (Voltaire, 1981; Hanna, 2021c: section VI). But during the 19th and 20th centuries, these erstwhile official enemies of the classical Enlightenment gradually faded away and morphed into a mainstream cultural, social, and political world characterized by (i*) anti-metaphysical, atheistic, scientific materialism/physicalism and mechanism, (ii*) the oppressions of militaristic imperialist States — whether nationalistic, fascist, communist, or otherwise totalitarian, and (iii*) the hegemonic ideology of State-enabled and State-supported advanced capitalism and technocracy, while at the same time, a scientifically illiterate, anti-scientific, fideist, theistic or least mysticism-friendly, tribalist, irrationalist, and ultimately (in the 20th century) fascist counter-Enlightenment (Berlin, 1980) gradually emerged, that was and still is explicitly in contradictory opposition to the classical Enlightenment.
Correspondingly, however, the highly paradoxical character of this “dialectic of Enlightenment” has been pointed up by the most insightful philosophical critics of the classical Enlightenment and classical Enlightenment thinking more generally, from Jacobi, to the German and British Romantics, to Nietzsche, to Heidegger, to the neo-Marxist Frankfurt school theorists (especially Horkheimer, Adorno, Fromm, and Marcuse), to Camus (in The Rebel), and well beyond. These critics have correctly observed that insofar as the classical Enlightenment and its thinking are grounded on a conception of reason that is essentially mechanistic, skeptical, scientistic, and technocratic, as well as purely instrumental and egoistic, and also thoroughly liberal or neoliberal, then in fact the classical Enlightenment and its thinking lead directly or at least ultimately to moral relativism or outright anti-moral debunking-strategies, and the deterministic or indeterministic but in any case mechanistic denial of free will and of all non-instrumental values (whether of religious experience, or otherwise spiritual, or moral), and even worse than that, to a world in which the leading proponents of classical Enlightenment, in a highly self-interested, opportunistic way, actually obediently accommodate or even directly collaborate with various kinds of oppressive, militaristic imperialist States and their State-enabled advanced capitalism and technocracy.
So what starts out as the pantheism of Spinoza or as the deism of the French philosophes, and legitimizes tolerance, ends up as the nihilism of the Marquis de Sade, Max Stirner, or Adolf Hitler, and legitimizes torture, terrorism, genocide, and holocaust (Camus, 1956: part II). Or in other words, the essentially mechanistic, skeptical, scientistic, technocratic, instrumentalist, egoistic, liberal/ neoliberal, opportunist, accommodationist, or even collaborationist classical Enlightenment — which I’ve called Enlightenment Lite (Hanna, 2017c) — is every bit as as intellectually, morally, and sociopolitically rebarbative as the Counter-Enlightenment. An astoundingly perfect recent example of Enlightenment Lite is Steven Pinker’s Enlightenment Now (Pinker, 2018) and its Counter-Enlightment evil-twin counterpart is 21st century neo-fascism, as disastrously exemplified by the contemporary quasi-democratic demagogues Jair Bolsonaro, Viktor Orban, and Donald Trump.
That all being so, then from a contemporary point of view it follows immediately that neither the ideologues of Enlightenment Lite nor the ideologues of the Counter-Enlightenment have actually faced up to and grappled with a broadly and radically Kantian, sharply third-alternative conception of Enlightenment and Enlightenment thinking, that I’ve called radical enlightenment or heavy-duty enlightenment (Hanna, 2016a, 2017c, 2021c). More precisely, according to this broadly and radically Kantian conception of radical or heavy-duty enlightenment, (i) reason as a whole is not monolithic, but instead basically articulated into (ia) theoretical (i.e., logical, mathematical, or natural-scientific) reason, and (ib) practical (i.e., pragmatic, moral, or sociopolitical) reason, and (ii) in both cases, reason is essentially limited by, and indeed also partially constituted, by human sensibility and its essential embodiment, which yields not only (iii) a radical agnosticism about any and all “things-in-themselves” or noumenal substances, especially including God, which says that, as a result of reason’s essential limitation and partial constitution by sensibility and animal embodiment, we know a priori that we can neither know the nature of such entities nor prove their existence or non-existence, but yields also, in turn, a general conception of human reason as (iv) fundamentally and primarily practical in a non-instrumental, non-egoistic, and non-hedonistic way, and inherently guided by categorical imperatives — i.e., universal unconditionally obligatory moral principles — in a lifelong project of rational human agency that inherently includes (v) an existential, life-changing “revolution of the heart” or “revolution of the will,” that fully orients our theoretical and practical reason alike to wholehearted, autonomous, active engagment with our individual and collective “human, all-too-human” real-world moral and sociopolitical problems, in a way that is (vi) fully dignitarian, anti-Statist, and highly critical of advanced capitalism, indeed, anarcho-socialist, and that as a consequence, this ramified, rich, and robust broadly and radically Kantian conception of reason is (vii) pro-scientific, but only within the limits of human sensibility, pure practical reason, and human dignity, so that given those limits, we must deny unconstrained mechanistic scientific knowing (Wissen) in order to acknowledge and affirm our moral faith (Glauben) in the categorically normative and irreducible dignity of individual human lives (the existential point of view) and in the global ethical community of humanity (the cosmopolitan point of view) alike.
