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A Call For Scientific Revolution of Politics, End to the Vatican of Democracy

My earlier comments (http://blog.hiddenharmonies.org/2012/07/open-forum-2/#comment-55145) in HH, lead me down an extensive discussion of the history of the Scientific Revolution.

As pointed out by Why the Scientific Revolution Did Not Take Place in China —or Didn’t It?, the Scientific Revolution did occur to some extent in China, it simply did not have the kind of socio-economic impact as it did in Europe.

However, IMPACT is relative, especially relative to history itself.  As I argued, the Scientific Revolution in the West may have come to halt, whereas it is the OTHER parts of the World that is continuing down the Scientific Revolution path.

Particularly China, is carrying on the rationalist tradition of the Scientific Revolution to continue to change traditional institutions of human conditions, particularly in Politics.

What do I mean?

Scientific Revolution, in its core, was about challenging LONG held assumptions (irrational ideas based often on superstition, religion, or spiritualism).  When it occurred in Europe, the greatest impact from the Scientific Revolution was that it challenged people to reconsider and reexamine their long held beliefs, by forcing examination of principles and ideas against rational arguments and evidence, repeatedly using the scientific method.

This Revolution extended first in the physical sciences, then into other areas of human activities.  Even religions became “testable” as “social science”.

Enlightenment and Liberal politics became part of that Revolution.  Great political philosophers of the West were often also great scientists.  Benjamin Franklin, Voltaire, etc.

But the West’s Scientific Revolution peaked sometime in the 19th Century, when the politics of Imperialism established a stubborn set of Nationalistic and Religious assumptions that carried to today.

In other words, it was to be considered treason for science to question the self-righteous proclamations of the West, and thus, it became convenient to stop the Scientific Revolution at the door step of “Democracy”, because the West was considered to be sufficiently “enlightened”.

Despite the horrors of the French Revolution, and the lesser discussed horrors of the American history, “Democracy” was not to be challenged.

Not merely that, but only WESTERN Democracies were to be named the Holy Land, The proverbial Vatican of Democracy, with Monopoly of authority on all things Democratic.

That faith is an assumption of the most irrational.  For even the Found Fathers were humans, full of mistakes in their own time.  Then WHY do we insist upon the ridiculous rituals (such as in US Democracy) of politicians and lawyers interpreting / divining the “Original Intent” of those imperfect human beings??!!

Why do we still insist that “Freedom” as a “Right” is somehow sacred, when few ever bother to rationally test the true meaning of “RIGHTS” and “Freedom”?

That is where the Scientific Revolution has stopped in the West, and confined to the realm of JUST science.

Sure enough, once the Scientific Revolution is stopped and confined, Religions and superficial moralities do make come-backs, with ALL manners of other assumptions irrational, untestable, and sacred from challenges.

At heart of it, understandably, is the human sensitivity to what each of us consider to be deeply personal beliefs.  We human beings do not like the notion of have to question and doubt every assumption we live with.  It does not make us very happy to be surrounded by doubt.

But, nevertheless, for the West, the Scientific Revolution has stopped, and Politics has become stagnant, because it is fundamentally superstitious, running on the faith of “what worked before, should work forever.”

Sounds very Vatican-ish, right before the time the Scientific Revolution challenged the Vatican’s authority/correctness on important beliefs, such as “Earth is at the Center of the Universe.”

Today, we too face a Vatican, a monopoly that refuses to tolerate challenges to its authority.

And I can only say that history has scientifically proved that such refusal, stubborn as it may be, won’t stop the Revolution by Science.

Science will challenge assumptions of politics, Democracy, West, or otherwise.

Science, through HISTORY, has already shown the irrationalities of irresponsibility and follies in Western Democracies.  Does it still matter to those holding to them what the “Original Intent” were??  Or are they merely making up omens and rituals to rationalize the irrational?

I do not say that other systems are necessarily better, but it is folly to hold Western Democracies as immune to challenges of their assumptions.

Folly and Superstition.

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  1. qirong29
    May 31st, 2013 at 00:00 | #1

    I suspect your call for a ‘scientific revolution of politics’ is well meaning, but misplaced. The only thread common to science and politics is that both are done by people, and both involve the art of the possible. Otherwise they are so different there can be no useful meaning to the terminology of a ‘science’ of politics, and strictly ‘political science’ is not a science at all.

