Mark Whitaker's Non-Reductionist Methology for Ecological History

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Mark Whitaker:

"In four paragraphs, it would be:

#1. 'we can only have a good micro, meso, and macro analysis by focusing on what they have in common as independent variables, instead of only assuming one level is the independent variable and others are dependent variables. If all micro, meso, and macro issues are independent variables and choices in human/environmental history, then this means what they have in common is strategies, tactics, and accommodations that can be analyzed and ongoingly tracked in history at all three levels in ongoing historical dynamics.'

  • Whitaker - Non-Reductionist History: Micro, Meso & Macro "Strategy & Tactics" of Leaders & Followers (and Accommodations on All three levels as well, and on the macro level of geography that yields a historical trialectics) (19 min)

And 15 minutes on the micro-level of this trialectical accommodation:

  • Whitaker on Trialectics: A Green Theory of History; Why Malthus, Marx, Smith and Beck Are Wrong... (15 min excerpt)

#2. We have to start with hybrid topics of topics that are social, biological and physical interactive instead of topics that are framed as only social, only biological, or only physical.

As I say in Chapter 1 of the manuscript , Chapter One: A Descartian “Method of Doubt” for the Social Sciences. "The first point is an updated (and extensive) method of doubt of all, somewhat similar to Descartes. However, unlike Descartes who distrusted his sensory experience for more mental deductive models, I would say that even the latter might lead us into error as well. So if both sensory experience and mental deductions might mislead us, how to proceed? We might eliminate twelve errors of mental projection and then work with what is residually left for a shared interscientific phenomenology for social science, economics, and historiography."

The point is if our senses can fool us like Descartes worried, though if our minds and mental deductions can equally fool us as Hume worried (like about causality/inference, etc.), then what do we do? The best route is to 'reduce' from our thinking processes what are clearly only derived from mentally imposed frameworks of thinking. These are doubtful and untrustworthy in conceptual arrangements because they clearly depend only on mental projection/deduction to exist. I have 12 suggestions of these kind of mental-only imposed frameworks that should be jettisoned as doubtful. Many are built around mentally projected false dichotomies. If it is doubtful that these assumptions are real, then these twelve should be rejected as doubtful concepts to gather data with before historical research. I have generally followed this for years, though as you imagine, it was complicated to write this down. Sorry I lack a short video on that yet, though see chapter 1 in the book draft below for this: which I call "RRR" (residually reduced reductionisms). I think of this as "Descartes for the Social Sciences."

#3. Particular choices cause environmental degradation, and particular repressions/suppressions cause environmental degradation, just as particular choices cause environmental improvement and reduction of repression/suppression encourages sustainability. In other words, abstract theories fail to work for me. (Following from point #2 above on hybrid issues as the basis of analysis.) This means Malthus's exclusively biological view of environmental degradation is clearly wrong, and it means (eco)Marxist exclusive social/ownership views of environmental degradation are wrong.

  • Whitaker - Four Causes of Environmental Degradation, and Four Solutions (38 min)

#4. All regions of the world have a mixed history of degradative forces and sustainable forces working against each other in ongoing history. This is what I called "common civilizational problems with environmental degradation" though equally common civilizational triumphs of environmental improvement. This is what I call a 'green theory of history.'

I am critiquing the neologism of 'eco-asianism' (the idea that only one region of the world, Europe, has exclusive blame, and all other areas particular "Asia" , has a history of only ecological innocence."

(email December 2021)

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