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Time of science, time of man

by Ana Bazac

 
I
 

One of the most frequent and, at the same time, dangerous epistemological faults of the contemporary thinkers – and indeed, only these ones are blind, since the former have only discovered the significances of time – is the homogenization of situations, images and concepts related to man. Philosophy works, obviously, at the level of universals, but homogenization is not tantamount to the universal included in the concepts-theories as main philosophical tools. Homogenization is a fallacious generalization, certainly made not only by common people but also by thinkers: whose job is just to care about the logic of thinking.

The homogenization of situations, images and concepts related to man is a fundamental and tacit supposition of what we call mainstream theorists, one which is revealed – letting aside the conservative type bombardments on the conscience of people – only through the deconstruction of the ideas and concrete researches.

This supposition concerns the concept of time related to the concrete situation of the human beings and their big realizations, as science, for instance. In fact, those theorists share a uniform vision about the time of man, as if it would be a receptacle where the bindings of all humans to this receptacle in a temporary interval would be similar. Or as if it would be sufficient to know that people have the same relations with time: they born, and strive for their existence having as a landmark, stake, incentive and end their own death. Not the criticism of Heidegger is important here, but the epistemological mistake made not only by him but also by those who do not consider the differentiation within the above-mentioned bindings: even though they assume an existentialist – and not an essentialist – approach (as Heidegger did) and even a kind of relativism.

Though these last writers do not credit that the inferences about the thoughts and deeds of differently situated people might be reduced according to one single model truthful in an eternal and absolute sense, namely although their studies give significant advances in the understanding of domains they are interested in, therefore with all the fruitful historical and epistemologically relativistic approach, at the level of world scientific community there is a tendency of separation, even a gap, between the concrete technique in the particular studies and the consideration of science or of the results of science for its/their thirsty beneficiaries. Simply put, though the concrete studies aim at giving humanity not only efficient understanding of the miracles of the existence, but also practical means to achieve a “good life” (let’s use Aristotle’s term), the greater part of the researchers does not consider science as a whole as being concretely responsible for this good life: or do this in a quite abstract manner.

Consequently, a huge contradiction rises: between the formidable progress and level science has already attained and, on the other hand, the state of things in the world and the tragic situation of billions of human individuals contemporary to this high level of the achievements of science.

The cause of the above-mentioned position of scientists (broadly, of intellectuals) is, obviously, their middle class appurtenance, their affiliation to a comfortable bureaucratic layer. As a result, an opportunistic ideology forbidding any consistent social involvement on the side of the disadvantaged majority of society bloomed.

Why would this ideology be harmful? Not only because it consolidates the grave problems of the world, but also because it proves an unimaginable obtuseness on behalf of those who are supposed to follow in a consistent manner the logical rules without which one cannot drive a scientific research. They are the witnesses of the confiscation of science by the sponsors – the tiny dominant layer of countries and the world –, witnesses of the use of science to enslave man more and more, but they turn the eyes in other part and continue to enjoy of their fragmentary research. Or: in order to enjoy of their fragmentary research. And they live with the illusion that science gives power to humankind.

This is a moral lack, but it is intertwined with epistemological shortcomings. The separation between domains and concepts – concretely, between nature and society/natural and social sciences, between theory and practice, the fear of holism (and of teleology), the routine of models and the inherent simplification, the social ignorance of social logic by most of researchers working in different “hard” sciences and philosophy, all of these have led and still conduct the researchers to not see the profound social difference their behaviour shape. Most of philosophers do the same, all of both categories insisting to give fragmentary arguments for fragmentary or abstract views about man.

