Saturday, May 31, 2003

Scientism & Materialism

Although they may be on the way out, the ideologies of scientism (which posits that all real knowledge comes only from natural sciences) and materialism (which posits that only the material exists) still retain some degree of influence in Western culture. This influence is found in Daniel Dennett's recent book, Freedom Evolves. I picked up this book the other day at Barnes & Noble, and have requested it via interlibrary loan, so that I can give it a more in-depth treatment.

In the meantime, though, I do recall a couple of things. Literally within the first two pages, Dennett repeatedly asserts (as opposed to argues) that the immaterial soul has been disproven by modern physics, or that it is incompatible with the findings of modern physics.

Such an assertion is patently ridiculous... physics by definition is concerned with material reality, while the soul is immaterial per se. There is simply no way for physics to offer any opinion viz. the soul, because its "tools" deal with another realm of reality. A similar assertion might be something like this: modern psychology demonstrates that 2+2=3. Not only is the assertion wrong, but it is incomprehensible, in that psychology has no bearing on mathematics.

It is apparent that Dennett assumes and presumes a materialistic worldview in his book. Perhaps his "proves" this assumption and presumption later in the text, but in the opening pages, he merely asserts them and makes all sorts of erroneous statements based on them.

Too bad.

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