What Must the World Be Like In Order that Man May Know It?
There are two kinds of people: the great majority of those who don't find these to be interesting questions; and a vanishingly small number of orthodox Raccoons who suspect that they hold the key to everything. As I've mentioned on a number of occasions, I am much more fascinated by how scientific knowledge is possible at all, rather than this or that scientific finding. And I am interested in two ways, one horizontal, the other vertical.
The horizontal has to do with how all of our diverse scientific knowledge fits together, say physics with biology, or neurobiology with developmental psychoanalysis.
As I mentioned in the Coonifesto, the cosmos doesn't brood over the mystery of how it is possible for matter to suddenly come alive, or how an erstwhile (mere) animal is able to begin hosting truth, beauty, and virtue. These things happen quite spontaneously, even if science not only cannot account for them, but has no idea how any strictly scientific theory ever could account for them (that is, without violently reducing them to something they are not). They don't even yet have a decent paradigm for a preliminary theory for a tentative hypothesis.
In other words, materialists don't even know how it would be possible to know these things, because knowing of any kind reverts back to question #2 above: what must the cosmos itself be like in order that man may know it? And their kneejerk strategy of reductionism or materialism results in a cosmos that cannot be known, period.
Yes, such a world can be perceived, but there would be no reason to believe that these perceptions correspond to the thing called "reality." In this approach, Kant would be absolutely correct: that there are the phenomena available to our species-bound ways of perceiving the world; and there is the noumenon, about which we can say precisely nothing.
In the Kantian view -- and I don't see how it is possible for the profane thinker to extricate himself from Kant's bifurcation -- there is reality and there is human thought, and never the twain shall meet; or, if they do occasionally meet, we would have no way of confirming it. How did Whitehead put it, Jeeves? "The present is all that you have; and unless in this present you can find general principles which interpret the present as including a representation of the whole community of existents, you cannot move a step beyond your little patch of immediacy."
No, not that one.
"No science can be more secure than the unconscious metaphysics which it tacitly presupposes.... We habitually speak of stones, and planets, and animals, as though each individual thing could exist, even for a passing moment, in separation from the environment which is in truth a necessary factor in its own nature."
No, the other one -- you know, that crack about how the naive and unexamined metaphysics of science ends up with conjecture on one side and a dream on the other. So science ends in a kind of absurcular and tautologous dream interpretation -- for example, who survives? The fittest! Who are the fittest? Those that survive! Or, what is man? An animal! What is an animal? A concatenation of random accidents adapted to its environment! And just what can a random accident know of reality? Nothing! How do you know that? Shut up, creationist!
Speaking of which, I just don't believe that such a beautiful girl could result from random copying errors:
Can I prove this? Yes, certainly to my satisfaction. If Darwin is correct, animals are selected only for their adaptive fitness. If they possess this thing we call "beauty," it would only be a kind of optical illusion designed to get us to copulate. Now, I love my dog, but...
Sure, I can understand why the bee would convince itself that flowers are beautiful. But damned if I can understand why people think they are. And it's not just flowers. Rather, why is there so much beauty everywhere? Not just visual beauty, but aural beauty, poetic beauty, moral beauty, mathematical beauty. And why can beauty sometimes move a man to tears? What's that all about?
What must the world be like that man may weep tears of joy and gratitude over its celestial truth radiant beauty?
Here is the Christian answer, as expressed by Jaki: "the world [is] an objective and orderly entity investigable by the mind because the mind too [is] an orderly and objective product of the same rational, that is, perfectly consistent, Creator." This is why the Raccoon not only has no problem with science, but with art or religion either.
Note, for example, that the consistent Darwinian must reduce art to something less than it is -- as just another meaningless trick of the nervous system, with no bearing on transcendental or objective beauty, much less truth. Such an impoverished philosophy is not even interesting, let alone true. Like the epicycles of the pre-Copernican solar system, it saves the appearances of the theory, but at the cost of absurdity.
Or, like "climate science," no one could believe it except for someone who already believes it. Such science doesn't really "evolve"; rather, it merely comes up with more elaborate and tendentious schemes to patch up its holes and prop it up. Call it "Weekend at Bernie's" science. Just ignore that bloated and stinking corpseman over there at the IPCC.
The irony is that the same people who fundamentally eroded our trust in the mind's ability to know reality, are the ones who arrogantly insist that they are not only right, but cannot possibly be wrong. Again, from whence comes this misplaced faith in sham absolutes such as ideological Darwinism? For if Darwinism is the last word on man, it would call for the most abject humility about making absolute pronouncements of any kind whatsoever.
The humble theist knows that he is not worthy of the sublime truth that uniquely elevates him to cosmic worthiness. But the grandiose ideological Darwinian somehow believes that he is uniquely worthy of a universal truth that renders man unworthy of any truth at all. Strange.