The problem of social difference does not mean some external harmful conditions which influence people, they, however, remaining the same representatives of the human species, somehow untouchable. Actually, this is not the case. The harmful conditions do not only transform the humans, even until we cannot believe they still belong to the species gifted with logos and compassion ordering the anticipation of the deeds – see the extreme example of killers in all of their hypostases and the praise made to them by the unconsciously stupid media which swamp the young minds in order to enrol them into a disciplined ”herd” according to the will of the powerful (as Bernays has approved and considered as an inevitable trait of the modern society, something that before Nietzsche has vigorously disapproved and countered) – but they simply annul the existence of so many, steal their living time, pull them out from the historical interval these people born and push them back, within an old one.

This situation is the most visible when compared to the “time” – or the form, to use an old concept, but in its Aristotelian version, not in the Plato’s – of the human creations in the same interval. And science is a special creation just because it keeps up with the time: and here, not so much in the fashion it shares with some other human constructs like paradigms, concepts, models – all of them having a strong continuity, and not only discontinuity generated always by the present – but especially because of its huge progress where discontinuity makes irrelevant the historical achievements, and just this discontinuous manifestation gives to science its transformative capacity over the human being.

Therefore, the time of science is always the present one, and only this present time of science gives it its importance and power. Only in this present form is science a landmark and a criterion of man’s evolution and victories.

But science is a human creation to which the humans relate in different manners: as creators, but especially as beneficiaries. And because of the domination-submission relations – historically necessary since the economic function of the dominant strata was just to compel the labour force to hard work in order to compensate the low level of technological means, then as a result of the present scientific-technological revolution, these relations are more and more superfluous but existing mainly because of political reasons – i. e. of the private control of science, this human creation is forced to stay even away from the bulk of human population. Yes, even if the number of mobile phones may exceed the number of human individuals.

The sad proof of this distance is that between the existent high medical discoveries and the impossibility to afford them because of their costs. And these costs are artificial: not because the medical research would not be very expensive, it is, but because the private ownership of the means of research (including funds) and thus of its results, and the quest for private profit are absolutely adverse to the consideration of science as common good of humankind[1], as means of human health and fulfilment. On the contrary, the ”big pharma”, as the big pharmaceutical companies – related to the medical research – are called, think the medical research as a simple means of profit, raising the prices of medicines until levels unaffordable by the majority of common people, including those with only basic medical insurance[2].

A (medical) discovery is an event[3], but if it does not apply because of the structural differences to afford the means of existence, the life time of the poor – the majority of the world population, if we include also the shrinking middle classes having not access to the latest medical discoveries – shortens in a dramatic manner[4]. They die prematurely.

Actually, the contradiction between the high level of scientific discoveries and existent and possible technologies and, on the other hand, the low/insufficient level of the affordability of science as such, and not only of the medical discoveries, means an exit of the majority of humankind from the interval of time they born within. In the present one and the same interval of time, coexist different times: this is not the conclusion of a theoretical play with the general/universal and particular/individual concrete intervals, but the lucid observation of the impossibility of the majority of the humans to attain the contemporariness given by the present science. Science seems to give the specific of contemporaneousness, it is the stake of this present interval, but at the same time it seems to be distant from the life of most of people. And in fact, the specific of a historical period is never given by a single human construct.

Anyway, the feature of the present time is just the coexistence of not only different, but opposite times/intervals. However, the already old ascertainment, since Jean-Jacques Rousseau has mentioned it in 1750, that the human/social relationships are backward towards the noteworthy scientific and technological evolution (civilisation, said the thinker) – that seems to be topical, to the delight of so many glossers sighing over the “objective super-temporal destiny of man” – hides the historical domination-submission relations. If philosophy wants to be challenging, it must interpret in its specific universe of discussion just these relations, historicity, constraints and frozen ideas generated by them: reflecting the social concrete positions of people – and of philosophers and academics – these frozen ideas constitute what we call ideology; which is, accordingly, not neutral but distorting reality just from the standpoint of the ”observer” (see the link between Marx and the latter Einstein type criticism of Newtonian physics), but also without which ”the reality itself cannot reproduce itself”[5].

