Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The Realization of God and Meaning in the Universe

The Topic was raised on my message boards, Doxa Forums, about the notion of ultimate meaning in life based upon God. I can understand valuing life and the universe and all of that if there is no God but I can't understand NOT being able to understand how God would make it more meaningful! I think those who argue that there is meaning without God, and that God doesn't make meaning just think of God as "another guy." He's just a big man in the sky with a lot power but he's an asshole and doesn't' know as much as they do and can't figure things out. To hear these sorts of thoughts expressed makes me sick. it makes me want to just wretch my guts. In fact it almost convinces me there's a satan. That could rob such a basic understanding from people. It's sick.
It's like not being able to see the difference in a Michelangelo sculpture and junk pile.

My friend Quantum Troll argued:

But is this the meaning that we experience and express in our lives? I would argue not. Meaning, for people, really comes from within. "What gives your life meaning?" gets a ton of answers, but most of them involve family, friends, what we do at work (esp. doctors and social workers), and God. Meaning is something you perceive subjectively, even if you believe in God.
This is the basis of romantic rebellion of the early 19th century, meaning is an inner truth and one's own unique inner truth is separate form the ultimate origin of the universe. Its strange how such an old idea, connected as it is to a defunct philosophy, still clinging to the postmodern milieu and espoused by a scientific reduction type (as QT is). Reductionism and romanticism are quite opposite of one another. At the risk of making the genetic fallacy it would be safe to say that QT would not normally espouse such an idea and would certainly disprove of the Romantic's basic understanding of knowledge as private and relative and based upon an inner truth derives spontaneously form nature that has nothing to do with scientific fact. Strange that a science guy would still recite his trace of an old bromide left over from a long forgotten movement. But this kind of thinking has worked its way deep into the modern Western psyche.

He acknowledges that if god exists then universe has purpose but still holds out for private meaning that would only be valued by the one discovering it through this inner truth. In my view that's a mistake based upon an illusion. Like the illusion of radiant cold. Cold is an absence of heat, it's not radiated. Air conditioners don't spew out cold they spew cold air, air which has the heat removed.So it is with personal meaning in our lives. Meaning is related to values are the bed of morals. Morality law is written on the heart so your value systems are ultimately put on your hearts by God. Our person meanings are filtered through the values system that is ultimately for the divine.

At this point in the discussion another friend, Tiny Thinker, introduced an idea that I think is quite profound, one I should have tumbled to at his this point:

Within, without. That has nothing to do with God, unless one presumes God is only within or without, here or there. Meaning itself is the puzzle. If God is the foundation of all and the ground of Being, then family, work, etc are all given by God, so they would not really be an alternative. People may derive meaning from their idea of God, but that is just another thing, another creation.

We may experience everything subjectively, yet that doesn't mean we aren't experiencing something that is objective. We pattern our own efforts and creations after that experience of something. What are imitating? For example, we may call some of our imitations of cause and effect in the empirical realm "laws and principles" and imagine they exist independently as "aspects of nature", but that only begs the question. It still says there is something "out there" that exists independent of our subjective perception which ultimately doesn't require any reference other than itself.

By "within or without" he means regardless of weather we place meaning within as this Romantic inner truth, or without, as the over purpose handed down from a rational creator, God is more than just another fact of creation, but the basis upon which all reality rests. That means meaning is bound up with God at an intimate level, private meaning is also bound up with God as God is according to Augustine "more near to me than my inmost being." As the basis of reality God is present and manifest in all of reality, even in the beings. That mean even the post priviate meaning that seems to be connected to who we are at the deepest and most intimet level is also connected to God and exists because God is the basis of reality.

This reminds me of my idea of that belief stems from realization and anyone can realize the reality of God believe. This realization transcends logic. It need to proceed from winning a logical argument with a skeptic but is as simple as realizing our own contingency. I didn't realize it at the time I thought of it, although I should have but this is nothing more than idea I've been attached to since seminary; Schleiermacher's feeling of utter dependence. 


Frederich Schleiermacher, (1768-1834) in On Religion: Speeches to it's Cultured Dispisers, and The Christian Faith .sets forth the view that religion is not reducible to knowledge or ethical systems. It is primarily a phenomenological apprehension of God consciousness through means of religious affections. Affections is a term not used much anymore, and it is easily confused with mere emotion. Sometimes Schleiermacher is understood as saying that "I become emotional when I pay and thus there must be an object of my emotional feelings." Though he does venture close to this position in one form of the argument, this is not exactly what he's saying.

In the earlier form of his argument he was saying that affections were indicative of a sense of God, but in the Christian Faith he argues that there is a greater sense of unity in the life world and a sense of the dependence of all things in the life world upon something higher.

What is this feeling of utter dependence? It is the sense of the unity in the life world and it's greater reliance upon a higher reality. It is not to be confused with the stray sky at night in the desert feeling, but is akin to it. I like to think about the feeling of being in my backyard late on a summer night, listening to the sounds of the freeway dying out and realizing a certain harmony in the life world and the sense that all of this exists because it stems form a higher thing. There is more to it than that but I don't have time to go into it. That's just a short hand for those of us to whom this is a new concept to get some sort of handle on it. Nor does "feeling" here mean "emotion" but it is connected to the religious affections. In the early version S. thought it was a correlate between the religious affections and God; God must be there because I can feel love for him when I pray to him. But that's not what it's saying in the better version.

The basic assumptions Schleiermacher is making are Platonic. He believes that the feeling of utter dependence is the backdrop, the pre-given, pre-cognitive notion behind the ontological argument. IN other words, what Anselm tried to capture in his logical argument is felt by everyone, if they were honest, in a pre-cognitive way. In other words, before one thinks about it, it is this "feeling" of utter dependence. After one thinks it out and makes it into a logical argument it is the ontological argument. "Life world," or Labeinswelt is a term used in German philosophy. It implies the world of one's culturally constructed life, the "world" we 'live in.' Life as we expeirence it on a daily basis. The unity one senses in the life world is intuitive and unites the experiences and aspirations of the individual in a sense of integration and belonging in in the world. As Heidegger says "a being in the world." Schleiermacher is saying that there is a special intuative sense that everyone can grasp of this whole, this unity, being bound up with a higher reality, being dependent upon a higher unity. In other words, the "feeling" can be understood as an intuitive sense of "radical contingency" (int he sense of the above ontological arguments).

He goes on to say that the feeling is based upon the ontological principle as its theoretical background, but doesnt' depend on the argument because it proceeds the argument as the pre-given pre-theoretical pre-cognitive realization of what Anselm sat down and thought about and turned into a rational argument: why has the fools said in his heart 'there is no God?' Why a fool? Because in the heart we know God. To deny this is to deny the most basic realization about reality.

Now don't' think by any stretch of the imagination that I think this proves the existence of God! No, no way. It is not "proof," it is freedom from the need to prove!

As Robert R. Williams puts it:

There is a "co-determinate to the Feeling of Utter dependence.

"It is the original pre-theoretical consciousness...Schleiermacher believes that theoretical cognition is founded upon pre-theoretical inter subjective cognition and its life world. The latter cannot be dismissed as non-cognitive for if the life world praxis is non-cognitive and invalid so is theoretical cognition..S...contends that belief in God is pre-theoretical, it is not the result of proofs and demonstration, but is conditioned solely by the modification of feeling of utter dependence. Belief in God is not acquired through intellectual acts of which the traditional proofs are examples, but rather from the thing itself, the object of religious experience..If as S...says God is given to feeling in an original way this means that the feeling of utter dependence is in some sense an apparition of divine being and reality. This is not meant as an appeal to revelation but rather as a naturalistic eidetic"] or a priori. The feeling of utter dependence is structured by a correlation with its whence." , Schleiermacher the Theologian, p 4.