    Some people contend, as Margaret Thatcher did in another field, there is no such thing as ‘science’, there are only scientists; similarly there is no such thing as ‘politics’, there are only politicians. However, we can hardly question the view that many philosophers of science have tried to answer the question what makes science different from non-science, a demarcation problem discussed at great length by Sir Karl Popper, Thomas Kuhn, and Alan Chalmers in the last century, and more recently in popular books such as, for example, “nonsense on stilts: how to tell science from bunk” by Massimo Pigliucci. Here, I do not think is the proper place to discuss these different philosophical views in depth.

    Nonetheless, I contend that science should not attempt at a revolution of politics of whatever colour (democratic or not), neither a rationalistic tradition post-European Enlightenment, nor a challenge to the cultural history of a country such as that of china or any other, as implied by your write-up. Science hinges on empirical testability – proposition of a hypothesis and testing it against empirical evidence; science is ‘use of evidence in inferences to the best explanation’ as nicely put by Paul Thagard, a philosopher of science. Politics is nothing of the kind, and politicians do not make any distinction between what is supported by evidence and what is not. Politics can provide an atmosphere where science flourishes or where it cannot even take root. In this sense a democratic society, perhaps more than any other form of society, allows science to flourish. A dictatorship, even a benign and wise one, is less likely to do so. An extremist religious one would kill science stillborn.

    It has been noted by many scholars that science began only once and in only one civilisation, and that was Greece, and that’s why it took hold in Europe, there is a good reason for that. Debates were a feature of even the pre-Socratic society. Debates and arguments are attempts at killing hypotheses that are not supported by evidence, and became the cry of the Enlightenment in Europe in the 17th – 18th centuries. In the East, decrees came out of the mouths of emperors, and people had developed a culture of obeying orders, or got killed for questioning authority. Scientific progress depends on efforts to kill a hypothesis to discover new empirical truths, not killing the scientist. Political ‘revolution’ or ‘progress’ often depends on killing other people as well as their ideologies.

    Yes, everyone seems to remember China discovered magnetism, paper, printing and gunpowder before others, but knowledge did not advance from those discoveries. It had to wait many centuries for Faraday and Maxwell to finally work out what magnetism is, and it took the West to put gunpowder into guns and canons to bully the Chinese who did not go beyond using it for firecrackers all those hundreds of years of lead time after their discovery. China had no scientifc culture whatsoever, and only today is it just beginning to realise what science really is. China is much better than the Islamic countries where their religion stifles science one hundred per cent. However, like them, China is mostly a consumer of scientifc discoveries and innovations, not at the forefront of cutting-edge science. That’s a real pity, because I think China has the brains, just not the scientific culture right now.

    It’s clear to me that China still has many years to go before the majority of its people will automatically think in a scientific way, because its political system is not used to debates at all levels of public discourse. I do not think for one moment science has come to a standill in the West, and I fail to understand what ‘a call for scientific revolution of politics, end to the Vatican of democracy’ is really calling for.

  2. Black Pheonix
    May 31st, 2013 at 07:28 | #2


    I disagree, I think China has a good start with its culture of compromises, which is more tolerant than the superficial diversity of the West.

    The thing is, China is already challenging Western assumptions on many aspects of politics and culture. Above all, Chinese have been for a long time challenging the racist assumptions and stereotypes held by the West on the “weak Chinese”.

    It is now almost a social reaction and habit for Chinese people every where to buck against the outside “naysayers”.

    We at HH here are exemplary of that new tradition. We like to challenge other people’s assumptions and generalizations.

    And key part of Deng’s reform of China was to use Science, to “probe” new approaches, to test them, and in doing so, find China’s way into the better future. (Instead of merely arguing what is “politically correct”).

    China, in its past reforms, have challenged its own assumptions about “Communism”, “Socialism”, “Capitalism”, etc. Nothing is sacred in politics, other than what may or may not work.

    It is this Scientific approach that yielded today’s “Socialism with Capitalism, with Chinese characteristics” mix.

    We also see the vast difference in the new mentality of Chinese today. Some would call it materialistic, practical. I would call it Empirical, and not based on political faith. Chinese people are more visibly concerned about the results, and not so much about “abstract rights”.

    This, I would argue, is a very rational scientific mentality. One that doesn’t care how good or how beautiful a theory/philosophy is, but merely what the observable results are.

