The origin of modern science in the 16th and 17th centuries corresponds with the origins of modern capitalism and the industrial system. From the beginning, the worldview and methods of science have fit in perfectly with the need of the capitalist social system to dominate nature and the vast majority of human beings. Francis Bacon made it clear that science was not an attempt to understand nature as it is, but to dominate it in order to twist it to the ends of humanity — in this case meaning the current rulers of the social order. In this light, science must necessarily be subjected to social analysis by anyone claiming to call the present social reality into question.
Reprinted from New Old Traditions, who originally posted it for me.
“The roots of today’s globalizing spiritual crisis lie in a movement away from immediacy; this is the hallmark of the symbolic.”
“Everything that was directly lived has receded into a representation.”
“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”
Symbolism is an act of re-presentation, always impoverishing and isolating that which is symbolized by collapsing it into a fragmentary concept, separated from its environment and its dependency on the rest of existence. As the universe flows on in its relentless dance, a symbol remains the same, and the breath and spirit of what it identifies is forgotten in favor of its name. “For the Murngin people of northern Australia, name giving and all other such linguistic externalizations are treated as a kind of death, the loss of an original wholeness,” notes John Zerzan in Too Marvelous for Words: Language Briefly Revisited. How deeply in this pile of deaths might we be buried today, as symbolic culture has grown exceedingly complex and expansive since its inception? Continue reading
"Newton" by William Blake
In Vine Deloria’s book Evolution, Creationism, and Other Modern Myths, the great Native American scholar lays down the premise that the disciplines of history, geology, physics, and science in general have assumed superiority of thought in their brief existence over the collective memory of humanity. The Enlightenment’s insistence on an objective, sterile, and a-moral investigation into existence ushered in a new era of disembodiment from indigenous consciousness; rationality taking precedent over community virtue, inherited knowledge, and love of the land, following the domesticating trend of separating spirit from mind and mind from body; detaching self from origins and origins from conscience. Enlightenment philosophy proposed, in short, that alienation and disenchantment were crucial in order to understand who we are and just what the hell is happening around here.
The authority of truth once given to traditional wisdom has been cast by academics into the rubble pile of myth and legend. In the colonization of belief, if land-based consciousness wasn’t suppressed by the Church on its mission of religious imperialism, then the state did that work instead. In their early forms either one was inseparable from the other, but sometimes their empires diverged. Long after the slavery, genocide, and oppression reigned in by these institutions destroyed most of the indigenous population, paving the way for more modern forms of government, the aristocratic religion of natural philosophy or science was introduced to further the mission of development and the aims of enlightenment, updating the models of civilized society for more widespread conquest. Not far behind them came the overwhelming technics of the industrial revolution, striking a crushing blow to the popular legitimacy of ancient tradition as life became ever more estranged from the land and the spirit. Though in relative terms Enlightenment’s narratives had the lifespan of a newborn compared to its great-great grandmother of indigenous tradition, its logic of alienation and authoritarianism justified its own vanity in the act of devastating ancient cultures.