Thursday, December 8, 2016

Worshipping the Man-Made Idols

Image result for false idols pope francis
Damien F. Mackey
“The Greeks were usually at pains to separate and distinguish clearly what was physis from what was nomos. The word physis can perhaps best be translated by the English word nature. The physis of things for the Greek philosopher meant the real nature of things, the underlying reality behind the appearances, the thread so to speak which persisted through change. The physis then is the unchanging reality. The antithesis to this is nomos or law. Nomos is that which exists not by nature, but by artifice, convention, custom, or usage. It is man-made, and not part of the everlasting order of the world”.
The two orders of things, the real and the artificial, can, and should, exist side by side.
The one, however, should by no means be mistaken for the other.
Nor should the artificial order of things be elevated to the level of deity, and worshipped, as were the “man-made” idols of antiquity.
“The words of the prophets” decry and ridicule this folly (e.g. Jeremiah 10:1-16):
Hear what the Lord says to you, people of Israel. This is what the Lord says:
‘Do not learn the ways of the nations
    or be terrified by signs in the heavens,
    though the nations are terrified by them.
For the practices of the peoples are worthless;
    they cut a tree out of the forest,
    and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel.
They adorn it with silver and gold;
    they fasten it with hammer and nails
    so it will not totter.
Like a scarecrow in a cucumber field,
    their idols cannot speak;
they must be carried
    because they cannot walk.
Do not fear them;
    they can do no harm
    nor can they do any good’.
No one is like you, Lord;
    you are great,
    and your name is mighty in power.
Who should not fear you,
    King of the nations?
    This is your due.
Among all the wise leaders of the nations
    and in all their kingdoms,
    there is no one like you.
They are all senseless and foolish;
    they are taught by worthless wooden idols.
Hammered silver is brought from Tarshish
    and gold from Uphaz.
What the craftsman and goldsmith have made
    is then dressed in blue and purple—
    all made by skilled workers.
But the Lord is the true God;
    he is the living God, the eternal King.
When he is angry, the earth trembles;
    the nations cannot endure his wrath.
Tell them this: ‘These gods, who did not make the heavens and the earth, will perish from the earth and from under the heavens’.
But God made the earth by his power;
    he founded the world by his wisdom
    and stretched out the heavens by his understanding.
When he thunders, the waters in the heavens roar;
    he makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth.
He sends lightning with the rain
    and brings out the wind from his storehouses.
Everyone is senseless and without knowledge;
    every goldsmith is shamed by his idols.
The images he makes are a fraud;
    they have no breath in them.
They are worthless, the objects of mockery;
    when their judgment comes, they will perish.
He who is the Portion of Jacob is not like these,
    for he is the Maker of all things,
including Israel, the people of his inheritance—
    the Lord Almighty is his name.
The artificial order
Can be useful to a point
I already had cause to visit this subject in Part Two, when quoting from Dr. Gavin Ardley’s book, Aquinas and Kant, The Foundations of the Modern Sciences, (Chapter II: Physis and Nomos, “The Two Orders”). The usefulness, or utilitarian value of the order of nomos is apparent from Ardley’s description of the activity of the butcher, by contrast with that of the anatomist. It is worth re-telling:
Let us consider what is involved in this process of analysis or dissection. In ‘dissection’ it is instructive to compare the practices of, say, the anatomist and the butcher. When an anatomist dissects a rabbit or a sheep he traces out the real structure of the animal. He lays bare the veins the nerves, the muscles, the organs, and so on. He reveals the actual structure which is there before him waiting to be made manifest. But when the butcher chops up the animal, he is not particularly concerned with the real structure; he wants to cut up the carcase into joints suitable for domestic purposes. In his activities the butcher ruthlessly cleaves across the real structure laid bare so patiently by the anatomist. The anatomist finds his structure, the butcher makes his. The one pursuit is of the real, that of which, we may say, God is the fashioner or creator. In the other case man himself is the fashioner or creator, or rather the re-creator. Man becomes, in a minor way, his own god. To this extent Protagoras was right when he said ‘Man is the measure of all things’. It is certainly true that man is the measure of some things, even though not of all.
The anatomist proceeds by inspection, by recognition of what is objectively there, using the senses with which he has been endowed. The activity of the butcher on the other hand is directed subjectively, and is literally, as well as metaphorically, the procedure of the Procrustean bed.
