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Critical theory - the ungodly and unscientific chimera of religion and science.

Hairy PoleMar 28, 2021, 4:14:02 PM

    In the last article we discussed science and myth as two subsidiary methods of understanding the world. 

     Mythology was used to observe nature, codify and spread wisdom. Knowledge that allowed civilization to grow and thrive, the "good". Since scientific theory wasn't yet developed, in order to legitimize those wisdoms they used God instead. That was fine in the antique world since the goal was the efficient spread of ideas that would create the western civilization.

   That civilization based on rationality and individualism created the scientific method. It wasn't concerned with with the spread of ideas as much as their accuracy. It exchanged the "god" legitimization for experimentation and reproducibility. The "good" no longer had to be accepted on faith, it could be tested and proven by repeating the logical chain of cause and effect. Despite being much more accurate then mythological thinking it has a great disadvantage. The scientific proof requires effort and a level of intelligence. This is a problem, faith is accessible to anyone, while using the scientific method is not. Even if one had the necessary skill, the wealth of human knowledge makes it impossible for one person to run the scientific method on all of it's achievements. For any one person to grow and further our knowledge, and not spend all his life substantiating the old, he has to accept huge swaths of our achievements so far "on faith". 

      Unfortunately many took the scientific method as an antithesis for mythological thinking, rather then it's evolution and extension. As such much wisdom that was accumulated in myth was thrown away for lacking scientific proof. But nature abhors a vacuum. And scientific method requires time and effort. This lead to the rise of quasi-scientific ideologies. 

       Ideologies are intellectual shortcuts. Systems of ideas and values that can be absorbed "on faith" without running the scientific method. These are very useful since they work as a foundation that allows to simplify and quantify the world around us. In essence they use the same mythological thinking as religion does. What they share is easy and accessible spread "on faith". What they lack is centuries of refinement, that ironically functioned as scientific experimentation and reproducibility.

      Critical theory is the attempt at mass production of ideologies. A new universal morality. It can be applied to any social dynamic and it produces simple and thus easily accessible ideologies. Critical theory was born out of postmodernism. Postmodernists noted that there are numerous interpretations of the world around us. The interpretations are created by the interpreter, and since we all have different experiences we all view the world differently. As such they see all interpretations as both equally valid and invalid at the same time. This is a not scientific since the interpretations are subjective and thus not reproducible. Furthermore while there are numerous interpretations of reality, there is only one reality. This means that some of them necessarily will be more or less accurate. A problem ignored by the proponents of postmodernism. 

    Critical theory focuses on identifying and analyzing power dynamics in society. Those power dynamics are then viewed through "lenses" which are specific interpretations. By applying lenses to the power dynamic we can identify those with and without power. The aim being to critique and change society to equal out those power dynamics. The greatest divergence form scientific method is that critical theory ignores the context and cause of the power dynamic instead simply focusing on evening it out. For example:

Power dynamic: Earnings
Lens: Sex
Analysis: Women earn 83% of what men earn
Conclusion: Women should be paid more.

     As you can see, there is no analysis on the reasons for the discrepancy. Critical theory does not bother with them. It's short, accessible and gives it's activists a clear goal. As such accepting it on faith is easy and requires no effort or specific intellectual level. To create other ideologies one simply has to switch out the lens (for example: race) or the power dynamic (for example: incarceration).

     Critical theory is not scientific, since it ignores the causal chain, though it's often presented as such. It does hold many similarities with religion, but lacks the centuries of verification by reality. Although it perfected the accessibility and efficient spread, challenged only by religious myth in the past.

    Ask yourself: 

   If critical theory bothers not with scientific cause and effect; and it's not based on the observations of nature - but on subjective interpretations.
How successful will it be in predicting the "good" that will lead civilization to grow and thrive?