RADICAL REVISIONISM—ENEMIES OF SCIENCE

 

In our revisionist culture we would expect that the History of Science would also be rewritten, so it is in our postmodern culture. Kantian perspectivalism invades the postmodern Academic Left.

 

"The point is that neither logic nor mathematics escape the contamination of the social." [Stanley Aronowitz, Science as Power; Discourse and Ideology in Modern Society (University of Minnesota Press, 1988)].

 

From the horrors of the Thirty Years War, late 17th century Europe produced a generation of intellectual giants whose collective accomplishment was to set in motion an epistemological enterprise that has continued to flourish over the past 300 years, an effort that accelerates and expands continually in its scope, precision, and reliability.  The scientific revolution instituted by Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler, Newton, Halley, Harvey, Boyle, Leibniz and many others, is to be found, not in these particular discoveries about the world, but rather in the creation, almost in passing, of a methodology and a worldview capable of expanding, modifying and generalizing these discoveries indefinitely (e.g. the Paradigmatic Revolution). This new method set aside centuries of metaphysical assumptions. This development would have been incomprehensible had it stood apart from a vision of transcendent divine order on The Christian model.

 

We who dwell in the land of postmodern, multicultural pluralism will forever be in debt to the magisterial work of Gross and Levitt who explore the origins and history of the trends and examine examples of "science bashing" from an array of currently fashionable fads—postmodernism, feminism, radical environmentalist!! and AIDS activism. These prophets of anti scientism find their origins not only in modern discontents but also in a long tradition of Romantic unhappiness with Rationalism (a la Romanticism, Mysticism, Existentialism, Phenomenology, Gnostic New Age Pantheism, etc.). All of these postmodern fads question how far the university community should go in validating non-scientific judgments of science. Perhaps the long term consequences of these trends for science education and for pubic judgment of scientific issues may be infinitely more serious than the "politically correctness" wars currently being waged on university campuses. That Newton, say, or Leibniz sought in all sincerity to affirm some version of this divine order through his scientific work is almost beside the point. The implicit logic of their work turned out to be of immensely greater importance than the explicit pious intentions of those who achieved it.

 

NEWTONIAN WORLD MACHINE

 

The dynamic of 18th century science could not be contained within the context of any theological system.  The failure of the Church to effectively respond to the scientific revolution was its inherited Aristotlean worldview as an interpretive model. Though Aquinas, et al did effectively respond to Aristotle's worldview the open-endedness was the life's blood of the scientific revolution.  Newton said that an "ocean of truth" lies in undiscovered before us.  Unless we are unlucky, this will always be the case. Advancements in this open-endedness takes place because of paradigm replacement. Each new scientific discovery reveals further complexity of the universe. Does the scientific method empower the mind to "decode complexity" or create complexity? Are we locked up in Kant's constitutive activity of the "transcendental ego"? From Kant's First Critique forward our culture unpacks all forms of "radical contextualization" to our postmodern multicultural pluralism. Science was to be freed of both its religious and political systems within which it arose. Scientific development is interlinked with the birth of its prestige as uniquely reliable and accurate way of describing the phenomenal world. Consequently, philosophers and political thinkers of all shades of opinion attempted eagerly to conscript the prestige on behalf of their own favored ideas. As the view of autonomous methodology increased its control over reality, God was removed from the interpretive arena (see my paper, "The Trivialization/Marginalization of God"). Newton, along with his contemporary Locke, is often thought of as the tutelage figure of the Glorious Revolution and the gentlemanly class, devoted equally to the pursuit of mercantile wealth and to an Anglican faith forever irreconcilable with Catholicism. All this development occurred in spite of Newton's heterodox Protestantism.

 

A faction within the Established Church came to be called "Newtonian" for his genius revealed the eternal regularity of God's law in celestial mechanics, so too did the Church of England and the social system reveal the intention of God for the rightful ordering of human social structure. An entirely different set of speculation concerning the relationship of Newtonian celestial mechanics and the human political order - emerged throughout Western Europe. This phenomenon was expressed in the growth of Freemasonry as a sort of philosophical "shadow government," by the attempts of the Encyclopedics to systematize and codify the final range of human knowledge, by the development of political economy as a fruitful intellectual enterprise (see Peter Gay, The Party of Humanity (NY: W. W. Norton, 1971). Newtonianism became the paradigm for probing beneath surface appearances, to rectify vulgar prejudices, and to exile habits of thought more ancient than accurate. The successes in physics inspired emulation to analyze societies' structures in order to understand the dynamics of history, politics, and economic activity. If the few axioms set forth in the Principle could yield accounts of the orbits of planets and comets, of the ocean tides, why could not equal intellectual rigor reliably systematize the study of human affairs?

