Marquis de Condorcet. Francis Bacon. Early advocate of data collection and its analysis as the basis of sound knowledge Baconian method in fields that include social science and the humanities. Believed that the universe is rational and united and that interconnected truths run from physics to biology to moral reasoning. Descartes unified geometry and algebra see: Cartesian coordinate system. Isaac Newton.

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As I walked down the aisle with a handful of Wittgenstein, a customer approached. Sure enough he had a lame excuse for a beard, and deliberately mussed-up hair atop his excessively squinty facial constitution; fucking college kids. As I looked down I saw, of all things, a pristine Black Flag sweatshirt as in, like, not a hoodie. I sigh; one that seems to have echoed in my head for the past month or so as a sort of mechanical reaction to the rich tapestry of assholes and contrived eccentrics that color my retail-working existence.

So, I tell him that they would be shelved in philosophy anthologies. Of course, he attempts to sound somewhat snarky - the part which basically makes no sense to me - telling me that he is looking for an introduction. I sigh again, explaining why that would be shelved in anthologies. I feel inclined to say yes, and explain how and why, but my brain is seriously upset at this point and I just point him in the direction of general politics in the next aisle.

He disappointedly intones, "OK thanks". My days are full of interactions like this. In other words, his professor said something profound about Heidegger basically saying something profound about perception that Heidegger stole from Husserl, or some bullshit.

It just sounds profound, but profundity should never really cost that much. Most academic profundity is a complicated version of a street proverb dipped in gold. Fucking Black Flag sweatshirt? In fact, I feel entitled to make them because I can empirically explain some popular motives for getting into seriously complicated philosophical doctrines.

I suffered from this same desire to alienate and condescend every person I came across, even if I knew for a fact that they were considerably smarter than myself. Reading philosophy, more specifically philosophy in the convoluted tradition of Kant, Hegel, Husserl, Heidegger, etc, is sort of a notoriously popular shortcut to sounding intelligent. Not only is a majority of philosophy concerned with mental abstractions, metaphysical paradox, and unsolvable ethical dilemmas, which sounds like enough of a waste of time.

There is also no way of scientifically testing a majority of the theoretical propositions that most heavy philosophy puts forth. It does, however, sound appealing if you fashion yourself an intellectual, but have a bad memory and even poorer critical thinking skills.

I wanted to be a leftist, spouting everything I knew about Lukacs that he knew about Marx. I thought I came close to understanding Zizek. I thought that all of these ideas and tidbits of information were practical and useful knowledge that I would eventually be payed to write about. I alienated people, I talked about James Joyce a lot. I drank too much, and slept surrounded by partially read books.

I also felt terribly scatterbrained half of the time, and luckily I never came across anyone such as my older self, or any other reasonable intellect who was willing to wittily put me in my place. Mathematical algorithms on the other hand, are pretty much set in stone.

The table of elements; not much room for improvisation. Neuronal signaling is not an abstract mechanism in the big impressionist painting of the phenomenology of perception. The biologist E. Wilson is concerned with how seriously people tend to take some of this stuff. The focal point of his polemic, in terms of philosophy a huge part of the social sciences , is the postmodern or poststructural variety and its intentional attempt to cause intellectual anarchy by proposing ideas such as science being a social construct, all knowledge being impossible, and some pretty over the top theoretical propositions about moral and cultural relativism.

In the first chapter on the Enlightenment, Wilson discusses his dream of intellectual unity, and makes mention of his rule of thumb concerning philosophy and the social sciences, "To the extent that philosophical positions both confuse and close doors to further inquiry, they are likely to be wrong.

His new "science" of grammatology is the opposite of science, rendered in fragments with the incoherence of a dream, at once banal and fantastical. It is innocent of the science of mind and language developed elsewhere in the civilized world, rather like the pronouncements of a faith healer unaware of the location of the pancreas.

He seems, in the end, to be conscious of this omission, but contents himself with the stance of Rousseau, self-professed enemy of books and writing, whose work Emile he quotes: " You will say I too am a dreamer; I admit it, but I do what others fail to do, I give my dreams as dreams, and leave the reader to discover whether there is anything in them which may prove useful to those who are awake.

Once we get over the shock of discovering that the universe was not made with us in mind, all the meaning the brain can master, and all the emotions it can bear, and all the shared adventure we might wish to enjoy, can be found by deciphering the hereditary orderliness that has borne our species through geological time and stamped it with the residues of deep history. Reason will be advanced to new levels, and emotions played in potentially infinite patterns. The true will be sorted from the false, and we will understand one another very well, the more quickly because we are all of the same species and possess biologically similar brains.

Throughout the entire book, Wilson goes through the long list of the academic social sciences, coming up with sound reasons why many of these disciplines truly require a little consistent natural science or basic empirical observation in order to make knowledge more communicable and useful; poststructuralism is many things, but a useful theoretical application it most definitely is not.

These books are for that abstract, romantic, ponderous side of me, that, despite the way this review might make me sound, is definitely still there. Consilience was a wonderfully enhanced wake up call to many of my thoughts regarding philosophy, the social sciences, and the invariable superiority of the natural sciences.

Not everyone will agree with Wilson; especially the sociologist, anthropologist, political scientist, or philosopher. However, those that are willing to acknowledge the inherent faults of the social sciences while embracing their value as mere earnest reflections on terribly complex social issues with no conceivable answers, will enjoy Consilience as a sort of canonical statement of intellectual honesty spread across several disciplines.

None of this is to suggest that philosophy is a waste of time. In other words, life is too short to be a douchebag. I found this out the hard way, though I can say that I do know better than to wear a fucking Black Flag sweatshirt.


E. O. Wilson

He intends to connect all things together, reconciling different fields of study with one another. Adhering to the ancient idea that the universe is governed by order, he believes that there are a few natural laws which can inherently explain everything about the world in which we live. He goes on to support this theory by appealing to science, art, religion, ethics, and history. To begin with, the Enlightenment period was characterized by a renewed commitment to order. The artists and scientists of this era believed that rationality could explain everything if pursued faithfully and persistently, but they did not possess the scientific knowledge to take their ideas too far. He does not think that a law discovered in the field of physics for example should be considered credible if that same law is inconsistent in the field of biology. He is looking for unifying laws which apply throughout every field and every mode of thought.


Review of E.O. Wilson’s “Consilience”

Main article: Sociobiology: The New Synthesis Wilson used sociobiology and evolutionary principles to explain the behavior of social insects and then to understand the social behavior of other animals, including humans, thus establishing sociobiology as a new scientific field. He argued that all animal behavior, including that of humans, is the product of heredity , environmental stimuli, and past experiences, and that free will is an illusion. He has referred to the biological basis of behaviour as the "genetic leash". This theory and research proved to be seminal, controversial, and influential. The target of selection is normally the individual who carries an ensemble of genes of certain kinds. There are, Wilson suggests in the chapter, limits on just how much influence social and environmental factors can have in altering human behavior.


Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge Summary


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