This I think is the starting assumption of many regarding science, and it is a false assumption that entails a dangerous idealisation of science, it’s approach and it’s methods. The scientist in anthropology is doing something very different from the scientist in chemistry, just as the scientist in geology is doing something very different from the scientist in Physics. To conflate them is to misunderstand both subjects. To try to reduce one to another is similarly to misunderstand that subject, and to give undue metaphysical precedence to the subject you are reducing it too.
These are all very common human philosophical errors. And yet, because philosophy is supposedly superfluous now to science and to human understanding and education in general, the errors go unnoticed, and pile up and up over time. The end result is this over simplified, over idealised, monolithic portrayal of science proliferated to us all through the education system, that has come to take on an unquestionable authority of Mythic status for many. (Though of course they would hate the word myth, makes them seem all too human, and not quite as objective as they like to pretend to be in their utopian domain of self professed rationality.)
Some recent examples of this phenomenon are the claims that natural selection is a physical mechanism, when it provides no mechanism, merely a good reason for things after the fact. If scientists cannot distinguish sufficient reasons from necessary reasons, because philosophy is so unimportant to them, we have got big problems. Gravity is a mechanism wherein we can describe how it works independently of its application to actual things. Natural selection is fully dependent on how it is applied to actual things, and there is no independent mechanism, in fact there is a denial of even the possibility of such a mechanism by claiming pure randomness to genetic mutations.
Little subtle distinctions like this are important. We would do well to keep our natural selection explanations to biological standards, and not claim pure physical mechanistic status for them, when to do so is at best to engage in inaccurate metaphors, at worst is to mislead the student as to the real status and content of his subject matter. There is so much of interest in evolution, natural selection, adaptations of species. Somehow much of it for me is misunderstood by those trying to force it into line with their monolithic, idealised vision of science. If not by them themselves, certainly by most of the people who they propagate these ideas to.
Another example at the other end of the spectrum would be climate science. So much of this amazingly intricate and complicated study is for most reduced to the political and moral agenda of global warming. It makes a nice simple narrative to just only pay attention to facts in line with this one stories expectations. It saves people from much thinking. They can just consult google, that will soon filter out for them stories and articles that support this particular political agenda. The rest to them is just noise. But that noise is the real science. As the real science does not fit into simple narratives, it does not obey our need for moralising and catastrophising. Real science shows that carbon dioxide was often much higher in earths history and there was not mass extinctions. Real science shows there was often no ice at all on earth and there was not mass extinctions. Real science shows that other factors beyond human control have a big influence on climate, such as volcanic activity and solar activity and levels of cloud cover. Real science shows that even mass extinctions are regular occurences in the earths history. Where does all this reality go when we have a political agenda, a consensus around it, and a monolithic understanding of science and its method? Reality seems to go out the window!
Once again, the lesson is not to try and constrain all the varieties of subject matter out there in this world to one monolithic standard, you will not succeed in understanding them all, you will only succeed in misunderstanding them all, and sending people down a dangerous path of assumed knowledge and certainty of things they are actually largely ignorant of, and this is even among people who study the subjects!
This combines with something else I have noticed often in western science. Which is an almost autistic obsession with isolating a subject from the reality you are supposed to be applying it to. The expert often compartmentalises his expertise to his professional life. And yes there are many merits to this division of labor. But there are also drawbacks. For me, economics, for all its technical brilliance, is worse now at understanding society, morality and politics and culture than it was when it aspired to be political economy, and to say things about real people, and real values. Now it abstracts from all of this, for the sake of the concept of utility. We get great manipulative, technical and mathematical capabilities with this approach, but we lose any sense of connecting the subject with the reality of the current society of people trying to make their way in life.
I am pretty much uniformly disappointed by economists when they try to write popularisations of their science. Because they start not from the reality of society, the reality surrounding them in their lives, but from the reality of their own economic idealisations, and they measure reality relative to that. Its a nice game to set up models like this, but its not the same as grasping the real life of aware human beings with values and intentions. Its more like a distraction from this reality, or the pretence that maybe it doesn’t exist if we don’t think about it.
For all these reasons and many more I implore people to not treat science as a monolith. You are doing a disservice to science and human civilisation by indulging in such utopian idealisations. You are setting the youth on a path of assumed knowledge rather than acquired knowledge. You are promoting narratives formed around enforced consensus that assume we are incapable of forming our own independent opinions about world affairs. You are lowering the wonders of life to presumed random mechanisms and raising the earth and your opinions about its climate to the level of a moral god, dictating values to us all. Not because you accept it is a belief and a value you cherish and share with others, but because you feel you have scientific objective authority on your side. All this and much more dangerously lurks in the shadow of the monolith of science that has been set up. Come out to the light of day and stop chasing shadows.
Politics is largely about how a state claims to have political authority over its citizens, where this authority can extend to being physically enforced on a person in extreme cases. This being the threat at the end of the line of disobedience to the state. But a state, certainly claiming to be democratic, doesn’t want to resort to this physical force too often, and with too many people, for then it would have a state of subjects, not of free citizens. So it is a balancing act always.
Modern democratic states tend to justify themselves on the grounds that they are neutral arbiters, supporting the rights of all humans equally. This legitimation, although powerful if believed and if applied. Of course cannot be completely applied, and so will never be completely believed, except by extreme ideologists. A state will have to give some preference to citizens over non-citizens, and in so doing it will have to base it’s decision on some more positive values that it claims to represent beyond being neutral.
