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Mormon Homophobia, part 3891 27 July 2007

Posted by Todd in Commentary, Gender, Homosexuality, Mormonism/LDS Church, Sexuality.
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According to the Deseret News, the Mormon church has released a new pamphlet about so-called “same-gender attraction.” The church’s choice of awkward phrasing notwithstanding, the pamphlet rehashes the standard anti-gay but cloaked in love language as usual. The argument is thus (see if you can follow along):

1) you cannot achieve salvation unless you have an “eternal family” which requires a heterosexual marriage

2) god may never tell us why some people have strong “same-gender attraction”, but we know it’s bad, so don’t ever give in to it

3) if you live a good life (i.e., and never have gay sex), god will reward you in the next life

4) our bodies are sacred, therefore we must only have sex in a monogamous (the irony still escapes the church’s PR machine) heterosexual marriages

5) sexual desire does not justify acting on the behavior, which is immoral. Sex is evil. I mean sacred. Yes, sex is sacred. Don’t do it. It’s immoral.

6) giving in to “same-gender attraction” gives only an illusion of happiness; real happiness comes from self-control (read: denial and deprivation); the urge for “same-gender physical contact” will diminish when real emotional needs are met (because sexual contact is not a real need).

7) if you have a strong testimony of the Gospel (mormonspeak for witness or knowledge), then you will not act on your “same-gender attraction”

8 ) so you see, the Mormon church treats all its members the same, because heterosexuals aren’t allowed to have sex until they’re married either! God really does love us all!

9) if you are “same-gender attracted,” you should stop worrying about it, because it’s beyond your control at the moment; instead you should focus on things that matter, like working for the Mormon church or reading your scriptures or serving the needy

10) grow a good garden: you see, this is an analogy, where our lives are like a garden; if we grow good things, we’ll have a good garden; so it is with our lives. If you are “same-gender attracted”, then you should dive into church service and cultivate friendships with people who do not “flaunt” their homosexuality, but keep it hidden away in shame. If you meet people who are openly homosexual, run from them, er, dig them out of your garden. Homosexuals are like weeds in your garden.

11) Just to be safe, do not under any circumstances develop a close friendship with someone of the same-gender, because Satan will tempt you to make it sexual, and nothing could be worse than having sex with someone of the same-gender whom you love

12) pornography is bad. child molestation is bad.

13) remember, if you suffer from “same-gender attraction,” as long as you never act on it or openly display it or flaunt it like a homosexual weed, you can be a full member of the church! See! We love you! Our geriatric Fuhrer has told us so in bland and banal terms in a great and spacious building during our world wide conference wherein we say the same bland and banal platitudes vetted by our Department of Information Clensing and broadcast throughout all the world because god gave us technology so that we could spread. See? God loves you despite your same-gender attraction!

14) As you struggle to live a lie by remaining in the Mormon closet, be sure not to burden other people with your pain and depression and problems, least of all your priesthood leaders. Instead, it is your own responsibility to suffer in silence alone with the Lord. We love you!

15) God has his arms open to all his children, even to weeds like you. Our Geriatric Fuhrer has even said that we sympathize with you, you so-called homosexual!I don’t even have the strength to comment.

It’s so exhausting to read this drivel and to even begin to contemplate the effects this is having on young gay people around the world in the Mormon church. How can they not see the horrible emotional and psychological damage this does to people who have done nothing wrong. I’m not posting the link to the pamphlet because I don’t want to be linked to the church’s website, but you can follow the link from the Deseret News article.

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Arguments for Bush’s Impeachment 22 July 2007

Posted by Todd in Commentary, Politics, War & Terrorism.
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On Bill Moyers’ Journal last week, Moyers interviewed two people, one Republican and one Democrat making the case for impeachment (watch it here). Although it’s obvious to me that we’ve been lied to and that this is the most cynical executive of the 20th century [editor: oops! 21st century] and possibly in the history of the country, I had been on the fence about impeachment. After hearing these arguments, however, I am swayed. Impeach now.If the rational arguments aren’t enough for you, then just watch this primer of Bush Administration lies [Hat tip to Juan Cole, scholar of the middle east and brilliant commenter on the Iraq War, for this clip.]Why are these people still in office? Why aren’t there massive protests in the street? Why isn’t this criminal of a president being egged and boo’d at every single one of his appearances? Why the hell has Nancy Pelosi, my representative, said that impeachment is off the table? What the hell is going on in American democracy?

States Rights Is Not the Answer 13 July 2007

Posted by Todd in Democratic Theory, Gay Rights, Gender, Inequality & Stratification, Multiculturalism, Race & Ethnicity.
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In debates about abortion, gay rights, multiculturalism in general, the U.S. by virtue of the Constitution’s devolution of powers leaves open the argument that such decisions should be left up to the states to decide. However, for democratic societies, this leaves open the possibility of differentiated equalities depending on the state you live in. [The E.U. is currently having this problem with abortion (i.e., Ireland and Poland) and gay rights (i.e., Poland, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania), where individual member-states are picking and choosing which of the human rights conventions they want to adhere to.] 

When a group of people is set apart as a class by the society and fundamental human rights are taken away, your democracy is at best, “in process” and at worst a failure. Either you agree as a society that women/gays/ethnic minoriteis are FREE and EQUAL, or you don’t. Making it a “state based” issue means that you as a society have agreed that women/gays/ethnic minorities aren’t EQUAL and do not deserve EQUAL PROTECTION throughout your entire society.

In the U.S., kicking abortion to the states is a cop out to appease anti-abortion moderates who would be happy being able to control their own little backwoods corner of the world. And it leaves women out in the open without universal protection under the law, where their very status as citizens, their ability to choose their own embodied destiny, is not equal throughout the ‘democracy.’

As gay marriage is basically a state-issue at this point, notice how gay couples who travel to different states magically lose their standing once they cross the border, how companies who use out-of-state insurance are not bound by in-state laws requiring same-sex spouses by covered, how power of attorney and wills have to be made separately and strongly despite having a state-level union, because no other state is obligated, thanks to Bill Clinton’s caving to the fuckhead Gingrich on DOMA, to recognize the rights of gay citizens.

To be even more stark here, consider the state-by-state solutions to SLAVERY and JIM CROW.

State-by-state solutions on questions of the equality of citizens are by their very nature the source of inequality, the disenfranchisement of entire groups of people who then are confined to certain states that grant them a simulacrum of freedom and equality.

Contextualizing Economic Facts 12 July 2007

Posted by Todd in Blog, Commentary, Economy.
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Dean Baker is the resident economist over at The American Prospect, and he writes an amazing blog called Beat the Press, wherein he takes the news coverage of economic issues and picks it apart for factual and contextual errors. Fascinating stuff.

I also love Paul Krugman, but the morons over at the NYTimes.com make you pay to read their columnists.

Evolution, Religion, Biology and Social Science 6 July 2007

Posted by Todd in Academia & Education, Biology, Cultural Sociology & Anthropology, Evolution, Philosophy & Social Theory, Religion, Social Sciences.
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I’ve written several times here about whether or not I think religion is evolutionarily adaptive. A friend of mine referred me to a recent critique of Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion written by David S. Wilson, author of Darwin’s Cathedral. Wilson is famous for his theorizing of the evolution and adaptiveness of human religion, and he is a compelling evolutionary thinker. I find myself having many of the same problems with Wilson’s writing about social phenomena that I do with many other scientists: In a nutshell, why do individuals trained in biology think that they are qualified to talk authoritatively about society and culture? It is especially ironic, considering how biologists get all cranky when physicists, chemists, engineers, or medical doctors (or for that matter, social scientists) purport to know about biology.

Christopher O’Brien, an archaeologist/anthropologist and one of my favorite science bloggers. He recently posted a great discussion of why biology is so complex, and why it’s irritating in the extreme when engineers and medical doctors speak as if they have authority in biology (emphasis mine):

[Richard Dawkins wrote] If you throw a dead bird into the air it will describe a graceful parabola, exactly as the physics books say it should; then come to rest on the ground and stay there. It behaves as a solid body of a particular mass and wind resistance ought to behave. But if you throw a live bird into the air it will not describe a parabola and come to rest on the ground. It will fly away and may not touch land this side of the county boundary.

We can explain the dead bird completely in relation to physics. But the live bird we must explain not only in terms of physics and chemistry, but also anatomy, physiology, zoology, ecology, ethology, paleontology, geology, and a host of additional disciplines. The explanation for living things (what they do and why, how they live and why, where they come from and why) is more complicated than any nonliving system. (I would further argue that adding the cultural complexities of human societies on top of their nature as biological organisms, the complications increase – so anthropology is actually a more complicated science than biology – but don’t tell the bio-bloggers that!). The engineer and medical doctor for the most part cannot intellectually grasp the intricacies of biological systems.