 

THE SELF- DEFEATING UTOPIANISM OF THE FRENCH REVOLUTION

 

These autonomous attitudes reached their full consequences in the self defeating Utopianism of The French Revolution. Adam Smith's economics and the abiding wisdom of the American Constitution will continue to triumph amidst the scores of false starts and blind alleys. The underlying strategy that guides the intellectual enterprises of Smith, Diderot, Locke, Gibbon, Herder, Hume and Jefferson is unlikely to disappear in the foreseeable future, in spite of the postmodern revolt against describable, discoverable first principles.  This emphasis accords well with the epistemological model already in place by the physical sciences. Diverse data calls forth efforts to systematically interpret the experiences. When the interpretative paradigm cannot rationally account for the data, either the data must be denied or a new hermeneutical paradigm is required. This procedure rings true for the biblical students as well as scientific investigators. The entire history of theology, philosophy, mathematics, physics, astronomy, botany, chemistry is identifiable by new data challenging the received interpretative paradigm—growth by paradigm displacement!!  (eg. evolutionary, incremental or paradigmatic revolution of legitimatized structure)

 

Another aspect of the Enlightenment is social thought. The history of ideas reveals a common determination to regard the social position of individuals as resulting neither from the decrees of God (the providence of God) nor from the processes of an optional social mechanism. Rank, wealth, and power are seen as contingent facts, rather than as the emblem of an innate or achieved social perfection. None of the great voices cry along with Pope or Handel "Whatever Is, Is Right." Rather all the prescriptions abound for the reconstruction of the social organism to bring it into alignment with the dictates of reason and nature.  (What are these? How does the mind have access to them? Are they real or are they intellectual projections?) This crucial assumption was/is that both reason and nature are autonomous. All the malfunctions of the existing order are almost always located in the undeniable maldistribution of wealth, power and prestige that is found everywhere. An implicit egalitarianism suffuses thinking throughout all periods of history. This phenomenon ranges from Smith's entrepreneurial innovation to Rousseau's celebration of the General Will. The key issue is that any system claiming to be based on natural justice must accommodate the concept that at all levels all individuals are to be equally empowered by the fundamental political process of the state. Such ideas are ancestral to the apologies for free market capitalism as well as the garrison state societies of North Korea or Vietnam.

 

SCIENTIFIC METHODOLOGY AND SCIENTIFIC POLITICS

 

By the time of the French Revolution certain ideas had become pregnant in European and North American political philosophy, Rigor and Scientific empiricism were emulated in the analytic strategies of political thought and was for the most part linked to all emancipatory projects against all existing social systems. It is crucial to remember that such a project did not arise in another social context, eg. T'ang Dynasty of China or under the Pax Romana. But as a matter of fact, the association of Enlightenment ideas in the realm of politics with the eras celebration - indeed, near deification of science was a historical fact. All other cultural worldviews were/are pantheistic, only the Judaeo/Christian West provided the intellectual scheme for the origin and development of science. This is, of course, politically incorrect in our postmodern pluralism by only postmodern historians revision of history!!

 

ROMANTICISM'S REVOLT AGAINST SCIENCE

 

There is a full measure of skepticism concerning Utopian systems and schemes for universal reform. Even during the headiest moments of Republicanism, Burke had exposed the weakness of abstract philosophizing as a guide to attaining social perfection. Burke was only one prophet to expose strong doubts about the deification of the autonomous rational man. The great figures of Romantic individualism included Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge, and above all, Goethe. In fact, it was in literature and poetry that we first encounter a reaction against Enlightenment values that reveal distrust of science, as well as a strong reluctance to believe that mankind can be reformed along "scientific lines." The Romantic poets are strongly linked in commonality of thought, one in their attitude toward epistemological questions and, quite explicitly, toward the authority of science. All distrust the narrowly empirical and strictly rational. Each celebrates the vital importance of the institution, the irreproducible moment of insight and direct access to truth in its unmediated essence.

 

Romantic intuition was especially hostile to schematic mathematized form. Beneath these divergent visions we find an underlying distrust of straightforward, impersonal reasoning (e.g. Goedel's attack on Mathematical intuition). Mathematical advancements falsified the intuitionist epistemology.  The systematic truth of science is totally rejected by the intuitionism of the Romantics.    Romantic exaltation of intuition, which is understanding above merely cerebral "Reason", foreshadows the celebration of "holism" and "organicism" by postmodern critics of science (and New Age resurgent Gnostic Pantheism). Whatever the impact of Romanticism on poetry and sensibility had no effect on the scientific worldview and virtually no effect on the development of science itself (eg. Capra, et al New Age Pantheism in much Chaos Physics).