Back in the discussion on the form still another old friend added his idea to the mix, that was Fleetmouse. Fleet ask an interesting question:

If you injured your arm severely and thereby found out that you were a robot with a manufacturer's brand stamped into your hidden parts, would you feel that your life had gained in meaning?
 I remember an episode of "Twilight Zone" to that effect. I think the idea is interesting, perhaps he means to argue that it would challenge our standard concepts of person hood, self, and therefore meaning to realize that we are created as creatures of a creator. That would be the old illusion again mistaking meaning and self for freedom from creaturehood, like mistaking cold air for radiant cold. The problem is the images is wrong for several reasons:

(1) Discovering that you are a robot would be like discovering that you are not a part of nature, but a freak that was not produced naturally but created in a laboratory; you are not human you are a  machine .like complex form of can opener.

(2) This idea of being a big doll, or a robot, a machine, not part of nature, not created by nature is realted to a view of God that puts god outside of nature not as creator of all that is, but as some sort of great lab technition in the sky.

(3) It puts one at odds from the rest of nature and reality.

This is all contrary to the realization of the feeling of utter dependence. Utter dependence is not the idea of being a big robot of marionette but the contingency, the interlinking web of contingent things that can all be traced back to the one necessary starting point that makes all things to be, God. All of nature is contingent upon God who is the basis of realty, Being a contingency is natural and it is the result of being part of nature because nature itself is contingent upon God.

Meaning is just the outgrowth of realizing the relationship and intimate connection between God and reality. The theory I've espoused many times is the idea that the whole of reality is a thought in the mind of God. At that rate the idea of being a secret robot is small potatoes, but it would not be freakish or natural it would be nature of nature. Belief in God is the realization of our contingency upon a higher necessity that creates all there is because it s the ground of being and being itself.

When I say "God is being itself" what I'm saying is literally to say "what it means to be is to be a creature of God." Surely this realization is the beginning of an understanding of true meaning.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Alternatives to “law” in science






It seems clear that a great deal of the fuss is the result of the words, “law” vs. “description.” The prescriptive/descriptive dichotomy is probably too simplistic. Neither is it so simple to just find a new term. One of the more interesting developments in philosophy of science is the small, yet determined, group of feminist science critics. Their social project is to clean science up from it's “sexist spin” (my term) by ridding it of paradigms based upon dominance, hierarchy and linear understanding. Naturally one of the first places they have to start is in dealing with the notion of natural law. Nelson quoting Keller:

Our understanding of what constitutes a law (in nature as well as in society) is of course subject to change, and not all laws necessarily imply coercion. Certainly not all scientific laws are either causal or deterministic; they may, for example be statistical, phenomenological, or just simply the 'rules of the game.'….The extreme case of the desire to turn observed regularity into law is of course the search for the one 'unified' law of nature that embodies all other laws, and that hence will be immune to revision. [1]
Keller doubts that the P/D dichotomy distinguishes the law of nature metaphor from coercion, (Nelson's analysis of Keller). Keller wants to draw upon biology rather than base her alternative on physics. She moves from search for laws to a search for order. Linear hierarchy of the legal metaphor limits our relation to and understanding of nature. Keller admits that order can imply the same hierarchical relationships as does law. It also allows for other kinds of relationships. “Order is a category comprising patterns of organization that can be spontaneous, self generated, or externally imposed; it is a larger category than law precisely to the extent that law implies external constraint..”[2]
Ruth Bleier says dominance determinism and hierarchy is in genetics, so biology is not free of it. She also uses that fact to justify using political concerns as guides to scientific paradigms, because in matters such as racism the relationship between the scientific and political was one-to-one. In other words the dominance and hierarchical nature of genetics was used to justify racism.[3]A Derridian might say, however, that the tension between the two implications of “order” is the point of deconstruction. Law and order go together like soup and sandwich. There's an even better answer as to way the idea of using order rather than law is not a defeat for my argument: order, and organizing principle might fit tether well. Order might be the product of organizing principle.


Scientific realism and property essentialism


This view has the most potential to compete with the TS argument. This is because the other theories furnish first and foremost cosmological explanations and only tangentially compete with the argument as a result of the implications of the explanations they offer. In other words they don't directly attempt to explain from where laws of nature come. This theory does so explain, or at least some versions attempt to. That is what we are calling natural law (they don't all agree with the concept of law) the behavior of physical objects, is the result of properties in the objects. Nancy Cartwright is an example of a thinker who is not content with the notion of natural law or physical law. In resolving the difficulties she raises Alan Chalmers demonstrates a view much like that of property essentialism. Chalmers is a scientific realist. Cartwright, in How The Laws of Physics Lie, argues that laws can't be taken in a realist sense. Cartwright's approach is basically Humean. For example an electronic amplifier performs in a way very different from the technical description. Fundamentally reproducible scattering cross sections in nuclear physics are not deduced from theory. She is making the road map argument, my name for it. In other words, practice is to theory as a road map is to land scape, not always accurate. Laws are not precise descriptions.[4]
Chalmer's solution involves linguistic resolution to the problem. In other words it's primarily a matter of describing accurately what the law encompasses; laws are descriptions of powers, behaviors, and dispositions. Things happen in the world because things have the power or disposition to make them happen a certain way. Balls bounce because they are elastic.[5]The properties of the objects necessitate certain effects and it's a matter of describing in such a way that the definition of law captures that power or disposition. “Once such things as capacities, powers, tendencies, dispositions or properties are included in our ontology, then laws can be taken as describing their mode of operation.”[6] Chalmers sees causes and laws as intimately linked. Laws are essentially descriptions of causes. As he puts it, “events are caused through the actions of particulars that possess the power to act as causes.”[7] Chalmers is speaking of essentialist theory. The problem with Chalmer's view is this is almost tautological. That laws cause things is just fundamental to the definition of law in physical terms. He's really just saying “causes cause things,” The explanation here is not explanatory. Sure balls bounce because they are elastic but what is it that and why are they elastic? Why do things endowed with elasticity bounce? Of it's the molecular structure but why does it have that structure?
Brian Ellis presents a challenging view. [8]This view is challenging to the TS argument because questions the very concept of hierarchical laws, reducing law-like aspect to properties in objects, as essentialists do. It just makes sense that reductionists would get around to that. External overarching laws are a holdover from belief in God, so of course they must go. What did I say in premise (2) of the deductive version of my argument? I said that they try to eliminate the hierarchical nature of OP's they wind up making new ones. Ellis tries to eliminate them and put the causal powers in the objects but then winds up talking about hierarchies again:
The members of these natural kinds [of things—orders of things existing] are charactrrisable by their causal powers, capacities, and properties and have no other intrinsic properties….The fundamental natural kinds belong in hierarchies. At the lowest most specific level of these hierarchies the members of these natural kinds are are intrinsically identical. But as we ascend the hierarchies the natural kinds become more general admit variation.[9]
The same criticism still applies. There's no accounting for why the properties exist. The one concrete example I can think of we see in the section on gravity where the3 starched cloth with billiard balls illustrates how matter warps space and relates gravity, but the illustration assumes gravity anyway. They never try to say why or how property X produces behavior Y and not some other behavior. They use the term necessity in saying the laws are grounded in properties that would make them contingent not necessary[X]
Philosophers of science are now less willing to just assume that laws of physics are mere descriptions, they either want to know why they work or they want to move away from the paradigm of “law.” But we are still pretty much uncertain as to the whys. We are still in the dark about what it is that's being described. But if we try to understand orvanizing princpoes the best one is mind.


Sources 

[1]E. F. Keller, quoted in Lynn Nelson, Who Knows?... op. Cit., 220.
Evelyn Fox Keller (born March 20, 1936) American, feminist, physicist professor emerita at MIT

[2]Ibid.