I would never say that Wilson or Dawkins should not explore social or cultural issues or phenomena, merely that they should do so humbly and with care. And please with at least a nod of acknowledgment to the 1000s of men and women for the past 150 years who actually have expertise in studying human culture. So after reading Wilson’s review of Dawkins, and being admittedly intrigued by his discussion of evolutionary theory, I came away with that exact same feeling about Wilson that I often do with biologists and evolutionary psychologists who are studying social phenomena.

First, I agree completely with Wilson’s critique of Dawkins refusal of group-level selection. Papa D is an amazing thinker and at that gene-level thinking, brilliant. But like Wilson says, he misapprehends group-level selection completely. [I liked the article’s explanation of the history of the idea of group selection in evolutionary biology.] But the problem in talking about humans is that group-level selection is the consensus norm among anthropologists. And there’s an entire body of research into human evolution that basically demonstrates clearly that many if not most of the selective pressures on human evolution come from the social environment, that is, the adaptation of the individual to the social group. Anthropologists have been working on this for decades, and the state of the field is a brilliant synthesis of the ways that human complex sociality co-evolved with cognition, bipedality, enephalization, and language. When I read a couple of biologists having this arcane argument, while there’s an entire discpline that’s been working on this stuff for years and years, it makes them seem oblivious.

2) On a purely evolutionary level, Wilson is right that to evaluate religion as a trait means to see it as adaptive, maladaptive, or as a spandrel (the result of genetic drift or the accidental byproduct of other adaptations). Where he and I part ways, however, is twofold. First, his approach to human culture belies an overly simplistic view of how cultures work (not surprisingly) and an ignorance of the social sciences. Second, I disagree with his conclusions about the adaptiveness of religion. This, however, is a normal part of these kinds of dialogs, and it’s less a critique than simply my read of the evidence. Wilson believes that religions are, group-selectively, adaptive. I think the social scientific data don’t support that conclusion.

Social scientifically, religion must be seen in interaction with all other aspects of culture, for religion is, simply, a subset of culture. It moves through time in much the same way as other kinds of culture *except* for its “otherworldly” aspects. Wilson’s argument makes short shrift of the otherworldly, saying that evolutionarily the only thing that matters is what it causes people to *do*. Unfortunately, this undercuts his entire argument by willfully ignoring the complexities of where human culture comes from, which includes not merely observable behavior, but the experience of qualia and the cognitive-rational processes that undergird the behavior, and how all of these things interact to change over time.

Indeed, when religion is taken in its whole form, including its experiential as well as cognitive aspects, you get much more complicated views of how it works, and you are prevented from drawing too-easy conclusions about its adapativeness, because you have to see it interacting with all other aspects of the culture and you must account for the side of religion that is an experience of the individual.

In sociological terms, where Wilson ends up is with religious functionalism: what role does religion play in the social group. This made me laugh out loud when I read it, because this is literally an idea that’s about 130 years old in sociology, and Wilson presents as if he’s discovered something new. Social functionalism, however, at least in the way Wilson frames it, is about what’s “good for the group.” In other words, Wilson’s framework relies on the non-human biological group-selection frame. For humans, however, and I would argue for most other social organisms, at the raw level of adaptability it has to do not with the good of the group (or at least not baldly so), but rather with the adaptation of the social group to itself and of individuals to the group. Anthropologists have book length explanations of how human social complexity arose for species survivability, and how that pushed the co-evolution of our brains to handle complex social interaction.

[To be fair, Wilson’s functional conclusions, that religions are practical and that new ones form when old ones don’t work, are spot on. They just date back to Durkheim, and probably even Comte before him. This is hardly a revelation. And so it is only a “transformation of the obvious,” as Wilson calls the shift from seeing religion as non-functional to functional, to someone who is ignorant of the hundreds of years of social science about this topic.]

Why I disagree that religion is adaptive:

First, religion acts in conjunction with many other aspects of a culture to produce the positive group effects Wilson describes. In other words, the kinds of cohesiveness he sees (with the Jains, for example) is common in all kinds of cultures, religious or not. Second, his use of ESM as a source for understanding how religion effects the relative happiness and integration of individuals is fascinating and I can’t wait to look it up; but as Wilson points out, ESM is limited in that it cannot explain the differences between religious and non-religious to a degree that would satisfactorily demonstrate emotional adaptiveness of religion. It is, at best, suggestive; and incidentally, it’s also contradicted by numerous social-psychological studies into the relative happiness of atheists.

