A Foot Note to Plato’s Footnoters
“The trouble seems to be that it is no man’s business to understand the general patterns … “I do not know, indeed, whether one might in fact understand the crises of modern science so well as to have the power to do anything about them. I must, however, suggest that the petty illnesses of science-its super-abundance of literature, its manpower shortages, its increasing specialization, its tendency to deteriorate in quality-all these things are but symptoms of a general disease. That disease is partly understood by the historian, and might be understood better if it were any man’s professional province to do so. Even if we could not control the crisis that is almost upon us, there would at least be some satisfaction in understanding what was hitting us.” [My emphases]
Derek J. de Solla Price, (1964) Diseases of Science, in The Rise of Science in Relation to Society. Ed., Leonard M. Marsak, The Macmillan company, New York. (P. 144–45)
PS I made it my “professional province” by becoming an informed generalist of science after an eclectic BA equivalency, at the age of 25; a second general BA intentionally undertook at 35 to become a generalist; and at 45 an unspecialized MA in anthropology and sociology at the University of Guelph, where I mainly worked with a zoologist in matters related to the present existential problem of humanity.
My family doctor told me that I should stop calling academics “idiots savants” if I want them to be supportive of my thesis. How can I as a “learned-ignorant” who passes a lifetime in many Universities to become a generalist of science to find out what’s wrong with specialists, who cannot use their expertise to solve the problems created by progress? It is indeed hard for me not to define them as such FROM THE STANDPOINT OF EVOLUTION because I have determined that the real reason they cannot formulate the present existential problem of humanity in solvable terms is that they are paid to ignore it:
“You better start swimming or you’ll sink like a stone for The Times They Are A Changin”
Because academics are ultimately rewarded by for-profit institutions, they don’t professionally bother about the problems that their specialized knowledge creates in the world when applied synergistically in practice by their sponsors. This is the reason why we cannot count on them to formulate the present existential problem of humanity mainly created by this capitalistic mentality. ”When you pay people not to see the truth they don’t see the truth,” is what Michael Lewis was saying about the Wall Street workers who caused the 2008 economic crisis, and what I am saying here about academics whose intellectual stanchions support the indwelling of the present world crises.
NB As a generalist outsider-of-science observing specialists’ subverted efforts to maintain the status quo, I have never been paid.
As Buckminster Fuller has written in his Operating Manual For Spaceship Earth:
“Of course, our failures are a consequence of many factors, but possibly one of the most important is the fact that society operates on the theory that specialization is the key to success, not realizing that specialization precludes comprehensive thinking.” (1963)
And again as Alfred North Whitehead said more diplomatically before 1947:
‘Effective knowledge is professionalized knowledge, supported by a restricted acquaintance with useful subjects subservient to it. This situation has its dangers. It produces minds in a groove. Each profession makes progress, but it is progress in its own groove. … Of course, no one is merely a mathematician, or merely a lawyer. People have lives outside their professions or their businesses. But the point is the restraint of serious thought within a groove. The remainder of life is treated superficially, with the imperfect categories of thought derived from one profession.” (My emphasis)
Or Benjamin Lee Whorf in 1956:
“It needs but half an eye to see in these latter days that science, the Grand Revelator of modern Western culture, has reached, without having intended to, a frontier. Either it must bury its dead, close its ranks, and go forward into a landscape of increasing strangeness, replete with things shocking to a culture-trammeled understanding, or it must become, in Claude Houghton’s expressive phrase, the plagiarist of its own past.” Language, thought and reality (1956)
It is after coming across these quotes about the limits of specialized science in my search for a Master’s degree in the 70s, after a first eclectic BA equivalency, that I decided at the age of 35 to go to the university for a second general BA to become a “generalist.” While some people of my generation had already been to the university to educate themselves to make a living as engineers, philosophers, or physicians, for example, I decided to become a generalist because I believed that the world needed one to define the problems created by specialization of knowledge. However, after a life of independent observations of specialists, I did become a self-proclaimed “physician” since as the “family doctor of humanity” I did diagnose in it a sociopathic psychosis induced by our chronic shortsightedness. We can see a symptom of this psychosis in the increasingly frequent elections of closed-minded conservative around the world.
