Industrial Revolution: The Tipping point?
We live in two very different worlds; a world of technical and technological order and clarity, and a world of personal and social disorder and confusion. We are increasingly able to solve problems in one domain and increasingly endangered by our inability to solve problems in the other.
Normal science is successful primarily because it is a domain of knowledge controlled by paradigms. The paradigm defines the standards, principles and methods of the discipline. It is not apparent to the laity but science moves forward in small incremental steps. Science seldom seeks and almost never produces major novelties.
Science solves puzzles. The logic of the paradigm insulates the professional group from problems that are unsolvable by that paradigm. One reason that science progresses so rapidly and with such assurance is because the logic of that paradigm allows the practitioners to work on problems that only their lack of ingenuity will keep them from solving.
Science uses instrumental rationality to solve puzzles. Instrumental rationality is a systematic process for reflecting upon the best action to take to reach an established end. The obvious question becomes ‘what mode of rationality is available for determining ends?’ Instrumental rationality appears to be of little use in determining such matters as “good” and “right”.
There is a striking difference between the logic of technical problems and that of dialectical problems. The principles, methods and standards for dealing with technical problems and problems of “real life” are as different as night and day. Real life problems cannot be solved only using deductive and inductive reasoning.
Dialectical reasoning methods require the ability to slip quickly between contradictory lines of reasoning. One needs skill to develop a synthesis of one point of view with another. Where technical matters are generally confined to only one well understood frame of reference real life problems become multi-dimensional totalities.
When we think dialectically we are guided by principles not by procedures. Real life problems span multiple categories and academic disciplines. We need point-counter-point argumentation; we need emancipatory reasoning to resolve dialectical problems. We need critical thinking skills and attitudes to resolve real life problems.
How can we become intellectually sophisticated enough to survive our own technological success?
Can our civilization survive much longer if our citizens fail to become more intellectually sophisticated? Presently it is apparent to me that few citizens have any idea of the problems that we face. If the citizens do not comprehend what is going on they certainly will be unwilling to make the sacrifices required.
I suspect that we have already past the tipping point. The tipping point is that situation in history, if past, cannot be recovered. There is a tipping point in the human body such that if reached the immune system in the body cannot recover and eventually heal the body.
I suspect that the human species tipping point might have been the Industrial Revolution.
They “tranquilize themselves with the trivial”.—Kierkegaard