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17B • Civilisation & Society 2 • Technique & Science • Lecture 01 • Introduction • 02.02.12 from The Muslim Faculty on Vimeo.

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم وصلى الله على سيدنا محمد وعلى ءاله وصحبه أجمعين وسلّم

Title: Introduction to Technique and Science

Author:  Abdassamad Clarke

Publication date: 2/2/2013

Assalamu alaykum. Welcome to the Civilisation and Society Programme of the MFAS. This is the first of 12 sessions which make up the Technique and Science module. The lecture will last approximately 50 minutes during which time you should make a written note of any questions that may occur to you for clarification after the lecture. 

Introduction to Technique and Science

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. Do not imagine that we are anti-science; far from it.

1. Narrative

There is a great complexity of themes and issues, but what ties it together is its narrative, because in the end it is a human story. Shaykh Dr. Abdalqadir as-Sufi cites the great historian of Rome, Ronald Syme (11 March 1903 – 4 September 1989), as saying ‘narrative is the essence of history’. You might object and assert that in science we are talking about something larger than mere human narrative, we are talking about the very reality of the universe and its patterning. You might be tempted to aver that it can’t simply be a human story. 

Although it is almost universal to find interest in the biographies of the men and women who make history or, in our case, who created science, nevertheless, it is not uncommon for scientists to say that the biographies of scientists, good or bad, are irrelevant and that what matters are the results of their investigations. However, this position is itself only the result of one of two positions on what scientific activity actually is: first, that we are dis-covering the intrinsic patterns in nature or second, that we are creating models of natural processes.

Those who say that the character and biographies of scientists are irrelevant do so on the basis that they think scientists are dis-covering and re-vealing the truth. Thus, in their view it is completely irrelevant whether they are good or bad people.

2. A mathematical universe

An example of this position is that exemplified by the statement of Galileo Galilei (15 February 1564 – 8 January 1642):

When God produces the world, he produces a thoroughly mathematical structure that obeys the laws of number, geometrical figure and quantitative function. Nature is an embodied mathematical system.1

What is this statement of Galileo? It sounds authoritative, but really he was advancing a hypothesis. And this is where the unwary are confused. Scientists advance ideas which, because of the rigour with which a very specific and restricted amount of research and theoretical work is carried out, others imagine to be equally scientific, whereas these are often simply opinions, hypotheses, hunches or assumptions. However that may be, these words of Galileo represent the views of that party who say that we are discovering something intrinsic in the actual nature of the universe.

It would be well to remember the context here, because Galileo was advancing a position quite contrary to the Papacy which had tied itself to Aristotle. This was the collision of a new power centre with an old one. Galileo’s patron was a later Medici, of that banking family that produced two popes and lines of ennobled Dukes and who arguably sponsored the Renaissance with their usury-guilt inspired philanthropy, which would contribute to the Reformation that would in turn pit Europeans against each other, most notably in the Thirty Years War which was sealed with the Treaty of Westphalia that is recognised as the foundation of the modern state. So this highly visionary statement was to be part of something which would have serious consequences.

3. Modelling activity

However, if one says that science is a modelling activity, then the character, prejudices and opinions of the scientist are unavoidably going to colour his model. Many scientists themselves hold this view.2

If this is the case, then we are not discovering the nature of things but creating models, for which mathematics is particularly well suited, contrary to the view that the universe really has a mathematical structure.

4. The history of science

In between these two views, one at its beginning and one at its end, lies the history of science. At the beginning of that history, there was a grand hypothesis, as stated by Galileo who is arguably the beginning of our specific form of science. Unlike the Greeks, who were content to think these things through, there was a new temper to test ideas against physical reality and to devise means of doing so. This attitude, this willingness to test hypotheses physically, has often been said to have been transmitted from the Muslims. 

The outcome was that Galileo’s grand hypothesis and the rigorous and careful research and thought of many men and women resulted paradoxically in contrary positions such as that of Eddington in the early part of the 20th century. 

