THE HEART OF POST MODERNISM IS “ROOTED” IN THOMAS KUHN, KARL POPPER, KURT GOEDEL’S THEOREM AND MICHAEL POLANYI’S DEBATE CONCERNING NARRATIVE DISPLACEMENT
The theme of this study is the demise of The Enlightenment Paradigm which takes us on a long day’s journey into the PostModern night. Our journey from Cartesian Foundationalism through the maze of Rationalism and Empiricism and Scientific progress brings us to the heated international debate which was precipitated by the publication of Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of The Scientific Revolution (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1970). Kuhn’s paradigm shift was preceded by the development of The Positivistic Unity of Science Movement from Bacon to Kant. At the end of this maze we enter the dark night of cultural and epistemological relativism of our post modern multicultural pluralism.
In the West, at least from Plato’s Sophist: Plato’s Theory of Knowledge (trans. P.M. Cornford (London, 1935), all knowledge is in some sense One. The concern for unity has a history which begins with the Greeks, and of which the most spectacular recent phase is found in the series of The International Congress for The Unity of Science (which took place in the period between the two world wars) . (See Capra’s work and the International Encyclopedia of United Science, Vol I, II. Volume I covers Leonard Bloomfield, Niels Bohr, Rudolph Carnap, John Dewey, Victor Lenzer, Charles W. Morris, Otto Neurath, Bertrand Russell; Vol. II covers Egon Brunswick, Philipp Frank, E. Finlay Freundlich, Flex Mainy, and Ernest Nagel (University of Chicago Press, 1955).
This trek will arbitrarily start only with the classical period of Modern Philosophy, the 17th and 18th centuries. The next narrative displacement will take place between classical 19th and 20th century Positivism and Post Modern anti science. The emergence of post modernism has exploded the myth of autonomous reason and it is expressed no more boldly than by Stanley Fish:
“But what if reason or rationality itself rests on belief? Then it would be the case that the opposition between reason and belief was a false one, and that every situation of contest should be recharacterized as a quarrel between two sets of belief with no possibility of recourse to a mode of deliberation that was not itself an extension of belief. This is in fact my view of the matter. . . . [Liberalism] ... is tolerant only within the space demarcated by the operation of reason; any one who steps outside that space will not be tolerated, will not be regarded as a fully enfranchised participant in the market place [of ideas] over which reason presides.” (Stanly Fish, There Is No Such Thing AS Free Speech (..And It’s A Good Thing Too) (Oxford, 1994, 135,137)
Fish’s evaluation is based in the post modern hermeneutical/epistemological narrative displacement, expressed by Fish himself as well as Lyotard, DeMan, Bernstein, et al. All of their post modern tomes are mere descriptions of narrative displacements, not an explanation of why one received view narrative was displaced by another. The essence of post modernism is resurgent Gnosticism, Visigoths and Tribalism. The history of narrative displacement in the “hard core” sciences preclude the identification of Description and Explanation in any debate between alternative legitimization structures (Kuhn’s Paradigm). Liberal democratic pluralism is implicitly a subversive faith, subversive of all alternative views that do not conform to the dictates of reason as shaped by liberalism.
At the beginning of modern philosophy/science period, both Bacon and Descartes, the two philosophers most explicitly concerned with producing a complete revolution in the sciences, regarded unification as an essential element in their programs, and the demand for it was made in the earliest of their philosophical writings.
Francis Bacon (1561-1626) laid down the guidelines for the new philosophy—moral, aesthetic and psychic. Bacon concluded that his Novum Organum should apply to all areas of life. He opened the road for the all inclusive scientific takeover of our culture and the urban industrialism which is its brain child. Bacon’s program was a prescription for the total scientization of our world. The application of mathematical techniques applied to every area of reality, which implied that whatever could not be caught up in the net of numbers was non-scientific, non-knowledge and even in the end, non-existent. Bacon gives the recovery of the universality of knowledge, the name Philosophia Prima. He assumed the self sufficiency and unity of nature.
Descartes’ project of a universal science continues man’s search for True Truth independent of God’s revelation via creation and enscripturation. The universal science was made available through the Method of Mathematics. According to Descartes, man only had two sciences—arithmetics and geometry. However, his classical work, Discourse on Method (Oxford, 1937, chp. 5) clearly reveals that Descartes made an emphatic emphasis of “experience.” He fused the a priori and deductive method of mathematics in physics and then insisted on the necessity of experience is to do nothing less than confess that the method is a failure (eg. see his Method).
The nature of order in all sciences is the same whether it is hypothetical or not. Physics is as deductive as mathematics, but in physics, in so far as it provides explanation of particular phenomenon, the causes from which effects are deduced are hypothetical. These hypothesis stand or fall according as the deduced effects agree or disagree with experience. Hence, although a physical theory is deductive, it is “proved” by experience. Descartes acknowledges in the Discourse that a posteriori proof of a deductive theory appears to involve a logical circle, for in induction it is the cause which demonstrates. The effectsreciprocally demonstrate the causes. But the circularity is an illusion arising from the ambiguity in the word “to demonstrate.”
“There is a great difference between proving and explaining, to which I add that the word to demonstrate can be used to signify one or the other, at least if it is taken according to common usage, and not with the particular meaning given to it by philosophers.” Descartes then repeats what he said in The Discourse about his Dioptrics and Meteors as hypothesis, namely, “since experience renders the greater part of these effects very certain, the cause from which I deduce them do not so much serve to prove them as to explain them; but it is the causes which are proved by the effects.” (from Leibnitz, La Logique de Leibnitz Paris, 1906, p. 268, a letter July 1638, A.M. II 311) After the publication of his Meditations, however, Descartes was able to say that “these six meditations contain the entire foundation of my physics or contain all its principles (Letters to Mersenne 28 Jan 1641, 11 Nov 1640, AM IV, 269, 200) According to Descartes, what are not hypothetical are the a priori general principles of mechanics in terms of which all admissible hypothesis must be constructed. They have an absolute certainty which is established in metaphysics.
Rene1 Descartes (1596-1650), not Galileo, formulated the philosophical principles of the new science, its dream of reducing knowledge to mathematics and of the new mathematical cosmology. Descartes virtually exiles God from the world, or rather, exiles the world from God. This means the expulsion from scientific thought of all considerations based in value, perfection, harmony, meaning, beauty and purpose, for such considerations are now regarded as merely subjective and so is irrelevant to a scientific understanding of the “real objective world”—the world of quantity or reified geometry, of a nature that is impersonal and purely functional. With the Newtonian mechanistic synthesis the new attitude is virtually achieved. The worldview with man in it is flattened and neutralized, stripped of all sacred or spiritual qualities. All reality could thus be measured. For newton tJae celestial spheres are a machine; for Descartes animals are machines; for Hobbes beauty is a machine; for La Mettrie the human body is a machine; eventually for Pavlov and his successors human behavior is like that of a machine. There is nothing that is not reduced either to phenomenon (fact) or to mathematical hypothesis (or in politically correct language) fiction. Everything including the mind of man is aligned on the model of a machine constructed out of dissections, analysis and calculations, A worldview founded on the model of a machine brings after it a mechanical world, man included. In our post Einsteinian, Plank, Heisenberg, et al world, the machine model has been reduced to monistic pantheism. Man is still a product of his genes and/or environment (egs. The Bell Curve and A Nation of Victims).
