Sam Ghandchiسام قندچي A Walnut under the Microscope: Science, Religion, Philosophy and Change
Sam Ghandchi
http://www.ghandchi.com/walnut-book-english.htm 
گردویی زیر میکروسکوپ:
علم، مذهب، فلسفه و تغییر

http://www.ghandchi.com/walnut-book.htm

Ray Kurzweil's Note of Sept 10, 2020:

My thanks to Ray Kurzweil for taking the time to read this electronic book. Mr. Kurzweil also sent me the following note on Sept 10, 2020 about this book which is published here with his permission: "I have read a portion of it and will read the rest. Thanks!"

 

walnut-book

 

Table of Contents

 

Preface

 

Chapter 1: What can we learn from former religious people

Chapter 2: Bringing back 'Why' Question to Science and Philosophy

Chapter 3: Can Religions Redefine 'Why' Questions?

Chapter 4: Responding to 'Why' Questions this Way, is without a Dogma

Chapter 5: European Experience of 1848 Revolutions

Chapter 6: Iranian Revolution and Middle East

Chapter 7: Breakup of Industrial Society and Kurzweilian Futurism as a 21st Century Theory of Change

 

Footnotes

 

Preface

For the allegorical title of this book, I am indebted to Ivo van Vulpen's description of observing a "Walnut" with a microscope in contrast to observing an atom with a particle accelerator, when both microscope and particle accelerator are used to learn about the building blocks of nature, but the former does not break the shell of the "Walnut" to gain understanding of what is being observed, whereas the latter breaks up the atom to gain understanding of subatomic particles (1). I am also indebted to the physicist Hossein Javadi for all his work on CPH theory (2), which has been a source of inspiration for me ever since I first learned about Higgs Boson through his works many years before Peter Higgs received a Nobel Prize (3). Finally I should note my indebtedness to Ray Kurzweil's book 'Singularity is Near' (4) and also to Ray Kurzweil himself for reviewing my various works, and with his vast knowledge of technology, science, philosophy and everything else, I have been fortunate to learn a great deal from Ray about different topics over the years (5).

 

Chapter 1: What can we learn from former religious people

 

A few months ago, I wrote a note about former religious people (6) who experience some kind of depression because of uncertainty of scientific outlook and due to this reason many of them were attracted to Nazi and Communist attempts at making a semi-religious dogma out of scientific theories which would among other things make a replacement for the notion of "Noblest of All Creatures" position for humans as discussed in a paper entitled 'Worldview of a Monkey' about the problem of Bishop of Worcester’s wife who was quoted as saying the following about Darwin's Theory of Evolution that "Let us hope it is not true. But if it is true, let us hope it does not become generally known!" (7). Also in the same vein, scientific outlook for an individual used to religious thinking gives rise to some kind of hollowness while observing the world, and feeling a lack of meaning in life which was discussed in details in a paper entitled 'Scientific Worldview and Meaning of Life' (8). A good example is the thinking of Medieval Times in Europe believing in a Grand Divine Design which gave purpose to everything in the world and true that those who did not like to be a pawn in a grand design were not so happy with it, but for majority of the pious, it provided a comfortable framework to live a Purposeful life, although when they doubted that Grand Scheme of things, they would succumb to a deeper hollowness and as Bertrand Russell used to discuss, ethics based on such religious views, would fall apart the moment such beliefs were shattered! And for them doing good not for the sake of any God but for prosperity of all seems insignificant. Now if they had not believed in the "Grand Divine Design," would they be devastated by any such scientific findings? I doubt it unless they had believed in some semi-religious dogma, like the Marxists, which I discussed recently in a short article entitled "Dialectical Materialism: Marxist Mystification of Scientific Worldview" (9)! In short unless one has assumed some imaginary fantastic characteristics about the nature, origin and future of "Walnut," there is nothing heartbreaking whatever science finds out about it under the microscope.

 

Chapter 2: Bringing back 'Why' Question to Science and Philosophy

 

