Philosophy for Renewing Reason – 45

Philosophy for Renewing Reason – 44
Philosophy for Renewing Reason – 46

We have now passed the date in June in 1993 when the P E R Group was first muted, at a philosophical conference at UEA in Norwich.  It was desperately needed because a group of substandard theorists had taken over school systems all over the world and education had —in practice— gone out of the window. The group has been brainstorming the deep assumptions which underly genuine education for thirty years. 

It is a sad fact that the constituency the P E R group was aimed at informing has long since vanished. It was initially a considerable circle of public-spirited, thoughtful, impartial people (like the clerisy) who were fully aware how education is responsible for shaping and colouring the common life of a society.

The result has been, alas, a thorough disorientation of the society, a disillusion with social services, politics, the justice system, international relations, etc., etc.

But the P E R Group also represented a way of keeping philosophy going on a genuine but deep, specialist, meaty basis at a time when the “philosophy” being showcased and studied in academia, was becoming more and more pedantic, hair-splitting, anti-mathematic, anti-epistemologic, socially myopic and fragmented.

So this year we are celebrating thirty years of flying the philosophy flag. Our audience is not large, but it is probably the best we can expect in a community which has been disoriented to the nth degree by an imposed  sub-standard school paradigm. This school take-over has been actively demolishing the mental vitality of the pupils rather than inspiring them to become involved in the promise of the future for forty years.

From the beginning we realised that the P E R Group had to mobilise analysis on two different fronts:

  1. We needed to “get clear about” how genuinely to engage children in exploring the world around them and in trying to understand it in the simplest possible sense of that open-ended word. Also to appreciate history, rigour, accountability, etc.
  2. We needed to “get clear about” the awful sense of intellectual inadequacy and despair which has descended on everybody since the devastating arrival of apparently insoluble problems around 1900… problems which demoralised the whole 20th century, because only fudged “solutions” were ever found. (A “relativity” theory was put out which was based on the most abjectly absolute concept of timeless reality, and a form of set theory in maths was canonised which brazenly dealt with Russell’s contradiction by declaring it officially invalid.)

So has the P E R Group made any progress?

Yes.  We have developed a way to understand the relativity of light which does not resort to unacceptable fudging.  It involves, though, a culture shock of about 10 on the Richter Scale — an awareness that there is, wholly unexpectedly, an alternative way of scientifically modelling the physical universe… anti-mathematics. 

Anti-mathematics is not a discourse which attacks mathematics —indeed it relies heavily on mathematics as its main meta-language— but it is a complementary 100%abstract, 100% rational, 100% lucid logos which explores the logic of transient  (rather than timeless) reality. (Today is in its infancy, about 20,000 years behind mathematics.)

At this time, when the world is getting increasingly angry, fragmented, fragile and jittery… and Silicon Valley is hallucinating absurdly over its latest questionably-intelligent bots… anti-mathematics is our best light at the end of the tunnel.

How so?

Well, we have entered a third phase of history when the leaders and shakers of human societies are putting too much emphasis on mathematics.  The first was the Roman Empire.  It had an envious degree of total self-confidence, because it had a superb Bible to guide its projects —Euclid’s Elements.  This was delightfully lucid, it contained elegant, amazing proofs and it valorized mathematics into the super-language on which public life depended.  Using it, the Romans were able to build straight roads, efficient aqueducts, impressive stadia and unstoppable armies.  But… it was also a savage, brutal society for the masses, who were treated as dogs.  There was no health service. If you fell ill, as Mary Beard said memorably sitting in the ruins of Pompei, you were on your own, cast into hopelessness.

After the wonderful insights of Descartes, Newton and Leibnitz in the 17th century (into the nature of kinetics and gravity),  a second maths-mad society emerged in the 18th century… one in which the aristocracy celebrated with elegance and affluence, while oppressing the masses in Satanic Mills, Famines and condoning brutality on a vast scale in the Slave Trade —a by-product of the demand by the newly rich for sugar, coffee, cotton, tobacco, etc.

Today we find ourselves in a third maths-dominant age, though one which, ironically, has demoted its previously much feted mathematic superstars to the doghouse.  It comes with emergent aggressive totalitarian regimes, a tsunami of fraud, architectural regimentation, identity-mania, oppression for the under-class, and poverty of the most wretched kind in the under-developed world. 

We need anti-mathematics to take the sting out of dominance-by-mathematics. In principle anti-mathematics can us to be more aware of the sovereignty of each individual. It can lead towards a return to proper personal accountability, responsible culture, civic-mindedness and universal respect for the commongood.