New Episteme-New Relationship With Nature

[The following two paragraphs are a brief summary of a theme developed in F.S. Northrop's book: “The Meeting of East and West,” 1946—see chapter entitled The Solution of the Basic Problem, p.436]

The new physics speaks in a strange language—the language of a new and exciting world. Where this physics will take us is presently unclear but, with evidence accumulating everyday, what is becoming clearer is that it is incorrect to think of our relationship to nature in terms of the three-term relationship of Locke’s mental substance, appearance and material particles. Berkeley, Hume and Kant addressed the inadequacy of this three-term relationship. In brief, John Locke did not have to
choose this three-term relationship to explain Newton’s particles. He could have
said that mathematical space and time is the vehicle which allows for an
analytical account of the aesthetic continuum and that the observer and what
appears for the observer are determinations of this aesthetic continuum. He could have said this but he did not because it would have been extremely difficult, given the interpretation of Newtonian physics at the time.

Now we know that it is more accurate if we describe our relationship to nature
in the form of a two-term relationship. The first term of the two-term relationship is the theoretically postulated, hypothetically designated, component of experience while the second term is the immediately sensed determinate portion of the aesthetic continuum. This aesthetic component of experience is relative to every individual while the theoretic component occurs in a public space characterized by repeatable experiences. Confirmation of the theoretical component of our experience becomes the key word here and this confirmation may be formal, as in a scientific result, or it may be informal, as in the best that pragmatism has to offer – if it works, use it.

On the other hand, if we remain in the episteme that Foucault characterizes as “belonging to the questioning of that to which one belongs,” then responsibility becomes absorbed into the power/knowledge relationship of “responsible to whom for what ends.” Certainly Foucault argues this position and, I might add, it is not a coincidence that Foucault characterized the modern episteme as “man’s obsession with what eludes him.” Man “must traverse, duplicate and reactivate in an explicit form the articulation of thought on everything within it, around it, and beneath it which is not thought…a constantly renewed interrogation” (Order of Things, p. 324).

“Yes,” we are living in what Foucault has described as the “modern episteme,” but “No,” that does not mean that we have to remain here. The door is open and what we must do is walk through it—and into a new relationship with nature (in the language of Foucault, a new episteme). Characterizing this episteme will be the realization (hopefully) of our Mother Nature/Self/Divinity connection and our participation in the liberation process that is this Divinity.

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About bwinwnbwi

About me: Marvin Gaye’s song, "What’s Going On" was playing on the jukebox when I went up to the counter and bought another cup of coffee. When I got back, the painting on the wall next to where I was sitting jumped out at me, the same way it had done many times before. On it was written a diatribe on creativity. It was the quote at the bottom, though, that brought me back to this seat time after time. The quote had to do with infinity; it went something like this: Think of yourself as being in that place where infinity comes together in a point; where the infinite past and the infinite future meet, where you are at right now. The quote was attributed to Hermann Hesse, but I didn’t remember reading it in any of the books that I had read by him, so I went out and bought Hesse’s last novel, Magister Ludi. I haven’t found the quote yet, but I haven't tired of looking for it either.
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One Response to New Episteme-New Relationship With Nature

  1. bwinwnbwi says:

    On one level reason is connected to emotion while, on a different structural level, reason is separated from emotion. In terms of structure, b~b~bb identifies both the aesthetic component of our experience (sensory/emotional b~b) while it also identifies the theoretic component (~bb) i.e., the source of language, number, logic, identity (the emotion/reason disconnect). Structurally, b~b~bb, allows for the confirmation/rejection of scientific hypothesizes as it also separates scientific knowledge from caring aesthetic values—the reduction of goodness, love, and beauty to stimulus/response mechanisms. However, “the character of the feeling in any experience may be taken as an index of the mind’s grasp of its object; at the lower levels of experience, where the mind is only partially or superficially involved, feeling appears as something isolated and opaque, as the passive accompaniment of mere bodily sensation… In the higher experience, the feelings assume an entirely different character, just as do the sensations and the other contents of mind.” (Susanne K. Langer, Philosophy in a New Key, A Study in the Symbolism of Rite, Reason, and Art, p.100)

    Emotion and intelligence go together like hand and glove (contrary to what Locke and Plato believed). It is high time that we catch up to the curve and give emotions and sentiments the psychological freedom they deserve. In order to do this we need to break the habit of regarding feelings, emotions, and the immediately given portion of human nature (the aesthetic continuum of all things) as being superficial appearances,– mere symbols for validating an out-dated worldview. It is time to regroup, to move beyond that which was once considered progressive but now inhibits, to move beyond the dichotomy that separates feelings and knowledge—And If You Have To Ask Why You’ll Never Know.

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