Archives mensuelles : juin 2018

Poids morts et substrat totalitaire…

De manière indirecte, j’ai évoqué plusieurs fois dans ce blog le substrat totalitaire des sociétés réputées libérales. Mais, bien que celle que j’ai donnée de l’endoctrinement s’en approche, je n’en avais pas encore proposé de définition…

Il ne suffit pas de renvoyer, comme d’autres, à quelque « ordre immatériel à côté de la loi », car les deux piliers de cet énoncé sont de toute évidence sujets à caution contextuelle. En effet, s’il est question, par exemple, de ce qu’il est convenu d’appeler « l’optimisation fiscale », l’énoncé, dans la bouche d’un repenti ou d’un militant pour une juste fiscalité, peut suggérer que la loi, en ce qu’elle est supposée prévenir ou sanctionner ce qui cause ou est susceptible de causer un préjudice à autrui, est ici imparfaite, et que l’ordre immatériel auquel il est fait référence, en ce qu’il lui est en l’occurrence supérieur dès lors qu’il tient compte de ce préjudice dans sa condamnation morale de ladite « optimisation », est en fait vertueux, et devrait par conséquent s’étendre à la loi. A l’inverse, le même énoncé, s’il est rapporté à l’affaire Urvoas/Solère, dans laquelle le premier des ces francs-maçons est accusé d’avoir enfreint, alors qu’il était ministre de la Justice en exercice, le secret de l’instruction au bénéfice du second, peut insinuer que cet « ordre immatériel », pour autant que la loi du silence soit uniformément respectée, surplombe en effet la loi de facto, mais qu’il la surplombe cette fois non plus en tant que corpus moral vertueux assimilé à une volonté générale qui pourrait ou devrait s’étendre à elle, bien plutôt en tant que code d’initiés exempt de morale, de nature à entrer en conflit avec elle. Encore convient-il de relativiser la supposée vertu de la volonté générale, et même celle de la loi, dès lors que la loi elle-même peut bien sûr, sous l’effet d’un « ordre immatériel » en tant que morale prédominante ou code exclusif, les deux se conjuguant parfois (cf. par exemple la législation française relative à l’homosexualité à l’aube de la Ve République), succomber au substrat totalitaire ou s’inspirer de lui. Et de souligner par ailleurs que, s’il peut y succomber lui aussi – Vichy n’en étant qu’une récente illustration –, un « ordre immatériel » en tant que code exclusif peut également être porteur de progrès vertueux voués à s’étendre à la loi.

Le substrat totalitaire des sociétés réputées libérales recouvre l’ensemble des règles, tacites ou explicites, l’ensemble des diktats, assumés ou masqués, qui s’imposent par infantilisation à des comportements, des actions ou des choix qui ne causent aucun préjudice concret et effectif à autrui, l’ensemble des pressions et des formes de chantage, directes ou indirectes, exercées, à travers les classes sociales, sur un ou des êtres humains, ainsi que l’ensemble des sanctions, tangibles ou diffuses, leur imposées, pour forcer leurs choix, leurs actions et leur comportement d’une manière et à une échelle qui excèdent ceux, parmi ces comportements, ces actions et ces choix, qui causent ou sont susceptibles de causer un préjudice concret et effectif à autrui, c’est-à-dire l’ensemble des actions préjudiciables posées sciemment et volontairement qui ont pour objectif et/ou pour effet de restreindre, au nom d’une injonction à s’endurcir (c’est-à-dire à perdre de sa sensibilité), d’une prétendue cohésion sociale, de la préservation affichée d’un modèle culturel déterminé, ou d’un quelconque intérêt présumé supérieur, l’éventail des possibilités dont chaque être humain est pour lui-même l’unique titulaire et arbitre en vertu des droits fondamentaux qui consacrent son humanité, en ce compris l’ensemble des transgressions, au nom de protocoles parallèles ou additionnels illégitimes, des divers codes qui régissent la vie en société en ce qu’ils préviennent ou sanctionnent les comportements, les actions et les choix qui causent ou sont susceptibles de causer un tel préjudice, et un tel préjudice seulement, plus généralement l’ensemble des actions qui visent, par tension permanente, à subjuguer l’être humain en le clichant dans un récit archétypal qui ne requiert sa contribution qu’ès objet, auquel sa raison, par contrordre et instinct de survie, est sommée de s’adapter, et devant lequel tant la dualité essentielle de son existence, commune et singulière, que sa conscience propre, à la fois en tant que conscience de cette essence et en tant qu’aiguillon de ses actions, sont appelées à s’effacer, c’est-à-dire l’exigence d’ensemble qui intime de se donner intégralement, à corps, à conscience et à esprit perdus, à la société telle qu’elle est, préjudices et injustice y compris, et non pas telle qu’elle est garante de droits universels ou telle qu’elle pourrait être autrement vectrice de créativité, qu’elle soit substitut religieux de divinité ou injonction paradoxale, l’ensemble des processus d’uniformisation de l’expression et de centralisation de la parole autorisée (dont la fusion des pouvoirs est une résultante), l’ensemble des distorsions du langage et de la communication, des détournements sémantiques ainsi que des jeux sur les pulsions et les émotions, qui, insolemment et par invariable et agaçante répétition, y concourent, de même que l’ensemble des techniques d’espionnage, d’effraction et de contrôle qui y œuvrent pareillement, l’ensemble des préjugés tenaces et des verdicts d’intention par contumace, en somme l’ensemble des ressorts subliminaux et amoraux de la fabrication, sous la contrainte, d’un consentement factice, et l’ensemble des négations, dans des environnements pourtant supposés le valoriser, du fait humain en ce qu’il la contrecarre ou lui cherche une juste alternative, des plus futiles aux plus extrêmes.

