Do you see what happens when you let those anonymous commenters in? I broke my vow of blog-asceticism and I wasted two hours reading a ridiculous discussion demonstrating why language is not an “evolved” trait.
I grieved the loss of those two hours of work by meditating on science, vanity, love, and truth.
Science, as I recall being taught by Professor Myers, is a method, a social structure, and a body of knowledge. It is not just one of those things; it is each of them independently, yet they are three in one. There is only one Science, yet it manifests itself in three forms. It is a mystery that you can contemplate on your own time.
My purpose here is to pry open a doorway so I can let in Jacques Ellul, the first Frenchman whose writing I appreciated. He would say that all three of those things are forms of la technique. That is, they are each a type of technology, something created by humans in order to systematically accomplish some specific goal. Contrary to popular belief, technology is not just gadgets and geekspeak.
No, I’m not going to go into Ellulian theory here; it’s enough to outline the implications of Science as triune technology:
- Technology creates science.
- As with other technologies, humans tend to believe that science is autonomous.
- As with other things made by humans, Science seems to be worthy of worship.
MarkCC and JAD are both mostly interested in science as a social system. That is, they both seem to think that interaction with other people is essential to science, and they both define success in terms of interaction with others.
Vanity is excessive pride in one’s appearance or achievements. It’s who you would like to be when everyone is watching. It is sometimes characterized by constantly referring to that one thing you wrote once that proves your worth, or that one piece of paper you will someday get that will prove your worth. To the extent that you are not writing anything worthy now or are not currently certifiably smart, it is pretense. To the extent that you are vain about who you appear to be, it is superficial. Vanity is not necessarily bad, but it can be annoying if it contradicts objective assessments.
Vanity is not cured or counterbalanced by “being real” or being objectively worthy. That just shifts the center of gravity to someone else.
Love is what motivates you to do something even if it’s pointless. If you can love the fact that it is pointless, then you are in harmony with your environment. However, you may not be in harmony with other people.
Truth is approachable, but can’t be fully grasped.