On Scientific Method

nemonemini at cosmiverse.com nemonemini at cosmiverse.com
Sun Dec 2 10:33:25 MST 2001

  > "It is simply that the left has no really solid foundation
> at this time, as evidenced by the curiously compelling Empire by
> Negri and Hardt, which I found fascinating. But what is the game
> plan, and I don't think that book has a game plan. "
> In this I am 100% of the same view. Empire is a significant work
though faulted

I am somewhat of an anomaly on the question of Marxist theory, which
makes me sound equivocal, but, after reading most of the
major 'refutations', and I have read a lot of them, I have still
realistically found none that have answered the basic challenge given
by Marx and Engels to the system we find ourselves in. I find that
remarkable, and not naive. The paradox is that this invariant core
simply stands as is, which makes the criticisms important, etc....
Pehaps that explains my somewhat different perspective, whose
differences aren't important, actually. I merely suspect, that after
this reign of bogus Fukuyama Hegelian liberalism (which isn't even
Hegel) runs dry the system in all its awesome power of domination
(cf. Afganistan)will come around to another nasty surprise for the
thumbtwiddlers at the end of history, for the reasons inherent in
Marx's analysis. I merely say that because there a difference between
fantastical hopes, and plain realism.
It could well end badly in some parady of the Empire theme. I have
severe reservations about this book, but one point they make is quite
apt, the issue of empire itself as the outcome of 'liberalism'
clearly visible in the Roman Republic to Empire. That can lead to a
lot of nonsense, but the point is dreadfully right in one limited
sense, and we can see it happening in the news. They are suggesting
this is inexorable, yet I wonder if the Marxist corpus wasn't already
the attempt to preempt that. Haven't they adopted a 'if you can fight
em join em' tactic. Anyway, this book simply goes off like a string
of firecrackers, first one, then another, until you stand back gaping.

As to science and Darwinism, I am disarmed on this list by the
ability of people in the Marxist tradition to not fall down fainting
at any critique of Darwin. And that is right, for we need a 'Critique
of evolutionary economy', which really was what Marx's Critique of
Political Economy' was all about.
I have no real problems with the issue of science, whatever the
various suggestions about New Age thinking might suggest. The problem
is that a theory of evolution is not so simple as a theory of
physics, and impinges on something elusively beyond the grasp of
current theoretical formulations. The problem has already been
stumbled on in physics, although nobody says so. And that can also
lead to a lot of nonsense. But the trouble with evolutionary theories
is that they are incomplete, and don't really resolve the phenomena
they depict.
I was just looking at The Way of the Cell, by Franklin Harold. A find
work, which shows the subject on the move, and my style of criticism
starting to find answers. In one chapter he brings in the necessity
of morphogenetic fields (what's that?), which is remarkable not for
its statement, but for who is making it, a mainstream Darwinist. The
world of these biochemical evolutions is simply not simple, and
invokes a form of science we don't have yet. So, in that sense, my
objections are confirmed in a vague sort of way, and are on their way
to becoming trivial.
One interesting work here is Paul Davies' The Fifth Miracle, where he
thinks out loud here, and suggests why something completely new is
needed, when he points out that the trick to life is not its
mechanism, but that its mechanism has very high degrees of freedom
(not exactly his words). Thus something unexpected is lurking in
these fantastic biochemical complexes, and we are still not sure what
it is.

John Landon

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