Sans ce substrat, aucune société réputée libérale ne pourrait verser dans le totalitarisme revendiqué. Toute société telle, si elle était vraiment libérale, s’efforcerait donc de l’éradiquer, comme le font sans détour, s’agissant de la moindre prétention libérale, les sociétés ouvertement totalitaires ou en marche vers le totalitarisme. Or, au contraire, il n’en est quasiment aucune aujourd’hui qui ne l’entretienne : en Europe, la plupart des mouvements et des partis dits libéraux s’affichent désormais ouvertement conservateurs, sinon réactionnaires, et vice versa. Aux Etats-Unis, cette équivalence a certes été brisée en 2016, mais l’idole qui était alors supposée y représenter les libéraux n’en était pas moins franchement conservatrice. Par ailleurs, les résistances de la plupart de ses coreligionnaires aux velléités totalitaires du parti nationaliste, outre qu’elles sont minimes, répondent le plus souvent à une logique elle aussi conservatrice. Le libéralisme, non comme modèle économique, mais comme mode d’affranchissement, au moyen de droits individuels, d’une tutelle absolue, a perdu tout son sens, précisément en ce que le modèle économique est devenu la nouvelle tutelle absolue, qui requiert une obéissance similaire à celle qui était due naguère à quelque Dieu, laquelle justifie de la part des soi-disant apôtres du libéralisme à l’égard du substrat totalitaire bien plus qu’une tolérance complice. Or, si le libéralisme se fait exclusivement conservatisme, le conservatisme attitré, s’il souhaite s’en dissocier, n’a de marge de manœuvre qu’en direction du totalitarisme. Il en découle que le substrat totalitaire est intrinsèque à la société réputée libérale contemporaine, qui, plutôt que de l’endiguer, envisage comme une option de lui laisser libre cours, dès lors que la forme du totalitarisme auquel il donnerait lieu lui est familière.

Faisant main basse sur les vies et tarissant les énergies, l’ensemble des poids morts, lourds de leur terrifiante médiocrité, s’abattent sur des sociétés qu’ils ne conçoivent qu’à leur image…

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Catégories : Politique / Société | Étiquettes : , | Poster un commentaire

Qui, du théiste californien qui se veut progressiste ou du sceptique belge épris d’anarchisme, a la plus longue cuiller ?

youtube.com/watch?v=Ccaf7fEWtB4

Aside from Peterson’s views, I can’t believe some of the enormities I’ve heard here. The further you go into the podcast, the more the masks are falling.