    *”Science” as restrictively defined by you is not standing still in the West. However, Scientific REVOLUTION is no longer progressing in the West, which is caving to and reverting to irrational assumptions in the most important sphere of Politics and government.

    You might argue that “politics is different”. I think your assumption on that point is also due for a challenge.

    If no one bothers to try to apply Science to politics, how do you really know that it is that different, and not applicable as a science??

    If no one bothers to try to sail further, how does anyone know that “Earth is flat” or NOT??

    I believe people SHOULD and will try to challenge the assumption that somehow science cannot be applied to politics. (And Chinese people are likely the best candidates to do so in this century).

    I think there is a Vatican of Democracy that is propagandizing the myth of its own political righteousness as not challengeable (by science), no less than the Vatican propagandized its own religious and political righteousness as God’s sole authority on Earth.

    History proved that Vatican was not infallible, and its power and monopoly eventually crumbled.

    History will prove so against the Vatican of Democracy as well. It is inevitable, because any idea that claims itself immune to challenge is fundamentally wrong to start with. (Not necessarily wrong in the idea itself, but wrong in its claim of immunity).

  3. perspectivehere
    May 31st, 2013 at 08:05 | #3

    Given the topic explored in this post, this classic essay by Hu Shih (1891-1962) deserves to be reprinted in full:


    IT HAS often been observed that the Chinese people are not interested in what the Christians understand as religious life. It has even been said that the Chinese people are not religious.

    It is true that the Chinese are not so religious as the Hindus, or even as the Japanese; and they are certainly not so religious as the Christian missionaries desire them to be. Practically all the prominent leaders of thought in China today are openly agnostics and even atheists. And the young men are even openly anti-religious. Although the fierce anti-religious movements of a few years ago have now subsided, it cannot be denied that the educated people in China are indifferent to religion and that the whole intellectual tendency there is not favorable to any religious movement or revival.

    But I wish to point out that it is entirely wrong to say that the Chinese are not religious. No people is really incapable of religious life or experience. But there is always a difference in the definitions. And there is always a vast difference in the degree of religiosity or piety, varying from the modern churchgoer to the medieval saint. In the eyes of the medieval saint no one in this audience who listens patiently to a “heathen” lecturing on comparative religion can be said to be religious! Similarly, a people who may not have cultivated such habits as church-going, grace-saying, hymn-singing, and praying, and who may take no interest in the problems of the second person in the trinity, of transubstantiation, of the proper degree of submergence in baptism-such a people may have their own religion which may not necessarily be worse than that of any other people.

    The Chinese word for “religion” is chiao which means teaching or a system of teaching. To teach people to believe in a particular deity is a chiao; but to teach them how to behave toward other men is also a chiao. The ancients did say that “the sages founded religions (chiao) on the ways of the gods.” But it is not always necessary to make use of such supernatural expedients. And the Chinese people make no distinction between the theistic religions and the purely moral teachings of their sages. Therefore, the term chiao is applied to Buddhism, Taoism, Mohammedanism, Christianity, as well as Confucianism. They are all systems of moral teaching. Teaching a moral life is the essential thing; and “the ways of the gods” are merely one of the possible means of sanctioning that teaching. That is in substance the Chinese conception of religion.

    The other factor, the degree of piety, which is in reality a degree of religious fanaticism, is always a result of historical circumstances. It is as accidental as the number of gods worshiped or the color of the vestments of the priests. -In the life of every people with a long history there are always periods of varied intensity in religious experience. The Greek philosophers calmly discussed their gods, and some ridiculed them; the Romans tolerated them and the Christians destroyed them all in favor of their one God; the medieval saints lived and had their whole being in God; the modern Christian peoples fought long and bloody wars over their religious differences and burned witches and heretics in the name of their God; and the present age seems to be again returning to the attitude of the Greek sophists.

    The Chinese people, too, went through all kinds of vicissitudes in their religious development. There were long periods in Chinese history when this people also became so fanatically religious that a pious monk would burn a finger, or an arm, or the whole body, willingly and devoutly, as the supreme form of devotion to his Buddhist faith. There were times when every fourth man in the population would be a Buddhist monk or a Taoist priest. There were times when the court and the people spent millions of ounces of silver yearly to build grand temples and monasteries, and millions of acres of land were donated to the monasteries as voluntary offerings to the gods. No student of Chinese history can say that the Chinese are incapable of religious experience, even when judged by the standards of medieval Europe or pious India.

