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General Epistemology        Chapter II-3       

 

II-3 To repell the limits of science

 

(Permalink)(Was chapter 14 in version 1)

 

As I clearly stated from the very beginning, I, and many others, are not completely satisfied with today science, in spite of its undeniable and deserved success. The main reason is that, if science as a mean to know the world triumphs in physics and technique, on the other hand it is remarkably absent in immaterial fields like spirituality, ethics, significance of life, politics... In such an extend that it is said that these field «are not science», that they are open fields for all kinds of arbitrary «opinions», «beliefs» and even for dangerous ideologies that we are not free to refute in spite of their obvious falseness, as we «must not» speak of this, as we «cannot make science» in these domains! So we arrive to a «legitimacy of belief» into these domains! With often terrible consequences for the victims...

Traditional science clearly made a CHOICE of the subjects which it agrees or not to study. Of course this choice of allowed subjects and taboo subjects is dictated by ideologies (it thus arises only from the psychological bias). These ideologies have for name rationalism, scientistism, technocracy, atheism, materialism... but we have to wait a while, as we did not yet defined these words (chapter II-6) nor we studied in detail these ideologies (chapter II-7).

How an exact science could itself limit its objectives? How the project of a general science, such as envisioned by its very founders, Newton, Leibniz and others, has been abandoned? Why these ideologies, let us say approximately materialistic, could manipulate and ensnare people who were, far more than many others, able to show their method, their sincerity and their capacity of self-questioning? For this there is a major reason, an unconscious paradigm, a basic confusion into the method itself:

 

FROM THE VERY BEGINNING ONE WAS INTERESTED ONLY WITH MATERIAL EVIDENCES.

THE CONCEPT OF REALITY HAS BEEN CONFUSED WITH THE CONCEPT OF MATERIALITY!

It was made what we called in chapter I-5 an illusory revolution (in the diagram that we shall study in chapter II-6)

 

All what is not material is not regarded as real, is not considered as observable, and is thus not considered as worthy of study. Worse, the idea was spread that any assertion in the immaterial fields like ethics, spirituality, politics, significance of the life, not being able of being materially demonstrated, not making any physical sense, comes within the domain of beliefs, and thus that it arises only from the psychological bias!

This even sometimes led to very dangerous statements as what morals or human beings would have no value, a very practical mean to justify their exploitation... but this is only an opportunistic infection on a much more profound disease.

We could see in some cases this materialistic approach become so naive and so arrogant that we could speak about a true deification of matter, of a new «religion» which «priests» would be the omniscient and infallible «scientists», with their «temples» and their «holy books».

 

How did we arrived here? How so obvious and enormous a mistake could went unnoticed for centuries? A second reading of the history of science (chapter II-2) will explain us how this gross error disguised itself into a «basic truth accepted by all»:

Galileo found in his observation a material proof concerning an assertion considered as belonging to the religious domain (on the organisation of the solar system). It was deduced from this that the material proof was the effective method, without realising that the word «proof» was enough: there was no need to reduce its range and effectiveness with specifying «material».

At the Century of Enlightenment, without disavowing the subtle religion and other matters, scientists forsook its study because no material mean was available to check or deny the religious, ethical or spiritual statements. Already at that time this approach left the intellectuals without defence in front of marquis of sade's nonsenses, leaving the religion alone on the moral front, which it defended very awkwardly: their dogmatism and prudishness gathered everybody against them. And those who presented legitimate revendication (freedom, democracy) had to fight the Catholic fundamentalism... which, on its side, claimed to be Christic love! This heap of confusions resulted in a very strong resentment against the religion, which abruptly took the shape of anti-religious persecutions in the French Revolution.

This resentment became an habit in the 19th century, which developed a great aversion against religion, and the «associated» moral and spiritual matters. It went so far as being perceived as an «evident truth»: the materialist dogma, still under the pretext that it is impossible to approach the world of the mind with material experiments (inevitably!). We can say that this dogma is only a rationalisation (in the psychological meaning) of the hatred of religion. The materialists and anti-spiritual ideologies followed, with as consequences things like the racist theories in anthropology («scientific» justification of colonialism), or in politics the two boring twins: Marxism and capitalism (note 11, both claiming to be «science» or «reality»).

