Sam Ghandchiسام قندچي Scientific Worldview and Meaning of Life
Sam Ghandchi
http://www.ghandchi.com/1472-jahanbini-english.htm

جهان بینی علمی و معنای زندگی
http://www.ghandchi.com/1472-jahanbini.htm

 

During Middle Ages the dominant worldview in European thought, depicted a world which started with the story of creation and every human being had a place in that Grand Divine Design. In other words, meaning of life was to play the role which was intended for the individual in that grand design. For those who believed in the Grand Divine Design and its Purpose, the Medieval philosophical-religious vision was a strong rock to stand on, and gave meaning to life, and of course for those who did not like to be a pawn in a grand divine scheme, such understanding of the world, was suffocating. In Medieval societies of other Abrahamic religions such as Islam, the situation was not much different. With the inception of scientific revolution in Europe, the Grand Devine Design fell apart, from the Earth which with Copernican Revolution fell from the center of the universe to the status of a planet encircling the Sun, to the results of Darwinian scientific findings which proved the humans to be the continuation of generations of primates (1).

 

In other words, the Grand Divine Design in which the humans occupied a certain place, fell apart and at the same time, the scientific view, did not have the same meaningful feeling of a Divine Design, and the majority who saw their life to be meaningful in the scheme of a Divine Design and Purpose, were left with an inner vacuum. Of course, in societies where the Abrahanic religions were not dominant, such as India and China, and to some extent among the mystics and Sufis of Europe and Middle East, the individual's meaning of life, was understood as some kind of a personal journey, for example, in the Buddhist meditation. In that world view, the place of an individual is not defined like the Catholic Church, and for example in Zen (2), each individual discovers the meaning life for herself/himself, and as the Buddhists say, anybody can become the Buddha. Thus, in those non-Abrahamic religions such as Buddhism, scientific thought did not have that unsettling effect on the place of individual in the world of existence, compared to the effect of weakness of belief in Medieval Grand Design, ending in an inner vacuum.

 

Science answers the "how" questions, e.g., how long it takes the Earth to revolve around itself or to encircle the Sun, and science does not care about "why" there should be an Earth, whether it encircles the Sun or not. Plato and Aristotle each in their own way answered to the two questions of "how" and "why" and did not answer to these questions in a Buddhist meditative approach, but looked for an answer in the external world outside the mind; Catholic Church till the 12th Century followed Plato and after that, followed Aristotle, and its Divine Design, was in response to the "why" of the world, with the story of Creation. In reality, the first question of "how" which science answers, was the same as Aristotelian material cause and efficient cause (3) and the second question of "why" was the same as the Plato and Aristotle's formal cause and Aristotle's Final cause, in the four Aristotelian causes, and in the era of rationalism, the Final Cause was finally dropped from the Modern philosophy by Spinoza (4).


Therefore, after the scientific revolution we enter a world where we are able to know the origin, components and future of the world a lot more accurately and we even know that Milky Way will be destroyed in a collision with Andromeda Galaxy, and at that time our Sun will still be alive. In other words, Aristotle's efficient cause, is the main focus of the scientists of the Modern Times and even biology, which was the origin of Aristotle's Final Cause, removes it from that discipline and nobody talks of Aristotelian entelechy anymore, and in the era of modern science everything is explained by efficient causes. Thus after the scientific revolution, despite more knowledge of origin, components and future of the universe, the strong foundation of Purpose which the believers of Abrahamic religions saw in their Divine Design and walked on that hard rock, was gone, and a kind of inner vacuum ensued in their philosophical outlook after the scientific revolution, which hit the people who previously relied on the Divine Design of Abrahamic sacred books.
 

In such situation, two nonreligious currents of Marxism and Nazism became the semi-religious systems  which in their own ways, depicted a grand design of the world.  The first one depicted a world with its historical materialism which started with a classless primitive communism and ended with a classless society of a higher order of world Communism and the individual in the Marxist view sought meaning for himself/herself that was to some extent comparable to the Grand Divine Design of the Medieval Times (5). Fascism with its superior race doctrine tried to create a new hope for those looking for a meaning of life in such racist imaginations to reach the superman of Nietzsche. The reality is that science has never had such claims, but since science had created the vacuum in the hearts of those who sought meaning of life in Divine Grand Designs, a place was opened for Marxism, Fascism and other similar ideologies.
 

Is the world materialistic as the Marxists say? The reality is that science has never made such a claim and incidentally the scientists at CERN have shown that anti-matter is a reality (6). Does science direct us to dialectical method that Marxists learned from Hegel, or dialectics is useful as a method just like trial and error and other analytic methods such as induction and deduction, and not necessarily the best, and today statistical methods and neural networks are even more effective and none of them is the final method for human thought and many of the issues of methodology of science that were discussed from Aristotle to Descartes (7) to Kant and Popper (8) are still issues of discourse. Therefore, the rejection of both semi-religions of Marxism and Fascism which tried to created a semi Divine Design, but with Earthly elements, is obvious. Can a general view of the world and humanity make a specific place for an individual and this way to free the individual from the inner vacuum and reinstate a purposeful life?
 