This is where it begins to get interesting, and has much application in our current political scenario with globalisation and mass movements of people around countries. Serious questions are being asked of western states claims to neutrality. Some are willing to try and push further alongside this direction of neutrality. In line with their ideological beliefs, such as believing, for instance in pure secularism and objective science as their measure for everything. Others are doubting the application of science rigorously to social and moral and political issues. Doubting that value judgments can be reduced to scientific neutral judgments. One side says humans can all be interchanged, all differences are merely culturally conditioned. The other side says, even if such is the case in the long term. Short term mass movements of people is not going to allow time for people to be conditioned in line with shared values within their state.
So the very legitimacy of the state as an authority is at issue here. Many Western democratic states are undergoing something of an identity crisis I would say from too long trying to hold themselves to an impossible neutral standard. By doing so, they no longer really represent their citizens in a meaningful sense, which raises the question, who do they represent, and on what grounds and with what justification? Many of them take economic prosperity as the measure for their decisions. If mass immigration has even just a short-term economic advantage, then it is always favourable. They are reduced to valuing people purely instrumentally, in short. The precise opposite of what had been the original goal of state neutrality: for the sake of equality of all human beings. We become equal, but not in anything like the way initiators of some of these cosmopolitan political ideals such as Kant and Karl Marx, would have had in mind. They aimed at all men being treated as ends in themselves, not merely equal as instruments/means to others ends.
This latter route though, has been unfortunately the trend of the mass movement of people into western states, based purely on short-term economic advantages. So, I would say using economics as our source of values is a mistake. We need a new legitimation that highlights the value of citizenship, doesn’t pretend to be neutral, but does show itself as good and justified for the sake of its citizens and the world. It’s a tough task. I think it can be achieved, it will primarily involve a more openness to debating this very point. As many are still currently closed behind the iron curtain of their ideologies of the past that tell them being neutral is the only way to legitimise themselves. This enlightenment approach, great for natural science, has been a nightmare for western societies and culture, when applied to our politics and our morality. We have become trapped in an ideological bind, paralysing a practical approach to urgent political, moral and social problems that require pragmatic solutions, not ideological posturing.
Woke up to find I am to blame for young children having no water in Africa,
I am responsible for slavery of other races hundreds of years ago.
I am to blame for ISIS bombing European Countries, and for the refugee crisis.
I have caused the earth to be polluted, and created irreversible global warming,
I have extinguished species en masse all over the globe.
I discovered all this because I turned on my TV, and its what it told me.
And you wonder why I have no joy in my life,
you wonder why I live largely crippled by fear and anxiety.
Why I largely hate and despise humanity,
and yet still crave community and company.
It makes you wonder, it makes you wonder…
In my dream last night
you were alive and well
you came back to life
you rose when you once had fell.
We worried over you,
but you got up and walked unaided,
you told us not to worry,
you could look after yourself again now.
You were filled with care free joy,
optimism that no fear could destroy.
I was happy once again,
no longer alone facing this futile life.
Hope was restored, my mind finally at ease…
Waking from this dream was hard.
I didn’t want to accept it was just a dream
I cursed being woken up,
but if I hadn’t. I may not have remembered the dream.
In some time I accepted once again what was real
a bittersweet experience no doubt,
but still a worthwhile one,
to feel that you were really alive again,
and that you could look after yourself,
and that we need no longer worry over you.
One dream I certainly won’t forget.
Woman, the Janus faced creature
uses the good man for security
uses the bad man for sex.
No loyalty to a man,
only to a plug to fill her hole,
be it a baby or a stiff rod.
She loves the idea of reforming the bad man
she does not want the reality though
of the reformed good man.
Such a man is of no service to her.
She must have the moral higher ground,
in any relationship with a man,
it is how she has power.
For she does not possess the focus,
determination, or physical capabilities of the man.
Take her moral high ground away,
and she has no escape from the man,
she must always have a way out,
a legitimate excuse to tell herself and others
for she knows no loyalty to man,
only to a temporary servicer of her babies.
The good man will never get his due,
the good man will always face treachery.
Integrity is absent in the heart of a woman,
and a man who wants a woman’s heart,
will do well to discard his morality.
A woman cares not for well considered goodness,
only for impulsive bloodiness,
that she can manoeuver around
and some day send off the cliff.
A man is condemned to die justifiably,
all our weeping is reserved for innocent women and children.
(I don’t claim any rationality to these ramblings, but I do claim some reality to them. I find these thoughts coming up regularly lately, and I need to find some way to get them out of me, for they are festering in my mind. Reading it through now, perhaps my anger is that I have been given this lie of trying to be a good person that has failed me every time when it comes to a relationship scenario. I know many can compartmentalise outer image and inner reality, for me there is no such compartmentalisation. I can’t spout myself as good and then be bad in private or vice versa, portray a bad image then be good in private. If I am good, I am good the whole way through, If I am bad I am bad the whole way through. This condemns me to the scrap heap of human relationships. I am either an open book or a tightly closed trap, there is no happy medium. I can limit the outer effects of this, I can have less attachment to each transition, but still the basic reality of it remains.)
A cold dark sphere of hate,
pulses from the centre of my being.
This world is a disgusting unjust mess,
so lets just clear it up, clear it out,
and be done with it.