Auguste Comte with his positivism was certainly the greatest theoretician of materialism and total denial of consciousness, which culminated with his incredible «juridical positivism», where the only justification of laws is consensus or authority! Certainly Conte's disciple's chain can be followed until the great ideologies of the 20th century: capitalism, marxism, nazism, and generally all the modern state's administration methods. However, Comte later realized, through his unhappy love with Clotilde de Vaux, that human consciousness had its own, intrinsic determinants. He then proceeded to correct his positivism accordingly, but his very own disciples considered him as mad.

The latest detail clearly shows that today disciples of Comte use his «positivism» as a tool for the denegation of consciousness and its content. This is clearly visible for instance into the rhetoric's on destroying nature for building highways: loving nature and silence is considered as an «irrational» and invalid argument, when cashing money from the destruction of nature enjoys an highly esteemed social statute, which places its author above the common laws!

 

These deliria led in the 20th Century to a society dominated by a quasi-religious materialism, where any human concern is rejected as «subjective», where nature is an empty spot on the map, that we need to «develop», where all the human suffering are «compensated» with money. Reduced to his banking account and his career, the human being feels any more sorrow to live into an increasingly cacophonous, dangerous, solitary and destructured world! A simple number on a list will certainly not feel any suffering if his living place was cleansed of useless or non-profitable objects such as foamy underwood, trees, brooks, soft meadows, to install eminently rational and useful objects such as factories, supermarkets or power lines; a banking account cannot be disturbed by the noise of the close motorway, nor to worry about the survival of his descendants... As to our spirituality, reduced to «beliefs», it is more and more considered as a shameful disease that we must hide into privacy... (Necessarily: if everybody started to practice altruism in public, capitalism would crash down).

When, in the 1970 years, confronted to questioning like the ecology requirements, the search of happiness, or simply the very defence of most basic human rights, these ideologies went even stiffer denying and rejecting like «subjective» all the dimensions of the human being, other than purely economic or technical.

Science brought its share, with buffooneries like the Heidelberg appeal (1992), which managed to be signed by four thousands of high level scientists. This kind of thing was clearly positing science as an enemy of nature and mankind, and don't be astonished if my statements in the first version were severe. Today we must consider that the manipulation was vicious: to present the ecology questioning as a form of fundamentalism which was going «too far». Of course, the authors of the appeal, related to the Moon cult, knew how to manipulate! And the white blouses, so inexperienced in politics, were easy to fool, even with this vague text with pompous and warped sentences.

But today (2010), science, confronted to its own discoveries on climate change, was able to take its distance with the propaganda. The childish reaction of the ideologists show at which point they used to see science under control, and their abject fear when they see it independent again.

In more, we must mention that more and more scientists are interested by studying consciousness. But they have to do this out of the institutions, and anyway they could until now just gather facts, without really a method and a theoretical frame. This book has for purpose to fulfil these requirements. Let us see how.

However mathematicians know how to do it!

(Permalink) It is quite obvious that if there exist spiritual realities, or quite simply moral, sentimental, artistic realities, the proof of this can absolutely not be sought in a physical (material) field which is not theirs, because they are immaterial domains. We can no more seek a material proof of a moral law than we may seek a spiritual proof of a physical law.

 

And no more than a mathematician will seek a material proof for a mathematical theorem.

 

Indeed, there is however one immaterial field recognised and studied by today science: mathematics. They are founded on their own system of proof, all immaterial, which infallibly makes possible to know if a mathematical statement is true or not, without any reference to any material object. Try for example to show that two and two make four, you will perhaps use a counting frame, but it will work as well if you only visualise (note 12) this counting frame. Here is typically an immaterial field where an immaterial experiment, especially interior to the human mind, is enough to establish the truth, without the recourse to any material proof. In mathematics, we don't use sensory organs, but we however observe the results of reasoning, as our consciousness has the capacity to directly perceive the mathematical phenomena without the need for any sensory organ. The mathematical realities also are observable, even if they are not material. And there is in there no parapsychology, not belief, no New Age.

Before going to the continuation, I would like to first discard two fancy views. The first would be a form of «mathematical materialism» which would state that mathematics are a kind of «energy realm», or «another dimension» or something like this. We share here the point of view of the most orthodox mathematicians, where the mathematical entities exist only as relations between objects about which they speak. Five fingers? There is no a «five» which may sit on a throne somewhere in a parallel space, but this relation called five, which fingers share together. It is not six or four, but five. This form of abstract reality is so thin, but however infinitely solid. That will be enough for us.

