Chapter 11: The question of “chauvinism” in science
In the introduction to The Gods and Technology, Rojcewicz notes the history of truth from the pre-Socratics to the present can be seen as the move from “piety” to “idolatry,” where a sense for the gods looking at and taking up human being changes to a sense of human beings looking at and taking up its own ends in the absence of the absconded gods. Consistent with Heidegger, Rojcewicz links this shift generally to a shift in theoria (“theory” in the primordial sense) and techne (the “theory” underlying technology and science), and specifically, Rojcewicz notes that this shift amounts to a move from ancient “piety” to modern “idolatry,” one where imperiousness in technology and science leads to “unbridled imposition” that “supplants respectful abetting.” In this shift to imperiousness, beings are given primarily, if not exclusively, as “orderable through calculation,” and in this ‘calculable ordering’ technology—and therefore in essence science as well—shifts from “the pious attitude toward the object of practice” to a hubristic “imposition of ends” from a strictly human perspective that enforces human needs and whims. Rojcewicz describes this hubristic imposition of human needs and ends as chauvinism. Taken in general terms, chauvinism represents an aggressive imposition of the human conceptions and priorities onto Being or beings, but in the specific case of technology and science it represents an aggressive imposition of conceptualizations (e.g. nature as “a calculable nexus of forces”), one that facilitates satisfying human impositions through an endless consumption of disposables ravished from nature. Science is, as Heidegger states, the “harbinger” of the essence of technology. In essence, then, for Heidegger the shift from the ancient pious abetting of the gods’ disclosure to the modern idolatrous imposing in the gods’ absence is a shift from non-chauvinistic to chauvinistic thinking, and goal of this Chapter is to examine how this “chauvinism” applies to science. In other words, building on previous Chapters, this Chapter explores the possibility that modern science is chauvinistic in the Heideggerian sense.
Now in one respect, the work of this Chapter is already done. For as already shown, Heidegger’s characterizations of modern technology and modern science miss their mark, and the relationship between the two is not that essence of the former dictates the essence of the latter. That is, com-posing is not the essence of modern technology; science is not the ‘harbinger’ in service of this essence; therefore science does not impose conceptual objects on nature solely to facilitate later technological exploitation. Instead, science itself is essentially a poiesis that uses technical instruments to put the human perspective out of play in its attempt to understand nature strictly in terms of its own interrelations (in so far as that is possible at all). So based on the engagement with Heidegger thus far, assessing any charge of “chauvinism” in science is simply of a matter of asserting that modern science is in essence not chauvinistic in any Heideggerian sense because Heidegger was wrong about ancient versus modern technology, wrong about science drawing its essence from technology, and based on what science actually is and does, not even wrong about science as such. Absent a basis in Heidegger’s characterizations, there is simply no ground for Rojcewicz’s extrapolation that modern science is chauvinism. Since Heidegger’s characterizations are mistaken, so is any charge of chauvinism based on them. This rejoinder could be made on the basis of preceding discussion alone, and in light of it the work of this Chapter could be seen as already done.
But in the spirit of dialectical engagement with Heidegger, that short path simply will not do, for there is a deeper sense in which Heidegger—and thus Rojcewicz on his behalf—is wrong about modern science being “hubristic” and “chauvinistic,” as opposed to ancient science being “pious” and “non-chauvinistic” (or again, less chauvinistic, if ancient science also displaces the gods in some respects). For on a closer look, the opposite turns out to be true: in so far as science is characterized in terms of “chauvinism” at all—and it is stressed that it need not be—ancient and not modern science is the “chauvinistic” science, despite its stated predilections otherwise. That is, in ancient science the direct, naïve, and qualitatively immediate human perspective is taken to be, intended or not, the sin qua non of scientific theory, whereas in modern science this perspective is specifically put out of play, both conceptually in its foundations and intentionally in its practice. In this respect, then—and in this respect alone—ancient science is the “chauvinistic” science that puts the human perspective above all else, i.e. that sees natural processes in human terms, while modern science is the “non-chauvinistic’ science that puts a natural perspective above the human, i.e. that sees natural processes in terms of their own interrelations. With this distinction in mind, there is a longer path that shows yet another way in which Heidegger’s is wrong about science, and this longer path reveals a sense in which it is hard even to call his misunderstanding of ancient vis-à-vis modern thinking an “error,” much less having anything essential to do with science as such.
The longer path laid out in this Chapter proceeds as follows. First, the five ontological projections of the Being of nature in science are reiterated, this time focusing on the corresponding and contrasting ancient projections vis-à-vis the modern ones. Second, with these projections established, the respective ontological and functional understanding of cause in ancient versus modern science is discussed, specifically with an eye toward developing the ontological basis of the different kinds of explanation in ancient and modern thought. Third, the points made in the first two sections are brought together to show how the kinds of explanations sought in ancient and modern science follow quite naturally from their respective ontological predilections, specifically when it comes to understanding why natural phenomena occur, i.e. toward establishing causes. In the discussion these predilections and differing causal explanations are related to the question of “chauvinism,” showing in effect that ancient science, not modern, is “chauvinist”, if chauvinism in any sense even applies. Some concluding thoughts on two experiments by Torricelli and Galileo both conclude the chapter and act as a segway to the final Part of this essay.
The ontological projections in ancient science
In Chapter 9 it was noted that modern science asserts the ontological priority of change, homogeneity, relations, and ‘efficient’ cause. By contrast it was noted that ancient science stressed immutability, heterogeneity, intrinsicality, and ‘fourfold’ cause, with “cause” understood as a self-unfolding according to four “fashions.”  Each point bears separate discussion now as a prelude for understanding how the kinds of explanations sought in ancient and modern science differed.
First, whereas modern science is principally concerned with explaining change in nature, ancient science was principally concerned with what is immutable, with change representing a deficiency in Being to be understood within its own set limits, but this understanding was not true, demonstrative knowledge; knowledge in the strict sense was knowledge of the permanent and unchanging. That is, for ancient science, though nature was seen as changing within the fixed limits of birth and death, generation and corruption, motion towards natural place, etc., it nevertheless consisted of fixed, immutable substances possessing essential qualitative natures, natures apprehendable in terms genus and species as definitions of kinds. These kinds were in turn ranked in a permanent hierarchy of Being within a fixed and closed whole, and true knowledge consisted of rationally apprehending both the necessary and sufficient conditions of inclusions and exclusions within qualitative kinds, and the places of those kinds within the fixed hierarchy of Being in terms of their own inclusions and exclusions with one another. Particular beings, of course, were recognized to exist, but with respect to what does not change about them, all particular beings belong to fixed kinds, and while particular beings might change and pass away, the kind to which they belonged is permanent and unchanging and is thus the true object of knowledge. In short, ancient science was principally concerned with what modern science eventually disavowed—the fixed permanent hierarchy of kinds within which all natural change takes place.
Second, whereas modern science is principally concerned with how nature can be explained in terms of homogeneity, ancient science took as both final and explanatory the qualitative, heterogeneous diversity of nature, often using some ‘fixed’ qualities as explanatory principles of other qualitative change. Specifically, qualities like hot, cold, wet and dry, though themselves experiencable as properties of objects, were in turn understood as explanatory principles of elemental change, not simply qualities of objects undergoing change. Similarly, the qualitative differences in kinds of motion (upward, downward, circular, etc.) were not understood as species describable in terms of a single genus, motion, the essential properties of which could be examined and known. Instead, the qualitatively different kinds of motion were fixed explanatory principles to describe movement within the hierarchy of the qualitatively differentiated elements of heaven and earth, i.e. aether and the four terrestrial elements, earth, water, air, and fire. In general, there were as many kinds of motion as there were beings to move. Lastly, heterogeneous qualities were also taken by the ancients as finalities requiring no further explanation, and these finalities were often explained in terms of each other, whereas for the moderns heterogeneously different qualities like kinds of motion or properties of objects marked the end point of a natural process for which explanatory principles were sought.
Third, whereas modern science is concerned with extrinsic relations among independent ‘substances,’ ancient science was concerned with the intrinsic principles of the processes of change a self-subsistent substances can undergo. In general, then, substances have properties belonging specifically to it, and the changes that the substance can undergo with respect to these properties (changing, for instance, from hot to cold, smaller to larger, etc.) do not depend on changes in other substances; they are instead generally self-directing and governed by their own intrinsic principles—or their own intrinsicality, as it were. This self-directing intrinsicality is especially true of living things capable of self-motion, but it is equally true of a natural motion like an apple falling from a tree to the ground. In the latter case, the apple falls in a self-directed way as it seeks its natural place, not as it is attracted through an ‘external force’ (gravity) to a larger, independent object (the earth). Almost without exception, for the ancients natural knowledge consisted of understanding the “why” of change in terms of intrinsic principles governing the change itself as if it was self-directed towards its natural end, irrespective of any relationship to other substances and changes.
Fourth, and intimately related to the third, whereas modern science is concerned with only one aspect of cause, the so-called “efficient” or “agent” cause, ancient science was concerned with the four “fashions” of change that was considered ‘in itself’ to be causal, not externally caused by some outside force or extrinsic relationship per se. In other words, for the ancients causality was the principle of change itself, and it consisted of four separable but essentially related aspects (not four independent ‘causes’) through which change itself, as a causal process, could be described. Just stated, these four identifiable “fashions” of causal change were the material, the formal, the efficient, and the final cause, with the first one dealing more strictly with the matter and the following three with the form in differing respects. Examples will be offered in later discussion; suffice it to note for now that for the ancients, “cause” was not a principle or relationship linking two otherwise separate or independent events together, as it has tended to be since Hume. Rather for the ancients there was only one event, the change itself as causal—with “cause,” as noted, having four dimensions. Related to the intrinsicality just noted, cause for the ancients was the intrinsic principle governing change, whereas for the moderns cause represents knowledge of an external relationship between two qualitatively distinct events.
Taken together, the four contrasting ontological commitments between ancient and the modern science minimally imply that each sought different kinds of explanations, despite their common emphasis on seeking causes. That is, although in one respect, both the ancient and modern sciences ask “why does change occur?” or “why does an event happen?”—i.e. both sought causes—beyond this apparent similarity, the question “why” is asked and answered in two fundamentally different ways.  For the moderns, to ask why a change or event occurs is to ask either “under what external conditions does the change take place, understood in its most general terms with respect to other changes?” or “what event necessarily precedes the consequent event?” For the ancients, to ask why a change takes place is to ask either “how does the change intrinsically unfold according to the principle of its own realization?”, or alternatively, “what is the relationship of the permanent and fixed to the variable and changing, such that the definition of the former (a universal) can be known relative to the latter (a particular)?” In other words, for modern science, change as such is the theme of natural knowledge; it seeks knowledge of the “correspondences of changes” between qualitatively different events in nature, with ‘nature’ understood as inter-relatedness among changing processes and events. For ancient science, knowledge of the permanent principles substances and kinds underlying change was the theme of natural knowledge; it sought knowledge of the fixed boundaries in which natural change occurred, both in terms of the beginning or end of change itself, and within the fixed kinds the of which the particulars undergo change. In effect, as already noted, what was for one the object of true knowledge was precisely discarded by the other, and for this reason the kinds of explanations each sought must differ, in that what one seeks to explain in effect explains away what the other sought. This essential difference in the kind of explanations—to be discussed in detail shortly—is conceptually dependent on the fifth way in which ancient and modern science differ, namely, the ontological status of its scientific concepts.
The fifth way in which ancient and modern science differs ontologically is the ontological determinacy or indeterminacy of its conceptualizations; that is, the ancients and the moderns differ with respect to the ontological status of the scientific object—or broadly speaking, the conceptualizations used in scientific theorizing. Recall that for Eddington, modern science eventually realized it could best advance its research agenda by not seeking existential analogs from everyday reality for the reality of the conceptualized scientific object—in other words, modern science came to understand its conceptualizations (“mass,” “time,” length” etc.) functionally, i.e. in terms of how they could be defined, not ontologically, i.e. in terms of correspondence to fixable properties of substances; in this way it left the question of their correspondence to ‘reality’ in abeyance. For the ancients, no such functional understanding of its scientific concepts ever emerged; for ancient science, the conceptual object was ontologically determinate: it corresponded directly to reality (if ‘correspondence of concepts’ can even be ascribed at all), such that to apprehend in concepts was tantamount to apprehending reality, and vice versa. This ontological determinacy in ancient science versus the functional indeterminacy in modern science is distinguishable in virtually all of their respective conceptualizations, but for purposes here, cause alone is discussed, for in their respective understanding of cause can be seen the root of the different kind of explanations between ancient and modern science. But first a note on ancient “epistemology” is in order.
