TELEOLOGY AS SUBTLE POISON
Chauncey Wright held that teleology was a subtle poison and all of his criticism of Spencer’s philosophy and the nebular hypothesis center around the less obvious forms. For Wright, any evolution with ultimate progress or even directionality is a perversion of biological evolution--which he preferred to call simply descent with modification to evolutionism, and so inconsistent with the principle of counter movements, and the lack of discernable tendencies on the whole, which he thought was the draft of the logic of science, and consequently, also inconsistent with their cosmogonic views, to which he applied the apt metaphor “cosmical whether.”
Cosmogonic speculation about the production of systems of the world, Wright thought, belongs to the paleological category of science. (C. Wright, Philosophical Discussion, pp. 5-9); see also E.A. Madden, “Wright, James and Radical Empiricism,” in Journal of Philosophy, LI (1954): 868-874); and Gail Kennedy’s, “The Pragmatic Naturalism of Chauncey Wright,” Studies in The History of Ideas (NY: Columbia University Press, 1935, III 4 77-503)
The cosmogonist uses laws of physics, particularly the principles of gravity and thermodynamics, discovered in controlled situations, to explain the physical history of the systems of worlds where there has been an uncontrolled complex interpretation of the principles at work. The result of this causal complexity again is apparent irregularity. “The constitution of the solar system is not archetypal, as the ancients supposed, but the same corrupt mixture of law and apparent accident that the phenomena of the earth surface exhibit. . .” (Wright, ibid., p. 9). This irregularity, rather than regularity, Wright waged against Laplace, is the proper evidence that the solar system is a product of physical or natural causes and not he result of a creative fiat. Ordinary whether phenomena exhibits the same logical features of causal complexity and apparent irregularity, and the effort to explain the production of systems of worlds--all of which provided Wright with his metaphor “cosmical weather.”
Wright apparently thought that mechanical energy and heat energy are not only convertible, but reversible. However, he was not unaware of the second law of thermodynamics at least when he wrote “The Philosophy of Herbert Spencer” a year later (ibid., p. 9) In a section of this article, objection to his hypothesis is Thomson’s Theory that there is a universal tendency in nature to the dissipation of mechanical energy (ibid., p. 87).
Logic of Psychology
The basis of the discussion of Wright’s psychology is his essay, “The Evolution of Consciousness,” which has been characterized as having given a fresh impetus to empirical psychology in America (see esp. Herbert Schneider, A History of American Philosophy (NY: Columbia University Press, 1946), p. 348). In this essay, Wright considered the problem of whether “self-consciousness” has evolved from other mental powers or, as the theologians claim, is irreducible. He thought that self consciousness was a function of natural causes, emerging from the extension of such already existing mental powers as memory and attention, power common in different degrees both men and lower animals, but that it was discontinuous with these causes, that is, exhibited important male characteristics. He called this enterprise “psychozoology.”
Wright educed a number of philosophical implications from his account of the origin of self-consciousness. One is that the distinction of subject and object is a classification through observation and analysis and not, therefore, as the metaphysicians believe, an intuitive distinction. The metaphysicians’ doctrine that the distinction between subject and object is intuitive “implies that the cognitive is absolute; independent not only of the individuals experience, but of all possible previous experience, and this has a certain reality and cogency that no amount of experience could give to an empirical classification.” (Wright, Philosophical Discussions, p. 229)
Wright’s position is essentially a neutral monism and come to light very clearly in his criticism of natural realism and idealism. Natural realism “holds that both the subject and object are absolutely, immediately, and equally known through their essential attributes in perception.” (Ibid., p. 231) He claims that classification into subject and object is not independent of all experience. It is, in part at least, instinctive and probably naturally selected from our progenitors. If the natural realist does not make such a concession to empiricism and fallibleism but remains an absolute intuitionist, then he reaches the facts of illusion inexplicable.
Idealism unlike realism, Wright says, claims that the conscious subject is immediately known, and its phenomena are known intuitively to belong to it, whereas objects are known only mediately by their effects on us. He thought idealism confuses physiological or genetic subjectivity while phenomenal subjectivity about subjective phenomena, he writes, “Instead of being as the theories of idealism hold, first known as a phenomenon of the subject ego. . . its first unattributed condition would be, by our view, one of neutrality between two worlds.” (Ibid., p. 234)--in contrast, The Wundtians (Structuralists) for influence in Hermeneutics, see my study “Hermeneutics and Structuralism: Truth and Meaning”)
Wright’s concern with the problems of Evolution and his use of the notion of chance variations and natural selection are indicative of his Darwinian orientation. Wright’s following Darwin in the general areas of investigation is a greater significance. In his work in biology, Darwin observed that there are in organisms minute variations that result in different reactions, some of which meet the contingencies of the environmental conditions more adequately than others. He also found that reactions adequate to the environment’s persisted or were “naturally selected.” Darwin’s attention, then, was directed toward two general areas--the reactions of the organism and the environs that elicit the reactions; in our terms, two “variables” stimulus and “response” respectively. Wright uses naturally selected reaction, self-consciousness. “It must be stated that in talking about Darwin I have used “stimulus” to refer to the physical environments, but the terms as used throughout this section, as in the case of Wright, is not restricted to this meaning. It may refer to physical environment and for phenomenal experience. The stimulus, then, is characterized simply as that to which the organism is responding.” (Ibid) Wright’s stimulus response orientation is developed in his psychozoological principles the associationist (eg. J.S. Mill/Alexander Bain) and the Wundtians were engaged in building their psychologies in terms of a single variable, mental contents (Sensations) feelings, ideas, etc.. In contrast, the American psychologists who came after Wright, e.g. William James, James Mark Baldwin, James McKeen Cottell, and the Functionalists showed a stimulus response orientation (e.g. Pavlov and Skinner’s influence in Outcome Based Education, i.e., Multiculturalism of The National Association of Education creed) The Functionalists, however, as we shall see, differed from Wright in giving a teleological interpretation to the relation between the variables in order to avoid a dualistic metaphysics of psychology. Wright also avoided dualism but without characterizing the stimulus-response relationship teleologically. The tension between matter of lawfulness, matters of variables and Wright’s claims of any human knowledge as scientific.” All scientific knowledge is grounded in a search for “laws” (Wright, Philosophical Discussions, p. 234)
Wright’s important function then, was as applying Darwin’s stimulus-response conception of variables to psychology and in doing this also preserving the orientation toward “process laws” exhibited by the British Associationists. Wright’s development of psychozoological principles might be summarized: (1) Took over Darwinian orientation of stimulus-response variables in psychological investigation at a time when not only the traditional associationistic psychologists but also the new experimental psychologists in Germany, The Wundtians, were preoccupied with a single class of variables. In addition, Wright also worked in terms of the “process notion of lawfulness” in which the British Associationists were interested.
Wright develops from British Associationists to American Functionalism (see my essay, ibid). The Functionalists wee oriented toward two variables, stimulus and response; but, unlike Wright, they conceived the variables as standing in a teleological or mutually dependent relation to one another. For example, James R, Angell, in his systematic paper on Functionalism (“The Province of Functional Psychology,” The Psychological Review xiv (1970): pp. 61-91) Wright was seeking to avoid metaphysical dualism with its attempted difficulties for psychology of how such different substances as mind and matter could ever stand together in causal relationship (ibid., pp. 83ff.). We discovered that Wright also avoided dualism but at the same time avoided a teleological view of variables.
In his reflex-arc paper, Dewey attacked the notions of a mental stimulus (sensation) and a physical response as the reintroduction of dualism into philosophy and psychology (see my essay, “Neurophysical Revolution: The Brain Reduced to the Mind and the Mind to a Low-grade Computer Analogues”; see esp. Arthur O. Lovejoy, The Revolt Against Dualism (H.H. Norton, 1939, e.g. From Cartesian Dualism to Whitehead and Denial of Simple Location, Bertrand Russell’s Unification of Mind and Matter and the Revolt Against Reason in Brand Blanchard’s classical Reason and Analysis (Open Court, 1964), esp. Chp. 1, “Revolt Against Reason,” pp. 25-49 contra analytic Philosophy, Logical Positivism and all forms of Linguistic philosophies); Brand Blanchard, The Nature of Thought (2 vols., London: George Allen and Unwin); F.H. Bradle, Principles of Logic and Essays on Truth and Reality, C.D. Broad, The Mind and Its Place in Nature C.I. Lewis, Mind and The World Order and concerning the enormous influence of pragmatism in our post modern culture and its view of thought, doctrines of verification, judgments of past (i.e. history) field of influence, solipsism, dualism, theology, behaviorism, impersonal thought, trans-cultural communication
The great stumbling block in science is the difficulties, esp. For psychology, of how such different “substances” as “mind” and “matter” could ever stand together in a causal relationship (Angell, op.cit., p. 83ff.). Wright also avoided dualism but at the same time avoided a teleological view of variables. There is a thread of historical continuity between Wright and Dewey via James as the connecting link. Ralph Barton Perry, et.al., have shown a historical connection between Wright and James in their psychological doctrines. Perry mentions that in James’ early essay on “Brute and Human Intellect” (1878), the author draws on Wright’s psychozoological distinction between sign responses and self-consciousness to distinguish between animal and human intelligence (Perry’s, op.cit. I, 520ff.). In Dewey’s article, “The Development of American Pragmatism,” he asserts that the instrumentalists found their generic approach, the functional ideas, in the Principles rather than in James’ more philosophical works (William James, Principles of Psychology, 2 vols., (NY: Henry Holt and Co., 1896, II, 359). James’ pragmatism precedes his instruments of scientific development. Wright’s genetic account of reasoning impacted James and ultimately on Dewey’s functional psychology and thus on his instrumental logic (Dewey, Studies in The History of Ideas, ed. Department of Philosophy, Columbia University Press, 1925, II, 368-369).