G.W. Leibnitz (1646-1716) confronting a revolution that wasalready well advanced, was profoundly convinced that the sciences had now reached a unique critical point at which a choice had to be made at once between a possible reversion to barbarism and a spectacular advance toward perfection of civilization. The means for preventing the one and making possible the other was the logical integration of all knowledge in a “demonstrative encyclopedia.” This project, which he failed to achieve, was as Couturat has shown, a dominating preoccupation throughout his life.
It was primarily with a view to the advancement of the sources and the means to new discoveries that unification was sought by Bacon, Descartes and Leibnitz. But in the following century there was a significant change in attitude which has been recorded by Condorcet in his work, Pictures of The Progress of The Human Mind (1795).
“Soon,” he says, “there was formed in Europe a class of men who were concerned less with discovery or development of the Truth tlien with its propagation. Men who, while devoting themselves to the tracking down of prejudices in the hiding places where the priests, the schools, the governments and all long established institutions had gathered and protected them, made it their life work to destroy popular errors rather than to drive back the frontiers of human knowledge.” (A.N. de Condorcet, Picture of the Progress of the Human Mind (1795) tr. J. Barracelough (NY, 1955), 136f., context of the French Revolution)
As Condorcet implies, the chief concern of the French-Encyclopedists was the social importance of the unification of knowledge. In their motives they were social rather than scientific reformers. They lived in an age that accepted the apparent finality of Newton’s achievements and their eyes were less on the future of science then on the integration of already achieved results for the sake of public instruction and of ushering in a new era of universal enlightenment.
In two short documents, Precepts for Advancing the Sciences and Arts (1680) and Discourse Touching The Methods of Certitude and The Arts of Discovery In Order to End Disputes and To Make Progress Quickly (ca 1680), Leibnitz presented his main arguments of persuasion to enlist the powerful support of Louis XIV for a scheme to create a “demonstrative encyclopaedia.” (L. Coraturat, La Logique de Leibnitz (Paris, 1901, p. 119, chp. 5 contains a detailed history of the project. Leibnitz sought the demonstration on “the General Science or Art of Discovery.” In philosophy itself, when this rigorous reasoning was most needed, several attempts had been made to organize arguments in Euclidean form, notably by Descartes at the end of his Reply to the second set of objections and by Spinoza in his Principles of Descartes’ Philosophy and his Ethics although Leibnitz could find little resemblance between these and geometrical reasoning “except in outer garb.” (G.W. Leibnitz, Philosophical Papers and Letters (ed. L.E, Loemker, Chicago, 1956), p. 206f, Note that Galileo attemptedto use demonstration outside of mathematics in the science of motion. Kepler, Gilbert and Snell in dioptrics and Hobbes in ethics and physics.)
But the greatest promise of the possibility of rendering all knowledge demonstration could be found in the area which by popular opinion was the most recalcitrant of all to demonstrate, namely knowledge of the merely probable (see my paper, “Whatever Happened to True Truth?”}. Leibnitz’s project entailed two factors: Demonstrative Encyclopaedia and Universal Characteristic. By the time Leibnitz wrote his detailed commentary on Locke’s Essay Concerning Human Understanding.these concerns had ceased to have any logical significance. Locke’s last chapter entitled “On The Divisions of The Sciences” had adopted the classical division of the sciences into physics, ethics, and logic. Ultimately truth became based in the order of proofs, as the mathematicians do, so that teach proposition would come after those on which it depends accept or reject them. Can anyone, for example, by adopting suitable conventions for the use of “or” and “not” reality think or speak in contradiction of the principle which under the usual conventions is expressed by “not” (p and not p)?
Conventionalism is not plausible when it explains the necessity of alternative systems of definition and of alternative systems of logic as being based on conventions in the sense of rules whose acceptance is not obligatory. In the case of the Law of Contradiction no alternative is conceivable, so that the “convention” on which it is based would have to be obligatory in a sense in which the other conventions are not. However, an admission of “convention obligatory for all thinkers” would bring conventionalism much nearer to the views of logic which at least prima facie it seems to reject. (See my paper “Idolatrous Absolutes” especially “Relativity of Conceptual Schemes” p. 26ff.)
According to Leibnitz there are two kinds of truths—Truth of Fact and Truths of Reason. Truths of reason being universally and therefore descriptions of facts in such a way that even God cani change them. Leibnitz regarded as a necessary and sufficient condition for a truth being a truth of reason and logical necessary that its analysis should reveal it to depend wholly on propositions whose negation involves a contradiction. That is an identical propositions (see example Monadology sees 31-35) . He even believed that the law of contradiction was “itself sufficient” for the demonstration of “the whole of arithmetic and geometry.” Logical truths as true in all possible worlds is still the root of the Bolzano and Tarski definition of logical validity.
Although Kant opposed the Leibnitzian doctrine that the truths of mathematics are logical truths, he adhered to the principle of contradiction as the principle of all logical truths or, more
precisely, as the “general and wholly sufficient principle of all analytical knowledge.” Since the truth of such knowledge in no way depends on whether or not the objects which are referred to exist, the principle of contradiction is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for factual knowledge (see Critique of Pure Reason. 2nd ed, introduction to Part II of Transcendentale Elementarlehre). (See The Kant section that follows.
Condillac’s Critique of System Making (1715-1780)
Like other philosophers of the French Enlightenment, Condillac set himself against the philosophy of Descartes and turned with admiration to Locke and Newton. He must have credit for having derived the final blow to “I1 esprit de systeme”. He had the reputation of being the principal enemy of system as such. But this position is not supported, especially in his Traite des systemes where he presents an exhaustive classication of the possible types of systems (xii Euvres. I, 1956 (Paris, 1894, p. 116) For Condillac the unity of science was considered as a system. Following Newton’s physics the universe is only a great balance. We are on the way to the Newtonian World Machine! There is a system of all sciences! Condillac’s utilitarian method integrates all knowledge into one whole of mutually interrelated parts (eg. Unity—specialization/fragmentation and post modern denial of cosmic unity) . (See the indispensable works of Thomas J. Schlereth, The Cosmopolitan Ideal in Enlightenment Thought (Notre Dame, 1977) and Ira 0. Wade, The Intellectual Origins of The French Enlightenment (Princeton University Press, 1971).
Diderot (1713-1784) and D’Alembert (1717-1783) Their Assault on L’Espirit De Systeme
The proliferation of books and learning in this great century encouraged Diderot to go, not to the library, but to the universe. Diderot says, “the word Encyclopedia was to find expression of the system of human knowledge” (Euvres xiii, 145) . He declares ttet he did not believe that one man is capable of knowing all that can be seen, of understanding all that is intelligible (Encyclopedie. Euvres siv. 416). An encyclopedic is not just a dictionary. The function of an encyclopedia is to exhibit the unity of human knowledge. The design of the great French work was to be but a dictionary and encyclopedia. It was designed to accommodate “the genealogical order” of knowledge or the order in which ideas develop. Here we take note of the “genetic fallacy” i.e., the truth claim of a given idea i$ contingent to its genetic origin. This is the linguistic fallacy of the great Kittel enterprise. But since these results do not entail that there is only one true logic, the choices between classical elementary logic, intuitionist logic and perhaps some other logical theories, still depend at least at the present time on extra logical philosophical arguments!!! World Views in conflict!!