Ancient “cause” as an ontological concept
For the ancients, cause (and as to be seen shortly, its dependent correlative form) was an ontological concept, meaning that the concept “cause” directly referred to real causes in nature—or alternatively, for the ancients there was a strict correspondence between the concept “cause” and reality of causes. In fact, for Aristotle and the ancients, “cause” as known so directly reflected what is to be known, and vice versa, that even the terms “concept” and “correspondence” are deeply problematic, in that any division (in modern terms) between epistemology, as a theory of knowledge, and ontology, as a theory of what is, is anachronistic and artificial. Instead of this modern division, for the ancients, ‘mind’ came to know ‘reality’ by taking on in a definite way the essence or form of what was known—a “taking on” so literal that strictly speaking even “reflect” is a misnomer because that supposes a strict qualitative difference between what is as it exists and what exists as it is known. For present purposes, the tenacity this ‘direct realism’ to the point of ‘identity’ between knowing and the known in ancient thought is not considered, much less any potential problems it entails. Suffice it to note that for ancient science, cause and form are intimately related as apprehensible features of reality as such; they are not merely conceptual tools for apprehending that reality—or as aptly summarized by Lear, causal knowledge is possible because forms are what “project themselves into our mind when we study the world and only thus are what our minds contemplate when we are contemplating.” In other words, cause and form are intimately related ontological concepts ‘directly reflecting’ their real existence in nature to such an extent that one can say that only because of their real, prior existence “can we humans think with concepts at all.” Form and cause are thus decidedly ontological for the ancients, in that they are both essential to change itself and to our ability to know that change. One, in effect, comes with the other.
To see how form and cause intimately relate as ontological notions, consider a builder who might build a house from a bundle of wood. For Aristotle, the change from a bundle of wood into a house is a single event describable in terms of the four fashions of cause. First, there is the bundle of wood as the material cause, the matter, or “that out of which a thing comes to be and persists.” As a bundle, this matter is largely un-formed, at least with respect to the house into which it is to be built (the wood itself would have form, but that is largely immaterial to the question of its composition in a house). Second, the builder, to build a house, must apprehend the form house in some way; the builder must perceive the essence house—it must take form in his mind—and this perception is the second fashion, or the formal cause. Third, the builder must actually assemble the wood into a house; he must actually build by putting the form into matter; and this activity, as the agency that brings about the change from relatively unformed matter (the bundle of wood) to the final formed product (the house) represents the third, or efficient or agent, cause. Finally, there is the end toward which the change unfolds—or as Aristotle states: “since nature is twofold, the matter and the form, of which the latter is the end, and since all the rest is for the sake of the end, the form must be the cause in the sense of ‘that for the sake of which’” the change occurs. The end product, then—the house—is that for the sake of which the change occurs, and as such it represent the fourth fashion, or the final cause.
An important point can be emphasized in this example, namely, that the latter three “causes” all deal with the form as that which both guides the process of and persists as a constant in the change. That is, the matter, the bundle of wood, undergoes change; as a particular manifestation of the fixed kind wood, it can change. In this process of change, however, the form acts as both a constant ‘guide’—or better stated, as the intrinsic principle—of the change, even as it remains a fixed constancy within the change itself. The form “house,” as an essence, represents a fixed kind, house, of which the actual house built is but a particular—hence it can be the end result of a change. As a fixed kind, it both sets the natural limits to the change from a bundle of wood to the finished house, just as it directs the change from unfinished material toward the final product. In this way, cause and form are essentially one and the same: cause is for the most part the realization of form in matter—or again, better stated as the realization of formed matter—just as matter is always understood as unrealized form (for matter without form is unintelligible). Ontologically speaking, then, all change involves form both as a fixation of the limits of change and as a principle of constancy within the change itself, and cause is nothing more or less than the unfolding of the change within these limits and according to this constancy. Cause and form are thus reciprocal ontological realities directly representative of natural change itself. In short, all natural change is inherently causal because form is the “inner principle of all change”.
To reiterate, then, form for ancient science is a primary ontological reality, and cause is the description of that reality as it governs change. In so far as change occurs within the fixed limits prescribed by kinds (earthy bodies move downwards because the kind seeks its natural place in the earth; organisms change from embryo to adult within the limits fixed by the kind of organism it is, etc.), and in so far as the constancy of the fixed kind guides the change from matter to formed matter, cause and form are largely two aspects of one and the same process. In fact, cause and form are so intimately related that their relationship is generalized by Aristotle into the metaphysical principles of potentiality and actuality, or as the causal unfolding of potential as form into actually formed matter—i.e. as the “realization” of form into formed matter. While the question of the origin of form differs in natural beings like animals or elements and artifacts like houses or art works (a distinction to be returned to shortly), in both natural beings and artifacts the process from relatively unformed matter to fully formed matter is for Aristotle a move from what an organism or thing can potentially be to what it actually is—a movement based first on some actual form that also has the potential to unfold into new actually formed matter. As Lear puts it, “form directs the process of its own development from potentiality to actuality,” or alternatively, “form which exists as a potentiality is a force in the organism for the acquisition of a certain character: namely, actual form.” So for Aristotle and subsequent ancient science, form and cause understood in terms of potentiality and actuality represent ontological realities in nature, realties apprehendable, to be sure, in concepts, but for that very reason still subsisting ‘independently’ of those concepts as real features of natural change. In ancient science concept and reality centered on “cause” and “form” do not mirror one another so much as they take on the same identity in the act of knowing.
Modern “cause” as a functional concept
This ontological understanding of form and cause differs remarkably from the current scientific understanding of “cause,” and not simply because form as an ontological notion has been discarded by modern science (though it has). Cause as an ontological notion has been discarded too, in that “cause” in modern science has become a functional, logical, term, one that simply drops out of the explanatory picture once the phenomena in question is explained terms of the continuity of interactions involved in its occurrence (as opposed to being a determinate cause as an ontological reality). However, between the ancient ontological cause and the contemporary logical “cause” lays an early modern scientific and philosophical notion still referred to occasionally by philosophically minded scientists, and almost exclusively retained in the philosophy of science. Because of its occasional emergence in the former and sheer prevalence in the later, this transitional concept of cause is briefly noted and then criticized as a foil to stress its current logical use.
Since Hume’s criticisms and Mill’s positive construction, philosophers (and some scientists) have puzzled over how to construe (or reject) causality as a necessary sequence of events, where a specific consequent event follows a specific antecedent event, such that the sequence is necesary. That is, since Hume, the question of causality has been: how can a connection between two qualitatively different events exist, such that the consequent event must follow the antecedent event in a law governed, orderly way—or in other words, how are scientific laws as a “uniform and unconditional sequence of events” possible, a sequence describable in terms of strict mathematical laws? For instance, in Newtonian dynamics the cause of a body falling to earth was ‘the force of gravity’ pulling it down, or in magnetism the cause of iron fillings being drawn to a magnet was the ‘magnetic force,’ and so forth—in general, some real, physical force was posited as the ‘bridging power’ between the antecedent and the consequent events (magnetism, electricity, and gravity, in physics; the elan vital in biology, elective affinity in chemistry, etc.). Furthermore, since this force could be expressed in a necessary mathematical law, the sequence of events that was the force in action was also deemed necessary, and in so far as the forces were real, so too was their causal power. In early modern science, then, the forces of nature took the place of form in ancient science as the ‘inner principle of change’, and although this concept of causal force may have lacked a philosophical foundation, science proceeded as though this foundation was unnecessary (as it was), accepting instead the ontological uncertainty of how to understand the reality of these forces (‘action at a distance’ versus ‘fields,’ for instance) because as causal laws of nature they seemed both logically necessary (what else could cause change?) and predicatively accurate (how could the laws so accurately predict change and not be ontologically real?). In any case, an ontological concept of force causally linking events in necessary, connected sequences of antecedent and consequent prevailed until in the early 20th century, when ‘force as cause’ too was purged from the ‘waiting list’ of ontological specificity, thus taking its current place as a logical instrument for knowing nature, not an ontological reflection of it.
A more complete account of the transition from the ancient ontological to the early modern logical/ ontological to the solely functional and logical concept of cause in the history of science is beyond the scope of this essay. All that is noted here is that in contemporary science, the ontological notion of cause has dropped out of scientific explanations,  and in place of scientific laws as ontological reflections of ‘uniform and unconditional sequences of events’ (i.e. causal laws) has been put in practice scientific laws as instruments for resolving “gross qualitative occurrences” into a “definite set of interactions,” a resolution of a problem that simultaneously affords understanding, prediction and controlled intervention. In other words, scientific laws enable determination of the conditions and causes of natural change without themselves being causal laws per se of that change as such; once the determination of ‘conditions and causes’ is made, the notion of “cause” as a logical guide simply drops out, its purpose as a tool in inquiry having been served. This transition from an ontological to a logical notion of cause, though implicitly recognized in virtually all scientific practice, bears some discussion for its rarity in philosophy, where wrangling over the ontological meaning of “cause” still persists.
The philosophical persuasiveness of causation as an ontological notion in science (i.e. scientific laws as expressing a ‘uniform and unconditional sequence of events’ in nature) persists because of several basic (and oddly simple) confusions about what scientific laws do and do not represent. First and most fundamentally, conceiving scientific laws as expressing an ‘unconditional sequences of events’ is to fail to observe that universal propositions like Newton’s law of gravitation (F= G ), Coulomb’s law ( ), or the impulsive force of simple elastic collisions ( —just to take three particularly well established examples—are 1) non-existential in nature, in that they define characteristics of being a massive body, an electric charge, and an elastic collision respectively, therefore they simply do not have specific existences as their subject matter, much less existences as a sequence of events; and 2) when applied existentially, these scientific laws establish the necessary and sufficient conditions for being a kind of relation among the existences in question (massive bodies, electric charges, etc.). In short, these laws simply do not have ‘events in a temporal sequence’ as their subject matter, even though their application is to qualitatively different ‘observable sequences’ of events. So in their very formulation (i.e. universality, non-existentiality) and applicability (i.e. specifying a kind of relation), scientific laws cannot express a “uniform and unconditional sequence of events” because in the first place they are non-existential in nature—so they don’t directly refer to existences at all—and in the second place when they are existentially applied they specify a kind of relation, not a sequence of events.
Second, although in a common sense, everyday way a scientific law (like the impulse of simple elastic collisions, to take the famous Humean example) refers to a qualitatively distinct sequence of events (e.g. like a billiard ball in motion, a second billiard at rest, a collision, then the second ball in motion), once inquiry into the “cause” of the “events” begins, application of the law transforms the gross, observable sequence of events into a set of definite interactions that is essentially non-temporal in nature; in short, the very idea of “events” drops out and is replaced with “a relation of traits that describe a specified kind” (in this case, elastic collisions). In this relation defining the kind, the traits—including any temporal relation—are specified as the necessary and sufficient conditions to be of the kind in question, and in these necessary and sufficient conditions there is simply “no element of sequence in their relations to one another,” even when time is one of the specified traits. In other words, even when the traits describing the kind of interaction described by the law include time as a variable, the law expresses not a temporal sequence of events in the gross, everyday sense but instead “temporality” as one of the relations specifying the entities involved in the kind under consideration. The understanding of scientific laws as expressing a “real” uniformity among a “sequence of events” represents a fundamental confusion between the essentially non-temporal relations defining a kind and the common sense understanding of temporal sequence of event; the conflation simply ignores the transformation the initial common sense notions of “event” undergo in order to become the subject matter of the scientific law. To summarize the point using the instant example, the discrete and separable qualitatively “different events” on the billiards table (the first billiard ball in motion, the second billiard at rest, a collision, then the second ball in motion) are in the formulation of the scientific problem resolved into a single continuous event of a specified kind (in this case an elastic collision), a kind describable in terms of a set of interactions among the objects undergoing the single event, with time as one term of those interactions (the billiard balls as solid objects in motion). In the formulation of the scientific problems, the “difference” and” separability” of events simply disappears. Aside from this transformation of the everyday sense of a sequence of events into a single kind of event for scientific examination, there is simply no relationship between scientific laws and a “uniform unconditional sequences of events.” Like with the competing ontological reality of science versus the everyday real, the belief that scientific laws describe causal sequences of events is simply an illusion born out of a philosophical misunderstanding of what scientific laws are and do when applied to existential subject matter.
