Posted on January 22, 2013 by Andre Gaudreault
Kant proposed a Copernican Revolution ‘in reverse’, saying that: “Up to now it has been assumed that all our cognition must conform to the objects; but … let us once try whether we do not get farther with the problems of metaphysics by assuming that the objects must conform to our cognition.” Wikipedia
Progress has become maladaptive, because it has transformed an economic system in tune with the fundamental principles of evolution into a mode of production beneficial for a privilege minority, detrimental to the rest of the human race, and destructive for the whole planet.
Scientists are failing, because all their analyses of this state of affairs are based on a misunderstanding of the role of progress in evolution, which follows from a commonly accepted false conception of human nature.— If it weren’t the case, they would surely be able to define the global problem confronting humanity in solvable terms, which they cannot.
We are in possession of all the resources needed to do so. To use these resources in a most efficient and economic manner though, we need to gain a fresh perspective of ourselves and of our relations to the world surrounding us. We need a “human paradigm shift,” which would allow us to use the knowledge that we already possess to solve the problems that we created while acquiring it.
“Karl Popper defined scientific paradigms as shared belief systems. As science progresses, scientists realize that these beliefs are mostly false and move to a new paradigm.” (Source)
For a paradigm shift to become necessary, an anomaly of knowledge that exists with respect to earlier theories needs to be recognized. I will show below that the unrecognized anomaly preventing everybody from solving the actual humanity’s existential problems is progress itself, due to the inability of science to define its proper role in evolution.
Two hundred years ago, Immanuel Kant already acknowledged that humanity needed to undergo such a “revolution.” However, he was well ahead of his time. He did not develop his theory of human understanding within the context of evolution, as he surely would have, had evolution been established as a fact. And neither was he aware of the ill consequences the coming era of progress would have on the planet.
If scientists do not publicly recognize progress as an anomaly, even though in their everyday lives they must be becoming more and more aware of its ill consequences, it is because in their professional lives, their research grants prevent them to acknowledge the truth about the ultimate side effects of their work. As Michael Lewis already said more succinctly about the profiteering Wall Street workers: “The are paid not to see the truth.” (Source)
In passing, I must say that of course scientific research is good for humanity. However, in nature, everything that is beneficial for a species within a given habitat, inevitably creates pressures on the other competitive species, forcing the latter to vary their behaviours, evolve or go extinct, and the former to re-adapt to these new variations.
Our habitat is the whole earth. We don‘t have any competition. Nothing in nature can regulate us. We absolutely must find ways to do adapt our collective behaviour so we stop destroying our living environment. Until then, we don’t need anything that we already use to become smaller, faster, or bigger.
Progress as become an anomaly, because it has always been understood by science from the point of view of history, “locally” in evolutionary terms. Progress will still exist, once understood from the point of view of evolution, after a real “second Copernican revolution,” but will cease to be an anomaly of nature. As the planets were still showing anomalous retrograde motion to attentive observers on earth, but ceased to be regarded as anomalies, when understood from the point of view of the sun, after Copernicus.
Modern science is responsible for the destructive nature of progress as the church was for its retardation six hundred years ago. Scientists’ limitation has never been with their ability to know about the forces of nature, but with their capacity to understand them and control our collective behaviour once these forces become integrated parts of our nature. (sic)
Scientists profess that this is not their role; that science is a “value-free enterprise.” Science is our “collective enterprise” by excellence. If it is not their role, who’s is it? Politicians? The term elected leader has become an oxymoron. Today’s politicians are, for the most part, mere puppets of industry having an attention span of one election, the next, during which they all but follow scripts drafted by power elites benefiting the most from the present destructive status quo.
Unfortunately, contrary to the robbers of the temple, there is no more room for us to drive them out. As for their role in paving the road to hell with their good intentions, of which they have plenty, they won’t recognize it until they get there, which, fortunately this time will be sooner than later… hopefully soon enough to give us the time to save ourselves.
As we needed a revolution in our way of thinking to get out of the terrible Dark Ages, we need one to solve the frightening conundrum into which scientific “enlightenment” has inadvertently plunged the Modern World. At the very outset of the golden age of science, Kant wished for such a revolution in thinking, but didn’t succeed in triggering one. His account of human understanding, made from the point of view of history, was not favourable to a revolutionary way of thinking, as he believed it was, but to the upkeep of a scientific era of progress already taking shape since the late16th Century.