(Take note of these additional articles: “Chauncey Wright and the Logic of Psychology” (with Marian C. Madden, Philosophy of Science xix (1952): 324-332; “Pragmatism, Positivism and Chauncey Wright,” Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, xiv 1953: 62-71; “Chance and Counter facts in Wright and Peirce” The Review of Metaphysics, ix (1956): 420-432; Chauncey Wright’s Life and Work; Some New Material” Journal of History of Ideas, xv, 1954: 445-455; For exhaustive bibliography on Wright’s works in Philip P. Wiener’s Evolution and The Founders of Pragmatism; and esp. Wesley C. Salmon, Four Decades of Scientific Explanation (University of Minnesota Press, 1989, pub. Pp. 196-219); --an excellent chronological bibliography; J. Strauss’ study, “History of Evolutionary Ideas”
Now that a brief sketch of classical theories of science is before us, we turn to our post modern Rage Against Reason and The Sociology of Knowledge Thesis--both dominate all categories of post modern academia and emphasize “The relationship between human thought and social context in which it arises.” (See my essays, “Narrative of the Sociology Thesis of Knowledge;” and P.H. Nidditch, ed., The Philosophy of Science (Oxford University Press, pub., 1974) Of the two most prominent styles of philosophizing--Logical Empiricism has taken a positive attitude toward natural science, while Phenomenology has taken a negative attitude toward it, accusing it of substituting for the objects of natural experience abstract mathematical models alien to “truth.” If the great weakness of Logical Empiricism, for Phenomenological thinkers is its systematic neglect of intuition and insight, the great defect of Phenomenology is, for those of the other school, its tendency to substitute the mystery of subjective intuitions for the clarity of public discourse linked to the objective methods of Empirical Science.
Although it is generally the case that philosophy pursued in a Phenomenological Style is characterized by dialectic, often polemical criticism of the mathematical methods of natural science and especially of the cult of “scientific objectivity,” this does not imply that legitimate scientific activity cannot in our post modern anti science culture--be redeemed from its original sin by proper critique. (Patrick A. Heelan, S.J., Quantum Mechanics and Objectivity (The Hague: Nijhoff, 1966) --see to justify a critical interpretation of Quantum Mechanics)
The scientist does not express human consciousness as a mere cogito. It is essentially a “cogito cogitatum”, that is, a subject open to an environment/envisioning world of objects given or to be given in experience. The basic structure of human consciousness is a polarity between subject and a field of objects towards which it is turned intentionally. The objects that terminate the intention of the subject are of course objects within consciousness, such is the meaning of the term “object.” The study of intentionality or noetic-noemata structures, then becomes the study of the way objects are constituted as objects present to and in consciousness by the functioning of the appropriate intent which characterizes the form of life in question, when this is viewed from inside consciousness as a meaning hearing activity. The notion of a constituting intention, then, is central to phenomenological analysis. In its classical/Aristotelian sense intentionality meant the referential character of knowledge. With Husserl, “intention” or “constitution” took on a more complex meaning embracing the following elements: (1) The objectification of sensory (hyletic) data by unifying them into an empirical object and relating the object so established to one thing; (2) The relating of successive sensory data to a permanent object; (3) The conjoining to an object of various profiles (alschattungen) which it would present under other circumstances; (4) The projection of an object into an intersubjective field (Husserl, Ideas, translated by W.R. Boyle Gibson), Muirhead Library of Philosophy (London: Allen and Unwin), 1931); his later viewpoint if found in The Cartesianischen Meditationen (trans. By Dorian Cairns as Cartesian Meditations (the Hague: Nijhoff, 1960)--the most relevant section is the second meditation, sec. 19-22, pp. 44-55 (E.T. sec.)
Scientific intentionality structure is like a vector pointing out when it is known does it become possible to define the nature of the objects toward which the vector points. It is then possible to investigate the vector of inquiry associated with the physical sciences. Now we are prepared to introduce the technical terms of horizon, noetic-noematic structure, objectivity, world and reality. These terms seek to address the subjective (noetic) aspect and an objective (noematic) aspect. (Husserl, Ideas, Second Mediation--contra his transcendental reduction (epoch’) or the search for a universal certainty, i.e., apodicticity--unconditioned by factual experience. World view analysis enters any search for absolute certainty contra Husserl (see my work, “The Sociology of Knowledge Thesis”) Our limited concern will only address objectivity! Post modern anti science repudiates the very possibility of “objectivity” and a defensible “critical realism” (the significance enters all categories of post modern multicultural epistemological relativism).
(Note J.J. Kockelman’s Phenomenology and Physical Science (Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press, 1966). This work exposes the fact that phenomenology perse cannot account for the analysis of objectivity for the physical sciences; my paper on “Radical Revisionism: Enemies of Science;” also two new works defending realism in science, Paul R. Gross and Norman Levit, Higher Superstitions: The Academic Left and Its Quarrel With Science (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1994;) and Michael Feumento, Science Under Siege, 1993; Keith Windschuttle, The Killing of History (Maclery, 1991); Pauline M. Rosenau, Post Modernism and The Social Sciences: Insight, Inroads and Intrusions (Princeton University Pres, 1992). And Keith Windschuttle, The Killing of History: How A Discipline is Being Murdered by Literary Criticism and Social Theories (Maclery Press, Australia, 1996).
The Post Modern worldview denies that there is such a thing as truth: historical, moral, or otherwise. It denies that truth exists independently of our perspectives and interests. This being the case, the truth of any given statement (science etc.) Is merely a function of Power. It is something that is imposed on another person or group, not something that is discerned or discovered. In this post modern world where there is no truth, only power, hearing opposing points of view is unnecessary, since teaching is no longer about the exchange of ideas; the goal is to impose the instructor’s views on the students--in other words, indoctrination. Academic freedom is only possible when you believe that there is such a thing as truth. If you do not, no amount of oversight over classes will change what goes on inside our classrooms! Truth and Freedom are under fire in our culture!
Husserl’s phenomenology leads to Idealism (Cartesian Meditations, p. 37). Without a concept of strict objectivity there can be no escape from a closed circle of immanence, nor any ground for cross paradigm/narrative, etc., communication; therefore, no community. Does community require consensus of commitment which is impossible in any “closed system of immanence.?” This is pure solipicism. Any denial of these results requires a metanarrative for any transcendent critique. Attack on reason requires the very reason, which “The Rage Against Reason” cannot justify. Any appeal to imagination (Irrational Romanticism, etc.) or intuition as the source for justifying truth claims cannot survive Goedel’s “Theorem Critique”, e.g., attack on Russell and Whitehead’s Principia as intuitional grounding of mathematics (see my essay “Narrative Displacement in Mathematics: From Greek Geometry to Goedel’s Theorem”).
Why are there so many voices screeching about Reason? Why is there a “Rage against Reason?” What precisely is being attacked, criticized and damned? Why is it that when “Reason” or “Rationality” are mentioned they evoke images of domination, oppression, patriarchy, violence, totality (monistic pantheism), totalitarianism, and even terror?? This strange phenomena must address why the 19th century developments in the physical sciences accused Judaeo/Christianity with being superstitious, ignorant and hostile to scientific reason; while now in our post modern anti science world Judaeo/Christianity is attacked for being “too rational(istic).” Nineteenth century developments in science elicited associations with autonomy, freedom, justice, equality, happiness, and peace. We must want to understand what is happening but --what ought to be our response to the disturbing and confusing situation? We are engaged in a cosmic battle between lightness and darkness. Only awareness of narrative displacement can positively respond.
(1) We must produce a narrative of narratives (worldview on conflict) by unpacking the theories of at least Weber and Habermas concerning the process of “rationalization narratives.” (2) Understanding why narratives isolates difference “story” narrative lines that stand in an uneasy and unresolved tension with each other. (3) Is it possible for any pluralism of narratives to tie together all the loose threads, or the change metaphors (see my paper, “What Are Metaphors--Metaphors Of?”). The denial of any grand (narrative) Aufklarung--because it is a finished story. But whose story is it anyhow? The postmodern discussion is grounded in naturalistic evolutionism, i.e., “open ended dialectic” without any transcendent guide.
Perhaps a trek into the world of autonomous reason in Western cultural context might be helpful. In July 1793, Marquis de Condorcet wrote his now famous Sketches for a historical picture of the progress of the human mind. Published posthumously in 1796 (Condorcet died the day after he was gagged into prison in April, 1794). The Sketches was hailed as the testament of the French Revolution and Enlightenment. (See esp. Atis E. Fellows and Norman L. Torrey, eds., The Age of The Enlightenment: An Anthology of 18th Century French Literature (NY: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 19042; also Thomas J. Schlereth, The Cosmopolitan Ideal in Enlightenment Thought (University of Notre Dame Press, 1977).
It is widely held that the neuroscience of Galileo and Newton fathered the Enlightenment of the 18th century as a age of cosmopolitanism par excellence. (Warren Wagner, The City of Man, Prophets of A World Civilization in 20th Century Thought (Baltimore, 1963, p. 17) -- influence of English science on French Enlightenment, e.g., Voltaire, “Sur Descartes et Newton,” in Lettres philosophique 2:1-8) inquired of the French Cartesians who rejected Newtonianism.” Whoever reasons correctly claims to be neither French nor English; he that instructs us correctly is our fellows compatriot. “Elements de la philosophie de Newton (Amsterdam, 1738), 124, and “Sur Descartes et Newton,” in Lettre philosophiques, 2:1-8, e.g. Hume’s attack as universal causation questioned the universalism of the scientific method. The Treatise on Human Nature, ed. T.H. Green and T.H. Grosse (London, 1874), part 3 on “Of Knowledge and Probability” I 372-469. The quarrel between the “classicist” and “the new” rages on into the post modern era (e.g., 19th century Positivism and Historicism, e.g., two cultures, the physical and social sciences debate.
There is perhaps no greater challenge to Christian education in the 21st century than to understand our disturbing and confusing situation. From Italy, France, Germany, the United States the hero in this radical narrative replacement was “Reason.” Now there is a post modern “Rage Against Reason.” The dynamic had its origin in Condorcet’s cosmopolitan narrative.
