maandag 2 oktober 2017

Refuting Malthus by seeing nature as physis?

"The modern economy grows thanks to our trust in the future and to the willingness of capitalists to reinvest their profits in production. Yet that does not suffice. Economic growth also requires energy and raw materials, and these are finite. When and if they run out, the entire system will collapse.

But the evidence provided by the past is that they are finite only in theory. Counter-intuitively, while humankind’s use of energy and raw materials has mushroomed in the last few centuries, the amounts available for our exploitation have actually increased. Whenever a shortage of either has threatened to slow economic growth, investments have flowed into scientific and technological research. These have invariably produced not only more efficient ways of exploiting existing resources, but also completely new types of energy and materials." (Yuval Harari, Sapiens, p. 374)

vrijdag 23 juni 2017

Joop Goudsblom over Darwin en nihilisme

"De grote afwezige in Nihilisme en cultuur is Charles Darwin. Als iemand mij nu zou vragen, welke Europese auteur in de negentiende eeuw het meest heeft bijgedragen aan het ondermijnen van religieuze en morele zekerheden, dan zou ik hem noemen. Maar anno 1960 was de afstand tussen de sociale wetenschappen en de biologie zo groot dat ik Darwin in mijn boek buiten beschouwing heb gelaten, en dat onder al degenen die een commentaar op Nihilisme en cultuur hebben geschreven er maar één was die een verband legde met de evolutietheorie, namelijk de bioloog en oud-PC-redacteur Dick Hillenius.

In de naoorlogse jaren, waar 1960 nog duidelijk toe behoorde, was het niet comme il faut om naar een biologische theorie te verwijzen in een betoog over levensbeschouwelijke problemen. De herinnering aan de racistische nazi-ideologie en de gruwelijke consequenties daarvan lag nog te vers in het geheugen.

Intussen is het taboe op de biologie in de sociale wetenschapepn vrijwel verdwenen, en ik zou nu niet alleen aan Darwin een prominente plaats toekennen als wegbereider voor de verspreiding van de nihilistische problematiek, maar ik zou ook proberen het nihilisme zelf te bespreken vanuit een evolutionair perspectief, als een probleem dat zich voordoet op het terrein van de oriëntatiemiddelen die mensen nodig hebben om te kunnen overleven. De nihilistische problematiek zou dan duiden op ernstige storingen in de oriëntatieapparatuur." (J. Goudsblom, Geleerd, p. 297-298)

zaterdag 16 mei 2015

Plato zou vandaag de dag geen filosoof zijn

"Laat vooral niemand geloven dat als Plato nu leefde en platonische opvattingen had, hij een filosoof zou zijn, - hij zou een godsdienstwaanzinnge zijn." (Nietzsche, Herwaardering van alle waarden, p. 546)

Darwin and Deleuze

"Deleuze’s ethology in the final analysis employs a biological rhetoric to evoke an anti-human, anti-ethical, anti-political, anti-philosophical pathos which sentimentally avoids the implications of biological selection. The immanence of the Origin of the Species remains far more rigorous and implacable than that of Difference and Repetition and A Thousand Plateaus. These texts moralize selection, linking it with the active or passive affective relations of an organism to its environment. They provide by default a strong case for maintaining the separation of the biological and the philosophical, especially in respect to their use of the concept of selection. Indeed, there is no place for philosophy with its active and passive capacities and relations within a rigorously defined Darwinian world. Any biophilosophy, consequently, will reduce not only the philosophical to the biological, but also the biological to the philosophical. Certain conceptions of action and classification will be applied to nature, and then refracted back into philosophy. In an earlier version of biophilosophy these conceptions were those of race and fitness, while now they are those of passive and active affections. In both cases, nature and politics are sentimentalized and brutalized. By refusing the full rigour of Darwinian selection, Deleuze is left with a sentimentalized nature and a brutalized ethics and politics." (Howard Caygill, The Topology of Selection)

dinsdag 12 mei 2015

Through the Language Glass

"Human color vision evolved independently from that of insects, birds, reptiles, and fish. We share our trichromatic vision with the apes and with Old World monkeys, but not with other mammals, and this implies that our color vision goes back about thirty to forty million years. Most mammals have dichromatic vision: they have only two types of cones, one with peak sensitivity in the blue-violet area and one with peak sensitivity in green (the middle-wave cone). It is thought that the primate trichromatic vision emerged from a dichromatic stage through a mutation that replicated a gene and split the original middle-wave (green) receptor into two adjacent ones, the new one being a little farther toward yellow. The position of the two new receptors was optimal for detecting yellowish fruit against a background of green foliage. Man's color vision seems to have been a coevolution with the development of bright fruits. As one scientist put it, "with only a little exaggeration, one could say that our trichromatic color vision is a device invented by certain fruiting trees in order to propagate themselves." In particular, it seems that our trichromatic color vision evolved together with a certain class of tropical trees that bear fruit too large to be taken by birds and that are yellow or orange when ripe. The tree offers a color signal that is visible to the monkey against the masking foliage of the forest, and in return the monkey either spits out the undamaged seed at a distance or defecates it together with fertilizer. In short, monkeys are to colored fruit what bees are to flowers." (Deutscher, Through the Language Glass, p. 247)

