Archive for July 12th, 2013

Science

This comment thread wandered into a discussion of science, of considerable intricacy and originality. The post in question is focused upon Heidegger, who has very definite ideas about natural science, but these ideas — dominated by his conception of  ‘regional ontologies’ — are not especially noteworthy, either for an understanding of Heidegger’s principal pre-occupation, or for a realistic grasp of the scientific enterprise. For that reason, it seems sensible to recommence the discussion elsewhere (here).

The first crucial thesis about natural science — or autonomous ‘natural philosophy’ — is that it is an exclusively capitalist phenomenon. The existence of science, as an actual social reality, is strictly limited to times and places in which certain elementary structures of capitalistic organization prevail. It depends, centrally and definitionally, upon a modern form of competition. That is to say, there cannot be science without an effective social mechanism for the elimination of failure, based on extra-rational criteria, inaccessible to cultural capture.

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July 12, 2013admin 19 Comments »
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Quote notes (#8)

Lewis Spurgin on politics in evolutionary biology:

So why hadn’t Haldane — a brilliant and inventive biologist ­— taken the idea of kin selection to its natural conclusion? In a startlingly honest interview for the Web of Stories website in 1997, the eminent evolutionary biologist John Maynard Smith, a former student of Haldane’s, said that this failure was partly political:

“I have to put it down, to some extent, to political and ideological commitment… We were, I think, very reluctant, as Marxists would be, to admit that anything genetic might influence human behaviour. And I think that we didn’t say consciously to ourselves that this would be un-Marxist so we won’t do it, that’s not the way that the mind works; but it was a path that our minds were not, so to speak, prepared to go down, in quite an unconscious sense, whereas Bill [Hamilton] was very prepared to go down it… to make big breaks in science, which Hamilton did, it’s not enough to have the technical understanding of some technical point, it’s got to fit in with your world view that you should pursue this road.”

July 12, 2013admin 3 Comments »
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