Lecture 31

Session 31

Assigned Readings
You have already read Roots chapter 5 on the ‘Great synthesis’ this was reminder of what we looked at September last (1983/4?).

The principle of subsidiarity – Aquinas took it over from Aristotle and developed it. It is different from sphere sovereignty. two different ways of regarding human relationships.

Now need to read Roots chapter 6 on ‘Classical humanism’. It mirrors what we are doing in class now.

A book by McKendree Langley [1945-2005] The Practice of Political Spirituality . He had a Presbyterian background, studied at Jackson Mississippi before moving to Dordt and then doing a dissertation on Kuyper. I wrote a foreword to his book.

John Dewey was an outspoken humanist – he not only put autonomous man at the cnetreof his universe he had a firm hold of the cosmic process by using his autonomous intelligence as an instrument of control so as to determine a course of events.It is to be decided, according to Dewey, according to science for intelligence and science are, for Dewey, close to being synonymous. Dewey wanted to make pragmatism like science, so he called it instrumentalism.

The human has been reduced to a scientist.
All human knowing has been reduced to the kind of knowing a scientist has.

All thinking/ intelligence/ knowing (are they the same thing?) comes from science.

Science is for Dewey our best authentic form of knowledge. He reminds us a bit of George Bundy’s lecture to the freshmen at Harvard.

Dewey, Philosophy of Education:

It [the school] must accept whole-heartedly the scientific way, not merely of technology but of life. in order to achieve the promise of modern democratic ideas.

Democracy: all people have their say, no matter how stupid!

The modern world thought began with the new physics (a rejection of the geo-centric) out of it the new philosophy arose, which is identified as Cartesian rationalism.

They attempted a new synthesis of thought, this in terms of the the kind of reality that the scientific results of the new physics disclose. they assumed the new physics revealed the truth about the world.

Read Bertrand Russell The problems of Philosophy the first 6 chapters to see how famous people say things of fools

The reality this physics was supposed to be disclosing was called matter. Thus there arose a view that the ‘world of matter’ which the physicists studied and measured was the real world over against it was the ordinary world of experience, the world of persons, events, institutions that they would come into contact with and which became regarded as the world of mere appearance.

This world of appearance was pre-scientific. There is another dimension of this science-oriented mind which should be mentioned her. This way of thinking was in seed form in the Renaissance.

(Between the Renaissance and the eighteenth century Enlightenment was the development of mathematical physics.)

The historians of the age of the Enlightenment who thought of their own generation as the first to apply the scientific test to everything were inclined to consider all previous historical work as ‘pre-scientific’ history and for that reason not worthy of the scientific historian. generally, they looked upon the past as history of human vanities or errors.

Reads from R G Collingwood Idea of History

Notice the implicit identification of rational and knowledge with the scientific way of knowing.

The sixteenth century has been traditionally divided into empiricism and rationalism, but Locke’s empiricism is a form of rationalism.

Scientific humanists elevated science above all other kinds and had come to identify rational and valid with scientific. In such a frame of reference as that non-scietific and pre-scientific could only refer to something sub-scientific, that is, not quite up to snub, short of the mark.

Pre-scientific and non-scientific really means unscientific and ultimately having little worth, if not outright deception and false.

The world God presents to us in the creation of everyday life is thrown away, is rejected in order scientifically to construct from scratch to reconstruct, to make a world of his own.

In different circles pre-scientific may be called poetical, mythical, saga, legend, but in all cases it renders no valid knowledge of the so-called external world.

Valid and authentic knowledge does not arise except through scientific knowledge before that it is only qua knowledge, amorphous (unformed) material awaiting scientific forming.

This general view of modernity has functioned as a great leveller – the way of sceince – as such then it is the very opposite of what we mean.

We do not elevate scientific to be the sole authenticator of all experience. Rather we acknowledge two coordinate and different ways of knowing. The pre-scientific has always preceded the scientific and has a validity of its own., one that cannot be derived from the validity of the subsequently obtained scientific. We are therefore making bold to assert something that goes against this massive humanist tradition, and we are doing it not because some previous scholar, however great a reputation, has said it – an argument from authority – but because our continuing experience plainly attends to it and think about it. The light of divine revelation presses upon us that there are two ways of knowing and that there is some kind of relation between them.

A second and earlier form of scientific knowledge. Each represents different and distinct way man tunes into the world.

Reads from a colleague’s book:

“All chairs in my office originate from Kenton, Ohio ….

Frar from any line of continuity each form [of knowing] represents a particular and distinct way in which man tunes into the world, while it is true scientific knowledge arises as a development of our non-scientific knowledge. A person can change over from non-scientific atunement to scientific atunement very quickly, the shift back and forth can be very rapid indeed.

The structure of each- how I relate to it scientific and non-scientific – remain distinct the structure of one does not ever flow into the structure of the other kind and in the case of the linear continuity flow of functional change.

Don’t confuse scientistic with scientific. Scientistic is derived from scientism – a pagan exaggeration of the place of science; scientific derives from science.

In recent years there has been a decrease from the view of science as the sole sovereignty of the scientific method – a growing appreciation that it has a limited validity. there is something else beyond the sphere of science.

One strand of the student rebellion in the sixties and seventies is still with us – a hostility towards science – a backing away as it appears so abstracted from human life and its concerns. Students so aghast at the uses scientific knowledge has been put, eg, atomic and hydrogen bombs, chemical and bacteriological warfare. It is difficult to connect with interpersonal events and connections of life that they see around them. Starry-eyed science as the royal road to the abundant life is no longer a viable option for many of them. Some turn away completely to communes and love,

The real relation between science and everyday life has never been made clear, it is obscured by the levelling scientism of the modern mind.

They are becoming aware of the larger context of the scientific enterprise – but they don’t carry it through sufficiently. They are discovering the limitations of science within the whole fabric of human existence.

Unfortunately, they lack the larger frame of reference to get the insight into the real nature of the scientific enterprise.

Next time we shall look at some illustrations.

Explore posts in the same categories: By Runner, Lectures

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: