Limitless Science, Limitless State
I first heard that somewhere else in another form, but I can't remember where. Maybe it was Robert Rosen; he said something to the effect that no matter where you draw the line, there will be some part of one side on the other. My son ran into this dilemma a few weeks ago, when he was trying to imagine "nothing." Obviously, whatever you imagine, it will still be something.
Likewise, no matter where you draw the line between subject and object, there will nevertheless be some of one in the other. How's that? Well, to even call something an object -- to even notice it -- is to abstract some essence from it, so that it stands out from everything else. This is what Aristotle refers to as the "first act of mind," and there is no way around it short of lobotomy or tenure (but I repeat myself).
In fact, this is one of the things Socrates was attempting to explain to Kant yesterpost. More generally, a great many philosophers over the past several hundred years only believe what they do because they have simply dismissed people like Aristotle and Aquinas without bothering to understand them.
But it is written (in more than one Aphorism): To feign knowledge of a subject, it is advisable to adopt its most recent interpretation. And The only man that saves himself from intellectual vulgarity is the man who ignores what it is fashionable to know.
Truth cannot be measured by the calendar. Back when I was a liberal, I did not know this. So, for example, when I undertook the task of studying philosophy, I assumed that I could take a shortcut by ignoring pretty much everything before the 19th century, and just cutting to the chase. Why bother with all the antiquated stuff that's been superseded by better minds?
Therefore, I began at the end, with the existentialists (both philosophical and literary) -- Sartre, Camus, Nietzsche, Kafka, and even "Christian existentialists" such as Kierkegaard and Berdayev (although I was thoroughly unqualified for the latter two).
Back to the paradox of limits. I think I also encountered the concept in various works of the Catholic philosopher of science Stanley Jaki. In fact, one of his books is called The Limits of a Limitless Science. That title popped into my head the other day, because I was thinking of how the tyrannical ideas of a "limitless science" and a "limitless state" are mutually reinforcing.
Think of the founders, who created what was supposed to be a limited government. Why? Well, for one thing, they were very much aware of the limits of man. Because man is morally flawed, self-interested, warped by passion, and subject to error, the last thing they wanted to do is to give this beast more power over the rest of us beasts.
But in the new and improved view of the left, there is no limit to knowledge and virtue -- their infamous Fatal Conceit -- and therefore no justifiable limit to the powers of the state. I don't have time to get into how many progressives have expressed this deeply moronic view, but happily, Jonah Goldberg has performed this service in his Liberal Fascism.
As I have said before, the
battle war between left and right is not symmetrical. Let's say I believe leftists are deluded assouls. Conversely, leftists think I am deplorable. Fine. I have no problem with that. The difference is that the deplorables wish to have less power over the assouls, whereas the assouls wish to have more power over me.
But because man is what he is, there will always be more assouls than deplorables. The attack on deplorables is really a form of ethnic cleansing. But that is what the left does: it has no limits. Which is why the state can never be too powerful, taxes can never be too high, speech can never be too regulated, and thought can never be too policed.
Wait a minute. There's a switcheroo in there: how does the left go from having no limits to imposing all sorts of limits on our freedom?
Easy. In fact, there's an Ap... horism for that: As the state grows the individual shrinks. Therefore -- and you can look it up, i.e., crack a history book -- the limitless government of left wing statists inevitably ends in mortifying existential shrinkage.
What does this have to do with a limitless science? Only everything. For if science has no limits, it means that -- paradoxically -- man has all the more.
To back up a bit, the proper name for unlimited science is scientism, and as scientism grows, man necessarily shrinks. For example, if scientism says that man is just an ape with a couple more randomly evolved tricks, this hardly elevates the stature of man.
If only what is measurable is real, then whole dimensions of humanness are violently excised from our being. If free will is an illusion, then it is perfectly appropriate for the state to ignore our God-given liberties. If there is no soul, then abortion can provoke no moral qualms. Indeed, since morality itself is just a social convention, then we can ignore it altogether.
So, why is there no limit to the Clinton's greed, ambition, corruption, and will to power? Because there is no limit to the left's.
One of the severest tests of the scientific mind is to know the limits of the legitimate application of the scientific method. --Clerk Maxwell