History, Evolution, and The Darwin Debate

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Beyond philosophy to an empirical view of history

June 30th, 2014 · No Comments

Is there another approach to philosophy for the left? I have often proposed a new model of history that is also a critique of darwinism and which touches very briefly on the ‘philosophy of history’. There is a useful summary in Last and First Men, in the Appendix (read the first few pages, enough):
The muddle of darwinism is almost hopeless. It is taken as a standard when in fact it confuses everything.
This model shows easily that there is no ‘historical dialectic’. This idea is simply dysfunctional.
This model is entirely optional and moves to the background around a very simple scheme using periodization. We can see that visible history seems to break up into a set of epochs or simple intervals: we see three of them, the third still underway. That is a clear clue to existence of a hidden dynamic. But we won’t dwell on that to proceed. The point here is that we already use this model without thinking. Do we refer to the Middle Ages? Of course, and middle of what is the next question. A whole series of ultra simple observations of this kind show that we already think in these terms, unsure no doubt why. Thus every time we refer to ‘modernity’ we are back in this game. So our bare outline of this situation is a robust way to proceed without theories. We can use more or less of the model that tries to depict/describe this situation, but in the end all we need is an outline or periodization, a sense of the free agency of historical actors, and some way to deal with economic issues. Easy, economies are a set of procedures for economic action that we adopt as strategies of production and exchange. The mathematical theories that claim to explain these economies are mostly rubbish, bad science, so we are back to our ‘free agents’ and their economic acts. The idea of free agency allows the idea of freedom to reenter historical and economic analysis. A free agent may or may not have ‘free will’. We might assume that the two are the same, or not. A free agent can indulge in choice, but that choice might have determinate conditions. Whatever the case, the ‘free agent’ is a reality, because causal sequences change course based on ‘choices’, however free’, of these agents: it springs from their brain, not exterior nature.
That’s it, really.

The historical model in LFM/appendix and WHEE (history-and-evolution.com) is quite elaborate, but it is easily summarized as an outline. It takes one idea from a famous essay by Kant, and uses the first paragraph. That’s it, nothing more. So I think this approach is free of the dangers of bad philosophy (or bad science, like darwinism).

The gist here is that ‘capitalism’ is not a stage of history. We don’t have to indulge it on the grounds that this is the way things are. We can change the situation at will. But we can see how far gone we are in the discussions of economics now current: statements about markets and their function are taken as gospel, as statement about nature, the way things are, and we are silenced at once by phony science.

We don’t need the advanced course in marxist obscurity here, we can prepare to act at once in a dangerous situation where ideology has taken over.

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