Third and lastly, regarding the ‘unconditionality’ and ‘necessity’ implied in the ontological interpretation of scientific laws as causal laws expressing necessary sequences, the idea that the existential sequence of events described by the law is therefore necessary because the scientific law applies to it (i.e. it ‘identifies a cause’) is also an illusion, just this time the illusion is the result of transposing the necessity inherent in the universal proposition that is the formulation of the law to the sequence it purports to describe (which again, is only a “sequence” for common sense, not scientific application). In short, the conclusion that the necessity of the scientific laws reflects the necessity of the causal sequence, and vice versa, is to conflate “the constancy of evidentiary function with existential recurrence.” In a very real sense, the necessity inherent in the scientific law as a universal proposition does reflect a constancy in nature; otherwise the law would not be a reliable piece of scientific knowledge. In their formulation, scientific laws take the regularity of nature into account. But the “singular events determined” in the application of scientific laws cannot themselves be constant because they are simply not recurrent at all, much less necessarily recurrent. In the first place, any event under investigation (or predicted) will never occur again in precisely the same way, i.e. it is not recurrent, thus the question of the law expressing any constancy or necessity to its recurrence simply doesn’t apply. In other words, the kind of event recurs, not the event itself. And in the second place, existentially speaking there is no reason apriori that the sequence to which the law is being applied couldn’t have simply occurred (or will occur in the future) in some other way, because of some other intervening “cause” not appreciated in the formulation of the problem, thus making even the application of the scientific law in question partial at best—or to use a similar term, probable. In any given application of a scientific law, unappreciated factors may influence the observed outcome such that the outcome deviates, however slightly or grossly, from the outcome predicted by the law. In such cases, minimally, some other law would have to be applied to account for the actual occurrence, thus diminishing the necessity the first law carries in its own application. Despite this singularity of events and the probably application of laws to them, what does recur in nature, as noted, is the kind of events in question, so in so far the scientific law accurately describes the relations specifiable in the kind, and in so far as the events in question are representative of that kind, the “necessity” of the existential sequence as an instance of the kind can be ascertained. But again, nothing in nature says that causally speaking the sequence will remain the kind it is, under any and all possible or even likely influences; some new change—one either potentially foreseen or completely unforeseen—may intervene to make it a new kind (or minimally, remove it as an exclusive kind), a change subject to other (if known) scientific laws. For these reasons, the ontological interpretation of “unconditional” and “necessary” causal uniformity expressed in scientific laws simply fails to appreciate that the necessity and unconditionality expressed by them is entirely a matter of the necessary and sufficient conditions defining the kind, therefore any “necessity” in its application is contingent on the existential sequence remaining the kind of sequence that it is. But again, there is neither any necessary reason in nature nor law for such a reason (so far as we know) insuring that kind of constancy in events. In short, necessity in the sequence doesn’t exist simply because the laws functionally describing the kind of event are themselves necessary. Something about the description may always remain unspecified in their application, and no law can specify all occurrences affecting it.
These three points can be summarized by saying that while expressing constant relations in nature, scientific laws do so only in so far as they establish the necessary and sufficient conditions for a kind of natural relation, therefore their proper subject matter is a set of definite interactions specific to the kind and not a causal, existential sequence of events. For only by transforming the given ‘sequence’ of qualitatively different ‘events’ of common sense into a single kind of event with a continuous history can the necessary relations describing the kind be brought to bear on the actual occurrences in nature—i.e. only through this transformation can the scientific law be applied. In its application, the connection between the common sense ‘sequence of events’ will be, by constant temptation, retrospectively viewable as necessary in so far as those ‘events’ represent a kind of relation (gravity, electrical attraction, elastic collision, etc.), but the necessity apperceived in this way is either strictly evidentiary (i.e. borne by the non-existential proposition prescribing necessary relations within the kind) or it is fallaciously “existential” (i.e. the events are deemed “necessary” because they in fact did happen the way they did, represented by the kind, and not some other way). But in any event, the necessity of scientific laws does not refer to a causal sequence in nature, as though the laws express some ‘inner principle’ through which separate events are connected, necessarily or otherwise. Instead, scientific laws describe kinds of relations in nature, the applicability of which are always contingent on the existential ‘events’ in question remaining the kind described. In this way, scientific laws are both necessary and contingent, in that though the relations of a kind can be ‘universally’ specified (subject always to further testing), that actual events persist as the kind they appear to be remains contingent on what actually happens—and nothing so far known can determine any lawful constancy to that kind of contingency. In short, scientific laws do not describe a uniform causal nexus of nature subject to strict laws. They provide instruments—reliable ones, to be sure—for inquiry into why the events that do happen happen in the way that they do. In modern science, scientific laws are instrumental for determining logical causes without themselves being existentially determinative of causal sequences.
Despite this functional account of the nature of scientific laws, it may still be asked how this issue bears on the question of the ontological notion of cause in nature, for in an obvious sense the “causes” found through their functional application are natural causes, since they occur, obviously, in nature. Why not, then, simply say that scientific laws find natural causes because they themselves reflect the causal change undergone? If one cannot say this logically—and one can’t—what then is the source of the conviction that they do ‘directly reflect the inner laws of change’—in other words, what is the source of the error (since it is an error) in saying that scientific laws represent a ‘necessary sequence of causal events,’ as opposed to specifying a kind of event for use in the logical investigation of causes? And if “cause” is not an ontological category of nature in this sense, in what sense is cause a logical one with an apparent ontological application?
Regarding the first question (the source of error), causality as a necessary connection between an antecedent and a consequent event (as though the antecedent is the cause of the consequent) comes from inappropriately mixing the scientific resolution of the situation to which the law is applied and the common sense of “cause” into a single hybrid notion that fails to pay proper respect to its respective origins. Consider, again, the classic billiard balls example. In everyday experience one observes three qualitatively different events that are to be ‘causally’ related to one another. First there is the ball in motion toward the ball at rest, then there is the impact of the ball in motion on the ball at rest, then there is the ball at rest in motion after the impact. Nothing could be more temporal and sequential and ‘causal’ than that; each event is separable, and the question for common sense is “what ‘links’ the events together?” An impulsive ‘force’ is proposed (or in common sense, assigned). In the scientific determination of this assignment, however, the billiards in action as ‘a situation to be understood’ is conceptualized in an entirely different way than it is for common sense. In the first place the ‘events’ themselves are transformed; they are no longer seen as events in a sequence as such but as two moving bodies in relationship to one another as a single event—a collision. As a kind of event, the objects involved (in this case the “billiard balls”) are related to one another in necessary ways, ways specified by the equation . As a mathematical equation, this law of impulsive force establishes a necessary relation among abstract characters, relations established by definition—a definition involving prior scientific work insuring its reliability, to be sure, but a definition none the less. Upon formulation of the scientific problem, then, the relationship between the ‘billiard balls’ is not a temporal sequence; it is a logical relation specifying the necessary and sufficient conditions belonging to the kind “elastic collision.” In effect, the subject matter in question has changed from the common sense qualitatively different events to a necessary relationship among “mass” and “velocity” in a single event—a collision—and only by exporting back into the common sense “events” the necessity apprehended in this relationship is the first event (the first ball moving) a necessary causal antecedent of the last event observed (the second ball moving). But the importation is invalid, in that it confuses “the operational means of procedure with the existential result of their application”—in other words, it mistakes the resolution of the “antecedent” and “consequent” events into a single unified event for a characterization of those separate events themselves. The resulting hybrid notion of common sense and science in a causal law is because of this importation internally inconsistent, for in the first place “there are no such things as uniform sequences of events” (events are always unique), and in the second place “the property of sequentially is eliminated” (both by resolution into a single event and the logical relations prescribed by the scientific law). Simply put, the idea of an existentially necessary causal connection between the gross events observed as the antecedent and the consequent confuses the logical necessity belonging to the relations defining a kind with the (alleged) existential necessity that the kind must be the kind that it is. Since this latter condition never obtains (something unanticipated can always affect the designation of the kind), only through this invalid importation can the antecedent event be seen as the necessary cause of the consequent event observed. In other words, only by confusing the necessity of internal relations within a kind with the (mistaken) necessity that the kind be the kind that it is does the so-called “necessity of causal laws of sequences” even emerge.
The exposure of the source of the error of the “necessary connection” between the antecedent and the consequent leads quite naturally the appreciation of cause as a logical category as opposed to an ontological one, first because the logical error is revealed as such, but second because this revelation leads quite naturally to the realization that specifying an antecedent event as the antecedent of a consequent event is a practical decision made in inquiry, not an ontological one prescribed by existence. For observe that the very source of the illusion of a necessary connection between the antecedent and the consequent stems from taking the relationship between the billiard balls solely in terms of one event in which they relate to one another (the collision), whereas existentially both the history of the first ball preceding the collision and the destiny of the second ball afterwards is itself continuous, reaching far beyond the limits so circumscribed. For an imaginary scenario of only two balls in colliding motion (in fact the stipulation of the impulse formula), this continuity is not obvious, but in the real world the ball minimally must have been set in motion by some prior cause, a cause that just as well could be the antecedent event causing the second ball to move, in so far it that event is just as necessary for the final destination of the second ball as the more proximate event right before the collision. Otherwise put, “events as existence neither begin nor cease just because an inquirer is concerned with them,” and absent the specified parameters of a specific inquiry, all that can be said under the “ontological interpretation of causation is that everything in the universe is cause and effect of everything else”—a statement as true as it is scientifically useless. Logically speaking “cause” as an “abstract conception of the indefinitely numerous existential sequences” leading up to a single, specifiable event is eminently useful, for it instigates scientific inquiry into finding the actual conditions and causes for things observed, especially when those conditions and causes are not directly observed or observable. But as an ontological statement of the universe, all causality prescribes is that everything is the cause and effect of everything else, leaving what necessarily follows from being a kind of event an entirely open question. As Dewey noted long ago, “given the problem of resolving a gross and indeterminate succession of observed qualitative events into a single continuous history, there is sufficient and necessary ground for taking one event as an ‘effect’ or consequent, and some other as antecedent or ‘cause,’ ” and in this respect causal propositions are always possible, even desirable. But they remain possible and desirable only in so far as the “conditions and causes” of observed qualities are viewed as practical means to the desired qualities as ends. As a practical instrument, then, “cause” as a logical concept guides scientific inquiry in its search for regularities amidst indefinite antecedents of an almost infinite variety of qualitative changes, even as it avoids the trap of ascribing to existence an arbitrary ontological beginning and endpoint for those existing qualities.
Ancient versus modern explanations
With the ontological projections of ancient science discussed and the question of ontological cause addressed, both pieces leading to the differentiation of the kinds of explanation in ancient and modern science are in place; all that remains is to discuss these conclusions in terms of one another in order to see how their respective methodological commitments emerge. For from their respective ontological projections of what nature is, i.e. from their explicit conceptions of ‘the Being of nature,’ the methods used and kind of explanations sought in ancient and modern science follow quite naturally. Discussion begins then with the ontological projections of ancient science and the methods and explanations they entail, carried out along with a comparison with their modern counterparts.
Before proceeding, however, an admission about a basic assumption is in order. Specifically, in what follows, it is assumed without argument that modern science represents the genuine way of knowing between the two kinds of sciences, ancient and modern; therefore the methodological commitments and kind of explanations in ancient science are seen mainly, but not exclusively, in light of how they fail to achieve modern status. No argument for this teleological comparison is offered here simply because none is really needed, and none should be needed because of, among other things, their respective track records in producing reliable knowledge. To put it bluntly, no useful invention or possibility of intervening in a natural process has ever emerged from the ‘natural knowledge’ of ancient science, nor could one use ancient science generate one, even with a modern understanding of where to look. By contrast, from the reliable knowledge of modern science has emerged most of—if not all—the technological achievements of the 20th century (not to mention much of the modern world). Simply put, in execution ancient science is charitably a failure, and that failure alone should mitigate against taking it seriously as a reliable mode of—as Heidegger would say—“knowing comportment.” In any case, the post-mortem analysis, as it were, offered here is for this reason not a comparison of two viable alternatives, either of which could be correct based on some neutral, common ground. When it comes to comparing the ancient and the modern way of knowing, no such neutral basis exists, or need exist, because we know for all practical certainty that one kind of science is correct enough (however partially) while the other is not. With this in mind, it is assumed in what follows that however responsible for the idea of science, ancient science failed primarily because it failed to achieve the modern ways of knowing. To that end, the difference accounting for the relative failure is offered in place of justifying the assertion itself (for again, in terms of result, for all intents and purposes the assertion is self-justifying enough).