As I mentioned in the Introduction, my aim in this book is two-part: critically negative, and affirmatively positive. In both parts, I presuppose (i) to (vi) in the list presented immediately above; and in the affirmatively positive part I focus on (vii), by means of developing a preliminary account of The Uniscience, which is jointly constituted by (i) neo-organicism, (ii) The Theory of Thought-Shapers, aka TTS, and (iii) the Uniscience’s characteristic method and mode-of-cognition, creative piety. The Uniscience is at once fully organicist/anti-mechanistic and life-affirming/anti-nihilistic, yet also rigorously logically-guided and mathematically-informed, liberally naturalistic, formally pietistic, and naturally pietistic.
The illiberal naturalist’s mechanistic worldview is sublimely symbolized by Caspar David Friedrich’s famous 1824 painting “Das Eismeer,” aka “The Sea of Ice” (1824) whose equally apt alternative title is “The Death of Hope,” which presents a sublime visual icon of the natural world as a perfectly mechanically-ordered, entropic, equilibrium-state danse macabre of heat-death. It’s also an equally sublime icon of Rudolf Carnap’s “icy slopes of logic” (Reisch, 2005) and The Vienna Circle’s “scientific conception of the world” (Vienna Circle, 1996). But the organicist conception of the world is beautifully symbolized by Friedrich’s contemporary work “Der Morgen,” aka “The Morning” (1820s), which presents, by diametric opposition to “The Sea of Ice,” a beautiful visual icon of a unified dynamic totality of natural processes, especially including the processes characteristic of organismic life.
Therefore, the transition from the mechanistic worldview to the neo-organicist and uniscientific worldview is also a transition from the sublime to the beautiful, hence also from one fundamental aesthetic category to another. Then, insofar as humanity makes this transition, not only will there be a radically new Kuhnian paradigm-shift in basic concepts and theory, but also an equally radically new Kuhnian paradigm shift in our basic affects or emotions — including our capacities for desire, feeling, and passion. In turn, combining those theoretical and aesthetic paradigm shifts with radical or heavy-duty enlightenment will have nothing less than the effect of transforming humanity itself from sentient, instrumentally rational animals who falsely and indeed self-stultifying and tragically believe they are nothing decision-theoretic biological machines — “biochemical puppets” (Harris, 2012), “moist robots,”[ii] or “survival machines” (Dawkins, 2006). — into sentient, non-instrumentally rational human animals — i.e., human persons — who reflectively or pre-reflectively know that they’re possessed of dignity, with inherent capacities for authentically principled free agency, for local and global solidarity with others, and for formal and natural piety.
In the face of The New Apocalypse, then, such is the knowledge vouchsafed to us by The Uniscience: that we are “human, all-too-human” persons who are necessarily also, in Diogenes’s profound self-description, “citizens of the cosmos,” and not biochemical puppets/moist robots/survival machines. And as Pascal noted in the mid-17th century, and as Kant would emphatically re-affirm a century later, we know this by means of the heart, i.e., by means of human sensibility, with every bit as much validity as, and indeed — since it grounds formal and natural scientific reason — with essentially more epistemic, practical, and normative power than, we know it by formal and natural scientific reason.
[i] [I’m using “a hegemonic ideology” in a broadly Marxist or at least neo-Marxist way, to mean any system of more-or-less mind-controlling, often unreflectively-held, and generally pernicious beliefs, images, and affects that’s imposed, or at least importantly controlled, by a dominant social group that possesses the power of authoritarian coercion.]
[ii] “Moist robots” is Daniel Dennett’s deflationary epithet for humankind, borrowed from the comic strip Dilbert. See (Schuessler, 2013).
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