. . . The modification that the human species has undergone, ceaselessly renewing itself through the immensity of the centuries, the path that it has made toward truth and happiness. Such observations upon what man has been and what he is today, will instruct us about the means we should employ to make certain and rapid further progress that his nature allows him still to hope for. Such is the aim of the work I have undertaken, and its results will be to stand by an appeal to reason and fact that nature has set no term to the perfection of human faculties; that the perfectibility of man is truly indefinite, and that the progress of this perfectibility, from now onwards independent of any power that might wish to halt it has no other limit than the duration of the globe upon which nature has caste us. (Antoine-Nicolas de Condorcet, Sketch For A Historical Picture of The Progress of The Human Mind, trans. J. Barraclough, (London: Weidenfield and Nicolson), 1955, p. 4).
This progress will never be reversed as the linkage of reason, justice, virtue, equality, freedom and happiness becomes stronger and stronger. Condorcet’s history of mankind is teleologically oriented toward the tenth epoch--the future. He being his “description” of the future progress of the human spirit (esprit) by echoing that 18th century rhetoric which was so confident that the future could be predicted on the basis of “the general laws directing the phenomena of the universe.” But Condorcet’s “predictions read more like utopian dreams and hopes for the future condition of the human race.” (Op.cit., p. 173) There will be the eventual abolition of all forms of inequality. There will be cultural, political, and economic equality among nations and within each nation. There will be indefinite perfection of the human faculties and private and public happiness will prevail. Condorcet explicitly speaks of the elimination of sexual inequality and about stamping out racism. War will be no more, peace will reign eternally. There will be a transformation of our biological nature for the duration, human life will be indefinitely extended, and our faculties will be strengthened.
From the perspective of the final decades of the 20th century and the early years of the 21st century, our living memories of wars and rumors of wars, death, destruction (AIDS), etc., and barbaric totalitarianism, death camps, 9.11.01 and the perpetual danger of nuclear and chemical catastrophe, we cannot resist reading Condorcet’s utopianism with sarcastic despair. Even such proponents of The Enlightenment as Peter Gay says, “the aspiration, we must conclude, is as much a caricature of The Enlightenment as its testament; it is rationalism run riot, dominated by a simple minded faith in science that confuse, over and over again, the improvement of techniques with advances in virtue and happiness.” (Peter Gay, The Enlightenment: An Interpretation, 2 vols. (NY: A.A. Knopt, 1969, vol. 2, p. 122); see my critique of Positivistic Scientism as the cause of this situation, not science, per se.) We must concur with the judgment of Horkheimer and Adorno when they wrote: “The Enlightenment has always aimed at liberating men from fear and establishing their sovereignty. Yet the fully enlightened earth radiates disaster triumphant.” (Max Horkheimer and Theodor W. Adornao, Dialectic of Enlightenment (NY: Herder and Herder, 1972, p. 3)
In the 19th and 20th centuries, when the “Social Sciences” were being developed, many of their gurus believed, and post moderns still believe, that they provide “the means we should employ to make certain and rapid further progress” toward human improvement and the alleviation of human suffering. These are indeed noble aspirations, but--into this maze of destructive growth of knowledge, fields of death and destruction are littered with the dead. Though the primary concern is with the narrative displacements of the physical sciences, we must take seriously the cultural consequences of the social sciences development and their growth commitment to, of course, in the sciences of “Cultural and Epistemological Relativism” and our ultimate post modern, tolerant/diversity mandate from multiculturalism and non judgmentalism. (See my essays on post modern “Hermeneutics and Epistemology” and “Kuhn’s Theory of Paradigm” in Lincoln Christian College/Seminary Library archives); for influence in cross cultural interpretation, see D.A. Carson, Biblical Interpretation (Nelson, 1984); for learning theory see Warren Heil and David Wolf, The Reality of Christian Learning (Eerdman, 1982); David Jorg, Moral Development Foundations: Judaeo/Christian Alternatives to Piaget/Kohlberg (Abingdon Press, 1983); Malcolm J. Jeeves, Behavioral Sciences: A Christian Perspective (IVP, 1984); esp. Mower’s “Group Therapy” and Rogers’ “Non Directive Therapy”).
For radical narrative shift, let us turn to a comparison of Condorcet’s apocalyptic vision (K.M. Baker, Condorcet: From Natural Philosophy in Social Mathematics (University of Chicago Press, 1975, p. 393) and Weber’s chilling prognosis of our future “progress.” Weber is an Enlightenment guru in his passionate/ compassionate commitment to reason and “The Calling” of science, and at the same time one of its harshest critics. Weber begins to expose what Horkheimer and Adorno call “The Dialectic of Enlightenment”--the dark side of The Enlightenment fosters its own self destruction. One reason why Weber is so important is because we must agree with Alasdair MacIntyre when he writes “the present age in its presentation of itself is dominately Weberian (see his After Virtue (Notre Dame University Press, 1981, p. 108).
Weber’s insistence on the postulate of freedom from value judgments when engaging in empirical sociological research, yet his own writings are filled with strong judgments. His most famous epigraph for the 20th century is his conclusion to The Protestant Ethics:
No one knows who will live in this cage in the future, or whether at the end of this tremendous development entirely new prophets will arise, or there will be a great rebirth of old ideas and ideals, or, if neither, then mechanized petrification, embellished with a sort of convulsive self importance. For of the last stage of this cultural development it might well be truly said: “Specialists without spirit, sensualists without heart, thus nullify what is attained on a level of civilization never before achieved.” (Max Weber, The Protestant Ethic and The Spirit of Capitalism, trans. By Talcott Parsons (NY: Scribner and Sons, 1958), p. 182).
Weber was vehemently opposed to the philosophy of history entailed in social evolutionism. His narrative of emergence of the fate of “Occidental Rationality” (see esp. Wolfgang Schluehter, The Rise of Western Rationalism: Max Weber’s Developmental History (University of Chicago Press, 1981); Jurgen Habermas, The Theory of Communicative Action (Boston Beacon Press, 1981), chp 2), Max Weber’s “Theory of Rationalization;” Theory and Practice (Beacon Press, E.T., 1973); Toward A Rational Society (Beacon Press, E.T. 1968, chp. 6, pp. 81-122, “Technology and Science as Ideology”)
Weber introduced the concept of “rationality” in order to define the form of capitalistic economic activity, bourgeois private law and bureaucratic authority. Rationalization means, first of all, the extension of the area of society subject to the criteria of rational decision. Second, social labor is industrialized, with the results that criteria of instrumental action also penetrate into other areas of life, e.g., urbanization of the mode of life, technification of transport and communication.
The progressive “rationalization” of society is linked to the institutionalization of science and technical developments. The secularization and “disenchantment” of action-oriented worldviews of cultural tradition as a whole is the obverse of the growing “rationality” of social action. The Marxist, Herbert Marcuse, has taken these analyses as a point of departure (presupposition) in order to demonstrate that the formal concept of rationality which Weber derived from the purposive-rational action of the capitalist entrepreneur, the industrial wage laborer, the abstract legal person, and the modern administrative official and based on the criteria of science as well as technology has specific substantive implications, Marcuse is convinced that what Weber called “rationalization” realizes that rationality as such but rather in the name of rationality, a specific form of unacknowledged political domination. Because this sort of rationality extends to the correct choice among strategies, the appropriate application of technologies, and the efficient establishment of systems (with presupposed aims is given structures), it removes the total social framework of interest in which strategies are chosen, technologies applied, and systems established, from the scope of reflection and rational reconstruction. Moreover, this rationality extends only to relation of possible technical control and therefore requires a type of action that implies domination, whether of nature or of society (e.g., here lies the heart of post modern anti science as always necessarily entailing control, dominion and destruction). That is why, in accordance with this rationality, the “rationalization” of a form of dominion whose political character becomes unrecognizable: the technical reason of a social system of purposive-rational action does not lose its political content. Marcuse’s critique of Weber comes to the conclusion that--
The very concept of technical reason is perhaps ideological, not only the application of technology but technology itself is domination [of nature and men], methodical scientific calculated, calculating control. Specific purposes and interests of domination are not foisted upon technology “subsequently” and from the outside, they enter the very construction of the technical apparatus. Technology is always a historical social project in it is projected what a society and its ruling interests intend to do with men and things. Such a purpose of domination is “substantive” and to this extent, belongs to the very form of technical reason
(Herbert Marcuse, “Industrialization and Capitalism” in Negations: Essays in Critical Theory
(E.T. Jeremy J. Shapito (Boston, 1968), pp. 223f); his One Dimension Man (Boston, 1964); Herman Kahn, Anthony J. Wiener, Towards the Year 2000: Work in Progress (Boston, 1969), pp. 80ff); Jurgen Habermas, Theory and Practice; Richard W. Flacks, “The Liberation Generation: An Exploration of The Roots of Student Protest” in Journal of Social Issues, 23.3, pp. 52-85); and Kenneth Keniston, “The Sources of Student Dissent”, ibid., pgs. 108ff); Robert L. Heibroner, The Limits of American Capitalism (NY: 1966). (Marcuse, Toffler, Reich and Roszak were high priests of the counter culture of the 1960s; (see my essay, “Counter Culture: Youth Culture in the Post Generation of 2002." All of these men were cultural relativists who attacked reason, logic, and history as sources of true truth. The neo-gnosticism prevails in the post modern academy).