The four respective ontological projections of ancient vis-à-vis modern science are taken in previous order, one by one.
First, as noted on two previous occasions, where ancient science projected the immutable as the object of genuine knowledge modern science projected change, and in this first ontological projection lays perhaps the most notable difference between the two kinds of science, for this difference led to a methodological commitment on which the success of the later can be seen and the intrinsic limits of the former comprehended. Specifically, by prioritizing knowledge of the immutable over knowledge of the changing, ancient science in effect put contemplation supported by observation in place of revelation through variation as the primary means of knowing. This is not simply to say, as is commonly said, that modern science is experimental, whereas ancient science was not; though this is true in the sense in which experiment tests conceptualizations (ancient experiments were never set up to test). It is instead to point out that understanding change as a privation of true Being virtually excludes apriori using variation of changes as a means of knowledge, for simply put—and given the stipulation, sensibly put too—how could variation of lack of real Being ever produce knowledge of real Being, i.e. how can more privation lead to less privation, to wit, to more or real Being? With the immutable in nature in mind as the genuine object of true scientific contemplation, observation in effect at best serves conceptual apprehension by providing means for ruling out what is not immutable, without itself leading to direct knowledge of “immutable” kinds of change, whereas at worst conceptual apprehension selects observation in advance, thus acting as nothing more than confirmation of what is already known (importantly, “confirmation” not a test). Since in ancient science knowledge of the immutable can only be apprehended intellectually by a mind receptive to permanent, ontologically real forms, observation of change or particulars is alternatively a vehicle for seeing the ‘universal’ and ‘formal’ at work or a block to . However contemplation and observation may in work together in some respect to yield knowledge in ancient science, ontologically projecting the immutable as the only genuine Being and change as a privation of that Being means observing variations in changes as the means to the ‘immutable’ or ‘regular’ is all but ruled out. Methodologically, then, because of its principle ontological projection, ancient science simply rules out the only likely path to genuine knowledge of the “regular” or “immutable” in nature—i.e. to what is permanent despite change—namely, the variation of change itself. The fact that his variation can be either eidetic in imagination or existential in experiment will be discussed shorty.
Second, since ancient science stressed the qualitative heterogeneity of nature as opposed to its quantitative homogeneity, ancient science missed out on a second critical component of scientific knowledge, namely, establishing natural relations among objects through measurement. Again, this is not simply to say that ancient science didn’t rely on measurement as a means of scientific knowing, though it didn’t. Instead, it is to point out that by seeing quantity as accidental and not as something essentially belonging to ‘primary being’ (or substance), ancient science missed the homogeneity of quantity as a means of setting up a system of relating the interactions of nature with itself. In other words, ancient science missed the only means of finding a fixed constancy, i.e. ‘immutability,’ in nature. For measurement in science is far more than simply an assessment of quantity for use in calculation or computations—though of course it is that. To effect that calculation measurement first imposes a standard of reckoning change in nature in terms of fixed relations relative to other objects—relations that on their own ‘terms’ vary with respect to particular objects (for each object is quantitatively different than another) but with respect to transformations of relations among some constancy remains (the units of measurements bear constant relations between objects). That the platinum bar held in controlled conditions as a standard of reference is one meter is entirely arbitrary; it could be any length. But that it is based on an object is not, for measurement is ultimately establishing relations among objects through the instrumentality of other objects, and this instrumental relation establishes the constancy—the homogeneity, as it were—necessary for common reference (and with that common reference comes prediction and all that follows from it). In its stress on quality as both final and explanatory, ancient science failed to establish this only known objective means of relating nature to itself—measurement in the ontological sense.
Third, and essentially related to the first two, by seeing change only in terms intrinsic principles governing the change of self-subsisting and independent substances (or ‘primary being’), ancient science failed to observe that change of any given ‘substance’ is essentially inter-related to change in ‘other substances’. In one respect, this emphasis on intrinsicality is understandable, given that for the ancients only what subsists as fixed through changes was deemed intelligible. In another respect it is even warranted, since change itself was seen as almost exclusively as accidental (and why look to correlations among accidents for genuine knowledge). But as intelligible and warranted as it was in light of its own ontological predilections, those ontological predilections were misguided, and the ancient stress on an ontology of intrinsic principles of change made it all but impossible to appreciate how even the ‘intrinsic principles’ of a specific kind of change is governed by ‘extrinsic’ relations between interdependent ‘substances,’ not simply principles relative to one substance itself. In effect, the ancient emphasis on intrinsicality excluded from science what may be the principle—if not only—field of its investigation: correlations of change among interrelated objects.
Fourth (and perhaps debatably), the ancient emphasis on a fourfold principle of causation specific to a relatively isolated incidence of change over the modern emphasis on only the ‘agent’ or ‘originating source’ of change imposed an arbitrary beginning and end to causal sequences, in effect missing the interrelatedness of a set of interactions already stressed in the third ontological projection. For by taking as the first cause of change the matter undergoing the change and the final cause the completion of the change itself as the for-the-sake-of-which change occurs, ancient science artificially picked a starting point and a terminal point in ‘a sequence of events’ (or as noted already with respect to the modern functional understanding of cause, in ‘a set of interactions’) that does no justice to the ways in which changes in nature are interconnected. Again, this emphasis on a fourfold understanding of cause is understandable in light of the ontological projections of immutability, heterogeneity, and intrinsicality—for why look anywhere else than the matter and the form ‘interacting’ within change as potentiality and actuality, if substances are principally self-sufficient and unchanging despite accidental occurrences. But as the first three ontological projections were errors leading to the omission of essential elements of science, so too was the emphasis on the fourfold nature of cause. For this projection in effect gathered the three others within itself into one single error, making it in the end as restrictive as it is superfluous. In the final analysis, the modern emphasis on the ‘originating source’ of one change in another is all the cause that is needed, once change itself among homogenously interrelated ‘substances’ is given its due ontological place.
So in these four respects, ancient science was ontologically inadequate relative to the accomplishments of modern science, but in the account so far nothing has been said about how these inadequacies lead to the different kinds of explanations in ancient and modern science. But the step to connecting the ontological inadequacies and to their correlative kind explanations is relatively short, for it can be summarized into one prevailing difference between ancient and modern science, namely, the tendency to anthropocentric centering, or not. That is, ancient and modern science differ ontologically, methodologically, and by kind of explanation in that the former is defined by, and circumscribes entities within, an anthropocentric framework, while the latter does not. The meaning of “anthropocentric” a used in this context requires several clarifications.
First and foremost, calling ancient science “anthropocentric” in this context does not mean that ancient science was anthropomorphic, in the sense that ancient scientists animated nature and the cosmos with human-like attributes and forces, or saw natural or cosmic forces solely within terms of human purposes and ends. In fact, it could be said that anthropocentric as used here relies on the opposite tendency being true, in so far as it is recognized that Aristotle more than once said that art imitates nature, just as he said that the human mind fulfills itself through imitation of the divine mind, in that fulfillment of human potential comes from taking on in the mind the intelligibility and purpose already in nature; that once done human purposes and ends could be adapted to that apprehended prior, natural intelligibility and purpose. So “anthropocentric” here does not refer to animism or any other kind of anthropomorphism of nature because for the ancients, nature had its own ends that human beings were to take up and imitate in order to live a fulfilling life, and these ends were not animated with any intentionality acting toward or thwarting human purposes and ends. They existed quite happily, as it were, without them, and they were there for the taking or not, not put they by those who might take.
Second, instead of “anthropomorphic,” anthropocentric here refers to the conceptual and observational framework in which ancient science was conducted, and in both respects, the term denotes an error. Specifically, the conceptual framework refers to the inadequate ontological commitments subtending ancient science, while the observational framework refers to the inadequate ‘point of view,’ as it were, from and within which observations were made. In an important respect, both frameworks were anthropocentric, meaning that the intelligibility of the concepts through which observations were approached were taken to reflect the intrinsic intelligibility of nature itself, and that the observations themselves were limited to an unaided perceptual inspection in which the native limits of observation were taken to represent the natural scope and limits of existence. By calling both the conceptual and the observational framework “anthropocentric” nothing derogatory is implied regarding the error that is either projection, for the intrinsically human point of view is after all the natural starting point for all inquiry. Instead, calling ancient science anthropocentric simply refers to the erroneous assumption that the intrinsic properties and limits of native understanding and observation are representative of the properties and limits of nature itself. Simply put, in a way that modern science is not, ancient science is essentially anthropocentric, and the specific kind of anthropocentrism at work within it explains more than any other single factor why ancient science failed completely as knowledge of nature, whereas modern science does not.
The role of anthropocentrism in the relative failure of ancient vis-a-vis modern science is appreciable in two respects, each of which is in turn divisible in two ways. First, conceptually (i.e. ontologically) ancient science was anthropocentric first with respect to the intrinsic intelligibility of nature vis-à-vis knowing nature and second (and relatedly) with respect to the ontological determinacy of its concepts. Second, observationally ancient science was anthropocentric first with respect to its method and second with respect to its subject matter—or alternatively stated, second with respect to both its starting point for explanations and the reach of the explanations themselves. The inherent errors of anthropocentrism in the conceptual (ontological) frame are discussed first, followed by discussion of its observational consequences.
With respect to the first way in which ancient science was conceptually and ontologically anthropocentric—the identification of the knowing and the known and the intrinsic intelligibility of nature—almost without exception in ancient science the result of actual inquiry was ascribed to antecedent existence in such a way that in effect making nature so intrinsically intelligible begged the question entirely of how the explanation of it could be applied—or alternatively stated, the constancy of evidentiary function was confused with existential recurrence, raising the question: how can it ever be independently known when the correct intelligibility has been apperceived? The pervasiveness of this error can be seen by quoting Aristotle in full, for he says:
“Thought in itself deals with what is best in itself, and that which is thought in the fullest sense with that which is best in the fullest sense. And thought thinks itself because it shares the nature of the object thought; for it becomes an object of thought in coming into contact with and thinking its object, so that thought and object are the same. For that which is capable of receiving the object of thought, i.e. substance, is thought. And it is active when it possesses this object.”
Setting aside the obvious normative dimensions in this conception of thought and its object, it clearly identifies the ‘intelligibility of thought’ with the ‘intelligibility of nature’ in a way that can only be described as naïvely anthropocentric, in so far as it conflates the final product of scientific inquiry—the determinate, intelligible ‘object’—with an alleged antecedence—in this case a determinately intelligible object. In effect this claim to antecedence only sets up a relationship that begs the question of what science really explains. How, for instance, can it ever be known when and if the correct identification in the explanation has occurred? Is it the first explanation reached? The second? How are the two to be differentiated as true relative to one another, when both claim identification with the intrinsic intelligibility of nature? Any answer to these questions (or questions like them) will simply presuppose precisely what it seeks to explain, namely, the apriori identification in question, for in no other way can the identity be asserted as the basis for correct thinking. As a dialectical reply to the assertion, the only necessary rejoinder to the so-called “identification” is, simply put, to point out that no such identification takes place apriori; that identifying the intelligibility of thought with the intelligibility of nature is a result of scientific inquiry, not its basis, and to take it as its basis simply confuses the evidentiary function of concepts in with the antecedent existence for which the concepts are used as evidence. Modern science took the first necessary step past this deadlocking naiveté of identification between thought and object when it realized, however tentatively at first, that the only refutation necessary is to act as though that the conflation hasn’t occurred in the first place, i.e. by asking questions where they very identification of thought and object is questioned. Rejecting the conceptual anthropocentrism of identifying ‘the ordering of thought’ with ‘the intelligibility of nature’ was the initial step modern science took in opening up inquiry to genuine discovery. For if thought is not identified with its object apriori, this opens up the unavoidable question: what thoughts can best describe its object, nature? In what ways can nature be known? In other words, de-identifying thought and object from an apriori conformity to one another is tantamount to asking how can an appropriate ‘thought’ be constructed so that reality is faithfully represented, and how can its faithful appropriateness be known?