[End of quote]
Pursuit of the nomic order will tend to lead one away from, rather than closer towards, the objective order of the real. Let us consider some examples of this pursuit.
Biblical Structures and Sources
When writing an article on the:
Structure of the Book of Genesis
I had cause once again to visit the Ardleian analogy of the anatomist and the butcher, there writing:
The same sort of analogy may be applied to, I would suggest, the different methods that have been employed to analyse the structure of the Book of Genesis. Here I shall contrast only the archaeologically-based approach, as used by P. J. Wiseman and others - which method, I believe, resembles that of the anatomist in Ardley’s example -
Wiseman’s findings have captured the imagination of, for instance, the renowned Old Testament scholar, Professor R.K. Harrison. See e.g. his Introduction to the Old Testament (Eerdmanns, 1969), on pp. 545-553 of which he summarizes Wiseman’s toledôt theory. Also, the linguist, Dr. Charles Taylor, who - on the basis of the same theory - wrote The Oldest Science Book in the World (Assembly Press, 1984). It is also worth mentioning here that P.J. Wiseman’s son, Donald J. Wiseman, who wrote the Foreword to Ancient Records, is considered to be one of the preeminent Assyriologists of our time.
with the Graf-Wellhausen approach - that to my mind approximates to the activities of the butcher.
Astruc’s Theory
Jean Astruc (d. 1766) was really he who invented the theory of separate documents, based on the Divine names used. The French physician had noticed that in the first 35 verses of Genesis (chapters 1-24a), the word Elohim … “God”, was used, and no other Divine name; while in chapters 2:4b to 3:24, the only designation given is Yahweh Elohim … “Lord God” – except where Satan uses the word God. Astruc claimed that the passages must have been written by different writers; for if Moses himself had written the whole of it, firsthand, then we should have to attribute to him this singular variation, in patches, of the Divine name.
This was really the beginning of the documentist dissection, into fragment upon fragment, of the Book of Genesis.
By the middle of the C19th, owing largely to the efforts of the German critics Karl Heinrich Graf (1815-1868/9) and Julius Wellhausen (1844-1918), liberal scholarship had, to its own satisfaction, isolated four main Pentateuchal sources: J,E,D,P. Thus it was alleged that a writer who used Elohim was the author of a so-called E document, and the writer who used Yahweh was the author of J (for Jehovah, the German version of Yahweh). But since some verses that were obviously written by the same person contained both names for God, an editor had to be introduced, then a “redactor”. 
Then a Deuteronomist source was identified (which R.K. Harrison considered to be the only valid one amidst the JEDP ‘sources’). After a century of conjectures and further redactors, it was decided that a further document, P (Priestly) had been written nearly 1,000 years after Moses, and so on ....
In this way Genesis has been reduced to a series of confused fragments and authors, in order to account for the way in which the name of God is used in the book. The fourfold sigla, JEDP, of Graf-Wellhausen is now dogmatically retained (though in modified form) in academic institutions the world over. Nonetheless, the critical scholars have to admit that their literary expedients break, not only the logical, but also the grammatical sequence of the passages. As Wiseman commented (Clues, p. 143): “It is confusion confounded!”
Really, since what was formerly known as the “Documentary Hypothesis” had its inception based upon an unrealistic premise: the  presumption that a single author would not be likely to use more than one name to designate God, it does not come as a surprise to discover that the modern end-product of such a line of reasoning is a totally artificial form of analysis; a butcher-like activity, ruthlessly cleaving across the natural structure of the scriptural texts - so chopping and hewing them into fragments that their original form and shape are no longer recognisable.
Wellhausen himself had in fact acknowledged that the result of all of this dissecting was “an agglomeration of fragments” (as quoted by Wiseman, Clues, p. 144). Despite this, Wellhausen’s History of Israel (1878) “gave him a place in Biblical studies comparable, it was said, to that of Darwin in biology” (Clues, p. 145).
[End of quote]
One may wonder what could be the advantages of such a dissection of the biblical texts, which does not immediately appear to have the obvious advantages of the activities of the butcher. And if, as Wiseman claimed: “It is confusion confounded!”, then there may be very little at all to recommend it.
The same may not be said, though, about the division of the Bible into chapters and verses. Whilst, again, this is quite artificial, it serves the purpose of providing convenient points of reference. Thus:
When the books of the Bible were originally written there were no such things as chapters or verses. Each book was written without any breaks from the beginning to the end.