In the middle period, stands the French mathematician Laplace (23 March 1749 – 5 March 1827). One day he presented his newest, most extraordinary work, Celestial Mechanics, to the emperor Napoleon. The emperor said, “Monsieur Laplace, they tell me you have written this large book on the system of the universe and have never even mentioned its Creator.” Laplace is said to have answered, “I have no need of this hypothesis.”3 

Laplace represented the logical outcome of the philosophes who had contributed greatly to the French Revolution itself. Kings were to be tumbled from their thrones, priests from their pulpits and the Divine removed from the hearts of men, even if they could not remove Him from His throne. Whereas, Laplace was a physicist and mathematician in a very classical mould, the philosophes represented the great Enlightenment project of extending the work of scientists to every aspect of life.

5. Length – Cartesian coordinates

In his Cartesian coordinate system that described space as three dimensions, Descartes (31 March 1596 – 11 February 1650) had given scientists a rigorous tool with which to work. Henceforth, physics and the other sciences would work on a universe posited to take place within these Cartesian coordinates and according to Euclid’s geometry. Troublesomely, mathematicians began to tinker with other geometries that had more dimensions – after all the three dimensions were only based on our bodily sense of up-down, back-front and left-right – and that followed other rules than Euclid’s. At the end, Einstein in his Special Theory of Relativity would posit length not as a frame of reference within which everything happened but as something that could grow and contract starting from a prior fundamental, the speed of light. In his General Theory he would posit the curvature of space due to the presence of mass as an alternative explanation of gravity, which had naively been considered as a force acting instantaneously between any two masses in the universe no matter how far from each other, something which neither Newton nor anyone else had believed but which had yielded such spectacular results that no one talked about it. The idea of a force that stretched right across the known universe between any two masses and acted instantaneously was too far fetched, and yet the mathematics worked.

6. Mass and the atom

So let us focus a little more closely on what science actually is, and more specifically mathematics and physics the two core sciences which began the process that the philosophes and their successors extended to every nook and cranny. 

Heidegger (September 26, 1889 – May 26, 1976) said: “science is the theory of the real”4. It is a complex theory made up of a great number of subsidiary theorems. One of its most fundamental elements is the nature of stuff itself. The Greeks had many speculations about that issue, but the one that came to dominate later epochs and to dominate European thought right down to the Renaissance was the four element theory of earth, water, fire and air. Another was Plato’s (424/423 BC – 348/347 BC) view of the ‘ideas’ behind ‘appearances’. Yet another view was that of Democritus (ca. 460 – ca. 370 BC), who considered the world to consist of atoms and the void, or of being and non-being. Atoms were considered to be pure pieces of being devoid of any character or attribute whatsoever, their combination in different configurations producing all the qualities of existent things. The word ‘a-tom’ means indivisible. They were supposed to be the ultimate constituents of matter. One key school of Muslim thought too, after the general flirtation of the Muslims with Aristotle and the four element theory, plumped for an atomic theory, but one that was quite different from that of Democritus. This was the Ash’ari school.

6.1 Particles

Thus the modern age begins with the hypothesis of little solid particles, for they were soon to change from Democritus’s little pieces of pure being into little particles. The consequence was the universe we live in today which is a Laplacian one in which the Divine has become an unnecessary hypothesis, contrary to the insubstantial Ash‘ari universe in which the Divine is the wajib al-wujud ‘that which necessarily exists’ and the universe itself is a place for the manifestation of the Divine names and attributes.

In Newton’s case, implicit in his theory of optics was that light was corpuscular, although he did not state this as his doctrinal position. But this physicalisation of light, which is a Divine attribute, was one more conceptual assault on the Divine, even if it came from a unitarian. Newton himself lived on one of the fault lines of history. 

