Science, Philosophy, and Schizoid Man

Before there was something called “Science” (with a capital “S”, and which is only of relatively recent coinage) it was called “natural philosophy”. That name itself is significant because it indicates that science and philosophy were not considered separate specialist activities and departments, but a unity — the unity of the quest for knowledge with the pursuit of wisdom.

That these then came to be considered separate specialist activities — virtually unrelated to one another as the two solitudes — reflects the dire situation of the growing dualism of the modern mind and the root problem of “Schizoid Man”. It reflects what Jean Gebser refers to as the “compartmentalisation” of the contemporary consciousness structure and its lack of real coherence and integrality. Unfortunately, mainstream conventional science (ie “normal science” in Thomas Kuhn’s terms) then became little more than technicians serving the Megamachine and the Technocracy, who often poo-poo the idea that science should be the enduring quest for clarity about the nature of the Real and the nature of Nature itself. It becomes then merely the instrument itself of the pursuit of power.

Here, then, we face the essential problem of Schizoid Man — power without wisdom. And those of you familiar with Dr. McGilchrist’s neurodynamic theories of the two modes of attention of the hemispheres of the divided brain and the problem of “hemineglect” may see also the connection between this isolation and overspecialisation of arts and sciences, wisdom and knowledge.

Nonetheless, alarmed at these inner divisions of the human mind and psychic structure, geniuses like David Bohm have arisen to try to restore the unity of wisdom and knowledge, even when he is dismissed and poo-pooed by “real scientists” and his efforts and that of others ignorantly rejected as “pseudo-science”. These new “integralists” are the precursors and expositors of a new age of integrality and planetary well-being, often dismissed by old reactionaries who don’t understand the real crisis.

It is true that, as Einstein himself put it, the consciousness structure that produced the problem in the first place is not going to be the consciousness structure that even understands or perceives the problem let alone effectively resolve the problem. Thus we are in pretty dire straits, presently. Our responses to the critical challenges we face are deficient as long as the consciousness structure itself is deficient, and so we fumble and bumble our way towards ultimate disaster in a cycle of self-destructive thought and behaviour. This is basically Nietzsche’s argument too for our own self-overcoming and for Gebser’s “leap”.

In the Hermetic philosophy, the “hieros gamos“, or “sacred marriage”, also signified the marriage of wisdom and knowledge. And those of you familiar with Iain McGilchrist’s writings on neurodynamics may also see in the hieros gamos the reharmonisation of the two modes of attention of the divided brain, which have been divorced and estranged from one another for some time. These developments are promising signs of an incipient new “integral consciousness” that will again restore the unity of wisdom and knowledge and the integrity of the human soul.

We can name many others, such as Jean Gebser, Rosenstock-Huessy, or Carl Jung and even Nietzsche when he’s properly understood, attempting to overcome the present schizoid state of the human soul through a new integration of the soul and to restore the unity of knowledge and wisdom. It’s because science has foresworn the quest for clarity and wisdom in its pursuit of power that the institution of science is also loosing its legitimacy and credibility in the eyes of the broader public, who perceive it now as just another form of self-interested power-seeking.

To heal the soul of its inner fragmentation and division, we need to effect something like the hieros gamos — the marriage of wisdom and knowledge.

Rebis. The hieros gamos.

And that also means, patriarchy must be transcended as well. That too is the meaning of the madness, and the decline and fall, of Blake’s demon God named “Urizen”.

And William Blake is still a reliable and trustworthy guide to the New Age and the terrible crises of the transition.


34 responses to “Science, Philosophy, and Schizoid Man”

  1. barryh says :

    Reblogged this on I can't believe it! and commented:
    Here, the Crysalis encapsulates today’s problem. When natural philosophy was effectively superseded by objective science, we set off on a track that has inexorably led to today’s loss of wisdom. It won’t be easy to get back, but without wisdom how can humanity hope to survive long term?

  2. davidm58 says :

    Some of the better thinkers of today that are still attempting a legitimate integration of science and philosophy might be Isabelle Stengers and Bruno Latour – both drawing on the foundational wisdom of Alfred North Whitehead.

  3. Scott Preston says :

    I wonder what happened to infi. I know she was struggling with cancer. Do hope it didn’t take a turn for the worst.

  4. Smitty's Gelato: A Film Blog says :

    Would I be correct to assume that there are scientists, then, who do not even understand the philosophy that is at the foundation of their profession? When I was in university, I took some introductory science courses. They would give you a list of critical thinking tools such as: eliminating rival hypothesis, correlation does not equal causation, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, falsifiability, reliability, and Occam’s razor. One gets the impression that these tools might just be a list of procedures to help a student identify whether or not a piece of research is adhering to the mainstream scientific worldview, and may not actually help the student see outside of that worldview. Of course, I only took introductory courses, maybe they go deeper into the philosophy in the third and fourth year of study.

    • Scott Preston says :

      Yes, it’s quite fair to say that a lot of scientists have never studied the history and philosophy of their own profession.

    • InfiniteWarrior says :

      There are still schools of Natural Philosophy at the major universities. The former 13.7 NPR blog was founded by Marcelo Gleiser, Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Dartmouth College, and his buddy, Astrophysicist Adam Frank. They’ve moved on to 13.8 at ORBITER.

      I’ve thoroughly enjoyed Adam Frank’s contributions over the years, especially When Nature Speaks, Who Are You Hearing? You might want to check them out for some contemporary commentary on the state of affairs in the scientific community.