So, the left should accept the debate about genetic IQ transmission, should it ? Because right now, « [it] wants to pretend any child born anywhere can be put in the right conditions and become the president » (1:50:48). Note that « wants to pretend » indicates you’re not just laying out those views in a neutral way; you’re saying that what the left is claiming, which happens to coincide with the democratic promise, is wrong and cannot come true. Yet, aren’t you the one who said education is key a few minutes earlier ? By that, did you actually mean scientific hoaxes, in the glorious (racism- and eugenism-inducing) tradition of phrenology (cf. Cesare Lombroso), which once examplified the very scientism you’re so skeptical of, still deserve as much examination as social determinism in establishing the causes of the education gap (and incidentally of criminality) ? And do you now mean to say that the left, by accepting this kind of debate, should help propagate such reactionary hoaxes ? Why ? For the sake of being bipartisan ? Who would it serve ? Why not just let the modern proponents of those sets of theories (aka charlatans) try and convince the proletariat, among which Trump voters, they are in fact genetically « deplorable » ?

1:30:28 : first of all, your friend should read the following : thenation.com/article/hillary-clinton-does-not-deserve-black-peoples-vote . Then, he should wonder whether the left needs more of the same, aka more « authority » in a ‘more-repressive-than-thou’ electoral atmosphere (Not a word on this from the prison teacher ?), or a project of its own. Why should the right set the course while everything it’s doing is chaotic and detrimental to the many ? Baring in mind the Democratic party lost the 2016 race not because it was too leftist but because it wasn’t enough, why should progressives keep making concessions (= keep shifting to the right) to a party that never makes any ? As for « sanctity« , would the left exist had it not opposed it, or rather reformulated it ? The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, free inquiry, etc. : those are historically the left’s sacred references. And we can agree on the necessity for it to reclaim those roots. But that’s not the sanctity your friend is talking about, is it ? Why should 2016 lead to the left disavowing its own vision of society even more ? It makes no sense at all. Why should it trade reason for « impulses » (1:34:57) ? Does the noumenon belong in the political sphere (= not the sphere of truth, as you correctly pointed out), let alone in leftist circles ? If it is but « a religious impulse« , what’s it worth anyway ? And don’t even get me started on your stooge’s astrological digression…

***

Not sure why YouTube’s algorithms held this comment for review, but I just saw it and released it. Yes, I think the Left should accept the heritability of IQ research. That general intelligence is heritable is not disputed by scientists. Why should the left ignore science? https://www.nature.com/articles/nrg.2017.104 I’d only say the science is extremely complicated and easily distorted and we ought to go very slowly whenever talking about it, and tread extremely carefully when it comes to policy-making. But whether we like it or not, parents with the means are already exercising the power to genetically screen fertilized embryos for certain traits. General intelligence is one of these traits. The sooner we understand the implications and put just legislation in place, the better, since rich folks are going to be able to breed smarter kids because they can afford the technology.

____________

Education still accounts for 50% or more of a child’s intelligence, so yes, education is key for assuring as close to equal opportunity as is possible.

____________

I think we need to decouple « sanctity » and religion from the left/right political spectrum. One can be left and religious. Cornel West is as good a contemporary example as I can think of. If the left can’t get back in touch with the divine ground of human existence, it has ceded an essential element of our nature to the right. The right is then free to distort the religious impulse via patriarchy, etc.

***

Yes, those algorithms are really bizarre, aren’t they ? They even manage to erase months-old comments that had been posted without any need for review. Go figure…

As for the topic at hand, your answer confirms you were not merely laying out two different standpoints. You even seem to conclude that the fundamental scientific dispute about the influence of nature v. nurture (or culture/environment) on personal development is closed. Yet, the results of the various studies on the heredity of general intelligence are far from being as clear-cut as you consider them to be : the science on the matter is not so much « extremely complicated » as it is still extremely fuzzy as to the actual interaction of both parameters : blogs.scientificamerican.com/beautiful-minds/the-heritability-of-intelligence-not-what-you-think / research.vu.nl/en/publications/on-the-nature-and-nurture-of-intelligence-and-specific-cognitive- . The clearest indicator of this scientific uncertainty is the 50 % estimate mentioned in the Nature article’s abstract. And even that has to be put into perspective…

Two quotes from more profane (but nonetheless fact-based) sources :

– « IQ declines over time in children raised in deprived environments, such as understaffed orphanages, or circumstances of poverty and isolation. Conversely, IQ improves in children who leave deprived environments and enter enriched environments. » ( sparknotes.com/psychology/psych101/intelligence/section3/ )

– « The last few decades have seen a slow, steady increase in people’s average performance on IQ tests throughout the industrialized world […]. This trend is commonly known as the Flynn effect. […] Such improvements are difficult to attribute to heredity because the same gene pool (albeit with an occasional mutation) is passed along from one generation to the next, and so the cause is almost certainly environmental. » ( education.com/reference/article/effects-heredity-environment-intelligence/ ).