They Have Been Divided For Convenience
The chapter and verse divisions were added to the Bible for the sake of convenience. There is no authoritative basis for the divisions we now find.
[End of quote]
Today we would be quite lost without these handy points of reference.
However, we need to be ever aware of the fact that these chapters and verses are of the order of the artificial and do not define the true structure of the sacred texts. The difference between finding the structure of something (as does the anatomist), and making it (the butcher), is apparent from the following contrasting of the JEDP approach, the “Documentary Hypothesis”, with the approach adopted by P. J. Wiseman, using archaeological data. I continued to write: 
Because of the newness of the science of archaeology … we can say that, from a stratigraphical/historical point of view, the study of Scripture is still in its infancy. Pre-archaeological theories, such as those advanced by the C19th documentists, suffer from an almost total ignorance of the methods and styles of the ancient scribes, since these really became known only in the previous (20th) century, after the vast libraries of the ancient world had been excavated and their data slowly and painstakingly sifted by modern scholars. The modern awareness of ancient scribal methods would serve to show up with embarrassing starkness the numerous defects in the old “Documentary Hypothesis”.
P.J. Wiseman, on the other hand, was fortunate to have had the opportunity of participating in some of the most important archaeological digs that took place in Mesopotamia midway through the C20th; for example, that of Sir Leonard Woolley at the site of Ur, and of Professor S. Langdon at Kish. Wiseman had many discussions about ancient writing methods and related subjects with these and other scholars (most notably, Professor Cyril Gadd). In the light of all of this firsthand evidence and expertise that had become available to him, Wiseman found himself perfectly equipped to re-examine the structure and authorship of the Book of Genesis. He discovered that the book’s structure was really quite straightforward, and was completely explained by the facts of archaeology. In true anatomist fashion - according to Dr. Ardley’s analogy - Wiseman was able to lay bare the real structure of the Book of Genesis, and thereby scientifically to expose, by stark contrast, just what an unholy mess the JEDP dissectors were leaving behind them. In fact, nowhere do the clumsy techniques of the documentists show up so embarrassingly as when contrasted against the light of Wiseman’s patient uncovering of the essential structure of the Genesis texts. Wiseman had at least been prepared to concede on behalf of the early documentists, as an excuse for their radical fragmenting of the texts, that they had not been in a position to compare the literary form and structure of Genesis with other ancient methods of writing, that would have enabled them to have read Genesis in the light of the times and circumstances in which it was written. But, in the case of contemporary exegetes, he considered that: “... it cannot be regarded as other than serious that notwithstanding archaeological discoveries, many still read Genesis not as ancient, but as though it had been written in relatively modern times” (Clues, p. 143). The mistake had been made, he said, despite the very obvious fact that the Genesis narrative itself “is constructed in a most antique manner by use of a framework of repeated phrases” ….
[End of quote]
Pursuit of the real is of a far higher order, and is wiser, than is the pursuit of utilitarian ends. The one pertains to the kingdom of Jesus Christ and the other to that of Pontius Pilate:   
A Kingdom of Truth not Power
Matthew 6:33: ‘But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you’.
“In our modern Bibles, there is a chapter division between the appearance of the Ark of the Covenant and the description of the “woman clothed with the sun.” But chapter divisions were added in the Middle Ages to make the books of the Bible easier to refer to. John did not make any divisions: he wrote straight through from Revelation 11:19 to Revelation 12:1 without a break”.
The human activity discussed in Part Three (i), of ‘cleaving across the real structure’ of things, for some legitimate utilitarian purpose, rather than patiently studying ‘the thing as it is in itself’ (Immanuel Kant’s das Ding an sich), is apparent from the artificial re-arranging of the Book of Genesis into 50 chapters each consisting of multiple verses - whereas the book in-itself naturally falls into those eleven toledot (‘family history) divisions as discussed in my:
Structure of the Book of Genesis
Today we would be hard put to live without those familiar chapters and verses, artificial though they be, which can serve as a handy mnemonic device and points of reference. However they, because they are artificial, can also have the unfortunate effect of hindering one from properly grasping the original intention and meaning of the author(s) of the text.