His “revolution in reverse,“ as it is now labeled by his modern commentators, has been accepted by science, simply because it was an exercise of maintenance of the status quo. This is what the reverse of a revolution is. His analysis was not Copernican, but Ptolemaic. His work played the same role in explaining how reality is perceived from a human perspective, using the concepts of analyticsynthetic a-priori knowledge and categories, as Ptolemy did for the explanation of the heavens from a geocentric perspective with the notions of crystalline spheres, epicycles, equant, and deferent, which we don’t need anymore. I will show below that we won’t either need Kant’s synthetic a-priori, his most profound conviction still discussed by philosophers, when human understanding is explained from the point of view of evolution.
“Enlightenment is mankind’s leaving behind its self-imposed immaturity. Immaturity is the inability to employ one’s own intelligence without being directed by someone else. This immaturity is self-imposed if it results not from lack of intellect but from a lack of willingness and courage to use it without another’s guidance. Sapere Aude!—”Have the courage to use your own mind!”—that is the motto of the enlightenment.” Kant (Source)
Notwithstanding its limitations, the crucial work of Kant is still significant for us to understand what is happening to humanity at the moment. However, it has to be interpreted more enlighteningly from the point of view of evolution, as it has never been done, and as I will attempt to do elementarily in the present work.
Here, I sure can say that Kant’s work must have been interpreted from the point of view of “our knowledge of evolution,” in some ways, somewhere, by someone, but never, and I am positive of that, while considering the role of understanding in evolution.
Knowledge is not the monopoly of our species. Understanding is. “To live is to know.” (Humberto Maturana) Even flowers “know” where the sun is.
However, it is not enough for us to know. We have to understand what we know.
“‘Understanding’ is processed in the brain. It is defined as ‘a psychological process related to a person, object, situation, or messages which require an individual to think and use concepts to deal with.’ Also called ‘intellection,’ understanding involves conceptualization and association.
It is the awareness of the connection between pieces of information that are presented and has a deeper level than knowing and, in fact, is essential in order to put knowledge to good use.
Understanding takes a long time to take place whereas knowledge can take place sooner.” (my emphases)
To “put knowledge to good use,” we need to reassess where we stand in nature from the point of view of evolution as the sole earth-dwelling species able to understanding. (We are probably not they only one in the universe.)
As Einstein said, “It’s the theory which decides what we can observe.” And there is no such comprehensive theory about our special relation to evolution. All the ones that we possess tend to assimilate us to the animal world, thus “immaturely” (Kant dixit) following Darwin to the letter. Those who don’t, here I am thinking of religious fundamentalists rejecting evolution, do it for the wrong reasons.
We are animals, of course. However, contrary the other species of animals, which are defined by the environment in which they live, we define ours. We live in environments of knowledge, which vary from generation to generation, and between cultures. Now that we have turned global, and thus reach our “limits to growth,” we need to adjust our collective behaviour to this new reality.
I decided to look into these matters from the point of view of a “generalist,” thirty five years ago, after reading in Buckminster Fuller’s Operating Manual of Spaceship Earth that:
“…of course, our failures are a consequence of many factors, but possibly one of the most important is the fact that society operates on the theory that specialization is the key to success, not realizing that specialization precludes comprehensive thinking.”
And after being secured in this way of thinking later by Konrad Lorentz saying that: “Specialists, by knowing ever more and more about less and less, will finish knowing everything about nothing.”
I have come to see particle physicists as instances of this last saying. Indeed, they can only determine the elusive position of the particles of matter, which they are assuming, after these have been set “up” or “down,” looked at from “top” to “bottom,” divided into “quarks,” and “coloured.” I have come to see these ad-hoc notions as whimsical, and ultimately irrelevant to an eventual unification of the forces of nature; they allow us to “know” where these particles probably are, but forbid us to “understand” them.
Below, I will draft the rudimentary outlines of a synthetic evolutionary theory covering all sciences, (1) showing that there are as much differences between cosmic and biologic evolution, and between biologic and human evolution, as there are between classical physics and quantum mechanics; and conjointly, (2) which will open up opportunities to unify these different aspects of knowledge. I could be wrong, but I don’t think so! Everything in this theory shows me the sign of a good theory. Everything fits so well in it, that I must be right, even if it sounds unbelievable at first, even to me.
You’ll be the judges!
Here are some quotes about the signs of a good theory, which I dug out the Internet:
- The sign of a good theory is that it fits and explains the data; (check)
- it explains more than what it is intended to; (check)
- it predicts the existence of something that has never been seen. Scientists can then hunt for it. (check)
- The sign of a good theory is when patterns emerge. (check)
- The sign of a good theory is the richness that is produced from simple foundations. (check)
- A key sign of a good theory is its ability to adequately explain reality in new and insightful ways. (double checks)
- “If you Google “sign of a good theory” you will find these quotes verbatim.
