The Case for Bringing Science and Philosophy Back Together
The Divorce Between Science and Philosophy is Causing the West to Lose Its Mind
Welcome to TaraElla Report Post Woke, where we consciously aim to move beyond the woke vs anti-woke culture wars, and towards a post-woke model of culture and politics.
Today, I want to talk about an overlooked reason for the woke vs anti-woke mess we are in: the historical divorce between science and philosophy. Historically, philosophy preceded science, but included it. That is, before science existed as an independent area of study, it was included under philosophy, in the Western tradition. Much of what we now think of as the scientific method originated within philosophy. However, science, mathematics, and several other disciplines eventually separated out from philosophy, so that by the 20th century, philosophy basically no longer included many areas of study that have a strong empirical basis, or have a strong emphasis on objectivity or logic. This is what I would call ‘post-science philosophy’.
Post-science philosophy’s exclusion of science naturally meant that it developed further and further away from empiricism, objectivity, and logic. Throughout the 20th century, some parts of philosophy also came under the influence of politically motivated thinking, like critical theory, postmodernism, and Marcuse’s pseudo-Freudian view of psychology. Eventually, those parts of philosophy became irreconcilable with objective reality, and incompatible with what the science actually says. Yet, the fact that philosophy preceded science seems to have given supporters of these philosophies justification to dismiss scientific facts that disagree with their worldview. This is why, when you try to get them to acknowledge certain scientific facts, they might tell you to read some Foucault! As many of you would know by now, the point of bringing up Foucault in this context is that knowledge is constructed by power, and is in the service of the oppressors against the oppressed. Hence those raising objective fact not only need to be dismissed, they need to be resisted as agents of the oppressive system. This is the point of view much of the philosophy underpinning the more extreme forms of so-called woke thinking is coming from, and this explains why it has such a resistance to open debate and acknowledging objective facts.
As I have said before, the anti-woke movement has evolved to become just the opposite of woke, and that is a very bad thing. Like some people might say, the whole point of that movement seems to be just to ‘trigger the woke’. Logically, this would mean that the anti-woke is merely a mirror image of the woke, and therefore inherits many of its faults. Hence, it is unsurprising that the anti-woke is similarly anti-science. Especially in the past year, it has become more and more common for the anti-woke to be dismissive towards, or even assign ulterior motives to, those who hold scientific educational credentials. This is basically the same ‘power bad, so experts bad’ attitude that is found on the postmodern Left, even if it targets different kinds of experts. It is just as anti-objective and anti-intellectual.
For an example of how unscientific the anti-woke Right has become, just look at Matt Walsh’s recent documentary ‘What Is A Woman’. There is no sincere, in-depth exploration of genetics, biology, neuroscience or evolutionary psychology. It is all about reinforcing a certain black-and-white view of gender that is not well justified objectively. Therefore, in a way, it has the same ‘philosophy overrides science’ attitude that is at the root of the postmodern Left’s thinking. If we let this trend continue, the West will eventually become a place where science is shunned, and subjective, tribalist philosophy that provides different ‘truths’ to different people will become the new normal. The post-woke aim should be to stop us from going down that road.
To fix this mess, I think we need to actively work to heal the divorce between philosophy and science. As I have suggested before, the solution of encouraging multi-disciplinary intellectuals, who are trained in three or more very different disciplines at the postgraduate level, can be a first step. Such intellectuals will help bridge the gaps between the very specialized disciplines, and reduce the echo chamber effect that ultra-specialization has caused. In the longer term, I also think that a more empirical and quantitative perspective needs to be re-introduced into philosophy. The supporters of this perspective need to be unafraid to challenge the currently established views, and be committed to providing a truly objective alternative.
She is also the author of the Moral Libertarian Horizon books, which argue that liberalism is still the most moral and effective value system for the West.