 

19TH CENTUM SCIENCE AS A PROFESSION

 

The 19th century turned science into a profession. Its status as the preserver of gentlemen amateurs and isolated virtuosi dependent on aristocratic patronage receded into history.    Universities, especially in France and Germany, took on the role of preparing research scientists. At the same time science took on the concern to direct technology, an innovation which produced growth in institutions and commerce and the rapidly expanding scope of the engineering profession.    All the developments tied ever more firmly to a rigorous scientific foundation.    The first systematic attempts to derive an adequate mathematical theory of electricity and magnetism found formation in the words of Gaius and Anpere. Through their developments the first telegraph networks, city power, etc., rapidly grew.

 

TECHNOLOGIES' CONTRIBUTION TO UTOPIA

 

The scientific/technological developments entirely altered Western culture's material underpinnings.    Millenarian hopes for the reconstruction of the social order along "scientific lines" hardly disappeared with the collapse of revolutionary Idealism in France and the subsequent catastrophe of the Napoleonic Wars. "Social engineering continued in the schemes of the utilitarians of Robert Owen (1771-1858) and Charles Fourier (1722-1837) of the New England transcendentalists, and of August Comte  (Lev Loubere, Utopian Socialism! Alexander Campbell's Debate with Robert Owen, and my paper,  "Social Darwinian in American Culture").

 

MARXIAN MATERIALISTIC SCIENTIFIC UTOPIA

 

These movements demonstrate that rough equation of a more "scientific" social order with a more egalitarian one and the opposition between a view of the world informed by science and one occluded by stagnant tradition. This procedure takes special form in the curious intellectual trajectory of Karl Marx.

 

MARX ON SCIENCE'S PLACE IN CREATING SOCIAL UTOPIA

 

Karl Marx, an epochal thinker, who eagerly admired science in the abstract, envied the inevitability of its logic, conscripted its prestige for his own polemic purposes and still managed in the end to misunderstand It thoroughly. The social consequences of the 19th century cannot avoid the consequence and power of this idea of Progress and the role in cultural optimism which held sway during the period. The anti scientific scientist always asks,   (1)  Progress for whom?  (2)  In What direction? and   (3) What expense to which class?   The development of the factories, mills and plantations are hardly an outrage to democratic sentiments.  On the other hand, the industrialists' property was the mill-worker's hell.  The technology that minted wealth for its owners forged chains for its servants. The superiority of the technologized economic superstructure of Europe and the USA exacted a terrible tribute from millions of Chinese, Indians, Latin Americans,  Filipinoes  and African Americans, who had no reason to praise the scientific virtuosity that showered them with shells and bullets.  There is an inescapable,  imperfect alignment between the scientific outlook and the great emancipatory sentiments  - abolitionism,  women's rights,   social reform,  socialism itself that drove the most idealistic souls of the era.

 

DARWINIAN INFLUENCE IN THE SEARCH FOR UTOPIA

 

The scientific modern sustained the most ferociously anti egalitarian ideas - racist eugenics, social Darwinism, et. al. But we must not impugn science as the tool of the most embittered reactionaries.  These forces, represented by Magistra and Pius  IX,   the pope who denounced socialism, modernism,  and the scientific outlook in a single breath,  were  convinced that their quarrel with science was a struggle to the death. Martin Heidegger was  their recent  offspring.  To the extent  that the  liberator and democratic ideals that roiled the  19th century and persist in our postmodern culture with amplified  force,   face the resistance of all forms of dogmatic religions,  egs.  Islam and Judaeo-Christianity.    Science might be their strongest and least dispensable ally.

 

DISILLUSION AND ILLUSION

 

The great tendency  to link political obscurity, superstition and the weight of religious and social dogma, is an illusion. Scientific achievements have occurred within Western culture. The dissecting blade of scientific skepticism must survive only if scientific theories meet twin tests of  (1) Internal Logical Consistency and  (2)  Empirical Verification. These twin criteria have been invaluable weapons against intellectual authoritarianism, not  least those that sustain social systems based on exploration,  domination and absolutism.

