[asa] NOMA vs. Map of Knowledge

From: Gregory Arago <gregoryarago@yahoo.ca>
Date: Sun Oct 25 2009 - 09:02:46 EDT

One way to move beyond the NOMA vs. anti-NOMA thrust of the very interesting recent thread, is to acknowledge more than two 'sides' in the discussion. Let me submit to you A. Peacocke's 'map of knowledge' (see attached), which includes many levels of layers and four main categories (1. Physical World, 2. Living Organisms, 3.Behaviour of Living Organisms, 4. Human Culture), rather than just two, i.e. 'science' and religion.'   Imo, anyone who continues to be engaged in *only* a 'science and religion' dialogue is already out of date, as there are quite obviously many more categories that must be involved in order to be anything verging on 'holistic.' Of course, I'm not suggesting that Cameron is focussing only on 'science and religion' because it is quite obvious he is doing more than that. My argument thus hinges on the view that 'holism' is a superior intellectual position to 'reductionism' in terms of a philosophy (e.g. epistemology, methodology or ontology) of science, religion and culture perspective.   Here is Peacocke's Map of Knowledge:   A Map of Knowledge   Systems                                                         Sciences (Disciplines)     4. Human Culture Languages                                                     Linguistics Economic                                                       Economics Aesthetic                                                        Arts Technical                                                       Technology Religious                                                        Theology                                                                        Religious Studies   Sociology Social Anthropology   3. Behaviour of Living Organisms Individual                                                      Psychology Social                                                             Social Psychology   Evolutionary Psychology                                Cognitive Sciences Behaviour Genetics   2. Living Organisms Cells, Organs, Individual Organisms                        Biology Ecology Populations Eco-systems   Neurons                                                         Neuro-Anatomy CNS, Brains                                                  Neuro-Physiology   Molecular Biology Molecular Chemistry Molecular Physics   1. Physical World Quarks, Atoms, Molecules                             Physical Sciences Minerals                                                        Geology Planets                                                                      Astronomy Galaxies                                                         Cosmology   What this 'map of knowledge' allows for is the possibility that there are some 'levels' at which 'evolutionary theory' does not (or should not) apply. Peacocke himself agreed that the problem of 'reducing' higher levels to lower levels is a real one in our epoch (note: I don't call it 'modern' as Cameron might because, as Latour wrote 'we have never been modern.' And then we would have to also address the 'post-modern'. This is instead a 'contemporary' view, one that is on the leading edge, imo). Thus, when scientists or scholars at a lower level insist that their ‘concept’ or ‘method’ or ‘paradigm’ must also necessarily be applicable at a higher level, they are guilty of ‘reductionism.’   The problem with TE is that it disallows for the possibility that ‘evolution’ does not belong in the higher levels, especially in 4. Human Culture. In other words, TE is against anti-reductionism – it actually seems to promote a kind of reductionism by 'hitching its wagon' to a single term 'evolution' which may not apply in some levels or regions of knowledge. TE believes that 'evolution is everywhere,' that it is a concept that ‘makes sense’ even in theology. Of course, when TEs say that they are ‘simply accepting the science of evolution’ and accommodating their ‘theology’ with it, we see in Peacocke’s ‘map of knowledge’ that they are accommodating a higher level to a lower level and thus, as T.S. Eliot might say, ‘de-purifying the dialect of the tribe.’   The problem otoh for ID is that it allows for 'design' at levels which most 'scientists' do not apply it. We all can think of places where it makes sense to say that something is designed, i.e. in 4. Human Culture, design is prolific, sometimes called the ‘artificial’. In other words, ID is reductionistic to the idea of 'design' at the same time that it is anti-reductionistic to the idea of 'evolution'. At least it got half of the answer right! And then ID says, 'you need to change your definition of science to meet our definition of science,' which is of course, ironic.   