Kant’s “Conceptus Comicus”
With Kant we find still another kind of concern with the unity of knowledge, sometimes referred to with little sympathy, as his passion for architectonic. N.K. Smith said that Kant clings to architectonic “with the unreasoning affection which not infrequently attaches to a favorite hobby.” (N.K. Smith, A Commentary to Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason (NY, 1950),xxii; and also a more positive evaluation in C.S. Peirce, Philosophical Writing of Peirce. ed. Justus Buchler (NY, 1955) p. 722.) To be a philosopher as opposed to being a scientist concerned only with the logical perfection of his own particular science, is necessary to seek the systematic unity of all the knowledge provided by the various sciences. The search for unity is not a philosopher’s hobby, and Kant’s views on the ideal of unity merit the same serious consideration that is accorded to other aspects of his thought (see esp. Kant’s third chapter on Methodology, i.e., his search for cosmic character of philosophy). Scientific classification reveals the history of narrative displacement, not merely a historical description. Descartes and Leibnitz classify only for the purpose of uniting; Spinoza, Malebranche, Locke or Berkeley do so in order to separate. In the classification common to both Bacon and the French Encylopaedists, we find that with Bacon the classification is not designed to exhibit the unity of the sciences, while for Diderot that is its only role.
Such philosophers as Hobbes and Hume ascribed to unity of the sciences—Hobbes in ordering them in a single deductive system resting on definitions and Hume in relating them to one central science, the science of man (Hobbes, De Corpore (London, 1655), chapter VI; Hume’s Introduction. A Treatise of Human Nature(London, 1739, many English translations of both). Generally, for the most part in the 17th/18th centuries, the terms science and philosophy are equivalent, though this is not always the case.(For a discussion of the history of the word science from the time of Bacon on and of the differences in English, French and German usage, see J.T. Merz, A History of European Thought in the 19th Century (Edinburgh and London. 1896. I 89ff. 168ff);see new paperback editions as well).
Two classic studies by philosophers, see especially F.H. Anderson’s Philosophy of Francis Bacon in which for the first time Bacon’s philosophical materialism received full attention and emphasis, particularly in chapter IV, “Bacon’s Revival of Materialism: His Interpretation of Fables” and chapter V, “Bacons’ Materialism: Atoms and Motion”. Hobbe’s materialism i& fundamental for the understanding of Bacon’s conception of the unity of the sciences. The other indispensable work is Louis Couturat’s La Logique de Leibnitz with its evaluation both historical and critical of the universal characteristic, the Encyclopaedia and the
General Sciences. The unity of the sciences is not a single simple conception. This concept reveals radical narrative displacement from Bacon, Leibnitz, Kant, et al. to the use employed by the modern/post modern international movements of The Unity of Science concept in the 20th century. There are sometimes conflicting paradigms of what this unity is, but the problem remains essentially one of clarification.
To organize knowledge logically is, for Leibnitz, to produce but one science which can be presented either in synthetic or theoretic order in the order of proofs or in the analytic or practical order that of discovery. The French Encyclopaedists insisted on the absolute arbitrariness of all classifications. This nominalism finds expression in post modern anti science, where classification has only pragmatic or functional value. This period of research exposes a profound scepticism of the extent to which the logical integration of knowledge was capable of being realized.
Kant’s theory of the “unity of science” implies a radical criticism of the views of Descartes, Leibnitz and the French Encyclopaedists. Descartes had condemned the distribution of knowledge in different sciences or analogy with the division of labor in the arts. Kant supported it. “All trades, arts and handwork have gained by division of labor, namely, when instead of one man doing everything, each confines himself to a certain kind of work distinct from others in the treatment it requires, so as to be able to perform it with greater facility and to the greatest perfection where the different kinds of work are not so distinguished and divided, there everyone is jack of all trades, there manufacturers remain still in the greatest barbarians. We do not enlarge but disfigure science if we allow them to trespass upon one another’s territory.” (Kant, Fundamental Principles of The Metaphysics of Ethics (1785) Preface tr. F.T. Abbott (London, 1946) p. 2ff; and Critique of Pure Reason.
“Every science is a system in its own right. . . . We must . . . set to work architectonically with it as a separate and indispensable building. We must treat it as a self subsisting whole.” (Kant Critique of Teleological Judgment (1790) I, 7 tr. J.C. Meredith (Oxford, 1928) p. 31) Kant is implying that there is an autonomous connection between the classification and logical ordering of knowledge, each science is a self-contained logical system; and there is nothing arbitrary about the divisions of the sciences.” Clearly this brief expose1 reveals two radically opposed conceptions of the nature of a logical system. These opposing systems of interpretation could be called “combination” and “organic theory.” Some knowledge is “a priori” and some knowledge is “deduced” from fundamental assumptions, eg. Euclidean Geometry. Some knowledge is complex and composite. Deduction is an art of combination. The logic of invention is nothing but an application of the ars combinatoria.
However, for Descartes and Leibnitz a logical system, considered as a whole, is merely a function of its simple constituent elements, for Kant this whole is an organic one; that is, the concepts of the whole is logically prior to that of its parts; the whole determines what those parts shall be and how they shall be related to one another. According to Kant, every science rests on an antecedent “idea.”
“This idea is the concept provided by reason - of the form of a whole - in so far as the concept determines a priori not only the scope of its manifold content, but also the positions which the parts occupy relatively to one another. The scientific concept of reason contains, therefore, the end and the form of that whole which is congruent with its requirement.... The whole is thus an organized unity, but not by external addition. It is thus like an animal body, the growth of which is not by the addition of a new member, but by the rendering of each member, without change in proportion, stronger and more effective for its purposes.” (Kant, Critique of Pure Reason. A 833-B861).
Just as each science rests on an idea, so the systematic unity of all the different sciences in one whole must rest on an idea. The totality of the sciences is an organism comprising lesser organism. There is nothing arbitrary for Kant in the classification of the sciences. There is only one such classification which is objectively valid. For Kant all purposes arise within the exercise of the purely logical function of the mind. For Kant, Euclidean Geometry, Aristotlean Logic and Newtonian Physics were unmodifiable.
Our search for “conceptus cosmicus” ends in Kant’s revolution. Kant declares that any mere aggregate of knowledge is not science. Historically, Kant’s definition marks a new departure (eg. origin of his supposed “Copernicus Revolution”). The Cartesian definition which identifies science with apodeictic certainty and the Aristolean definitions of science as knowledge of causes and knowledge of the necessary are not abandoned by Kant, but they are made subordinate to the requirements of systematic unity as the principal distinguishing mark of science. “That can only be called science proper whose certainty is apodeictic. The cognition that can merely contain empirical certainty is only improperly called science. For science is a conception of cognition in a system, a system of causes and effects.” That is to say, it is in accordance with the classic definition of science, knowledge of what is necessary. (see esp. Kant’s Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science (tr. E.B Bax, London, 1891, 138).