Technological and political domination is rational and if the system can allow itself to make the growth of the forces of production, coupled with scientific and technical progress, the basis of its legitimization. At the same time, renunciation and burdens placed on individuals seem more and more unnecessary and irrational. In Marcuse’s judgment, the “intensified subjection of individuals to the enormous apparatus of production and distribution in the deprivatization of free time in the almost indistinguishable fusion of constructive and destructive social labor” (H. Marcuse, “Freedom and Freud’s Theory of The Instincts,” in Five Lectures, E.T., J.J. Shapiro and J.S. M. Weber (Boston, 1970), p. 3. His Marism is crystal clear in this analysis)
The institutionalized growth of the forces of production follows from scientific and technical progress surpasses all historical proportions. Production distribution science technology form a legitimization structure “because” they fuse into necessary, organizational form of a rational society. Here “rationality,” in Weber’s sense shows its Janus face. It becomes an apologetic standard through which these same relations of production can be justified as a functional institutional framework. Its functionalistic framework is its intrinsic weakness in its efforts to rationally support “serviceability” with no corrective power. Therein lies Marcuse’ historically new world. Must not the rationality of science and technology be reducible to unvarying rules of logic and methods have absorbed a substantive, historically derived and therefore transitory a priori structure? Marcuse answers in the affirmative:
The principles of modern science were a priori structured in such a way that they could serve as conceptual instruments for a universe of self-propelling productive control; theoretical operationalism came to correspond to practical operationalism. The scientific method which led to an ever increasing-effective domination of nature thus came to provide the pure concepts as well as the instrumentalities for the ever more effective domination of men by men through the domination of nature. . . . Today domination perpetuates and extends itself not only through technology but as technology and the latter provides the great legitimization of the expanding political power, which absorbs all spheres of culture.
In this universe, technology also provides the great rationalization of the unfreedom of men and demonstrates the “technical” impossibility of being autonomous, of determining one’s own life. For this unfreedom appears neither as irrational nor as political, but rather as submission to the technical apparatus which enlarges the comforts of life and increases the productivity of labor. Technological rationality thus protects rather than conceals the legitimacy of domination and the instrumentalist horizon of reason opens on a rationally totalitarian society. (Marcuse, One Dimensional Man (Boston, 1964), esp. pp. 166f)
Weber’s “rationalization” is not only a long term process of the transformation of social structures but simultaneously “rationalization” in Freud’s sense: the true motive, the perception of objectivity obsolete domination, is concealed through the invocation of purposive-rational imperatives. This invocation is possible only because the rationality of science and technology is the rationality of domination, immanently one of control. (e.g. source of anti science influence in post modern culture)
Marcuse owes his concept equally to Husserl’s treatise on crisis in European science and Heidegger’s destruction of Western metaphysics, according to which modern science is a historical formation. From the materialists’ position, Ernst Block has developed the viewpoint that the rationality of modern science is, in its roots, distorted by capitalism is such a way as to rob modern technology of the innocence of a pure productive force. But Marcuse is the first to make the “political content of technical “reason” the analytic point of departure for a theory of advanced capitalist society. Because he not only corroborates it through sociological analysis, the difficulties inherent in this conception became visible. Marcuse’ own statement verifies this claim.
If the phenomenon on which Marcuse bases his social analysis, i.e., the peculiar fusion of technology and domination, rationality and oppression could not be interpreted otherwise than a world project, which de derives from language of Sartre’s phenomenology, contained in the material a priori of the logic of science and technology and determined by class interest and historical situation then social emancipation could not be conceived without a complimentary revolutionary transformation of science and technology themselves.
Marcuse seeks to envisage a different mode of theory formation plus scientific methodological revolution. The transcendental framework within which nature would be made the object of a new experience would no longer be the functional system of instrumentation. The viewpoint of technical control would be replaced by one of preserving, fostering and releasing the potentialities of nature--there are two kinds of mastery: a repressive and a liberating one (ibid., p. 236) This revolutionary perspective, according to Marcuse, would unburden, i.e., preclude, “work.” Technology thus developed a “utopia” social structure where technology would do the work and mankind would reside in a permanent state of rest from labor. But this radical change would require a radical change in human nature! Man must have a broken rather than an exploitive nature. The inherent pantheism of Marcuse. That is made very clear in his declaration that man must recognize nature as another subject, not as an object “other.” Then mankind will be the “other.” This is pure pantheistic monism. Even Marcuse is opposed to relativising the rationality of science and technology. But why?
The new world order can be expressed in four pairs of alliteration value orientations: (1) Affectivity versus effective neutrality; (2) Particularism versus universalism; (3) aspiration versus achievement; (4) difference versus specificity. The entire history of rationalization, e.g., Weber attempted to grasp the repercussions of scientific technological progress on the institutional framework of societies engage in “modernization.” The social substructures were Status and Contract, Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft mechanistic and organic solidarity, informal and formal groups, primary and secondary groups, culture and civilization, traditional and bureaucratic authority, social and secular associations, military and industrial society, status groups and class all of these pairs of concepts represent as many attempts to grasp structural change of the institutional framework of a traditional society on the way to becoming a modern one. Even Parson’s catalog of possible alternatives on value orientation claims that any orientation at all necessitates “value orientation,” i.e., presuppositions, legitimization structures, narrative, paradigms, world views. Value-freedom is a myth regardless of the particular historical context! The lists and all inquiries presuppose “evaluation categories,” i.e., absolute objectivity is impossible, but critical reason can criticize any given lists of categories to evaluate their interpretive power over the range of reality under legitimization. (See my essay, “Counter Culture, pgs. 2-3 on Marcuse).
Weber is aware that the Enlightenment and The Scientific Revolution attained a level of civilization never before achieved (Weber, Protestant Ethic, p. 182). The problem raised was how are freedom, democracy and capitalism to be constructively fused. Freedom and Republic Democracy are not the “natural teleos of human history as Condorcet believed. On post modern developments in capitalism, might pose its greatest threats to freedom and democracy. Weber warns us--”It is not peace and happiness that we shall hand to our descendants, but rather the principle of eternal struggle for the survival and higher breeding of our national species” (cited in Wolfgang J. Nommsen, The Age of Bureaucracy (NY: Harper, 1974), p. 30). Modernity or not characterized by a universal assent to and institutionalization of natural rights, but a new polytheism of warring incommensurable value commitments by a new violence struggle of gods and demons (e.g., cultural/epistemological relativism, only tribalistic power encounters remain. Weber is surely correct in his critique of Condorcet’s optimism, via the claim that science cannot tell us how we should live (this error is in Positivistic Philosophy of Science; science can only describe what is, not what ought to be ! (See my paper, “Demise of Transcendence and Man’s Search for Ultimates in LCC/S Library).
Weber’s work clearly expresses that Western rationality is not the only form of rationality. Weber seeks to understand the specific and peculiar rationalism of the occident, its manifestation in the domains of culture, society, and personality as well as the different types of developmental themes of rationalization (see introduction of The Protestant Ethics in Western culture. Purposive rational action is the key to Weber’s more complex conception “value rational action,” his “paradox of rationalization are all 20th century critique of The Enlightenment and its privileged forms of rationality can now be noted as various forms of the Weberian themes. The themes that run through Weber’s delineation of rationality are the motifs of Master and Control (see esp. Stephen Kolberg’s discussion of the types of social action and types of rationality in Max Weber’s types of rationality: “Cornerstones for the Analysis of Rationalization Processes” American Journal of Sociology, 85 (1972): 1145-79) Kolberg distinguishes four types of rationality: theoretical, practical, substantive and formal)
When Weber poses the question, “What is the meaning of science?” his answer is unequivocal: Tolstoy has given the simplest answer with the words: “Science is meaningless because it gives no answer to our question, the only question important for, “What shall we do and how shall we live?” That is science does not give us an answer to this is indisputable. The only question that remains is the sense in which science gives “no answer,” and whether or not science might yet be of some use to the one who puts the question correctly.” (M. Weber, “Science as a Vocation” in From Max Weber: Essays in Sociology, p. 143) (Weber’s most serious error in critiquing Rationalization is his dependence on Condorcet’s evaluation of The Enlightenment, i.e., confusion between “is” and “ought.”)
Kant escaped that paradox by his “categorical imperative” distinction between “is” and “ought” of instrumental means and normative ends. Since Kant’s way is not the only way for rationally grounding the universal moral imperative, rather only the Judaeo/Christian Creator-Redeemer God. The paradox is not ultimately real. The specter of Nietzsche hangs over the Weberian criticism and all other critics of the Enlightenment. Nietzsche anticipated the chaos in Thus Spoke Zarathrustra, “The Death of God”) The striking difference between Judaeo/Christian foundation and the Enlightenment grounds cannot be constructively addressed by Weber’s cultural/epistemological relativism! Any adequate answer would require a detailed narrative of the economic, political and cultural developments of the century that separated them (note: esp. Habermas’ account in his analysis of “Max Weber’s Theory of Rationalization.” Thought without a narrative of Scientific Development in The period of critical evaluation would be fruitless and futile)
Weber’s use of Rationalism, Rationalist, and Rationalisierung is so complex - polyvalent - that it is easy to understand why Steven Luke’s claims that Weber’s use of “rational” and its cognates is “irredeemably opaque and shifting” (“Some Problems about Rationality” in Rationality, B. Wilson, ed., (NY: Harper, 1971), p. 257) Part of any critical encounter with Weber’s concept of Rationalism stems from this ambiguity ( if this situation could be solved, Weber’s entire system would become rational) The Theory of Communication Action (Boston: Beacon Press, E.T., Vol. I, p. 143), chp 2, “Max Weber’s Theory of Rationality.” The world of Weber sends us into the responses to the enlightenment of Adorno, Heidegger, Foucault’s Deconstructionism, e.g., critique of post modern logocentricism)
When words in the discussion are polyvalent, their rational critique is precluded, i.e., open ended dialectic. The hidden logic of Enlightenment reason is violently progressive; it is totalitarian; therefore we are following the yellow brick road to the temple of Post Modernism. As long as all scathing exposures of the dark, sadomasochistic masochistic road of the Enlightenment, whose legacy is epitomized in that single horrible name Auschwitz is remembered, we will be troubled over all forms of violent repression and all forms of repressive social reality. From Nietzsche’s “the tightrope” to Heidegger’s ontological rendering of the history and identity of logos and reason which culminates in metaphysical humanities blindness and forgetfulness of the silent call of Being (Heidegger’s Being) in Time) History contains the seeds of “identity logic” with its hidden will to master are to be found in the very origins of Western rationality (e.g., History of Being/History of Reason).