As a closet unitarian, Isaac Newton (25 December 1642 – 20 March 1726) lived in the uncomfortable space between trinitarian catholics and trinitarian protestants, who had passed power back and forward between them in an era of intense civil strife in Britain and across Europe, both of whom would have agreed upon casting him to the dogs if his unitarianism had been discovered. It was also the fault line between the ouster of a legitimate king and the usurpation of the throne by his son-in-law and daughter. And the third fault line was the endorsement by protestantism and of the philosophers of usury in various ways. One of the more surprising turns of history is that Newton was adopted by the new regime, and made Warden of the Royal Mint in 1696 and then rose to be Master in 1700, and this in the period shortly after the foundation of the Bank of England and the issuance of the first British paper money, some of the first in the world. 

Newton’s corpuscular theory of light was in parallel with the positing of the atom as the fundamental building block of matter. Later scientists were to chase this hypothesis to ground with admirable tenacity and rigour and to dis-cover what had only been a logical conclusion for the Greeks, the smallest unit of matter, the indivisible atom. Then with even greater tenacity they blew the indivisible atom to pieces and came up with a plethora of things which it would have been tempting to consider the real indivisible entities, except that their nature is almost incomprehensible although they and their behaviour can be described mathematically with great precision. 

6.2 Waves

In the mid-point of the history, Maxwell and Faraday had turned away from Newton’s corpuscular hypothesis and dis-covered the wave nature of electromagnetic vibrations, i.e. light. At the end of the history, the quantum theorists confronted the hypothesis that everything, light included, behaved both as a particle and as an electromagnetic wave. More puzzling was that how they appeared depended on what the observer wanted to see. If the experiment was set up to observe particles, then they appeared as particles, but if the experiment was set up to observe electromagnetic vibrations, then lo and behold, there were the electromagnetic vibrations. But whatever is a statement about the ‘fundamental building blocks of matter’ is also a statement about our existence itself. Are we solid things or are we merely complex vibrations? The apparently solid universe that had rendered the Divine an unnecessary hypothesis had itself become utterly paradoxical.

7. Time

Time conceived as an absolute clock ticking with utter regularity, i.e. as discrete units, providing a fourth dimension to Descartes’ three space dimensions, gave way with Einstein to something that expanded and contracted and which was not the absolute against which processes could be measured. The absolute was only the speed of light whose behaviour determined everything else.

Thus, the idea that the universe takes place ‘in’ space and time gave way to one in which space and time are a part of the fabric of the universe itself and came into existence with the beginning of the universe. In this sense, it makes no sense to discuss what there was before the universe or what will happen after it, since ‘before’ and ‘after’ are themselves part of the universe. Note carefully that the ‘aqīdah of the Muslims is that the Garden and the Fire exist now.

8. Causality

The clearest picture of the causality that lies at the root of science, which is already a major departure from the picture of causality of the Greeks,5 is in Newton’s mechanics and his law of gravity. His mechanics of colliding objects is reducible to the impacts of two billiard balls, and it is from this basis that the picture of the whole world of objects is articulated. His picture of gravity as the relationship between two masses and the distance between them, which was to yield such astonishing results, has, as yet, never been extended to three objects let alone the rest of the universe. In every case, smaller quantities are considered ‘negligible’, that is until the science of chaos theory came along and showed that the ‘negligible’ factors could actually have devastating results. 

This reduction of the world to particles, ‘building blocks’, neglects that the world has self-evidently not been brought into being a brick at a time as the metaphor suggests with its Great Architect of the Universe figuring standing outside, but as a single entity and as a whole. It is this issue that others such as Goethe tried to address and to redress. 

It is all too easy to accept the perspective of the dominant scientific paradigm, which is based on this quite new view of causality that things cause other things.  Shaykh Abdalhaqq Bewley says, 

“After Francis Bacon’s (22 January 1561 – 9 April 1626) famous dictum, ‘God works in nature only by secondary causes’, theological truth and scientific truth parted company, and the depth to which the scientific materialist worldview has penetrated human consciousness cannot be overestimated. It is a thorough and continual indoctrination process with which we are bombarded every day of our lives. In the so-called ‘real world’ the Divine has nothing to do with what goes on and we are told that, in fact, it is secondary causes that really make things happen.”