zaterdag 24 januari 2015

Heidegger after Darwin

"Heidegger understood the need for a revolution in Western metaphysics because of the challenge of Darwinism to Creationism, which in passing showed up the limitations of the Mind-first attitude. Heidegger was not a Darwinian, or a Darwinist, far from it; but he derived a new marriage of theology and ontology from Darwin’s revolution." (Heidegger as a Post-Darwinian Philsopher)

donderdag 22 januari 2015

Hetzelfde anders

Cornelis Verhoeven heeft filosofie eens gedefinieerd als: hetzelfde anders leren zien.

Ik las deze woorden altijd als: de taak van de filosofie bestaat eruit de zelfde dingen anders - dat wil zeggen, in een nieuw licht, vanuit een ander perspectief - te leren zien.

Het schoot me zojuist te binnen dat Verhoevens definitie echter ook op een andere manier gelezen kan worden. Namelijk zo, dat het accent niet ligt op de dingen (die Verhoeven helemaal niet noemt overigens) maar op het woord hetzelfde. Filosofie behelst dan niet langer de dingen als zodanig, maar (het woord) hetzelfde, anders te leren zien.

Aan deze lezing van Verhoevens uitspraak beantwoordt Th. C. W. Oudemans' boek Echte filosofie (2007), dat primair een betekenisverschuiving in het woord hetzelfde poogt te bewerkstelligen. Deze mutatie valt Oudemans ten deel middels het woord replicatieve identiteit, dat hem werd toegespeeld vanuit de geschriften van Leibniz, Dawkins en Derrida. Deze auteurs waren getekend door een betekenisomslag in de klassieke opvatting van identiteit - ook al was hen daar zelf niets van bekend.

Dit maakt Oudemans niet enkel tot een filosoof in Verhoevens zin van het woord, maar tevens tot een goede lezer. Want dat is wat lezen is: het woord te vinden, dat de schrijver nooit zeggen kon. (J. H. Donner)

zondag 18 januari 2015

Jasper Doomen can't handle the nihilism

"Reason is [...] only an instrument for survival; no insights into the truth or the nature of reality, whatever one may want this to mean, are to be expected. [...] If this is indeed Darwinism’s explanation of reason, it refutes itself epistemologically. After all, if the reasonable being that concludes to Darwinism’s truth (again, whatever one may take ‘truth’ to be) only does so on the basis of reason as a means to survive rather than as a faculty to establish the truth, Darwinism itself is not the truth. There is, in that case, no ‘objective’ standard (or any standard) to determine this, let alone that Darwinism would be entitled to claim this role. Consequently, if Darwinism is consistent, it cannot exist: it reduces the very faculty required to found its truth to an instrument that lacks the ability to perform this task.
If this life is really all there is, why should one be occupied with any scientific or philosophical matter?
The pleasure of this insight and the other pleasures of life must be balanced against the pains one suffers; if there is more pain than pleasure, it would be prudent to commit suicide. This radical hedonic calculus is perhaps rather abstract (it seems difficult to find a common standard against which to measure the various feelings), but this is the only course of action a Darwinist can follow if he is to take his theory seriously. Perhaps there are lives that can withstand the radical hedonic calculus, although I can hardly imagine such a life, if all experiences are seriously taken into account. It is, in the end, only the individual that can determine this for himself or herself, but it seems that Darwinists are bad economists.

Either Darwinism reaches its peak through the insight that one should commit suicide, or Darwinism is incorrect, either because those who propagate it have failed to comprehend that suicide should be committed—those who have comprehended this have already done so—or because another, less reductionistic, approach is taken to be correct. (The latter approach might also propagate committing suicide, by the way, but that is not the issue here.) Darwinism would then, ironically, consist in the demise rather than the survival of the fittest, if one understands by that those who have the greatest insights." (Jasper Doomen, Concerning Darwinism)

vrijdag 16 januari 2015

Philosophy: applying this to 'your own' thinking

"The presumption that any cultural item that spreads widely will at least be deemed (rightly or wrongly) to be worth having must be set aside, as it may instead be an unappreciated or even detested item that is just too well entrenched for the local coalition of cultural antibodies to remove." (Dennett, p. 354)