    But there were a series of historical factors of very great importance which tended to make the Chinese people less other-worldly than the other historical races of the earth. One of these was the fact that our civilization began in the north-temperate zone where the bounty of nature was never abundant and the struggle for existence was always hard. This produced a hard working, simply living, but never wildly imaginative people. They had no time to indulge in speculating about the ways of the gods, or in effusive praises of the wonderful benevolence of heaven which they never enjoyed. They had a very simple religion consisting chiefly in a worship of their own ancestors, a belief in the spirits and the powers of the natural forces, a worship of a supreme God or heaven (which was probably evolved out of the worship of natural objects), and a belief in divination. To these they added a belief in the idea of retribution of good and evil. There was neither Hell nor Paradise; no life after death, only a firm belief in the importance of the perpetuation of the family line, probably primarily for economic reasons. This was the original religion of the Chinese. The extreme simplicity of this racial religion was the most remarkable in the history of mankind. There was little mythology, and little elaborate ritualism. It never had a generic name, and I have elsewhere proposed to call it “Siniticism.” [1]

    Another important historical factor is the fact that this already very simple religion was further simplified and purified by the early philosophers of ancient China. Our first great philosopher was a founder of naturalism; and our second great philosopher was an agnostic. Laotze taught that heaven and earth were unkind: they treated all beings like dogs and grass. He revolted against the anthropomorphic conception of a supreme God. There was only a natural process which he called the “Tao,” or way. Everything becomes such of itself. The Tao does nothing; and yet it achieves everything. It was this naturalistic conception of the universe which in later ages always came up to serve as an effective weapon against superstition and anthropomorphic religion.

    Confucius was a humanist and an agnostic. When asked about death and the proper duties to the spirits and the gods, he replied: “We know not about life, how can we know death? And we have not learned how to serve men, how can we serve the gods?” Life and human society are the chief concern of Confucianism and, through it, the chief concern of the Chinese people. Confucius also said: “To say that you know a thing when you know it, and to say that you do not know when you know it not, that is knowledge.” That is his formulation of agnosticism.

    A historically minded man, Confucius did not openly repudiate the spirits and the gods of the people. But he told one of his disciples: “Revere the gods, but be aloof from them.” And in the Analects, this rule was laid down: “Worship as if something were present; worship a god as if he were present.” This is no hypocrisy, but the psychology of religious reverence. As his followers have put it, “When you have purified yourself for the worship and put on the grand sacrificial robes, the solemnity of the occasion naturally makes you feel as if the objects of worship were really above you, and on the right and left of you.” And it is not uncommon today to find written on the village shrines in big characters the Confucian motto: “As if he were above you” (ju tsai ch’i shang [pinyin: ru zai chi shang])!

    Laotze and Confucius were teachers of a naturalistic attitude toward religion. The former taught us to follow the course of nature; the latter, to abide by fate. “Life and death are ordained, and wealth and honor are determined in Heaven.” This deterministic attitude, while quite religious in itself, was not favorable to the older belief in the efficacy of appeasing the gods for favors or for averting misfortunes. “A gentleman,” says Confucius, “sorrows not, nor fears. As long as he finds no inward guilt, why should he sorrow, and what should he fear?”

    And the Confucianists actually tried to found a new religion of filial piety without the benefit of the gods. This religion centers around the idea that the human body is the sacred inheritance from the parents, and must always be regarded as such. “There are three forms of filial piety: the highest is to glorify one’s parents; next, not to degrade them; and lastly, to support them.” “This body is inherited from our parents. How dare we act irreverently with this inheritance? Therefore, to live carelessly is a sin against filial duty; so is disloyalty to our princes; so is dishonesty in office; so is faithlessness to friends; and so is lack of courage on the battlefield. Failure in any one of these five duties will disgrace one’s parents. Dare we act without reverence?” “The dutiful son never moves a step without thinking of his parents; nor utters a word without thinking of his parents.” The parents thus take the place of God or the gods as a new moral sanction of human action.

    But all these rationalistic simplifications were of course F~ too sophisticated for the general populace. The people carried on their Sinitic religion as of old, and from time to time they added to it the new increments acquired by contact with other races. And from time to time, great religious movements arose under the leadership of men more pious and inspired than Laotze and Confucius.