This is well exemplified when we turn from the first book of the Bible, Genesis, to the last, Revelation. Dr. Scott Hahn, writing of what he calls “The Ark of the New Covenant”, explains how St. John the Evangelist’s intended meaning gets completely lost due to the thematic discontinuity caused by the artificial division of Revelation’s Chapters 11-12 (

A. The Ark Reappears in Heaven

Luke uses parallel language and images to make his point. But John, the author of Revelation, tells us directly that he saw the Ark of the Covenant - the holy object that had been lost since Jeremiah’s time - in a vision.
“Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant could be seen in the temple. There were flashes of lightning, rumblings, and peals of thunder, an earthquake, and a violent hailstorm. A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was with child and wailed aloud in pain as she labored to give birth” (see Revelation 11:19 and Revelation 12:1-2).
This is a strange string of images, almost overwhelming - like much of the book of Revelation. But certainly the statement that the Ark of the Covenant was visible must have caught the attention of the first people who heard the vision.
If the Ark had been seen, then the time Jeremiah spoke of must have come: the time when “God gathers his people together again and shows them mercy,” the time when “the glory of the Lord will be seen in the cloud, just as it appeared in the time of Moses” (see 2 Maccabees 7-8)
And indeed the sights and sounds are the same as in the time of Moses - storm and earthquake:
“There were flashes of lightning, rumblings, and peals of thunder, an earthquake, and a violent hailstorm” (see Revelation 11:19).
“On the morning of the third day there were peals of thunder and lightning, and a heavy cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast, so that all the people in the camp trembled . . . Mount Sinai was all wrapped in smoke, for the LORD came down upon it in fire. The smoke rose from it as though from a furnace, and the whole mountain trembled violently” (see Exodus 19:16, 18)
Naturally, we want to hear more about the rediscovered Ark of the Covenant. And John goes on to describe what he sees: “a woman clothed with the sun” (see Revelation 12:1).
In our modern Bibles, there is a chapter division between the appearance of the Ark of the Covenant and the description of the “woman clothed with the sun.” But chapter divisions were added in the Middle Ages to make the books of the Bible easier to refer to. John did not make any divisions: he wrote straight through from Revelation 11:19 to Revelation 12:1 without a break.
In the dream-like but deeply significant logic of John’s vision, the Ark of the Covenant is “a woman clothed with the sun.”


B. The Woman Clothed With the Sun

And who is this woman?
“She was with child and wailed aloud in pain as she labored to give birth ” (see Revelation 12:2).
“She gave birth to a son, a male child, destined to rule all the nations with an iron rod. Her child was caught up to God and his throne” (see Revelation 12:5).
The one destined to rule the nations with an iron rod (a shepherd’s rod) is the Lord’s Anointed, the Messiah or Christ (see Psalm 2). The “woman clothed with the sun,” whom John sees when he looks at the Ark of the Covenant, is the Mother of the Christ.


C. What Makes Mary the Ark of the New Covenant?

The Ark of the Covenant was the sign of God’s real presence among His people. In Jesus Christ, born of Mary, God was really present among his people in an even more direct way.
The Ark held the Word of God written in stone. Mary bore the Word of God in flesh.
The Ark held the bread from heaven, a foreshadowing of the Eucharist (see 1 Corinthians 10:1-4). Mary bore the Bread of Life, Jesus Christ (see John 6:48-50).
The Ark contained the rod of Aaron, symbol of his priesthood. Mary bore Jesus Christ, our High Priest (see Hebrews 3:1).
If the Ark of the Covenant was holy, then by the same standards Mary is even holier. As Mother of God, she is the Ark of the New Covenant, bearing Jesus Christ, the Word of God, the Bread of Life, our great High Priest. That is not a re-interpretation of the Gospel: it is a truth made clear by the New Testament writers themselves.
[End of quote]
For more on this fascinating subject, see the following article:
'The Marian Dimension'. Part Three: Mary as New Ark of Covenant
I do not know whether Eduard Meyer, a German, was himself also a Kantian by philosophical persuasion, but Meyer certainly did to Egyptian chronology what Kant claimed the physicists were doing to the order of nature. He actively imposed his pre-conceived mathematical system, which, unfortunately, has no compelling basis in reality. His elabo-structure, like some clumsy and mis-placed scaffolding offering no practical points of reference, is basically the model that is so lauded today, whilst the real Egyptian history awaits its Tutankhamun-ian resurrection.