Regarding commercial eugenism, « […] twin and adoption studies point convincingly to a genetic component in intelligence […] This is not to say that children are predestined to have an intelligence level similar to that of their biological parents. in fact, most children with high intelligence are conceived by parents of average intelligence rather than by parents with high IQ scores […]. » (Ibid.). The reverse is also true : « two parents of higher IQ will not necessarily produce offspring of equal or higher intelligence. In fact, according to the concept of regression toward the mean, parents whose IQ is at either extreme are more likely to produce offspring with IQ closer to the mean (or average). » (Strachan, Tom; Read, Andrew, Human Molecular Genetics – Fourth Edition, Garland Science, New York, 2011, pp. 80-81, via Wikipedia)

In its caveats, the same Wikipedia page defines heritability as follows : « [h]eritability measures the proportion of variation in a trait that can be attributed to genes, and not the proportion of a trait caused by genes« .

Last but not least, you should add to all of that that the IQ test itself is but a selective instrument meant to standardize our conception of intelligence in a competition environment (which is a standard in itself), leaving aside unstandardized potential for creativity.

With that in mind, and without any ad hominem assumption against Peterson, let me ask you the following : are the political circles from which this resurgent [naturalistic*] theo-natural determinism is emanating (which, of course, have little in common with Nature authors) of the kind that would allow an « extremely careful » examination of this crucial topic ?…

____________

First of all, I noticed the concept of « sanctity » as it is being used by your friend in the video, and as you are now using it yourself, seems distinct from the one you referred to in your dissertation, which appeared more rational. Second, I’m not denying there were and are religious people and movements who/that clearly identify with the left : the Liberation theology is another example (and, to some extent, one might even think of the late Christian democracy in European countries). But those people and those movements were only able to gain public influence insofar as religious dogmas became less prevalent. Third, I have no doubt said people and movements would adhere to the principles of leftist sanctity I briefly laid out. Fourth, the « divine ground of human existence » is speculative : it is not rooted in Positivism. And in no way should it interfere with politics in a secular state.

* [naturalistic] : retrospective correction

***

I completely accept the evidence you share here. Let’s just take a step back here and note that the old categories, « nature » v. « nurture« , are hopelessly inadequate for capturing the complexity of the organic world. Darwin is the man, bit it turns out Lamarck was right, too. If we could stop trying to reduce the social, political, and economic realms to outdated biological metaphors, many of our ideological disagreements would probably evaporate.

I also completely agree that many on the right try to weaponize behavioral genetics research to serve their own political ends. But right wing behavioral geneticists and evolutionary psychologists are not making up IQ science. Yes, environment affects IQ. No one is arguing that it is genetically determined. All I am suggesting that the science says is that a large part of what is measured as general intelligence is genetically inherited.

____________

Unfortunately and with great reluctance, I have come to agree with Carl Schmitt that liberal politics never truly escaped religion. Liberal politics only pretends to be secular, but in reality it has merely secularlized the same old theological concepts that used to determine notions of rights and sovereignty for pre-modern people. If the divine ground of human existence is speculative, then so is human freedom. Upon what is the liberal state based if not the reality of human freedom?

***

– It’s not about « trying to reduce » those spectra; it’s about defining the results of scientific observations, and evaluating their impact on society as we know it. How are those « old categories » or « outdated metaphors » anyway (metaphors ? for what ?) if they still constitute the fundamental paradigm of scientific research and philosophical/socio-political discourse in this field ? How could science have any effect whatsoever if they are left indistinct ? And what exactly do you mean by « the organic world » ? Wouldn’t ‘ontology’ (as defined by Sartre) stress the importance of the nature/nurture dyad more adequately ?

