scientism

A Quote by Kenneth Smith on philosophy, war, abstractivism, conscience, scientism, consciousness, modernity, and nihilism

Just as totalitarian epochs have aptly been described as nightmare-interludes in which a society's continuity of "normalizing" self-consciousness lapses into a black pit of nescience and denial (a collective urge of wanting NOT TO KNOW--see Arendt's ORIGINS OF TOTALITARIANISM), so too with war itself, which is inevitably some species of demoniacal terrorism:  even the "victors" in a modern war are victims, dehumanized utensils for imperialist policy; and those who inflict hideous suffering on others are traumatized to the end of their lives by the horrific things they discovered they were capable of doing.  John Huston's lines from CHINATOWN--"Most people never have to face the fact that, at the right time and in the right place, they are capable of anything"--is meant as an obliquely self-incriminating insight into the covert nihilism of modern hyper-power and macro-wealth; but in truth, in essence, it is just the knife's edge of Goethe's superb aristic and contramodern verdict:  "Everything that sets our minds free without giving us mastery over ourselves is pernicious."  The quintessential dementia of modern "consciousness" is just its sheer self-abstraction from conscience, from community, from values, from religion, from culture, from purpose, and from its own reason. We have been trained to "know" banausically, to know without caring, without judging or evaluating or grasping the larger significance of anything. That is what is called "science" and "fact" and "information."

Kenneth Smith

Contributed by: Dave

A Quote by C.D. Broad on science, scientism, fallacy of misplaced concreteness, reductionist, and western philosophy

The speculative philosopher and the scientific specialist are liable to two opposite mistakes. The former tends to deliver frontal attacks on Reality as a whole, armed only with a few wide general principles, and to neglect to isolate and master in detail particular problems. The latter tends to forget that he has violently abstracted one part or one aspect of Reality from the rest, and to imagine that the success which this abstraction has given him within a limited field justifies him in taking the principles which hold therein as the whole truth about the whole world. The one cannot see the trees for the wood, and the other cannot see the wood for the trees. The result of both kinds of mistake is the same, viz., to produce philosophical theories which may be self-consistent but which must be described as "silly". By a "silly" theory I mean one which may be held at the time when one is talking or writing professionally, but which only an inmate of a lunatic asylum would think of carrying into daily life.

C.D. Broad

Source: The Mind and its Place in Nature by C.D Broad

Contributed by: Ernest

A Quote by Kenneth Smith on philosophy, character, modernity, scientism, capitalism, truth, nature, culture, ideology, egalitarianism, hierarchicalism, libertarianism, values, principles, preconceptions, and logic

The worldview of modern scientism and capitalism are profoundly wrongheaded, rooted in an artificialism and arbitrarialism that cannot begin to see the primordial truth of the way nature actually works, in animals and in ourselves as well. All modern culture and ideology that try to disestablish these principles -- radical egalitarianism, capitalist or bourgeois materialist-artificialist hierarchicalism, arbitrarial libertarianism, etc. -- are flying in the face of the headwinds of both nature and values, the tides of human nature and human character. But these ideologies' fallacies are incomprehensible to them just because their culture systematically prohibits them from thinking about issues at the level of structural principles, of ultimate preconceptions: nothing but good pedestrian mechanical bourgeois logic, as remote as it can possibly be from philosophy.

Kenneth Smith

Contributed by: Dave

A Quote by Kenneth Smith on philosophy, myth, abstractivism, scientism, literalism, and culture

Myth is not what we most readily-most facilely, and typically abstractly-take it to be: "exotic stories" from cultures unlike ours. Myth is a mode of culture itself, which precipitated those stories and gave them their power and form over the mode of mentality or personality to which it is a historical-psychological correlate. Myth is a way of being, a mode or dimension of subjectivity, an organic system of concretely grasped value-principles concentrating the meaning of human life into a pre-philosophical metaphor, a nuclear parable or potent allegory: we recognize it in primitive or premodern peoples, we see it-briefly-in the sparkling imagination and spiritual life of children, before our distinctive modern culture crushes their morale and introduces them to the prison of compulsively literalizing ways of seeing things, the prevailing prosaic, banal, fact-ridden existence to which literalized and abstractivized mentalities can of course see no alternative. Moderns know myth, as they know anything, only as what they have dissected it into, what they have "scienced" or intellectualized.

Kenneth Smith

Contributed by: Dave

A Quote by Kenneth Smith on philosophy, scientism, objectivity, academia, reality, thinking, context, polemics, modernity, relativism, and perspectivalism

It's quite easy to imagine one grasps the essential outlines of an issue once one has cleared away all the emotional and moral turbulence that interfere with thinking about it--but in those greenhouse-conditions one is not truly thinking about reality as it actually is. Modern "academic" or "scholarly" philosophy is the victim of the delusionality of "scientism" or "objectivity," of thinking supposing that the controversiality or polemicality of our lives can be effectively purged out of things. We can cosmeticize it, depress its strife and tension with a facade of pseudo-neutralized terms; but even the most meager forms of insight suffice to reveal that this objectivity is mere facade. Modern culture is becalmed in a Sargasso Sea of sophisticated relativism, a mentality that hasn't got a clue what to do about perspectival variations and rationalizations from one mind to another. If there isn't a consensual community about what is right or good, then bourgeois society can only seek forms of mediation or compromise or count the votes of its countless subrational idiots. To wrestle with fundamental norms and principles is not something intellectually respectable among bourgeois minds, any more than it is to make public and direct value-judgments about someone else's thinking. By default we sink into a morass of incommensurable and pathetic views.

Kenneth Smith

Contributed by: Dave

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