This is much more than a mere complaint about a change in perspective but a penetrating insight into a fundamental shift that neglected something Muslims had long ago wrestled with and reached intellectually satisfactory conclusions about. That things cause other things is the appearance, but it is not the nature of things but the Sunnah of Allah in how He runs this world. Thus fire almost invariably burns. However, the reality is that Allah creates the burning along with the fire. Allah is the direct cause of everything in existence. This position is an intellectual one as declared by the scholars of the schools of ‘aqīdah and the reported experiential position of the people who have deep direct spiritual knowledge, the ‘ārifūn.

9. Cosmos

The Greeks had, among a plethora of speculative cosmologies, also considered the possibility that the universe itself had always existed and always would. This entered the scientific discourse surreptitiously because of the obvious clash with Biblical creationism and the Principle of Sufficient Reason of Leibniz (July 1, 1646 – November 14, 1716).6 When Einstein (14 March 1879 – 18 April 1955) later framed his General Theory of Relativity, he was surprised when it yielded the picture of a universe with a beginning and an end. Thus, he introduced a figure called the Cosmological Constant that forced the equations to produce a model of a universe with neither beginning nor end. Later, because of Hubble’s red-shift work and other results, it was postulated that the universe is expanding, and the logical conclusion was reached that it had originally been small and dense and had expanded from that condition and was continuing to do so. The picture was so much closer to the idea of Creation, that dedicatedly non-believing scientists have worked hard to find alternative postulates, such as the idea of the multiverse, a large number of universes that came into being at the same time or sequentially. However, these postulates fail Popper’s test of theory, that it must be falsifiable.7 In other words, if you advance postulates of multiple parallel universes or series of big-bangs that cannot even be disproved let alone proved, then they are little better than one of the many Hindu cosmologies, things science left behind when it decided to test postulates and hypotheses against reality.

10. Maths

The nature of these speculations is that they are almost entirely mathematical. So it is time to review its role. It is clear that mathematics has played an enormous part in the affair from the beginning, and continues to play a dual role: first, it exists as ‘pure’ mathematics, a series of reasoned arguments that have absolutely nothing to do with the physical world, and second, as the articulation of models of parts and processes of the physical world. As we noted the duality of views about the nature of scientific theory this ultimately derives from a similar dual picture of mathematics: is it something already ‘exists’ in some way or something that we ‘creating’?

Mathematicians had been working away on trying to extend the work of Euclid (fl. 300 BC), who had taken existing Greek geometry and systematised it, defining all its terms, stating its axioms and proving a number of hypotheses which had then become theorems. The clarity of his thinking was so impressive and rigorous, that pure mathematicians had worked indefatigably, in spite of substantial setbacks, to do the same thing to all of subsequent mathematics, i.e. to formulate mathematics as a completely consistent body of work. 

This has to be seen in the context of the collapse of the old Christian order, which had manifested in the Reformation and a bitter European civil war matched by even more bitter theological and intellectual disputes. Understandably, scientists reached to find some order and the basis for a better more unified vision. In doing so, they turned from failed Christian theology, in the process overturning its legal modalities such as the prohibition of usury, its morality and the royal and aristocratic governance to which it had been inescapably wed.

In their search for certainty there were a number  of catastrophes that sent mathematicians right back to the beginning when, for example, they discovered that Euclid himself was not the model of rigour that they had thought. 

Efforts persisted until Kurt Gödel (April 28, 1906 – January 14, 1978) proved by means of rigorous mathematical logic in 19318 that the task could never be completed. Do not forget that this was done during a period of great political uncertainty and vigorous Nazi political activity in an epoch in which scientists were a great trans-national brotherhood of truth seekers, a brotherhood soon to be shattered by the war, in which they were forced to choose sides politically, an allegiance the economic power would inherit when it came to the fore.

A substantial aspect of scientific thought had been a parallel attempt, deriving from Descartes, to create a universal scientific/philosophical enterprise on the foundations of Euclid that would provide absolute certainty.9 The necessary corollary of this approach is that whatever is not established by rigorous proof falls into doubt, and that is the great majority of human experience, wisdom and even revelation. When Gödel showed that this certainty could not be achieved with arithmetic, where the definitions of terms and the statement of axioms are the most rigorous and the most carefully formulated, then it is clear that neither science itself nor philosophy has any chance whatsoever of being a systematic body of certainty. At this point, there was nothing left but doubt and agnosticism or a strangely inconsistent militant atheism.