But more importantly, I simply find the evidence of the cognitive psychologists when combined with the work of paleoanthropologists to be far more convincing. By ignoring the “otherworldly” experience of religion, Wilson’s hypothesis ignores the main question: of all the cultural solutions to group cohesiveness (and there are many), why is religion among the most powerful and widespread (basically universal among humans)? The cognitive science work seeks to answer that question (I’ve covered this ground in other posts, so I’ll be brief here):

Human brains co-evolved with complex social interaction, in a beautiful dance between gestation length, energy expenditure on brains, encephalization, energy expenditure on child care, and social hierarchy. The older mental process of working in the physical environment (our innate physics, if you will) has combined with our more recently evolved mental process for dealing with complex social interaction (our innate sociality) to create an overlapping cognitive space where our understanding of cause and effect (physics) interacts with our need to impute intention in interacting with other humans (sociality). In studies done of atheists, even they fall easily and unthinkingly into a mode of thinking of imputing intention where none exists. Cognitive psychologists call this “hypertrophic social thinking.” Our hypertrophic sociality, which enables interaction in complex groups, also makes us extend our theory of mind outward from the body, so that we both experience our own mind as being separate from our bodies and we then infer that others’ minds are also separate from their bodies. Again in studies done of atheists, even they, when they aren’t thinking carefully, impute intention and existence to dead things (even inanimate objects!).

Wilson all but rejects this evidence, claiming that it is merely the building blocks upon which adaptive religion is built. But the cognitive science has taken a giant step toward answering *why* religious culture as opposed to other cultures in creating the cohesive function that Wilson describes, and why religious culture is *universal* among humans.

In the end, Wilson’s functionalist answer for group-level adaptation falls apart for me on the grounds that while religion is sufficient to create the cohesive result he finds, it isn’t necessary. That is, other cultural formations have the same effect.

So we are left with the original question, is religion adaptive evolutionarily?

With all this evidence, I fall to the side of seeing religion as a spandrel, a byproduct of the evolution of our social minds. The effects of religious culture overlapped with culture more generally, producing group cohesion, necessary in a species so radically dependent on each other for survival. It was only adaptive in the way that culture generally is adaptive; but as a specific kind of culture, one tied to otherworldly experience, it is evolutionary neutral. I have to agree with Dawkins on this one point: Religion is on the verge of becoming maladaptive, by which I mean that religion by its nature, according to Wilson’s own research, is about drawing group boundaries and defining social relationships, so in a world of increasing pluralism, a level and degree of pluralism our species has never known before, those kinds of rigid group boundaries will increasingly lead to violence and I fear group extinction — that is, maladaptation to the social environment.

So after reproducing (badly) the work of 135 year old sociology, Wilson ends up with the wrong answer to the evolutionary question.

Our Own Providence 6 July 2007

Posted by Todd in American Pragmatism, Philosophy & Social Theory, Religion, Secular Humanism.
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[As I mentioned before, I’m reading a biography of William James this summer, and it’s been more than pleasurable so far, a glimpse into not only the life of a great mind, but into the moment of transformation of American culture into modernity. If you like biography or philosophy, read this book: Robert D. Richardson, William James: In the Maelstrom of American Modernism (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2007). My first brief post about James is here.]

In his mid-20s, James had a bit of a crisis, emotional and physical. He had hurt his back in a physiology lab and had gone to Germany for recuperation, where he ended up staying for over a year and a half. During that time, he had descended into a depression and, in ways that completely resonate with me, into self-doubt. The biographer notes that James throughout his life used his constant battle with depression as a means to open his thinking and to break down his cherished beliefs. Among those beliefs that had to be dealt with was his very mid-19th century American idea that individuals have utter control of their own fate.

In his life-long struggle against his father’s ofttimes wacky ideas, James spent much time in Germany corresponding with his father about theology, truth, creation, religion, and the meaning of human life. In one letter, he wrote:

Practically, it seems to me that all tendencies must now a days unite in Philanthropy: perhaps an atheistic tendency more than any, for sympathy is now so much developed in the human breast, that misery and undeveloped-ness would all the more powerfully call for correction when coupled with the thought, that from nowhere else than from us could correction possibly come, that we ourselves must be our own providence.