The other false view, much more common and alas defended by many mathematicians, is that mathematics would be only a construct of the human mind, and thus that they would have no intrinsic reality. I am sorry, but when we pose an equation such as x² = 4, all the mathematicians say there exist two solutions. They even created a symbol for this, E, which precisely means «There exists». But we cannot find less or more than two solutions to this equation: we are constrained to accept this result, we cannot build a third solution. If we cannot build it, then it cannot be a construction of the human mind. We cannot create solutions, just we discover them. It is in this meaning that I say that mathematical facts exist.

A counter example is juridical law: we can create laws, modify laws, suppress laws. We can even create absurd laws, that nobody can obey, because they have a logical flaw, or are physically impossible to follow. So clearly law is a creation of the human mind, a convention. On the contrary, mathematical laws are not created, but found (demonstrated). If we find them, it is that they existed before. So, clearly, mathematics exists independently of the human mind, when laws exist only as conventions into the human mind. More, mathematical laws constrain the physical reality to obey them, despite their totally immaterial nature. So they are clearly something superior to matter.

If mathematicians fear to fall in a mathematical materialism, I agree with them. But the idea that mathematics would not exist is quite simply to push the materialist dogma way too far. Happily we cannot do without mathematics for technical uses, so mathematics were not forbidden at school or in public, and mathematicians are not called metaphysicians or hippies. They are however closely monitored according to ideologies, see as evidence the huge amounts of money consumed for phoney stuff like the «analysis» of stock exchange variations, when nothing was made for the non-Aristotelian logics (<first part) however infinitely more useful.

Generalization to other immaterial domains

(Permalink) Why what is valid (and recognised) for mathematics would not be in other immaterial fields? Let us try an experiment: for the demonstration of two and two make four, we carried out a visualisation of two, then two other balls, or any other «object». We count mentally, and we became aware that there are four of them. The mathematicians proceed this way to demonstrate ALL their theorems, from the simplest to the most complicated, with more elaborate visualisations certainly, but always without the least trace of material proof, that they definitively reject. If we think at it, it is even more direct and reliable than in an experiment in physics, which requires the use of sensory organs, instruments and an experiment hardware. And if mathematicians use accessories such as pencil and paper, or computers, it is only to pass over the limits of human memory, but these objects do not play any role in the method itself.

 

And if such methods were applicable in other immaterial fields? Let us for example ask a question of a completely different field, the spiritual domain: does the human mind exist? (Let us here define simply the human mind as the consciousness, the capacity of being aware of the existence or appearance of an object, here our consciousness itself). And let us use the same method than with the four balls. Let us try the experiment: Are you conscious? Stop reading one moment and look if you are conscious...

...

...

... You checked? If you did not tried, useless to read the continuation, close this book, and especially do not have the impudence to criticise it. If you are a banking account, a genetic program, or an administrative gear, it is normal that you did not observed anything, and that this experiment does not have any significance for you.

 

But all the human beings who sincerely attempted this experiment obtained the same result: We all are conscious. We observe the phenomenon of the consciousness when we realise that we are perceiving something, image from the sensory organs, mental image, idea, feeling, or the consciousness itself. To observe an object (a physical object or mind object as well) is certainly an act of consciousness, but when I speak to observe the consciousness, it is really «to be conscious that we perceive an object» which matters here: consciousness conscious of itself, and thus which is observed: the consciousness is an observable object, as well as a material object or a mathematical object. The experiment is perfectly reproducible and always gives the same result, as rigorously as an experiment of mechanics, as accurately as a mathematical demonstration. The consciousness is a basic property of human being. (Besides, I do not see any other means than this experiment to define it scientifically. Any definition in the style «cognitive process of organisation of stimuli according to a reflexive analysis...» in spite of the «scientific vocabulary» used, is not a definition of the consciousness, does not allow to know what it is, nor to apprehend it in its totality, and thus has no scientific value. This definition does not even allow to differentiate a human being from a playstation, also able of «cognitive process...»)

 

To be accurate, while I was rewriting this page, I asked several persons to do this experiment, at the occasions of the talks of my group «Shedrupling» in Second Life. We were gathering around a (virtual) fire, in the «Spiritual Living Center of SL», and I asked them to observe this fire, then to realize the fact that they were observing this fire. I then found that, in a first approach, most people give as varied as off topic replies. Some were astonished that they «saw» nothing, as if they expected to see something, a ghost, a light, their soul, God, they neural flux... when consciousness has no appearance. Others were wondering if the observed object was real, abstract, virtual, etc. Probably such misunderstandings are in relation with the cultural background of people. But once these misunderstandings explained, everybody agreed to say that they really observed their consciousness.

