Response to Daniel re: 1.1 (Charlene Spretnak)

 [Re-posted from the comments under Daniel Hill's response to 1.1 - Moderator]

            Daniel’s defense of humanism is a lot more pleasant to read than Steven Pinker’s relentless cheerleading for mechanistic science. I think, though, that arrogance is not the only problem with the perception in the modern Western mind that we are physically apart from and other than the rest of the natural world. The problem is that modernity has misunderstood so much of what is really going on in the physical world. In its quest to understand the physical world science – and society – struggled through a 300-year lost weekend, limited by humanist, mechanistic blinders. As Carolyn Merchant’s classic study The Death of Nature makes clear, the “new mechanical philosophy,” as the mechanistic worldview was originally called in the Scientific Revolution, was not the only candidate in the air as the medieval worldview was receding into what would come next. Other orientations preserved some of the premodern sense of the potent interrelatedness among all physical matter. Instead, we got the notion of a clockwork universe and the biomechanical model of the body. The field of physics began to self-correct from the mechanistic worldview more then a hundred years ago. Yet even after postmechanistic developments in science such as complexity studies and chaos theory in the 1980s and beyond, human biology, or physiology, was slow to slough off the biomechanistic model – until the 21st century. During the past twenty years, thousands of discoveries of dynamic interrelatedness have been made regarding the human organism (and its embeddedness in the dynamics of nature) that utterly pull the rug out from under the long-standing mechanistic assumptions about how we are structured and how we function. It will be fascinating to see how art will engage with this sea change in our understanding. The supposedly entirely “Autonomous Individual” of Enlightenment thought is actually the human-in-relationship.

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