The second way in which ancient science was conceptually and ontologically anthropocentric—the ontological determinacy of its concepts—is intimately related (and perhaps even identical with) to the first, for if the intelligibility of thought is apriori identified with the intelligibility of nature, i.e. if the object of concepts and the concepts themselves are identical—concepts themselves are removed from their rightful functional role in inquiry and are instead placed ontologically in nature, simply waiting there to be apprehended by an active mind. As noted already, “cause” and “form” for the ancients were ontologically real; both existed in nature as the governing principles of change, with mind simply taking on these realities as it came to know them, in effect ‘mirroring’ nature in a way even more basic than a reflection, in that the mirroring is an identification with, not a qualitatively differentiable term, as a reflected image is of the original object. Methodologically speaking, however, this identification is the death of inquiry before it even begins, for it sets up an everlasting temptation to assume that the first conceptualizations of a problem are also the last, for how else could the conceptualization even come to the contemplative mind were it not that mind apprehended that form and cause in nature? If concepts arise in the mind because their ontological equivalents are real and activate them, why look elsewhere than what ‘comes to mind’ when contemplating an issue that what comes to mind first, or from implication of what’s first? Aristotle’s identification of the intelligibility of nature and the intelligibility of thought (i.e. concepts), as intrinsically ontological, virtually insures that inquiry ends with the first concepts with which it begins, or with dialectical implications of those conceptus, with the only selection criteria for alternate explanations being the internal coherence and consistency of the concepts used—for if this consistency and coherence is intelligible, then presumably it is the intelligibility of nature, and so forth.
These two conceptual anthropocentrisms, then—identification of thought and nature and ontological determinacy of concepts—work hand in hand, and they pervade ancient science: the havoc they wreaked can be seen in virtually all of its ‘accomplishments’ and disputations alike, specifically with respect to the four ontological projections so far discussed. For instance, with respect to the knowledge of the immutable, since variation as such—either eidetic in imagination or existential in experiments—was all but ruled out apriori in favor of a straightforward apprehension of either fact or essence in contemplation, the sole criteria for deciding among competing explanations was internal consistency and coherence among concepts, regardless of how well those concepts accounted for all the variation or permutations of the phenomena in question. Since no onus to vary in either in experiment or in imagination existed as a means to discern invariance within change, disputing scientists were left to wrangle over how well their concepts accounted for one aspect of a change at the expense of the interconnection of others, even as in doing so they purported to describe the unchanging cause and form governing all the observable variation. With its dogma against variation as a test of knowledge, natural knowledge went nowhere for nearly millennia, despite—or perhaps because of—its various conceptual contortions. The history of ancient science is the history of what happens when scientific concepts are divorced from their functional role in directing observation to various permutations of a problem—permutations tested both conceptually (in deduction and eidetic variation) and existentially (in experiment). They become—as they did—mere objects of dispute confused for the essence of natural changes themselves. As long as inquiry fastens on the immutable over invariance within change, specific changes were constantly seen in terms of single deviations from immutability instead of possible indicators of a constancy or regularity in nature that account for all the observable changes. In any case, inquiry into nature turned into disputations of concepts—disputations with no court of appeal in experimental or imaginative variation as the final arbiter, leaving only internal coherence and logical consistency as the sole criteria of ‘truth’.
The consequence of conceptual anthropocentrism may be most prominent and pervasive in the quest for immutability, but similar havoc can be seen in the other three ontological projections—heterogeneity, intrinsicality, and cause. For instance, without any homogenous framework for comparing change—without the objective arena established ontologically by measurement—the only explanatory recourse left was to explain qualitative change in terms of other apprehended, observed qualities (or qualitatively distinct events), and once these explanatory qualities (or events) were selected—a selection that in and of itself largely arbitrary—there is simply no other place to assign them except to an intrinsic process of change. For recall: qualities for the ancients are always qualities of ‘substances’ or ‘primary being;’ they cannot be used to describe extrinsic relations among substance because they are intrinsic themselves; therefore the possibility of examining qualities in terms of ‘extrinsic’ conformity to a homogenous system of measurement doesn’t even arise. Add to this consequential stress on intrinsicality from heterogeneity the stipulation that “substance depends on quality, and this is determinate nature, though quantity is indeterminate,” and a common framework for understanding natural interactions among qualitatively separate process and events (i.e. change) is apriori ruled out. Absent measurement and quantity, there is simply no place left for concepts to go except for conceptually recasting change into terms of its own causal operations—hence the pervasive sense derived from ancient science that its ‘explanations’ do little more than explain themselves, which is in fact almost all they ever do. Absent a functional role for conceptual subject matter, and given an ontological fixity instead in apprehension without variation, the only thing left for concepts to do is to explain qualitative change in terms of other selected qualities in a conceptual recasting that purportedly describes change as intrinsically unfolding from itself, with movement and change tautologically rendered as: “movement takes place when the fulfillment exists, and neither earlier nor later. The fulfillment then, of that which is potentially, when it is fulfilled and actual, not qua itself, but qua moveable, is movement.” This is of course true, as far as conceptual coherence goes, but it explains nothing about the conditions and causes of change beyond the tautological redescription of itself, and breaking the tautology down the into four aspects—the matter, the form, the agent, and the end—adds nothing to knowledge of causes either; it merely recalls the tautology “cause” in four differentiable ways. In essence, by identifying the object of thought with thought itself, the conceptual/ontological anthropocentrism in ancient science effectively turns “causal” explanation into (literally) thought explaining its own object. This pervasive error in ancient science—if something so fundamentally misguided can even be called an error—is both a cause and consequence of its anthropocentrism. That is, it is ontological anthropocentrism at work.
The identification of thought with nature and the ontological determinacy of concepts in ancient science—in short, its conceptual anthropocentrism—is essentially related to the second way in which ancient science is anthropocentric, namely, its observational anthropocentrism. Specifically, the anthropocentrism of its four ontological predilections consigned observation to native forms of unaided perception, even as the intrinsic limits of that unaided perception gave science both a starting point for and a preset limit of the reach of its explanations. Additionally, even though consistent with sound scientific practice concepts both guided and were guided by observational, existential material, in ancient science this reciprocity remained misguided, in that it led either to selective ordering of observations to conform to concepts or to selective omission of them to avoid conflict with them—or in most senses, both selection biases working together. In other words, without variation and elimination as tests—either eidetic or experimental—observation acted neither as a reliable guide for concept formation nor as a check on it, and the result was to solidify the hold of unaided perceptual observation on concept formation and use, and to cast these intrinsic limits into the ‘fabric of nature’ itself. This most unscientific reciprocity of conceptual and observational anthropocentrism can be seen by considering both aspects separately.
With respect to the reliance on unaided perception for observation in ancient science, little needs to be said. As far as is known, no instrument was ever used either to enhance powers of observation (though magnifying lenses existed) or to measure anything in order to know something about it (measurement was used of course in building and the arts, but not in science). On its face, then, this reliance on unaided observation—in so far as this observation is deemed adequate to disclose nature for purposes of knowledge—implies anthropocentrism. That is, in so far as unaided perceptual observation is both necessary and sufficient for natural knowledge, native observation as the sole instrument for science is anthropocentric, asserting as it does that human access to nature is sufficient to know it in its own interactions. As obvious as this point it, it is unavoidable as a characterization of ancient science, for as far as is known, it was never asserted that anything but unaided observation was necessary to know the principles and causes of natural process. Of course, very few natural processes are amenable to unaided observation, and ever fewer—if any at all—are discernable in their constancy without measurement of some kind, if, minimally, intelligent anticipation and/or intervention is a goal of natural knowledge.
Were this anthropocentrism of unaided access the only way in which ancient science was observationally anthropocentric, the necessary limits such a perspective assigns to natural knowledge could potentially be overlooked, for non-instrumental observation is certainly the first—and in some instances the only necessary—starting place for scientific explanation. That is, descriptively science can go far in posing problems for investigation from within the sphere of unaided observation, even as instrumental means (of observation, manipulation, and measurement) become necessary for solving those problems. So within these limits ancient science could be seen as productive, or at least potentially productive, in its formulation—or at least its attempt to formulation—of scientific problems, in so far as that formulation was based in unaided observation and description. In other words, as offering descriptions of problems, or simply descriptions of natural phenomena, ancient science could be seen as marking a genuine contribution to science as such.
The problem with this potentially constructive understanding of ancient science is that in both theory and practice it sought explanations ((not just formulations) entirely within the framework of unaided observation, absent any measurement or manipulation; and more prominently than that, ancient science described both the starting point and conclusions of most of its explanations in these anthropocentric terms, i.e. from the unaided and unmeasured observational standpoint. In other words, ancient science was observationally anthropocentric not just in relying on unaided observation for its subject matter, subject to and guided by conceptualization: it also took unaided observation as circumscribing the limits of nature itself—or alternatively, the reach of its explanations circumscribed reality in terms of the unaided human perspective. Specifically, of course, ancient astronomy was nothing but anthropocentric, defining as it did the cosmos from a native, terrestrial perspective. But the limits of unaided observation circumscribing both the starting point and reach of explanations went far beyond ancient astronomy; it pervades its physics and biology as well. Just to note one exemplary instance that could be replicated for any number of concepts, in discussing “place” in Book III of the Physics, Aristotle observes that “every sensible body is in place, and the kinds or differences of place are up and down, before-behind, right-left; and these distinctions hold not only in relation to us and by convention, but also in the whole itself.” Of course, assigning these purely perspectival distinctions to place itself as a part of the fabric of “the whole” is nothing but “relation to us” and “convention”—i.e. anthropocentrism—at work, one completely unconscious of itself despite its apparent self-consciousness; and this instance is hardly an exception. Hot-cold and wet-dry as the fundamental principles of all terrestrial transformation, the celestial spheres rotating, principles of meteorology, hypothetical necessity in biology…the ways in which the perspectival limits of unaided observation ‘define the limits of the real’ in ancient science is almost inconspicuous because of its all-pervasiveness. In a word, the limits of unaided human observation defined the ‘fabric of nature’ to such an extent in ancient science that hardly any explanation is offered that isn’t observationally anthropocentric in this way. For all its emphasis on “substance” and “primary being” as independent and self-subsistent, or for all its emphasis on immutable features of Being, unaided observation in ancient science didn’t just offer subject matter guiding the formation of concepts, or observation as guided by concepts: it also delimited the reach of explanations deploying those concepts such that reality was circumscribed from strictly human perspective. In essence, the cosmos was explained as eternal celestial spheres because it was observable that way; organs were explained as purposefully generated because their necessity was conceived that way—and so forth. As much as ancient science could be seen as potentially descriptive, this pervasive observational anthropocentrism restricting and defining reality to within human perceptual limits prevents such an assessment. Ancient science instead explained reality anthropocentrically because it observed and conceived reality that way, and this anthropocentrism puts a necessary limit on its contributions as a science.
It was noted in Chapter 9 that essential to the why of modern science is the attempt to understand natural events and processes in terms of its their own interrelations, not in terms of a human context of experience and use. It was also observed in Chapter 10 that modern science is an authentic poiesis because it remains essentially open to an independent answer from nature itself to the questions it poses; it does not merely see reflected back to itself the conceptions it puts there and the observations it starts with—it tests both by nature. Both points can now be brought together in this consideration of ancient science as anthropocentric, in so far as ancient science does neither. First, observationally speaking ancient science asks questions from within the circumscribed context of the unaided human perspective, and it answers those questions solely in terms of observations confirming those circumscribed limits. In short, ancient science is observationally anthropocentric. And second, conceptually speaking ancient science identifies the product of scientific thinking with what is thought about in such a way that scientific explanations are in the end thought describing its own operations, with the ontologically determinacy of its scientific projections simply reinforcing the view that these explanations describing themselves are nature itself. In short, ancient science is conceptually anthropocentric as well. Taken together, then, its observational and conceptual anthropocentrism—in so far as it relies on and stresses the human as the measure of nature—makes ancient science chauvinistic in the Heideggerian sense—if “chauvinism” is both the assertion of the human over the natural and a defining characteristic of science as such (and it is stressed again that it need not be; it’s simply that Heidegger thinks it is). In other words, with its emphasis on the non-human context of natural interactions and its openness to discovery in new natural phenomena testing its own conceptions, modern science—not ancient—is the non-chauvinistic science. In this sense, Heidegger and Heideggerians following him simply get the characterization of ancient and modern science backwards, and they do this presumably because they misunderstand modern science, misconstrue ancient science, then mix and mend both misunderstanding and misconstrual together under a misguided understanding of the essence of modern technology as com-posing, making the former “chauvinistic” when in both theory and practice the latter is. Nothing, however, in this artifice holds up to scrutiny, which brings to the forefront once again the guiding question of this Chapter: how is “chauvinism” related to science. That is, adapting for the sake of argument Heideggerian terms, how does “chauvinistic” and “non-chauvinistic” science differ? Or the more specific terms used so far in this Chapter, how do explanations in “chauvinistic” ancient and “non-chauvinistic” modern science differ? What makes modern scientific explanations different from ancient scientific explanations?
