Scientism and the Modern World

“For Deleuze, however, although Lewis is quite right with respect to how the sciences understand laws of nature, the scientific understanding of laws of nature relies upon the bare repetition of extensive qualities and properties of determinate facts. This bare repetition is for Deleuze the abstract effect of the intensive repetition, the repetition of Ideas as concrete universals. To the extent that philosophy addresses and draws attention to Ideas understood as concrete universals that are the condition for the possibility of the determinate facts that are the subject of the empirical sciences, or what Deleuze calls “simple empiricism,” then philosophy is not reducible to being an empirical science but is rather what Deleuze refers to as “transcendental empiricism.” With respect to laws of nature, Deleuze is forthright: “The domain of laws must be understood, but always on the basis of a Nature and a Spirit superior to their own laws, which weave their repetitions in the depths of the earth and of the heart, where laws do not yet exist.”68 It is philosophy, among other intellectual activities perhaps, that draws our attention to matters that science is ill-prepared to address—namely, to matters of the Spirit—and it is the task of attending to these matters, as Husserl and Whitehead also argued, that is the proper concern of philosophers. The modernist narrative of those such as Ladyman and Ross who see Hume as one of the heroes of scientism tells us only one story, and this story relies upon the most abstract and derivative of details; it is to philosophers like Hume, Whitehead, and Deleuze (though we could include many others such as Spinoza and Nietzsche) where we turn to get the other side of the story, the side with Spirit, with the qualitative and intrinsic values that are inseparable from, and pose a potential problematizing challenge to, the truths the scientists give us.”

Jeffrey A. Bell

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