– I’m not sure why you’re summoning Lamarck and Darwin to a debate around DNA and the heredity of intelligence : there’s a bit of an anachronism there, don’t you think ? Could it have something to do with the former (at least) formally proclaiming his creationist belief (as well as professing the theoretical necessity of evolution), while the latter dedicated his life to refuting this postulate (and to demonstrating the practical causes behind evolution) ? Please elaborate… Since you did summon them, there is, however, one particularly interesting illustration of how the (environment-driven) theory of evolution and genetics intersect, namely that of bacteria swiftly becoming antibiotic-resistant through spontaneous genetic mutation, leaving scientists puzzled.

– Aren’t they ? en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Misbehaving_Science How large a part can it be, considering the overall evolution of human intelligence throughout history ?

____________

Why this reluctance ? Because of his commitment to the NSDAP ? Because he has a Hobbesian view of mankind ? Because of his aversion for what I would call ‘political ecumenism’ (« many of our ideological disagreements would probably evaporate. ») ? In a political context, the word ‘religion’ is etymologically ambiguous. It stems from the Latin word ‘religare’, which means ‘to link together’, ‘to connect’. And, while in liberal democracies, politics also divide, ‘religare’, which is to say to unite (a people), is nonetheless what they aim to do, some current examples to the contrary notwithstanding. And what drives them in doing so should not be mistaken for religious motives in a theological sense. This said, it is the latter meaning Schmitt was referring to, but he did apply it to every modern political ideology/system, and not only to liberalism, didn’t he ? However, according to him, one of the main differences between the Liberal system of thought, which consecrates the economy as the Almighty God, and overtly totalitarian schemes, is precisely that : their being overtly so, while liberalism covertly suppresses anything that seeks to contradict it, in that it does so under a fog of freedom, tolerance, diversity, (aspiration to) peace and democracy. But there’s another fundamental difference (still according to him), namely the fact liberalism de-politicizes citizens (who then wallow in mediocre and egotistic forms of hedonism), thereby destroying any sense of community. If not devilishly (thus religiously in its anti-religiousness), how then could Liberalism be considered theological ? And there’s another objection : how did people organize before ‘religion’ (in China, for instance) ?

Unless freedom is meant here as the result of our liberation from the illusion that we are free, your last two sentences make absolutely no sense to me : not only are you deducing « human freedom » from « divine ground of human existence » and implying it can’t be deduced from anything else; you’re also (still in a Schmittian perspective ?) implicitly equating the former with « the liberal state », incidentally turning a vague promise into reality. The whole thing looks like a particularly perverse paralogism that could be summarized as follows :

From G, F

And G = L

So, from L, F

… or something to that effect. But it could also be a koan, one leading its readers to the following conclusion : believing the Liberal state stands for human freedom is no less absurd than believing human freedom is necessarily conditioned by some divine ground for human existence. In other words, « ceci n’est pas une pipe²…

youtube.com/watch?v=mPn4vAOv0Xo

***

Evelyn Fox Keller does a good job explaining why « nature » v. « nurture » is an inadequate philosophical framework for understanding these issues: https://books.google.com/books?id=3up1Eo2OdzIC&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Evolutionary Developmental Biology and the Extended Synthesis are moving beyond that way of framing phylogeny/ontogeny, etc.

I mention Lamarck because of his idea of evolution via acquired characteristics. Turns out that this sort of thing happens all the time. The final page of the first several editions of Darwin’s « Origin of Species » refers to a Creator who breathed life into the first organism, from whom all subsequent species evolved. So some form of creationism was present in both Lamarck and Darwin.

***

I’ve realized that, since we started this conversation, neither you nor I have managed to avoid our share of inconsistencies :

– in my second comment, « this resurgent naturalistic determinism » (now corrected into “this resurgent theo-natural determinism”) made no sense at all, philosophically;

– as if you wanted me to speculate, the two last sentences of your fifth comment allow additional interpretations :

The liberal state rests on the reality of human freedom.

Thus, there is human freedom.

Therefore, “the divine ground of human existence” is not speculative.

Indeed, the liberal state is the evidence for this divine ground.

But, by establishing the liberal state (“religious” still), did man use his freedom against God or in accordance with His will ? It can’t be the latter, because, if it were, where would human freedom lie in this endeavor ? And, if it is the former, the liberal state has to effectively be secular, doesn’t it ?

