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Author Topic: Science Is in the Details (NY Times)  (Read 1313 times)
jonzr
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« on: Jul 27, 2009 at 23:40 »

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/27/opinion/27harris.html

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pensodyssey
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« Reply #1 on: Jul 30, 2009 at 11:03 »

Francis Collins is an accomplished scientist and a man who is sincere in his beliefs. And that is precisely what makes me so uncomfortable about his nomination. Must we really entrust the future of biomedical research in the United States to a man who sincerely believes that a scientific understanding of human nature is impossible?

This shit cracks me up.  The "scientific community" seems to believe that we can come to an end of knowledge, this so-called "scientific understanding of human nature", merely substituting one pie-in-the-sky grand narrative (science) for another (god). 

It seems to me that science and religion, far from being enemies, make perfect partners in crime.  Religion is the perfect tool for science to cement its status as the current high-priesthood, as all it lacks is a sympathetic moral justification for its projects.  Both parties in fact have the same object:  limiting the sphere of imagination and keeping the individual from a true knowledge of his or her potential as creative force and active agent in an arbitrary universe. 

Both science and religion are soul-less.  Proof: why are the arts excluded from any discussion concerning our understanding of human nature, or of the universe? Because spontaniety violates the precepts of Aristotelian science and Aristotelian religion.  It wasn't god who died with the rise of rationalism, it was the artist.

Which is nothing that didn't need to be said by William Blake.
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jonzr
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« Reply #2 on: Jul 30, 2009 at 11:48 »

Both science and religion are soul-less.  Proof: why are the arts excluded from any discussion concerning our understanding of human nature, or of the universe? Because spontaniety violates the precepts of Aristotelian science and Aristotelian religion.  It wasn't god who died with the rise of rationalism, it was the artist.

Which is nothing that didn't need to be said by William Blake.

Guess I always thought of the arts as not excluded from but outside the discussion, by choice, observing and commenting.
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« Reply #3 on: Jul 30, 2009 at 11:56 »

If an individual accepts science or religion as a tool in the toolbox, so to speak, I don't see the limitation, Pens.  Say, calculating a trajectory to win a watermelon-catapulting contest, or belief in an afterlife as comfort when a loved one passes.  OK, fine.  One can still be that active agent, no?

But using religion to usurp the narrative of science for... what, apparent relgious ends?... Worries me greatly.  It would be like having a neurosurgeon who's also a holistic healer.  Now, maybe if I have a rash that the GP can't fix, I'll go to the holistic healer.  If I want a brain tumor removed, I'll go to the surgeon.  If that surgeon is some holistic cat, maybe he's stuffing a bunch of blackberries and ginseng into my cranial cavity once he opens that shit up.  Is this what I paid for?  Is it?  Fuckin' head fulla fuckin' berries.  Fuck.

An interesting observation on rationalism and art, though.  We see the Dionysian impulse bubble up occasionally, but the overwhelming reaction is to tamp it back down.  It's fine to be a hippie so long as you give that up and settle down and get a good job later on.  Cut down the Amazon to raise McDonald's cattle.  The only good intoxicants numb us from the reality of our lives.  The American suburban sublime.  Punk is co-opted and will now be a harmless soundtrack to whatever commercial happen to want to buy it.  The fucking media.  The fucking government being bought out.  Children aren't even children any more, they're pretty much organized activities from age, what, 4? 5? onward.  

There is no wilderness, no wildness, or at least no urge to cultivate or respect it.

Man dominating nature.  His own, and the external.

This was why we ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  Because now we know, however we know it, we know it, we know it all.  And it's all so... good.  So good.
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« Reply #4 on: Jul 30, 2009 at 12:02 »

Both science and religion are soul-less.  Proof: why are the arts excluded from any discussion concerning our understanding of human nature, or of the universe? Because spontaniety violates the precepts of Aristotelian science and Aristotelian religion.  It wasn't god who died with the rise of rationalism, it was the artist.

Which is nothing that didn't need to be said by William Blake.

Guess I always thought of the arts as not excluded from but outside the discussion, by choice, observing and commenting.


Because that's its proscribed role under the rule of rationalism.  The artist is under no circumstances to be seen as a bearer of truth except in some oblique and abstract way that is fulfilled by a yearly visit to a museum designed exactly like a prison. Or hospital, same thing.  
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« Reply #5 on: Jul 30, 2009 at 12:25 »

Both science and religion are soul-less.  Proof: why are the arts excluded from any discussion concerning our understanding of human nature, or of the universe? Because spontaniety violates the precepts of Aristotelian science and Aristotelian religion.  It wasn't god who died with the rise of rationalism, it was the artist.

Which is nothing that didn't need to be said by William Blake.