Though I would be far from describing myself as ‘Kantian’, my favourite book on the subject of the philosophy of science is Gavin Ardley’s Aquinas and Kant: The Foundations of the Modern Sciences, in which Dr. Ardley gives the credit to Immanuel Kant for having uncovered the nature of modern theoretical science (or physics). The modern physicist apparently, quite unlike the earlier scientists, does not seek to study nature as it really is (Kant’s Ding an sich), but, instead (and this is Kant’s immense contribution), actively imposes his/her ‘a priori’ mental constructs upon nature. According to Ardley this is for utilitarian and/or commercial purposes.
Now I believe that a similar type of artificial ‘a priori’ process has been applied by the Berlin School of Egyptology’s Eduard Meyer to ancient Egyptian chronology, which then became the yardstick for the chronologies of other ancient nations.
Meyer’s ‘Sothic Theory’
an unmitigated disaster
The pattern of this series has been to distinguish between the two orders of things, namely:
(i) the real nature of things or underlying and unchanging reality behind the appearances, and
(ii) that which exists not by nature, but by artifice, convention, custom, or usage. It is man-made, and not part of the everlasting order of the world.
- known to the ancient Greeks as, respectively, (i) physis, and (ii) nomos.
The reason for taking pains to make the distinction is so that the artificial is not taken for reality, and virtually idolised (as with those ancient man-made idols), as so often tends to happen.
The order of nomos we have found to serve some most useful purposes, as aide-mémoire, as points of reference – for example, in the case of the artificial numbering of biblical texts into chapters and verses.
As long as one does not lose sight of the underlying reality, though.
For, in the case of the modern numbering of the Bible, the artificial divisions can also be an impediment when it comes to one’s grasping the original intentions and meanings of the authors. I gave an example of this previously.
But, whilst the mathematising of the Scriptures has proven to be a most effective contribution to biblical studies - though with the types of limitations just referred to - Berlin chronologist Eduard Meyer’s attempt to bring some type of mathematical (astronomically-based) order to the highly complex Egyptian chronology (30 dynasties), laudable though his intentions may have been, has had the most disastrous results from which ancient history is yet far from recovering. For a handy summary of all of this, see my:
The Fall of the Sothic Theory: Egyptian Chronology Revisited
I do not know whether Eduard Meyer, a German, was himself also a Kantian by philosophical persuasion, but Meyer certainly did to Egyptian chronology what Kant claimed the physicists were doing to the order of nature. He actively imposed his pre-conceived mathematical system, which, unfortunately, has no compelling basis in reality. His elabo-structure, like some clumsy and mis-placed scaffolding offering no practical points of reference, is basically the model that is so lauded today, whilst the real Egyptian history awaits its Tutankhamun-ian resurrection.
“… It seemed to me as nearly certain as anything in the future could be, that historical thought … would increase in importance far more rapidly during the 20th; and that we might very well be standing on the threshold of an age in which history would be as important for the world as natural science had been between 1600 and 1900”.
R. G. Collingwood, Autobiography
One may find rather illuminating - when considering Eduard Meyer’s artificially reconstructed (along Kantian lines) Egyptian dynastic ‘history’ in contrast to real objective Egyptian history - the Kantian-influenced professor R. G. Collingwood’s approach to history, as summarised by Gavin Ardley, in Aquinas and Kant: the foundations of the modern sciences (Chapter XIV: History as Science)?
Professor Collingwood
The modern progressive science of physics commenced when, in the words of Kant, we ceased to be like a pupil listening to everything the teacher chooses to say, but instead like a judge, compelled Nature to answer questions which we ourselves had formulated. It has been suggested in recent years that a progressive science of history might be started if a like Copernican revolution could be brought about in historical studies.
The late Professor R. G. Collingwood [d. 1943] was one of the leading exponents of this view. His thought is permeated through and through with Kant’s great idea about the Galilean epistemology, and he believed he could see a future for history as brilliant as the career of physics since Galileo.
He writes in his Autobiography [Ch. VIII].
Until the late 19th an early 20th centuries, historical studies had been in a condition analogous to that of natural science before Galileo. In Galileo’s time something happened to natural science (only a very ignorant or a very learned man would undertake to say briefly what it was) which suddenly and enormously increased the velocity of its progress and the width of its outlook. About the end of the 19th century something of the same kind was happening, more gradually and less spectacularly perhaps, but not less certainly, to history.