10.1 Dogma

We could refer to this continuing work of some scientists as the articulation of a dogma.10 On a popular level – and we deal with this issue because we have set ourselves as a priority the task of studying the relationship of science to power, and the popular articulation of science serves overtly political purposes – it is presented that the picture is all pretty clear except that there are a few problems to tidy up. Thus, in the science of cosmology, it is presented as if we understand pretty much the whole picture of the universe except for the unaccounted-for dark matter, about which we know nothing, and the dark energy about which we know even less. Dark matter is “estimated to constitute 84% of the matter in the universe” and “dark energy currently accounts for 73% of the total mass–energy of the universe”. These are two as yet unproven hypotheses to account for massive discrepancies between the ‘model’ and the actual universe. 

We could summarise the current picture as being thus: after the astounding results of quantum mechanics and other core early 20th century work, a body of dogmatic scientific thinkers, who are by no means necessarily representative of the whole, continue to articulate a picture that is visibly undermined by current work. We will examine later on in shā’Allāh the relationship of this effort to politics and power.

10.2 The Turing Halting Problem

The highly abstruse and obscurely theoretical issue of Gödel’s work has one very practical manifestation, which many people meet regularly in some way. It is called the Turing Halting Problem. Alan Turing (23 June 1912 – 7 June 1954), an English mathematician who, along with John von Neumann (December 28, 1903 – February 8, 1957) a Hungarian/American mathematician, is considered one of the two inventors of the computer, found that one very practical consequence of Gödel’s work is that computers will come across parts of programmes that will not compute. Characteristically, they will try to compute them and thus what seemed like a simple problem will take infinite time since there is no solution. Now, the computer has no way to distinguish between a very difficult problem and an insoluble one and thus will struggle to compute an answer. This of course impinges on the entire technological project which is now completely based on computers. It also presents insurmountable problems for those visionaries of Artificial Intelligence research who believe that consciousness is merely a reflection of computing power and that machines will become conscious when, following Moore’s Law which predicted that processing power would double every 18 months, at some arguable point in the future their processing power finally equals and then surpasses that of the human brain.

11. Technique, technology, method and the machine

It is tempting having arrived at the computer, to introduce our other heading ‘technique’ or ‘technology’, and thus endorse the mistaken idea that we are simply talking about machines. However, we chose the word ‘technique’ deliberately to avoid that confusion. Technique means a skill or method, and, although it has a long history from the dawn of humanity, it really entered our history at the very beginning with Galileo, Descartes and Bacon, the former performing his rigorous experiments dropping weighed objects from the tower of Pisa and measuring the time they took to fall, and Descartes articulating the new philosophical/scientific approach in his seminal text Discourse on Method. So technique appears as the method of the scientific process as well as the method of thinking and reasoning. It is the very system which Descartes and everyone subsequently hoped would lead to absolute certainty. Bertrand Russell later said, “I wanted certainty in the kind of way in which people want religious faith.”

The machine itself however already lay within the process, in that first thought of Galileo about the mathematical nature of the universe from which it was only a tiny step to considering the universe and indeed all living things as mechanical. The metaphor of the machine seized the imagination of scientists and was to dominate subsequent development. Descartes, being a Christian, made a small exception for the human spirit. With the demise of Christianity, the worldview that regarded even people as machines would conquer all. Thus, that which Descartes concretised by performing surgery on the hearts of living dogs could not but result in the callousness towards the human being that has characterised the modern age. And if other ages that regarded the human being as comprising body, soul and spirit had their massacres, it fell to the age that was under the metaphor of the machine to industrialise the process both in the slaughter of modern warfare and in the genocides of the concentration camps in Boer War South Africa, Germany and the USSR. The violence of man against man endures throughout history, but the shape it takes is very much of the age.