Ivo van Vulpen emphasizes 'why' questions in science, in contrast to what we have known about science since Descartes' presentation of scientific method focusing on 'how' rather than 'why' questions (10). Actually what Vulpen means by 'why' questions is not what we generally understand of 'why' questions! Generally what we have understood of 'why' questions is what Aristotle referred to as 'Final Causes' among the four causes he formulated in his philosophy (11). And we know during the era of European Rationalism, Spinoza discarded 'Final Causes' by showing how they can be reduced to Aristotle's 'Efficient Causes' (12). Is Vulpen by bringing 'why' questions to science, reviving 'Final Causes' in science and philosophy? I am not sure. But I can say for sure what Aristotle and later Leibniz considered 'Entelechy' (13), meant something that hardly resembles what the Medieval philosophers considered the 'Grand Divine Design,' or the so-called 'Final Cause' which Spinoza considered as the sanctuary of ignorance (14). In a way, "Walnut" being investigated by the particle accelerator is shattered to its building blocks, the subatomic particles to allow us to know *why* the "Walnut" is what it is. In other words, by breaking up the "Walnut" we are not looking at the "Walnut" as a constant, and then describing *how* it behaves, rather, it is no longer the "Walnut" as we knew it before being shattered. Religion or even a philosophy serving a religious or semi-religious dogma, is sitting at a distance *observing* the "Walnut", whereas this new philosophical approach is changing the "Walnut" by breaking it apart to explain the "Walnut". In history of political philosophy, Karl Marx in his famous 'Theses on Feuerbach,' does something similar in epistemology, which I have explained in details in a paper entitled 'Marxist Thought & Monism' (15) when in a famous passage of his 'Theses on Feuerbach,' Marx says: "The philosophers have merely *interpreted* the world in various ways; the point, however, is to *change* it", (Karl Marx, 'Theses on Feuerbach', Charles Lewis Edition, 1903, P. 133). In other words, through changing the world we get to understand it. Are we doing the same when changing the atom, bombarding it in the particle accelerator to understand what it is! Maybe the microscope of Marx's era was not able to act like a particle accelerator but in social sphere, the approach was already being used as it shows in Marx's epistemology. I am a critique of Marx as my above mentioned paper shows, but in this particular instance, Marx is actually bringing the question of *why* to social science and not limiting himself to *how* questions although, this *why* question is different from what we had known in science and philosophy of the Middle Ages. As noted, I am not sure if this meaning of *why* questions in science is what Ivo van Vulpen is discussing in his 2018 book, but I think this would be a valid approach and does not mean going to pre-Cartesian philosophy as authors and historians like Morris Berman in his book 'The Reenchantment of the World,' wanted us to believe and made it look like talking about *why* questions required legitimizing the Grand Purpose of Medieval Church or other similar unscientific approaches in many philosophical outlooks of Medieval Times, an approach that was continued by the New Age Movement of 1980's (16). In other words, we can ask *why* questions in science, if we do not limit the task of science to observing the "Walnut" under the microscope when at best use a hammer to break up the "Walnut", rather, it would be like what the current particle accelerators do, making the observation while breaking up the atom to its building blocks, turning *how* and *why* questions into one and the same scientific task!

 

Chapter 3: Can Religions Redefine 'Why' Questions?

 

More than two years ago I discussed my views of metaphysical questions like the 'why' question we have reviewed in the first two chapters of this book, in a paper entitled 'Is there Room for Metaphysics in Modern Sciences' (17). Now would religious institutions like Catholic Church consider 'why' questions in this manner or would continue the 'Grand Devine Design' of Middle Ages? I doubt it if religions would choose this new kind of approach to 'why' questions like what science is doing today, but I would not be surprised if they change their attitude as this new way of looking at 'why' questions gains acceptance. After all, it is not as difficult as coming to terms with accepting LGBT in many churches today. Nonetheless, I believe in the time being, this new approach to 'why' questions will mostly gain momentum in the realm of science and philosophy.

 

Chapter 4: Responding to 'Why' Questions this Way, is without a Dogma

 

It is noteworthy that this way of responding to 'why' questions is not based on accepting a dogma and especially this will affect our children and youth in two ways. One is that we no longer will teach the kids not to ask for 'why' questions and repeatedly tell them that science is limited to discussing 'how' questions. At the same time, we are not telling the young minds that if they want to ask 'why' questions, they have to take refuge in some kind of religious or semi-religious dogma. In a way, that was what we witnessed as a backlash of New Age Movement in the West against science (18), and a worse backlash we have seen for half a century by IslamicKKK in the Middle East (19). These are good reminders that limiting the task of science to 'how' questions, leaves the room for the most dangerous ideas to conquer the young minds.

 

Chapter 5: European Experience of 1848 Revolutions

 

About 40 years ago, in a paper entitled 'Pluralism in the Western Thought' (20), I discussed pluralist views in Europe starting with Democritus and Leucippus for whom the "Walnut" was plural although they just observed it and did not break it up, making the change, and later, Aristotle in the pluralist tradition actually did detailed observations at Lyceum in contrast to Plato's Academy which did not care much for empirical studies, nonetheless, Aristotle, would not break the "Walnut" to see 'why' it was, 'what' it was! Even pluralist thinkers of Modern Europe like Francis Bacon and other Empiricists still focused on more accurate observations and methodically proposed 'induction,' which was not challenged till our times by philosopher Karl Popper in his book 'Objective Knowledge.' For my understanding of Aristotle's thought, please refer to a paper entitled 'Futurism and Aristotle's Pluralism' (21).

