2. Civilisation and Society II: Technique and Science

Science has developed a power – both ideological and physical – the like of which has not existed on earth before, and this power is spread over the entire globe. This module examines the emergence of science as power.

Course Leader: Abdassamad Clarke FFAS

  1. Introduction – Abdassamad Clarke Dean, FFAS FREE
    The subject of this lecture is comprised under the academic disciplines of history and philosophy of science and technology. No one needs to be convinced of the centrality of science and technology in our age, although people are divided as to their benefits. But to pass judgement would be to pre-empt a proper enquiry into the nature of science and technology for which we need to follow their history and unravel the thinking behind them.
    In what follows, we are not looking at science in its totality but rather a particular aspect that has grown to overshadow the rest of science and which has proved useful to the power structures of our age. But do not imagine that we are anti-science; far from it.
  2. The Rise of Science – Abdassamad Clarke, Dean, FFAS FREE
    In this lecture, we examine the significance of the creation of modern science by Galileo, Descartes, Newton and others in a period that stretched from the Renaissance through the crisis of the Reformation to the foundation of the modern state and the first central banks, the issuance of banknotes and the first national debt. We will show that the connection to banking and money is not arbitrary and is certainly not accidental.
  3. Goethe’s Way of Science – Abdassamad Clarke, Dean, FFAS
    A reflection on Goethe’s contribution to science and its philosophy taking into account the German and European historical context and Goethe’s work as a poet. In the lecture, we ask a couple of questions: Why Germany? And why a poet? Particular attention is paid to his work on metamorphosis and his Farbenlehre, often wrongly translated as ‘Colour Theory’. Werner Heisenberg proves an invaluable guide.
  4. Logic and the Mathematical – Abdassamad Clarke, Dean, FFAS
    An examination, drawing on the work of Martin Heidegger and others, of the role of mathematics and logic in the history of science, acknowledging that the essence of mathematics is neither numerical, geometrical nor algorithmic and indeed is something quite other than what we ordinarily imagine. We take a glance in the course of the lecture at the significance of paideia for our future and, in particular, of the trivium and quadrivium.
  5. Being in the World – Abdalhamid Evans FFAS
    The subject of human Being in the World is vast. It is an intersection of religion, philosophy and psychology. This session is not an attempt to be definitive; it is an invitation to share a series of views on the subject, views that have been influential in the ways in which we find ourselves here today, being in the world. And to arrive, God willing, at a sense of pattern that will make it clearer for us. Much use is made of the work of Heidegger, Boss and some sense is made of the work of Freud and Jung, and it is the work of Ian Dallas that proves crucial.
  6. Concerning Technique – Ibrahim Lawson FFAS
    The lecture questions concerning some aspects of Heidegger’s work on science and technology, referring to the essay The Question Concerning Technology. However, before turning to Heidegger, it addresses the question of why we are doing this. The only conceivable motive would be to advance, in some small way, the project which we all share: to live our lives in the best possible way. Our context is late modernity, the present day culture of what might loosely be called ‘western civilisation’, of which philosophy and science are two important pillars. The issue of technology, whose ‘essence is nothing technological’, is one of the foremost matters of the age we live in and of the age to come.
  7. The New Physics – its encounter with religion and God – Abdassamad Clarke, Dean, FFAS
    An examination of the still startling results of quantum mechanics and relativity which transformed physics at the beginning of the 20th century, and the characters of the men and women involved and the character of the movement of which they were a part. The greatness of these men can be said to lie in the fact that while they clearly stood on post Judaeo-Christian ground they did not, in the main, resort to the kind of facile atheism popular today and many of them were keenly aware that they stood on the threshold of encounter with the Divine.
  8. The New Weapon – Scientists at the Service of War – Abdassamad Clarke, Dean, FFAS
    An examination of the transformation of the great pre-war international brotherhood of science into mutually suspicious, fragmented, nationalist groups at the service of the war efforts of the various participants in the Second World War. We see something of the production of the atomic bomb and a glimpse of the work that would underpin the ‘cold war’ and the schizoid thinking that it embodied which would become the permanent condition of international society as Game Theory went from being the calculations behind the theory of M.A.D. – mutually assured destruction – to the relentless drive of capitalism to privatise.
  9. The Metamorphosis of the Self – A Neurobiology of Consciousness – Dr. Muhammad Jordi Dalmau FFAS, presented by Abdalhamid Evans FFAS
    The research on patients with neurological damage is called the “lesion method” and it is a way to observe consciousness in its absence, by going backwards from the breakdown of behaviour, and the alteration of the process of cognition (mental states), to the focal brain lesion. … In our phenomenological approach to selfhood, this type of research becomes relevant because it permits us to observe and understand the relationship between the regulatory life supporting mechanisms and the capacity to achieve consciousness. From this research we can see that the process of consciousness is an extension of the innate basic regulatory process known as Homeostasis.
  10. Money and the Market – Tarek El Diwani
  11. Language and the Technical – Uthman Ibrahim-Morrison FFAS, Warden
    This lecture seeks to explore how the power of technique and science has impacted upon the specific sphere of language. The lecture is divided into two main parts, beginning with an examination of language as an inherently human attribute. In the second part it focuses on the phases through which linguistic science has unfolded and the resulting technique-based appropriation of language which has arisen out of the European Enlightenment and proceeded through subsequent scientific and/or pseudo-scientific developments since that time. Particular attention is drawn to how language has become a means or an instrument for the exercise of political control through the technological application of academic research.
  12. Conclusion – Abdassamad Clarke FFAS, Dean
    In this lecture, we examine the process of definition of terms that lies at the core of any scientific or philosophical endeavour and how the undoubted power this confers has come at what many now see as a terrible price. Then, we consider other aspects of language that are vital in order to ameliorate this power and to restore an approach to science that includes it within the panoply of the entirety of human knowledge which is rational, empirical and revealed.