As a wannabe generalist, I manage to follow courses in as many different departments as I possibly could during my second BA. The most suitable for my purpose has been a course in Environmental Sciences based on Joel de Rosney’s Le macroscope *— Vers une vision global, in which “The main theme is that the complex systems which govern our life should be looked at as a whole, rather than be taken apart into their constituents.”
The air balloon here represents the drifting-aloft “macroanthroplogist” of knowledge that I was inadvertently becoming after my second general BA, which I acquired while following three independent certificates of studies. During which I have worked in as many different departments as I could. E.g., in one session, I was registered in five departments: economy, psychology, mathematics, philosophy, and administration. Thus observing disparate specialists held together by the scientific method, the same way Bronisław Malinowski, father of the functionalist school of anthropology, observed the insular Trobriand people culturally band together by the Kula ring.
I wasn’t there to study any of the subject matters presented to me in these courses. I was using these short stays in different specializations of knowledge as pretexts to explore from various perspectives the existential crisis into which I had assumed since the mid-seventy we were all heading because of short-sighted specialists. I couldn’t openly mention this crisis I was studying though since even if I had a strong hunch about its evolutionary nature, as I will explain in my PhD dissertation, I did not know at the time what I was talking about, thus the surname “Gaudwin” given to me by my peers. I always had excellent grades though, not because my work was particularly good, but “extraordinarily” [in Kuhn’s sense) original…even if never understood why by my graders!
As Malinowski discovered the role of the Kula in maintaining a common traditional culture among the insular Trobriand people, I found the shortcoming of the scientific method in its incapacity to pinpoint the universal bias affecting the whole humanity. This, because the scientific method is regulated by disparate specialists, all unknowingly affected as human beings by the same bias. For the world to become aware of this bias of humanity, though, it needs the “human paradigm shift” on which I have been working all my life, “It is the theory which decides what we can observe ” (Einstein).
It is after this second general BA, during which I have superficially looked at many sciences without never wanted to become efficient in any, that three of them, biology, psychology, and economy, incidentally prepared me for a Master in Sociology and Anthropology at the University of Guelph, where I mainly work with Denis Lynn, a zoologist. Even there, since I hadn’t followed a single course in sociology or anthropology before, I was still an outsider observing my peers. It is then that I first realized that my particular curriculum of studies had inadvertently molded my mind into a “macroscope” focused on knowledge. And since there is no academic term describing my authority,* I need to present myself using tableaux (4) showing how I gradually became a “living macroscope.”
*NB The closest term would be an “anthropologist of science.” However, I am not an anthropologist of science but an anthropologist studying the role of knowledge in evolution. “To live is to know ” (Maturana). Thus, life is a knowledge process. And since nature is alive and life evolves, evolution is a knowledge process (Popper). And since I came to the same conclusion independently early on in life, evolution as a knowledge process is what I have studied throughout my adult life.
Here’s how I came to see how the knowledge of biology, psychology, and economy, which I had disparately acquired in the course of my two previous BA, are related to evolution: We became Homo while transforming our body (Biology), sapiens, our mind (Psychology), and modern humans, societies (economy). It is only after having been accepted in the department of sociology and anthropology at the University of Guelph some ten years after my second general BA, though, that I came to perceive this evolutionary pattern in the clutter of academic matters that I had accumulated until the age of 44:
Here’s how my unspecialized Master degree in ZooAnthropoSociology transformed my mind into a “living macroscope” while inadvertently complementing my previous university formation:
As you can see, this MA program, without my planning for it, happened to fit perfectly well in my previously unrecognized evolutionary curriculum without focusing on the science of evolution itself: Zoology, us standing up as Homo (biology); anthropology, us becoming aware of our inner self as sapiens, (psychology); and sociology, us becoming modern while developing global relations between us (economy). However, something new and exciting was emerging in my macroscopic mind. You can see this undefined-emptiness emerging as a virtual triangle in the schema beside representing the macroscope module of my neocortex. This is how I felt at the time: I knew I had touched on a crucial synthesis, but I could not figure out what it was.