And then, there’s the elephant in the room : which divine, what God, are we actually talking about ? The man-written scriptures (Peterson’s option), that is to say a political construct ? If so, which ones ? A cultural necessity or an independent verifiable reality ? Spinoza’s immanence ? Plato’s world of Ideas ? A spiritual one or a materialistic one ? A distant God or an all-intrusive one ? A sensuous one or a Victorian one ? A caricature for infantile adults in need of “authority” or a complexity ungraspable by the human mind ? The Creator of the universe or just our own, roaming in it just like we do (but with advanced technology) ? Our Creator or our projection ? God : one word, a thousand holograms… I’m not suggesting you yourself have not been trying to philosophically define your own conception of the divine. To quote Sagan in a different context, I’m not saying “absence of evidence is evidence of absence” either. What I’m saying amounts to rationality and common sense, really : 1/ there is no evidence (yet) as to an independent verifiable reality, in either direction; 2/ for their own reputation’s sake, as well as for God’s, hypothetically and as a complexity, intellectual rigor and honesty command every transcendentalist to AT LEAST acknowledge scriptures, irrational political constructs, purported cultural necessity and caricatures may be of interest in a historiographical perspective (and maybe even a political one in primitive societies), but are philosophically meaningless and counterproductive in their very essence : knowingly diverting from the truth, whatever it may be; 3/ personal ethics do not depend on whether a person believes God exists or not.

One more thing : I won’t drag Schopenhauer into this freedom/free will dispute : it would only add to the confusion…

– in my fifth comment, I asked : “how did people organize before ‘religion’ (in China for instance ?)”. My example, however valid in this sentence, might have earned me an answer like : but what about the nature/nurture debate outside the Western world (in China for instance ?) ? In fact, this debate is essentially (and exclusively, it seems) one of so-called Western anthropology/sociology;

– in your fourth comment, you claimed this debate was antiquated. Yet, in your video, you’re blaming the left for remaining unresponsive to Peterson’s ‘heredity’ argument (“an inconvenient truth”, you say, emphasizing your point with sarcastic laughter). And in that same comment, you suggest “science says […] that a large part of what is measured as general intelligence is genetically inherited”. But, if the ‘nature/nurture’ debate is indeed antiquated, why should it matter ?

As for your latest comment, – Influenced by Claude Lévi-Strauss, French anthropologist Philippe Descola came to the same conclusion. But his refutation of the validity of the nature/nurture dichotomy rested on the need for him to elaborate a narrative that would be equally pertinent for all communities, human groups, tribes, etc., around the world, since he too had found that nature/nurture was specifically a Western proposition.

I’ve read the (brief) interview Keller gave to M.I.T. News. in 2010 and, insofar as I can make any relevant judgement based on that, I’d say hers are merely pragmatic considerations : she is convinced that the entanglement of natural and environmental factors is such, and has been since the beginning of mankind, that it’s useless to try and distinguish between them. First, I’d ask : how many major discoveries (the Higgs boson, for instance) would we have missed had such a spirit of resignation prevailed in scientific research ? And the problem is that I don’t know where she’s going with that : she’s attributing to Francis Galton, a controversial XIXth cy. British statistician and eugenicist, as well as a strong proponent of heredity, the introduction of “the notions of nature and nurture as alternative causes that could be separately weighed”, willy-nilly making the proposition look guilty by association. But then she concludes by saying : “the relevant questions are, how difficult is it to change behavior or physiology ? […] Under what circumstances can behavior and physiology be changed ? Those […] issues […] address a critical part of what people want to know about the role of “nature”.” I can imagine the MIT (of which she is prof. emerita) feels more in its environment with DNA research than with sociological research, which, as stated by their own website, only “exists in the interstices of MIT’s school and departmental structure”, but is this her way of saying : nature/nurture is no longer relevant because only nature is ? Furthermore, although I don’t doubt the sincerity of her intentions any more than I probably would have Einstein’s when he went nuclear, questions like “how difficult is it to [genetically] change behavior ?” tend to ring a bell with me…