 

Timothy Ferris  is  appropriately skeptical of a popular,  recent anti scientific polemic. "The scientific community today,   for all its  faults, remains generally open and unsecretive,  international and egalitarian. It is no accident that scientists are to be found at the forefront among those who call for global ecological responsibility,  racial and- sexual equality, better education,  the end of hunger,  a fair break for indigenous peoples and other enlightened values." (T.  Ferris,  "The Case Against Science”: refers to Brian Appleyard's frankly  reactionary undertaking,  The Present: Science and The Soul of Modern Man (London;  Picador,   1992) Both the scientific worldview and classical egalitarian social critics is under severe postmodern criticism.  The Zeitgeist of postmodern culture is no form data of social reform.  Self conscious  left wing political intellectuals and those who embrace their conclusions  only contribute to our present cultural  chaos.

Both American and Western Europe left wing intellectuals reveal pugnacity toward science.    Some of its basic ideas are now common currency on American campuses: (1) the strong program in the Sociology of Science associated with the Edinburgh School,  (2) the compendium of "postmodern" attitudes transcribed from Derrida,  Foucault, Lyotard, Baudrillard,  et. al. Each of these imported gurus expose the anti scientism of the American Academic Left.  Each of these influential gnostic prophets are opposed to any "received wisdom and settled ideas." For many left wing thinkers,  a radical skeptical attitude toward the scientific enterprise is a means of facing their Western intellectual bridges,  i.e.,  disavowing one's connection to a spectrum of liberal Enlightenment values,  morals as well as epistemological. The orthodoxies of Liberal Humanism seemed to have curdled any intellectual achievements that symbolize the value of Liberal Humanist attitudes are ready for dismissal. The defiant bravado that marks the various critiques of science is an index of the pained confusion of the left in the face of a world that seems impervious to its insights.

 

For many left wing intellectuals, social justice and economic equity seem ever more elusive as practical possibilities. American society and global capitalism of which the USA is still the epicenter, go their merry way without taking much notice of left wing thought. However, left wing thought controls Outcomes Based Education (Goals 2000, Scans, etc.) and Media, the two most powerful shaping forces in our postmodern multicultural pluralistic culture. Left wing intellectuals march in Washington to get legislation passed so that their gnostic ideas become laws which control the untutored masses. One thing the postmodern gnostics have learned is that cultural change does not come from converting individuals to their monistic pantheism but by reordering the social structure from the top down!

 

The problem of race in this USA seems to be more intractable than ever. The changing demography of the American population seems to promise not an amiable and beneficent polyculturalism, but rather an increasing venomous tribalism and nativism.  The American "Melting Pot" no longer positively functions in our American minded culture. Feminists see themselves as driven into a defensive circle and the agitation for equitable treatment of homosexuals seen often to be answered by paranoia and violence. The hope, which was never quite absent from the heart of even the most disillusioned leftist, that "actually existing socialism" in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe might finally be able to escape the horrors of its' Stalinist past and take on the task of building a worthy alternative to capitalism, is dead. The Death of Communism as an alternative to capitalism presents us with another Grave Diggers File (see my paper, "Death of the Grave Diggers").

 

There is a resurgence of political liberalism in our present government, but even so, it will be, at best, a pallid and compromised liberalism, unlikely to accommodate very much in the way of redemptive social design. Postmodern liberalism is a political tendency to leave things pretty much alone, except that they are to be funded whenever possible, and monitored by agents of a wise and beneficent government. This scenario is precisely our present condition in Washington, DC. Besides our present social chaos the American left is fragmented.  The classical oral language of the Left, deriving as it does from Enlightenment Humanism, seems to have lost its power to exhort and unite. I propose this to be the case because God has been trivialized and marginalized from the decision making process of moral economy.  Pagan Enlightenment Humanism is no source for moral integrity, so essential for producing a humane social structure by scientific educational ingenuity.

 

We ought not to wonder, then, that so many academic leftists, finding themselves in a dispiriting corner, are in a sullen mood, it seems that its immediate solace comes from devising reasons for discontinuing the two most powerful accomplishments of our fallen culture—Judaeo-Christianity and Science. The history of Western artistic and intellectual achievement no longer provide our inspiration. On the contrary, it taunts and irritates. Our despised culture has become the target of contempt and disparagement. The entire mind-set is a defiant relativism!! New candidates for veneration —writers, artists, musicians, philosophers, historical figures, non Western "way of knowing" are put forward not for what they are but for what they are not.  (White, European Male).