… It seemed to me as nearly certain as anything in the future could be, that historical thought, whose constantly increasing importance had been one of the most striking features of the 19th century, would increase in importance far more rapidly during the 20th; and that we might very well be standing on the threshold of an age in which history would be as important for the world as natural science had been between 1600 and 1900.
History in the past was what Collingwood calls a ‘scissors and paste affair’. This was like physics before Galileo. Collingwood writes:
If historians could only repeat, with different arrangements and different styles of decoration, what others had said before them, the age-old hope of using it as a school of political wisdom was as vain as Hegel knew it to be when he made his famous remark that the only thing to be learnt from history is that nobody ever learns anything from history.
But what if history is not a scissors and paste affair? What if the historian resembles the natural scientist in asking his own questions, and insisting on an answer? Clearly, that altered the situation.
The past with which the historian deals is not a dead past, but a past which is living on in the present. With the Copernican revolution in our approach to this living past, history, so Collingwood hopes, will become a school of moral and political wisdom.
Collingwood peaks of political ‘wisdom’ being the Baconian fruits of this revolution. But on the analogy of the natural sciences ‘wisdom’ seems hardly the right term. Terms such as power, control, utility, prediction, would be more appropriate. This really is what Collingwood envisages in other passages. He writes: [Ch. IX].
It was a plain fact that the gigantic increase since about 1600 in his power to control Nature had not been accompanied by a corresponding increase, or anything like it, in his power to control human situations….
It was the widening of the scientific outlook and the acceleration of scientific progress in the days of Galileo that had led in the fullness of time from the water-wheels and windmills of the Middle Ages to the almost incredible power and delicacy of the modern machine. In dealing with their fellow men, I could see, men were still what they were in dealing with machines in the Middle Ages. Well meaning babblers talked about the necessity for a change of heart. But the trouble was obviously in the head. What was needed was not more good will and human affection, but more understanding of human affairs and more knowledge of how to handle them.
This increase in our ability to handle human affairs, then, is to be brought about by the same revolution which transformed natural science in the 17th century, the nature of which revolution was first recognised by Immanuel Kant.
As Collinwood sees it, history as a science of human affairs did not begin to emerge until the 20th century. In the pre-scientific history age men perforce searched elsewhere for a science of human affairs. The 18th century looked for a ‘science of human nature’. The 19th century sought for it in the shape of psychology. These both turned out to be illusory. But since the revolution in history, history has revealed itself as the one true science of human affairs. [Ch. X].
The Two Histories
We might point out, however, something which Collingwood does not make clear, and about which he was probably not at all clear himself. This is the matter to which we drew attention when we doubted the appropriateness of the word ‘wisdom’ for the knowledge acquired through the new science of history, and suggested such epithets as control, power, utility, etc., in its place. For, as we have insisted throughout this book, the fact that we have a Procrustean science does not mean that we have in any way abolished the structure of Nature, or that we can no longer know Nature in the way in which the philosophia perennis knows it.
Collingwood’s proposed Kantian revolution in history will give us, of course, a Procrustean categorial science of history. But real objective history will carry on just as before. The relation between the two will be like the relation of modern so-called ‘physics’ to real physics, i.e. of nomos to physis. [cf. e.g. modern sociology on the one hand and ethics on the other (Ch. XIII), or Freudian therapeutic psychology and rational psychology (Ch. XV)]. The term ‘wisdom’ is more appropriate to knowledge of the physis than to the categorial structure devised by the ingenuity of man. The latter, in the case of history, is a practical instrument of manipulation for the prince, the former is the pursuit of the real nature of history.
The Character of Scientific History
Collingwood laid down the general principle which must be followed if history is to become a science, but he did not pursue the subject into specific terms.
We might develop a scheme of procedure in history by following the analogy of modern physics. This suggests the introduction into history of laws, fictions, artificial constructions, etc., as in physics. The concepts of ordinary life must be replaced by others more convenient for our purpose. For instance, in the exact physical sciences, the English term ‘hard’, which is a familiar and vague expression, is replaced by a number of artificial but exact terms, such as malleability, shear modulus, tensile strength, etc. This would lead to a monstrous jargon in history akin to the formidable technical terminology of the Procrustean natural sciences. The new Procrustean history would now be only for specialists and would soon become as unintelligible to the layman as is modern physics. But its justification, if indeed it could be constructed, would be the pragmatic sanction of practical utility. It would be a handy machine for princes. It should be remembered too that the new history would be potentially a dangerous weapon, just as dangerous, if not more so, than the control we now possess over inanimate Nature.
