Truth and Death
Philosophy, Cosmology, Singularity, New
I trace my ancestry about 13.7 billion years to the so-called
Big Bang. What I am is literally inseparable from the history
of the evolution of particles, galaxies, stars, planets,
chemistry, biology, and finally, cultural-technological
evolution.1416 The evolutionary descent of me, my species,
and my kindred life forms from Earth, are particular
extensions of the larger scheme of physical evolution.
The heavier elements necessary for life on Earth, such as
carbon and oxygen, were produced within special
conditions of the high temperature and high pressure within
stars and arrived earth through star-deaths called
supernovas. While red dwarfs, which constitute the majority
of stars, are long surviving and slowly fading, it is the
heavier, massive stars that end in extremely luminous
supernovas explosions that blast these ‘life–giving’ heavier
elements into interstellar space. At the moment of its demise,
enough energy can be released to outshine its entire home
galaxy. The extreme conditions of the shock wave of that
violent death allow for the otherwise highly improbable
synthesis of the heaviest elements such as gold and uranium.
Our bodies are made possible and physically descended
from the ejected matter of these ancestral stars that have
ended as supernovas. Out of their elemental remains in our
planet, life forms emerged about four billion years ago. From
this late biological phase, I count myself as, among other
things, genetic replicator, eukaryote, animal, vertebrate,
gnathostome, chordate, mammal, primate, ape, Homo
sapien, and Jew.
If there is no absolute objectivity, self-inclusive objectivity
would seem to amount to unraveling a specific past human
subjectivity. If the motivation for objectivity is
fundamentally subjective then it matters from an objective
standpoint that I am a Jewish American and an American
Jew. It matters that I grew up in New Jersey and that I can
trace my ancestry to my ‘fish fathers’ of the Cambrian era.
There is no “universalism”, as far as I can see. I can find
no sound reason to posit a fundamental distinction between
generalizations and particulars. If even “the laws of physics”
evolved over history, then there is no strict “universalism”
even in physics and a “theory of all” raises questions about
the empirical example of the theorist who posits an
understanding of all.
The possibility of absolute objectivity is probably as
plausible as its opposite: the possibility of absolute
subjectivity. For example, I have an apparent need to put
food in my body as a condition of my existence. If I attempt
to be absolutely subjective, I can imagine a utopic world
where I would have no need to concern myself with
objective conditions such as my body’s apparent need for
Is it possible to live a totally solipsistic existence in total
indifference to sense perception such as sight, hearing, and
touch? Much that goes by the name of “postmodernism”
seems to virtually assume as much. But is the theory that
products of the scientific method are invented instead of
discovered itself invented rather than discovered? Is the
assertion that science is a dogma itself a dogma?
Science, it appears, is only an extension of the common
capacity to observe one’s environment, a capacity that is not
limited to human beings. If human science evolved from the
evolutionary benefits of accurate representation of the
environment, then the descent of science can be traced to
pre-human origins and this, in turn, suggests a general
sociobiological explanation for scientific behaviors.
It appears that science begins with natural selection for
those accurate observations of our environment that are also
genetically adaptive. To illustrate, consider one explanation for
the sudden development of most major complex animal
groups in a relative short time frame, the Cambrian
explosion. The evolution of eyes is still a controversial
explanation and may turn out to be wrong or, more likely,
If it is the case that the evolution of eyes was a crucial
factor then the Cambrian explosion can be interpreted as a
primitive advancement in the evolution of science; a kind of
pre-human scientific-technological “revolution”. Just as the
telescope expanded the range of human eyesight, the
evolution of eyes in the Cambrian period expanded the
capacity for accurate, “scientific” observations of the
environment, which in turn, had a genetically adaptive
value. The biological technology for eyesight was passed on
through genes instead of culture, but the cultural evolution
of “modern” science is only a continuation this ancient
evolutionary scientific-technological interrelationship.
The evolution of modern science-technology has led to an
acceleration of technology’s ability to outstrip biology and
there is sound reason to think that technology is on course to
overtake biology as a continuation of evolution. My own
behavior in directing objectivity towards my own
subjectivity and the translation of this information into
symbols or memes may even be an expression of this
encroaching paradigm shift. The paradigm shift from
biology to technology may culminate in what is called the
Technological Singularity, the evolution of greater-than-
human intelligence, i.e. artificial intelligence.
Consider the rise of artificial intelligence in comparison
with the rise of human intelligence. When the ancient Greeks
first blazed the path towards what is now known as
“Western philosophy”, they reached towards a cosmological
perspective. Philosophy, from the beginning, groped
towards a rational understanding of everything. If the
prospective Singularity ultimately becomes like a black hole
in the specific sense that it draws everything of human concern
into its compass while simultaneously expanding science
and technology’s grasp of the larger cosmos, then the
Singularity can be hypothetically identified, in part, with the
aspirations of philosophy.
