Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Inability to control one's circumstances with the precision one seeks

Increasing our interest lies in the outcome, and the process is seen to be a technical detail of interest only to the practitioner of the craft. Science becomes craft, belief becomes expectation, and outcomes become products one can shop for. … We implicitly embrace a position of disembodied empiricism … The overriding interest is in oneself, not in the means adopted. …
Sandwiched between an overwhelming regard for oneself and an inability to control one's circumstances with the precision one seeks, we are looking for newer technologies of the self. New age beliefs may or may not be science but they certainly in technologies in that they seek to manipulate the world around us in order to give us outcomes we desire. … Santosh Desai is a leading ad professional.

As a scientist, I am fairly satisfied with science's explanations for raindrops, but find science's explanation for humans' concerns unsatisfying, or just missing entirely. If I consider science's description of object-object interactions, and then add OOO, I don't see where OOO improves my understanding. It and correlationism sound like metaphysics. 

Yes, this is the standard continental attitude. The natural sciences are doing fine already with the non-human world, so let’s hole up in an inner phenomenal sphere that science cannot touch. It’s a fairly reactive move, and ripe for assault by cognitive science. If you take the position Enowning is taking, you’re consigning yourself to a permanent defensive war against the encroachments of neuroscience.

response to Mormon Metaphysics from Object-Oriented Philosophy by doctorzamalek (Graham Harman)
If there is one theme running throughout my work, it’s that philosophy must be universal. It must be capable of accounting for purely physical interactions just as it accounts for the mind.
Hence, the object-oriented standpoint. What exists in all spheres of the cosmos –physical, mental, fictional, etc.– are objects with qualities. Yes, many people assault this very point, but they can be dealt with case by case as they appear. In fact, I think dumping on objects is the standard “radical” gesture throughout philosophy, but I’ve already written about that in some forthcoming pieces. As for why a metaphysics of objects is needed, see any of my books.
The standard continental attitude sees a division of labor, where science gets the rocks and dirt while philosophy gets the people. Philosophy has nothing to add about rocks and dirt, while science will never understand people. But this is wrong on both counts. Cognitive science and neuroscience most likely will be able to revolutionize our understanding of how the mind works. If you get defensive about that (Mormon Metaphysics is not, but many continentalists are) it simply means that you’ve painted yourself into a corner by limiting philosophy to one supposedly extra-scientific space: human mentality. But there’s no reason to believe it’s extra-scientific, and that’s what the scientistic camp has right.
In one sense, everything is amenable to scientific treatment. But in another sense, nothing is (since the object is precisely what resists all attempts at adequate modelling, and since no layer of objects can be the privileged explainer of any other). And you need both hands to play the piano.

Scientistic philosophy loves to claim that mainstream philosophers restrict themselves to the commensensical and the intuitively plausible, while observing that brave natural science has shown many initially counterintutive things to be true. (And my sarcasm here is directed against scientism, not science: the latter has indeed heroically shown many counterintuitive things to be true. Scientism, by contrast, is the parasite trying to live on borrowed glory from its big brother.)

Wolf Singer’s ethics panel from Object-Oriented Philosophy by doctorzamalek (Graham Harman)
The old settlement was this: the sciences talk about the world itself, and the humanities talk about the castle of culture and meaning. Already a rotten settlement. But since the castle of culture and meaning will now be taken over by neuroscience as well, either by finding “minimally sufficient neural correlates” for everything we do, or by a bit of “there are good evolutionary reasons for why we enjoy symphonies,” the humanities get to become professional ethics consultants. I’m telling you, philosophy made a giant mistake by ever agreeing to restrict itself to the castle of culture and meaning. We have to get out there and deal with the stones, trees, dust, and sunlight, or we are going to end up as Wolf Singer’s ethics panel. 

Sri Aurobindo explains: “When we sleep and the surface physical part of us, which is in its first origin here an output from the Inconscient, relapses towards the originating inconscience, it enters into this subconscious element, ...

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