The unity of science has its foundation for Kant in the nature of reason itself. It is not as with Bacon, the reflection of a unity found in nature. Its origin is purely subjective; it is prescribed a priori to the objects of science, not empirically determined. Kant refers to nature as a unity in so far as it is a system of necessarily interconnected phenomena. Kant’s “transcendental reason” is the source of certain concepts or principles which it possesses independently of experience. Here the universal rule connects the predicate with a condition. Reasoning seeks to reduce the variety and multiplicity of knowledge to the smallest number of principles or universal conditions, and thereby giving it its highest level of unity. Kant lists three principles which govern scientific inquiry and which rest on this supposition of the unity of nature (Kant’s Critique of Judgments attributed to reflexive judgment: (1) There is the principle that principles must not be unnecessarily multiplied (eg. chemistry); (2) The logical principle of genera is balanced by a second principle that of species. Where the first principle compels the scientific inquirer to see identity the second compels him to seek diversity, seeking completeness of system. (3) The third principle searches for the goal of systematic unity from species to diversity. This procedure is not merely a methodological choice but that which exists in nature.
For Kant there are three “wholes” answering to each of the three ideas of classical reason and these will constitute the three natural sciences of Kant’s classification. The idea will in each case “determine the proper content, the articulation (systematic unity and the limits of the sciences.” (ibid, Critique of Pure Reason B. 862) . Kant’s three wholes are Physics, Psychology and a third science which is a systematic union of physics and psychology. Each of these three wholes are related by judgment. There is first, the relation of the predicate to the subject in the categorical judgment; secondly, the relation of the ground of its consequence in the hypothetical judgment and third, the relation of logical opposition in the disjunctive judgment in which the constituent propositions exclude one another, but at the same time, when taken together, are exhaustive of the whole of the knowledge in question. There are also three kinds of syllogism corresponding to these three ways in which our thought is related in judgment. And accordingly, when reason seeks, as it necessarily must, the totality of conditions for any given conditioned knowledge, it will advance through a series of prosyllogisms towards the unconditioned. By the categorical syllogism it will seek”the subject which is never itself a predicate; by the hypothetical syllogism it will seek the presupposition which itself presupposes nothing;” and by the disjunctive syllogism, such an aggregate of numbers of the division of a concept as requires nothing further to complete the division.” (Critique of Pure Reason. A.323, B.380 eg. The Atom, Gene Code Periodic Chart)
“The form of a whole of knowledge, a whole which is prior to the determinate knowledge of the parts—and which contains the conditions that determine a priori for every part of its position and relation to the other parts.” (Kant, ibid. A645=B673). It follows, then, that there are three such wholes answering to each of the three ideas, and these will constitute the three natural sciences of Kant’s classification. The ideas will in each case “determine the proper content, the articulation (systematic unity), and the limits of the science.” (Kant, ibid, A834-B862)
Our historical trek brings us beyond the unity of The Sciences as conceived by Analogy with the unity of the individual science, which has been considered beginning with the notion that the individual science is unified by its subject matter and by logical interconnection of its parts. Both Descartes and Leibnitz presented a view of the unity of science vs. the unity of subject matter. Kant now abandoned this view as being incompatible with unity by logical integration. For Kant the scientist himself is not and should not be concerned with any external purpose to be served by his science. His anti functionalism approach has been replaced in both the modern debate between Positivism and Historicism and the post modern Anti-Science Movement and Social Constructionism thesis of all reality. Post Modern anti-science derives from the presupposition that the claims of True Truth generates control tyranny and domination by the controlling gurus of the science technology syndrome. The irrational post modern plan is that the rejection of True Truth claims will remove the control distinctions, especially by 20th century scientific developments. Therefore certain philosophies of science must be exposed to narrative displacement if our global village is to survive throughout the 21st century.
Kant is prepared to respond by declaring that the scientist/philosopher must in the end ask, What does purely speculative knowledge contribute to the ultimate end of human reason? Ultimately, the scientist/philosopher becomes a purveyor of teleology of human reason. “Essential ends are not as such the highest ends; in view of the demand of reason for complete systematic unity, only one of them can be so described. Essential ends are therefore either the ultimate end or subordinate ends which are necessarily connected with the former; as means, the former is no other than the whole vocation of man.” (Kant, Critique of Pure Reason A 840-B868)
A second principle conception of the unity of the sciences in the 17th and 18th centuries is that of Unity of Method. Kant distinguishes in the Critique of Pure Reason two ways in which logic is treated. It can be concerned with the necessary rules of thought which are the conditions for any use of the understanding at all, and without any regard to differences in the kinds of objects to which thought is directed. Or it can be concerned with special use of the understanding, giving the rules of correct thinking with regard to certain kinds of objects in which case it is an organon of this or that science. In his Introduction to Logic, Kant removes the latter kind of rules from logic altogether. Logic is not an organon of the sciences. It is not concerned with showing how some particular kind of knowledge is to be acquired. In order to know the rules of method applicable to a particular science you must already possess a fairly complete knowledge of the objects with which the science question is concerned and the source of this knowledge. But logic itself “cannot meddle with the sciences, or anticipate their matter.” (Introduction to Logic, p. 3; see my paper “Narrative Displacement in Theories of Logic—From Two Valued Logic to Mathematical Logic to Post Modern Denial via Identifying Classical Logic with Aristotle and The Structure of The Greek Language.”) Indeed, what Kant considered to be logic, namely syllogistic, is condemned by Bacon as a mere art of disputation and according to Descartes it should be “transformed from philosophy to Rhetoric.” (From Descartes’ Reg.X, H.R.I, 33).
To identify the method of the sciences with logic is to claim for it the same universality of application that admittedly belongs to logic. It is to assert that its rules will operate without any regard to differences in the objects to which understanding must be directed. Method will be the same whether the science is mathematics, physics, metaphysics, ethics, jurisprudence or any other of the sciences enumerated by these philosophies. But can scientific method be formulated in total disregard of the nature of its objects? Is it possible that the universal methods of Descartes, Leibnitz, Condillac, or Russell/Whitehead are merely generalizations of the method of mathematics—a method already worked out in relation to a specific kind of objects (eg. do negative integers exist, do they address anything in reality, does the Periodic Chart and DNA Gene Code exist?).
By the time a given scientific category is developed the scientific method is already being employed. Greek science was not related to mathematics, while modern/positivism is inseparable from mathematics. In fact, Calculus was created to respond to new acquired scientific data. What is the rationality for applying the method of mathematics to all objects? Does Logic and Scientific Method both have universal application? “Every language is an analytic method and every analytic method is a language.” (Condillac, Les Langue des calculs 1798 - Preface Euvres II, p. 419) What part does logic and mathematics contribute to the acquisition of knowledge? This question is responded to in the development of Algebra, Geometry, Calculus (see section in paper “Whatever Happened to True Truth?” with special attention to the development in mathematics and my “Narrative Displacement in Theories of Logic”; and my “Epistemology to Hermeneutics: Narrative Displacement of Truth to Relevance”, i.e., audience Seeker Friendly becomes the authority in knowledge acquisition.).