The principle difference between ancient and modern scientific explanations rests on the different way in which modern scientific questions are asked; therefore the kind of answer differs as well, i.e. the kind of causal explanations differ. This difference in turn is essentially related to the conceptual and observational anthropocentrism already described, and this common root can be seen through reference to Aristotle, who supplied ancient science with both its manner of asking “why” questions and the scope of the answers obtained in asking them. With respect to asking “why” something occurs the way it does, Aristotle said:
“Ordinarily we try to explain why by telling why something belongs to something else. For to ask why the musical man is a musical man is either, as has been said, to ask why the man is musical or something else. It is pointless to ask why anything is itself. For a fact, such as that it is true that, let us say, a lunar eclipse is, must be clear at the start. But the fact that anything is itself is the one and only reason that can be given in answer to all such questions as why a man is a man or a musician is a musician; unless one were to add that this is so because everything is inseparable from itself and that just this is what is meant by ‘being one.’ But this fact is common to everything and is a short-cut explanation. We properly ask, however, why is an animal of a certain sort. This, then, is clear, that we are not asking why he is a man who is a man. We are asking why something belongs to something. But the fact that it belongs must be clear, for if it is not, the question why is futile. For example, ‘Why is it thundering?’ means “Why does this noise occur in the clouds?” For what is here sought consists in affirming something of something else.”
Now immediately two salient points emerge from this account of what a scientific question asks, and how it asks it—or perhaps better stated, an ambiguity with two sides arises in any question that asks “why.” For on the one hand, Aristotle is clearly referring to the fact that scientific “why” questions (i.e. causal questions) must start with a fact as given, otherwise a scientific question can go nowhere, and from this given fact science seeks an explanation of it, i.e. one can inquire into its cause. On the other hand, however, Aristotle clearly indicates that this observed fact, when inquired as to its cause, means relating it to other observed facts, i.e. “telling why something belongs to something”; hence asking “Why is it thundering?” means asking “Why does this noise occur in the clouds?” In other words, for Aristotle, asking “why is it thundering?” does not mean asking “What is thunder?”, for under his conception of causal explanation, there is no scientific point to asking why a fact is itself—no point to asking why it is what it is. Generalizing, then, Aristotle and ancient science does not ask “Why is something the way it is?” when it asks after its cause, with “what is” referring to unobserved facts as the conditions and causes of the observable fact or event. Instead it contextualizes the potential cause into facts already observed, known, and understood, and it seeks its explanation there. This subtle difference bears extended discussion.
For instance, with respect to thunder, modern science asked the question: “why is thunder what it is?”—or more directly, “what is thunder?”—and in answering this question has determined that thunder is caused by lightning rapidly heating and expanding the air as it arcs from the upper and lower regions of a cloud, or as it arcs to the ground, thus discharging the cloud’s electric charge. As to the source of this electric charge itself, science has determined that it is generated by particles in the cloud rubbing up against one another, with the heavier negatively charged particles sinking to the bottom of the cloud and positive charges rising to the top, and so forth. But note: none of these facts that explain why thunder is what it is are immediately observable. Although after the explanation they suggest ‘why something belongs to something else,’ instead of starting with an obvious ‘belonging,’ the modern scientific explanation of thunder ends with a non-obvious one. In short, to get to its explanation of thunder modern science asked the very the question Aristotle said it was pointless to ask, namely, ‘why is the fact the fact that it is,’ and it asks this in a very specific way, namely, with an eye out for the hitherto unobserved conditions and cause that make the thunder what it is.
The power of this modern scientific alternative to asking “why” questions, i.e. to seeking causes and conditions of phenomenon in unobserved processes and events as the “why” a fact is the way it is, can be seen by contrasting its explanation with Aristotle’s entirely wrong explanation of the cause of thunder. For Aristotle, thunder is the result of the dry exhalation of a cloud as heat escapes upwards colliding with neighboring clouds, and the noise of this collision is the thunder. Additionally, this noise—‘because sight is quicker than hearing’—precedes the ‘inflamed wind’ burning ‘with a thin faint fire’…in other words, the thunder precedes the lightning. Furthermore, for Aristotle, the upper regions of the cloud are denser than the lower regions because ‘they must be denser and colder on the side where heat escapes to the upper region’…and so forth—in short, Aristotle basically got everything wrong that can be gotten wrong about thunder and lightning. The question is: is his explanation wrong because a common way of asking and answering scientific questions was simply misapplied in a particular case, or is the error endemic to a general way of asking and answering a scientific question?
As it stands, Aristotle’s completely wrong explanation for the cause of thunder is because of the latter; that is, his wrong answer is systematically related to the kind of question he asked, and therefore the error he made is exacted in the kind of explanation he both sought and derived. For by seeing from the outset the scientific question “why is it thundering?” in terms of asking “why does this noise occur in the clouds?”, Aristotle in effect took one qualitative event—hearing thunder— as final and another qualitative event—seeing clouds every time there is thunder— as explanatory, as though asking and answering about either event was in essence asking and answering one and the same thing. As it happens, in this particular case, “clouds” per se do not cause thunder even though they occur with it, lightning does, and only some kinds of interactions within some clouds cause lightning, and so on and so forth. But as with this particular case, so occurs the error in science generally: explaining one observable qualitative event in terms of another observed qualitative event, as though ‘one belongs to the other,’ will systemically and almost inevitably lead to wrong causal explanations—wrong unless one happens, purely by chance, on an observed event that in fact causes the one in question Since detecting previously unobserved causes of observed events is precisely what science purports to do, relying on such a happenstance in finding causes as the redemptive value of the scientific method—as ancient science does—amounts to intellectual suicide. Simply put, asking and answering scientific questions in terms of heterogeneously qualitative events essentially ‘belonging together,’ with one as explanatory of the other, is—short of chance—the best way to guarantee wrong explanations. Modern science began the scientific method by displacing this ancient manner of asking why questions, i.e. asking after observed facts in terms of each other as belonging together at the outset, with the simpler and more fundamental question: ‘why is a fact the fact that it is?” In other words, modern science asks as the beginning of an explanation the very kind of question Aristotle rejected, and in so doing it asks the only kind of question that reliably leads to reliable answers, namely, ‘why is something the way that it is?’ In asking this kind of “why” question, modern science asks after the hitherto unobserved causes and consequences that makes a phenomenon the phenomenon that it is.
But modern science does more than this; it does more than simply change the nature of causal questions, and with it the nature of a casual explanation. As noted before, modern science also decouples the concept of cause from an ontological commitment and gives it instead a logical, functional role. As indicated before, this not only steered science away from seeking single causes for single events and toward “cause” as an “abstract conception of the indefinitely numerous existential sequences” that occur conjointly with—and therefore cause—an event.  As also mentioned, it avoids the standing temptation to set arbitrary ontological beginning and endpoints for the qualities explained. This dual benefit of shifting to a functional concept of cause is aptly illustrated in the example now under consideration, for the answer to question “Why is thunder?” is basically to say that “lightning causes thunder,” but lightning itself is caused by some interactions in some clouds; therefore the answer to “why thunder” both is and is not simply lightning. Under the ancient ontological understanding of cause, the cause of thunder—if correctly related to clouds—would be one explanation (lightning in or from clouds), and as representing a single change of a self-subsisting substance, the explanation would stop there as the one cause for thunder: one antecedent event would be related to one consequent event. In fact, though, thunder is dependent on a complex set of conjoint interactions that occur with lightning, not one single factor, and “cause” as a logical concept permits—even requires—investigation into this set of conjunctive and disjunctive natural events ‘causing’ thunder. It puts “thunder,” as it were, into a more comprehensive, continuous causal nexus. With cause as an ontological notion, there is a standing temptation to stop scientific inquiry once one logical cause is found—in this case lightning for thunder—but as a logical notion “cause” represents a standing invitation to continually examine conjoint occurrences of an event down to the smallest details and to more remote interconnections—in this case, what causes the sound when lightning passes through the air, why does thunder reverberate, why some clouds and not others, etc. By shifting the concept of cause from an ontological to a functional role, modern science all but guarantees that inquiry will never settle with one cause for one event, or with the antecedent for a consequent, and in effect the logical shift only expresses what science does anyway when it doesn’t so settle for one cause for one event. That is, in so far as science seeks one cause after another for each part of a process discovered, cause as functional as opposed to cause as ontological merely explicitly operationalized what science does anyway as it looks sifts through somewhat arbitrarily designated antecedents and consequents looking for “ontological” causes. With the procedure explicitly operationalized, however, the need for the ontology simply drops out, representing as it does nothing more than a standing temptation to cease what science proper is going to do anyway—find causes. In this respect, cause as logical is merely science coming to terms with its own operation, and in this coming to terms it leaves behind entirely both the ancient understanding of cause and the kinds of questions it asks in seeking causal explanations. The modern functional notion of cause is in effect scientific methods coming into its own maturity, in that it recognized candidly what it effectively does anyway. The functional as opposed to the ontological conception of cause is the self-awareness of the intrinsic power of constancy in variation as the test of an explanation—a methodological self-awareness, as it were, of how the means of producing reliable knowledge primarily comes about.
Science and the poiesis of the child
In this Chapter ancient science has been called conceptually and observationally anthropocentric, and in this respect, in so far as “chauvinism” can be used to characterize science or technology, ancient science has also been called chauvinistic. Anthropocentrism, then, is essentially chauvinism, and vice versa, albeit a chauvinism without the dire warnings of a Heideggerian com-posing that ravishes and hoards. Instead, ancient science represents a benign chauvinism, one that naively—and perhaps even honorifically—assumes that human conceptual constructions are writ large in an intelligible nature, an intelligibility implicitly circumscribed by an unaided perceptual point of view sufficient to disclose all natural diversity, even as that diversity is limited to appearing as it does within that circumscribed horizon. So contrary to the description of modern science on Heidegger’s behalf by Rojcewicz, no pejorative connotations are intended by “chauvinism” with respect to ancient science. The only intention is that ancient science, once properly understood, is the anthropocentrically centered and therefore the humanistically “chauvinistic” science in the strict sense of the term, whereas modern science is not; modern science represents the non-anthropocentric way of knowing nature that puts nature first, not nature within its strictly human conceptual and observational horizons. Therefore it is the “non-chauvinist” way knowing. In essence, calling ancient science conceptual and observational “chauvinism” reverses the Heideggerian use, correcting as it does both misconceptions about ancient and modern science and the non-essential (and incorrect) stress on com-posing. As such, this Chapter more or less completes this third Part of a dialectical engagement with Heidegger, in that it brings together a correction of Heidegger errors into a the Heideggerian charge “chauvinism.” But before summarily characterizing in the next Part the results of the engagement as a whole, and before drawing implications from that summary (Chapters 13-15), one final point broached by Rojcewicz on Heidegger’s behalf bears mentioning, one that crystalizes the principle metaphor in the conclusion of this work.
In summarizing his section on the danger of modern technology, and as a segway toward offering an interpretation of what might save humanity from that danger, Rojcewicz cites a passage from another work by Heidegger worth repeating and discussing some detail, for, as Rojcewicz points out, that passage contextualizes a rather cryptic passage in “The Question Concerning Technology,” one where the “ambiguous essence of technology” is called a “constellation” in which “concealment and unconcealment occur.” In this passage, Heidegger uses a phrase that Rojcewicz in turn uses to characterize the kind of relation to Being and beings that humanity needs to adopt in order to preserve itself from technology’s inherent danger. The passage, re-quoted in full, reads:
“Teacher: the night closes up the distance of the stars in the heavens…
Scientist: perhaps for the naïve observer, although not for the exact scientist.
Teacher: For the child in man, the night remains the seamstress of the stars.
Scholar: It joins together without stitch of weft or thread.