Heidegger’s human freedom, happiness, and emancipation has become a mockery. The logic-centered Western rationality resulted not in illumination and enlightenment, but the cosmic black night of Nihilism. Weber’s “iron cage” of his theory of modern forms of rationalization. is a fundamental contribution of the prolonged critique of the Enlightenment rationality. It is a crucial factor in post modern communication theory and especially in homiletics . (See Neil Postman’s work, Amusing Ourselves To Death)
Whereas the rationalization of purposive-rational action, as Weber well understood, involves “the empirical efficiency of technical means and the consistency of choice between suitable means , the rationalization of communicative action is radically and categorically different.” The rationalization by the bone dry conditions of the dynamics of a capitalist system of production is a post modern explanation of the cause of fragmentation, as though the fragmentation of social work on the globe is caused by capitalism and production--what? (See Stephen Kolberg’s discussion, op.cit. And J. Habermas, Communication and Evolution in Society (op.cit. Boston: Beacon Press, 1970, p. 117) and Weber’s Concept of Rationality)
Weber’s “iron cage” is not only available in the capitalistic West! The paradox of “rationalization” is now reinterpreted as the powerful and indeed dominate tendency. Weber is more emphatic when he writes: “Habermas objects that this paradox of ratonalization does not express an international logic (or dialectic) of modern rationalization processes; it is strictly speaking not a paradox of rationalization. . . rather, it would be more adequate to speak of a “selective” process of rationalization, where the selective character of this process may be explained by the peculiar restrictions put upon communication rationalization by the peculiar restrictions put upon communicative rationalization by the boundary conditions and the dynamics of a capitalist system of production. (Albrecht Wellmer, “Reason, Utopia and The Dialectic of Enlightenment,” in Habermas and Modernity (ed. By R.J. Bernstein, (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1985), p. 41).
The “paradox of rationalization” is now reinterpreted as the powerful and indeed the dominant tendency in the modern world toward the colonization of the life-world (with its distinctive communicative rationality) by the distorting pressure systems of purposive rationality. Habermas’ extreme claims are criticized by R.J. Bernstein, The Reasoning of Social and Political Theory (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1978); and Beyond Objectivism and Relativism in Science, Hermeneutics and Praxis (U of Penn Press, 1983).
Habermas acknowledges the influence of the intuitions of the pragmatic tradition. His basic intuition or judgment then stands at the center of his own vision is also control to the pragmatic tradition. Both understandings of rationality as intrinsically dialogical and communicative. And both pursue the ethical and political consequences of this form of rationality and rationalization. It was Peirce who first developed the logical backbone of this in his idea of the fundamental character of a self-corrective critical community of inquirer without any absolute beginning points or finalities. It was Dewey who argued that the very idea of a democratic community was “the task of democracy is forever that a creation of a freer and more humane experience in which all share and to which all contribute.” (John Dewey, “Creative Democracy. . .the Task Before Us” in M. Fisch, editor, Classic American Philosophers (NY: Appleton, Century, Crofts, 1951, p. 394; and Bernsteins, Peirce and Dewey in Praxis and Action (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1971)
The debate has been going on for over thirty years between the work of Habermas, Gadamer and The German Romanticism. From Heidegger to Gadamer the ontological version of hermeneutics has been arguing that man’s ontological condition is “being in the world” and is to be dialogical beings. This dialogue is one of phenomenological openness. (In Berstein’s Beyond Objectivism and Relativism; see letter included as appendix, esp. Part three) Possibly this entire discussion is what Whitehead calls a “footnote to Plato”! (E.g. Corporately and his eternal immutable forms, which is the erotic teleo of dianoia and enosis).
The post modern claim that the fundamental error of Western philosophical rationality stems from the polarization of thought called Platonism (e.g. Whitehead, Platonism is a footnote to Western philosophy) There can be no dialogue, no communication unless beliefs, values, commitments, and even emotions and passions are shared in common. Surely, Gadamer and MacIntyre claim that dialogic communication presupposes moral virtues, a certain “good will”, at least in the willingness to really listen, to seek to understand what is genuinely other, different, alien, and the courage to risk one’s most cherished prejudgments. Too frequently this commonality is not really shared, it is violently imposed! In the multifarious ways in which the “history of the West” in its institutionalization of communicative practices has always tended to silence differences, to exclude outsiders and exiles, those who live on the margins. “Too often” the conversation of “mankind,” primarily “white” mankind. This is often not the case, but it is too often the case! The scenario is the basis of eurocentricism charge of Derrida and most post moderns; Lyotard, Eco, Foucault, et.al. Postmodern hermeneutics identify “the history of the West” or others bludgeoned by exclusivistic tactics. Even Derrida’ deconstructionism can be read as a warning against false nostalgia.
Henry Staten brilliantly sums up the Searle-Derrida debate: he writes, “Perhaps what we have in this debate is a conflict between Anglo-American clean mindedness or sincerity and a more archaic moral rigor that insists on reminding us of the residue of darkness in man’s intention. If there is any skepticism of Derrida, it is moral, not in an epistemological skepticism, not a doubt about the possibility of morality, but about ideological picture of sincerity that takes insufficient account of the windings and twistings of fear and desire, weakness and lust, sadism and masochism and will to power, in the mind of even the most sincere man.” (Henry Staten, Wittgenstein and Derrida (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1984), pp. 126-127; see also Walter Benjamin, “Theses on the Philosophy of History” in Illuminations, ed. Hannah Arendt, (NY: Schocken Press, 1969), p. 25)
With this trek into the post modern Rage Against Reason in mind, let us return to the cultural/intellectual context of the development of post modern rejection of reason, logic and language as a vehicle for “communicating True Truth even in the hard sciences (see esp. Herbert W. Schneider, “Pragmatic Intelligence” in A History of American Philosophy (Columbia University Press, 1946), pp. 513-539); and “Experience and Nature”, 539-556; and “Empirical Radicalism”, pp. 556-571 from the context of John Dewey, Pragmatism and Post Modern Counter Culture in Educational Media. Dewey’s radical empiricism is now applied through pragmatism and experimentation in science. The union of logic and scientific method was this philosophical movements’ immediate concern. The only shared concern which gave pragmatic unity to their polemics was the union of philosophy and science; philosophy was to submit its problems to experimental formulation and verification and science was to become methodological self-conscious or philosophical. It has attempted to promote a greater “unity of science” then the pragmatists (e.g. Peirce, James, et.al.) Ever dreamed of and has shifted the emphasis of scientific logic from factual experimentation to verbal or semantic manipulation. The positivism of pragmatism has become more extreme and the empiricism too logical to be “radical.” Its ultimate cultural impact was sentimental and practical (eg. Pop Culture where all virtues are equal and there is no True Truth, only “Power Encounters.”) Every category of our culture is pragmatically grounded; i.e., only concerned with “results” without ground to justify which result is True or Truer than any alternative. They were intent on making faith reasonable and theology more philosophical; and took for granted that there is something essentially “extravagant” and super rational, if not supernatural, in religion as it is lived spontaneously, which must defy all attempts to make it appear rational. Dewey’s acquired conviction was from his father’s “monism” and “socialism” and he retained his father’s anti clericalism, anti rationalism and anti moralism (on James see esp. Ralph Barton Perry, The Thoughts and Character of William James (Boston: Beacon Press, 1935, II, 334)
Philosophy lives in words, but truth and fact well up into our lives in ways that exceed verbal formulation. Religious experience is private and irrational! (E.g. W. James, The Varieties of Religious Experience: A Study in Human Nature (NY, 1963, pp. 448, 452, 455, 456- 457) The ultimate appeal to Religious Experience was therefore, to discount the intellectual aspects of religious beliefs and the conventional aspects of institutionalized religion. It was the abnormality of “subliminal” quality of religious consciousness that seemed to James/Dewey, et.al., the essential fact of religion. His concern for “Sick Souls” was to demonstrate that religion produced mental health, “healthy mindedness”, as in abnormality for religion
Oliver Wendell Holmes applied the anti-gnosticism to common law, i.e., the father of “Sociology of Law.” (O.W. Holmes, The Canon Law (Boston, 1881, esp. P. 1) “The Law can ask no better justification then the deepest instincts of man. . . philosophy does not furnish motives, but it shows men that they are not fools for doing what they already want to do.” (Holmes, Collected Legal Papers (NY, 1920), pp. 179-82, 200, 316, eg. “Natural Law”) Holmes opened the door to the evolutionary school of jurisprudence, and the courts become agents of governmental policy. It remained for Roscoe Pound, in theory, and Judges Brandeis and Cardozo, in practice, to develop a sociology of jurisprudence in terms of which moral principles and social policy could support each other. (R. Pound, The Spirit of Common Law ) Boston, 1921) pp. 176-18-85; Louis D. Brandeis, The Social and Economic Views of Mr. Justice Brandeis, Collected by Alfred Lief (NY, 1930), pp. 382, 369); John Dewey, et.al. Creative Intelligence (NY: 1917, p. 67; Experience and Nature (Chicago, 1925), p. 192); The School and Society (Chicago, 1900, pp. 41-44; “Creative Democracy: The Task Before Us” in “The Philosopher of The Common Man (NY) and “The Realism of Pragmatism” in Journal of Philosophy, II, 1905, pp. 314-317; and The Common Fair (New Haven, CT: Milton A. Thomas), NY, 1939); and H.W. Schneider, A Bibliography of John Dewey, 1882-1938 )NY, 1939).
Rage Against Reason, Paradigmatic Revolutions and Progressions of Science
Ultimately, the development of tension between the physical and social sciences unfolded tension between historicism and positivism in the 19th century. The radical revolution produced by the contributions of Einstein, Plank, Heisenberg, et.al., brought a sharp challenge to the “received view”, i.e., the positivistic model of the physical sciences.