Were Lamarck’s statements about “the prime Author of all things” genuine or were they a subtle way of evacuating the question of the divine (in other words, a ruse) in order to be able to focus on the actual object of his research (nature) without having to worry about potential political repercussions ? Not all historians agree : “Lamarck was a materialist to the extent that he did not consider it necessary to have recourse to any spiritual principle […] his deism remained vague, and his idea of creation did not prevent him from believing everything in nature, including the highest forms of life, was but the result of natural processes”. (Jacques Roger, The Mechanist Conception of Life, in David C. Lindberg, Ronald L. Numbers, God And Nature : Historical Essays on the Encounter Between Christianity and Science, University of California Press, 1986, p. 291, via Wikipedia)

As for Darwin, his views are a lot clearer to us, since he held both a private diary and an extended correspondence, in which he reiterated his materialistic conviction several times : “In my most extreme fluctuations I have never been an atheist in the sense of denying the existence of God. I think that generally (& more and more so as I grow older) but not always, that an agnostic would be the most correct description of my state of mind”, he wrote in a May 7, 1879 letter to a John Fordyce. One of the entries in his personal notebook reads : “Love of godhood is a result of intellectual organization, oh you materialist !” And biologist/taxonomist Ernst Mayr, one of those who built on Darwin’s legacy most significantly, said this in an interview with edge.com : “One of my themes is that Darwin changed the foundations of Western thought. He challenged certain ideas that had been accepted by everyone, and we now agree that he was right and his contemporaries were wrong. Let me just illuminate some of them. One such idea […] was that of teleology, which goes back to Aristotle. During Darwin’s lifetime, the concept of teleology, or the use of ultimate purpose as a means of explaining natural phenomena, was prevalent. […] To make a long story short, Darwin showed very clearly that you don’t need Aristotle’s teleology because natural selection applied to bio-populations of unique phenomena can explain all the puzzling phenomena for which previously the mysterious process of teleology had been invoked”.

How then could Darwin indeed, in the closing paragraph of edition 2 to 6 of The Origin of Species, have written what you say he did ? He did so for two reasons : he seeked to protect his family and his work. Indeed, he had a very religious wife, and he had anticipated the very harsh reactions his Copernican biology would bring about, so he tried to soften the blow. His was not a declaration of faith, rather necessary concessions to the spirit of the time : if we agree the respective influences of nature and nurture are to intricate to be “separately weighed”, we should also agree text is inseparable from context…

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Bottes de cuir et précieuse ridicule…

Combien de fois le même vaudeville ne nous a-t-il été présenté, alternant les acteurs de fortune ? Et combien de temps encore est-il supposé structurer la société ?

Ils voudraient encore se faire omniprésents. Et la vieille lucarne est encore là, pensent-ils, pour les y aider. Par son biais, ils continuent de s’inviter dans nos salons, comme des membres de la famille, tous plus indésirables les uns que les autres : cousin Adolf et tante Gertrude viennent dîner demain… Chouette, ça faisait longtemps ! Ils nous manquaient, les ratés. Ils vont de nouveau se voler dans les plumes, vous allez voir. Encore un beau match de catch en perspective…

L’apéritif sera leur mise en jambes : pour décoller et montrer son plein potentiel, ça a besoin d’alcool, l’esprit bourgeois. Les premières piques fuseront, mais elles resteront cordiales. Jusqu’à ce que soit servi le rôti… Dès ce moment, cousin Adolf se laissera aller à ses marottes habituelles. Il ne pourra s’empêcher de commenter l’actualité avec toute la majesté qu’on lui connaît. Avec un calme olympien, il lèvera plusieurs fois sa fourchette comme un trident, et nous livrera le fond de sa pensée. Cette fois-ci, ce pourrait être un truc du style : « moi, je dis que les parents de Mawda portent leur part de responsabilité ! »

Quand cousin Adolf parle, c’est comme s’il lâchait un pet. C’est à ça qu’on le reconnaît. Un pet délicat, tout en douceur, lesté dans une soie toute anversoise, mais qui, comme le lisier, vous agresse frontalement les narines. Tous les convives, dégoûtés, le fixeront du regard, interloqués, avec un air de « mais comment oses-tu dire ça ? Même Collomb n’oserait pas. » Voire… Il ne s’est pas fait prier pour en lâcher déjà de bien puants, lui aussi. Mais la particularité de cousin Adolf, c’est que lui, comme un gosse pris en flag’ ou un chien qui, hébété, regarde son cul, n’en croyant pas ses oreilles, fait mine de s’étonner : « mais quoi, où est le problème ? qu’est-ce que j’ai dit ? »

