Miscellany: On the first philosopher, the scientific method in theory and practice, and other subjects


Who was the first philosopher?

Ignorant people think naming something just means affixing a label to what has already been disclosed but that overlooks the disclosive function that was necessarily prior and without which there would have been nothing to affix the sayd label to. Hence, Adam was the first phylosopher. (Cf. Genesis 2:20)

On the scientific method in theory and practice:

Two possibilities for science are to (1) begin with what is self-evident and reason from there, or to (2) begin from a theoretical conjecture and try to reason back to what is self-evident.

People often imagine that science proceeds in the first way when in fact, it often proceeds in the second. The result is that all too often, an observation will be ignored unless it can be accounted for by the prevailing theory. This is the reason that psychological and spiritual phenomena and their significance are summarily ignored. By this I mean they are simply not accounted for in the scientific picture. The result, of course, is that any observations that may call into question a reigning theory are obviated before they are allowed to challenge it. Hence, “counter-evidence,” in the manner in which that term is ordinarily understood, does not exist because an observation depends, to be recognized as evidence, on the very theoretical framework that refuses to acknowledge it. The discovery of counter-evidence is already an indication that the prevailing paradigm is on the point of being replaced by a rival one. Again, the reason for this is that observations that do corroborate the first paradigm will be ignored and treated as “noise” in the system. Hence, the appearance of counter-evidence to a prevailing paradigm is itself evidence that a new paradigm has emerged and will likely replace it.

The omission by the reigning scientific paradigm of today of phenomena that do not lend themselves to measurement and quantification is justified by what has been called “promissory materialism.” To wit, the contemporary neuroscientific community will generally say something like this in respect to the reality of qualitative, conscious experience: “even if we cannot explain a given phenomenon today, scientific materialism is correct in principle and hence we know, a priori, that we will be able to explain it tomorrow. We just need better microscopes and fMRI machines etc.” Hence, mind is presumed to be causally explicable in terms of the structure and function of the brain. It can be noted that what we know first and self-evidently is the reality of qualitative experience, consciousness, meaning, mind, and so on. At the same time, this direct and self-evident knowledge is interpreted in light of the materialist theory. But of course, we don’t discover the materialist theory but rather assume it for the sake of research, which, it should be duly stressed, is always ultimately conducted by a mind. 

Concerning Socratic irony and Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave”:

We have a tendency to “know” things and it obviates the possibility of learning through experience. Why should I pay attention if I already know? In Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave,” people imagine the captors are fascists or something but the prisoners are us and the chains are our “knowledge” that the story of the prisoners in the cave is about people other than us.

On Christ as the lynchpin of Being:

Intimations of Christ have been identified in various mythologies from around the world. The story of Prometheus sacrificing himself for the sake of humanity, for instance, can be seen to embody a single element of the Gospel narratives. Other myths embody other elements. This is fitting in that Christ is the Logos and hence each of the myriad logoi participates him to some degree. A story is a story insofar as it relates itself to Christ and it is an incoherent chronicle of details insofar as it departs. I think apparent exceptions to this principle reveal themselves to confirm it according to the idiom “the devil is the ape of God.” To wit, an antithesis is a relation to its opposite just as a shadow to a source of light. Hence, the Prometheus tale—and by extension, all other ones—can be seen as an inflection of the one   L i g h t   of the World, so to speak.

“Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

It should be noted that a myth is not a falsehood but rather a concentration of truth. Random details are neither true nor false since any criterion for truth or felicity would have to be judged against a context that already extends beyond that specific detail and reaches toward a larger pattern. Hence, such details reveal their significance only insofar as the narrative structure to which they pertain can be grasped. The latter serves as the criterion to discern “signal” from “noise” in the broadest sense. Otherwise, we would be left to sort through an infinite proliferation of data points like the barometric pressure on Venus and the average diameter of an icicle in Sweden.

Photo by Anni Roenkae on Pexels.com

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