Pirsig’s Metaphyisics of Quality – It’s Evolutionary Psychology, Stupid
Wilson’s Consilience – It’s Evolutionary Psychology, Stupid
Rand’s Objectivism – It’s Evolutionary Psychology, Stupid
It’s Evolutionary Psychology, Stupid
I realise I missed the boat, and that evolutionary psychology as philosophy came and went out of fashion some time ago, but all roads, even diametrically opposed ones lead me to the same place, which shouldn’t be a surprise, since the earth we inhabit (maybe even the universe we seem constrained to inhabit) seems close to spherical.
Matt commented in my earlier thread referring to Wilson, that Rorty’s problem with (scientists like) Wilson, is that they are mistaken to somehow suggest joined-up science replaces philosophy of any kind. I keep quoting Max Born, who apparently said “Theoretical Physics is Actual Metaphysics”. OK, so there is always a metaphysical boundary condition in even the most holistic scientific explanation of the whole world, but the boundaries between science and philosophy must be constantly re-drawn by scientific understanding, no ?
(BTW, my favouring science is purely pragmatic and contingent. Somewhere in that metaphysical hole there may be something that ultimately invalidates science in some sense, some sense hard to imagine naturally, but whilst science shrinks the hole and makes ever more consilient, joined-up, consistent explanations of the whole outside the hole, then it has the maximum value / quality of the available “belief systems”.)
Explanations of the “whole” need to include the spiritual and human nature aspects of reality, otherwise we have a humungous hole in our model. Part of Matt’s objection (on Rorty’s behalf) to Wilson was that it was arrogant for a scientist to suggest that (consilient, scientific) explanations of human nature were either necessary or valuable in any predictive causal sense. Pragmatically, Matt and Rorty would be right, given accepted knowledge of the current state of “scientific received wisdom”. But of course causality and predictability, are two hugely problematic issues, being addressed by both philsophers and scientists. Personally, I think philosphers’ progress with predictable causation is best in the areas that point out its illusory nature (see Paul Turner’s Buddhist view), which it is of pragmatic value to at least be aware, whereas scientists are advancing “complex recursive systems evolution” views of at least explaining it, with statistics and emergence as the closest things to predictability and causation.
OK, so …
I already, in my 2005 paper, referred to Pirsig’s MoQ as evolutionary psychology. Wilson’s neo-Darwinian angle on consilience is also easy to characterise as evolutionary psychology in a direct sense and the meta-sense. (ie at the top of the evolutionary pyramid, it is “our” intellect that is evolving, but part of that evolution of intellect is evolving our evolutionary explanations of the physical and biological layers on which it is built – that’s all I mean by “evolutionary psychology”. It’s awesomely consilient.)
You may have noticed, if you’re following MoQ-Discuss, that I’ve been reading Ayn Rand. Well if Atlas shrugged, Ian struggled. (Aside – I’m still only 400 pages through my 1000 page edition, and I have no prior knowledge of the main plot or point of the story.)
In summary – much of the plot (so far) is about big business, self-made men (and women), moral choices and “state” interfence. I said after 200 pages, lousy physics, lousy metallurgy, lousy engineering, lousy politics and nauseating sex, but OK business and OK morality. I didn’t mention the stilted writing (as Alice did below), the idiot-proof plot, and the transparent one-dimensional characters, but hey, I pressed on in hope and with suspended disbelief.
The science actually gets less believable, or at any rate more fictional – something close to a perpetual motion machine that creates dynamic (kinetic) power out of static energy (matter) – but hey, that sure is a business opportunity for the right guy or gal with the right access to the technology, motivation, funding, opportunity, freedom from state red-tape, etc. (A large part of the plot is about market distortions created by “bad” legislation – eg people trading in quotas and stocks making five times the profits of those in the primary industries – no, really ?)
I also said earlier that the Randian morals (expressed by her apparent heros and heroine anyway) were the triumph of the (individual) will kind. Little did I know.
Although the edition I’m reading (Signet Centennial paperback edition), has a deliberately sparse introduction, to leave the reader with only Rand’s text, I discover there is a 2-page summary of “The Essentials of Rand’s Objectivism” at the end. I thought it might be a laugh to read it, put me out of my misery anyway.
To be continued.