[3]Lynn Nelson, op cit, 221.
Ruth Bleier was a neurophysiologist, Ph.D, from Johns Hopkins, she was a life long activist, summoned before the HUAAC by Joe McCarthy, for running a peace committee in Maryland. She also taught Psychiatry, was professor at University of Wisconsin at Madison, and one of the first feminist thinkers to bring a feminist critique to scientific paradigms.

[4]Alan Chalmers, in Sankey, op. Cit., 7-8.

[5]Ibid., 10.

[6]Ibid.

[7]Ibid., 11

[8]Brian Ellis, “Causal Powers and Laws of Nature,” in Saknkey, ed. op. Cit. 19-39.

[9]Ibid, 23.

[10]Caroline Lierse in Sankey, op. Cit.,., 83.




Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Laws of Physics (part 2): Hume's Empiricism Offers No Answer








Alan Chalmers discusses the way that followers of the Philosopher David Hume deal with the problem of explaining the regularity without prescriptive laws. Chalmers represents the scientific realists, Humeans are their oppents. Followers of Hume believe that it's going too far beyond the bounds of what can be proven to suggest that laws govern things or that properties of nature produce the effect of governance. Chalmers goes back to the billiard balls to illustrate Hume's position. Hume argued that we don't see one ball moving the other but one ball stop and the other one start. We don't see the causal process so we must assume it. Hume believed that we don't have a rational warrant for belief in physical bodies or the external world. These must be assumed on faith.

At least Chalmer's and the realists are willing to admit there's a problem. I will demonstrate that his solution is little better than Hume's (in the next chapter). Humean refusal to move out of deniel is indicative of modern science as a whole. This law-like regularity is just a set of behaviors and natural laws are just descriptions of those behaviors, never mind how law-like they are. Chalmer's argument against Hume does not answer Hume, it just assumes that we know already that nature has active properties that make things happen. That's just refusal to believe Hume's logic. Hume's skepticism fuels atheist empiricism, that stands behind all their claims that there is no rational reason to believe in God. I wonder how many of them ever realize that according to Hume there's no reason to believe in the external world. Mattey says of Hume:
Consider the question whether we are justified in believing that a physical world exists. As David Hume pointed out, the skepticism generated by philosophical arguments is contrary to our natural inclination to believe that there are physical objects. Nonetheless, after considering the causes of our belief in the existence of body and finding them inadequate for the justification of that belief, Hume admitted to being drawn away form his original assumption that bodies exist. "To be ingenuous, I feel myself at present..more inclin'd to repose no faith at all in my senses, or rather imagination, than to place in it such an implicit confidence," because "'tis impossible upon any system to defend either our understanding or senses." His solution to these doubts was "carelessness and in-attention," which divert the mind from skeptical arguments.[1]
Hume tells us:

[T]he skeptic . . . must assent to the principle concerning the existence of body, tho' he cannot pretend by any arguments of philosophy to maintain its veracity. Nature has not left this to his choice, and has doubtless esteem'd it an affair of too great importance to be trusted to our uncertain reasonings and speculations. We may well ask, What causes induce us to believe in the existence of body?, but 'tis in vain to ask, Whether there be body or not? That is a point, which we must take for granted in all our reasoning.” (A Treatise of Human Nature, Book I, Part IV, Section II)[2]
For an answer to Hume I turn to Hume's contemporary opponent, Thomas Reid. More specifically to G.J. Mattey and his use of Lehrer and Reid. Thomas Reid (1710-1790) Scottish philosopher, leader of the “common sense” school. He studied Philosophy at Marischl college, Aberdeen. He served as a Presbyterian pastor. He influenced modern philosophers such as Charles Sanders Peirce.[3]
Reid argues that we are justified in following our senses.

That the evidence of sense is of a different kind, needs little proof. No man seeks a reason for believing what he sees or feels; and, if he did, it would be difficult to find one. But, though he can give no reason for believing his senses, his belief remains as firm as if it were grounded on demonstration...Many eminent philosophers, thinking it unreasonable to believe when they could not shew a reason, have laboured to furnish us with reasons for believing our senses; but their reasons are very insufficient, and will not bear examination. Other philosophers have shewn very clearly the fallacy of these reasons, and have, as they imagine, discovered invincible reasons against this belief; but they have never been able either to shake it themselves or to convince others. The statesman continues to plod, the soldier to fight, and the merchant to export and import, without being in the least moved by the demonstations that have been offered of the non-existence of those things about which they are so seriously employed. And a man may as soon by reasoning, pull the moon out of her orbit, as destroy the belief of the objects of sense. (Essay on the Intellectual Powers of Man, Essay IV, Chapter XX)[4]
He doesn't put it in these terms but he's arguing that living by the assumption that perceptions are real, works. Ignoring that realization doesn't work. Now he does say that perceptions can be wrong and we need attention to detail.[5] But in general he's talking about justification of belief in the external world and physical bodies. People go about their lives doing what they do and assume the reality of the world works. Now a student of philosophy may think “but that's the average person who knows nothing of philosophy and doesn't think. No philosopher lives by Humean skepticism. When a philosopher makes love he or she does not pull back at the most climatic moment and say “is my partner here real? Is this real? Am I really doing this deed in this place? Philosophers who are drafted and sent to war don't walk into machine gun fire to see if the bullets are real. Reid argues that we have prima face justification to assume the reality of regular and consistent perceptions. Science couldn't really thrive on Humean skepticism. To a point skepticism is good for science since science is not about proving facts but testing hypotheses. Yet if we never assume the reality of perception why bother with empirical observation?

Lewis and systems

Of course Hume is assumed by modern philosopher to have won the show down with Reid (although I disagree). Now a follower of Hume's, David Lewis, has in the late twentieth century developed a means of explaining physical and natural laws that will quite likely be argued against the TS argument. Lewis has overhauled modal logic, possible worlds, and counterfactuals, as well as other fields.[6]In dealing with the question “what is a law?” there are two major approaches: David Lewis (“Systems,” o “systematized regularity theory”) and David Armstrong's (universals).[7]Systems are made up of two competing aspects, strength and simplicty. Strength here means better explained and proven. Because strength involves explanation there is automatically a tradeoff between strength and simplicity. We can make a hpothesis stronger by explaining in more detail. But at the coast of simplicity. We can make them more simple by streamlining explanation, but at the coast of strength. “According to Lewis (1973, 73), the laws of nature belong to all the true deductive systems with a best combination of simplicity and strength.”[8]
One last aspect of the systems view that is appealing to many (though not all) is that it is in keeping with broadly Humean constraints on a sensible metaphysics. There is no overt appeal to closely related modal concepts (e.g., the counterfactual conditional) and no overt appeal to modality-supplying entities (e.g., universals or God; for the supposed need to appeal to God,.... Indeed, the systems approach is the centerpiece of Lewis's defense of Humean supervenience, “the doctrine that all there is in the world is a vast mosaic of local matters of particular fact, just one little thing and then another” (1986, ix). [emphasis mine].[9]
One reason why thinkers like this view, apparent from the quotation, is the alleged use of Occam's razor saving God out of the picture. I have dealt with that in chapter three. God is not multiplying entities beyond necessity, since God is not subject to physical law. The necessity if God cannot be understood in terms of science or physical law. Another problem with this approach is that it really contributes nothing toward answering the question about the nature of physical laws, ie descriptive laws appear to be descriptions of of prescriptive laws. If we decide that laws are the best balance between strength and simplicity, that does not prove that the law-like regularity is not the result of some external organizing principel or transcendental signified. Laws can be a balance between strong and simple, and still be set up by God. That doesn't blunt God arguments unless it indicates that the organizing principle (the balance) is spontaneous, that cannot be proved. One might argue that it can't be proved wither. Abductive arguments don't seek to prove, but argue from the best explanation; systems can't be the est for the question since it doesn't answer it. Moreover, Lewis' systems idea has been criticized as mind dependent; the ideas of strength, simplicity, and balance seem subjective and thus mind dependent.[10]Thus it turns out that the system's view might actually support the TS.