The technification that resulted in a technical approach and stemmed from regarding the entirety of existence as comprising a machine, could not but turn to the state and make it an industrial system for the ordering, policing and taxing of the citizen, and to education and make it a conveyor belt system of training and indoctrination, and to medicine and transform it into an assembly line maintenance of the human machines needed to serve the state and commerce, and to warfare and conflict reducing them to titanic events in which humans were slaughtered in the rage of two sets of opposing machinery. Yet in every case, the machines were merely the amplifiers of human impulses. As programmers say: Rubbish in, rubbish out.

11.1 Technology as proof

So technique lies at the beginning as the method and skill of science, it is in the middle as the machine metaphor applied now to everything and it is at the end as the machines and systems of modern society. 

Technology serves another function, for as the result of science it is considered the proof of science. The fact that technological artefacts work is the biggest proof of science for the average person,11 who has no time for careful reasoned argument or philosophical reflection. Doubts on Newton’s law of gravity mean little when by means of it even today a rocket can be sent successfully to Jupiter without recourse to Einstein’s work which has shown that Newton was wrong in his understanding of gravity as a force binding objects together over vast distances.

12. The Sciences in General

We have dealt at some length with mathematics and physics since these two lie at the very base of the entire enterprise and at the beginning of science’s modern story. So fascinated were people after Newton with the model that new generations began to extend it into all of the sciences, with greater and lesser success, and new sciences came into existence, most significantly economics. But before we approach that we must reiterate what was the nature of the approach that had come into being. 

12.1 Economics

First, it must be understood that in general the scientist does not look at the world and fascinatedly look for explanations of what he observes there. Rather, he has an overarching framework as I outlined before.12 It is in the proving of a hypothesis that he turns to the world and begins to interrogate it.13 If the results fit, then the hypothesis becomes a theorem, i.e. a single part of a wider theory. This has particular importance for the science of macro-economics which concerns itself with the larger picture of the economies of nations. If the definitions and axioms are so difficult with something so simple as arithmetic, then they are infinitely more difficult with something so complex as a globe comprising nations of many millions of complex human beings with many different drives and motives. Evidence shows that some of the most fundamental axiomatic assumptions of economics such as the selfishness of human beings are actually evidence of psychotic conditions from which the scientist himself was suffering while framing his work, in the notorious case of the mathematician and game theorist, John Nash (born June 13, 1928). But Nash did not invent this but merely inherited an assumption that economists before and since have accepted uncritically. 

13. Power14

This is directly related to our theme of the relationship between science and power, for as we saw in “The Politics of Power” the modern era has seen the rise to eminence of finance and its seconding power to its own needs. In striving for certainty in physical sciences, everything else fell into doubt, including the strictures on usury. Science grew up in the shadow of that new power structure and often beholden to it. 

However, we cannot concur with an anti-scientific stance because, as we will see in our course, some of the most interesting and profound intellects have engaged in the pursuit of this knowledge and it has led to intriguing results such as quantum theory and insights into the cosmos and the human being.

So this is what lies before us:

1. Introduction – Abdassamad Clarke

2. The Rise of Modern Science – Abdassamad Clarke

3. Goethe’s Way of Science – Abdassamad Clarke

4. Logic and the Mathematical – Abdassamad Clarke

5. Being in the World – Abdalhamid Evans 

6. The Question concerning Technique – Ibrahim Lawson

7. The New Physics – Abdassamad Clarke

8. The New Weapon – Abdassamad Clarke

9. Emotion, Reason and the Human – Dr. Dalmau

10. Money and the Markets - Tarek El Diwani

11. Language and the Technical - Uthman Ibrahim-Morrison

12. Conclusion, Abdassamad Clarke

That brings us to the end of today’s lecture. Recommended general reading for the course are Understanding the Present by Bryan Appleyard, which contains a good outline of the history of science, although the author takes a moral stand against it, and The End of Science by John Horgan who argues that science is over, but in the process gives vignettes of significant thinkers such as Kuhn and Popper. The subject of our next lecture is “The Rise of Modern Science” and recommended preparatory reading for that is Martin Heidegger’s “Modern Science, Metaphysics and Mathematics”, from What is a Thing?, in Martin Heidegger, Basic Writingسs and “Introduction: the Thesis” from Mathematics, the Loss of Certainty by Morris Kline. Thank you for your attention. Assalamu alaykum.