Unity of Language
Into this maze the International Society of scientists brought a common language of communication instead of proposing the logical interpretation of knowledge in its wake was born the child of the analytic tradition, esp. Logical Positivism and Russell Whitehead’s Principia. Goedel’s theorem destroyed the claim that mathematical logic had universal, univocal grounding, i.e., mathematics is autonomous. Now we enter our post modern age which repudiates True Truth and Objectivity as a power control to manipulate the powerless minority ethnic group. We enter the epoch of multicultural pluralism which denies the entire narrative of science and mathematics.
Vital themes run rampant in the narrative displacement from Rationalism to Post Modern Irrationalism. They are: (1) The Laws of Nature and (2) The Laws of Thought. The term “laws of thought” classically covered the (a) Principles of Identity, (b) the Law of Contradiction, (c) the Law of Excluded Middle and (d) often, the Principle of Sufficient Reason. Where as these principles were frequently discussed from the time of the Greeks until the beginning of the 20th century, the term has had a narrative displacement for at least two reasons: (1) No visible system oflogic can be constructed in which the Laws of Identity, Contradiction and Excluded Middle would be the only axiom (classical discussions of these principles are found in Friedrich Ueberweg’s System der Logic and H.W.B. Joseph’s Introduction to Logic (see my paper, “Theories of Logic: From Aristotle to Valued Logic to Multiple Valued Logics of Post Modernism.”).
The principle of sufficient reason cannot be interpreted as a principle of formal (mathematical) logic. The three laws have been primarily conceived of as descriptive, prescriptive, or formal. As descriptive laws, they have been regarded as descriptive: (a) Nature of “being as such,” (b) As the subject matter common to all sciences, or (c) as the activity of thinking or reasoning. As prescriptive laws, they have been conceived of as expressing absolute or conventional standards of correct thinking or reasoning. Further confusion is expressed by the term “not,” which admits of different interpretation according to different metaphysical or logical assumption about “negation.”
Needless to say our historical trek is an inadequate guide into the post modern debate of T. Kuhn, M. Polanyi and K. Popper concerning the nature of acquisition and justification of scientific True Truth, but it is a start. Before beginning with the Post Modern Idol of Unreason, here are 10 Presuppositions of the Modern Period:
1. Modernism emphasizes the Centrality and Authority of Man
2. The Centrality of Nature was a Major Assumption.
3. This Growing Interest in Nature was the Context of the Origin and Development
of the Scientific Method.
4. Fused with These Concepts was the Idea that Nature as Dynamic and as the Sole
and Sufficient Cause and Explanation of what Is and what Transpires.
5. This Period of Scientific Development Generated a Growing Conception of
Determination or Absolute Causation within the Wholeof the Universe.
6. From Determinism there was a Growing Tendency TowardsReduct ionism.
7. The Modern Period was Grounded in Foundationalism.
8. Metaphysical Realism was a Fundamental Assumption.
9. The Modern Perspective Affirmed the Representative, Expressive Theory of
10. Fundamental to the Modern Mode is a Correspondence Theory of Truth. *Notes
from John H. Randall, Jr. The Making of theModern Mind (Boston: Houghton
and Mifflin, 1940) .
Post Modern Idol of Unreason
Understanding this phenomena is imperative if Christ’s Church is to positively witness to our post modern global village. The mission of Christ’s Church is not all that is at stake. Of course, there are millions who have neither heard of nor have been influenced by post modern multiculturalism; it is the singly most powerful phenomena which dominates Outcome Based Education and Media as we enter the 21st Century.
The scientific philosophical developments between the 17th to the 20th centuries have been “models of knowledge reduced from mere superstitious illusory contradiction. But it is logically impossible to doubt all one’s ideas at the same time! When we doubt one “Truth Claim” it is based on another “Truth Claim”!
Post Kuhnian Perspective (Enlightenment and Reason)
The foundationalist illusion unleashed much of the philosophical discussion about science well into the middle of the twentieth century. The positivist model of scientific knowledge was dealt a body blow through the work of Thomas Kuhn which explored hard scientific changes actually occurred in his work, The Structure of Scientific Revolution (University of Chicago Press, 2nd ed., 1970) and my paper “Rationality, Revolutions and Scientific Progress: Narrative Displacement from Kuhn, Popper to Polanyi. These giants engage 3 fundamental problems: 1. Problem of Demarcation between Science and Non-science, 2. Problem of Theory Selection in Science, and 3. Problem of the Growth of Scientific Knowledge.”)
The psychoanalysis school is a vain, ultimately self-subverting assault on The Cartesian/Kantian project. For as Ernest Gellner observes that “the concept of the “unconscious” develops both the individuals autonomy and all inner rational compulsion and the authority of evidence.” (E. Gellner, Reason and Culture (Oxford, Blackwell, 1992), p. 91). Kuhn’s influences have reached far beyond the nature of science. But his works may be best remembered as an attack on the individualist mythology that permeates most accounts of science. In the older “inductivist” model, the individual inquirer first assembles his data and then extracts from them a “theory.” (For the anti-inductivist Popperian school of thinking, see his The Logic of Scientific Discovery (London, 1959) .
According to Karl Popper, one begins with a theory which is an act of creative imagination and then bravely sets out to seek the empirical data which can blow it to pieces. On the latter model, science is seen not as the “generator of reliable truths,” but as the “reliable eliminator” of falsehood. Popper’s Falsification Thesis “runs the risk of eliminating the narrative of accepting evidential warrant of believing in the power of paradigm X to interpret the received data. Popper had sought to succeed where Descartes and Kant had failed: to vindicate the rationality of science, to rescue it from mere culturally-inspired opinions (eg. the very positions of post modern multicultural anti scientists).
But Popper’s “falsification thesis” by counter example has the ironic effect of subverting our confidence in the practical application of “well established scientific ideas, for such confidence now appears irrational.” His position also presents an irrational counter example. What is the logic of adjudication between the rationality of the received and the rationality of the counter factual evidence? (see my papers “Idolatrous Absolutes: esp. pp. 26ff. “Relativism of Conceptual Schemes” grounds of justification of either the received view for the falsification evidence, bibliography pg. 31-32; and “God, Man and Nature in Carl Sagan’s Universe: World View Structures from the Eastern Pantheism to Post Modern Pantheism”).
Before we enter the Einsteinian world, we must take note of unmodifiable results of the developments in 19th century science. There are ten areas of advancement to every area of scientific research:
1. Conservation of Energy (first law of thermodynamics)
2. Kinetic Theory of gases
3. Second Law of Thermodynamics: Nature neither created nor destroyed Entropy!
4. Evolution of the earth’s crust and of the fossils found therein.
5. The Stages of Embryological Development.
6. Principles of Domestic Breeding
7. Quetelet, Comte and Buckel’s Sociological Generalizations
8. Tylor’s Laws of Development of Primitive Societies
9. Maine’s Theory of the Passage from Status to Contract (J.Rosseau’s Social
10. The Malthusian Law of Population Growth (which Darwin said suggested to him
the idea of the “struggle for survival”) T.R.Malthus, 1766-1834)
The Nature of Science serves both Modern and Post Modern distortions. Six equations that have changed the world:
1. Galileo’s Laws of Freely Falling Bodies (1564-1624).
2. Isaac Newton and the Universal Law of Gravity (1642-1727) F = G x M x M
divided by d squared.