 

All resentment of science is not expressed by intellectual leftists. Resentment is not a trustworthy ally in an intellectual endeavor. Resentment has betrayed left wing intellectuals into futility. Personal or social Narcissism is the result of postmodern leftist's intellectualism. Generation X is a generation shaped by postmodern leftist intellectuals.

 

AMERICAN DEVELOPMENT OF RADICAL RELATIVISM

 

Socialist radicalism in the USA derives, in the main, from the labor struggling the second half of the 19th century, in such industries as steel, textiles, mining, and railroading, and from the efforts of poor farmers to fill themselves from the dead hand of bankers and middle men.  (Philip S. Foner, History of The Labor Movement in the United States, esp. vols 3-4 (NY: International Pub. Communist Press, 1973, 1974). The emergence of explicitly socialist parties in the 1880's and 1890's was facilitated by the accessing of immigrants already steeped in radical European traditions.  The Socialist part of the early 1900's was the main vehicle for the dissemination of radical ideas. This influence waned after the failure of anti plutocratic populism championed by Williams Jennings Bryan.  The proliferation of anarchist organizations intensified the radical platform. The Abolitionist and Suffragist struggles were expressions of indigenous radicalism. Many conservative movements had little to do with the discontent of exploited urban workers or impoverished Mid-western farmers. The popular appeal of American socialism is usually considered to have peaked in 1912, with the most successful of Eugene Deb's presidential campaigns. The coming of World War I proved to be disastrous to the America Socialist party. It was widely held that the WWI bloodbath was caused by a quarrel among capitalists. The war cost the dismemberment of the working man. Into this moral mayhem came resurgent foreign-born population (for exhaustive history of the American Communist Party during the depression see Harvey Klehr, The Heyday of American Communism (NY: Basic Books, 1974; and Vivian Gorwick, The Romance of American Communism (NY: Basic Books, 1974). Equally fateful was the October Revolution in the one-time Russian Empire. The event inspired American radicals to believe the possibility of a bright socialist future. The ensuing events caused a split between the Socialist and Communist parties (for critique of Hitler-Stalin pact of the 1950's see William L. O'Neill, A Better World (NY: Simon and Schuster, 1982).

 

The American Communist party became little more than a satellite of the Stalinist regime. The ultimate consequences of the Stalinist nightmare destroyed all genuine revolutionary idealism that remained. The fall of the Russian Communist control ended that era. In our postmodern culture we live in an era still in search of socialist Utopia.

 

The "great depression" was a watershed in the development of American socialism. Actually, the Soviet union was the most reliable bulwark against Mussolini, Hitler and Franco. The Moscow purge trials and the Hitler-Stalin Pact disabused many party sympathizers, especially among the intelligentsia. The rise of Trotskyism provided means for defying the party while remaining loyal to the revolutionary mind of Marx and Lenin (see esp. O'Neill's A Better World).  The demands of World War II fused the ideological division between the government of Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt. The ink was hardly dry on the surrender documents of the Axis powers until the "cold war" had broken out.  We entered over a decade of nuclear tensions.  We had entered the Brave New World of potential technological annihilation of the civilized world. This cultural milieu caused the fusion of many competing leftist socialist groups. The CTA (the counterpart of the KGB) came into existence because of the enormous influence of Stalinism in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.  The McCarthyism era was preoccupied by-with hunting Ex-Communists were not allowed to distance themselves from the party with dignity and honor (see esp. Victor S. Navasky, Naming Names (NY: Viking Press, 1980).

 

As we enter the era of the youth counter culture, especially in large University campuses, the Students for Democratic Action, whose trajectory was cautious reformism not full blown Maoism, became identified with the Counter Culture, i.e., roots of youth culture and Generation X. During the decades of youth revolt we expressed the sex, drug, resurgent non-Christian religions, New Age (Gnostic resurgence) pantheism and revolutions. Our culture (American Dream, Melting Pot) was in radical turmoil. The student protest at the 1968 Democratic Convention together with its repression by clubs and tear gas seemed to them to be an event of profound historical significance. The same type of events resonated during 1968 in France. These revolutionary influences intensified in Germany, Japan and the China cultural revolution. These events were not authentic democratic revolts against the establishment. The counter culture was at its height with its twin promises of political and cultural liberation (see my paper "Counter Culture and Youth Culture to Generation X"). An infectious euphoria gripped the most committed university radicals. Their dream almost became incarnate as authentic social possibilities. In less than a decade these dreams were dead.