  5. TheOakofNormal says :

    Currently listening to A.H. Almaas’ Endless Enlightenment, which is an interview format. Really humble guy and you can hear it in his voice. Thanks for bringing him into my awareness. Him saying that goals are a problem on the road to Truth really stuck out for me. Another is his idea of Enlightenment Drive. Yeats said something once to the effect of how reckless it is to dive into one’s self and it sure seems like that isn’t mechanical processes or self preservation at work for the many folks that get that calling. Evolution as an idea is less than 200 years old. We have no clue what our purpose is here and would be nice if we humbled up as a species. We really don’t know anything at the end of the day and the results prove it.

  6. Scott Preston says :

    ‘There comes a point where the mind takes a leap — call it intuition or what you will — and comes out upon a higher plane of knowledge, but can never prove how it got there. All great discoveries have involved such a leap.’ — Einstein

    Of especial relevance, too, in appreciating what Gebser means by “leap” also.

  7. Smitty's Gelato: A Film Blog says :

    What are some examples of reactionary attitudes that don’t understand the real crisis?

    • Scott Preston says :

      Well, for one thing the “denialist” attitude that disregards or trivialises clearly evident crises. Just came across an article about that this morning

      A reactionary attitude is one which seeks by any means to obstruct and prevent future from arriving in its due time. It becomes then a species of nihilism pretty much identical with what we mean by “decadence”. I think Gebser had reactionary mentality and attitude in mind when he opined that the emergence of integral consciousness could be “abortive” or suppressed, in which case it would be another 1,000 years before it would become a possibility again. Reactionaries typically dislike unpredictability, novelty or innovations that they feel are existential threats to their “identity” and so resist transformation.

      That’s the stakes in combating reactionary attitudes. It’s also why Rosenstock-Huessy (who described himself as “counter-reactionary”) held that human progress depended upon mortality.

    • Scott Preston says :

      If you are still looking for examples of reactionary attitudes, the most prominent historical example is the Counter-Reformation in Europe as a reaction to the Reformation and the attempt to suppress it — that is, a theocratic empire already become dysfunctional and in the throes of decadence attempted to sabotage the emerging secular age, by the well-known instruments of Inquisition, burning “heretics” at the stake, internal crusade and so on.

      The Counter-Reformation is a prime example of what is meant by “reactionary”.

  8. Scott Preston says :

    “We may also discover that there is a pattern of creation longing to be fulfilled within each of us as well as in life in general. Finding that pattern and working toward its fulfillment is what Jungians call the individuation process”.~Bud Harris, The Journey Into Wholeness

  9. Steve says :

    Is “The Journey Into Wholeness” by Budd Harris a good book Scott?

  10. Steve says :


    In Austin there is a Chinese TCM doctor who has created a kidney healing modality they say is creating wonders. People with 40% kidney function have gone up to 70% in just a couple of months. It’s a meditative and physical technique. I’m having a private session next week and i will tell you how it goes.
    If you want to email me your private email again I can do it that way if you wish.
    His name is Doctor Zhang and he is a rather unique fellow. He has had some rather unusual Qi Gong training. He is the last student of Master Yang Jingui, known as the Jewel of China. He trained the Chinese army for the Japan Chinese war.

    • Scott Preston says :

      Thanks for the heads up but my kidneys are now too far gone for that. In any case, my type of kidney disease is not life-style related and so easily remedied by proper attention to lifestyle, it is congenital.

      • InfiniteWarrior says :

        Congenital? What’s that to quantum physics? 🙂

        I often wonder that, you know. In fact, I firmly believe that if all our diagnoses/treatments of various cancers were not solely based on genetics (i.e. biotechnological, genetic engineering…stuff), we’d probably have a cure for cancer by now. TOFT is on the horizon and offering its counter-arguments, such as they are, but the two shall not be made twain…at least, not just yet. Perhaps in the future.

        • InfiniteWarrior says :

          IOW: all our cancer treatments, at present, rely on the SMT (Somatic Mutation Theory) of carcinogenesis whereas TOFT (Tissue Organization Field Theory) disputes the purely “objective” (SMT) point of view and insists that subjective factors play a part. At least, in essense, that’s the difference between them, as far as I can tell: classical and “qunatum”… from my perspective as a cancer patient.

          Draw your own conclusions, but this stark duality strikes me as significant.

        • Scott Preston says :

          Amor Fati

          “The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
          Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
          Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
          Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.”

          No positive or wishful or magical thinking of the ego-consciousness is going to overrule the soul that has resolved to conclude accounts with a life and move on. This concluding accounts with reality and life with the last breath is what the well-known life recapitulation experience is at the end — closing the file. Until the last breath, there is no closing accounts with reality, and those who do are already dead.

          • InfiniteWarrior says :

            I’m speaking not of the natural conclusion of life, which must come, but of the form of “left brain” thinking (SMT) presently dominating the field of research and treatment of potentially preventable/treatable cancers and its counterpart, the more “right-brain” TOFT. This is what I find of significance. Those who wish to investigate further can read about it here.

            Medicine is a science rarely, actually practiced anymore, imho, primarily because the large biotech firms are calling most of the shots as I see it. In fact, I’ve met exactly one physician in the past decade — a lot of doctors, i.e. doctorate holders, but only one physician and he was a vascular specialist.

  11. Tony Chef says :

    This was a though-provoking article. Many subjects and philosophers were mentioned that I will absolutely look into. Thank you and we’ll done!

  12. The Wellbeing Blogger says :

    What a great piece. One of the best I’ve read lately. It’s exciting to see we’re walking in this direction. We’re still a few with this mindset, but it has been amazing to witness how non-traditional scientists have been speaking and standing up for this integration. Our well-being depends on it. Thank you for sharing.

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