12.29.18

-I was puzzled by how LGBT was a coherent group since L,G, and B were all ways of relating to other persons of definite sex while T was not a way of relating to others and denies that sex is definite at all. One platform of unification would be to see T as the the apotheosis of “biology is not destiny”, i.e. that the only values of natural structures are those we impart to them.

-The mechanical model of nature is initially puzzling since it is strongly non-teleological but we have no possible experience of a machine without a purpose. A closer look shows that this is all perfectly intended since machines only have purposes relative to us, i.e. the machine does nothing more and nothing less than what some human wants. “Improper use” could only mean a disagreement between one human and another, e.g. a designer and a consumer. The mechanical view of nature is thus anti-teleological because, like machines, nature is supposed to have no value apart from one that we put into it.

Since operatio sequitur esse, if we really are the only authors of operation we are the authors of existence as well, and if we control the value of things we are the authors of their operation.

-“Biology” is one of the recurrent themes in critiques of Catholic sexual ethics, though the word  prejudices the discussion in a certain direction. We’ve all sat through biology classes and there was no ethics there, right?

The biology class, however, has a very robust ethics, and the most robust ethics presents itself as a string of facts. Dissection, for example, forces the student directly to confront the taboo and disgust of death and to respond to it with a transcendent detachment. It demands that we relate to  death scientifically, “factually”, and as a state of matter that is the same as the living being. It requires that we see nausea or uneasiness in the face of death as silly or childish, and in need of a workman-like indifference to get to work laying things open and labelling them.

About those labels: there’s a clear preference for Greco-Roman polysyllables as opposed to familiar or functional vernacular names. Part of this was simply a desire for a common language, but this too is an ethical desire older than Babel. Much of biology is the attempt to master a new vocabulary to replace a messier, less precise, less scientific common speech. If this is right, science is literally another society that stands in judgment of the one we are born into. Scientific society is thus necessarily globalist and elitist. Homo scientificus is detached in the face of death and disgust and has matured beyond any ability to fall prey to feelings of transcendence or degradation.

The “biological” is therefore part of the larger ethical construction arising from a definite theory of the human good, sc. being a member of scientific society through a mastery of its language and ritual.

-The division of our curriculum into sciences and humanities reflects a division over our idea of the human good. The sciences want an internationalist, elitist, mechanical thinker with no vague or messy feelings like disgust or transcendence. The apotheosis of such a person is the all-competent and all-powerful robot, running a program that is identical in all nations and which thus transcends all national divisions. When defined by contrast to this, The humanities justify themselves by spotlighting the vague and messy problems of life. The paradigm for “humanities” thus defined becomes literature and philosophy, where the student is expected to develop a relish for the fuzzy areas of life that one can never figure out. The paradigm here is not mechanical but human, but a human being confronting the essential insolubility of life.

So what is a human being on this sciences-humanities view of educating or perfecting him? Are we supposed to be robots with an appreciation for being puzzled?

-What is a robot that imparts values, though?

-The sciences are the ways in which we foreground agreement and uniformity of knowledge and background any substantive differences; the humanities are the ways in which we foreground division, variety, diversity. This is why we can meaningfully speak of a scientific community but not a humanities community. As a result, the sciences are areas where we enforce conformity over understanding and humanities demands either finding one’s own local in-group or being a charismatic loner.

 

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