PROLEGOMENA TO THE PROLEGOMENA (3): 12 Theses on Scientistic Materialism

I have no particular allegiance to Johnston’s project as he is a Lacanian, and I do not take Lacan very seriously. The same goes for his two other major sources to be appropriated and corrected from within by immanent critique: Badiou and Meillassoux. But I cannot bear the scientistic brash dismissal of his well-worked out project as being merely pure metaphysical speculation, ungrounded in empirical fact. So I am presenting 12 theses on scientistic materialism:

1) tu quoque: scientistic materialism is a speculative hypothesis, in just the same way as Johnston’s transcendental materialism is ontological speculation

2) metaphysical:  the scientistic materialist is not doing science, he is doing metaphysics. There is no “trickle up” effect that would make his speculations about empirical matters of fact themselves empirical

3) self-refuting: the scientistic materialist view of cognition as determined by our biology, and ultimately a deterministic survival-seeking mechanism rather than a noetic truth-seeking one, makes science impossible, yet it argues from science

4) partial: the scientistic materialist does not argue from the whole of science (as if the sciences could speak with one voice, not even one science alone can do that), but from a narrow selection of scientific results

5) unilateral: the scientistic materialist gives a one-sided metaphysical interpretation of these results, as it does not consider rival views to be valid alternatives. Condemning its rivals as speculative, it truncates or abrogates rational discussion

6) monolithic: scientistic materialism presupposes a unified homogeneous science. Yet any field of science, including the rapidly growing field of cognitive science, is a contentious jumble of  multiple conjectures, conflicting interpretations, and findings pointing in divergent directions

7) monistic: scientistic materialism presupposes a unified homogeneous nature. This posit of a strong Nature is implicit, but it is what authorises its extrapolation from a regional ontology to a total worldview

8) positivist: scientistic materialism presupposes science as the measuring standard of all knowledge. Non-scientific modes of knowing are ruled out as either illusions or non-cognitive practices

9) dogmatism: scientistic materialism uses its metaphysical heuristic as if it were certain knowledge, established scientific truth. Scientism has a very inadequate comprehension of how science proceeds, of its past history and of its current (non-unitary, heterogeneous) state

10) narrow: scientistic materialism bases itself on a very narrow conceptual base compared to Johnston, who makes use of evolutionary biology and brain science, but also of a large range of the theoretical resources of Contnental philosophy

11) naïve: scientistic materialism is unaware of the metaphysical status of its own theory, Johnston is aware of the metaphysical speculative status of his theory and makes full use of this awareness to complexify his reasoning and analyses, instead of homogenising and simplifying them

12) extrapolation: scientistic materialism makes its selection of scientific material and then generalises it to create a world picture having universal value, proceeding by speculative pseudo-induction

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One Response to PROLEGOMENA TO THE PROLEGOMENA (3): 12 Theses on Scientistic Materialism

  1. Pingback: PROLEGOMENA TO THE PROLEGOMENA (4): a generic thought experiment | AGENT SWARM

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