Posts Tagged ‘science’

is a narrative about narratives of historical meaning, experience or knowledge, which offers a society legitimation through the anticipated completion of a (as yet unrealized) master idea. (wikapedia)

As I study post-modern philosophy I am struck by the parallels between the (old) (faith-based) narratives such as “Christianity” and the current metanarrative of the “Enlightenment”. I suppose these parallels work like blanks which need to be filled in, and thus they reveal the underlying psyche of human thought:

We need an origin story: Christian = Genesis,
Enlightenment = Evolution/Big Bang

We need an end times/apocalypse: Christian = Revelations,
Enlightenment = Ecological collapse

We need authority: Christian = priests, kings, god
Enlightenment = scientists, rational thinking

We need a mission: Christian = repentance, purity, servitude
Enlightenment = freedom, discovery

We need to be winning: Christian = converting non-Christians
Enlightenment = eradicating non-rational thought

We need an other: Christian = demons, devils, ghosts
Enlightenment = extra-terrestrials

And now my reader may be outraged at the length my broad-stroke thought experiment has been stretched to. How does the enlightenment produce aliens? One could argue that the image of the alien or E.T. was only possible and manifested when the world conscious hit a critical mass of rational thought and technological advances made them ‘imaginable’. Basically it goes “we need ghosts” – “we don’t believe in ghosts anymore” – “obviously technological advancement is our endgame human potential so clearly there exist beings that have reached it before us”.

As a side-note, I had a long conversation one night with a friend in Taipei who was very much a ‘citizen’ of the ‘enlightenment’. By this I mean he held to the narrative that rational thought and freedom is the potential of human beings and that it will ‘solve our problems’, basically I could tell he ‘thought science was cool’. I proposed my idea that science is simply the new religion of the masses and he was outraged. He insisted I could not compare the two because one is based on facts and rationality and the other is based on faith and lies. We had a very constructive and heated debate over beers in a park into the wee hours of the night.

I don’t recall my exact counter argument, though I do recall making him aware of his emotions, how ‘into defending science’ he was and how it sounded similar to a believer defending their religion. He was even proud that his home country of England had a statistic of more than fifty percent of people being non-religious. Which only made it sound more like his side was winning a new crusade.

Also on the topic of ‘not being allowed to compare the two’ because ‘one is based on fact and the other on faith’. I find that to be a moot point. ‘Facts’ are only a legitimate currency within the metanarrative of rational thought. Just because one side doesn’t need to use that currency, does not make it impossible to compare. I can still image the Punisher fighting Dr.Strange even though one of them uses guns and the other uses magic. I constantly find ‘science-lovers’ trying to bring the scientific method into discussions about human politics, but testable objective truths have less of a place in these discussions. Our weapons here should be personal experience and imagination (with a limited amount of rational thought, I will admit, obviously).

As the reader can probably tell by now, I try not to believe in the metanarrative of the enlightenment. I find the mechanical ‘Newtonian’ view of the universe extremely boring. I find peoples ‘faith’ in science and rational thought to be dangerous and depressing. These are heretical things to say and feel. Often in groups of new (actually even among my old friends) and at work I feel like I have to ‘stay in the closet’ with my personal view of the universe. Also, since I am a ‘sensitive’ and ‘intuitive’ human, I actually find it a struggle not to fall into their narrative of ‘science is cool’ when society (advertising, media, the water-cooler) is doing it’s best to shove it down my throat.

So you may be wondering what my personal metanarrative is, am I Christian or some New Age hippie? Not quite. I do appreciate the mythos of Christianity and all faith-based traditions (and the messiah narrative resonates with me since I exist within (scientists would say ‘suffer from’) a messiah-complex). But I try to see the world as a creative process. Personally I believe I am a god, or have an energy that could be called Christ-consciousness, atman, creativity, whatever, and that I created this world (and continue to create it) in order to experience it. I am not completely soliptic, if you asked me what I thought of other people and animals I would say that they are gods too, and I realize that this muddles the term.

So to return to the start, does my metanarrative reveal the above ‘psyche’ of the human condition? Of course. My origin story is all the experiences that have crafted my current existence. My apocalypse is my death, which I imagine at times and try to keep in my consciousness as a sort of final celebration or breaking forward into another reality. Do I have an authority? (muses? other artists or creators) An other? (well I do have a strange relationship with ghosts and aliens so I don’t quite know what that means, perhaps a bleed over from the other metanarratives surrounding me).

And now I come to the end of this post and I have no idea what the point of it was. It is a far stray from my usual poetry and madness posts. Perhaps I should start a separate philosophy blog? (oh god, not another blog page) Perhaps it is best to end with a Baudrillard quote:

“We no longer seek glory, but identity.”