Postmodernism and truth
By Daniel Dennett
While I am no fan of postmodern relativism and find the periodization question of the postmodern ambiguous if not false (cf. my http://eonix.8m.com/postmodern.htm) I am surprised constantly by the way the one clear case of social constructivist thinking, selectionist Darwinism, goes unnoticed, uncritiqued, theoretically unbudgeable, beyond criticism, the 'official' science corner stone of an incorrect and reductionist view of man, socially constructed as a Whiggest theory in the generation after Malthus and the rabid Red 'evolutionists' of the Reform Bill generation. Malthus if you recall tried to show scientifically that there was no point i feeding the starving. The only way to get away with that was to make it a scientific finding.
That selectionist theory in its extreme forms is constructivist can be seen very simply from the simple fact that noone was presTent at the evolution of man. That makes any theory partly constructivist. That should _at least_ make dissent or disagreement a true scientific option. Nope, the only way to get away with it is to make it a scientific finding.
Thus we have the most monumentally obsessive dogmatic finally hatemongering propagandistic suppressive paradigm rigidity imaginable, extending to all academic/scientific bodies, and defended by an army of ill-educated idiots, to say nothing of trained philosophers. Stone cold and out of it, would be the best description.
It is small wonder postmoderns arise. This theory is dangerous, yet is routinely reprogrammed due to its economic ideological usefulness among others.
It also is foxhole behavior in a secular context, against Creationism. But if any theory fed its own opposition it is Darwin's.
The comparison of Darwin's theory to economic ideology has been pointed to a thousand times, but it doesn't sink in. In fact, it is actually so flaunted, even by leftists such as Gould and such who seem oblivious to the core ideological construct here. It is not true that the evolution of man is like economic self-organization. I have no illusions about the partial usefulness of this 'theory'. So skip the usual boilerplate.
It is interesting that many know there is a problem here, which shows the dangers of the cultural isolation of science in the West.
Even Buddhists, who certainly know better, are in some circles now getting their arms twisted, and I see a strain like Susan Blackmore's work trying to muscle in on this with a Darwinian version a la memes and Dawkins. Give me a break already, please.
I am not a Buddhist, but take the issue of reincarnation. Already in the time of Buddha the nonsense level was rising, and I think Buddha invoked his Anatta or No Self doctrine to bypass that. But he never, contra these Darwin defender Buddhists now trying to seize public opinion, denies the 'round of rebirths'. Whatever that means, and no opinion on the subject is required for Buddhist practice.
His attempt to bypass confusion with something practical then was acute as to the metaphysical traps here. But the plain fact is that millennia of men of this species have confirmed reconfirmed and reconfirmed again something like 'reincarnation', subject to the immediate confusion of terms here.
Now these people wish to use this Anatta principle to rig Buddhism for a positivist view of things. Since we are on to constructivism, keep your eye peeled here.
I can't offer proof here on anything, but I certainly wouldn't take a theory as junky as Darwin's as some proof, the more so as the Buddhist version of soul was not even transcendental, this was Samkhya materialist 'soul'. It is pure social construction.
The point: get out your social construction notepad and paradigm red alert meter and take notes on the current social construction of Darwinian Buddhism, then do a tape rewind on the nineteenth century and see what you come up with.
So I sympathize with Dennett's problem here, but in another way he is missing the point completely.
So we have a problem here, although I agree postmodernism is a mistake. (Why, some of their literature is very good)
But all these traditionalists are looking on in embarrassment here. In future please refrain from trying to impose nineteenth century positivism on the whole planet with stupid theories of evolution. We could lose the bill of rights to a bunch of truly Post- modern fanatics who won't take it lying down anymore.
Secular culture is at risk here. Open the window. The postmodern confusion arises because people sense that something is too far gone for change. I don't agree, nor do I reject secular culture. But this stupidity has gone on long enough. And I have no interest (save dialectical) in fighting to the last man for Darwin's theory in the face of three thousand years of Buddhists.
Check you debugger. You must have gone wrong somewhere.
Darwin's theory is a useful research paradigm, almost certainly limited and incomplete, and poorly equipped to explain the descent of man for just this kind of reason that Wallace finally understood. But don't be fooled for a minute into thinking it can produce a definition of man.
World History and the Eonic Effect