History, Evolution, and The Darwin Debate

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The legacy of buddhism has produced an uncounted number of ‘self-understanding’ meditators who did not use modern neuroscience

November 9th, 2014 · No Comments

Back to Square One: toward a post-intentional future
on November 5, 2014
The question of science is so bungled in our time that it is almost a joke in some circles. And the question of evolution is even worse: scientism has totally confused the issues.
So any threat that science would shatter our illusions in the realm of ‘intensionality’ (??the free will question) seems like a paper airplane thrown upwind.
The problem is one of the universality of scientific laws. The revolution in physics, with its clear success at strong generalizations that satisfied case after case to become outright ‘laws’ of nature, has set a false standard, and the fields of biology to psychology have been saddled with a lot of junk scientism, and even worse evolutionism. If the assumed threat to our illusions has not arrived, except perhaps to the screwballs of the new atheism, the standard of human definition remains ‘pre-scientific. The legacy of buddhism, for example, has produced an uncounted number of ‘self-understanding’ meditators who did not use modern neuroscience. That neuroscience has notably lowballed and failed to pass the kinds of reality checks needed for a science of psychology.
The whole attempt to claim reality from physics upwards has stalled at the evolution stage, and can’t get untangled from such bad theories as darwinism….

intentionalby Scott Bakker

“… when you are actually challenged to think of pre-Darwinian answers to the question ‘What is Man?’ ‘Is there a meaning to life?’ ‘What are we for?’, can you, as a matter of fact, think of any that are not now worthless except for their (considerable) historic interest? There is such a thing as being just plain wrong and that is what before 1859, all answers to those questions were.” (Richard Dawkins, The Selfish Gene, p. 267)

Biocentrism is dead for the same reason geocentrism is dead for the same reason all of our prescientific theories regarding nature are dead: our traditional assumptions simply could not withstand scientific scrutiny. All things being equal, we have no reason to think our nature will conform to our prescientific assumptions any more than any other nature has historically. Humans are prone to draw erroneous conclusions in the absence of information. In many cases, we find our stories more convincing the less information we possess! [1]. So it should come as no surprise that the sciences, which turn on the accumulation of information, would consistently overthrow traditional views. All things being equal, we should expect any scientific investigation of our nature will out and out contradict our traditional self-understanding.

Everything, of course, turns on all things being equal — and I mean everything. All of it, the kaleidoscopic sum of our traditional, discursive human self-understanding, rests on the human capacity to know the human absent science. As Jerry Fodor famously writes:

“if commonsense intentional psychology really were to collapse, that would be, beyond comparison, the greatest intellectual catastrophe in the history of our species; if we’re that wrong about the mind, then that’s the wrongest we’ve ever been about anything. The collapse of the supernatural, for example, didn’t compare; theism never came close to being as intimately involved in our thought and practice — especially our practice — as belief/desire explanation is.” [2]

You could say the scientific overthrow of our traditional theoretical understanding of ourselves amounts to a kind of doomsday, the extinction of the humanity we have historically taken ourselves to be. Billions of “selves,” if not people, would die — at least for the purposes of theoretical knowledge!

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