Why We Know Not and A Call to Know Instead: Beyond “Flat Earth” Materialism—Scientific Awakening Is as Crucial for Paradigm Shift as is the Social and Political Awakenings
Although our very survival depends on a paradigm change, or shift, it is being resisted mightily by our communities of scientific researchers. This Scientific Awakening is as much a threat to the corporate hegemony over modern culture as is the social and political Awakenings. There has been as much a battle in science over the last fifty years—a scientific culture war, if you will—as there has been the one in our societies around the world … and for the same reasons. Paradigm shift threatens the status quo.
The crises of our time, it becomes increasingly clear, are the necessary impetus for the revolution now under way. And once we understand nature’s transformative powers, we see that it is our powerful ally, not a force to feared our subdued. —Thomas Kuhn
Summary and Preface: The political and social revolutions, which we are seeing erupt around the world from Arab Springs to American Autumns and in global Occupy movements, have been going on more quietly and for a longer time in our sciences. Indeed, it may be said that to some extent this scientific Awakening preceded and precipitated the social one.
Still—although our very survival depends on a paradigm change, or shift—it is being resisted mightily by our communities of scientific researchers. This Scientific Awakening is as much a threat to the corporate hegemony over modern culture as is the social and political Awakenings. There has been as much a battle in science over the last fifty years—a scientific culture war, if you will—as there has been the one in our societies around the world … and for the same reasons. Paradigm shift threatens the status quo; it is seen to have the potential to upset the traditional and engrained financial structures and the social stratification built upon them. That is, this scientific culture war is also class war in disguise.
But scientists and intellectuals are as much a product of an old paradigm even when they propose to not be. So often they miscategorize new developments in their fields within old outdated dualistic frames. In particular they see the findings of consciousness research and misconstrue it as being within the old science-religion debates and struggles. So they are as unable to see old paradigm influences on themselves and are as clueless in moving beyond them as are their counterparts in the social and political arenas, where not just old paradigm right wing folks are blind to the messages of the Awakening but even many traditional liberals are unable to see past their traditional ways of categorizing to understand the message and import of the new paradigm social and political movements of Occupy and Arab Spring. So they misunderstand the Occupy movement’s multi-messages and calls for complete re-visioning as being no message. And they misconstrue the new paradigm uprisings for freedom and justice throughout the world and especially in the Arab world in the tired old terminologies of economics and imperialism. They misconstrue heartfelt aspirations for a global coming together and unity of humanity in old paradigm New World Order terms. They misunderstand new paradigm seekings for consciousness change and revolution using old-paradigm, medieval even, illuminati concepts.
This is a call for sciences to allow themselves to let go of old ways and embrace new visions. In the past, it has taken centuries, at times, for these paradigm shifts to happen. Societies have had to wait, and entire generations have needed to die off before people could enjoy the freedom of being released from old bindings of thought and could realize the benefits of new revelations. We do not have that kind of time right now. This new paradigm, gestating within the scientific community for fifty or so years previous, erupted into the global consciousness fifty years ago with the social and cultural revolutions of the Sixties. They have done battle within scientific communities as well as in the society at large, and in the same way have been beaten back to the peripheries by the overwhelming power of the entrenched interests.
But entire generations have left the scene by now. New generations seeded with the new paradigm visions rained upon them by elder veterans of the culture war and enjoying fruits of wisdom plucked from an ongoing though less visible counterculture born in those times have arisen. So, the time is ripe.
The change is necessary. We can no longer afford to hesitate. The time for the Scientific Awakening is now.
It is, I think, particularly in periods of acknowledged crisis that scientists have turned to philosophical analysis as a device for unlocking the riddles of their field. Scientists have not generally needed or wanted to be philosophers. —Thomas Kuhn
The historian of science may be tempted to claim that when paradigms change, the world itself changes with them. Led by a new paradigm, scientists adopt new instruments and look in new places. even more important, during revolutions, scientists see new and different things when looking with familiar instruments in places they have looked before. It is rather as if the professional community had been suddenly transported to another planet where familiar objects are seen in a different light and are joined by unfamiliar ones as well. —Thomas Kuhn
‘Normal’ science, in Kuhn’s sense, exists. It is the activity of the non-revolutionary, or more precisely, the not-too-critical professional: of the science student who accepts the ruling dogma of the day… in my view the ‘normal’ scientist, as Kuhn describes him, is a person one ought to be sorry for… He has been taught in a dogmatic spirit: he is a victim of indoctrination… I can only say that I see a very great danger in it and in the possibility of its becoming normal… a danger to science and, indeed, to our civilization. And this shows why I regard Kuhn’s emphasis on the existence of this kind of science as so important. — Karl Raimund Popper
Well-established theories collapse under the weight of new facts and observations which cannot be explained, and then accumulate to the point where the once useful theory is clearly obsolete.