In turning away from religious explanations of life (which he had been doing since he was a teenager), James seeks to understand where that leaves us. Optimistically, he points to the compassion people seem to have for each other and sees in it the possibility of a new source of meaning, which he calls “Philanthropy,” or “love of man”. But what kept echoing in my head was that last line, that this atheistic (perhaps he meant humanistic) belief in human beings means that we must be our own providence. Americans had been speaking of providence since the Puritans landed on Plymouth Rock, and although it isn’t a concept we deal with much anymore, the idea of a divine hand guiding the fate of the individual and the nation has led both to amazing social goods and brutal nationalism. But James isn’t talking about a new kind of Manifest Destiny, here. He means that we seek and find the divine in our own interactions. We become indeed our own providence.

A couple years later, his first cousin, with whom he was in some senses in love, died of tuberculosis. James was devastated and continued his search for meaning through her death. In his diary shortly after Minnie Temple’s death, he wrote:

Minnie, your death makes me feel the nothingness of our egotistical fury. The inevitable release is sure: wherefore take our turn kindly, whatever it contains. Ascend to some sort of partnership with fate, and since tragedy is at the heart of us, go to meet it, work it to our ends, instead of dodging it all our days, and being run down by it at last. Use your death (or your life, it’s all one meaning) tat tvam asi.

James sees life as inevitably leading to death, a tragedy at the heart of life, a fact that must be met and accepted. This is a key part of much Buddhist teaching, the acceptance of our own mortality, that this will all end someday. But James isn’t Buddhist here. He turns instead to the Upanishads, to ancient hinduism, and quotes it: Tat tvam asi. That art Thou. That is the Allbeing, or the Beingness of the universe, the oneness of us all with the realities of life. Life and death are the same thing, one in That. And Minnie is That. Richardson argues that Minnie’s death turned James toward a new way of seeing his life, wherein he could face death the way Minnie did, by embracing life in all its complications. Sometimes biography is interpretive art, and I have no idea if that is what happened for James. But again I find a resonance here of the freedom found in facing death and accepting oneself as part of the Being of the universe.

James apparently did not return to the Upanishads or the idea of Being until he wrote his most famous set of lectures, which we know as the Varieties of Religious Experience:

This overcoming of all the usual barriers between the individual and the Absolute is the great mystic achievement. In mystic states we both become one with the Absolute and we become aware of our oneness. This is the everlasting and triumphant mystical tradition. … ‘That art Thou!’ say the Upanishads, and the vedantists add: ‘Not a part, not a mode of That, but identically That, that Absolute Spirit of the World.’

And so we come back to providence. It is not that we must be our own providence, but indeed that we are providence. James was not making a proclamation about some kind of ultimate truth, but rather he was talking about the experience of religion, in this case, the experience of the mystical oneness with being. It seems to me a great basis for a kind of spirituality that began with James’ atheism and ends with the experience of connection with all life around you.

Meaning of Gay—My Research 2 July 2007

Posted by Todd in Cultural Sociology & Anthropology, Democratic Theory, Gay and Lesbian Culture, Gay and Lesbian History, Gender, Queer Theory, Race & Ethnicity, Sexuality, Social Sciences.
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Several people have emailed asking me about my upcoming book, and C.L.’s comment in the History thread below prompted this brief explanation of some of the conclusions I have drawn from my research about 1960s gay male culture:

One of the overarching conflicts among gay men (and women) is definitely between assimilation (or integration) and separatism, and that is definitely a common dynamic among all minority groups. This is one of the tensions I explore in my book, but as an overarching or meta-conflict. I only talk about activist strategies in one chapter. I explore instead on arguments within the community about particular practices such as cruising for sex in the park, drag performances, dating, anal sex, etc.

Gays and lesbians have a different relationship to these integration-vs.-separation dynamics:

1) racial and ethnic minorities are, by definition, socially created groups of people who can and do over generations integrate into the dominant culture. The dynamics are about ‘cultural preservation’ of something that is purely historical. Cultures of race and nostalgia for race among the minorities themselves are as much at play as the racism of the majority. Likewise ethnocentrism. When we talk about race and ethnicity, we’re not actually talking about a biological or essential part of a person, but rather, our cultural understandings of ourselves and others, and the beliefs, practices, and objects we use to create our lives.