3. Daniel Bernoulli and The Law of Hydrodynatnic Pressure (1700-1782) F + p x ½
v = Constant.
4. Michael Faraday and The Law of Electromagnetic Induction (1791-1867) XE = b.
5. Rudolph Clausius & The Second Law of Thermodynamics (1822-1888) A S > 0.
6. Albert Einstein and The Theory of Relativity (1879-1955) E = M x C squared.
Popper’s bold proposal of conjecture and refutation abandons scientific theory which was rich in explanatory power. Simply because it conflicted with a few observations, many famous theories would never have seen the light of day. Popper’s “falsificationist view of science seems naive. It fails to appreciate the complexity of the relation between theories and experimental evidence (see the following list of Theories of Evidence:
1. Uses of Evidence
2. Credibility of Evidence
3 Sources of Evidence
4 Statistics: Evidence in Astronomy (micro and macro)
5. Self Evident
6. Evidence and Tests of Truth
8. Truth, a Characteristic of Assertions, Judgments and beliefs which are true if they
correspond to their objects.
For our purposes it must be adequate to state that both the individivists and the Popperians stood in the Cartesian tradition of assuming that there exists a straightforward, rational cognitive procedure which leads to reliable knowledge when applied by an individual inquirer. The path out of ignorance lay neither in a transcendental realm, nor with the human investigator, but rather in the ruthless application of a “correct” epistemological method. Else our knowledge claims could be nothing more than private solipsistic judgments or at best judgments based in a Wittgensteinian “language game”, i.e., post modern multicultural resurgence of tribalism. No wonder we are barraged by post modern tolerance. Kuhn denounced all that. He pointed out that scientists live in communities with “Paradigm consensus” and their shared cluster of concepts, models, standards of evidence, etc.
Paradigms are more than theories. They introduce a measure of order into the manifold chaotic and ambiguous world of data. The reigning paradigm, Kuhn calls “normal science.” But the paradigm is not immortal. The history of science from Eastern pantheism, Greek, Roman, Medieval, Modern and Post Modern narrative displacements reveal that the mind cannot long accept more counter factual data than a paradigm can interpret—rationally. Revolutions in science, such as Copernicus, Darwin or Einstein usher in a new paradigm (Kuhn, op. cit, p. Ill) .
According to Kuhn’s account, instead of observation determining theory, the theory determines the observation. Since there are no “theory neutral” observations. “In a sense that I am unable to explicate further, “ he writes, “the proponents of competing paradigms practice their trades in different worlds.” (Kuhn, p. 150) Since the world is always seen only through a paradigm there is a problem as to how these working within different paradigms can discuss their ideas with each other. If scientific theories cannot be measured against anything external to themselves, they cannot be judged correct or mistaken true or false. In transition periods in science the contending paradigms are strictly incommensurable. There is no neutral ground that can be used to adjudicate between them.
Now comes the million dollar question—Why should scientists change their paradigms—at all? Since if there is no standard higher than the assent of the relevant community, he argues, “that we may have to relinquish the notion, explicit or implicit, that changes of paradigms carry scientists and those who learn from them closer and closer to the Truth.” (Ibid, p. 170); I concur with Stanley Jaki that Kuhn’s thesis emphasizes The Sociology of Knowledge Theses—see my “Critique of the Sociology of Knowledge”) Thus the philosophy of science, which traditionally sought to give a rational justification for scientific activity and a rational reconstruction of the way theories logically depend on each other, has now dissolved into history and sociology, (see my “Critique of Revisionist History”; “Conflict Between Positivism and Historicism: Encounter of The Two Cultures”; and “The Anti Science Movement”) Science is no longer the awesome offspring of the human reason interacting with objective reality, but simply what one particular historical community happens to do. By focusing on the scientific community, Kuhn draws out the way in which norms and standards are enforced by the community. His early critics were quick to point out, however, that while he had given a reasonable explanation of disagreement among scientists, he was unable to explain the regular emergence of consensus in science. For if a scientific theory cannot be compared, then how do we account for the speed with which the opposition is won over to a new paradigm? Extra-scientific consideration alone cannot explain the ability of the scientific community to resolve its disagreements so quickly.
In his later papers, Kuhn distanced himself from the free wheeling relativism that others extracted from his position (Kuhn, “Critics and Logic of Discovery or Psychology of Research?” in Criticism and Growth of Knowledge, eds. I Lakatos and A. Musgrave (Cambridge University Press, 1970) ; “Objectivity, Value Judgment and Theory Choice” and “Second Thoughts on Paradigms” in The Essential Tension. University of Chicago Press, 1977). Kuhn’s tendency to speak of different “worlds” for different paradigms lapse into incoherence, since it is difficult to talk of there being different realities without becoming vulnerable to the charge that one is still in some sense talking about reality. (Note how Kuhn’s influence has entered the arena of post modern Evangelical theology and Homiletics which claims that the community creates faith, but no ground for adjudicating the conflict in the explanation of the “origin” of any given community, which within Kuhn’s perspective can only be irrational.).
Kuhn is still reluctant to speak of “True Truth,” so one theory cannot be truer than another, i.e., astrology and witch doctors are no “truer” than are astronomy or scientific medicine. He is hopelessly unable to explain the remarkable success of science, the amazing predictions and manipulative power of science. Any theory of scientific change (Narrative Displacement) must account for scientific progress—why the scientific community holds Einstein’s Special Relativity, for example, to be a “truer” account of reality than Newtonian mechanics. Kuhn somehow subscribes to a firm belief in such progress while remaining within a purely sociological framework of explanation. The logical testability of this thesis is open to radical questioning. Kuhn’s anti empiricism fits the mood of the times. His anti realist tendencies find their logical culmination in the work of Paul Feyerabend.
For Feyerabend, scientists are salesmen of ideas and gadgets, “they are not judges of truth and falsehood.” (P. Feyerabend, Philosophical Papers,, Vol. II: “Problems of Empiricism” (Cambridge University Press, 1981, p. 31). He takes an ‘anything goes’ approach to all assertions, procedures, inferences and conclusions. Once the foundations of empirical knowledge are set aside, and there is nothing to put in its place, we no longer talk about reality but about people’s beliefs about reality, from which link to what is held to be true. For Feyerabend what counts as reality “depends on our choice.” We concede that our epistemic activities may have a decisive influence even upon the most sordid piece of cosmological furniture—they may make gods disappear and he writes, “there exists. . . a plurality of standards just as there is a plurality of individuals. In a free society, however, a citizen will use the standard to which he belongs. Hopi standards is he is a Hopi; fundamentalist Protestant standards if he is a fundamentalist.” (See both his Science in A Free Society (London: New Left Press, 1978); and Philosophical Papers. Vol. II, op. cit., p. 27) . We have noted in our journey how such relativistic assaults on the concept of objective truth tends to be incoherent, if not actually self contradictory.
Feyerabend is asserting as a true proposition that there is no such thing as truth. He launched a retributive assault on Popper and all other defenders of “objective knowledge,” an assault the justification of which was rendered doubtful by Feyerabend’s own claims! His newly discovered “cognitive freedom” is a dubious freedom which he apparently withholds from those who criticize him. Note how this irrationalism enters French Deconstructionism (Fish, Lyotard, DeMan, et.al.). These literary scholars “argue” that “anything goes” when it comes to reading a text, since meanings are created by “readers,” but who angrily accuse critical readers of “distortion” where their own texts are concerned!