[Using Thomas S. Kuhn’s theories to frame his argument about the relationship between science and technology: as new facts continue to accumulate, a new, more accurate paradigm must replace the old one.] — Al Gore
Why We Know Not
The mere existence of this new data—these keys to biological transcendence, these formerly inexplicable anomalies of science—trigger a certain insecurity in that they undermine a familiar, habitual, and thoroughly ego-invested commitment to a view of reality.
I have noticed a fear and hostility toward the new paradigm and its evidence, even among self-professedly open-minded and fieldwork-seasoned academicians and Ph.D.s. After observing and delving below this reaction for years, I have consistently detected a pattern of irrationality that associates, somehow, all this new stuff with things like having to go to Church as a child, hell-fiery father gods, and Jerry Falwell. Though nothing could be further from the truth, they confuse it with right wing, Tea Party-type politics and evangelical religions. They think it is connected to the attacks on the theory of evolution, the idea of Intelligent Design, and the drives to install Creationism in our schools.
So these people harbor the mistaken notion that spiritual or transpersonal realities have something to do with organized religion, when they are quite different and, indeed, often at odds with each other. [See Primal Spirituality: The Inner Authority.]
In Beyond the Brain: Birth, Death and Transcendence in Psychotherapy, Grof (1985) presents in the first chapter—which comprises ninety-one pages—an insightful analysis of paradigms and historical process along with an exhaustive sampling of the new evidence from the array of sciences, sociohistorical trends, and cultural processes that I have been mentioning. In addition, Grof (1985) constructs a thorough presentation, delineation, and analysis of the holographic model of a new paradigm. I recommend those pages highly.
Directly at hand I have included a video, titled “Holographic Universe“, which is an excellent overview of the model and makes the clear case that science has most definitely overturned the materialistic paradigm which birthed it hundreds of years ago.
All that being said, I wish to point out that the recent and rapid emergence of the field of transpersonal psychology itself is pushed by an inability to continually disregard the evidence of our own senses that does not fit with the mechanical paradigms we were taught.
This new evidence, which is pouring forth on the cutting edges of our modern sciences, has made the Newtonian-Cartesian paradigm as obsolete as the flat earth one.
A Call to Know Instead
However, similar to the way in which the earth is flat in the particular environs of one’s daily life, and for a considerable distance surrounding, the Newtonian-Cartesian paradigm likewise has its limited usefulness.But if we are to get moving on our species’s continuing adventure into discovering the nature of reality, we must acknowledge its limitations.
What bodes against this happening is an incredible, Jupiterian weight of egoic, economic, and time investment in the old (N-C) paradigm that pushes most people to insist upon its ultimate validity. Historically, this has been the unfortunate fate of every emergent paradigm facing the entrenched one. Decades and even centuries have often been required while the new worldview has been put “on hold” until entire, invested generations have left the scene . . . totally regardless of the quality, quantity, or indisputability of the new evidence (Kuhn, 1970). What a waste! Especially in that when the new ideas are finally accepted and incorporated the effect is that of inspiring a renaissance of new frontiers of research and theoretical enterprise and thus a surging powerfully forth of the released creative tide. Let me state emphatically, in the face of such dire historical precedents, that there is no inherent insecurity involved in the new paradigm, or inherent danger, or inherent trigger for anxiety, or necessary economic disadvantage (if one has the capacity to change with new developments and thought). [Footnote 5]
So why do we not, then, get on with the incorporation of this new, heretofore unexplainable, data and with the creation of new paradigm models (not, of necessity, Grof’s) for making sense of it?