In facts the experiment is very simple, so simple that we don't dare to accept it, so everyone tries complicated «scientific» stuff. In fact, this noticing is quite simply the very first thing we do while awakening in the morning: «Well, I am awake», this meaning «I am conscious». Presented this way, people better understand. Until now, I found nobody who really «failed» this experiment, even if each person describes it with a prodigious variety of images, words or concepts (chapter I-9), but always centred on the idea of observing his consciousness, or observing his though or perception processes.

 

Of course we can go further, to wonder what is conscious, and how, but that is enough for the moment: we found an immaterial reality which exists, which is observable, and for this we used exactly the same process than to affirm the existence of a mathematical reality, i.e. the same manner as to affirm the existence of a material reality, but in another field of observation. We can have fun to explore the properties of this consciousness: it perceives images, sounds, it understands situations, has ideas, desires, intentions, and dyes these elements with a whole variety of poetries, tenderness or sorrows, all elements which does not have any material base nor counterpart, but that we observe at every moments. This is the domain of the human mind, with its observable realities.

Observable how? Not with a cyclotron, of course. Observable by this human mind itself. We could object that, if this human consciousness can be observed only by itself, then our reasoning is vicious. But the situation is not really different from that in physics or mathematics: mathematicians and physicists also use their consciousness to observe. And this doesn't prevent our Nobels from making maths or physics. They use measuring instrument, we shall answer. But the most sophisticated physical instrument is useless if there is not an observer who makes an use of it. And it is still useless if this observer sleeps on this instrument! Or if he refuses to admit what he sees! It is really the consciousness of the observer which is needed. What «science» means? That a consciousness knows. What «to observe» means? That a consciousness has an experience of perceiving reality. In physics, only a consciousness is able to observe the physical world, even if it needs a device in this physical world (which will inevitably include a sensory organ of the observer, and eventually a scientific observation instrument to increase its power). This is also true in mathematics, where the most subtle conceptual buildings are of no help if nobody creates in his mind a mental image of it, to become aware of the result. The only difference is that in maths we use a conceptual building in place of a physical design. We also do not need a sensory organ, as our mind is able of being directly conscious of a conceptual building. And, if we come to the domain of consciousness itself, exactly as in mathematics, peoples who work in this domain use visualisations and other introspection methods to see what takes place here, and to obtain the results they seek. Physical scientific instrument, mathematical conceptual building, visualisation of meditation, have, each one in their domain, the same epistemological and heuristics (note 2) statute of means to make such or such aspect of this domain observable by the consciousness.

 

Therefore we now feel we have the right to affirm the reality of this human consciousness and its world, on an equal to equal basis with mathematical and physical realities. It is thus possible to observe and explore non-material realities, in addition to those of mathematics. And it is even very simple!

(To be strict, at the step we are now, we eluded many questions and objections, we lacked accuracy into our definitions, we did not determined if consciousness is basically different from matter or if it is reducible to it. But it is useless and premature to go further for now, in this discussion on epistemology. We shall discuss these spiritual questions in part five on consciousness.)

 

An error at this stage would be roughly the one made by many followers of the New Age, naturist and ecology movements: to reject science as a whole, or to take the opposing view of it, with holding indistinctly as true any assertion with a «spiritual» or «ecological» look. Such an attitude is an open door for the psychological bias: to believe in what we have attachment, without proof, to regard the scientists as an enemy or antisocial clan, to regard as basically bad the technique, chemistry, medicine, genetics, electricity, mathematics, writing... Such an error is frequent, and in these fields there exist people as much dogmatic as those of the rationalists, sometimes even more extremist and dangerous. These peoples represent a certain power, because of their audience, of the relevance of their arguments, and especially of abdication of science in these fields, which thus leaves plenty of room for nonsenses.

Therefore to avoid this naive approach, it is advisable, not to simply take the opposite course of physical science in considering it only as a clan or an ideology, but to really solve the problem at its very root, in proposing a new science, a new epistemology, able to bring the rigour of a scientific approach in every fields, material or immaterial, to allow us to discover the truth everywhere it is with all the guarantee that what will shall find is free of any psychological or ideological bias, free of any error and free of any useless, illusory or dangerous belief.

 

 

 

 

 

 

General Epistemology        Chapter II-3       

 

 

 

 

 

 

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