As you will see, my theory presents all these signs. If my work was judged by these criteria alone, I believe that, style put aside, it deserves an A+. —English is not my first language, and as William James, who had to “forge every sentence in the teeth of irreducible and stubborn facts,“ I have to forge mine in the teeth of well established scientific theories… in English!
As quantum mechanics for energy, this new theory takes into account the “evolutionary punctuation” in the midst of which we are as a species, and which, if accepted soon enough, could allow us to do what modern physicists have failed to do: the grand unification of the forces of nature.
Indeed, since we are made of the same matter as all the rest of the known universe, the forces that are used to hold it together must have something to do with the one that drives us to conceptualize them, don’t they? We acquired our knowledge about the forces of nature by first unifying the earth and the heaven. The time has come to understand these forces through their unification with the one that has driven us to their discovery, so we can control them.
At this point, some caveats have to be made. This work will not discuss in depth the philosophical works of Locke, Kant, Hegel, and others, nor any specific scientific theories, but the place of “human understanding” in evolution. It will contain nothing, as you have already surely noticed, but wide conceptual generalizations, opening themselves to interpretations and critics… and hopefully to future extrapolations.
If I were a painter, my model would be Édouard Manet, the first painter to make the transition between realism and impressionism. As a thinker, I am an “impressionistic evolutionist.” Contrary to evolutionary psychologists, who in parallel to my work have described in a hyper-realist style the human landscape that I used as my field of research,
57th and 5th Robert Neffson
I will express my findings in evolution using broad conceptual strokes, as impressionists do for landscapes with large and visible paint strokes.
I hope my work to be mind-opening for everybody who reads it. If it is accepted, it should become a PhD dissertation significant to all honest mind, instead of, as they usually are, to a small minority of scientists. I have all the prerequisites but no major knowledge area, and thus,there exists no discipline opened enough to receive my dissertation.
This work is indeed presented by a “globalist mind” who accepted, at the age of 30 after a first general BA, the teachings of all past thinkers he had encountered during his growing up, as the “a-priori knowledge” forming the background of his intellect; which, for his purpose, he felt he didn’t need to refine in depth during his return to university for a second general BA, but superficially explore in width. And, who refused to accept the fundamental mistake he strongly believed this “a-priori” background of thinking shared by all of humanity was concealing. Becoming soon convinced that its reinterpretation from a new perspective would eventually allow us to understand the “human phenomenon” as a “think-in-itself,” ”proactively” implicated with the whole reality. —This, at first, was but a faint unverbalized assumption, which I could only concretize once I had figured out Kant’s evolutionary limitations, twenty years after a received my Master’s degree,
While writing this prolegomena, I inadvertently came across this quote about scientific discovery:
Scientific discovery is unpredictable. History reveals that scientists rarely anticipate the nature or the source of new breakthroughs before they happen. One might think, then, that it is impossible to cultivate an environment that promotes discovery. But I argue otherwise: By encouraging open research without a programmatic agenda, we can establish a fertile ground for unexpected breakthroughs. [Source, My emphasis]
I must agree with that; I have never had a “programmatic agenda.” For instance, in one session, some thirty years ago at the Université du Québec à Rimouski, I was purposefully following five courses, in five different departments.
Here is an overview of the main areas of my life-long curriculum of studies in seven different post-secondary institutions:
- 2 general Baccalaureates in five institutions: During which I have acquired elementary knowledge in Biology, Psychology, and Economy, among a dozen other disciplines, in the context of evolution.
- 1 non-specialized Master of Arts from the Universities of Montreal and Guelph: Which has allowed me to superficially integrate the elementary knowledge previously acquired, into the conjoint fields of Zoology, Anthropology, and Sociology, always in the context of evolution.
- 20 years of postgraduate studies: Made in absentia at the U of I (University of the Internet), during which I have insistently ponder the role of progress in evolution.
My supervisor Ted Hadwin once told me, after I presented him with a rudimentary draft of my evolutionary thinking, that the three smallest books that have ever been written were books about German humour, English fine cuisine, and French humility. He informed me, then, that the one about French humility was so small that nobody has ever seen it.
Soon after, I sent him a letter written in French, in which I was telling him that I had never seen this book either, but that I had heard of the only sentence It contains, which had become frère Alfred’s maxim, my Latin teacher in college when I was fifteen: “L’humilité c’est la vérité,” truth is humble. Too bad Hadwin along the others at the University of Guelph was still not yet ready to accept it, thirty years later.
If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.
This has served me well. I don’t remember anything I have learned at the university, except what I have used to build the theory I was uncannily developing, and which I am presenting below.