2) women aren’t really a minority at all, and as long as they are intimately connected to men and children, they are already part of their respective culture. So women’s issues become about the internal structuring of gender. Unlike race and ethnicity, there are actual physical differences between men and women; but when we are talking about gender in society, we’re almost never talking about those actual physical differences, but rather about what those differences mean socially.

3) homosexuals come from all genders and ethnicities (and religions, classes, etc.) and are always a tiny minority (around 4-6%). Unlike “blackness” (a cultural idea), “homosexual” denotes same-sex desire (although not necessarily behavior). It is the thing itself. But like gender, the arguments about what that desire means socially are what we’re actually arguing about (although some anti-gay activists do strive for erasure of the desire itself, as in the ex-gay movement for example). Some societies create positive, productive roles for them; others create negative, scapegoat roles for them.

I see the primary dynamic of the past 200 years as LGBTs finding each other and congregating and forming mass cultures that allow communication with each other; however these interactions don’t erase all the other kinds of stratifications. Other kinds of meaning (racial, ethnic, religious, national, class, etc.) play a more central role in community and identity formation at the idnividual level, so any kind of queer community is necessarily fragile and tenuous at best.

In my research of the 1960s, where a gay male culture developed that was public and community-driven (a key combination), I found a proliferation of conflicts over the meanings of “gay”. That is, the 1960s represent a sort of apogee among gay men in their struggles to understand who they are in American society. By going public with those debates and by self-consciously seeking to form communities that were publicly visible and open, they changed the social relations wherein they could have the debates about what their gayness might mean. (It is important to note here that lesbians played a key role here and underwent a similar transition, but for lesbians, they had the added pressures and problems arising out of sexism, which made their particular battles, problems, and arguments substantially different from those of gay men, even though they were having these arguments side by side with gay men.)

The primary problem or issue is one of freedom for me, and this is really where my book ends up, is that despite the impossibility of queer community, the ongoing effort to create one and to identify with other queers across cultural boundaries is precisely what has enabled queers to define their own lives, rather than having meanings of queerness imposed from the outside (be they socially positive or negative). For that reason, I’m in favor of the continued existence and interaction of the debating factions within queer community, because it creates the social spaces necesssary for individuals to define their queerness for themselves. This is true even if they decide to withdraw and integrate; this is true even if the gay community itself doesn’t seem to give the definition you want. The freedom and ability to define one’s own queerness arises ultimately out of contexts of social interaction that open up the space for the question to be asked and answered in the first place.

And that, in a nutshell, is the conclusion of my research.

Please note that these ideas are copyrighted as a completed manuscript being readied for publication (2007 Lexington Books/Rowman Littlefield). If you want to cite or use any of these ideas, please contact me and I’ll tell you how to do so before the book comes out. Thanks. I try not to be paranoid, but given the cut-throat nature of academic publishing, I’ll admit, I’m a bit paranoid.

Scientific Mindset 1 July 2007

Posted by Todd in American Pragmatism, Democratic Theory, Philosophy & Social Theory, Philosophy of Science, Reviews, Science.
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In reading Tim Adams’ review of Natalie Angier’s new book, The Canon: A Whirlygig Tour of the Beautiful Basics of Science, I came across this gem:

‘Science is rather a state of mind,’ Angier argues and, as such, it should inform everything. ‘It is a way of viewing the world, of facing reality square on but taking nothing for granted.’ It would be hard to argue that this state of mind was advancing across the globe. We no longer make and mend, so we no longer know how anything works.

This reminded me of one of my favorite quotes by John Dewey, from Freedom and Culture. Dewey had begun to integrate scientific thinking into his philosophy shortly after reading Darwin and coming to grips for the first time with evolution (see the Dewey quote to the right); eventually this led him to parallel thinking with William James and Charles Pierce on the nature of truth and the origins of human knowledge; and finally to a philosophical adaptation of G.H. Mead’s social behaviorism. In Freedom and Culture, Dewey is trying to convince readers that given the way our brains work, and given what the scientific method has taught us about how to gain reliable knowledge upon which to base social decisions, we should adopt a more generalized “scientific mindset.”

“This interest [in scientific inquiry] has developed a morale having its own distinctive features. Some of its obvious elements are [1] willingness to hold belief in suspense, ability to doubt until evidence is obtained; [2] willingness to go where evidence points instead of putting first a personally preferred conclusion; [3] ability to hold ideas in solution and use them as hypotheses to be tested instead of as dogmas to be asserted; and [4] (possibly the most distinctive of all) enjoyment of new fields for inquiry and of new problems.”