Wednesday, March 04, 2009
In Jim's book he remarks that the human mind is not transcendent. I know exactly what he means and why he said it but I immediately began to wonder if I agreed. What he means is that there is a particular human perspective from which we cannot hope to escape. We cannot become gods. He said it because Gaia theory is anti-humanist (Gaia, incidentally is way beyond a hypothesis now in spite of residual scepticism from the boneheads. They're probably the reason why Jim hasn't got a Nobel for one of the most important and firmly established new scientific ideas of our time. That and the incompetence of the Swedish Academy. And, please, Richard, accepting Gaia does not mean you have to accept Jim's warnings of impending disaster, though you should.) in that it overturns the humanist belief in the centrality of human-created values. We are absolutely subject to Gaia. But the human mind appears to be transcendent, most obviously through science. Science aspires to the transcendent ideal of an objective world view, but, as Jim often notes, we are constantly ambushed on the path towards such a view. So we conceive the transcendent ideal of science even if we often fail to achieve it. This applies to everything we do, we conceive the transcendent. I don't know if that refutes Jim's point or not. Perhaps it just deepens it.
Posted by Bryan Appleyard at 6:53 am