A little impetus to see how reality reproduces itself through the ideological distortions is the idea of coexistent opposite intervals of people and of cultural creations within the same period. This idea enriches the concept of time and attacks the illusions according to which it would be possible to use a metaphysical (and out-of-date, into the bargain) concept of time specific to the natural sciences for the understanding of the problems of man. The time of the human individuals is social and framed by the historical social and economical and political and cultural relations. Namely, the humans live in time intervals forged by these relations, and it is not philosophically admissible to generalise one interval to all of them. People who have no teeth because they cannot pay the dentistry care live not in the same interval – even civilisation – with those who already use stem cells as a radical dentistry.

Science was used here as the most important “developing solution” of this untranslatable situation. The problem, too, is that the cultural creations as such exist in different intervals: some ones, for example, mimicking the authentic relation of these creations with time. The mobile phones used by toothless people show that science and technology are subordinated to the private profit relations and thus have no the whole possibility to develop and they may lie/remain in different intervals in the same period of time: because this possibility supposes the possibility of the human beings to create, experiment, critique and enjoy of their creations.

Accordingly, if this condition does not meet, it means that – the conditions as such being only the consequences of human decisions and actions – other ideas, decisions and actions are necessary in order to accomplish the beautiful deployment of time and the actuality (in Aristotle’s meaning) of human creations and lives.

Epistemologically, this emphasis of the coexistent different times of (at least some) humans and their creations overtakes the laments and the fatalism judging this situation as inevitable. But the problem needs developments. And may be one could write about a different relationship between Sein und Zeit: Sein und Intervall rather, including “und Abstand”, “und Abweichung””, “und Differential” and so on.

 
Notes
 

[1] See Ana Bazac, ”Citoyenneté et biens communs de la science”, Analele Universităţii din Craiova, Seria Filosofie, nr. 32, (2/2013), pp. 105-129, http://cis01.central.ucv.ro/analele_universitatii/filosofie/2013/Anale32.pdf.

[2] See only Carlos M. Correa, ”The Novartis Decision by India’s Supreme Court: A Good Outcome for Public Health”, South Bulletin, http://www.southcentre.int/south-bulletin-75-7-october-2013/; Liz Szabo, ”Skyrocketing drug prices leave cures out of reach for some patients”, USA Today, June 15, 2015, http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2015/06/14/rising-drug-prices/71077100/; Jonathan Benson, ”Almost All Psych Drug Use Is Unnecessary: Study”, Global Research, July 20, 2015, Natural News, http://www.globalresearch.ca/almost-all-psych-drug-use-is-unnecessary-study/5463456; Brad Dixon, Doctors protest high prices of cancer drugs in US, 14 September 2015, http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2015/09/14/canc-s14.html; Christine Rushton, ”Company hikes price 5,000% for drug that fights complication of AIDS, cancer”, USA Today, September 18, 2015, http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/health/2015/09/18/company-hikes-price-5000-drug-fights-complication-aids-cancer-daraprim/32563749/?utm_source=feedblitz&utm_medium=FeedBlitzRss&utm_campaign=usatoday-newstopstories; Brad Dixon, US drug makers blocking generic competition to inflate prices, 1 October 2015,

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2015/10/01/drug-o01.html.

[3] Alain Badiou, Being and Event (1988), Translated by Oliver Feltham, London, New York, Continuum 2007; Manifeste pour la philosophie, Paris, Seuil, 1989.

[4] Arline T. Geronimus et al., ”Race-Ethnicity, Poverty, Urban Stressors, and Telomere Length in a Detroit Community-based Sample”, Journal of Health and Social Behavior, October 2015, pp. 1-26, DOI: 10.1177/0022146515582100; Scientists Find Alarming Deterioration In DNA Of The Urban Poor, 05/08/2015,

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/05/08/poverty-race-ethnicity-dna-telomeres_n_7228530.html.

[5] Slavoy Zizek, The Sublime Object of Ideology, London, New York, Verso, 1989, p. 28.

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