Manifesto on the Organicist Conception of the World
* Manifesto: The Organicist Conception of the World: A Manifesto. By Robert Hanna.
"In 1929, the Vienna Circle published their justly famous logical empiricist/positivist manifesto, “The Scientific Conception of the World.” Almost a century later, this manifesto is being offered in direct reply to the Circle’s original manifesto."
"Organicism is a liberally naturalistic and pro-scientific, but also anti-mechanistic and anti-scientistic conception of the world, including ourselves. Organicism is committed to the metaphysical doctrine of Liberal Naturalism. Liberal naturalism says that the irreducible but also non-dualistic mental properties of rational minded animals are as basic in nature as biological properties, and metaphysically continuous with them.
More precisely, according to liberal naturalism, rational human free agency is an immanent structure of essentially embodied conscious, intentional, caring human animal mind; essentially embodied conscious, intentional, caring human animal mind is an immanent structure of organismic life; and organismic life is an immanent structure of spatiotemporally asymmetric, non-equilibrium matter and/or energy flows. Each more complex structure is metaphysically continuous with, and embeds, all of the less complex structures.
Again: Human freedom is dynamically inherent in and dynamically emerges from essentially embodied conscious, intentional, caring human animal mind. And essentially embodied conscious, intentional, caring human animal mind is dynamically inherent in and dynamically emerges from life. Thus human freedom is dynamically inherent in and dynamically emerges from life. Moreover, life is dynamically inherent in and dynamically emerges from spatiotemporally asymmetric, non-equilibrium matter and/or energy flows. Therefore, human freedom, human mind, and life are all dynamically inherent in and dynamically emerge from spatiotemporally asymmetric, non-equilibrium matter and/or energy flows.
In view of liberal naturalism, to borrow an apt phrase from the later Wittgenstein, our rational human free agency is just our own “form of life,” and free agency, as such, grows naturally in certain minded animal species or life-forms. Correspondingly, freedom grows naturally and evolves in certain species of minded animals, including the human species, precisely because minds like ours grow naturally and evolve in certain species of animals, including the human species
Another name for liberal naturalism is “Objective Idealism.”
Objective idealism is sharply distinct both from subjective idealism, which says that the world is nothing a phenomenal mental construction of an individual cognizer (as defended, e.g., by Berkeley, the neo-Kantians, early Carnap, C.I. Lewis, and Nelson Goodman) and also from absolute idealism, which says that the world is nothing but a giant mind, its thought-forms, and its thought-processes (as defended, e.g., by Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel). As opposed to either subjective idealism or absolute idealism, liberal naturalism, aka objective idealism, says that rational human mindedness grows naturally in the manifestly real physical world, in organisms whose lives have an appropriately high level of non-mechanical thermodynamic complexity and self-organization. The manifestly real natural physical world necessarily includes our real possibility and is immanently structured for the dynamic emergence of lives like ours and minds like ours.
Or in Thomas Nagel’s apt, crisp formulation: “rational intelligibility is at the root of the natural order.”
"Organicism is directly opposed to Natural Mechanism.
Natural Mechanism says that all the causal powers of everything whatsoever in thenatural world are ultimately fixed by what can be digitally computed on a universal deterministic or indeterministic real-world Turing machine, provided that the following three plausible “causal orderliness” and “decompositionality” assumptions are all satisfied:
(i) its causal powers are necessarily determined by the general deterministic or indeterministic causal natural laws, especially including the Conservation Laws, together with all the settled quantity-of-matter-and/or-energy facts about the past, especially including The Big Bang,
(ii) the causal powers of the real-world Turing machine are held fixed under our general causal laws of nature, and
(iii) the “digits” over which the real-world Turing machine computes constitute a complete denumerable set of spatiotemporally discrete physical objects.
In direct opposition to Natural Mechanism, however, the world-conception of Organicism says that the causal powers of biological life (and in particular, the causal powers of living organisms, including all minded animals, especially including rational human animals) are neither fixed by, identical with, nor otherwise reducible to the Conservation-Law-determined, Big-Bang-caused, real-world-Turing-computable causal powers of thermodynamic systems, whether these causal powers are governed by general deterministic laws or general probabilistic/Statistical laws. So if the general thesis of Organicism is true, then anti-mechanism is true and Natural Mechanism is false."
- An earlier version of this manifesto was posted on Against Professional Philosophy (19 May 2016), available online at URL =<https://againstprofphil.org/2016/05/19/the-organicist-conception-of-the-world-3/