…and then come back
This blog post by astrophysicist professor Adam Frank both refreshes and maddens me.
Because really, really, if we really want to question materialism (and make no mistake I think we should question it) – the idea that this matter “stuff” exists out there, somewhere, for us to feel oh-so-matter-of-fact about – if we really want to admit to the “swamp” of our shaky premises, as Adam Frank encourages us to do…
Then let’s just go ahead and put the whole venture of modern science and technology under the lens since we’ve started. And some have already begun this, and I bless their hands for scribbling and typing it out (see: decolonize all the science, forex).
One can most appropriately put science under the lens by asking: which culture’s inquiry, taken as a whole, as a venture unto itself, seems to collapse ecosystems and the cultural support base itself?
In short: which culture’s scientific and technological progress leaves deserts behind where once stood forests?
If you haven’t gotten hip to it, the cultures carrying *imperial* science, globalizing science, civilizing science do this. The science, in short, of cities, does this.
The anthropocene didn’t happen accidentally. We, both as scientists, citizens, and mythtellers, have foreseen the result of this kind of inquiry that destroys both its subjects and objects.
When we discuss “materialism” vs. this-or-that, we don’t light-heartedly engage in discussing simple differences of perspective.
We engage in discussing the differences of perspectives that on the one hand have the literal (and I mean literal here literally) capacity to end life as we know it, and quite likely will, vs. those that last for countless millennia and maximize abundant landscapes (including human habitat) until empire rolls up to do its thing.
When we criticize science and technology in a meaningful way, it must include this critique. It must.
We have to ask: does any inquiry where “being right” outweighs human and planetary survival itself, can this kind of inquiry ever justify its own existence?
A science or technology that destroys the scientist and all the scientists people and all the scientists landbase presents no science at all – it only gives us an instrument of suicide. And what on earth do we do with that but die?
Now we can’t just walk away from science, or smash all the research libraries, or forbid all “sciencing’ – that too would simply enact the everyday zero-sum scalpel of civilizing minds. Simply put, in any case, we don’t have that kind of control nor would we want to.
But we can slowly decolonize the science that we share, the research that we do, we can slowly saturate our theory of knowledge with a new way of being in the world, that must begin right here in the middle of the science story that we grew up in.
Let’s get started! I offer this attempt, one of many. Please share yours!