Monday, March 06, 2023

Cartesian Fallacy

"The universe is wider than our views of it."

Henry David Thoreau (1817 - 1862)

"Logic does not lead us from the fact that we are an integral part of the web of life to certain norms of how we should live. However, if we have the deep ecological experience of being part of the web of life, then we will (as opposed to should) be inclined to care for all of living nature. Indeed, we can scarcely refrain from responding in this way. 

By calling the emerging new vision of reality 'ecological' in the sense of deep ecology, we emphasize that life is at its very center. This is an important issue for science, because in the mechanistic paradigm physics has been the model and source of metaphors for all other sciences. 'All philosophy is like a tree,' wrote Descartes. 'The roots are metaphysics, the trunk is physics, and the branches are all the other sciences.'

The systems view of life has overcome this Cartesian metaphor. Physics, together with chemistry, is essential to understand the behavior of the molecules in living cells, but it is not sufficient to describe their self-organizing patterns and processes. At the level of living systems, physics has thus lost its role as the science providing the most fundamental description of reality. This is still not generally recognized today. Scientists as well as nonscientists frequently retain the popular belief that 'if you really want to know the ultimate explanation, you have to ask a physicist,' which is clearly a Cartesian fallacy. The paradigm shift in science, at its deepest level, involves a perceptual shift from physics to the life sciences."

Fritjof Capra (1939 - ) and Pier Luigi Luisi (1938 - )
The Systems View of Life: A Unifying Vision

"Nature is an infinite sphere
whose center is everywhere and
whose circumference is nowhere."

Blaise Pascal (1623 - 1662)

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