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Who’s to Blame for Global Warming?

by Staff


Tags: Science, Philosophy, global warming, science ethics, ethics, philosophy of science,

Nietzsche On FirePhilosophers. Sort of.

Why? Because they haven’t equipped us with the kind of thinking that would help us wrap our minds around the problem and devise a way to stop it. That is to say, they haven't taught us how to change the way we live in the world.

To do that, we’d need a wholly different kind of academic inquiry, writes Nicholas Maxwell, author of the recently revised From Knowledge to Wisdom, in the latest issue of Philosophy Now (subscription required):

Global warming is the outcome of the way we live, and in order to arrest it we need to change the way we live... Having a kind of academic inquiry that gave intellectual priority to articulating, and working out how to tackle, problems of living, would have helped enormously with alerting the public to the problem of global warming, and to what needs to be done in response to it.

But we have not had, and still do not have, academic inquiry of this type—devoted to helping humanity learn how to tackle its problems in increasingly rationally cooperative ways. Instead we have science—this long tradition of inquiry devoted to improving knowledge and technological know-how.

Take that, science.

In fact, Maxwell isn’t railing against science per se, but rather “science without wisdom.” And this wisdom comes from a sense of purpose: Knowledge should not be an end in itself, but rather a means toward resolving a problem.

So what would this living-oriented academic inquiry look like? Maxwell elaborates in a short piece for the New Statesman:

Academic inquiry as a whole would become a kind of people’s civil service, doing openly for the public what actual civil services are supposed to do in secret for governments. Academia would actively seek to educate, rather than simply study, the public.

Hannah Lobel 

len kowalik_2
2/27/2008 5:48:20 PM

I think the key word in the article is "cooperative", even without the "rationally" qualifier. Most people have their own agendas and priorities, and will not respond until those are affected.


justin ayres
2/27/2008 4:26:02 PM

Contrarily: Followers of Habermas in Germany believe they have found a way to bureaucratic means to administrate all of human knowledge in the sciences. While I have little affection for Jurgen Habermas, I have even less for those pretending to discover questions that have had serious answers for quite a while. Maxwell does seem bent on conquering the North Pole well a century after it has been not only discovered but also increasingly traversed and visited by many other thinkers. We will give his thinking a moment in the sun, however. Once again the real dilemma comes between increasing quantities of information, which only drives "consensus;" and "truth" which can only come about through a real struggle in the human "soul." ("Truth" or "soul" come out of the box when we start talking about "wisdom" as opposed to more secular terms like "knowledge" or "information") Such discussions of "truth" and "soul" generally terrifies the secular-bureaucrats, gawking and emaciated talking heads: this quickly degernerates a serious discussion into a lot of superstitious religious mumbo-jumbo. Of course it brings to rise the lamia of religious fundamentalism as well: once again the talking heads prevail screaming their absolute right to the privelege of divine wisdom.... and so on the bloody mess continues. My only suggestion is to watch a Werner Herzog film and then discuss the difference between "knowledge" and "wisdom."


festivemanb
2/18/2008 8:47:06 PM

Them wiley philosophers have a lot to answer for! If you haven't seen it yet, you should check out this Kant attack ad: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7M-cmNdiFuI http://bmackie.blogspot.com