Armstrong and Universals

David Armstrong's ideas of universals is the rival and alternative to Lewis' view. Unfortunatley, this doesn't help the TS argument because the very point that makes it appealing is that it's less mind dependent, thus less friendly to the TS argument. To understand this theory we need to employ some modernized versions of Platonic thought. We have universals and particulars, universals are always true across the board and shared by many objects (heavy, light. brown, dark) and particulars are abd concrete objects, this particular dark brown pen in my hand. Universals are not located in a platonic realm, however, but in all the objects that share that quality (Aristotelian, no form without essence). So all red things share the universal of redness, and that universal is distributed among all red things. Some things seem universal and are not, such games. Not all games are universals because not all games share the same qualities.[11] The upshot is that there's a relationship between universals. If we have relations between objects that are universal we can draw relations between universals.
We need to be clear how a relation between universals can generate a relation between particular objects. To do this, note that if we have a first-order relation R (e.g. ‘being next to’) and two particulars a and b, then the combination R(a,b) is a particular (e.g. ‘the fact that a is next to b’). Similarly, the second-order universal N, when applied to the two first-order universals F and G, yields a first-order universal N(F,G). N(F,G), the relation between universals, is therefore itself a universal. It is then instantiated through the form N(F,G)(a’s being F, a’s being G).[12]
Armstrong's concept of universals distinguishes laws from regularities, Lewis' systems theory does not. That might seem to be a problem for the TS argument because it might seem to explain the law-like regularity of the universe. But, does it really explain it or merely gloss over it? First of all, there is no such thing as redness. Colors are not intrensic properties of objects, they are what our rods and cones do with light. Thus while pigmentation may be universal, redness or blueness is not. Even pigmentation is not universal because we believe that dogs don't see color. Even seeing is not universal to all organisms. So it looks like “universals” are also mind dependent, after all, everything seems universal on the surface, but could probably be questioned. There may be no universals. . Secondly, how can we know anything is universal when we are so little travaled in the universe? We use telescopes to see distant galaxies, but we also know the gravitational lense creates illusions in the night sky. The night sky is really a myth. Without physically and actually going to distant ends of the galaxy we can't know empirically what is universal and what is not. That means Armstrong's theory can't meet the atheist or skeptical dictum of empirical “proof.” We might well ask if there are universals, or even physical laws?

Do the descriptions describe “real things?”

The Laws of physics as written by Newton are mathematical abstractions. For Newton, Boyle and their Latitudinarian allies these laws were abstractions of God's will. For modern scientists they are merely descriptions of the way the universe behaves. According to Lewis (1973, 73), the laws of nature belong to all the true deductive systems with a best combination of simplicity and strength. what is being described is a law-like regularity. Are physical laws descriptions of the result of prescriptive laws? Some have asked what is being described? Are there real laws? Do the laws describe real things (other than the behavior itself)? Things always fall down and not up (toward the center of mass). Why? What makes it so? Friction excites molecules and produces heat but why? Answering things like “because that's what exciting molecules does,” is just like saying “it's just that way.” Paul Davies illustrates with an analogy to money. If one has money in the pocket, one has tangible paper and coinage that can he touched, and held, and traded for goods. If one has money in the bank, however, one only has a theoretic idea, and idea can be used to produce other theoretical ideas, such as interest, exchange rates, and debt. One can even use the theory to acquire other tangible goods. Is the money real? Physical laws are like that. They are mathematical abstractions describing what goes on in the natural world. [13]Davies believes that most physicists just assume that some day we will learn enough that our understanding will converge upon the reality the laws depict. He points out that there are physicists who are like Platonists in that they believe that laws of physicists, in so much as they are mathematical descriptions, as well as all numbers exist beyond the physical world in an abstract reality.

Think about the inconsistency, telling us there is only the physical, no realm of the unseen, then believing the reality of an abstract realm of math. A Platonic realm is a safe halfway house between God and the material. It's not real Platonism, it's The laws of nature created by God with God taken out of the picture. Of course that's not to say that physicalists are platonists, nevertheless, St. Augustine put the forms in the Mind of God, that would seem to be a more rational idea. After all Plato theorized a form of forms.[14]

That forms the basis for a mind, even though “the one” per se may not have been concieved as mind. The term we translate as “form,” however, is eidos, meaning idea. Ideas are in minds, and it was the next logical step for Augustine to place the froms in the mind of God. Afterall its easier to believe a min holding ideas than to think of ideas floating about disconnected from mind. Of course this is a conditional argument because I'm not arguing for an Augustinian view. Yet Platonism itself leads to a more elegant solution of minds as the basis of abstract objects. Thus if we regard abstractions as real then we should see them as mind dependent. Abstractions them selves are mind-dependent, come to that. It is hard to see how they could exist outside of a mind.

That mathematical ideas and physical laws are products of the mind would seem to make more sense than disembodied mathematics and laws just hanging about in some non-physical and non mental dimension. Even Armstrong's idea doesn't posit such a realm. We can't comprehend what kind of reality would be neither mental nor physical. Of course there could be some realm we don't understand, but that would seem to be a faith response on the part of the skeptic. There must be a logical reason why Aristotle didn't buy Platonism. That the Agustinian approach allows us to say there is no form without essence and still see mathematical entities as “real,” would make it seem the best option, but it requires the mind of God.

sources

1 G.J. Matty, 2002 Lecture Notes, Lehrer's Theory of Knowledg e, Second edition chapter 4 the Foundation Theory: Fallible Foundations. Online resource, URL: http://hume.ucdavis.edu/mattey/phi102kl/tkch4.htm accessed 9/2/15.

Mattey was one of the top Reid scholars. Mattey is senor lecturer at U*.C. Davis, Joinws faculty in 1977 (Ph.D. from U. Pittsburgh). He specializes in 17th and 18th century philosophy, epistemology and logic.

2 David Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature, Book I, Part IV, Section II, Mineola, NY&: Dover Pu8blishing 2003, 134-157.

3 C. S.Peirce , "Some Consequences of Four Incapacities", Journal of Speculative Philosophy 2, (1868) pp. 140–157, see p. 155 via Google Books. Reprinted, Collected Papers v. 5, paragraphs 264–317 (see 311), Writings v. 2, pp. 211–42 (see 239), Essential Peirce v. 1, pp. 28–55 (see 52).Essay on the Intellectual Powers of Man, Essay IV, Chapter XX)

4 Thomas Reid, Essay on the Intellectual Powers of Man, Essay IV, Chapter XX, quoted in Mattey, op. cit.

5 Ibid.

6 Brian Weatherson, "David Lewis", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2014 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = <http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2014/entries/david-lewis/>
. According to Weatherson:
David Lewis (1941–2001) was one of the most important philosophers of the 20th Century. He made significant contributions to philosophy of language, philosophy of mathematics, philosophy of science, decision theory, epistemology, meta-ethics and aesthetics. In most of these fields he is essential reading; in many of them he is among the most important figures of recent decades. And this list leaves out his two most significant contributions.

7 John W. Carroll, "Laws of Nature," The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2012 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), online resourse URL = <http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/spr2012/entries/laws-of-nature/>.

8 Ibid. the article sites: David Lewis, Counterfactuals, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1973.

9 Ibid. The article sites: David Lewis, Philosophical Papers, Volume II, New York: Oxford University Press, 1986.

10 Ibid.
On mind dependent criticism: “See, especially, Armstrong 1983, 66–73; van Fraassen 1989, 40–64; Carroll 1990, 197–206.”

