Between postmodernism, positivism and (new) atheism
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The Renaissance introduced the autonomy of being human which in turn resulted in promoting the position of human understanding as the formal law-giver of nature. Twentieth century philosophy of science acknowledged the necessity of a theoretical frame of reference (paradigm) as well as ultimate (more-than-rational) commitments. Historicism and the linguistic turn, however, relativized the objectivity and neutrality of scientific reason (with its universality) and co-influenced the rise of postmodernism. After discussing the distinction between linear and nonlinear thinking it is shown that Derrida does accept universality outside the human mind. The denial of ontic universality influenced the nominalistic orientation of modern biology, particularly since Darwin’s Origin of Species, consistently denying the reality of type laws. Under the spell of Leibniz’s slogan that nature does not make leaps, as natural selection merely exemplifies the overriding law of continuity. Darwin was in two minds about accepting his biological idea of nonprogression and his socio-cultural conservatism in which progress was dominant. More recently new atheism divinized natural laws, identified them with human reason, while Hawking even claims that the law of gravity would create the universe out of nothing. Finally physicalism is subjected to immanent criticism, the pretence that mathematics is exact is questioned and some recent problems facing neo-Darwinism are highlighted.
- Faculty of Humanities