1 Rupert Sheldrake, The Science Delusion.

2 Eddington (28 December 1882 – 22 November 1944), a mathematician and physicist of the 20th century said: “We have found that where science has progressed the farthest, the mind has but regained from nature that which the mind has put into nature. We have found a strange footprint on the shores of the unknown. We have devised profound theories, one after another, to account for its origin. At last we have succeeded in reconstructing the creature that made the footprint. And Lo! It is our own.” (Morris Kline, Mathematics, the Loss of Certainty, p.341)

3 Kline, Morris, Mathematics, the Loss of Certainty, p.73.

4 Martin Heidegger, “Science and Reflection”, from The Question concerning Technology, p.157

5For centuries philosophy has taught there are four causes: 1. causa materialis, the material, the stuff out of which e.g. a silver cup is made; 2. causa formalis, the form, the Gestalt into which the material goes; 3. causa finalis, the end, e.g. the sacrifice through which the needed cup is determined with respect to form and stuff; 4. causa efficiens, which works out the effect, the finished actual cup, the silver-smith. What technique represented (vorgestellt) as means is, uncovers itself when we trace the instrumental back to the fourfold causality. (Martin Heidegger, The Question Concerning Technique, trans. Roger Berkowitz, p.5)

6 "No fact can be real or existing and no statement true unless it has a sufficient reason why it should be thus and not otherwise" (Leibniz, 198). This principle is often stated as "everything that begins to exist has a cause of its existence" or "every event has a cause." It is hard to overestimate how essential this principle is to rational enquiry. Biologists who seek to explain the origin of life depend upon it. So do detectives solving a crime, meteorologists forecasting the weather, and doctors diagnosing a patient. It is intriguing that the principle should be adhered to rigorously by science in the particulars of the universe but not in its totality, i.e. that the universe as the aggregate of things and events should be considered to exist without cause. The terrible consequence of depriving it of cause is to also deprive it and thus human life of reason.

7 “But I shall certainly admit a system as empirical or scientific only if it is capable of being tested by experience. These considerations suggest that not the verifiability but the falsifiability of a system is to be taken as a criterion of demarcation. In other words: I shall not require of a scientific system that it shall be capable of being singled out, once and for all, in a positive sense; but I shall require that its logical form shall be such that it can be singled out, by means of empirical tests, in a negative sense: it must be possible for an empirical scientific system to be refuted by experience.” (Karl Popper, The Logic of Scientific Discovery, 2002, p.18.)

8 Gödel’s two incompleteness theorems.

9 Hobbes (5 April 1588 – 4 December 1679) and others had tried to apply Euclidean thinking to their own domains

10 There are a very large group of scientists, philosophers and science writers whose sole vocation is to articulate all the disparate work sof scientific researchers as a coherent body, i.e. as a dogma or “a principle or set of principles laid down by an authority as incontrovertibly true”. (New Oxford American Dictionary).

11 Ordinarily average people are regarded as ‘laymen’ but that is an admission that scientists are a priesthood.

12 Here I am glossing over different types of scientific method such as the inductive method.

13 I choose the word ‘interrogate’ deliberately because the process has been likened to the torture of nature, and in the biological sciences arguably results in the actual torture of living creatures, a process that has been extended to human beings in numerous now discredited eugenics-inspired and psychiatric experiments, and in the testing of nuclear weapons. Arguably this is the logical consequence of positing living beings as merely being machines.

14 The relationship of science to power has several dimensions, the most immediate of which is the role of power in physics itself. It is a technical term along with a constellation of others such as energy, force and work. Scientific power results in technological power which extends from engineering to the atom bomb. That technological power in turn results in economic and political power.