Here’s the schema that I presented to the late Nora Cebotarev as a proposition for an unspecialized master of arts in sociology and anthropology:
Since I was accepted in the program as an openly-declared “generalist,” I had the liberty to follow most of all the classes I wanted all the while working with zoologists on my proposition to counteract the calamities predicted by the Club of Rome. It is there in zoology that the late Prof David Gaskin gave me Evolution: Grand Synthesis by Irvin Laszlo, which he saw as relevant to my research, and, which has been essential to it:
It is my major paper, Specialization: The Leading Cause of Our Failures as a Species, that concretized for me a new way to look at our failures from the stand point of evolution. Concretized only for me though, because I had not yet formulated the theory which I had unintentionally developed alone and incognito among many specialists during all those years while pursuing my studies to become a generalist of science:“It seems that the human mind has to construct forms independently before we can find them in things,” Einstein
“Scientific theory do not spring on stage fully developed, with their range fully established and with their empirical credentials in hand. They may begin as the recommendation of an alternative kind of answer to traditional questions or from the recognition of new questions in need of an answer. They develop historically, often in ways unimagined by the originators. Questions having to do with the proper way to define a theory’s basic concepts, the nature of its empirical support, the best way to to formulate and interpret its explanations, the relation of its concepts and principles to other theories in other sciences, emerge from this development…” (Introduction to the philosophy of science: a text by members of the Department of the History and Philosophy of Science of the University of Pittsburgh, Merrilee H. Salmon. Hackett Publishing, 1999 — Science — )
NB Having been working alone as an outsider of a science regulated by the scientific method, none of the above emphasizes applied to me. Although It is this academic isolation which allowed me to pinpoint the shortcomings of the scientific method disjointedly regulated by independent insiders-of-science, while all being, “in Claude Houghton’s words,” plagiarists of their past.
It is with this academic background that I then started to look for an institution to undertake a PhD during which I would have independently formulated this theory of mine. I have tried for one year but to no avail. Even if my proposition was compelling, at least to me, I was not well received by any academic arbitrator, who most of the time dismissed me because they were ignorant of what I wanted to do at the university; for their defense though, so was I!
Nonetheless, this retributive pamphlet of Planck, probably written after he received recognition is very relevant to me:
“None of my professors at the University had any understanding for my doctoral dissertation’s content, I found no interest, let alone approval, even among the very physicists who were closely connected with the topic. Helmholtz probably did not read my paper at all. Kirchhoff expressly disapproved … I did not succeed in reaching Clausius. He did not answer my letters, and I did not find him at home when I tried to see him in person at Bonn. I carried on a correspondence with Carl Neumann, of Leipzig, but it remained totally fruitless . . . .
NB I could name names attributed to similar circumstances, but I am not very good with remembering names, but my memory will surely come back in due time.
It was the beginning of the 90s, and no one that I knew, including me, was aware of the political mess into which we were heading and in which we are at the moment in 2019. I knew though that something was coming. However, I didn’t know what it was, and neither did I think it would be coming that fast. It is only later while working alone as a disabled individual, having been diagnosed with a borderline personality disorder (no wonder)*, that I finally succeeded to see on what I should focus my theory, so it makes sense to the Academia and all honest mind of the world:
*My doctor was right in diagnosing me with BPD; I am indeed on the borderline of a disability. However, he was wrong in considering me to be on the wrong side of the border. It is humanity as a whole that is since it has not yet recognized itself as being an individual in need of putting all its resources together for the purpose of his survival.
And do not ask me to tell you what it is that I found to be fundamentally wrong with specialization of science and the scientific method from an evolutionary standpoint. If I tell you now, before I expose my theory showing how I came to my conclusions, I would be idiosyncratically understood, as always, by your using the ad hoc theories and believes deeply buried in your personal epistemological background. A background which conveniently allows you to keep on functioning apparently sanely in this evolutionary mayhem created by the “anthropocentric paradigm” buried deep in the foundation of our knowledge, which absolutely needs to be shifted: “Know Thyself”…but as a species since species are individuals.
My theory of “universal evolution” formulating the cause of our failures as a species will open different avenues of research to specialists of all kinds, from physics to philosophy, allowing them to regain their roles of leaders while using their expertise to find viable solutions for the various crises into which humanity as an individual is unreasonably and blindly going through at the moment.
It is this theory, hopefully understandable by all honest mind from 10* to 90 that I will develop in a PhD dissertation that I am presently ready to put on paper and eventually post in Medium and Quora… for the world to approve…if only I succeed in attracting but a few followers with this introductory paper…
God save our soles!