Narrow Contexts




Closed system     -          Open system
Narrow                -          Wide
Independent         -          Dependent




Science only ever deals with abstracted, narrow contexts which give partial views. It must always be nested within a tradition, a wider story that weaves all contexts into a cohesive whole, and that doesn’t allow the extremes of constructivism (all nurture) or biological determinism (all nature). 

Within tradition there must be a good reason to inquire, a reason that relates to the wider context and worldview of the tradition. Inquiry for the sake of inquiry, out of mere curiosity, is foreign to tradition.

Perhaps for many scientists their motivation is a progressive worldview, albeit unconscious in some cases.
 



Theorists - such as Descartes - have been tempted to try and find a standard entity for [the word ‘self’] to refer to. They have hoped for a Procrustean bed guaranteed to fit all [its many] uses. And in modern times the hope has been that something narrower and simpler still would emerge - a concept modelled on the most abstract scientific terms such as the names of physical particles.

This is surely a mistake because these scientific terms are designed only for a specially abstract context.

Even in biology it has not proved possible to standardise terms like 'species' in this way because they refer to things in the world which have to be looked at in a variety of lights, and this is still more true of notions that play an important part in the jungle of human life.

Attempts to impose simple, arbitrary definitions on the subtle and versatile words that play an important part there – words such as person, reason and feeling - are inevitably futile.

What is needed in such cases is rather to make clear just what the context of the particular enquiry is – why this particular question is arising.

[Mary Midgley]
Science and Poetry, p.120




There are [doctrines], popular today, which do allow for a social context but deny a bodily one.

In sociology for instance, there is still quite a widespread belief that human behaviour can only have social causes, not biological ones, so that the constitution of people's bodies can have no effect on their personality.

[Mary Midgley]
Science and Poetry, p.122




Jung imagined the psyche as being structured in a way that is similar to that of the sacred hoop, with the four psychological functions lying along the sacred directions. Ideally, the human psyche should occupy a point of balance within the center of the hoop, but most of us live out of balance.

A person who approaches different events, including human relationships, only in a rational, logical way can be seen as living from the thinking function, having consigned the feeling function to the shadow world. Eventually this underdeveloped and undifferentiated feeling function will begin to exert its subversive power on the personality.

[F. David Peat]
Blackfoot Physics, p.164




If Huxley's definition is what most people mean by science, then it is probably true that Indigenous people do not possess a science.

After all, why should people whose philosophy speaks of relationship, the primacy of direct experience, and the interconnectedness of all things ever wish to divorce themselves from their world and fragment their experience though such acts of abstraction?

If there were to be an Indigenous science then it would deal not in abstraction, weighing, and measuring; but in relationship, holism, quality, and value.

[…] it is not possible to separate Indigenous science from other areas of life such as ethics, spirituality, metaphysics, social order, ceremony, and a variety of other aspects of daily existence. Thus it can never be a "branch" or a "department" of knowledge, but rather remains inseparable from the cohesive whole, from a way of being and of coming-to-knowing.

[F. David Peat]
Blackfoot Physics, p.240-1




The poet and philosopher Goethe had pointed out the artificial nature of scientific experiments for, in their retreat from the fullness of phenomena, they have the effect of isolating and tricking nature.

So while experiment is the key to Western science it has also been criticized as being artificial, as increasing our sense of distance from nature, and possibly even leading to a fundamental distortion in the way we relate to the world.

Within Indigenous science there does not seem to be that same deliberate attempt to move beyond observation by setting constraints on nature. Indeed, from within its holistic viewpoint in which everything is connected to everything else, experiment would have to take on a new role.

[F. David Peat]
Blackfoot Physics, p.251




[…] dissolving sociological dualisms clears the ground for post-anthropocentric (Braidotti, 2011: 327) sociology, shifting humans from the central focus of sociological attention and facilitating a posthuman sociology to engage productively with the world beyond the human: with other living things, and with the wider environment of matter and things.

By challenging any distinction between the materiality of the physical world and the social constructs of human thoughts and desires, it enables exploration of how each affects the other, and how things other than humans (for instance, a tool, a technology or a building) can be social ‘agents’, making things happen.

This flattening of the nature/culture dualism is applicable not only when exploring topics such as environmental change, technology or science, but also to re-think the part that the non-human and non-animate, matter and meaning play in social production more generally (Karakayali, 2015), for instance in education (Alldred and Fox, 2017) or public health (Fox and Alldred, 2016).

[Nick J. Fox & Pam Alldred]
‘Social structures, power and resistance in monist sociology: (New) materialist insights’



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