2004/11/22

On scientism, the leviathan dream.

I wrote earlier that "Art and thinking are not neutral. Artists and thinkers are engaged in shaping a more trueful perception of the world".
In my understanding the world means reality, we live in reality is it not?
But what is reality, what is our world?
It is the web of interactions between all particles and parts of our universe from its micro to its macro dimensions. Its whole and its parts are indeed only temporal dimensions or aspects of a same reality, its own reality. But we should always remain aware of this fundamental fact that what we call our universe is only a concept covering the understanding of our reality at this stage of our human history.

Each epoch has its own concept and understanding and those constitute the cement that binds all the individuals into a collective social being, into a society. Faced with the disappearance of its cement, a society fast disintegrates. Contrarily to what some may think, our modern society has not succeeded to escape or to isolate itself from this immemorial fact of human life.

- Our present day vision of reality is indeed relative, it is no more than one vision among an infinity of possible visions. Our vision of the universe is indeed very limited and perhaps only one of the many facets of a more encompassing entity. Quantum mechanic physicists already imply that our universe is only one of many universes and they use a ready concept for this newer reality, the multiverse. Uni is one, multi is more than one so for the sake of pragmatism, let us conclude that our environment is the verse and that our reality is the web of interactions between all particles and parts of our verse, from its micro to its macro dimensions and at the moment we speak about it.

- Our present day vision of reality, or the importance of it, has been assaulted by the logic of capital that succeeded to establish itself as the ultimate truth of modernity. Everything has been subordinated to its rationality and in the process everything has been merchandised. Visions and knowledge have been relativized, cornered into a marginal societal role and "whatever" has been given prominence because it could make money. But all that resulted is atomized societies on the fast lane of the road towards their disintegration.
We, humans, are only very small actors on the surface of our earth and seen from the macro dimension of our verse we appear as nothing more than a micro particle of dust on the earthly waves that are blown by the versal winds. From this understanding, it appears to me that the only wise attitude, as a human, is humility and acceptance of our insignificance. But we should also be conscientious of our belonging to the verse, we are part of it. All religions and traditional philosophies came to the same conclusions, speaking of the One and saying that we are part of the One and absolute.

I conclude from all this that reality or what we like to call the truth (the One in religions) is absolutely inaccessible to us humans and scientific discoveries change nothing to our predicament. We remain dust even if sometimes we have dreams of being leviathan. The best we can ever hope for is that our perceptions of reality remain in line with the truth or to say it otherwise with what reality is all about. Letting ourselves dwell outside of this line is akin to permissiveness that would ultimately be sanctioned with our falling into the absurd. For what would we find, out of the line of what reality is all about? We would find the illusion of a fake detachment. Detachment is the attitude that we arrive at after having molded ourselves into humility and reached complete acceptance of our insignificance in the verse. Fake detachment is a particular form of detachment, it's the illusion of our absolute detachment from the verse which leads to a kind of euphoric empowerment of the self. But this empowerment is short lived for one can only go so far as the reflection in the mirror of his own image that projects a naked self, down the road of the verse at which point the mirage of empowerment dissolves and one falls into disarray. The possibility of an absolute detachment from the verse is a myth that has been popularized at the margins of rationality by blind-folded believers in the salvation of humankind through science and technology presented as an ultimate rationality that would liberate humans from the chains of nature.

For the best part of the twentieth century, we have indeed been taught that by freeing humankind from all its irrational religious beliefs science was leading us straight into a paradise of materiality where everything can be fixed by mechanic application of scientific solutions. This has been the credo of capitalism as well as of communism. But it did not lead further than merely being a belief, a different version of ideology. Mechanic scientism has indeed always proved to be short thinking, short of the real complexity of reality.
It was in this kind of environment that thinkers and artists were plunged in the twentieth century so it should come as no surprise that the outcome has been very much confusion.

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