But the point Cameron has raised in his thread is a powerful one, which appears as of yet unresolved. This involves peoples' views of fields such as 'evolutionary psychology,' which contain pretences of 'being scientific' yet which depend heavily on 'extra-scientific' views, topics, themes, theories, 'data', methods, etc. In Peacocke’s image, ‘evolutionary psychology’ is situated ‘between’ 2. and 3., which means it can indeed borrow both from scientific and non-scientific fields (although Peacocke doesn’t indicate what counts as ‘non-science’ and even includes ‘theology’ as a ‘scientific discipline’) as it sees fit.   Notice please that Denis Venema, one of the few geneticists on the list and an EC/TE, who seems happy to call himself a neo-Darwinian at a private Christian University in Canada, refused to answer my question to him about whether or not 'evolutionary psychology' counts as science. This was after I answered his question directly about 'common descent'. TEs, such as this example might suggest, are often against *any* form of anti-evolutionism (and not just the 20th century 'creationist' kind) likely because it appears to challenge their theologies, when in fact this is not the case at all.   TE has done a poor job of distinguishing between 'science' and 'non-science,' arguably a much poorer job than ID has done (i.e. given the considerable number of philosophers of science in the IDM, in contrast to TEs, who are 'less philosophically trained'), for the precise reason that it fails to speak of 'science' as relevant in regard to 'human-made' things. Here is where Cameron's example of 'evolutionary psychology' is so important. Peacocke himself stumbled on questions about psychology, but this is of course a contested field and there are many views contending for the centre stage. Moorad wants 'science' to speak only about 'physical' things, whereas TEs want 'evolution for everyone.' This, however, is precisely the same as some of their opponents at a higher level (e.g. D.S. Wilson, who is against theology or at least an atheist, but then again, Dawkins called Wilson’s defence of ‘group selection’ - “sheer, wanton, head-in-bag
 perversity,” which makes one think)would argue.    Schwarzwald asks a direct question: "By what standard?" The answer to this that many, many people will give today is simple: “by society's standards.” But then what is (a) ‘society’? This transition of standards from 'spirit' to 'nature' to 'society' was called by Talcott Parsons, 'the great breakthrough.' It refers to something that supposedly happened in a pre-Darwinian world and thus it avoids the controversial Darwin of British and global 'natural science'. That said, what any discussion of 'ethics' thus requires is some kind of 'unchanging' or 'static' (a hated term even by many Christians nowadays) source, i.e. an 'unmoveable standard' in other words. Yet what unmoveable or unchanging standard does *any* TE propose, given that their 'theology' is so tightly tied to the idea of 'change' or, in other words, to 'evolution'?   This is where their view begins to fuel controversy. They know it, but have found no alternative so that they could drop the label EC or TE and rather simply agree with certain aspects of 'evolutionary theory' and not allow it to exceed its limits. Why can’t they allow ‘evolution’ to remain at the lower, but not at the higher levels of Peacocke’s map? So, perhaps we can await some kind of 'limitations' placed on evolutionary theory by TE, which is the question posed to Ted in the other thread. But it would surprise me if an appropriate vocabulary could be found to do this given the 'new polemics' in America, another conflicted one, this time between 'evolution' or 'chance' and 'design.'   Once we accept the 'map of knowledge' that Peacocke indicates, perhaps even with his green-safe, panentheist perspective added in, then we can acknowledge a 'limit' to evolution and also a responsible limit to 'science' that corresponds with what counts as socially-important knowledge. In this way, both 'scientism' and 'evolutionism' are defeated and an alternative view of the current academic landscape is possible.   Gregory   p.s. since, I tried attaching it to this message, but without success, I’ve just added Peacocke’s ‘map of knowledge’ on my blog, so you can view it there: http://www.blogster.com/aragosdom/photo/my-photos/a.-peacocke-map-of-knowledge.jpg __________________________________________________________________ Be smarter than spam. See how smart SpamGuard is at giving junk email the boot with the All-new Yahoo! Mail. Click on Options in Mail and switch to New Mail today or register for free at http://mail.yahoo.ca

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Received on Sun Oct 25 09:03:04 2009

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