Before addressing The Sociology of Knowledge Thesis, we take brief note of the impact of Darwin and the philosophical arena. As pragmatism is the “foundation” of multicultural relativism in the 21st century, the following quote from Darwin can perhaps locate the arena of the Sociology of Knowledge Thesis.
. . . That the combination of the very words origin and species embodied an intellectual revolt and introduced a new intellectual temper is easily overlooked by the expert. The conceptions that had reigned in the philosophy of nature and knowledge for two thousand years, the conceptions that had become the familiar furniture of the mind, rested on the assumption of the superiority of the fixed and final; they rested upon treating change and origin as signs of defect and unreality. In laying hands upon the sacred ark of absolute permanency, in treating the forms that had been regarded as types of fixity and perfection as originating and passing away, the “Origin of Species” introduced a mode of thinking that in the end was bound to transform the logic of knowledge, and hence the treatment of morals, politics, and religion. . . . But for two decades before final publication he contemplated the possibility of being put down by his scientific peers as a fool or as crazy; and he set, as the measure of his success, the degree in which he should affect three men of science--Lyell in Geology, Hooker in Botany, and Huxley in Zoology. . .. Without the methods of Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo and their successors in Astronomy, Physics, and Chemistry, Darwin would have been helpless in the organic sciences. . . . As we have already seen, the classic notion of species carried with it the idea of purpose. . . . The design argument thus operated in two directions. Purposefulness accounted for the intelligibility of nature and the possibility of science, while the absolute or cosmic character of this purposefulness gave sanction and worth to the moral and religious endeavors of man. Science was underpinned and morals authorized by one and the same principle, and their mutual agreement was eternally guaranteed. . . the preparation in earlier stages of growth for organs that only later had their functioning--these things were increasingly recognized with the progress of Botany, Zoology, Paleontology, and Embryology. Together they added such prestige to the design argument that by the late eighteenth century it was . . . the central point of theistic and idealistic philosophy.
. . . the Darwinian principle of natural selection cut straight under this philosophy. . . So much for some of the more obvious facts of the discussion of design versus change, as causal principles of nature and of life as a whole. We brought up this discussion, as a crucial instance. What does our touchstone indicate as to the bearing of Darwinian ideas upon philosophy? In the first place, the new logic outlaws. . . one type of problems and substitutes for yet another type. Philosophy foresees inquiry after absolute origins and absolute finalities in order to explore specific values and the specific conditions that generate them.
Darwin concluded that the impossibility of assigning the world to chance as a whole and to design in its parts indicated the insolubility of the question. Two radically different reasons, may be given as to why a problem is insoluble. . . . But in anticipating the direction of the transformations in philosophy to be wrought by the Darwinian genetic and experimental logic, I do not profess to speak for any save those who yielded themselves consciously. . . to this logic. No one can fairly deny that at present there are two effects of the Darwinian mode of thinking. . . there are making many sincere and vital efforts to revise our traditional philosophic conception in accordance with its demands. . . there is as definitely a recrudescence of absolutistic philosophies; an assertion of a type of philosophic knowing distinct from that of he sciences, one which opens to us another kind of reality from that to which the sciences give access; an appeal through experience to something that essentially goes beyond experience. This reaction affects popular creeds and religious movements as well as technical philosophies. The very conquest of the biological sciences by the new ideas has led many to proclaim an explicit and rigid separation of philosophy from science. . . . Doubtless the greatest dissolvent in contemporary thought of old questions, the greatest precipitant of new methods, new intentions, new problems, is the one effected by the scientific revolution that found its climax in the “Origin of Species.” (John Dewey’s, The Influence of Darwin on Philosophy (NY: Peter Smith, 1951), pp. iii to 19)
Social Construction of Reality: From the Darwinian Revolution
to The Sociology of Knowledge Thesis
The Sociology of Knowledge Thesis is connected with “the relationship between human thought and the social context in which it arises.” Therefore the reading of science is to be taken to be concerned with the analysis of the social context of scientific thought. Classical scientists mentioned that there is a distinction from other modes of thought precisely by virtue of its immunity from social determinism (i.e., “objectivity,” genetic fallacy, reduction of the scientist to his genetic and environment determinism.) It is a crucial thesis of our journey in the History and Logic of Science--that cannot be explained by “radical contextualization” that is there is enormous justification for replacing Eastern and classical Western science with a rationally justifiable new view of science as it unfolds in Western culture from the 17th to the 21st centuries. That some social data is socially constructed is beyond dispute, but the radical contextualization of “all thought” ideas and earth as context bound is a cultural relativist tomb is falsifiable through an unfolding of the development of Western science (i.e., Wittgenstein’s Language Game).
The Social Construction of Reality
Perhaps the most insidious form of irrationalism is The Sociology of Knowledge Thesis. This intellectual development is concerned with determining whether man’s participation in social life has any influence on his knowledge, thought and culture and, if it does, what is the nature and significance of its influence?
Although the term “Sociology of Knowledge” was coined in the 20th century, its origins derive from Plato’s assertion that the lower classes are unfit to pursue the higher kinds of knowledge because their mechanical crafts not only deform their bodies but also confuse their souls. Plato’s classical stance stimulated some modern pioneers in “The Sociology of Knowledge,” notably Max Weber and Max Scheler. Both Plato and Scheler anticipated the modern/post modern claim of The Sociology of Knowledge that social circumstance, by shaping the subject of knowing, also determined the objects which came to be known.
In the Middle Ages, patterns of life were fixed and defined, and patterns of thought tended to be equally so, ideas appeared as absolute. Soon the social fabric began to unravel. Machiavelli’s remark in the Discourses that thought of the palace was one thing, the thought of the market place quite another, exposed this coming narrative displacement (Paradigm Shift). The developments between the 17th and 19th centuries that led to the development of modern/post modern Sociology of Knowledge was divided between Cartesian Rationalism and Kantian/Newtonian Empiricism.
The Rationalists regarded mathematical propositions as the archetype of truth. As mathematics propositions do not change in content from age to age and from culture to culture, the Rationalists could not concede that different societies might have different systems of knowledge, all equally valid. But if truth is one, error could not be multi formed and its roots could be sought in social life; for instance, in the machinations of privileged classes in whose interest it was to keep the people in ignorance. Bacon’s doctrine of “Idols” or sources of delusion, set forth in his Novum Organum, illustrates this tendency. The Rationalists thus became the first “unmaskers” of “ideologies.”
According to the Empiricists, the content of the mind depend on the basic life experiences and as these are manifestly dissimilar in different circumstanced societies, they almost had to assume that reality would be different in each society. Thus, Vico asserted that every phase of history has its own style of thought which provides it with a specific and appropriate cultural mentality. This new mind set was used by two differing schools to engage the Biblical account of creation.
Voltaire called it a piece of stultifying priest craft which no rational person anywhere would accept: how could light exist before the sun? Herder answered that for a desert nation like the ancient Hebrews, the dawn creaks before the solar disk appears above the horizon. For them, therefore, the light was before the sun. The problems of the genesis of error and the genesis of truth were not handled until the end of the 18th century. And even though Kant’s achievement synthesized Rationalism and Empiricism, the “Sociology of Knowledge” failed to gain from his advances. Kant’s revolution of knowledge claims arose from the meeting of the Individual Mind with the Physical World. The social element was mission at both poles. The Sociology of Knowledge explains Kant’s narrowness itself as socially determined. Here we see steps toward our long day into night, the decay of feudal society and the emergence of independent producers had created a desire to “liberate” man from “artificial restriction” of social life. The presocial or anti social type of man was thought possible and even superior to social man. The primacy of the individual was to transcend the social or collection of individuals linked by social contract.
The 19th century brought a strong reaction against this radical individualism. The ultimate consequences of this phenomena was exposed in Marx’s mislabeled “materialistic interpretation of history.” Marx wrote in his Introduction to The Critique of Political Economy, “It is not men’s consciousness which determines their existence, but on the contrary, their social existence which determines their consciousness.” With all of Marx’s flaws, he provided the starting point of the development of the Modern Sociology of Knowledge (e.g., how precarious it is that a post modern advocate “ ”uses” the Sociology of Knowledge Thesis to critique the post modern consciousness). From this maze we arbitrarily chose three attempts to characterize the basic attitudes of the Sociology of Knowledge” (1) The Naturalist School: These prophets emphasize that human beings were creatures of nature before they were creatures of society and tend to see human beings as dominated by certain genetic drives with decisive consequences for emergent mentalities. Nietzsche ascribed to man a “will to power;” if this will is frustrated by a barrier, self consolatory ideas are apt to appear. Therefore for Nietzsche, Christianity is essentially a philosophy of “Sour Grapes,” as “slave morality.”
Villfredo Pareto’s Trattato di sociologia generale is the most elaborate articulation of the Sociology of Knowledge thesis. According to Pareto, men act first and think of reasons for their action only afterward. This school continues the lines initiated by the rationalists. Theirs is a doctrine of ideologies which devalues thought while it accounts for its formation. (2) Idealist School: A second group of values asserts that every society has to come to some decision about the absolute and that this decision will act as a basic premise that determines the content of culture. Perhaps the most ambitious presentation of this theory is Pitirim Sorakin’s Social and Cultural Dynamics. He distinguishes three basic metaphysics that, as prevailing in given societies, colors all their thinking. If a realm beyond space and time is posited as the absolute, as in ancient India (Hebrews) an “ideational” mentality will spring up; if the realm inside space and time is posited as the absolute, as in the modern West, a “Sensate” mentality will come into being; and if, finally, reality is ascribed both to the here and now and to beyond as in the high Middle Ages, an “idealistic” mentality will be the result. Sorokin’s doctrine is itself idealistic in characteristic and finds its ultimate inspiration in a religious attitude. (3) Sociology of Knowledge: The third group of prophets do not go beyond the human sphere but divide it into a primary and conditioning half and a secondary and conditioned one. As is to be expected, there is a vast difference between primary and secondary conditions. These values determine what lines of endeavor will be pursued both in practice and its theory. The third group has the most empirical justification. Societies do gain mental consistency to the degree that they achieve better human coordination and integration.