Scientist: It is the seamstress because it only does close-work.”
Setting aside the way Rojcewicz uses this passage to clarify the meaning of Heidegger’s phrase “constellation” (and it does clarify it), it bears noting that Rojcewicz selects for special consideration the phrase “the child in man.” Specifically, Rojcewicz and Heidegger suggest that in adopting this attitude humanity can bring itself back to an essential relationship to Being from which a ‘saving power’ might arise, one that will save it from the incipient danger of being bound to technology’s essence—an essence itself bestowed by Being. Of particular interest is how Rojcewicz interprets this phrase ‘the child in man’ with respect to science. Specifically, Rojcewicz suggests, following Heidegger, that gazing at the stars as a child would gaze at them “bypasses scientific theory and goes straight to the essence” of the night sky, where the “stars are close” — in other words, bringing out “the child in man” is another way of saying humanity needs to get away from scientific constructions as the “harbinger” of modern technology and back to essences, and it needs to get back to essences in order to potentially save itself by awaiting the next bestowal of essence from Being (one a reticent Being may or may not bestow). For both Heidegger and Rojcewicz, the phrase “the child in man,” then, represents a return to essence, an essence that is both a possibility Dasein’s comportment toward beings and the possibility of Being’s bestowal of essence to Dasein—two possibilities amounting to one and the same thing. “The child in man” for Heidegger may be seen as the way to this essential power that saves.
Now no challenge to this phrase as an interpretation of Heidegger is intended; the general citation seems perfectly apt for clarifying what Heidegger means by a “constellation” of concealment and unconcealment, and a return to “the child in man” as a return to essence is clearly something he implies. What is intended instead is to highlight an ambiguity in the phrase “the child in man,” then to reapply the metaphor in a way more consistent with the completion of the dialectic engagement with Heidegger thus far. For phrase “the child in man” can be understood in two ways, neither or which Heidegger specifies, though he clearly implies one of them.
First, it is rightly said that children do not experience the world through all the conceptual encumbrances of adolescence and adulthood, that their perspective is thus fresher and closer to the native, qualitative meanings of things and situations—in philosophical terms, they experience the qualities of things and others directly and more aptly as they simply are, as opposed to in terms of the ways those qualities can be interpreted, taken up and then used via constructs in intentional commerce with others. In other words, as the saying goes, ‘truth comes from the mouths of babes’: children are just more attuned to the native simplicity of some of the most important things that remain important in adult life, however obscured their nature and origin eventually becomes. Under this interpretation, “the child in man” presumably means getting in touch with this view where the world where is disclosed ‘more like it really is,’ absent all the interpretative constructions obscuring it, particularly the constructions of science obscuring natural essence.
Second, however, it also established that up to a certain age range, children are developmentally ego-centric; that is, they don’t recognize in an abstract way that they (or others) can virtually adopt alternative points of view on the same perceptual scene, or that from that alternative point of view objects will appear in a fundamentally different way at the same time that they are apprehended from their own native point of view. The capacity to adopt this more ‘objective’ viewpoint on objects and to understand them as though their primary native view is not exclusive emerges as children reach about 6 or 7 years old. So with this ego-centrism in mind, the phrase “the child in man” means something quite different, presumably something one would not want to bring out in order to find any power that would save from the danger of science and technology, representing as it does a return to a less developed way of doing and knowing.
Now clearly Heidegger and Rojcewicz intend “the child in man” as a return in the first way, as a return to the way in which children are in touch with a more fundamental reality obscured by adulthood—a reality of essence, not science. But in light of the dialectical engagement with Heidegger so far, is it not better stated that Heidegger, despite his proffered meanings, would actually make “man” a “child” in the second sense, the ego-centric sense, one that is essentially blind to the point of view of others in its assertion of the primacy of its own perspective? For consider: essence, such as it is, is a construction of adulthood, not childhood. As an artifact of meaning with a “complex history,” essences can’t but contain within them the intents and purposes through which beings are experienced and used; and in so far as these intents and purposes are learned, they are the province of adults. So getting back to a “childhood” of essences is at least in part to forget essence’s origins; it is to lose sight of what they really are in favor of a very limited, circumscribed view of their nature, just as a young child has a limited, circumscribed view of a scene, without the recognition that points of view equally primary to its own can construe ‘what is’ just as convincingly as how it natively appears to him.
And consider further the applicability of this metaphorical return to childhood to the example of the stars, to the “constellation”, as it were. As adults we know that the stars can’t be essentially close together because they are in fact far apart, and whatever “essence” is, under it contrary facts simply cannot be the “essence” and remain an essential description of ‘what it is’. So the essence of the night sky where the stars appear close is not the simplicity of a child who sees things more like they really are. It is the simplicity an ego-centric ignorance that doesn’t know what the stars are, and it doesn’t know what they are because it fails to adopt a more ‘objective’ point of view in which the significance of things is greater than the limits circumscribed by the primary context in which they are given. In essence, then, the “essence” Heidegger would have us reach where ‘the stars are close’ is the anthropocentric ignorance of ancient science all over again—hence it is also “chauvinism” under a corrected Heideggerian reading. In effect recalling humanity to “essence” in this anthropocentric sense amounts to recalling it away from what it has accomplished to a state of development where it accomplished little or nothing except by chance and rule of thumb. In other words, Heidegger’s child is the egocentrically ignorant child and not the child of poiesis that is modern science—modern science being the only corrective humanity has to the systematic distortion and error preceding it. In other words, Heidegger would move “the man” away from a poiesis in which things are given, in so far as possible, as they really are, and to a false poiesis that has as its consolation mere conformity to its own expectations. With the phrase “the child in man” Heidegger clearly intends a return to a kind of experience where qualities and meanings are directly lived in a fundamental way, that much is clear. But in light of the dialectal engagement thus far, his return offers nothing of the sort. Particularly in light of this Chapter, Heidegger’s return to “the child in man” amounts to a return to an anthropocentrism blind to both its origins and limits, just as young children are blind to their own ego-centrism and limitations that ego-centrism entails. There is simply nothing desirable about reverting to a ‘childhood’ that ignores ‘what is’ in favor of how things appear, simply because that appearance is direct, natural, and in essential respects uncritically simple. In Heideggerian terms, despite his stated intent, his return to essence is an embrace of chauvinism, just a “chauvinism” profoundly blind to its own essential origins.
In contrast to the return to the ego-centric childhood implied in what Heidegger actually accomplishes, this Chapter concludes with a call to return to the true childhood simplicity subtending the poiesis of early modern science, the kind of unencumbered direct knowing that Torricelli and Galileo brought to their almost unbelievably simple experiments that tested and rejected two millennia of scientific dogma and construction. In fact, the entire point developed at such length in this Chapter could have been directly indicated merely by examining how two of their experiments were conceived, how they were executed, and how they accomplished what they accomplished. So as a concluding note, then, two of the simplest yet most far reaching experiments in the history of science are examined.
Based on Aristotelian science it was presumed for nearly two millennia that heavy bodies fell to the earth faster than light bodies. Whether this view is actually attributable to Aristotle in precisely the way Galileo examined it is debatable, for arguably Aristotle was referring to the terminal velocity of bodies traversing downwards in a medium, in which case larger, heavier bodies will generally fall faster than smaller, lighter ones because of the resistance of the medium, especially when surface area is considered, and so forth. In any case, however, in Galileo’s times it was widely held on Aristotle’s authority that heavy and light bodies fall to the earth at different rates.
To test this idea, Galileo devised an experiment so simple it is now replicated in middle school science classes. All—as though “all” can apply here!—he did was set up an adjustable inclined plane with pre-measured degrees of steepness, then he rolled various sized balls down it, timing the descent and recording the distance traversed in terms of time. From this relationship between time and distance he was able to compute a common acceleration at which the various sized balls picked up speed, thus proving experimentally that heavier bodies and lighter bodies fell to the earth at the same rate. Perhaps apocryphally or not, he presumably demonstrated this finding by dropping two different sized balls from the Leaning Tower of Pisa near some professors, upsetting two millennia of physical science in the process.
The specific reasoning and computations Galileo used to determine the constancy of gravitational acceleration, as revolutionary as they were, are perhaps less revolutionary than the fact of the experiment itself. For that experiment marks one of the first times experimental variation was used to derive and test simultaneously a new piece of natural knowledge. And consider for a moment what that experiment represents, symbolically as well as literally. Simply conceiving it presupposes suspending scientific constructions that had prevailed for nearly 1800 years, constructions institutionally enforced by the largest existing authority of his day, the Church. So variation is implied in the very conceptualization. Furthermore, setting it up also required not just suspending the accepted scientific constructions; it required setting them up against a question asked directly of nature, namely: how do bodies fall? To be sure, as an experiment it was a proxy for free falling bodies because measuring bodies in free fall was impractical given existing instruments, but even the abstraction required to perceive that speed and acceleration down an inclined plane could lead to insight into the speed of free falling bodies because of the homogeneity of ‘falling as such’ was revolutionary, in that it set up a homogeneity among kinds of motion that was simply inconceivable in ancient science. So Galileo’s experiment was revolutionary in every respect even before the discovery it yielded. Simply put, it represented a new, direct approach to asking questions of nature in a way as unencumbered as possible by previous conceptual constructions, and in this way it was one of the—if not the—first example of the poiesis of modern science.
It is no stretch to say that the simplicity of mind required to conceive of an experiment in this way is child-like in its power and directness. That is, Galileo’s theoria in the sense discussed so far, i.e. the disclosive looking subtending his experiment and discovery, is child-like in the first sense just discussed, in that it gets back to a simpler, more direct appreciation of natural significances unencumbered by the constructions of adult life—“adult life” in this case represented by some 1800 years of established physics. It is easy today to overlook the almost unbelievable simplicity of this kind of experimental approach, an approach born first in modern science. In the particulars of this case, it was simply setting up a plane on an adjustable riser and timing rolling balls, thus making possible testing and variation through which Galileo was able to discovery a constancy of nature that eluded centuries of speculation and dialectical dispute. In general, however, the experiment established the principle of finding constancy through both imaginative and existential variation, and in this respect experiment in science essentially replicated the direct, simple way in which all children learn—by looking at a situation ‘for what it is’, coming up with an idea how to solve it, varying approaches to resolving it, then keeping the solution that resolves it. In essence, that is all an experiment does: produces variation out of which a solution emerges, just as poiesis in the authentic sense already describe. By posing a direct question and asking nature to reveal independently a direct answer—however anticipated that answer might be—experiment in early modern science was a return to an intellectual childhood were a wonder before nature prevails. In other words, modern science is the first realization of what 1800 years of prior philosophy professed to do, to wit, yield knowledge of something essential about nature born in a wonder as to why what happens happens the way that it does, and not in some other way.
Torricelli’s barometer and discovery of atmospheric pressure is no less wondrous and child-like in its direct simplicity, and it may be even more so than Galileo’s inclined planes, which is also why it too is a staple of middle school science curricula. But where Galileo’s experiment introduced experimental variation, Torricelli’s invention and experiment added a new element of its own: the introduction of technology into science, i.e. it was perhaps the first use of a technical, scientific instrument. That is, not only did Torricelli’s discovery of atmospheric pressure add a new piece to natural knowledge and upend 1800 years of presumption (for it created a natural, sustained ‘void’, or vacuum). It also introduced the collaboration between science and technology that persists to this day, from the simplest litmus test in a chemistry lab to the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, a collaboration where technology discloses discovery even as discovery leads to new technology. Or to recur to Heideggerian terms, in essence the ‘disclosive looking’ subtending both instruments and conceptualizations is one and the same: both scientific principles—proven principles, that is—and practical technology seek or embody in their respective ways a constancy in nature, just one does so conceptually and the other existentially. For instance, the barometer, as a balance scale of nature, is responsive to atmospheric weight (pressure) in a way that discloses it because its operation existentially realizes it, but equally so, as a conceptualization, the barometer could not even have been conceived without some prior appreciation of the constancy it was built to detect, to wit, the weight of the atmosphere. In this two-sided duality of disclosure and realization, science and technology in Torricelli was at least as revolutionary as Galileo, but perhaps even more so, in so far as it established the poiesis of both science and its technology in a single device. In short, Torricelli’s discovery of atmospheric pressure with a barometer represents the reciprocating essence of science and technology working together to yield natural knowledge, and it does so in way that can hardly be called anything but child-like in its directness, power and simplicity.