11 Hugh McCarthy, “The Universal Theory of Physical Law,” Hugh McCarthy's ASC blog. (Dec. 17, 2014) On line Resource URL:
https://hughmccarthylawscienceasc.wordpress.com/2014/12/17/the-universal-theory-of-physical-law/
I hesitate to site another blog by a Ph.D. candidate, but this is the most cogent and helpful explanation of Armstrong I've seen. McCarthy:
This blog is part of an ASC research project that I am completing as part of my PhB (Science) degree at the Australian National University, in the summer of 2014-2015. I am looking at the relationship between law and science, trying to answer questions like “What is difference between a legal law and a scientific law?” The project is supervised by Joshua Neoh from the ANU Law Department, and Pierre Portal from the ANU Maths Department.


12 Ibid.

13 Davies, Cosmic Jackpot…,
14 Rep. 596a:
We customarily hypothesize a single form in connection with each collection of many things to which we apply the same name
596a-b:
Then let’s now take any of the manys you like. For example, there are many beds and tables ... but there are only two forms of such furniture, one of the bed and one of the table.

Monday, August 21, 2017




In Memory of
Jerry Lewis 
(1926-2017)


One of the last great figures of my childhood is gone. Lewis was my favorite comedic genius. I don't care much for the movies he made with Dean Martin, and I can't stand any of  his movies made after 68. I don't know why his humor went so sour at least, according to my tastes. But during that magic period when the great films were being made, the 60s were set to happen and began to unfold, Lewis was magic.

My favorites are The Bellboy, The Errand Boy, and the Disorderly orderly. Also ampomg the best are Cemerfella, TheNuttie Professor, and The Ladiesman, Visit to a small Planet, The Patsy.

The French were right he was a genus!


from IMBd page

Jerry Lewis (born March 16, 1926) was an American comedian, actor, singer, film producer, screenwriter and film director. He is known for his slapstick humor in film, television, stage and radio. He was originally paired up with Dean Martin in 1946, forming the famed comedy team of Martin and Lewis. In addition to the duo's popular nightclub work,... See full bio »
see his filmogrophy
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001471/



Don't forget my regular post

Laws of physics: beyond the prescriptive/descriptive Dichotomy






Science no longer defines physical law in the sense of an active set rules that tell nature what to do. The sentiment is gospel in science. A Canadian Physicist, Byron Jennings, expresses it like this: “It is worth commenting that laws of nature and laws of man are completely different beasts and it is unfortunate that they are given the same name. The so called laws of nature are descriptive. They describe regularities that have been observed in nature. They have no prescriptive value. In contrast, the laws of man are prescriptive, not descriptive.”[1] Santo D’Agostino tells us, “...[T]he laws of science are not like the laws in our legal systems. They are descriptive, not prescriptive.”[2]

Contradiction in the descriptive paradigm

A closer look reveals that there is a contradiction here. The standard line about descriptions is double talk. First of all no one thinks physical laws are on a par with laws passed by congress. Just for the record I am not arguing that laws require a law giver, that is equivocation (although science still uses the misleading term “law”). Physical laws proceed from the mind of God, that is totally different from laws in human society. Secondly, Physical laws are just descriptions but what they describe is a law-like regularity. The question is, why is there an unswerving faithful regularity? That cannot be answered just by calling the regularity a “description.” It is so regular that we can risk people's lives in roller coasters based upon trusting those “descriptions.” D'Agostino again says, “For me, the key word is describe. A scientific law is a convenient description of observations. The law of science does not tell the world how to be, the world just is; science is a human attempt to engage with the mysteries of the world, and to attempt to understand them,”[3](emphasis his). It just is, there is no why? Do Scientists really live with that? No they do not. “Most physicists working on fundamental topics inhabit the prescriptive camp, even if they don't own up to it explicitly.”[4] But then the Stephen Hawking Center for Theoretical Cosmology puts it point blank: “The physical laws that govern the Universe prescribe how an initial state evolves with time.”(my emphasis)[5] Clearly they want it both ways, they want physical laws not to be the will of God but they want them to be binding. The nature of the problem is deeper than just the language of an antiquated term. It really seems that physicists want it both ways.

In many perhaps most scientific disciplines the finality of a theory continues to be measured by its resemblance to the classical laws of physics, which are both causal and deterministic….The extreme case of the desire to turn observed regularity into law is of course the search for one unified law of nature. That embodies all other laws and that hense will be immune to revision.[6]
They still use the model of physical law, but they deny it's law-like aspects, yet they want it to be unalterable and to sum everything up in one principle. Don't look now but what this  describes is a transcendental signifier! That's the impetus behind grand unified theory of everything. Why add “of everything?” That clearly points to the transcendental signifier.

In his best-selling book "A Brief History of Time", physicist Stephen Hawking claimed that when physicists find the theory he and his colleagues are looking for - a so-called "theory of everything" - then they will have seen into "the mind of God." Hawking is by no means the only scientist who has associated God with the laws of physics. Nobel laureate Leon Lederman, for example, has made a link between God and a subatomic particle known as the Higgs boson. Lederman has suggested that when physicists find this particle in their accelerators it will be like looking into the face of God. But what kind of God are these physicists talking about? Theoretical physicist and Nobel laureate Steven Weinberg suggests that in fact this is not much of a God at all. Weinberg notes that traditionally the word "God" has meant "an interested personality". But that is not what Hawking and Lederman mean. Their "god", he says, is really just "an abstract principle of order and harmony", a set of mathematical equations. Weinberg questions then why they use the word "god" at all. He makes the rather profound point that "if language is to be of any use to us, then we ought to try and preserve the meaning of words, and 'god' historically has not meant the laws of nature." The question of just what is "God" has taxed theologians for thousands of years; what Weinberg reminds us is to be wary of glib definitions.[7] Weinberg tells us the theory of everything will unite all aspects of physical reality in a single elegant explanation.[8] Exactly as does the transcendental signified! It's really describing a prescriptive set of laws, so it seems. If their theory can only give descriptions of how the universe behaves how is it going to explain everything? It seems explanatory power only comes with certainty about how things work. That is weaker with probable tendencies than with actual laws. Why are they looking for a single theory to sum it all up if they don't accept some degree of hierarchical causality?

Modern “descriptive laws:” Taking God out of the picture.

Is their rejection of law just a desire to get God out of the picture? That is abundantly clear, at least for some scientists. Paul Davies, a major physicist, thinks so:

Many scientists who are struggling to construct a fully comprehensive theory of the physical universe openly admit that part of the motivation is to finally get rid of God, whom they view as a dangerous and infantile delusion, And not only God but any vestige of God-talk, such as 'meaning,' 'purpose,' or 'design' in nature. These scientists see religion as so fraudulent and sinister that nothing less than total theological cleansing will do [9]
The concept of law was formed in a time when scientists inextricably linked God with science. Robert Boyle purposely appealed to command in creation, as did Newton.[10] These were devout believers, and it was also expedient in the confessional English state. The English dealt with heretics by not inviting them to weekend at Westmoreland or by passing them over for honors. After the time of Newton the field of scientific acuity shifted to France. The French put heretics in jail. The Catholic church was much more in charge in France, enjoying the support of the monarchy, than in Protestant England.[11] Thus the French Philosophs rebelled with great ferocity against the Church and religious belief. The French rebellion carried over into all areas of modern letters, not the least in science.

Modern scientists since the enlightenment have sought to take God out of the picture. Philosophers are honest enough to admit there is a problem calling the law-like regularity “description.” Alan Chalmers (the other Chalmers) explains that Boyle's “stark ontology” made nature passive and left God to do all the work, he writes:
I assume that, from the modern point of view, placing such a heavy, or indeed any, burden on the constant and willful intervention of God is not acceptable. But eliminating God from the account leaves us with the problem. How can activity and law like behavior be introduced into a world characterized in terms of passive or categorical properties only?[12]
At least the scientific realists, such as Chalmers know there is a problem in the tension between unalterable regularity, and description. Many scientists either don't see the problem, or refuse to acknowledge it. Some assert a confidence in science's ability to one day answer all questions.