Why not rise and reach forth to new and inclusive thought that embraces the facts of existence, instead of a kind of thinking that requires either a psychic numbing to the avalanche of new evidence or a thick and sturdy guard against information from all but thoroughly sanctioned and sanitized, perfectly safe and riskless, or intractably bureaucratized sources? I must point out that by now many scientists, of diverse fields, have abandoned the old model long ago and, at this point, consider its inadequacy to be well-nigh common knowledge. Having been over to the new paradigm a while, they feel it to be familiar territory; they find it useful (after all!), stable, workable, and even pleasurable terrain. They await the rest of us in the adventure of splicing or merging our insights about an explanatory framework that has room for the evidence of the new techniques and sciences; and thereby blowing away the door jammed, opening it wide to the next new phase of discovery of the nature of reality that is called the scientific enterprise.
Continue with Occupy Science … A Call for a Scientific Awakening: In Tossing Away Our Species Blinders, We Approach a Truth Far Beyond Science
Return to The Challenge to Know More: The New Evidence, Pouring Forth from Our Sciences, Has Made Our Common Sense Materialistic Assumptions About Our Reality as Obsolete as Our Flat Earth Ones
5. Thomas Kuhn was an American science historian and science philosopher who held that science was not a steady, cumulative acquisition of knowledge, but it is “a series of peaceful interludes punctuated by intellectually violent revolutions.” Here are some especially prescient and relevant quotes from and about Thomas Kuhn:
Under normal conditions the research scientist is not an innovator but a solver of puzzles, and the puzzles upon which he concentrates are just those which he believes can be both stated and solved within the existing scientific tradition.
Normal science does not aim at novelties of fact or theory and, when successful, finds none.
In a sense that I am unable to explicate further, the proponents of competing paradigms practice their trades in different worlds.
Later scientific theories are better than earlier ones for solving puzzles in the often quite different environments to which they are applied. That is not a relativist’s position, and it displays the sense in which I am a convinced believer in scientific progress
Scientific development depends in part on a process of non-incremental or revolutionary change. Some revolutions are large, like those associated with the names of Copernicus, Newton, or Darwin, but most are much smaller, like the discovery of oxygen or the planet Uranus. The usual prelude to changes of this sort is, I believed, the awareness of anomaly, of an occurrence or set of occurrences that does not fit existing ways of ordering phenomena. The changes that result therefore require ‘putting on a different kind of thinking-cap’, one that renders the anomalous lawlike but that, in the process, also transforms the order exhibited by some other phenomena, previously unproblematic.
The success of the paradigm… is at the start largely a promise of success … Normal science consists in the actualization of that promise… Mopping up operations are what engage most scientists throughout their careers. They constitute what I am here calling normal science… That enterprise seems an attempt to force nature into the preformed and relatively inflexible box that the paradigm supplies. No part of the aim of normal science is to call forth new sorts of phenomena; indeed those that will not fit the box are often not seen at all. Nor do scientists normally aim to invent new theories, and they are often intolerant of those invented by others. – Thomas Kuhn
At the heart of science is an essential balance between two seemingly contradictory attitudes–an openness to new ideas, no matter how bizarre or counterintuitive they may be, and the most ruthless skeptical scrutiny of all ideas, old and new. This is how deep truths are winnowed from deep nonsense. — Carl Sagan
Adzema, Michael. (1981). Womb With a View: Spiritual Aspects of Intrauterine Experience. Sonoma Grove/ 44 Varda, Rohnert Park, CA 94928. (Unpublished manuscript)
Adzema, Michael. (1984). Cells With a View: Spiritual and Philosophical Aspects of Sperm and Egg Experience . Sonoma Grove/ 44 Varda, Rohnert Park, CA 94928. (Unpublished manuscript)
Adzema, Michael. (1985). A primal perspective on spirituality. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 25(3), 83-116.
Adzema, Michael. (1991). Falls From Grace: Spiritual and Philosophical Perspectives of Prenatal and Primal Experience. Master’s thesis, Sonoma State University, Rohnert Park, CA.
Anscombe, G. E. M. (1958). On brute facts. Analysis 18(2).
Bohm, David. (1980). Wholeness and the Implicate Order. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.
