Author Henry Bauer makes a couple points more that I’d like to touch on…with all this “irreducible uncertainty in science”, “science signifies nothing more than a social process, not an intellectual one”, and “science has no authority”, one might think that science doesn’t amount to much worthwhile. Well, though we’ve mythologized the “scientific method”, it still exists as an ideal, and a relationship to nature, a relationship Bauer terms “reality therapy”. Though we cannot say that science embodies truths or guarantees about reality, we can say that it always seeks to reflect reality (however imperfectly, impeded within the constraints of a dead-world paradigm). When science begins to look for what it wants to see, reality eventually readjusts its perspective. Thus, “reality therapy”.
And this has made all the difference in the world, within the confines of civilization. The ideology of science puts the word of nature, that which we observe, above what we think we should observe. Obviously to make the civilized world work the bulk of modern humans cannot possibly use this notion in their day-to-day lives. Hence most people transforming science into just the latest and ever-more-perfect authority, a far more palatable notion than its true face, a social process of neverending and ongoing questioning, oriented towards reflecting and understanding what actually exists. Even Bauer, in his book, posits that the model of “the puzzle and filter” means that one day we can fit the last piece into place, that the puzzle has finite pieces. I believe this drags the specter of authoritative science back into the picture, something that he claims to not want. I believe the puzzle has an infinite number of pieces, thus destroying any possibility of finishing it, but in my mind, unfathomably enriching the actual process. What use do we have for goals, except to immerse us in the journey?
“Reality Therapy”: whether or not (and to what extent) individual scientists enact this ideology, the culture of science itself tends to filter out that which does not seem to reflect reality, a remarkable refining process.
Imagine if you did this in your own life? Or for those of you that do, notice again the enormous positive transformation it created. Gracefully adapting to what the world tells you, to what it insists upon, even when it changes its mind (or appears to), amounts to no less than a revolution of philosophy. Imagine every thing that you consider about yourself, about models and systems of reality that you rely on in your daily life, imagine them flowing and shifting with the flux of the feedback of the world.
Our enslavement and domestication depends on our refusal to see the world as it truly presents itself to us.
Science owes it success not just to its social nature, but also to its reality-based ideal. Perhaps given enough time, “science” would have naturally and inevitably transformed into what I term “animist inquiry”. Sadly, the world does not have the time to wait for science, or the domineering culture it serves. We have to live in a new way now, which requires a quantum leap in our personal and communal philosophies…we need to rewild the bodymind for us, for our families, for our village, for our mothering land.