Derivative Problems: How to identify the substructure of knowledge and its relationship to the superstructure. There are three clear schools who respond to this problem: The positivist Hippolyte Taine expected the future of science of culture would be no less deterministic than the sociality of matter. This positivistic perspective concedes no independence to the mind and its contents. The Platonic tendency ascribes complete independence to the mind. To Scheler, et.al., thinking means participating in eternal pre-existence ideas. Max Weber has called this doctrine the doctrine of “elective affinity.” A third theory argues in terms of “interdependence and appears regularly in terms of connection with Functionalism (see my essay, “Functionalism and Post Modern Hermeneutics”). If society is to function as a unity, its modes of acting and thinking must be in or on the way to agreement. Neither Substructure nor Superstructure is given ontological priority, but there is a tendency to see thought in action as prior to thought as theory (see especially Nicholas Lobkowica, Theory in Practice: A History of A Concept From Aristotle to Marx (University of Notre Dame, 1967). The extent of influence range from manual to total causal connection. This issue stems from those who assert that the “categories of thought” themselves are “socially determined” from those who deny that they are.
The Sociology of Knowledge thesis claims to supplement, if not replace, all forms of classical epistemology. If society partially or totally determines knowing and thinking, how does this affect their validity? All species of Sociology of Knowledge theories stress that initially the human mind is never aware of more than a sector of reality and that the selection of a sector to be investigated is dependent on the axiological system which a given society has made its own. From this perspective they diverge once again into at least three schools: (1) Effect of Social Factors on Thought: Pareto, et.al., claim that only the senses are reliable sources of knowledge. This entails a split between mental universe into Scientific and Non Scientific compartments. The non scientific mode at best entails a “conceptual status,” but no True Truth value. The denigration of the social elements in human beings and hence of human knowledge is responded to by both Emile Durkheim and Karl Mannheim with the exact opposite conclusion who see the individual as the most direct source of truth. They regard society as the truth of the validity of a belief, but if truth works differently in different societies, then truth is merely connection!! We have arrived at the irrational post modern temple!
A third group including Max Weber and Max Scheler considers that social influence on mental activity consists essentially in “giving direction.” Max Scheler (1874-1928) was a German phenomologist and social philosopher. He was influenced by Rudolph Euchean, Franz Brentano and Edmund Husserl. See especially Herbert Siegelberg, The Phenomenological Movement, 2 volumes (The Hague, 1960), vol. I, pp. 228-270). What knowledge will be sought in a society that depends on the axiological system which reigns in that society. Sociality is neither a truth destroying nor a truth guaranteeing, but merely a truth limiting factor. The resulting limitation can be overcome by combining the valid “aspectual” insights of all societies into a comprehensive whole. Another crucial factor is the distinction between knowledge of nature and knowledge of culture. The facts of nature do not change from age to age and from country to country; the facts of culture do. Knowledge of the former, therefore, need not be marked by relativity. Pareto’s theory makes physical knowledge the model of all knowledge. Thus Mannheim and Durkheim theory fall into the opposite mistake. The theories of Max Weber and Max Scheler escape both weaknesses. In scientific research, only the origins of an insight will be determined by the social factor in cultural studies. The Sociology of Knowledge can throw light on the genesis and often on the content of concrete thought structures. The Sociology of Knowledge thesis is above all hermeneutical method and must not become involved in the difficult ontological problems which the social “determination” of knowledge, thought and culture is otherwise bound to raise.
A central issue in any discussion of The Sociology of Knowledge thesis “is therefore a necessary, logical connection and not merely a contingent or causal one, between the ‘social perspective’ of a student of human affairs and his standards of competent social inquiry and in consequence of the influence of the special values to which he is committed because of his own social involvement is not eliminated. Does this suggestion escape Hegelian ‘Dialectic’ or Marxian ‘historical relativism’? There must be distinction between the origin of man’s views and their ‘factual’ validity. All species of the Sociology of Knowledge thesis challenge the universal adequacy of the thesis that ‘the genesis of a proposition is under all circumstances irrelevant to this truth.’ (See Karl Mannheim, Ideology and Utopia (NY, 1959, pp. 271, 288, 292; also Kurt H. Wolff, 1946, “Sociology of Knowledge and Sociological Theory,” in Symposium on Sociological Theory (ed. Llewellyn Gross, Evanston, IL, IVP, p. 577).
The Sociology of Knowledge does not establish the radical claim that there is no competent evidence to show that the principles employed in social inquiry for assessing intellectual products are necessarily determined by the social perspective of the inquirer. The fact usually cited in support of this contention establish at best only a contingent causal relation between a man’s social commitments and his canons of cognitive validity. In many forms of post modern thought it is fashionable to say that the “mentality” or logical operation of primitive societies differ from those typical in Western civilization--a discrepancy that has attributed to differences in the institutions of the societies under comparison is now generally recognized to be erroneous because it previously misinterprets the intellectual process of primitive peoples. Are conclusions of mathematics and the natural sciences neutral to differences in social perspective of those asserting them? The genesis of these propositions is irrelevant to their validity. Does the cognitive status of the thesis that the social perspective enters “essentially” into the content as well as the validation of every assertion about human affairs? If all “ideas” are culturally contingent, then there could be no cross cultural communication regarding either their content or validation. Are any claims regarding human affairs objectively valid? Is there an intrinsic impossibility of securing objective, i.e., value free and unbiased conclusions? (See Ernst Nagel, The Structure of Science: Problems in The Logic of Scientific Explanation (NY: Harcourt, Brace, 1961).
This study is an effort to show that irrationalism has a long history of Narrative Displacement. The essence of Post Modern irrationalism is the repudiation of foundationalism and the “rational consequences” of rejecting “objective” and “universal” true truth claims. This narrative displacement is much older than Kant’s perspectivism and its ensuing radical contextualization. The implication of this phenomena for Christian evangelism and missions should be clear. Jesus is under fire because He is not just one of a pluralism of religious gurus. The Gospel affirms that Jesus only saves!
If there are any differences between scientific data and myths or superstition, then we must give an account of escaping the determination of “non logical” social forces. If the rationality of scientific ideas in those said texts are to be trans-culturally, temporally, transcendent, not only scientifically descriptive but explanatory--we must state and rationally defend a meta narrative, which alone can enable us to escape a culturally relative tomb (e.g. supposing that this is our desire and aspiration). Science as a system of knowledge is simply not their business; it is the providence of history or perhaps the philosophy of science. But how, if they can, are these endeavors to transcend their social context? The arm of these disciplines is to exhibit the internal structure and intellectual affinities of scientific ideas, rather than their social origins or influence they seek to comprehend ideas within an intellectual rather than a social context, to exhibit their “cognitive” rather than their “behavioral” antecedents and consequences. The history of Western scientific thought cannot be explained by scientific bondage to the received or “communal” character. (See N.W. Storee, The Social System of Science (NY, 1966); and M.D. King, “Reason, Tradition and The Progressiveness of Science” History and Theory, vol. X , no. 1, 1971, pp 3-32; and Paul Sweet, “The Historical Writings of Heinrich von Sabir” History and Logic (1970, pp 37-58).
The division between the history of scientific ideas and the sociology of scientific conduct between the study of science as a “particular sort of knowledge” and as a “particular sort of behavior” has met with the ready consent of historians and sociologists alike. Whatever its intellectual justification, it saves intellectual historians from the indignity of being told that the “real” causes of scientific growth lies beyond their professional comprehension; and it relieves sociologists of the necessity of understanding scientific ideas.
However, the brilliant work of T.S. Kuhn, in his book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (University of Chicago Press, 1962) has spoken out against this “divorce of convenience.” In his great work he moves across the boundaries between the history of ideas and the sociology of scientific behavior. This work reopens the question of whether its intellectual and social dimensions can be properly understood in isolation from one another. (Note: See the later section of this work on Kuhn’s concept of Paradigm. We must face the fact that Kuhn’s work is the most referenced work in academic debate in the past forty years. He is the guiding guru for post modern cultural relativism, revisionist history and the anti science movement, etc.)
Priests in The Temple of Sociological Reductionism: Merton and Parsons
We first must go back into the roots of the sociological approach to science, even to the work of R.K. Merton, who seeks to weld together an anti rationalistic sociology and a rationalistic view of science. This analogue is rooted in an extended authority between science and economic activity. This treats science as “work,” scientists as workers, and scientific ideas as commodities or as “products” of scientific research. It appears that the social system of science as a system for the production and distribution of scientific ideas, and its postulates--the virtual bifurcation of scientific “products” and the process of scientific “products,” of scientific ideas and the concrete practices which give use to them (e.g., Merton and Marxist historians of science from B. Hesser, J.D. Bernal to Christopher Hill. See especially M.D. King and J.D. Bernal in “Science and the Professional Dilemma” in Penguin Social Sciences Survey , ed. Julius Gould (London, 1963, pp. 51-68).
Kuhn’s analysis of scientific development raises serious doubts concerning the validity of this account of the relationship of scientific practice and scientific ideas. It challenges the view that the practice of science is structured around a universal and social logic of procedure, and instead treats it as being governed by concrete, discrete logical traditions which indeed resist rationalization.
Kuhn does not utilize the analogue. His work of the social character but from politics, law and religion were tradition, still at least a measure of respect -- Paradigm, Legitimization Structure, Narrative, World View, etc.) He expounds a sociology of scientific authority, consensus (Received View), and commitment rather than do a Mertonian sociology of scientific production, distribution and exchange. Kuhn’s theory suggests that choosing a scientific theory is a “gestalt” or conversion experience, a radical changing of “seeing things” versus an evolutionary incremental change.