Guess I always thought of the arts as not excluded from but outside the discussion, by choice, observing and commenting.


Because that's its proscribed role under the rule of rationalism.  The artist is under no circumstances to be seen as a bearer of truth except in some oblique and abstract way that is fulfilled by a yearly visit to a museum designed exactly like a prison. Or hospital, same thing. 

Go back to teaching your Engrish-speakers about the rationalist ancient Greeks. 
Both science and religion are soul-less.  Proof: why are the arts excluded from any discussion concerning our understanding of human nature, or of the universe? Because spontaniety violates the precepts of Aristotelian science and Aristotelian religion.  It wasn't god who died with the rise of rationalism, it was the artist.

Which is nothing that didn't need to be said by William Blake.

Guess I always thought of the arts as not excluded from but outside the discussion, by choice, observing and commenting.


Because that's its proscribed role under the rule of rationalism.  The artist is under no circumstances to be seen as a bearer of truth except in some oblique and abstract way that is fulfilled by a yearly visit to a museum designed exactly like a prison. Or hospital, same thing. 

I dunno.

Ben's game-winning drive wasn't in no prison or hospital...
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« Reply #6 on: Jul 30, 2009 at 12:28 »

If an individual accepts science or religion as a tool in the toolbox, so to speak, I don't see the limitation, Pens.  Say, calculating a trajectory to win a watermelon-catapulting contest, or belief in an afterlife as comfort when a loved one passes.  OK, fine.  One can still be that active agent, no?Quote
But using religion to usurp the narrative of science for... what, apparent religious ends?... Worries me greatly. 

Absolutely.  Science+Religion=Perfect Control Machine.

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There is no wilderness, no wildness, or at least no urge to cultivate or respect it.


The heart of the matter.
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jonzr
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« Reply #7 on: Jul 30, 2009 at 13:10 »

Good analogy, but what did the well educated person read in 5th century Athens and 17th century Europe, what were they educated on?  Religious and/or philosophical texts?  And what % of them were even educated at all, I wonder.  How many could even afford to both own a book and eat?  I suppose it speaks to what was valued then vs today re: education.  Certainly, the arts have taken a beating, usually cut from budgets as unnecessary/extravagant.

Now take this book I'm reading, Breaking the Spell by Daniel Dennett.  There you have a philosopher (of the arts, yes?) discussing science and religion - more particularly, describing how science (evolution) can explain religion (I think that's the gist, still early on in the book).  So, Dennett is in the discussion, or is that not what you mean? 

Or is it that the discussion is of religion and science that is the problem?  You can't do away with them both.  Well, we could do w/out religion (imagine, it's easy if you try) but I kinda like medicine and bridges and the materials that go into those.  And while architecture is certainly an art, what would it be sans the engineering aspect?

I think we need science, otherwise we're poking around caves with sticks, waiting for the next big ba-boom to make fire so we can quit freezing our arses off.
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« Reply #8 on: Jul 30, 2009 at 13:34 »

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The context of this discussion centers around the institution of science as the current high-priesthood, not the limited scope of freedom any one individual currently enjoys.  

Point taken.

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« Reply #9 on: Jul 30, 2009 at 14:18 »

Now take this book I'm reading, Breaking the Spell by Daniel Dennett.  There you have a philosopher (of the arts, yes?) discussing science and religion - more particularly, describing how science (evolution) can explain religion (I think that's the gist, still early on in the book).  So, Dennett is in the discussion, or is that not what you mean? 

After my Julian Jaynes infatuation, I remember reading (some of) Dennett's Consciousness Explained.  In a gross oversimplification, and from my faulty memory, Dennett seemed to be saying that our consciousness is basically a product of our chipset, the motherboard in our head.  No god, no mystery, nothing ineffable.  I found that troubling at the time, as it seemed to be utterly deterministic:  there is no you, beyond your neurons, and no creativity beyond what was pre-wired for you.  At least if Jaynes explained away our gods as the workings of pre-conscious minds (rather like schizophrenics, with auditory hallucinations), he still emphasized that consciousness arose in part from language, and was expanded by our ability to create and understand metaphor.  In other words, we did have some say: Homer shaped Shakespeare shaped Joyce shaped Finny, telescoped: standing on the shoulders of those who came before me, and that very fact makes our consciousness a plastic and constantly evolving entity.  With who knows what effects thanks to the age of modern computers.

Dennett wants to expand from consciousness-as-chipset to God-as-chipset.  That's fine; I'd be interested to see how he expands that, where it intersects Jaynes, and whether he sees a neurological evolution away from religious belief.  If it's all just to show that God is Santa Claus, well, thanks, but that's been done to death.
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