I was watching Michael Shermer (publisher of Skeptic Magazine) on TED speak about the nature of belief. That humans have evolved to look for patterns; which is why we tend to believe things.
I thought I’d better summarize before I conclude.
I am presenting a synthesis:
1. The Thesis is Rationality which says that the physical laws and observations are absolute, we have to refine our observations to get to the truth, so the natural is the real and the real is the natural – this is the dominating and flawed scientific philosophy.
2. The Antithesis is 2 fold: Phenomenology explains that just because I experience or observe something does not make it real (one step closer to the truth), Existentialism agrees except in the case of the self experiencing itself, this is the dominating philosophy on which the plot of the movie The Matrix is built.
Existentialism deals with “reality” as a priori, as opposed to “nature”, so all nature is real, but not everything that is real is natural (two steps closer to the truth).
3. The Synthesis is Relationality which says, “The personal is the real, and the real is the personal, but the personal can only be experienced by relationship;” or “We relate, therefore I am, therefore we are.”
1. “…many scholars trace existentialism back through a ‘secondary’ cultural and intellectual viewpoint which runs throughout European history as an intellectual subtheme and stems from the implicit world view contained in the Hebrew strain in early Christianity and the Bible.” Paul T Brockelman – “Existential Phenomenology and the World of Ordinary Experience” Brockelman is referencing Matthew Arnold, “Culture and Anarchy” and Lev Shestov, “Athens and Jerusalem”
2. “Reason is limited” – Emanuel Kant
3. “Heigel’s dictum that ‘The rational is real and the real is rational’ is not only in-demonstrable, but itself an irrational assertion.” Paul T Brockelman – “Existential Phenomenology and the World of Ordinary Experience”
Now Søren Kierkegaard explained the philosophical problem presented in Genesis 3 exceptionally well in “The Sickness unto Death”: “What I really lack is to be clear about what I am to do, not what I am to know.”
I’d say it can be simplified, I believe, to this ethical problem: What I really lack is to be clear about what I ought to do, not what I ought to know.
That is the human condition, and it’s only solution is found in subjecting ourselves to the question relationally: I will know what I ought to do when, and only when, I know whom I ought to know! That is the mantra of Relationality.
Relationships are not natural, they are supernatural. It is the disintegration of relationships that is natural. A man relates to a garden because it is cultivated, a man cultivates a garden because he is relational.
1. Things like gravity and survival assimilate and thus destroy relationships by their success. Result: black holes and extinction.
2. Things like the big bang and atomic theory disperse and thus destroy relationship by their success. Result: disparate galaxies and radiation.
Those are natural processes.
When there is a sustained balance between assimilation and dispersal it is relational and therefore supernatural. And, as it turns out, there is an observable balance just about everywhere we look! Therefore, the universe is Relational, that’s the only thing that makes it real.
And the primary question is not,”what can we to know about it?” It’s not even, “what ought we to know about it?” The primary question is, “Who is behind it?” For this is not nature, it is supernature, and what is behind it is therefore both relational and personal.
If we insist on defining what we observe as “nature” then we have no choice but to define what we ought to observe (chaos, meaningless suffering, endless and increasing destruction) as sub-nature.
I was watching a TED-cast the other day, TED is a good mix of the best popular opinion. A very helpful resource but don’t misunderstand me, it is merely the very best of the current popular opinion, in other words the highest of the lowest common denominators.
In this TED-cast Jane Goodall was speaking about her experience and research with chimps in central Africa. She was waxing great imaginative lyrical about how she believes that the human capacity of speech evolved from mother ape-like ancestors of humans, and chimps supposedly, needing their hands to be free and thus putting their babies down and then having to rely on grunts and groans to communicate since mother and infant were no longer in physical touch. This, she postulates, caused the species to generate forms of verbal communication which stimulated neural development and thus more intricate verbal communication eventually resulting in intelligence, reasonability, self-awareness and speech. Characteristics displayed only by human beings.
So she wins a vote each for evolution and the feminist movement in one scientific sounding statement, a pretty smooth move, but not very rigorous.