C’est toujours en deux temps chez cousin Adolf, vous l’aurez remarqué : d’abord l’expression guillerette de son moi intérieur, puis « ben alors ? », et c’est toujours à ce moment-là que tante Gertrude s’engouffre dans la brèche. L’intime conviction ainsi exprimée par un type qui a pourtant plusieurs jeunes enfants relevait du 5 sur l’échelle de Duterte, mais la précieuse ridicule néanmoins se contentera de dire : « cousin, voyons, que vous êtes grossier ! »

Tante Gertrude, on l’appelle la momie. Elle est toujours si policée, si lisse, si politiquement correcte : c’est un vestige d’un autre temps. Mais putain, qu’est-ce qu’elle s’accroche ! Ca fait des lunes qu’elle tient sa petite boutique de friandises pour enfants, et elle n’a aucune intention de prendre sa retraite. Quand on était petits, déjà, on allait y acheter des sucettes. Elles avaient un goût bizarre. Toujours, elle nous dévisageait avec un air supérieur d’institutrice. C’était une statue vivante. Toujours en retard d’une guerre. Une petite intrigante de basse-cour sans culotte, dont l’ambition était à la mesure de son environnement. Une vraie langue de vipère, qu’étaient supposées faire oublier ses manières de plouc embourgeoisée de la bonne société. Et ses mots rappelaient la belgitude d’autrefois : « les nouvelles mesures du gouvernement, c’est vraiment une drache pour les petits commerçants », lança-t-elle récemment, fière de son bon mot. Elle a de la ressource, tante Gertrude !

Y a-t-il eu un tournant dans sa vie ? Jeune, était-elle plus épanouie, moins formelle, plus créative, moins formolée ? C’est peu probable : regardez Younous Omarjee, son clone faussement mielleux… Gertrude n’est pas femme à changer; au fil des années, elle n’a fait que s’endurcir. Chaque fois, en effet, qu’elle passait à la maison, oncle Jules la forçait à nous donner un peu d’argent de poche. Puis oncle Jules s’est éteint, et la mégère est devenue avare. Elle a même augmenté le prix de ses sucettes de cinquante pourcents. Autant dire qu’on n’y allait plus souvent, à sa boutique.

Gertrude et Adolf se haïssent, c’est évident. Mais ils sont les meilleurs ennemis du monde. La préciosité de Gertrude horripile Adolf. Et l’odeur d’Adolf indispose Gertrude. Mais ils ont besoin l’un de l’autre comme le yin a besoin du yang. Ils s’alimentent réciproquement, au ras des pâquerettes. Et si ce n’étaient pas eux qui cherchaient à saturer les conversations et les esprits de leur médiocrité, c’en seraient d’autres.

Vous verrez qu’à l’occasion de sa prochaine saillie, entre le fromage et le pousse-café, Adolf proposera d’expulser la famille de feu Mawda. Gertrude rétorquera qu’il faut lui accorder un permis de séjour de cinq ans. Adolf : bon, un an ! Gertrude : sept ! Adolf : un an et demi ! Gertrude : si c’est comme ça, dix ! Qui dit mieux ?!

Ah, si seulement cousin Adolf avait la décence d’admettre que ne sont coupables, à l’instar des collabos qui déguerpirent vers l’Allemagne lorsque débarquèrent les alliés, que les familles en fuite qui se sont compromises avec le régime ! Ah, si seulement tante Gertrude en avait, car il en faudra dans l’année qui vient !

L’épilogue ? Terrassé par le gewurztraminer final, Adolf, salive blanche aux commissures des lèvres, ira s’affaler sur un divan, tandis que tante Gertrude entretiendra le reste de l’assistance du dernier Marc Lévy, devant une vieille télé éructant de plus belle.

Ah, si seulement toutes ces traînées d’audimat, ces monticules de merde humaine, avaient leur propre vie ! Si elles et ils nous faisaient grâce de leurs pets et de leurs états d’âme rabougrie, peut-être pourrions-nous voir enfin la nôtre en rose !

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