Surely for someone who is not looking for a Santa Claus, these realities we know are more meaningful than what was told to people in Medieval Times as the Grand Design by the Church. Thus it is obvious that as we go forward, our view of the whole world is richer and of course the place of the individual in this complex, is not announced by science, and each individual, group, nation and the whole humanity can determine it by themselves. Of course, if we look more accurately the philosophical views reported by Aristotle about those preceding him and his contemporary philosophers, are almost the same as the main philosophical tendencies that human society has carried with it till today and a simple comparison of the views described by Aristotle, of atomists of his time (9), with the view of Bertrand Russell of Logical Atomism (10), shows this reality, and the reason is because humans have not changed much since 2000 years ago. Therefore until the time that we have developed sentient beings with major difference with humans (11) or  that we have not found such sentient beings, we cannot expect very different philosophical views of the universe. But if this is inner vacuum, the Medieval vision was much more vacuous, even though for humanity, in its infancy, Santa Claus seems more real, and science of reality, seems like a vacuum.

 

The following link is to a music piece called "Western Spaces" which I personally liked to listen to, for meditation, that may not be necessarily useful for the reader, and even for this author 40 times of listening was needed to begin to become meaningful:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fpXRi5fpEHg
 

 

Need to note that the above is not the whole album of "Western Spaces." Thirty years ago I wrote an article about this kind of music that may be useful for the reader (12). Certainly today there are better pieces of this music and newer and more interesting writings about it; unfortunately I have not followed this realm all these years.

Hoping for a democratic and secular 
futurist republic in Iran,

Sam Ghandchi, Editor/Publisher
IRANSCOPE
http://www.ghandchi.com
http://www.iranscope.com
June
27, 2017

Footnote:
 


1. Philosophy of Science in 20th Century-Third Edition
http://www.ghandchi.com/358-falsafehElmEng.htm

فلسفه علم در قرن بیستم-ویرایش سوم
http://www.ghandchi.com/358-falsafehElm.htm

 
2. Jack Li: Zen Meditation جک لی-ذن
http://iranscope.ghandchi.com/Anthology/Jack_Li-Zen.htm
 
Wakefulness and Enlightenment
http://www.ghandchi.com/449-EnlightenmentEng.htm

بیدار اندیشی و روشن بینی
http://www.ghandchi.com/449-Enlightenment.htm

 
3. Futurism and Aristotle's Pluralism
http://www.ghandchi.com/440-AristotleEng.htm

آینده نگری و پلورالیسم ارسطو
http://www.ghandchi.com/440-Aristotle.htm

 
4. Spinoza's Refutation of Teleology
http://www.ghandchi.com/406-SpinozaEng.htm

اسپینوزا در رد علت غائی
http://www.ghandchi.com/406-Spinoza.htm

 
5. کن فیکون مارکسیستی
http://www.ghandchi.com/1303-kon-faya-kun.htm

 
6. Beyond Matter: Realm of Religion or Science
http://www.ghandchi.com/1271-beyond-matter-english.htm

فراسوی ماده: عرصه مذهب یا علم
http://www.ghandchi.com/1271-beyond-matter.htm

 
7. Descartes and Laity
http://www.ghandchi.com/397-DescartesEng.htm

دکارت و لائیکات -مردم عادی غیر روحانی یا غیرمتخصص
http://www.ghandchi.com/397-Descartes.htm


8. تأملی فلسفی: خردگرائی و آینده نگری-ویرایش دوم
http://www.ghandchi.com/508-falsafe.htm


9. Futurism and Aristotle's Pluralism
http://www.ghandchi.com/440-AristotleEng.htm 

آینده نگری و پلورالیسم ارسطو
http://www.ghandchi.com/440-Aristotle.htm


10. Pluralism and Russell's Logical Atomism
http://www.ghandchi.com/447-RussellPluralismEng.htm

پلورالیسم و اتمیسم منطقی راسل
http://www.ghandchi.com/447-RussellPluralism.htm
 
 
11. New Variant to Meet Human Needs-An Electronic Book
http://www.ghandchi.com/human-variant-book-english.htm

واریانت جدید برای تأمین نیازهای بشر- کتاب الکترونیک
http://www.ghandchi.com/human-variant-book.htm
 

12. What is New Age Music
http://www.ghandchi.com/450-NewAgeMusicEng.htm

موسیقی عصر جدید چیست؟
http://www.ghandchi.com/450-NewAgeMusic.htm
 


 

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