And there’s more. Not only were Galileo and Torricelli revolutionary in how to do acquire knowledge; their direct and simple poiesis through an equal partnership of science and instruments has more claim to essence than some 1800 years of prior philosophical intuition and dialectics regarding “the void” and “the air,” for the constancy of nature disclosed by the inclined plane and by the barometer remains invariant no matter what planet one is on, or what an atmosphere one is in, or what that atmosphere is composed of, or how high in the atmosphere it is placed, etc. As long as there as massive body, bodies will fall toward it at a constant acceleration, and as long as there is an atmosphere, it will essentially exert pressure. With their science, technological instruments, and experiments, then, Galileo and Torricelli have at least as much and almost certainly more right to essence that any ‘first philosophy’ ever has. Their respective revolutions in ‘how to know’ started the scientific progression that to this day remains poiesis in the only authentic sense of the term, a poiesis that is perhaps the only access to true essence that inquirers will ever have.
As a concluding thought for this both this Part and Chapter, it is recognized that as a cultural achievement ancient science, though anthropocentric and therefore “chauvinistic” in the benign sense, is a monumental working out of the dialectical implications of conceptual subject matter, an operation necessary in any scientific inquiry, successful and non-successful alike. But as much as this should be recognized, ancient science also represents a monument of untested ignorance, in that the dialectical implications of its conceptual subject matter were developed completely unchecked and untested by either eidetic or experimental observation, using as it did only observations in accord with its prior conceptions, and observing as it did only what it conceptualized in advance. As such, contra Heidegger the ancient manner of ‘disclosive looking’ is nothing humanity needs to recover, much less aspire to again, whether it is for an alleged sense of poiesis (which it didn’t have), or for its strict emphasis on essence (which it did). Instead, “essence,” such as the term remains, has been appropriated by the testing variations of modern science, and as an authentic poiesis open to nature itself, not the sedimentations of meaning overlaying its experience, modern science and not philosophy (ancient or otherwise) is where to turn for knowledge, ‘first philosophy’ notwithstanding. In modern science humanity recovers the child-like innocence before nature itself that is the genesis of all reliable knowledge, even as it sheds the anthropocentric chauvinism that earned ancient “science” dialectical mastery with no technical or institutional or any other kind of improvements to show for it. And indeed how could dialectics so ensconced in their own manipulations ever yield the real constancies of nature first indicated by Galileo and Torricelli, constancies now known to such an extent that technological misuse of them threatens not just the future of our species, but in some respects much life on earth. In light of this danger, there is indeed a “question concerning technology” to be asked, especially as it related to science, and Heidegger asks it. But the question remains: does he ask and answer it well? In so far as he does neither through gross misunderstandings of both ancient and modern science, and in so far as he calls for a return to for a misconceived “essence” of the former by jettisoning the latter, he does not, and in the next Part of this work this assertion will be amplified by considering the entire dialectical engagement with Heidegger’s taken up thus far. In that amplification lays a determination, worthwhile or not, of the worthiness of both the engagement itself and the assessment of Heidegger it brings. Only by bringing forward what has been discussed so far can Heidegger’s contribution—or not—to the “question concerning technology” be fully addressed.
 GT 1-5.
 GT 10
 GT 10. Technically “exclusively” applies, not “primarily,” for Heidegger is describing mutually exclusive essences, not trends. But the position has to be softened to make any sense, so it is softened here.
 GT 11
 Technically speaking, putting the beginning of “chauvinism” at Socrates is inconsistent with Heidegger’s own genealogy of the essence of modern technology, since for Heidegger the ancient understanding of cause characterizes the ancient essence of technology, and that cause was developed in Aristotle (whom Heidegger discussed), a thinker who came after Socrates. So given the mutually exclusive nature of essence, it is hard to see how Socrates would be modern and idolatrous instead of ancient and pious, coming as he did before Aristotle. In any case, since the essence of ancient technology is so intimately related to the nature of cause in ancient science, ancient science here is taken as pious and non-chauvinistic, despite the fact Rojcewicz’s invocation of “chauvinism” beginning with Socrates would suggest that it’s imperious and chauvinistic.
 Lear, Aristotle: The Desire to Understand p. 28
 Quotes in Metaphysics for quality.
 One aspect of this change from fixed hierarchy to an open universe is brilliantly described in Koyre, ….
 Although the notion of ‘substance’ dropped out in the functionalism of the early 20th century, it was still an ontological notion in science before that.
 This distinguishing sense of “why” borrows from Dewey, who borrowed from Joseph. See Logic, p. 87, with reference to pp. 88-9 as well.
 Logic 133, 189
 “Substances” could be included with “processes and events” because for the early moderns, substance—though modified—was still an ontological concept. As noted, however, that ontology was dropped in the mature modern science of the 20th century. For a good account of the metaphysical heritage of ancient science in early modern science, particularly with respect to substance, see Burtt, The Metaphysical Foundations of Modern Science.
 The difference is captured perfectly by Aristotle, quoted by Dewey in Logic, p. 133. In Metaphysics, 1063a, he stated: “It is absurd to make the fact that the things of this earth change and never remain the same the basis of our judgment about the truth. For in pursuing the truth one must start from the things that are always in the same state and never change. Such are the heavenly bodies; for they do not appear to be now of one nature and now of another, but are always manifestly the same and do not change.” Simply reverse the emphasis and one has modern science.
 It should also be recalled here that this functional understanding in no way means that science is no longer about nature, as though the results of scientific inquiry don’t lead to real knowledge of natural phenomena. Per the discussion of Heidegger’s misunderstanding of Heisenberg, it does, just it does now with the added circumspection that its working concepts are non-existential in reference. How this non-existential conceptualization leads to real knowledge is no more problematic than noting that non-existential conceptualizations (point mass, , in conjunction with prescribed operations, lead to observations of something real, just as
 Lear 42
 Lear 42
 From Lear, Physics 194b24
 From Lear, Physics 199a30-32
 Lear, 15-26.
 Metaphysics xii 1071a 6-8
 Lear, 40, also Metaphysics ix 1050a19-21
 Cover how for Aristotle this is possible—rational apprehension.
 For an example of notion of “cause” being worked through this ontological transition to its contemporary logical use, see Bohm, Causality and Chance in Modern Physics.
 What follows derives chiefly from Dewey’s chapter “Scientific Laws—Causation and Sequences” in Logic: The Theory of Inquiry.
 Though not its express theme, the basic elements of the transition from an ontological to a functional account of causal “force” can be found in Jammer, The Concepts of Force.
 Anticipating skepticism about how prevalent this understanding really is in science, as opposed to being specific to pragmatism (the source of the view to be offered), it can be noted that current textbooks in physics, chemistry and biology never discuss laws as causes of phenomena. The laws instead are offered as descriptions of what the phenomena in question are, not mathematical expressions of causes governing sequences of change. In fact, the word “cause,” to this author’s knowledge, never appears in scientific texts. The notion has simply dropped out of use, and in its place has emerges functional appreciation of physical laws for describing individual situations, subject to the limiting conditions circumscribing their applicability. However infrequently or inadequately this functionalism (as opposed to ontological assignment) is articulated in philosophy or by philosophically minded scientists, in practice “cause” has simply dropped out of the “ontology” of the natural sciences. Except in so far as their logical use remains about nature—causes are still sought, of course—scientific laws are not strictly speaking expressions of causal laws.
 Logic, 449
 The derivation and the reliability of scientific laws as expressions of the constancy of nature is a separate matter than the question of whether or not these laws express an existentially necessary and uniform sequence of causal events. While the first issue is an important philosophical issue, the second—as an error—is not.
 This point will be discussed specifically with respect to ancient causal explanations, p. 161.
 Honestly doe one even have to cite vaccinations and the elimination of polio, antibiotics, computers, the moon landing, the modern power grid…it would be pointless to go on because ancient science produced not just nothing comparable but rather nothing at all.
 And virtually all ancient sources are clear that mind, nous, etc. is the source of apprehending the intelligibility of nature, as opposed to sensation in perception…
 Note that the variation can be either eidetic in imagination or existential in experiment. The ancients
 It is noted here the root of objective is in part precisely objects set in relation to each other, and the constants and invariances in transformation to which this placement leads.
 Metaphysics x, Physics x
 Metaphysics, also Lear
 Metaphysics xii, 1072a 18-24.
 Observational, existential subject matter is the other, correlative, ‘half’ of controlled inquiry. See Dewey, “The Control of Ideas by Facts”, parts I-III, and Logic: Theory of Inquiry, esp. pp. xx, xxx, and xxxx
 [omit or rework] To be sure, early modern science was still afflicted with the epistemology of conformity of thought to antecedent existence as the criterion of truth, but this metaphysical baggage was eventually shed in the 20th century, along with the ontological waiting list. For an account of science and explanation that completely leaves this epistemological baggage behind, as though it never existed in the first place, see Deutsch, The Beginning of Infinity: Explanation that Change the World. Also, the question of epistemologically relating thought to its object—the defining feature of modern philosophy from Descartes to Russell—could only be opened up as a problem once the identification was dissolved. That this problem is a false one is relevant here in so far as the answer to the question was to stop trying to re-identify thought back to the object it is purportedly about and instead test the merits of conclusions in terms of their implications and consequences. For a citation to this effect, see American Pragmatism.
 It is ironic that Aristotle himself noted that previous explanation of x failed because essence was not grasped, when in fact it was emphasis on grasping essence that insured failure, including his own. See . It also is no coincidence that progress was made in kinematics when the Merton school started taking hypothetical worlds that God could have created as the object of scientific inquiry, in effect varying the concepts systematically among investigators to see what constancies remained. Galileo arguable was the one to see what constancy did remain once he varied these conceptualization existentially in experiment as well.
 On intrinsicality: “There is no such thing as motion over and above the things. It is always with respect to substance or to quantity or to quality or to place that what changes changes. But it is impossible, as we assert, to find anything common to these which in neither ‘this’ nor quantity nor quality nor any of the other predicates. Hence neither will motion and change have reference to something over and above the things mentioned; for there is nothing over and above them.” Physics ii, 200b33-5. On ‘primary being’ or ‘substance’ as quality, see Metaphysics, xi, 1062b26-27, 1061b 20-21; v, 1020a 36-7.
 Metaphysics 1063a27-8 (Hope). Physics, iii, 201a 10-15: “We have distinguished in respect of each class between what is in fulfillment and what is potentially: thus the fulfillment of what is potentially, as such, is motion—e.g. the fulfillment of what is alterable, as alterable, is alteration; of what is increasable and its opposite, decreasable (there is no common name for both), passing away; of what can come to be and pass away, coming to be and passing away; of what can be carried along, locomotion.”
 See above, pp.115-7.
 Metaphysics xi 1065b 21-2.
 The tautological nature of change and cause in ancient science is perhaps even more clear in Physics, iii, 201a 10-15, where Aristotle states: “We have distinguished in respect of each class between what is in fulfillment and what is potentially: thus the fulfillment of what is potentially, as such, is motion—e.g. the fulfillment of what is alterable, as alterable, is alteration; of what is increasable and its opposite, decreasable (there is no common name for both), passing away; of what can come to be and pass away, coming to be and passing away; of what can be carried along, locomotion.”
 Physics, iii, 205b 32-5.
 For “hypothetical necessity,” see Lear, pp. 43-54.
 And even the stress on “immutability” can be seen as anthropocentric, for as it now known, even the permanent, unchanging substance of the ‘celestial spheres’ is changing and mutable, as is everything else known in nature. Even a mountain range, for all its apparent permanence, is an event with a history, i.e. a starting genesis and terminating end.
 Metaphysics vii, 1041a, 11-25, emphasis added. Hope translation.
 The paraphrasing comes from Meteorology, ii, 369a 10- 369b 4.
 See above cite, page 147.
 Cited in GT, p 180.
 GT 180, emphasis added
 This blindness and chauvinism—and the ego-centrism it entails—is taken up again in the Conclusion.
 It is stressed, not denied, that Galileo’s experiment had predecessors already mentioned in an earlier context. The kinematic investigations of the Merton school provided critical conceptual background for Galileo’s work, but they were critical precisely to the extent that they too either disputed or simply disregarded the tenants of the ancient physics of moving bodies, specifically with respect to the kinds of motion and the idea of natural place. Again, for an account, see Clagett, The Science of Mechanics in the Middle Ages, particularly chapters 3-6.