Philosophy, so conceived, marks no fundamental
distinction between philosophy and science. While science
emphasizes analysis, philosophy emphasizes synthesis,
especially the most comprehensive synthesis of knowledge
in the form of information. But the attempt to synthesize all
knowledge leads to the problem of simultaneously
synthesizing self-knowledge, and any inherent (philosophic)
problems with such attempts.
Philosophy leads to ruthless reasoning about all. All
includes science, but also all non-science, i.e. intuition and
that which goes under the name of “subjectivity”. In other
words, philosophy includes science but also the problems
and limits of science. Philosophy includes the conflict
between science and the scientist. Philosophy includes the
philosophical reflection upon the limits of philosophy.
Totality of rational comprehension of all leads to
philosophy and, within science proper, cosmology. The
speck of provincial human-centric concerns is dwarfed by a
contemporary physical cosmology that may, in turn, be
dwarfed by future discoveries of what lies beyond it. So at
one extreme there are human-centric concerns (politics), and
at another extreme that the far larger physical world beyond
life from Earth. The modern attempt to unite these two
extremes through cosmopolitanism or a cosmopolis is
illusory in the sense that the old provincialism of political
whole-ism has only been replaced by a new provincialism of
individualism. The fundamentally non-cosmopolitan or non-
universal bias, in other words, stems from one’s will to live.
The relation between science and philosophy is, in part,
like the relation between science and the scientist. Some
presume that philosophy is a relic of primitive science or a
stage before the development of a modern science that has
now superseded philosophy. But is it possible to have
science without a scientist? Is the scientist the sole object of
inquiry excluded from science (as if the scientist were the
sole “supernatural” phenomenon)?
Those scenarios where it is conceivable that subjectivity
and objectivity can be separated are fit for science, whereas
those scenarios where it is inconceivable that subjectivity
and objectivity can be separated are considered unscientific.
However, if there can be a “theory of everything”, it must
also account for those unscientific scenarios where
subjectivity and objectivity cannot be separated. Where
subjectivity and objectivity cannot be separated,
approaching the greatest possible objectivity may be like
approaching a limit in calculus. The limit is a state of death.
The common breach between science and philosophy is
related to the issue of self-consistency. But what if subjective
inconsistency is actually a condition of objectivity as a
scientist? A form of bioinconsistent subjectivity may the
condition of scientific objectivity.
The distinction between the scientist and the human
being, i.e. the distinction between facts and values, suggests
a break of standards. Does the scientist hold the same
scientific standards in determining his or her life values?
Sociobiology implicates this subject/object problem, the
problem of the scientist as an object of science. Sociobiology
implicates sociobiological study of the behavior of the
sociobiologist. Sociobiology implicates sociobiological self-
consciousness and the possibility of a self-conscious science
of sociobiological self-consciousness. Sociobiology raises not
only the prospect of the scientific study of the values of
scientists, but the question of the value of science itself; the
value of objectivity.
Can sociobiology be a value-free science? Better yet, can
polisociobiology be a value-free science? Merging political
science and sociobiology in polisociobiology makes the
scientific study of “values” — including the values of the
scientist — almost inescapable. To be a polisociobiologist, in
the fullest sense, is to attempt to give a scientific account of
one’s own values. The evolution of science leads, not away
from philosophy, but towards philosophy.
The search for objectivity comes full circle in the search
for the sources of subjectivity. A science of the scientist — a
vivisection or autovivisection of the scientist — is an
investigation into the limits of objectivity. What could it
mean to be completely objective? There might possibly be
absolute knowledge or absolute objective if knowledge or
objectivity never comes into an unresolvable conflict with a
subjective priority of the observer, i.e. the conditions of the
observer’s existence. In other words, total objectivity might
be possible only if one does not have political position or
opinion; if one does not participate in a political-social
existence as well as a scientific one. Is such a life possible?
This would imply that the greatest objectivity would be
premised on indifference to the difference between existence
It seems that only indifference to one’s existence offers the
possibility of overcoming politics. While philosophy is meta-
political, and especially supra-political, the philosopher
cannot escape being political insofar as the philosopher
cannot escape concern with the problem of existence, i.e.
survival. Politics is nothing only when one conceives the
value of existence as nothing. The standpoint from which I
say that there is no fundamental distinction between politics
and non-politics is identical to a position that posits that life
is totally meaningless and that the choice of death for myself
and everyone else is no better than the choice for life.
The Athenians put Socrates to death for a reason.
Death is the true inspiring genius, or the muse of
How far can I go in making value-free scientific
judgments? Tracing the biases that hinder objectivity, and
attempting to uproot those biases, leads towards the notion
that self-preservation itself is a bias. If life has no inherent
meaning, then self-preservation cannot be judged
fundamentally superior to self-destruction, or vice versa.
Self-preservation is exerts bias, for example, in a bias against
this very observation that self-preservation is not
fundamentally superior to self-destruction.