Whether such a Procrustean scheme will ever be born remains to be seen. For the inherent tractability or intractability of the raw material forming the primary subject matter of the Procrustean science must have some bearing on the ease with which such a science can be developed. The Procrustean method has had its greatest triumph in modern physics. In the biological sciences it has made much less progress, and in the human sciences and history has hardly started. Is this comparative failure outside physics due merely to dilatoriness and ineptitude, or is there a more underlying cause: that the subject matter in the animate and rational worlds is so much more intractable that it does not lend itself to Procrusteanisation?
If a Procrustean history does emerge, as Collingwood hopes, there may possibly be in consequence an initial reaction away from classical history, like the reaction away from Aristotelian science, and indeed all things Aristotelian, in the times of Galileo. But such a reaction in historical studies would be as ill-founded as was the 17th century reaction.
Let wiser counsels prevail, and the two pursuits may go on side by side. To prevent confusion of the two, which caused so much trouble with the old and new physical sciences, it would be better to find a new name for the new Procrustean history. To go on calling it ‘history’ would be a perpetual source of confusion with real history. We would suggest the term nomics except that we have already applied that term to post-Galilean ‘physics’. No doubt some new term appropriate to the situation could be found.
[Wikipedia: "As he slowly lost the ability to write, he developed compensatory visual methods, including seeing equations in terms of geometry."]
“Equations are just the boring part of mathematics. I attempt to see things in terms of geometry”.
S. Hawking
“The axioms of geometry are neither synthetic a priori judgments nor experimental facts. They are conventions; our choice among all possible conventions is guided by experimental facts; but it remain free and is limited only by the necessity of avoiding all contradiction. Thus it is that the postulates can remain rigorously true even though the experimental laws which have determined their adoption are only approximative. In other words the axioms of geometry (I do not speak of those of arithmetic) are merely disguised definitions.
Then what are we to think of that question: Is the Euclidean geometry true?
It has no meaning.
As well ask whether the metric system is true and the old measures false; whether Cartesian co-ordinates are true and polar co-ordinates false. One geometry can not be more true than another; it can only be more convenient”.
H. Poincaré
Poincaré appears to have well understood the Procrustean foundations of modern science. Again he wrote on the ‘a priori’ nature of scientific endeavour: “It is often said experiments must be made without a preconceived idea. That is impossible. Not only would it make all experiment barren, but that would be attempted which could not be done”.
The elaborate equations of physicists like Stephen Hawking
Image result for stephen hawking black hole equation
purport to be keys to understanding the workings of nature and its laws.
They are not. They are an elaborate science fiction, but “boring” (Hawking’s own description).
As Gavin Ardley has explained, in Aquinas and Kant: the foundations of the modern sciences:
The Rôle of Physics
The new orientation to the subject is significant as regards the status of physics in the world. It is likely to make a considerable difference in the rôle of physics in man’s thinking, whether he believes physics is wresting out the secrets of Nature, or whether he believes the whole thing is quite artificial, and only of utilitarian and aesthetic significance, valuable as these latter may be.
When it is generally realised that modern physics is not really telling us anything of the world about us, in other words that the ontological status of the world of physics is very low, then we might expect that physic will be allotted to its proper place as an auxiliary to life and a fascinating intellectual exercise. Then, being released from our self-imposed shackles, we will be free to turn our attention elsewhere in search of the real world. There we will find real matter, time, and space. We learn more about time from the simple words of the hymn:
Time, like an ever-rolling stream,
Bears all its sons away.
than from any text-book of physics.
This mental freedmen will be good for the layman, and it will be good too, for the physicist, in so far as he is a man. For the physicist is not always in his laboratory disciplining himself. Sometimes he emerges into the real world of everyday life with its warmth and colour, hopes and fears, its beauty, love, laughter, tears, its good and its evil. This is a world of values, quite different from the monotone of physics where values have been systematically excluded. In this real world the physicist finds modern physics but a broken reed. Of course, no human being is completely devoid of the knowledge of real life. The complete and utter physicist could not continue to live. The physicist – like nearly all scientists – must lead something of a dual existence. He leads one life in the laboratory and another and quite different life outside it.                             
[End of quote]
And God is still in his heaven and unknowable, even to clever scientists.
Image result for isaiah 40:28

No comments:

Post a Comment