It is one thing to say that theories/narratives/paradigms can govern how we see and experience the world but quite another to make it impossible any longer for human thoughts and language to refer to the “real worlds.” It is one thing to admit that the analysis of the concept of truth has been problematic, but quite another to regard it as illusory and to give it up altogether as a human goal. “It is one thing to question whether experience is the only source of knowledge but quite another to assert that knowledge and moral values are only a matter of “social convention” like driving on the right side or the left side of the road. It is one thing to argue for opportunity of choice between different traditions and theories as a good strategy in the discovery of truth, but quite another to deny that any view is better than any other or some reasons more valid than others.” (see esp. Vinoth Ramachandra, Gods That Fail (Inter Varsity Press, 1996), p. 185). This post modern “vision” has entered our Media, Outcome Based Eduction and Multicultural Pluralism, Homiletics, Hermeneutics, Anti-Science, Revisionist History, etc. The radical contextualization/indigenous principle (which is resurgent tribalism) has entered many miss ions/evangel ism efforts of the Mega Church. The influence of the impact of the “Kuhnian Revolution” goes far beyond the scientific enterprise!
The works of Michael Polanyi (1891-1976) became like a refreshing breeze over the stagnant waters of post modern multiculturalism. Polanyi, unlike Kuhn, Feyerabend and Popper, was a research chemist as well as being a philosopher and historian of science. He sought to understand science from the perspective of a working scientist and not from the finished products of “scientific knowledge.” His aim was to reform the epistemological basis of science, to resolve the dilemma posed by the rendering asunder of the “objective and subjective” poles of knowledge, which he believed had left their disastrous mark on modern/post modern society. He claimed his approach a post critical philosophy because it rejects the false understanding of scientific objectivity that had dominated western culture since The Enlightenment. But he does so in a way that rescues science from the quagmire of “Relativism,” or radical multicultural contextualization. Polanyi maintains that though empirical data may suggest what a theory should be, it cannot be from the perspective that all scientific theories are mere “social structures.” Scientific concepts and theories are not purely subjective entities in the human mind (see my papers, “The Counter Culture Meets The Neurological Revolution: The Demise of The Person in Post Modernism;” “The Problem of Demarcation: Comparison of Kant and Popper”) They derive from and disclose the actual rational structure of the real world; they are formed under the impact which the world makes upon our minds as we humbly seek to understand it and reflect its rationality. It leads to Polanyi’s conception of scientific objectivity as recognizing that “. . .discovery of objective truth consists in the apprehension of a rationality which commands our respect and arouses our contemplative admiration; that such discovery while using the experience of our senses as clues transcends our experience by embracing the vision of a reality beyond the impression of our senses, a vision which speaks for itself in guiding us to an ever deeper understanding of reality.” (M. Polanyi, Scientific Thought and Social Reality (Oxford University Press, 1977, p. 101); see also his Knowledge Dimension (NY: Doubleday, 1966) ,- and his Science. Faith and Society (Chicago, 1961) .
Polanyi is surely expressing the Augustinian dictum—credo ut intelligan. There is no knowledge without trusting and trusting is the way to knowledge. From childhood to manhood he must trust before he can understand. Polanyi accepts that science is a means activity and a valid system of thought. “He who would learn must recognize as authoritative the act which he wishes to learn and those of whom he would learn it.” (Polanyi, Science. Faith and Society, p. 15) .
The question of success and failure may not be settled for a long time. Einstein’s theories were accepted after much debate on the basis of their intrinsic beauty and comprehensiveness, but it was only long afterward that there was any experimental demonstration of their truth. The Tacit Dimension in human knowledge is an important aspect of Polanyi’s epistemology. This is why Polanyi uses the term ‘personal knowledge;’ only a person can relate subsidiaries to a focus and sustain such in integration. The error of rationalism and empiricism and its positivistic consequences, has been that they tried to replace such personal participation in the act of understanding by some explicit systematic procedure. All scientific awareness is dealing with an act of Integration and not Deduction. We cannot give an explicit explanation of an act of tacit integration. So there is no foundational justification for science nor any strict proof of any part of science.
Every working scientist indwells his(her) scientific tradition as a whole, as well as the reigning paradigm in his or her field of inquiry. Without such a commitment to the paradigmatic tradition science would collapse. While at anytime some part of the paradigm/narrative may be under scrutiny, but then scrutiny is possible only if the tradition as a whole is accepted totally. Polanyi gives examples of many theories which were rejected because they fall outside the accepted paradigm (eg. Cross Cultural Communication of the Gospel is precisely the problem, syncretistic tolerance of “all interpretive sciences is not found in post modern multiculturalism.
Every maverick idea must be protected by the receiving paradigm, since science could not develop. At the same time, if the paradigm did not make room for questioning and radical innovation science would stagnate. Innovations can be evaluated within a receiving paradigm, but the innovation cannot merely be syncretistically assimilated into the “receiving paradigm.” (eg. recovering Kierkegaard and/or medieval philosophy as a solution to our post modern chaos). The diffused authority of The Republic of Science rests on the fact that each member of the community is informed by one and the same tradition, that each acknowledge the same set of masters and the authority of the ideas of standards tacitly handed down from each generation (Polanyi, Science. Faith and Society, p. 52).
Polanyi himself saw an analogy between theological and scientific research, but it left to theologians such as Thomas Torrance and Leslie Newbigen to draw out the full explication of his epistemology for Christian theology and the missionary mandate of the Church to make disciples of all the ethnics (Matt. 28”. . . having gone, make witnessing learners of all the ethnics” as we move into the 21st century).
Both science and discipleship learn through submission to a received tradition paradigm. legitimatization structure or narrative. Unlike science it involves us in question about ultimate meaning and purpose of things and of human life—questions which science excludes as a matter of methodology. As Newbigen declares: “The models, concepts and paradigms through which the Christian tradition seeks to understand the world embrace these larger questions. They have the same presupposition about the rationality of the cosmos as the natural sciences do, but it is a more comprehensive, rationality based on the faith that the author and sustainer of the cosmos has personally revealed its purpose.” (L. Newbigen, The Gospel and Pluralistic Society (Eerdmans, 1989), p. 50) .
Idolatry carries its own backlash. The worship of any idol provokes the emergence of its counter-idol in the course of time. Clearly Christians do not need to worship in the temple of the idols of objectivism or subjectivism, reason and cultural autonomy and tradition which have been high priests in the temple of the be devilled post Enlightenment syndrome. Self validating known impersonally and indisputably are the process of neither science of theology. This does not imply that there is no structured, intelligible reality outside our own conceptions and belief, nor that we must give up truth as the icon of theoretical inquiry, nor even that we can never come to know truth. Rather, it is to acknowledge a created rationality appropriate to our situation in fallible, fallen human knowers.
