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| An Integration of Teilhardian |
and Whiteheadian Thought
(Project under development)
By Joshua ORSAK, Kris ROOSE and Thayne CURRIE
Chapter 1: An Appropriate Scientific Methodology
- I wouldn't call the first chapter "Christology". Neither Whitehead nor Teilhard started their research as a kind of Christology. Whitehead came via mathematics and the philosophy of science towards Process thinking, and applied it eventually to religion and the God concept. Teilhard started from paleontology, analysed the evolution of natural systems, and tried eventually to reformulate the major christian concepts according to his model. Furthermore, I don't think we are finally heading for a thorough analysis of Christ. So I'm rather thinking about something as "An integrative approach of Existence".
I tend to give the word "integration" a central place in our essay. Also "synthesizing" (Ch. 4) and "synthesis" (Ch. 9/11) I'd like to replace by "Integration". In fact, we'll try to make an integration of the contributions of both great thinkers of the 20th century. Integration is also the methodology we will use -rather than experiments and scientific deduction. And integration may prove the central concept in the processes we'll describe: a "process" can be defined as the natural way -structural and conceptual- to realize an integration. Of course, all this is open for discussion. [Kris 8/9/02]
I agree, but I still think we should deal with the subject of theology since most of Teilhard and Whitehead's work has been filtered through theological subjects, so perhaps we can change it to "What is Theology" or "The Study of God", integration is a much better term as well. That list was just something I made up on the fly, so its very open to re-statement. [Joshua, 8/9/02]
You're right, but we have already Ch. 6, 7 and in part 9 for Theology. In the very first chapter I should propose to explain our methodology. Starting right on with God suggests we use theology, or Divine inspiration as a methodology. I think the riches of W. & T. is precisely that they came from non-theologic premises to conclusions which proved to sustain theology. It makes our argument more convincing. [KR 8/9/02]
So I guess the question is: What IS OUR methodology, how are we going to approach the problem of integration from our own point of view. I am a minister, so naturally I come at problems from religious points of view but I am also a quantum physics buff, that being my FIRST goal, so I also look at things from the point of view of quantum mechanics, but what is yours and how do we come to a consensus concerning our own methodology where these two men are concerned , historical? theological? processual? philosophical (related to the last but not EXACTLY THE SAME), just your thoughts, the beginning is so important, it can be short, but it will set the tone of the entire work. [Joshua, 8/9/02] You may also need to consider avoiding any sectarian line, for example while I like 'Christology', I agree with Kris that Integration is better. I'm not saying that my own publisher at the moment would reject 'Christology', but the fact that he is a Jew is something that as a writer I'd very much take into account. [Brian Rothery, 9/9/02]
After looking at the chapters I see your point. How should we word this as a chapter-main idea? Perhaps "A New Way Forward In Philosophy" or "The Beginning of the New Philosophy" or "The Limitations of Traditional Models of Reality", or perhaps something totally different, "Methodology" seems a little stale and doesn't give us a complete idea to work with, so I am trying to re-think it so we have a more specific question/point to work from; do you see what I'm getting at? [Joshua, 9/9/02]
Reality consists of a (partially) observable surface resting upon a framework of rules, processes, tendencies, etc., in themselves unobservable. Understanding this reality enables us to forecast the outcome of our actions, and thus to make intelligent decisions. This understanding requires a conscious formulation of the subjacent rules, of which we apprehend many by intuition. But this intuition can be very deceiving.
Science is a method to acquire reliable certitude about the statements, inductions and deductions we make while thinking about reality.
Concerning the "methodology", there are, generally speaking, two ways of applying science: the exact method, and the plausibility method.
Before Renaissance, people made spontaneous associations, based upon vague intuitions. The intuitions of "sages" and "philosophers" were considered as more reliable, and influenced, by their authority, the concepts of other people.
During the Renaissance the "exact" method was progressively developed. Hypotheses were only accepted as reliable if they reposed upon exact measures, and were controlled by measurable deductions. This happened during the Reanaissance, because measuring tools became progressively available, and the general cultural attitude became more non-authoritarian. The exactness of the "science" proved less reliable than hoped for at the beginning: even Newton's mechanics, the symbol par excellence of exact science, had to be corrected by Einstein.