In recent years, under the influence of the new atheism, some physicists have began to compete with God. They claim not only to offer the better explanation, but to learn enough so as to one day erase the God concept from any serious consideration. Steven Pinker, (in answer to a question for discussion posed by the Tempelton foundation, “does science make belief in God obsolete?”): “Yes 'science' we mean the entire enterprise of secular reason and knowledge (including history and philosophy), not just people with test tubes and white lab coats. Traditionally, a belief in God was attractive because it promised to explain the deepest puzzles about origins. Where did the world come from? What is the basis of life? How can the mind arise from the body? Why should anyone be moral?”[13] Of course he offers no evidence that science can answer such things (notice he expanded the definition of science to include disciplines many scientists seek to get rid of (philosophy) [14]

That is the area that could answer the questions that science can't. He also offers no evidence that religion still can't answer them, but he goes on to say, “Yet over the millennia, there has been an inexorable trend: the deeper we probe these questions, and the more we learn about the world in which we live, the less reason there is to believe in God.” So he's made two fallacious moves here, the classic bait and switch and straw man argument. He say science makes God obsolete but then only if we expand science to include non-science. We could just include modern theology instead of nineteenth century theology and bring religion into science. Sorry, but belief in God does not rest with young earth creationism.Pinker is not just using young Earth creationism to debunck all religion, even though that is a straw man argument. He's really making the same kind of answer that physicist Dean Carroll is making. He's saying “since we now have the capacity to learn everything (someday) we don't need to appeal to God to answer what we don't know" thus he asserts that the only reason to believe is the God of the gaps argument). Carroll puts it a bit differently:
Modern cosmology attempts to come up with the most powerful and economically possible understanding of the universe that is consistent with observational data. It's certainly conceivable that the methods of science could lead us to a self-contained picture of the universe that doesn't involve God in any way. If so, would we be correct to conclude that cosmology has undermined the reasons for believing in God, or at least a certain kind of reason?[15]
Of course this is the standard wrong assumption often made by those whose skepticism is scientifically based. Explaining nature is not the only reason to believe in God.

Moreover, they are nowhere near explaining nature in it's entirety, the TS argument is the best answer to the questions posed by the transcendental signifiers. It's pretty clear that for Carroll, and those who share his outlook the signifier “science” replaces the signifier “God” in their metaphysical hierarchy. They still have a TS and that speaks to the all pervasive nature of the TS. I've discussed in the previous chapter how the best answer to questions of origin have to be philosophical. That is confirmed by Pinker when he argues philosophy as part of science. The TS argument is philosophical. Science is not the only form of knowledge. Carroll admits there is not as of yet a theory that explains it all. He admits, “We are trying to predict the future: will there ever be a time when a conventional scientific model provides a complete understanding of the origin of the universe?”[16] He asserts that most modern cosmologists already feel we know enough to write off God and that there are good enough reasons. In 2005 article he says, as the title proclaims, “almost all cosmologists are atheists.” [17] That may be true of cosmologists but I doubt it, and I have good reason to. First, I don't see any poll of physicists in the article. He only argues anecdotally by quoting a few people. If there was a poll it would be at least as old as 2005.

A More extensive study from 2007 (two years after publication of Carroll's article) doesn't back up those findings. This study was done by Harvard professors who find the majority of science professors believe in God.[18] They present a bar graph that shows about 35% professor's are elite research universities believe in God with no doubt. About 27% believe but sometimes have doubts. About 38% are atheists. That actually means that 60% are not atheists. True that's not cosmologists but there is good reason to think the majority of cosmologists are not atheists. The most atheistic groups in the study were psychologists (61%), biologists (about 61%), and mechanical engineers (50%), not physicists (among whose ranks cosmologists number). [19] “Contrary to popular Opinion, atheists and agnostics do not comprise a majority of professors even at elite schools, but they are present in larger numbers than in other types of institutions.”[20] No group has “almost all” as atheist. Even if cosmologists are mostly atheists (not studied because they are a handful and highly specialized) it's still appeal to authority and could be based upon hubris. They do not have any empirical data at all to prove the universe could spring from nothing. See last my blog piece: "Quantum Particles do Not Prove universe from Nothing." (July 30, 2017).



Sources

[1] Byron Jennings, “The Role of Authority in Science and Law,” Quantum Diaries: Thoughts on Work and Life From Particle Physicists From Around The World. (Feb.3,2012) Online resource URL:http://www.quantumdiaries.org/tag/descriptive-law/ Accessed 8/31/15 Byron Jennings is Project Coordinator for TRIUMF, Canada's national laboratory, he's an adjunct Professor at Simon Freaser University. He is also the editor of In Defense of Scientism.

[2] Santo 'D Agostino, “Does Nature Obey The Laws of Physics?,” QED Insight, (March 9,2011). Online resource, URL: https://qedinsight.wordpress.com/2011/03/09/does-nature-obey-the-laws-of-physics/ accessed 8/26/15. D'Agostino is a mathematician who writes science text books. Ph.D. from The University of Toronto, he is also assistant professor in Physics at Brock University.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Paul Davies, Cosmic Jackpot: why is the universe Just Right For Life? New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 1 edition, 2007, 12.
Davies is an English physicist, professor at Arizona State University. He was formerly an atheist and his major atheist book was God and The New Physics, written in the 70s. Since the late 90's he as become a believer, not a Christian but believer in a generic deistic sort of God. He was convinced by the fine tuning argument and his major book since that time is The Mind Of God. He has taught at Cambridge and Aberdeen.


[5] CTC, “Origins of the Universe: Quantum Origins,” The Stephan Hawking Center for Theoretical Cosmology, University of Cambridge, online resource, URL: http://www.ctc.cam.ac.uk/outreach/origins/quantum_cosmology_one.php accessed 10/5/15.

[6] E. F. Keller, quoted in Lynn Nelson, Who Knows: From Quine to Feminist Empiricism. Temple University Press, 1990, 220. Evelyn Fox Keller is a physicist and a Feminist critic of science. Professor Emerita at MIT. Her early work centered on the intersection of physics and biology. Nelson is associate professor of philosophy at Glassboro State College.

[7] Counter balance foundation, “Stephen Hawking's God,” quoted on PBS website Faith and Reason. No date listed. Online resource, URL http://www.pbs.org/faithandreason/intro/cosmohaw-frame.html the URL for the website itself: http://www.pbs.org/faithandreason/stdweb/info.html accessed 8/26/2015. This resource provided by: Counterbalance Foundation

counterbalance foundation offers this self identification: “Counterbalance is a non-profit educational organization working to promote the public understanding of science, and how the sciences relate to wider society. It is our hope that individuals, the academic community, and society as a whole will benefit from a struggle toward integrated and counterbalanced responses to complex questions.” see URL above. The faith anjd reason foundation helped fund the PBS show. I first founjd thye piece “Stephen Hawking's God early the century, maybe 2004, certainly before 2006. It was on a sight called Metalist on science and religion. That site is gone.

[8] Steven Weinberg, Dreams of a Final Theory: The Scientist's Search for the Ultimate Laws of Nature. New York: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. 1994, 3, also 211.

[9] Paul Davies, Jackpot...op. Cit.,15.

[10] Alan Chalmers, “Making sense of laws of physics,” Causation and Laws Of Nature, Dordrecht, Netherlands : Kluwer Academic Publishers, (Howard Sankey, ed.), 1999, 3-4.

[11] Joseph Hinman, God, Science, and Ideology. Chapter 2.

[12]  Chalmers, op., cit.