 

In contrast to pluralism, I also wrote another paper about 40 years ago, entitled 'Marxist Thought & Monism' (22), where I discussed the thinking of *monists* for whom the "Walnut" was singular. First I discussed those whom I called 'Static Monists' such as Parmenides, and Secondly those whom I called 'Dynamic Monists' such as Heraclites in Ancient Times, and Hegel and Marx in Modern Times. Even though Heraclites said you cannot swim in the same river twice, but for him, still the "Walnut" was singular which he observed and did not break it up to discover knowledge, in other words, he observed the change and not making the change, i.e. breaking down the water itself in the river! Even the science of modern times in Europe and its methodology from Descartes' time, which was discussed in a paper entitled 'Descartes and Laity' (23), still was focused on observation, whether by rationalists like Descartes, or by empiricists like Francis Bacon. In other words the "Walnut" was not to be broken! Even up to 20th century, rationalists like Russell as shown in a paper entitled 'Pluralism and Russell's Logical Atomism' (24), did not go beyond the empiricists as far as this issue is concerned! Only Karl Popper by introducing the concept of 'falsification' in science approaches the model discussed in this book although he is not *breaking* the "Walnut" but tries to break our presumed knowledge of it, in his epistemology (25)! The arguments between followers of Thomas Kuhn and Karl Popper in philosophy of science of 20th century which were focused on paradigms (26), shed light on this aspect of epistemology.

 

European social experience actually was more fruitful in this regard than the philosophical and scientific thought itself. Europe experienced Renaissance and Reformation at the end of Middle Ages. But in both experiences, either one form of Church was replaced by another (Catholic vs Protestant) or some Monarchies changed place with Papacy, e.g. British Monarchy and related Church of Canterbury or era of Frederick the Great in Germany are noteworthy. Nonetheless, it was not a breakup as such, even when the Church or the monarchies reformed themselves. In France, the Great French Revolution of 1789, which replaced monarchy with a Republic and its subsequent return of monarchies again, did not experience a real breakup of society till Revolutions of 1848 in various European countries started, when we really see the "Walnut" in the social sphere to breakup in Europe.

 

The experience of 1848 Revolutions in Europe is really when the "Walnut" breaks up in real social terms and although the Marx's statement in "Theses on Feuerbach," noted in Chapter 2 above, i.e. "The philosophers have merely *interpreted* the world in various ways; the point, however, is to *change* it," was written in 1845, i.e. about three years before the start of 1848 Revolutions, but it is the real description of 1848 revolutions!

 

Chapter 6: Iranian Revolution and Middle East

 

About 18 years ago in 2002, I published a detailed book about Iranian Revolution of 1979 entitled 'FUTURIST IRAN: Futurism vs Terrorism' (27). In that book, I discussed why it was a reactionary revolution which changed the simultaneity of revolution and progress, the Kantian understanding of revolutions in Modern Times since the Great French Revolution of 1789! I should add a new point to my former analysis in light of the discussion of "Walnut" under the Microscope. The Iranian revolution was like having the 1789 revolution of France together with the 1848 revolutions at the same time. In other words, the "Walnut" was also broken, rather than monarchy just being replaced by a republic as we saw in France of 1789 or in similar changes in constitutional monarchies in Europe after Middle Ages in peaceful and not-so-peaceful ways (like the U.K. of 1600's). And forgetting the fact that it was a fake republic and the Velayate Faghih in Iran's Islamic regime is more of a monarchy than a republic which is a secondary issue. Nonetheless, in Iran, although a Shiite theocracy replaced the monarchy, but simultaneously, there was a break up in society very much like the 1848 revolutions in Europe, with the difference that they were not suppressed by a monarchy or a secular republic, rather, they face a retrogressive theocracy that acts like the papacy of 15th Century! This is why Iran's current 21st Century revolution does not look like a 1848-type revolution (28), because that experience has already happened in Iran of 1979! Some of the countries of Middle East including what we saw during Arab Spring, also experienced something similar to 1848 Revolutions of Europe in this period. Epistemologically they are experiencing "Walnut under a Microscope" which is breaking up the "Walnut," to understand the society and gain knowledge of itself, rather than just observing the reality from a distance without *changing* it!

