El ciclo de las revoluciones / Cantórbery Cuevas Tortolero

The Cycle of Revolutions

Revolutions as we know them today began a long time before the XVIII century and there are those who argue the cycle has closed. We could locate the point of departure in the XVI starting with the Copernican Revolution, a true conceptual shake-up that with the defenestration of Earth as the center of the Universe postulates a vision of the world and man that is almost unlimited. It shifts the ground of scholastic Aristotelianism which the Catholic orthodoxy used to control the conscience and actions of its own in any individual or social field.

The XVI and XVII centuries see in Bacon and Descartes the emergence of the proponents of the Scientific Revolution that Copernicus had anticipated; the former empirical (knowledge is power, truth is what is useful) and the latter rational (certainty is the measure, science should become a "universal mathematics"). More than diverging, these conjoin and mold each other, like a shoehorn to a shoe, in a focus that shakes scholasticism's dogmatic passivity, during times when another revolution, the commercial one, demands audacity in ideas and in practice, and urgent technological advances. Bacon emphasizes (in fact, inventing his theoretical guidelines, although without following them) experimentation, while Descartes does so with mathematics and measurement. It is the beginning of the analytical method as well.

Despite all this, however, and not withstanding the omnipresence and conceptual rigor of the Church, the European Middle Ages—just like the most diverse cultures of the globe until the beginnings of modernity—had been immersed in a climate (moreover, more emotional than anything else) of apprehension of the environment suffusing the age, which was not aware of the new separation between observer and observed; the subject and the object; the conscience and the "outer world." A separation that, more than being a foundational stone for the scientific method, corresponds to the enterprising spirit of the heroic bourgeoisie in its effort to dominate nature for the benefit of mankind.


Tendencies in modern critical thought coincide in adjudicating to that foundational and inalienable trait of the scientific method—revolutionary during its moment—the undesired perverse effects ("externalities") that today afflict the planet and whose reversion does not seem to be on the agenda, while they also demand a deep-seated judgement of its origins.

(Of course technological innovations have always existed, but the elevation of the control of nature to a philosophical level is something unprecedented in the history of human thought.) That we know of, only a vanguard science, Werner Heisenberg's quantum mechanics, the Uncertainty Principle and its discouraging implications, has dared to question en masse a methodology of the manipulation of the natural environment, present in all manifestations of hegemonic actions by mankind today—including political revolutions—, which is born precisely from that already distant Scientific Revolution and incidentally from the Baconian principle of natura vexata (nature's secrets are revealed faster under "art's vexations"), to which we'll refer at an opportune moment.

{ Cantórbery Cuevas Tortolero, TalCual, 26 October 2006 }

No comments: