“Only disobedience can threaten authoritarians”</span></div>
Personally I think culture defends people against authority too. Trump owes some of his success to appearing to defend American culture. Hence MAGA and white male supremacy, but that doesn’t make culture a bad thing to be used against authority. Just because Trump misuses white culture to divide Americans doesn’t mean white culture, and culture in general is a bad thing. What I see in Thailand is a strong sense of culture that makes people agree on issues and behave in ways that unite and protect, regardless of what the “authorities” say. In a sense that amounts to disobedience, but Thai people barely feel that they are being disobedient when they disobey a political leader or policeman, they are just being obedient to their culture. What to do in America with so many cultures and religions? In a sense the divisions in America are very real, not merely caricatures created by a fascist leader.
Feyerabend is my favorite philosopher of science. He says that he wrote his book arguing that science uses no method because he was faced with teaching philosophy of science to people of distant cultures such as Native Americans. He recognized that western science is a product of Western culture. Maybe “science as culture,” or better “science as practice,” is the way to unite the USA. The way to do that is for people who support science to stop pretending its universal, stop making it “above” any discourse with other belief systems. Science has to make peace with religion and culture through dialogue. This means that the ultimate concepts of Difference and Work found in science need to be softened (not to mention the Continuum, which, as Heidegger noticed, replaced all models for struggle, political between the right and left, or otherwise). Being different, or an individual, or working really hard to “make a difference” are not as great as they are touted to be. Dialogue about difference, love based on difference (like between male and female), and faith in difference are easy to allow into this “science as culture.” But also things like friendship and culture, things that really unite people have to be allowed into science as well. “Science as practice” may be the dominant way science unites the USA, and that means using social media, “phones” if thats what they are anymore, and voting machines (not to mention the legal apparatus that elections follow, which owes its authority to its machine-like appearance). Unfortunately mathematical algorithms that are supposed to make the flow of social capital “fair” is too easily manipulated.
In my dissertation, instead of saying “farewell to reason” as Feyerabend did, I try to soften the main ways that science tries to make itself above social, political, cultural, religious discourse. The main ways science tries to do this is through a claim to being logical or reasonable. The other authority claim science makes: that of being empirically based, is not divisive, except that for some reason the empirical basis pretends to exclude accounts of people (except other scientists) and appear to be based on… what? Chomsky reports that science has no clear agreement on what the “Physical” is anymore, so “Nature”? “Difference”? “Work”?. However, classical logic has as a foundational axiom the LEM: that differences between A and not-A, for any A, are absolute and universal. Calling probability a theory and not a logic allows mathematical logic to take its seat as the One True Logic, with its universal and absolute law of Difference, or so it is made to appear in mathematics curriculum that I have seen as a mathematics teacher. My dissertation is meant to argue that the LEM is not acceptable, with the important result that without the LEM, science is able to take on the important role of uniting the USA in “science as culture”.
Science as culture involves adopting other normative values. It would no longer make the pretense of being a neutral descriptor of… again what? not the Physical… Ethical considerations, such as how much work is too much, how much interrogation of the earth is probing too deep, or is too dangerous to the environment, or to our humanity. The atomic bomb, atomic waste, and excessive carbon pollution, and plastic and other pollution, pandemics, and other side effects of a scientific community should render their causes unscientific.
I am not sure where this outpouring leads. I feel sympathetic to the plight of Americans in the US. Make no mistake: our actions, our beliefs, our inclusions and exclusions, reverberate across the world. But our institutions are more powerful than our individuality. They must be disobeyed. We should be ruled by people, not law, be it scientific law or otherwise.