[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.