“Political” Science

Perhaps it is the romanticist in me, but I have always been critical of the natural sciences. As Michel Foucault states, all knowledge is politicized and serves a certainty hierarchy of dominance. In the natural sciences, perhaps the discipline can keep its pure knowledge more so than others, but there are those who make a cult of it. For example, any critique of the theory of evolution appears to evoke much disgust and condescendence . While evolution is certainly the theory that best explains the evolution of humans, there are still aporias in the theory that still need to be explained but have been overlooked by many scientists. The natural sciences can become a religion in the sense that it claims absolute truth and contains its own apologetics. As I have said before, science is a truth among many different ones. It does not make its body of knowledge any less true, but the emphasis placed on the science and technology sector has detracted from the importance of other less material truths that are equally essential to the human development.

The most fascinating and devastating aspect of the social sciences has been to discover to that it cannot make such fact-value distinctions as the natural sciences. Tangled up in the organization of human communities, politics is both a philosophy and science of the social. To limit oneself to either the empirical, rational, historical, cultural, or metaphysical methods of examining the interactions of power structures in governments, economies, or peoples provides only an incomplete picture. Politics contains its own cults similar to the natural sciences and the deconstruction of such power structures of methodology in the discipline are useful to making any progress in replacing one paradigm with another, in the words of Kuhn.

A more striking observation is that political knowledge is the sovereign that permits all the other types of knowledge to exist, develop, and compete. By asserting primacy, it dictates which truths are included or excluded in its scope. All other disciplines tend to mirror this sovereign structure to assert themselves as individuals assert themselves under a democratic regime. Does political knowledge then limit the extent of our epistemology? Notice how scientific studies only re-emerged after the Dark Ages in Renaissance Europe at the same time that the European state system was under construction. Likewise in China, at the time that they developed the first compass, gunpowder, paper and printing around 300 AD, the Tang Dynasty represented the peak of the Chinese imperial rule which had unified rival regimes and created peace and stability for cultures to flourish. The most interesting point is that government officials were not chosen from the nobility, but based on merit and education, which was discontinued in subsequent dynasties. Therefore, the scope of all our knowledge can only be directed insofar as the power structures in place do not put limits on what we can know. The most amusing aspect is when a government tries to keep knowledge from its people that has already been widely disseminated elsewhere or dictates truths contrary to common sense and reason.

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