 

The "mass left" is disappearing especially in the venue of higher education. The winding down of the Vietnam War relieved millions of young people of being drafted. The counter culture was a de facto supporter of the anti war movement (see my educational analysis "Outcome Based Education: Fact, Fad or Failure").  The failure of the Civil Rights Movement to meet unrealistic hopes of an immediate abolition of racism and its economic consequences led to an increasingly emphatic black militancy. Many white students replaced fear with visions of brotherhood.  The feminist movement embarked on its own separatist path, blessed by its special concerns and its own brand of hermetic theory. The demise of revolutionary influence intensified as the events of China, Cuba, Cambodia and Vietnam themselves revealed painfully the moral shortcomings. More bluntly, the moral crises of the Third World revolutions. This moral condemnation took place in the maze of life boat ethics, situational ethics and all species of moral relativism. American radicalism became an ideological orphan.

The dream of a unified militant left belonged more in the realm of wistful thinking. Each of these leftist outbursts reduced to new forms of tribalistic fanaticism and demography!  All forms of leftist renewal efforts faded to produce one single constructive strategy for choice. Vision without strategy is futile!

 

Another assumption of the rhetoric of the 1960's was built on the sands that liberation for the oppressed can only be won when the oppressed group act as an autonomous agent of its own revolutionary process. The emphasis on "special competence" is present in all forms of educational reference (e.g.s: schools to recognize black language (Ebonics) and Proposition 209 (Affirmative Action) - student revolt at Berkeley; the state shall not discriminate against or grant preferential treatment to any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education or public contracting.) Only blacks could define the terms of black liberation. All ideas and decisions had to come from the black revolutionaries themselves. This same assumption was intended to other peoples "in struggles," - Native Americans, Chicanes, African Americans, Homosexuals, Lesbians - all groups "in struggle" for their civil rights. 

 

Another crucial assumption in this postmodern left wing debate is the any traditionally "privileged" has no right to define reality for others. The very state of being oppressed is somehow supposed to confirm a greater clarity of vision, a more authentic view of the world, than the bourgeois trappings of economic, racial, and sexual hegemony. These left wing presuppositions are extended by a lingering distrust of science and technology. The oppressed have often not participated in one radical scientific and technological advancements. The real rift is not between the Enlightenment tradition and science and postmodern radical left!!  All particular amalgam of ignorance and hostility that glides beneath the surface of virtually all the "critiques" of science that leftist theorizing has brought forth has failed to understand the nature of the scientific enterprise regardless of cultural or ethnic context.  None of the leftist critiques of science respond to the very nature and power of the scientific enterprise.

 

The academic left refers to a stratum of the residual intelligentsia surviving the recession of its domestic base, a stratum that must now content itself with inward meditations and hopes for an eventual revival of mass participation in leftist politics. The current hospitality of leftist intelligentsia in the academy is at an all time high. Prestige-laden departments in the humanities and the social sciences are thickly populated by "radical thinkers." These postmodern radicals are clearly neo gnostics. The academic "silent majority" who distance themselves from exotic ideological formulations and social theories still maintain that new intellectuals deserve to be nurtured and encouraged. Therefore this ultimate conflict between worldviews and their ensuing epistemologies go unchallenged in the name of "tolerance" in our multicultural pluralism.

 

This situation does not call for a return to the good old days when the devotional poetry of John Donne and T.S. Eliot was solemnly celebrated in English departments everywhere, when acceptance of America's responsibilities as leaders of the free world was an article of faith in all courses in political and social matters. When culture meant Bach, Shakespeare and Henry James and was completely disjoined from the iconography of pop musicians who wear their underwear on the outside, or compose charts in honor of killing white cops. All the troublesome agitations cannot be sent into outer darkness, taking their ideological, baggage with them. Our classrooms should see an end to the favoritism now so lavishly bestowed on left wing doctrine and its postmodern proponents. These influences have penetrated journalism, broadcast news as it is mechanically dispersed, of centrally produced materials on cable TV and television journalism is largely a matter of talking heads all doling out the same narrowly conceived accounts of the same spectrum of stories. The postmodern mode of discourse is as debased tradition of oral folk poetry. Even media debates are often between right of center Democratic non conservative and a neo fascist as spokesman for the other side. Often the discussion is superficial and inadequate (see esp. critique of the three networks, one newspaper and the public schools. All three institutions are hopelessly discredited outside of a few square miles—Washington, New York and Los Angeles—in a letter to New Republic. The media dismisses Patrick Buchanan, John Zmirk and Russ Limbaugh). The real debate between Liberal Leftists and conservatives are unavailable in the three networks (ABC, NBC, CBS), one newspaper (the New York Times) and Outcome Based Education. Honorable exceptions in mass media have insignificant ratings!  (see my paper, "Cross Cultural Communication: From Audibility to Visibility")

