On Objectivity, Climate change, Science and Ethics.
theoretical = “late 16th century (denoting a mental scheme of something to be done): via late Latin from Greek theōria ‘contemplation, speculation’, from theōros ‘spectator’.”
It would seem that the link between theory and practice is an intrinsic one, not so separated as we are prone to believe. Is the doing different from what needs to be done?
“The immature think that knowledge and action are different, but the wise see them as the same. The person who is established in one path will attain the rewards of both.” Gita
The belief that technological advances will save us from climate change could be true. But it is exactly that, a belief in a future miracle. I am here referring to geo-engineering and business-as-usual politics. Not seemingly wonderful things like this:
The nature and appearance of the miracle remain unclear, much as human nature itself remains mysterious.
Some scientists attempt to stand outside the world science explains. They look for an objective footing from which to make claims about reality. This footing is yet to be found. Firmly grounded in reality science fulfills its function as a tool to grasp this reality, to dig and build in the earth it is grounded in.
If science were to stand outside the world, than what would it explain? The power of a scientific theory lies in it predictive power. So perhaps science predicts this miraculous future that we are waiting for?
As of yet, the future is unknown. All we have to base our predictions on is the Now. How the past is presented to us in the now. It appears that our perception of the past in the Now (or as I like to call it, the future past) has a profound influence on our predictions for the future.
Since science is based on the observation of facts, how we observe these ‘facts’ will have a great influence on the models we build for predicting the future. Which time span do we observe? Which premises do we use? Which relations do we take into consideration? Which instances do we find worthy of study? We have a limited focus and limited resources to expend. From which precipice do we launch our inductive and deductive processes?
Do we view nature as an organism? Do we question our social system?
Are the poor, poor by their own fault? Or as a structural effect of human relations? Or both?
Are humans inherently good, or bad? Neither? Both?
What makes me happy? Can I reach happiness? Is that important?
All these questions and more serve to shake the apparent objectivity of science to the core.
We haven’t even dealt with such things as solipsism.
Objective, comes from the latin for thing presented to the mind. Can we truly say the future is presented to the mind? Is it not always the now, the everything, we are looking at? Yes, we experience time passing, and with some certainty expect it continue flowing, but hasn’t science taught us that time and space are aspects of the same dimension?
The current climatological crisis is caused in part by the same scientific mindset, people expect to combat it. Without science no industrial revolution, without industrial revolution no climate change. Adherents of science-as-religion, might have us believe, that this was an earlier version of science, and that the beauty of science is, that it lets us change our beliefs and adapt it to the new situation. Which is true, so far so good.
Except that even the scientists without belief, who value methodology over theory, who love lady Gaia, might be conscripted into this whirlwind of techno-relief. First-aid dogma fix. The storms are upon us.
Are we really changing our beliefs when we respond to climate change with planet-wide technological solutions, but not changing societal or even consumption or emission patterns? Or are we merely adopting old behaviour to new circumstances? Again nothing necessarily wrong with that. Besides that, if we fail to see that science serves a purpose within a system. This system will fuck us with no lube, stuffing oil-bank-bailouts through our acidified teeth, while screaming go billy!!! and riding us like a goat. Whose entitled now bitch?!
What science attempts, is to show us the nature of relationships between observable phenonomen. Now we can change our concepts and measuring instruments, to come up with new phenomenon to measure. But how we choose to employ the knowledge gained through science or how we develop new concepts, is not debated so much. It should be.
If science remains directed towards the future, it is in fact creating this future. Especially so long as we allow its claim to objective truth to trump other claims to truth. Most scientists, indeed most of us will not live the future in its entirety, most of our offspring will. That most of us are not deciding what this future will look like, is decidedly scary.
The idea of either science, or scientists, being somehow objective would be laughable to me. Were it not that it has permeated our societal organization to a large extent. Our society is marshalled by the economic concerns of a limited class of people. So too are our scientific resources being marshalled to this purpose.
This does not mean there is an evil capitalist overseer, directing us towards an abysmal robotic hell, where humans are both the beef and the burger. On the contrary it is the mass of small incremental actions, of a system that tries to force us into a competition with each other, so that one need only act in his own best interests, to dig a grave for his fellow man. Filling the pockets of corporate execs. I am not a pessimist. On a daily basis, I experience heaps of joy, love and laughter. But I refuse to be treated like cattle, actually I would even prefer, if we didn’t treat cattle like cattle.
To the adherents of futurist logic, I would like to ask, what is driving this headlong rush for the future. Is today not good enough? Are you aware that the knowledge, you hold in your heart and in your head, will shape the destiny of all those too come? What has the past taught us of human nature? Is it that Adam will always act benevolently? Or perhaps that given the chance, he will jump out of paradise for a taste of adventure? Or at least follow Eve, once she decides she wants to learn?
The move away from paradise is not pleasant, the constant quenching of a parched throat while chasing old parchment across the postmodern pavement.
A vellum for your thoughts.
Composing poems in the form of loving diction.
I suggest we join our feminist sisters, and other emancipatory brothers in their quest to embrace otherness, by showing each other the humanness of being other. In this way too, science can reach out to all lovers, not just to those, who powwow and kowtow to the greats, who decide to grant their ventures into space with time.
All research questions are valid, but what of those that refrain to question who gains, what is gain and what will increase suffering in the main?
Unforetold riches might ensue, even fame, but glory in tatters, as the told story will become that of braindead matter, intellectual ruminants, or corporate leeches, I beseech thee, quest for the holy grail, but seek not if not everywhere, the truth behind the veil.
Welcome change into your heart, give love a headstart, chase it daringly across the divide, at least once a day, look a lover in the eye.
So what might all this mean for development
to keep it brief:
-enacting social change
-demanding new institutions
-Green technology transfers