The exact method has, besides its innumerable advantages, two important limitations:
- It is, in fact, not a tool for developping science, but a tool for controlling
the hypotheses, once formulated. These hypotheses are still formulated on an intuitive basis.
- It is limited to domains where measures can be made. There are, of course, a certain number of fields where we can expect that measuring tools will be developped in the near future. So we could wait. But very important domains, including psychology, politics, philosophy, ethics, religion, (and, paradoxically, the fundamental structure of matter and cosmos) just can't wait, and measuring tools are not yet in sight.
Although the supporters of the exact scientific method claim that it is a pity but we have no other choice than to wait, because those domains still remain in the field of myths and confabulations, during the 20th centrury another method of scientific thinking was developped, Teilhard and Whitehead being its first brilliant students, and Capra perhaps the first theorist. This method doesn't have yet a final name, but the "plausibility method" seems to me perhaps the most appropriate, besides holistic, postmodern, non-dual, etc.
This method starts with a definition of the notion of integration. This notion presupposes that every intuitive and/or scientific hypothesis most prabably contains a part of truth, so that conceptual conflicts not have to be interpreted as an indication that one hypothesis is "right", all the other being "wrong". The conflict is supposed to be entirely due to partially inappropriate formulation (e.g. an over-generalization). Once the improper formulation is corrected (and the conflicting hypotheses give a very useful hint towards such a probable reformulation), a combination becomes possible, and the ensuing hypothesis is more probable than each of its separate constituents. The conclusion is perhaps not true in the exact scientific meaning, but most plausible. And the plausibility increases with the number of constituents, especially if they are originating from divergent backgrounds.
The plausibility method doesn't try to replace the exact method, but to
complement it. One of the constituents can be an exact scientific hypothesis, so the plausibility of an integrative hypothesis becomes higher than the plausibility of its scientific constituent(s).
"That means giving up the theory of relativity and E=mc squared and all that sort of stuff," Davies told Reuters. "But of course it doesn't mean we just throw the books in the bin, because it's in the nature of scientific revolution that the old theories become incorporated in the new ones." [in Has Speed Of Light slowed Down? (REUTERS) 12/9/02] The plausibility is not a novel way of thinking. In fact, it is an
operationalization of the way the brain thinks: associative and probabilistic. And it is, in fact, a modern form of the way the ancients thought -including the theologians.
I don't extend here upon the rules of the integrative process. They are, in fact, very strict and demanding, and will, when applied on a larger scale, probably totally change our scientific and academic structures and publications. Integration is neither the same as synthesis, compromise, consensus, nor is it a kind of greatest common divisor.
One of the most demanding conditions is that an integrative thinker has to start from the largest possible observational field, as multidisciplinarily as possible. Teilhard -working from paleontology and evolution towards sociology and religion- and Whitehead -starting as a mathematician and ending up as a philosopher- were perhaps the most brilliant forerunners, who applied, rather intuitively and avant la lettre than consciously- the integrative method. This makes their conclusions highly plausible. [Kris 10/9/02]
So the First Chapter could be "The Integrative Methodology" or "The Methodology of Integration", or "What do we mean by 'integration'?" or "Moving From Exact Methodology to Integration Methodology" or "Moving From Exact Philosophy to Integration Philosophies?" or something to that effect, and we can work from there. Sounds good? [Joshua 10/9/02] Yes, or: "Integration - The second Scientific Method" [Kris 10/9/02]
In general I think that your earlier outline was pretty on the money. I think we need to find a way to make the whole idea concise and as easy to understand as possible. We should probably start with a history of modeling reality, and look at the first kinds of methodology that developed through the years. Putting the ideas in historical context may help give our ideas continuity, but we have to find a way to make it more understandable. I would like to make the book readable by anyone with a high school education. Since this is an important part of the book but not really the most mind-grabbing, we have to find a way to balance completeness with conciseness. [Joshua, 14/9/02]