 

The ideological monoculture of the radical universities express doctrinal narrowness of black or feminist studies. These departments are no more objectionable than schools of business administration, quite a few military science departments and even athletic departments. Not even the vehement feminist voice has the power over students as that exercised by football or basketball coaches, that is, one aspiring to be a significant NFL or NBA farm team. The cryptic rituals of postmodernism 's cutting edge critical theorists have not entered the marketing or chemical engineering or premed departments. If not, why not? When expository writing courses are hyped in Foucault and Lyotard and a gaggle of post everything feminists, they will probably do minimal harm - hopefully!!

 

The battle continues over principled opposition to left wing teachers over issues concerning curricular content, speed codes, affirmative action and a plethora of "studies" departments. Constructive criticism must not impute dire political motivation to the critics.  The foundational issue is over the loss of transcendence in our postmodern epistemological stance (note the direction from mathematics to philosophy to theology, social studies and multicultural pluralism).  Any constructive criticism of critiques of science, its methods, assumptions, conclusions and social consequence, will require a great more preparation in understanding the developments in mathematics and science as normative to the demise of True Truth in these perimeters. Why at this cultural epoch do we have a plethora of "academic left" (the academic left are really postmodern-Marxist Left.) Neologism will not resolve this dispute. Concern for the demise of the significance of science is not a "witch hunt." Are there any "doctrinal singularities" to separate critical opponents and defenders of scientific power both to interpret and predict?

 

The academic left might be labeled "perspectivist". This procedure derives from Kant's First Critique. Kantian perspectivalism unfolds the entire 19th and 20th century "perspectivalism" of Sociology of Knowledge, Epistemological, Cultural Relativism (see my paper "Whatever Happened to True Truth? After Quine, Rorty, Berstine, et al"). Multicultural pluralism is built on foundationalessness perspectivalism!!!  It is the position that only when we understand scientific developments, Kant and Hume's critique and the ensuing "isms" in Western thought can we mitigate against alternative interpretative schemes!

 

The dethronement of Western modes of knowledge acquisition and justification of "Truth Claims" and their claims to "objectivity" is said to be justified on a number of grounds. The intellectual apparition of the post Enlightenment West, it is held, affords no special leverage for deciding among competing versions of the story of the world. The arbitrary "privilege of scientific ascendancy of Euro-American capitalism is dismissed as mere contingent circumstance. Science produces no firmer epistemological ground than the accounts produced by women, descendents of black slaves, third world revolutionaries, or even a reified and personalized nature (e.g. resurgent New Age Pantheism).

 

Throughout much of the multicultural perspectivism the Marxist notions of class consciousness dominates the debate. Feminists champion "women's ways of knowing," while Afro-centrists have their own version of the blood and social myth. Crucial in our arena of discussion is the assumption that the Western paradigm of knowing has been effectively demolished.  There is an abiding calabistic faith that excursions into theory will tease forth all the deepest truths of human experience. Common outside of academic left circles that the "critical theory" in which academic leftists take such delight is a swamp of jargon, name dropping, logic chopping and massive attempts to obliterate the obvious. The omnicompetence of theory runs particularly strong in these who claim to abhor "totalizing" theories. "Both Derrida and Foucault have, in different ways, actually stimulated a return to a form of scholasticism, to those abstract and totalizing methods of traditional Western humanism the new theory claimed to reject." (Vincent P. Pecora, "What Was Deconstruction?" Contentions, 1 no. 3, 1992, pp. 59-79)

 

An illustrative series of postmodern announcements recently appeared in Lingua Franca journal for au cuurant academic humanists that treat feminism, postmodernism, critical theory and the like with a piquant mixture of respect and irrelevance. The editors of Pedagogy and Culture Practice (University of Minnesota Press), the organizer of Theory Out of Bounds also University of Minnesota Press, announce "the series will deal with such essays as the executive constitution of the body, the politics of cultural appropriation, the social production of subjectivities, feminism and the philosophy of science and the foundation of communities outside of identity. Ideologies of Desire from Oxford University Press offer a new forum for cultural studies and declares: "These new approaches have also traced the inscription of sexual meaning in widely scattered fields of cultural production, while detecting the inscription of diverse cultural meanings in the practice and discourse of sex …The project ultimately has an oppositional design; its purpose is to map more precisely the available evenness of cultural resistance to contemporary institutional and discursive practices of sex (Lingua Franca, Sept-Oct. 1992, p. 21)

 

Finally, "Re-Reading The Canon" (Pennsylvania State University Press) merely asks, in somewhat less trendy language, for "feminist reinterpretation" of important philosophers - Plato, Aristotle, Locke and Wittgenstein, as well as academic leftist icons such as Mary de. Beauvior, Foucault and Derrida.