Merton’s anti rationalistic sociology is functionalistic sociology, like Parsons, stem from a critique of what is described in The Structure of Social Action as the positivistic or rationalistic tradition of sociological thought. As Parsons claims--the positivistic approach seeks to comprehend social order within simple means and framework. From this view social action is immediately comprehensible if it is rational, and it is rational “in so far as it pursues ends possible within the conditions of the situation and by means which, among those available to the actor, are intrinsically best adapted to the end for reasons understandable and verifiable by positive empirical science.” (Talcott Parsons, The Structure of Social Actions, 2nd ed., (Glencoe, IL, 1949, p. 58)
Parsons and Kuhn use the terms “positivistic” and “rationalistic” interchangeably to designate the theory of action and the approach to the history of science. The tension is clear--”non positivistic theory of action” confronts a “positivistic view of science.” The conflict between Merton, Parsons and Kuhn set the agenda for post modern debate! The debate hinges upon two dichotomies: (1) In the tradition of Pareto, he breaks down the actors’ statement of purpose into two elements, into mere rationalization advanced to justify actions (a’la’ Freud’s projection theory, for on the one hand, an expression of the sentiments or motivations which truly give rise to it on the other--or, in his own words, into “expression of reasons which are merely accommodative lip service and that which express basic orientation.” (Merton, op.cit., p. 604)
(2) In the functionalist tradition, he distinguishes between the stated purpose for which an action is instituted--these being presumably compounded of rationalizations and authentic expressions of motivations and its real or objective consequences for a social system. Merton’s sociology is geared to the studying the deviations of systems of action from this happy conjunction; its distinctive contribution is to uncover precisely those antecedents and effects of social action which are not at all, or are only partially or obliquely, acknowledged by the actor in his statements of purpose. It is a sociology of “unconscious motivations of social behavior” (a’la’ Freud’s irrational ground of behavior) and of its unanticipated or unintended consequences, a sociology that renders non-logical behavior intelligible by studying it in a context not appreciated by the actor.
Merton’s theory of action enables him to reinstate the beliefs and practices dismissed as irrational by positivists. This analysis fits all cultural and religious experiences, e.g., Hopi rain making ceremony, Haitian voodoo incantations, etc., all make a contribution to social solidarity. Merton’s functionalism shows that traditional modes of thought and behavior are not merely products of faulty knowledge but form a reservoir of unconscious wisdom and sources of latent functionality. It demonstrates a “reasonableness” of non-logical practices (e.g. Here lies the error of cultural relativism that influences even many missionary social analysists. Their irrational systems give rational justification of their behavior only while locked in their cultural cocoon (Wittgenstein’s “Language game”). But their irrational cocoon is not and cannot be the source of the brilliant advances in science. There cannot be a fusion between positivistic science and relativistic social structures. The resolution of this impasse is available only in two sources--Pantheistic Monism or the Meta Narrative of Judaeo/Christianity. Since Pantheistic monisms cannot even remotely explain the brilliant scientific achievements that leave the Judaeo/Christians a live option in the universe of discourse. (See esp. M.D. King, “The Progressiveness of Science” History and Theory x nu. 1 (1971), pp. 3-32).
Merton’s “Functionalism” cannot explain the narrative history of the social sciences. (See esp. R. K. Merton, “Science, Technology and Society in the 17th Century,” England, Osiris 4, 1938, 369-632) The positivistic model of science is unreservedly opposed to tradition. Tradition is static, a set of invariable responses, automatically transmitted from generation to generation. It is an essentially irrational and arbitrary power. A tradition-bound society buys social order at the expense of adaptability and progress. Science is the antithesis of tradition: it is “the rational achievement of the human par excellence” (Parsons, Structure of Social Action , pp.57-58; also Peter Berger and Thomas Luckman, The Social Construction of Reality (London: 1967, p. 16); and my critique of “The Sociology of Knowledge Thesis: From Historicism to Idea of Progress to Post Modern Revisionist History” also, “Whatever Happened to True Truth?”
Since total objectivity is impossible, contra the Positivistic Model, there is no escape from the scientist bringing a narrative or paradigm to the laboratory to dissect data. Therefore, the Positivistic Model of Scientism has already been refuted in the development of the hard sciences. The scientist cannot escape personal involvement in scientific examination. The positivistic scientist cannot escape total objectivity without threat of the authority of other scientists. One of the greatest modern and post modern myths is that the scientist is morally and socially neutral. Treating scientific data as objects or commodities rather than as states of the mind. The scientific community does not possess impersonal standards of scientific merit; rather then in terms of the human or social significance, but these evaluations are not neutral; they entail a World View, Paradigm, Legitimization Structure, Narrative to relate the new data to received structures. There can be no neutral structures! Merton’s work raised two fundamental questions: (1) What accounts for his increased interest in science? (2) Why was it more marked in the physical sciences than are the biological and social sciences?
Merton’s account has been severely critiqued by A. Rupert Hall (his “Merton Revisited: or Science and Society in the 17th century” , History of Science 2 (1963), pp. 3-6) Hall’s critique of Merton’s thesis concerning the relationship between Protestantism, Science and Technology is highly ambiguous. How could Puritanism have been necessary for the development of science? Science also flourished under Roman Catholicism. Under any analysis, Puritanism cannot account for the origins of scientific development in 17th century Europe. His argument is both historically false and irrelevant for any explanation of the origins and development of 17th century science in the Christian West.
Merton’s methodology is inseparable from his mentor, Talcott Parsons, who was Merton’s teacher and colleague at Harvard, and set American sociologists in the 1930's the concern for discovering a middle ground between European “Positivism” and “Idealism” (Historicism) upon which American theoretical sociology could be founded. Hall’s criticism of Merton’s thesis was replaced by the question: “Are Puritanism, Science and Technology bound together by positivistic causal links or by idealistic bonds of elective affinity?” Parson pen points the problem in The Structure of Social Actions:
Positivistic thought has always directed its efforts to the uncovering of intrinsic causal relationships in the phenomena; idealistic thought to the discovery of relations of meaning, . . . with this difference has gone that of method -- on the one hand causal theoretical explanation; on the other, interpretation of meaning, . . . which was seen in the concrete facts of its field symbols, the meanings of which are to be interpreted. The order and system of social phenomena has been a meaningful, not a causal order at all. (Parson, Structure of Social Action, pp. 485-486)
Surely no one would claim that just because someone was Protestant that they would become a scientific. In the course of Merton’s argument he simply equates the idealistic notion of values with the positivistic notion of motivation, or he transformed Weberian values, i.e., ideals or standards against which behavior is measured and in terms of which it is endowed with meaning, into Paretian sentiments, i.e., sources (or causes) of behavior. Merely because Puritans valued the scientific mode of life and generated it meaningful, that this was the “cause” of the rise of science in that context: Hall also criticizes Merton’s thesis, that treating the scientific revolution as a revolution in practice rather than a revolution in thought. (See section of this paper, “Theories of Scientific Revolution: Kant, Lakatos, Carnap, Popper, and Kuhn,” section on Rationality and Revolution in Scientific Progress, voices on the future of scientific revolutions)
This thesis gave no attention to the fact that the belief and behavior system of Protestant and Roman Catholic groups were inseparable. Science as a force is not merely a way of life, but a way to make sense out of God’s creation. Merton’s thesis totally collapses, if the scientific revolution is not merely a revolution behavior. Merton’s view of science is precisely what the historians of science cannot accept. They consistently maintain that the scientific revolution was essentially a revolution in intellectual attitudes rather than a mode of work. It was “a revolution in theory and explanation.” (A.R. Hall, “The Scholar and Craftsman in the Scientific Revolution,” in Critical Problems in The History of Science, ed., Marshall Clagett (Madison, WI: 1962, p. 21; see the section on Scientific Method from Bacon to Whewell, et.al. In this work).
In the maze of the Sociology of Knowledge of Cultural Relativism, Dilthey’s hermeneutic revolution enters as another example in structuralism: There are at least five basic implications of Dilthey’s Structuralism which are exemplified by the history of the sciences:
1. There is no such thing as a determinate, exclusive starting point of any kind of inquiry or action.
2. There is no such thing as a singular, primary and privileged or absolute source for human knowledge or action.
3. There is no such thing as a primary and privileged or absolute foundation or ground or guarantee of validity of knowledge or reliability of ways of acting.
4. There is no such thing as a primary, ultimate or absolute criterion for the truth of falsity of knowledge and/or the reliability of a rule of action. (Krausser, “Dilthey’s Revolution” Review of Metaphysics (1968, 69): 262-280).
5. The implications of these ‘relativistic axioms’ for the biblical view of Incarnation, Canon, i.e., any final authoritative word within the space-time matrix, should be crystal clear. Their significance lies in the fact that they dominate much or most biblical hermeneutics under the auspices of being scientific, of course.
The journey of Cultural Anthropological Relativism began in the early 1930's in the works of Carl Becker and Ruth Benedict. Their theses now control the cultural anthropology development of the academy. Carl Becker, who wrote The Heavenly City of the 18th Century Philosophers in 1931 was Turner’s mentor; Turner was the major voice in Disciples’ historiography of the Frontier thesis.
By 1934, Ruth Benedict expresssed her cultural relativism thesis in her book, Patterns of Culture. Her work affirms seven propostiions that shape the center of culture of the 1960's. As a cultural relativist and multiculturalist she asserts that: (1) We abandon our illusions of cultural superiority; each culture makes its own claims. (2) Human achievement is not dependent on any force external to human culture. (3) Western culture has assumed religious superiority in viewing other cultures. (4) Western Chrsitian culture is plagued with the irrationality of race, prejudice, nationalism. (5) Cultural anthropology encourages mutual cultural tolerance. (6) Western Christian culture tormented women, discouraged races (heredity, genetics, environment). (7) Demise of the normative superiority of Christianity (cf. Sin, guilt).