D’Andrade, Roy G. (1984). Cultural meaning systems. In Culture theory: Essays on mind, self, and emotion, R. Shweder and R. LeVine (eds.), pp. 88-119, New York: Cambridge University Press.
D’Andrade, Roy G. (1987). Anthropological theory: Where did it go? (How can we get it back?). University of California, San Diego. (Unpublished paper)
Grof, Stanislav. (1970). Beyond psychoanalysis I. Implications of LSD research for understanding dimensions of human personality. Darshana International 10 (55).
Grof, Stanislav. (1975). Realms of the Human Unconscious: Observations from LSD Research. New York: Viking Press.
Grof, Stanislav. (1980). LSD Psychotherapy . Pomona, CA: Hunter House.
Grof, Stanislav. (ed.) (1984). Ancient Wisdom and Modern Science. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.
Grof, Stanislav. (1985). Beyond the Brain: Birth, Death, and Transcendence in Psychotherapy. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.
Grof, Stanislav. (1988a). The Adventure of Self-Discovery: Dimensions of Consciousness and New Perspectives in Psychotherapy and Inner Exploration. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.
Grof, Stanislav. (ed.) (1988b). Human Survival and Consciousness Evolution. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.
Grof, Stanislav, and Grof, Christina. (1980). Beyond Death: The Gates of Consciousness. London: Thames & Hudson.
Grof, Stanislav, and Grof, Christina. (eds.) (1989). Spiritual Emergency: When Personal Transformation Becomes a Crisis . Los Angeles: Jeremy P. Tarcher.
Grof, Stanislav, and Grof, Christina. (1990). The Stormy Search for the Self: A Guide to Personal Growth Through Transformational Crisis. Los Angeles: Jeremy P. Tarcher.
Grof, Stanislav, and Halifax, Joan. (1977). The Human Encounter with Death. New York: E.P. Dutton.
Huxley, Aldous. (1956). The Doors of Perception and Heaven and Hell. New York: Harper & Row.
Kuhn, Thomas S. 1970. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Labbe, Armand. (1991). Consciousness versus awareness in the light of classical Eastern perspectives on the nature of transcendence. Paper delivered at the 1991 Annual Conference of the Society for the Anthropology of Consciousness, March 21, 1991.
Pribram, Karl. (1971). Languages of the Brain. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
Pribram, Karl. (1976). Problems concerning the structure of consciousness. In Consciousness and the Brain, G. Globus (ed.) New York: Plenum.
Sahlins, Marshall. (1976). Culture and Practical Reason. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Searle, John R. (1969). Speech Acts: An Essay in the Philosophy of Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Wilber, Kenneth. (1977). The Spectrum of Consciousness. Wheaton, Il: Quest.
Wilber, Kenneth. (1980). The Atman Project. Wheaton, Il: Quest.
Wilber, Kenneth. (1981). Up from Eden. New York: Anchor Books.
Winkelman, Michael. (1990). The evolution of consciousness: An essay review of Up from Eden (Wilber 1981). Anthropology of Consciousness 1(3-4), 24-31.
Zukav, Gary. (1979). The Dancing Wu Li Masters. New York: W. Morrow.
Related Article: Go to “A Primal Perspective on Spirituality” by Mickel Adzema.
Related Book: Go to Primal Renaissance: The Emerging Millennial Return by Michael D. Adzema.
Related Book: Go to Apocalypse, or New Age?: The Emerging Perinatal Unconscious by Michael D. Adzema.
Related Article: Go to “Reunion With the Positive (Self): The Other Half of the ‘Cure'” by Michael D. Adzema.
Related Article: Go to “The Emerging Perinatal Unconscious: Consciousness Evolution or Apocalypse?” by Michael D. Adzema.
Related Article: Go to “The Scenery of Healing: Commentary on deMause’s ‘Restaging Prenatal and Birth Traumas in War and Social Violence'” by Michael D. Adzema.
Continued with Occupy Science … A Call for a Scientific Awakening: In Tossing Away Our Species Blinders, We Approach a Truth Far Beyond Science
Return to The Challenge to Know More: The New Evidence, Pouring Forth from Our Sciences, Has Made Our Common Sense Materialistic Assumptions About Our Reality as Obsolete as Our Flat Earth Ones
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