Polanyi’s description of how science works is a far cry from the mythology of science expressed by many non scientific philosophers and post modern theologians. For instance, Dan Cupitt, an outspoken self-styled “radical theologian,” contrasts what he labels “traditional dogmatic thinking” with supposedly “critical thinking” of science!! He declares, “As we see most clearly in the case of scientific method, critical thinking uses methodological doubt as a way to truth. . . . Open, sceptical and puritanical it is (or should be) systematically dedicated to self criticism. It demythologizes, it detects and discards illusions with almost obsessive zeal. In terms of traditional dogmatic thinking such a temper of mind is subversive, destructive and nihilistic.! (Dan Cupitt, The Sea of Faith (BBC Pub., 1984) :253-3) .
“Christian faith is needed today to restore a tolerable balance between the two competitive tendencies in Western culture. This tendency to make claims to find an ultimate truth and a critical attitude that so undermines all claims to truth that we tend towards scepticism, relativism and nihilism.” (Leszek Kolabonski, Modernity and Endless Trial (University of Chicago Press, 1990), p. 43)
Let us hear again for the first time Paul’s insight into the biblical perspective. The darkening of human minds is ultimately rooted in the hardening of the human heart towards God and one’s fellow human beings (Romans l.lSff; Ephesians 4.17ff). Our alien minds (human reason) is restored to its proper functioning by divine revelation and redemption. While post modern relativism finds talk of sin distasteful, it shares with Enlightenment Modernism a naive belief in the human power to overcome evil. Post Modern prophets reconstruct our “world” through the endless free play of language the creation of new vocabularies. (No logocentric coherency is available in post modern speak—see Stephen Katz, “How to Speak and Write Postmodern” (posted to alt.humor.best-of-Usenet by Andrew C. Bulhak (June 20, 1995) Thus sin and evil are banished at one stroke. Christian witness in our postmodern rushing towards the 2lst century cannot remain at the epistemological level. It must address the perversity of the human mind, soul, body and will by articulating a comprehensive Christian world view (cf. which is not politically correct).
At the heart of Postmodern multiculturalism is the thesis of The Social Construction of Reality. From the 17th to the 20th century the running debate has been between nature (order) , history and language. Richard Hamilton has put us in his debt by his work, The Social Misconstruction of Reality: Validity and Verification in the Scholarly Community. (Yale University Press). The work brilliantly critiques Michael Foucault’s Discipline and Punishment. To accomplish this widespread control, he adopted Jeremy Bentham’s panoptical design for the prison, which permits guards to watch even solitary prisoners in every cell at all times. Such controls were extended throughout the social body to create a disciplinary society of domination. The factual basis of Foucault’s thesis is more than dubious. His method was a freewheeling interpretation of selected texts and he made little effort to situate the texts in context.
Just as Weber’s thesis was revered, so was Foucault’s thesis made fashionable in the academy. The reverers also failed to notice the transparently paranoid nature of Foucault’s attribution of imaginary evils to unspecified malevolent forces. Just as Weber’s thesis ignored the historical facts, so Foucault ignores available corrective data. Foucault was also a sociopath who sought the limits of experience in drug use and in the sadomasochistic depths of San Francisco’s gay bathhouses. He died of AIDS in 1984. Hamilton brilliantly traces how “error” can be perpetuated by academia.
In the context of the Kuhn, Popper and Polanyi debate a very imporant Christian contribution is made by John Polkinghorne, a Fellow of The Royal Society and former Cambridge professor of Mathematical Physics is president of Queens College, Cambridge. He was ordained an Episcopalian priest in 1982. “Faith seeking understanding” is, according to Polkinghorne, like the scientific questions. Both are journeys of intellectual discovery in which those who survey experience from an initially chosen point of view must be open to correction in light of further evidence. “ Religion has long known that ultimately every human image of God proves to be an inadequate idol.” His Faith of a Physicist is based on the prestigious 1993 Gifford Lectures, delivers a powerful message to scientists and theologians, theists and atheists alike.
Polkinghorn claims that only the Incarnation can save us from Idols. The Jesus as described in the Gospels provides the way motivation from Christian belief is conveyed, eg. how do these writings explain why a young man killed in public disgrace could inspire a following when other major world religious leaders lived to become highly revered elders in their communities? Jesus is the only expected man in history! Four persons have aspired to control the known world—Caesar, Alexander, Napolean, Hitler. Only Jesus survives to rule the world through God’ s sovereignty! Via the resurrection, Jesus calls us to disciple the Ethnics (II Cor. 10.4) The Gospel is a world view to engage every dimension of reality, “To Bring Every Thought Captive!” He is before all things and in him all things hold together.” (Colossians 1.17)
It is crucial to keep in mind that each of the classic efforts to articulate the (1) Unity of Teleological System, (2) Unity of Method and (3) The Unity of Language are totally rejected by postmodern anti-science and its “multicultural voices.” (See esp. Chaos: The New Science, ed. John Holte Nobel Conference, xxvi, (University Press of America, Gustavus Adolphus College, St. Peter, MN, 1993; and George L. Trigg, Landmark Experment in 20th Century Physics (NY: Crane Russell and Co., Inc., 1978).
Megatruth for The Age of Information
I. Our Dilemmas in the Age of Information
A. Information Overload
B. Information Mush
C. Informations Pollution
II. Our Tasks for Teaching and Learning
III. Our Framework for a World View
A. Interpretation of meaning of history
B. Universal Standard of morality
C. Exciting Vision of the future
IV. Our Promise—“When He, the Spirit of Truth is come, He
A. Will lead you into all truth
B. Will convict the world of sin, righteousness, judgement
C. Wll show you things to come
V. Our Goal for Mega Truth—the Christian World View
A. All history is interpreted by the provision of Jesus
B. All humanity is judged by the person of Jesus Christ
C. All hope is foreseen in the promise of Jesus Christ
At midnight, December 31, 1999, we enterefche twenty-first century. Our Y2K anxiety intensifies our search for meaning, peace, and prosperity. In our Postmodern multicultural maze where there are still wars and rumors of war, John’s four horsemen seem to be so prevalent. We will continue to search for meaning and community into the new millennium! This is only the beginning. We are not on a long day’s journey into night, and neither science/technology/media/education will be our savior. Only the Lord of the Universe shall prevail! We must “Bring every thought captive” to the Lordship of Christ.
P. Feyerbend, Philosophical Papers. Vol. II, Problems of Empiricism (Cambridge University
Press, 1981), p. 31., Science in A Free Society (London: New Left Press,1978). p. 70.
T.S. Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolution (University of Chicago Press, 2nd ed. enlarged, 1970) ., “Reflections On My Critics,” in I, Lakatos and A.Musgrave (eds.) Criticism of The Growth of Knowledge (Cambridge University Press, 1970) p. 260.
I. Lakatos and A. Musgrave, eds., Criticism and Growth of Knowledge (Cambridge Press, 1970)
Second Thoughts on Paradigms in The Essential Tension (Chicago University Press,
M. Polanyi, Scientific and Social Reality (Oxford University Press, 1977) p. 101., The Tacit Dimension (NY: Doubleday and Co., 1966), Science. Faith and Society (Chicago UniversityPress, 1964) .
K. Popper, The Logic of Scientific Discovery (London: Hutchinson, 1959).
Strauss, James, “Thomas Kuhn’s Concept of Paradigm” and “The Thomas Kuhn/Popper Debate.”
Dr. James D. Strauss Lincoln Christian Seminary Lincoln, IL 62656