History, Evolution, and The Darwin Debate

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The ‘science of freedom’

March 23rd, 2009 · No Comments

One of the strangest episodes of the Hegelian era is the notion of a ‘science of freedom’. Lost in the rear view mirror of rising positivism, this notion, which is really a continuation of Kant’s critiques, expresses the inherent difficulty in the application of science to human/historical subjects.
The resolution of this issue in the study of the eonic effect is one of the most successful aspects of the eonic model.

1.5.5 The Science Of Freedom

From Newton to the period of Kant we see a full cycle of a dialectic that resulted in the distinction of human and natural sciences. This period seems lost to us and we live in the secondary downfield arising in the emergence of scientism as a universal discourse. The Science Wars, and the Two Cultures debate, are really echoes of this period near the climax of the Enlightenment when a deeper dimension to rationality was explored against the backdrop of the Romantic movement, and much else. The point for us will be in something like Kant’s distinction of theoretical and practical reason. Whatever we think of his formulation something like it is always present, as a challenge to the reductionist monism ambitious to mechanize all explanation. This distinction is not hard to find in current science. That said, the original formulation of the eonic model consisted of studying systems theory, quantum formalism, artificial life and computer concepts, with Newtonian mechanics in the background. The transition to Kantian ideas and the philosophy of history is a subsequent stage. To complete the project of science would require a science of freedom.

We should acknowledge a certain irony in the use of this phrase. This ‘science’ is, of course, the great storm-tossed vessel of Romantic Naturphilosophie, visible in the metaphysical continuations to Kant seen in a figure such as Hegel, with his classic thematic of an ‘evolution of freedom’, ‘evolution’ a term he did not use. We might think this vessel was lost at sea, and the collapse of Hegelianism in the period of Comte signals the onset of a positivistic era that swings to an opposite extreme, a reduced methodological naturalism deaf to its inherent dilemma. We might be counseled to bypass Hegelian mysteries, but take with us a preposterous question. If one were so Hegelian as to rewrite foundations armed with Spinoza, then does not the grand opera of Idealism constitute a form of methodological naturalism? Like the smile of the Cheshire Cat this joker in the deck lurks in the reshuffled tarot of modern science, if that be a transient episode of scientism, with its recurrent, muffled cries of ‘Back to Kant’, maybe even Newton, the real one.

Tags: selections · World History and The Eonic Effect

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