Integrating Modern Science Back Into Moral Philosophy
As scientists themselves often tell us: the examination into things just tells us “what is,” not “what to do.” For the latter we need a philosophy of decision making, including moral philosophy.
Anglo-culture, from the Enlightenment period, has been focused on science. Yet strangely, it has no moral philosophy around it. Science has become the tool without a master, no master other than capital. This will be disastrous, for the world. Sino-philosophy not only has the required system of heuristics for complex decision making, which is Daoism, and the world’s most evolved secular moral philosophy, which is Confucianism, but already built a framework to integrate science into these, which is Neo-Confucianism (理學).
Anglo-philosophy has not only not built a moral philosophy around science, but by definition dissallows such from existing. Neoliberalism demands pursuit of non-liable individualism in order to maximize short-term profits with no interest in what’s downstream for the civilization or the world. Milton Friedman literally banned morality from the economic system (the “invisible hand” will take care of that), while government maintains a separation between church and state (unfortunately American moral philosophy is imbedded in religion).
This being the case, ill-thought-thru technological progress for its own sake has almost become the religion of the land, and the results have been a disaster which threatens the very planet. But when foreseeable disaster results, the system “solves” this with more of the same (non-liable entities just maximize more profits off said problems they created, and of course they create new problems in doing thus). To exit this loop requires exiting this entire school of thought. The Anglosphere can not do that, as it is both itself and monotheistic.
This is the basic problem of not being able to solve problems with the same thinking that created those problems, as Einstein famously said. We need to completely exit this model of thought to solve its problems, or at least to see them clearly.
Sino-philosophy not only has a moral system, but already built a framework to integrate science into it. This happened around 900 years ago, with Neo-Confucianism. From this existent framework we just insert modern science, the placeholder (理) is already there; it fits perfectly.
The resultant total philosophy then becomes, in shorthand—天 and 性 (universe and nature), 理 (the investigation into the patterns of nature), 倫理 (moral philosophy), 道 (ways to proceed, wisely), and 命 (forecastable fate, based on understanding the nature of things 性, and their principles 理). This is a complete system, extensively interlinked, and time-tested.
‘Moral philosophy’ in Chinese, “倫理學,” is literally “倫 human relations” + “理 principles and patterns of nature (i.e. science)” + “學 school.” It’s been around for a long time.
To run a civilization, or worse a planet, on a primitive newcomer model based only on the investigation of patterns (理) for multiplying capital is to have the tool as the master. In this new world, we are all inescapably interconnected with this amoral barbarous system.
As Han Yu once said, “Does this not almost make all of us barbarians?”