 

 

Chapter 7: Breakup of Industrial Society and Kurzweilian Futurism as a 21st Century Theory of Change

 

If as explained in Chapter 6, with the rise of Industrial society, we witnessed the 1848 revolutions that broke the "Walnut" in 19th century and gave us a look at what is inside the industrial society with all its social groups, unions and political parties, the break down of Industrial society in 20th Century was highlighted with the rise and fall of fascism followed by the downfall of Capitalist and Socialist camps, and the coming of post-industrial society after WWII which was best described by Daniel Bell's 'The Coming of Post-Industrial Society.' This breakdown in 20th Century was the reason for so many modifications of capitalist theories such as the efforts of Hayek and von Mises in economics, and the rise of Tea Party in the U.S. in politics. On the other side, we see major modifications of socialist theory by Althusser and Poulantzas called 'Democratic Socialism' which has now found a huge following in the US Democratic Party as we have been witnessing leading to the Nov 2020 US presidential election (29).  The reality is that both those efforts are looking to the past to find solutions for 21st Century, Capitalism and Socialism. Kurzweilian Futurism is actually what we have seen offering a new perspective in the last 50 years which looks inside the "Walnut" of the post-Industrial society. Kurzweil's book 'Singularity is Near' offers the best explanation of what has been discussed as a new scientific perspective of what we are dealing with in the 21st Century. Nostalgia of the past by those looking for answers in the old capitalist and socialist theories of 19th and 20th Century, shows that they still have not come to grips with the new reality of 21st Century, and even the science they use, is an old science as discussed in the first two chapters of this book!

 

 

Hoping for a democratic and secular futurist republic in Iran,

 

Sam Ghandchi, Editor/Publisher
IRANSCOPE
http://ghandchi.com/index2.html
October 3, 2020

Footnotes:

 

1. Ivo van Vulpen: How to Find a Higgs Boson—and Other Big Mysteries in the World of the Very Small

https://yalebooks.yale.edu/book/9780300244182/how-find-higgs-boson-and-other-big-mysteries-world-very-small

2. Hossein Javadi: CPH Theory

http://www.ghandchi.com/iranscope/Anthology/hjavadi/index.html

http://www.ghandchi.com/iranscope/Anthology/hjavadi/CPH-Persian.htm

3. Sam Ghandchi: Leibniz's Monads and Javadi's CPH
http://www.ghandchi.com/394-MonadsCPHEng.htm

4. Ray Kurzweil: Singularity is Near
http://singularity.com

5. My Thanks to Ray Kurzweil
http://www.ghandchi.com/2067-ray-kurzweil-english.htm

Futurism: What I have Learned from Daniel Bell and Ray Kurzweil
http://www.ghandchi.com/1656-daniel-bell-english.htm

Kurzweil and Problem of Common Sense
http://www.ghandchi.com/2043-kurzweil-english.htm  

6. Secularism: Main Problem of Former Religious People is not Superstition
http://www.ghandchi.com/3094-religiosity-secularism-english.htm

7. Worldview of a Smart Monkey
http://www.ghandchi.com/802-worldview-eng.htm

8. Scientific Worldview and Meaning of Life - Second Edition
http://www.ghandchi.com/1472-jahanbini-english.htm

Modernism and Meaning of Life
http://www.ghandchi.com/359-ModernismEng.htm

9. Dialectical Materialism: Marxist Mystification of Scientific Worldview
http://www.ghandchi.com/3170-marxist-dialectics-english.htm

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

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

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

13. Sam Ghandchi: Leibniz's Monads and Javadi's CPH
http://www.ghandchi.com/394-MonadsCPHEng.htm

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

15. Marxist Thought & Monism - Second Edition
http://www.ghandchi.com/2055-MarxismEng.htm

16. Mr. Sanders, Kurzweil is Antidote to Ferguson and Khomeini
http://www.ghandchi.com/3168-sanders-kurzweil-english.htm

17. Is there Room for Metaphysics in Modern Sciences, Second Edition
http://www.ghandchi.com/2064-ScienceMetaphysicsEng.htm

18. Mr. Sanders, Kurzweil is Antidote to Ferguson and Khomeini
http://www.ghandchi.com/3168-sanders-kurzweil-english.htm

19. IslamicKKK

http://www.ghandchi.com/islamic-kkk.htm

20. Pluralism in the Western Thought
http://www.ghandchi.com/301-PluralismEng.htm

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

22. Marxist Thought & Monism - Second Edition
http://www.ghandchi.com/2055-MarxismEng.htm

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

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

25. Karl Popper, Objective Knowledge

26. New Paradigms, Second Edition
http://www.ghandchi.com/2258-new-paradigms-english.htm

27. FUTURIST IRAN: Futurism vs Terrorism (Online Book, Third Edition)
http://www.ghandchi.com/500-FuturistIranEng.htm

28. انقلاب 21 ایران نظیر انقلابهای 1848 اروپا نیست
http://www.ghandchi.com/1945-enghelabe21iran-vs-1848revolutions.htm
29. Mr. Sanders, Kurzweil is Antidote to Ferguson and Khomeini
http://www.ghandchi.com/3168-sanders-kurzweil-english.htm
Marxism and Futurism
http://www.ghandchi.com/793-marxism-futurism-eng.htm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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کتابهای صاحب این قلم بصورت «مِش» از مقالات مرتبط منتشر شده اند
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