2007/04/30

This religious story of science.

Since long I sense that the more knowings (parcels of knowledge) I accumulate the more evident it becomes how little I really know about the whole of reality. What I mean to show is that a large accumulation of knowings does not necessarily preclude knowledge. Here follows an awakening call from particle physicists and cosmologists that seems to say just that.
"Twenty years ago most physicists would have said, on the basis of 450 years of science, that they believed that there's only one allowed law of nature that works, that ultimately we might discover fundamental symmetries and mathematical principles that cause the nature to be the way it is, because it's always worked that way. So that is the way science has worked. But now because of this energy of empty space -- which is so inexplicable that if it really is an energy of empty space, the value of that number is so ridiculous that it's driven people to think that maybe, maybe it's an accident of our environment, that physics is an environmental science -- that certain fundamental constants in nature may just be accidents, and there may be many different universes, in which the laws of physics are different, and the reasons those constants have the values they have might be -- in our universe -- might be because we're there to observe them. " (Lawrence Krauss in THE
ENERGY OF EMPTY SPACE THAT ISN'T ZERO in Edge Magazine 7.6.06)

We have been dream-talking in "Western Late Modernity" about a science that would explain everything and make us at the image of the gods in religious foundational stories. But such a faith in science is no more than a naive religious-type belief in a very poor story. I have this feeling that what humanity is most urgently in need of presently is not to be found in the stars nor in sub-atomic particles but in its own substance, the balancing act between its polarities, individual and society. If societies collapse science shall murmur bye bye to the individuals... and this poor religious-like story of science shall then simply vanish with the individuals who created it in the first place.

Science is radically revolutionizing our understanding of reality and this causes an enormous stress on the individuals who feel at a loss faced with the disintegration of their traditional belief systems while not being able to understand the new scientific paradigm. Furthermore the equalization of life styles between the North and the South that has been initiated by globalization is fast destabilizing every society on earth. In the presently growing chaos wrought upon us, by the interactions between the productions of science and of globalization, what is most urgently needed is a worldview uniting the individuals around the idea of bringing about a livable, and possibly a better, future for their children. Such a worldview will not reject science. On the contrary it will integrate science into a more globally encompassing system of thought that shall be derived from the holistic vision projected by the diverse philosophies and religions of the people of the earth.

Change, and more particularly societal change, comes out of necessity. Whatever idealist intellectuals may think about societal change; will-power on its own has never shaped societal change. Leninism may have given the illusion for a short time to the contrary. But barely seventy years after having imposed their will-power on the Russian society necessity found its way around state force. What I want to say is that, while there is a credible argument to be made that late modern societies are in a dire need of some sort of glue (worldview) to bind their individual atoms in order to avoid collapsing into atomization, imposing a worldview that was shaped under past conditions has just no chance to work. Religions and philosophies that were shaped over past centuries, if not millenia, do not answer present necessities and recoursing to them to stabilize present societies would only end up in the collapse of those societies a little later at the image of what happened not long ago to Leninist controlled societies.

Necessity is out there banging on our doors. The present-day necessity is for answers to the deluge of problems that is flooding out of the side-effects of modernity: climate change, poisoning of water, air and foods, decreasing rates of Gross Domestic Happiness (GDH), deforestation, mass extinction of species and so on. The more time passes and the more those side-effects of modernity appear indeed to threaten the very foundation of life on earth.

Modernity was founded on the recognition and respect, over the centuries, of the logic of capital. In short, money invested in a venture becomes capital and people soon understood that they needed to follow the logic inherent to capital, for, not recognizing this logic was immediately sanctioned by a decrease of capital's monetary value that could possibly lead to the total extinction of that monetary value. Merchants and bankers were first to recognize and respect the logic of capital and found themselves antagonized by the clergy and the aristocracy who followed the edicts of the scriptures. The contradictions of the logic of capital and the edicts of the scriptures paved the way for the ideological contest between rationality and belief. Respecting the logic of capital was thought a rational behavior while belief in religious stories was gradually thought of as irrational. We all know the outcome. But force is to observe that in as short as a few centuries the logic of capital and rationality brought us on the brink of life extinction...

In our present-day peculiar societal reality the role of art is to give visual signs of the coming postmodern worldview for all to share.
Easy said is it not? But where to start?

Knowledge is the answer and this starts with the accumulation of knowings about science and philosophy and then the understanding of our present-day times and how we personally fit in the time. Only the works of those artists who make the effort to go through such a process of learning have a chance to remain of interest in the eyes of those who will be living a century from now. "Whatever", sharks or drippings, shall have vanished from their memory.



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