re: Philosophical Anthropology, Ethics and Political Philosophy in an Age of Impending Catastrophe by Arran Gare, abstract & links
Sometimes it’s a struggle to read all the way through philosophy papers… but really enjoyed this one. I liked it both because its subject is quite close to my interests (what’s missing from or conception of nature) and because you describe the whole sweep of modern philosophy on the issue so clearly and comfortably. Thanks
I’m very much with you in your conclusion, of course, that a post-mechanistic world-view can allow us to “overcome the learned stupidity of specialists and to strive … for a comprehensive understanding of the cosmos and human history”. In the history of ideas, though, I think there seems to be one important skipped step.
That is that Marx, among others, failed to note that a Hobbesian social construct not only naturally violated the social order, but also violates the natural physical order in a deep and irreconcilable way.
I think we need to take that further step, one that acknowledges the cosmos as a place of diverse independent realities, subject to our partial exploration of course, but not our definition. There’s a basic error in defining nature as a cognitive structure at all, representing nature in the image of our own theories, ideologies, social realities.
Human minds create so many of them, all manner of compartmentalized and causally inconsistent realities, often being blithely unaware of it. One place the difference seems particularly clear is with how resolving Zeno’s paradoxes draws a distinction between knowledge and nature.
Any regular progression of proportional change is a more or less ideal mental construct, having no limit. For any physical process, however, continual proportional change definitely violates the natural order, due to the cascades of physically necessary processes beyond our view, that must maintain continuity somehow. As a result they are not limitless, and regular proportional change must have both beginnings and ends to satisfy the conservation of energy for causes inherently beyond our view.
What I get from that is that our most perfect explanatory principle for nature appears to say no matter how much we know, what’s most important for our imaginations today is not going to be found in our heads. It’s going to be discovered by being curious about a world apart from our theories, a material reality beyond our conceptions in which we need to discover new meaning.
That seems like an essential element of the post-mechanistic world we speak of. From my small window it still seems missing from the wider discussion.