Category Archives: Politics

Philosophy is actually Science.

The further back you go in history, the less separate philosophy and science are. Even Newton called his work “philosophy”. All the Greek thinkers were engaging with the frontiers of science of their own time: Euclidean geometry and astronomy. If you go back and read Plato’s explanation of the Theory of Ideas, it was nothing else besides an explanation for both craft knowledge, engineering, and science. (Think of the craftsman with his idea of the table in the Republic). Even though we now see Plato’s philosophy as rather non-scientific and religious,  what he was fundamentally after was an explanation for how humans have knowledge that allows them to get things done. We are still trying to solve this problem. While we have made a lot of progress since Plato’s time, his contribution is still important.

While the Ancients had their politics, the politics was a side dish served with their confrontation with the frontiers of science. That’s why you can spend your life reading them even if you disagree with their politics. Not the case with others who take their cue from political issues and are stuck in philosophically-“informed” rallying and shaming. In my view, anybody who makes political activism a large part of their philosophy condemns their work to oblivion rather than millennia of admiration. Look at Plato, Marx, Sartre and Heidegger; in spite of their genius, their political activity are all blots on their legacies.

I see this all the time when I engage others in discussion. This is the main problem with the Continental Tradition since (but not including) Heidegger: lack of sincere engagement with fundamental science. Husserl and Heidegger both got their start from engaging with debates on the foundations of formal or exact science, and the later Heidegger contributed essentially to my understanding of what I’m doing as I study computer science. Even “The Question Concerning Technology” is foundational for my metaphysics, if you have the subtlety to see it. However, the later politicization of his thinking was not neutral and therefore abandoned the path of true philosophy since Thales. Heidegger was too scared of the modern world to properly develop his engagement with science. It is only decades later that we can repair his mistakes.

So when I debate someone suffering from “dead-end” philosophy, I just ask them “Where’s the connection with fundamental science that we see with Thales, Plato, Aristotle, Epicurus, Aquinas, Descartes, Hobbes, Leibniz, Hume, Kant, Hegel, Mill, Marx, Nietzsche, Husserl, Heidegger and all the analytic thinkers? What’s changed? How is that a good change? Have the foundations of metaphysics changed, or have you lost your way?”

There is no essential and objective basis for a demarcation between science and philosophy except for what ever the  limits of science might be at the time. Philosophy is the frontier of science, not it’s opposite. This has always been the case: both fields grow at the same rate, and debate the same issues from different perspectives.

Philosophy is not a part of science, rather science is part of philosophy.

 

I love ‘Franken-food’!

There is a proposal to enforce “accurate labels on food products so that consumers can choose between GMO & non/GMO products”. While this is being presented as an issue in informing consumers, ethically, it’s no different from supporting accurate labels so that employers can know the religion and ethnicity of prospective employees. Don’t people have the right to know? What do you have to hide? Only if there is some basis to these fears. Fortunately, there is not enough evidence to support either of these laws.

If minorities are actually dangerous, then label them; otherwise it’s wrong. It all depends on how you define ‘actually’. Is evolution actually true? Is there actually global warming?  Is Vitamin C actually necessary? How do you answer these questions? I prefer to use science, but some people seem to think that science is just a big conspiracy. They think that big corporate money subverts research.

If that were the case, how is it that anthopogenic global warming is backed by ~99.9% of scientists? Since the oil business is sooooo much bigger than Monsanto, then there would be more money to subvert research in this area than any other. Since this is not the case, we can be certain that Monsanto ( which is smaller than Starbuck’s! ) will not be able to use their much smaller resources to subvert research.


GMO labelling is wrong. There’s no science behind it. We have many many many times more domesticated animals on this planet than we do people. And we have detailed records of what they eat. This means that we have all the data you could possibly want about GMO’s effects on the health of large mammals and poultry. This is how we test new medicines, and medicines are far more dangerous than foods. It’s not typical to test food like this at all, but since it’s a new breeding technique, it’s best to err on the side of safety and rigorously test GMOs. Because of this, GMOs are far better tested than any other food products ever, because the testers know that people are prejudiced against them. But the time for testing many GM products is over because the evidence is in. You no longer have any right to ruin the future of the human race, so go back to your cave and live there.

 

GMOs are better for the environment, have a lower carbon footprint, and use less water, fuel, pesticides, and fertilizer. I’m actually not aware of any disadvantagees to them, other than the taboos of ignorant people who are not very concerned with producing food for the hungry.

GMOs can be designed for use in marginally useful soils. This is especially important with widespread desertification and climate change. This alone makes GMO essential for the future of the human race, especially the starving people in the Third World.

The GMO opposition is all a bunch of part-time Googlers who think they know more than real scientists. That’s it. Rich ignorant people are are blocking the only technology which can cure world hunger. It’s actually worse that supporting ISIS, in terms of the amount of suffering that this pseudoscience does and will continue to cause.

I saw an interview with David Suzuki explaining his opposition to GMOs. I was disappointed because there were no facts at all, just vague “Everything tells us that GMO cannot work!” We have goats that produce spider silk and rats that can provide human replacement tissue and he say that it “can’t work”? Why does he not say something to clarify what he means by this? Anything. Like a fact or two.

My wife unfriended me on FB because of my advocacy, and I was anti-GMO for 10 years before I actually researched it. Thank goodness I studied botany and general science as well during that time.

So I’m not exaggerating when I say that GMO labelling is evil. It’s about as evil as labeling people, just in a slightly different way.

‘Franken-food’, BTW,  is an allusion to ‘Frankenstein’s monster’ a creature that was artificially created, but which had everything that a human has. Because of his superficial differences from others, he was hounded from society for the rest of his life by the hatred of the ignorant many. For that reason, I embrace the derogatory term ‘Franken-food’; those who use it in its original sense merely mark themselves are members of the lowest layer of society, placing themselves and their prejudices  in the path of progress and learning.

My modest proposal:  someone should start a local GMO craft beer called “Franken-beer” to raise consciousness about this issue. Ottawa has enough evidence-based thinkers to make this work.