[13] Stephen Pinker, quoted on website, John Tempelton Foundation, “A Tempelton conversation, “Does SciencMake Belief in God Obsolete?” The third in a series of conversations among leading scientists...Onlne resource, website. URL: http://www.templeton.org/belief/ accessed 9/4/15. Tempelton bio for Pinker: Steven Pinker is the Johnstone Family Professor in the department of psychology at Harvard University. He is the author of seven books, including The Language Instinct, How the Mind Works, The Blank Slate, and most recently, The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature.

[14] Anthany Mills, "Why Does Neil deGrasse Tyson Hate Philosophy," Real Clear Science. (May 22, 2014)http://www.realclearscience.com/articles/2014/05/22/why_does_neil_degrasse_tyson_hate_philosophy.html "In a controversial interview, Neil deGrasse Tyson dismissed philosophy as “distracting.” The host of the television series Cosmos even suggested that philosophy could inhibit scientific progress by encouraging “a little too much question asking.” He thus follows a growing secular trend that cordons Science off from all other forms of inquiry, denigrating whatever falls outside science’s purported boundaries – especially the more “speculative” pursuits such as philosophy."

[15] Sean Corroll, ”Does The Universe Need God?” on Sean Carroll's website, Perposterous Universe.com, online resource, URL: http://preposterousuniverse.com/writings/dtung/ accessed 9/4/2015

[16] Ibid.

[17] Sean Carroll,"Why (Almost All) Cosmologists Are Atheists," Faith and Philosophy, 22, (2005) p. 622.

[18] Neil Gross and Solon Simmons, “How Religious Are America's College and University Pressors.” SSRC, (published feb. 2007), PDF URL, accessed 9/4/15 The Author 2009. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of thehttp://religion.ssrc.org/reforum/Gross_Simmons.pdf Association for the Sociology of Religion. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oxfordjournals.org. Neil Gross is assistant professor of sociology at Harvard University. He works on classical and contemporary sociological theory, the sociology of culture, and the sociology of intellectuals. His first book, tentatively titled Richard Rorty's Pragmatism: The Social Origins of a Philosophy, 1931-1982, is forthcoming. Solon Simmons is assistant professor of conflict analysis and sociology at George Mason University’s Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution. His recent work has focused on values talk in congressional speeches, third party political candidates, industrial reorganization and the ongoing conservative critique of American higher education

[19] Ibid.

[20] Ibid.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Atheist reduction of Knowledge to Science 3 of 3

Image result for Metacrock's blog C. Wright Mills
C. Wright Mills 
(1919-1962)


for parts 1-2 see index guides at top under "Science"


C. Wright Mills was a sociologist at Columbia University in New York. He is best known for his work The Power Elite.[16] It is from that work that we take the popular phrase of the 1960s, “military industrial complex.” In The Sociological Imagination[17] he explodes the illusions by which the power elite cover their own lack of understanding. His message there is that not only does the system run over the individual but even those who are in charge of it are dragged along by its momentum and don’t really know where they are going. Mills was one of the first thinkers to use the term "post-modern" (which he hyphenated). For Mills, writing in the '50s, modernity had already passed away, post-modernity had dawned. "The ideological mark...[of the post-modern epoch] --that which sets it apart from the modern age-- is that the ideas of freedom and of reason have become moot; that increased rationality may not be assumed to make for increased freedom."[18] As with Schweitzer, Mills reflects that the technological structure separates people from control over or reflection upon the ends of their lives. "Caught in the everyday milieux of their limited lives, ordinary people cannot reason about the greater structures both rational and irrational of which their milieu are subordinate parts."[19] (168).

The individual learns not to reason, but to rationalize the goals and ends of life, and his or her position in the overall scheme of things. Given...the ascendant trend of rationalization, the individual 'does what he can.' He gears his aspirations and his work to the situation he is in and from which he can find no way out. In due course he does not seek a way out: he adapts. That part of his life which is left over from work he uses to play, to consume, to have fun. Yet this sphere of consumption is also being rationalized. Alienated from production, from work, he is also alienated from consumption, from genuine leisure. This adaptation of the individual and its effects upon his milieux and self results not only in the loss of his chance, but in due course of his capacity and will to reason; it also affects his chances and his capacity to act as a free [person]. Indeed, neither the value of freedom nor of reason, it would seem, are known to him.[20]

The end result, according to Mills, is that society becomes filled with "cheerful robots," those who obey the programming of technique and cannot seek alternatives.[21] Mills charged that the social sciences help to further the aims and methods of technique, hiding behind the " scientific objectivity," unwilling to mount any critique. Mills anticipates Herbert Marcuse's work, written in 1964, One-Dimensional Man.




            Herbert Marcuse (July 19, 1898 – July 29, 1979) was a German academic who fled to America to avoid the Nazis in the 30s. He worked for the OAS during the war and latter become the major intellectual powerhouse behind the New Left of the 1960s. He was based in San Diego where the taught, Ronald Reagan tried to have his Doctorate revoked to silence his criticisms of the war and the establishment. He was a Marxist, some say Neo-Marxist he was critical of Stalin and called a revisionist by Stalinists. Marcuse was best known for his seminal work One-Dimensional Man (1964), one of the greatest books of the era and one of primary importance for the century. In One-Dimensional Man, Marcuse argues that affluent capitalist society has been good at providing primary needs to a mass population (despite continuing poverty for some) and it has created a bourgeois society that perpetuates false needs. The American worker has bought into his place in the capitalist order as a cog in the machine, or a bit of overhead for the owners of the means of production, because in exchange will continue to supply the false needs upon which he has become admitted; that is the material trammels of an affluent society.

...The irresistible output of the entertainment and information industry carry with them prescribed attitudes and habits...The products indoctrinate and manipulate; they promote a false consciousness which is immune against falsehood. And as these beneficial products have become available to more individuals, in more social classes, the indoctrination they carry ceases to be publicity; it becomes a way of life. It is a good way of life' much better than before and as a good way of life, it militates against qualitative change. Thus emerges a pattern of one-dimensional thought and behavior, in which ideas, aspirations, and objectives that, by their content, transcend the established universe of discourse and action are either repelled or reduced to terms of this [social-political] universe. They are re-defined by the rationality of the given system and of its quantitative extension.[22] (12).