 

Clearly the Academic Left is a burgeoning industry within the scholarly community. The term "academic left" has been supplanted by "perspectivist left." But we must never forget that debate is not over affixing labels (cf. Definitional Fallacy). Perspectivism on the left is the true legacy of the activism of the 1960's and early 1970's, a time when it was assumed that the oppressed are endowed with a unique privileged insight, and that the intellectual, as well as moral authority of victims, is beyond challenge. But the over enthusiasm of the academic left consists preciously in its eagerness for and growing success in running things into the ground. Perspectivism contains useful insights in the paradigm displacements in science, egs. Near Eastern, Aristotlean, Newtonian, Einsteinian, theory displacement. There is a history of changing paradigms of the history of science as a social institution (see my paper "Kuhn's Theory of Paradigm", and "Changing Paradigms of The Scientific Enterprise"). When it comes to the core of scientific substance, however, and the deep methodological and epistemological question, above all the incredibly difficult ontological questions, that arise in scientific context, perspectivalism can make at best a trivial contribution.

 

The attempts to read scientific knowledge as the mere transcription of Western made capitalist social perspectives, or as the deformed handicapped of the prison house of language, are hopelessly naive and reductionistic. They take no account of the specific logic of sciences and they are far too coarse to deal with the conceptual texture of any category of important scientific thought (see my paper "Changing Mathematical Paradigms and Their Place in Science, Philosophy, Theology and Social Sciences, etc.").

 

The academic left's efforts to advance perspectivist accounts of science is a futile enterprise. The models of science "constructed by perspectivist theories is a lot like the wicker and mind mock-up of C47 built by Cargo Cultists. The internal logic of science is radically different from the perspectivist view. Like the cargo cultists, perspectivist scientists hope by their theoretical magic rituals, to gain control over the "real thing." Academic leftists' recent attempts to theorize "science and society" are instances of weaving philosophical phantoms into fantasies of universal redemption.

 

THE ANTI SCIENTIFIC DEBATE INTENSIFIES IN REVISIONISM

 

One of the dominant cultural norms of our postmodern culture is the anti science movement (see esp. C.P. Snow's classic work, The Two Cultures and The Scientific Revolution; Gerald Holton, Science and Anti Science, 1993; Paul R. Gross and Norman Levitt's, The Higher Superstition, 1996; and Carl Sagan's, The Demon Haunted World, "the Flight from Science and Reason" meeting held in New York City in 1995; and the Buffalo, New York assembly "Science in the Age of (Miss-Information" (June, 1996). The special target of some of the anti science syndrome is focused on The Museum of Creation and Earth History near San Diego, CA (Institute for Creation Research - ICR) (see esp. "Science Versus Anti Science " Scientific American, Jan. 1997, pp. 96-101; esp. the section "The Furor Over Feminism Science", pp. 99-100. They should have confronted Dr. Baumgartner, the world's leading "plate techtonics" scientist at the Los Alamos Research Center in Los Alamos, New Mexico. This debate centers on much miss-information concerning Thomas Kuhn's concept of paradigm and misunderstanding of Karl Popper's philosophy of science (see my paper on "Kuhn's Concept of Paradigm;" and "Popper's Philosophy of Science"). The term anti science has been affixed to a pluralism of diverse preoccupations from extermination of the remaining stock of smallpox virus to Republicans who advocated decreased funding for basic scientific research.  The heat of the intensifying conflict is exposed in "The X-Files", which promotes belief in pseudoscience and the occult. This same exposure is available in Capra's, Cosmos (see The Creation-Evolution controversy in Capra's Search for Cosmic Connection). The pseudo science appears in the science fiction movies of Indiana Jones and Star Wars. The paranormal invasion appeared much earlier than The X-Files and its particularly powerful voice has been heard since the publication of Joseph Campbell's, The Power of Myth, 1964. The enormity of this debate -will go unabated as we enter the 21st century and its influence appears in all forms of Revisionism in art, literature, history, religion, politics, education, media, hermeneutics, epistemology, etc.

 

Dr. James Strauss

Lincoln Christian Seminary

Lincoln, IL 62656-2111