The prognosis for one-dimensional man doesn’t end with just supporting capitalism as the basis of false needs. The whole concept of being a thinking person who lives in a society in which thinking people can determine their own lives is called into question and in fact done away with because the concept of freedom is illusory and not scientific. The scientistic crowd is telling us that freedom is a trick. The issues of one-dimensional man don’t stop Marxism because there is more to power than just capital vs labor, or capitalism vs. Marxism. Lurking behind the accumulation of false needs (technological version of bread and circuses) is operational thinking. This is what Marcuse means by "quantitative extension of the given system" (quotation above). " The trend [one-dimensional consumer society] may be related to a development in scientific method: operationalism in the physical, behaviorism in the social sciences. The common feature is a total empiricism in the treatment of concepts; their meaning is restricted to the representation of particular operations and behavior...In general, we mean by a conceptnothing more than a set of operations...a positivism which, in its denial of the transcending elements of reason, forms the academic counterpart to the socially required behavior."[23] The positivist and reductionist tendencies of contemporary scientific thought, which props up the technostructure and furnishes it with "empirical proof," works to eliminate all concepts that cannot be quantified, and therefore, eventually ”commodified.”
            Stanly Aronowitz wrote Science as Power, in which he argues two things: power is possessed by a process of legitimating, and science has lent itself to that legitimating at the expense of all other forms of truth.[24] In other words power is not merely taken by a group or an institution but it is built through a process of self legitimating moves. That process is part of the means by which modern science procures funding and perpetuates itself in modern society; by being of use to power through lending itself to the development of the means of power. We see this explicitly through the military but more subtly through industry and the development of technology, the status of scientific funding in the university and so on. In lending itself to power as an enforcement mechanism science subsumes other views and other concepts of truth. This process is inherent since science has always provided a certain aspect of truth in revealing the mechanism through which the natural world functions. Apart form the cultural currying of power, Aronowitz finds, science has an intrinsic power in its conflation of truth and knowledge. “Devising a method of proving the validity of propositions about objects taken as external to the knower has become identical with what we mean by ‘truth.’”[25] In other words science purports to tell us how the physical world stacks up and wont allow any other method to introduce other kinds of truth that it would consider authoritative, that becomes all there is in the world, the physical set up that science can study and quantify. The process by which modern though came to understand itself as its own object, from Plato’s observation of truth as self representing, to Hegel’s notion that consciousness takes itself as its own object, is done away by modern science. [26]Perhaps that’s why atheists have such abhorrence for the subjective. We can’t trust our own perceptions we can only trust that which is produced by the scientific method. The problem is so much of modern science is not procured through the process of empirical verification that is the hallmark of modern science, but must be reached though calculation, in terms of modern quantum theory for example. Then truth comes to be a rubber stamp placed upon “truth” by science. As Aronowitz points out, “Science is truth, and can for this reason represent itself by means of its procedures…self criticism of science is conducted within the boundaries of its own normative structures.”[27]
            The thinkers from Schweitzer to Marcuse and Aronowitz they are all building on the indicators of civilization in decay that Schweitzer originally saw. By the time we get to the end of the twentieth century they are so far gone one dimensional man is established. We are now working on moving from one-dimensional to cheerful robot. There’s a snowball relationship in that the scientistic mentality creates the situation then feeds off of it. Knowledge is reduced to one thing, science, then that one thing is transmogrified from knowledge to technique, or illusion of technique. Finally humanity itself is displaced as freedom is reduced to just anther false need. That is to say freedom becomes confused with the products one buys and with the process of choosing products. The concept of freedom itself is ratcheted down from a personal philosophical understanding of the goals and ends of one’s life to purchasing power to obedience. The real discourse becomes closed around the one possibility left to us, which is how best to obey. When the only form of knowledge is science knowledge of freedom must disappear, there is no freedom in science. The concept of freedom requires a substantial conceptual background to cover all the bases. We have to understand the parameters of freedom, the possibilities, the impediments to freedom, balancing freedom against responsibility and so on. When the only form of knowledge is about the facts of nature and how they work there’s no room for an abstraction like ‘possible freedom.’

Separation from God.

            For those of us who feel we know the reality of God in our lives, this is a great harm. It would rob those who don’t know that reality of the ability to ever learn. Reduction of knowledge to only scientific knowledge, ala the ideological administration of scientism, robs us of knowing God because it reduces religious experience to the level of the “subjective” the emotional, these are greatly things to be avoided in the ideology of scientism. Scienstism portrays itself as rational and objective it places all that does not bow before it in the category of the irrational and the subjective. We have already seen the way new atheism rationalizes scientific protocols to manipulate “God does not exist” into a scientific fact, via Austin Cline (see above FN 7).  To reprise that statement:
"this alleged entity has no place in any scientific equations, plays no role in any scientific explanations, cannot be used to predict any events, does not describe any thing or force that has yet been detected, and there are no models of the universe in which its presence is either required, productive, or useful." [28]
But that’s just circular reasoning because it assumes at the outset that since there is no argument that is deemed acceptable scientifically, there can be no warrant for belief in God. As long as the only form of knowledge is science then the only valid argument is scientific. While there are valid scientifically based arguments for God (see chapters nine and ten) there is no “fact” accepted in science such that “God exists.” Therefore, any argument for the existence of God is met with “that’s disproved before we start because it’s not science.” Cutting off other forms of knowledge the gate keepers of scientific acuity merely denounce warrant for belief based upon their own prejudices. Based upon that assumption it is deemed “unscientific” to argue for such a warrant. In fact what I’m saying is that scientists are human and they embody the same prejudices as anyone. That has to be ignored when the only from of knowledge is science because the human factor is not part of the scientific process. Thus belief in God is removed from reality by a series of protocols that amount to nothing more than jumped up ideology.

God belief and the realm of discourse

            Belief in God is more than just belief in an entity. It’s also the basis for rejecting the closed realm of discourse. This is true for two reasons, (1) because as the Transcendental signified God sets in motion the basic first principles that serve as premises of logic. God determines the basis upon which truth is held, since God alone is the ultimate creator then God alone is the final assigner of meaning. Thus the realm of discourse can never be truly closed by temporal power or human concerns. (2) Because in a practical sense the open nature of discourse depends to a great deal upon the understanding of technique. When we come to vest the illusion of technique with all power and all logic then we vest it with all right. That’s when we start thinking its right to pursue actions merely because we have the physical prowess to do so. As long as God is understood as the orbiter of truth no human technique affords one the efficacy to close the realm of discourse around any one social project. An example of what I’m talking about is the case of a worker in stem cell research who was injured by the technology but was denied direct medical care. “I was denied directed medical care for exposures from dangerous embryonic stem technologies incurred while at work. Unbelievably, I was denied under the premise that ‘trade secrets’ supersede a worker’s right to specific exposure information. Welcome to the embryonic stem cell world, a world of legal quagmire where human rights and public rights are slated toward the chopping block.”[29]

In fact, the public has been fooled. The embryonic stem cell research industry is far from the altruistic persona it has painted itself to be. Rather, embryonic stem cell research is about big money, first and foremost. It is about securing a position of power within the economic and legal mainstream of the American public. That is why biotech worker’s rights regarding safety and healthcare have been denied. That is why, unfortunately, the public’s right will be denied too.

And the media has not helped. The media has purposely turned the human embryonic stem cell debate into a polarized “religion versus science” contest.

But issues lying in-between those two polarities contain much of the tainted meat that can negatively impact the public toward human rights. These concerns get no media attention. The public remains ignorant. In fact, the public lacks an understanding of the legal, social and cultural effects that could negatively impact them as advanced technologies move forward.[30]

What’s the link from science as the only form of knowledge and this case? The realm of discourse is closed around the illusion of technique. Ethical consideration disappear because we have the technology we know how to do it, it’s sanctioned by the thinking experts who make decisions for us. These are the guys that know stuff, there’s no knowledge outside of science, these are scientists so they must know all about ethics and if they do can do it, must be good to do.





[16] C Wright Mills, the Power Elite. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1956. No page given.
[17] C. Wright Mills, The Sociological Imagination. New York, London: Oxford University Press, 1967 (originally 1959)
[18] Ibid, 167
[19] Ibid., 168
[20] Ibid., 170
[21] Ibid., 171
[22] Herbert Marcuse, One-Dimensional Man: Studies in the Ideology of Advanced Industrial Soceity. Boston: Beacon Press, 1964, 12.
[23] Ibid.
[24] Stanley Aronowitz, Science as Power: Discourse and Ideology In Modern Society.Minneapolis Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press, 1988, ix.
Stanley Aronotwitz is professor of Sociology and cultural studies at CUNY Graduate Center, New York. He is a long time cultural critic and political activist.
[25] Ibid., vii.
[26] Ibid.
[27] Ibid., viii the idea about quantum physics he states on page ix
[28] Austin Cline, “Scientifically God Does Not Exist: Science allows us to say God Does not Exist, there is role for God in science, no explanation that God can provide.” About.com, Agnosticism/Atehism. Online publication:http://atheism.about.com/od/argumentsagainstgod/a/GodScience.htm  accessed 12/27/13.
[29] Becky A. McClain, “Embryonic Stem Cell Research Funding Threatens Human Rights and Public Interests.” Watchdog on Science. On line resource. Septermber 14, (2010). http://watchdogonscience.blogspot.fr/2010/09/embryonic-stem-cell-research-funding.html   
accessed. 1/15/14.
[30] Ibid.