    Thus there arose the great religion of Moism in the fifth century B.C. under the great religious reformer Mo Ti who was dissatisfied with the rationalist tendencies of the age and who tried to revive the old Sinitic religion by purifying it and giving it a new and more inspiring meaning. He taught a personal god who wills and knows and has the power to reward and punish, and whose will is love-unlimited love for all men without distinction.

    Thus again there arose the great religious movement in the second century B.C. under the Confucianist leader Tung Chung-shu, who tried to found a state religion of Siniticism under the disguise of Confucianism. The heart of this new religion of the Han Dynasty was the old Sinitic idea of a teleological god and of retribution for good and evil. He taught that “the action of man, when it reaches the highest level of goodness or evil, all flows into the universal course of Heaven and Earth, and causes responsive reverberations in their manifestations.” When the government has done an evil act, God will give warning in the form of such catastrophes as fire, floods, famines, earthquakes, and mountain slides. And when the warnings are not heeded, then heaven will cause strange anomalies to appear on earth to terrify the rulers into repentance. The class of “anomalies” include such things as comets, sun eclipses, the growing of beards on women, etc. And it is only when these anomalies fail to check misgovernment that final ruin and destruction shall befall the empire. For God is always kind to the rulers of man. This religion, which apparently had the political motive of attempting to check the unlimited power of the despots, was zealously perpetuated by the scholars throughout the later centuries.

    Then, about the first century B.C., there came the great cultural invasion from India, the introduction of Buddhism. No one really knows how this came about. By 65 A.D. it had already been embraced by a prince of the imperial family; by 165 it was accepted by an emperor who worshiped Buddha together with Laotze. By 200 it was defended by one of the Chinese intellectuals in Southern China. By 300 it was talked about by all educated Chinese and was becoming the most popular religion of the people. China had never seen so elaborate and spectacular a religion. The very simple faith of Siniticism was overwhelmed, and it was speedily conquered. The Chinese people were dazzled, baffled, and carried away by this marvelous religion of rich imagery, beautiful and captivating “”ritualism, and wonderfully ingenious metaphysics. There was not only a heaven, but thousands of heavens; not only a hell, but 18 hells of ever increasing severity and horror. The religious imagination of the Indian people seemed so inexhaustible and always of such marvelous architectonic structure. China readily acknowledged her crushing defeat.

    China was so completely Buddhist that everything that came from the Buddhist country of India was readily accepted and became a fashion. Even the worst features of Mahayana Buddhism were blindly taken up by Chinese believers. The practice of burning one’s body as a sacrifice was frequently encouraged by the extreme fanatics; the lives of monks who burned themselves to death were recorded in the Buddhist biographies in a special section as exemplary achievements of supreme devotion and piety. Under the T’ang dynasty, some strange monk from India would bring a piece of human bone and call it a sacred relic of the Buddha; and he would be so devoutly believed that the imperial court and the whole population would suspend all business and march in solemn processions to greet the Buddha relic. Truly had humanist China lost her head and gone completely mad under the powerful enchantment of this imported religion from India!

    But the native rationalistic mentality of the Chinese intelligentsia gradually reasserted itself and revolted against this humiliating domination of the whole nation by a foreign religion which was opposed to all the best traditions of the native civilization. Its celibacy was fundamentally opposed to the Chinese society which emphasized the importance of continuation of the ancestral lineage. Its mendicant system was distasteful to the Chinese social and political thinker who was naturally alarmed by the presence of millions of monks and nuns living as parasites on society. Its austere forms of asceticism and self-sacrifice and suicide were fundamentally against the idea of filial piety which regarded the human body as a sacred inheritance from one’s parents. And its wonderfully abstruse mythology and metaphysics, never ending in the most ingenious inventions of new gods and new titles of the gods, and never failing in the most hair-splitting differentiations and sub-differentiations, were most foreign to the simple and straightforward ways of thinking of the native tradition. And, most important of all, the whole scheme of salvation as taught in Buddhism seemed to the Chinese thinker as most selfish and anti-social. Each man endeavors to become an arahat, a bodhisattva, or a buddha. But, the Chinese began to ask, for what end? What value is there in a salvation which must require the forsaking of the family and the desertion of all one’s duties to the family and the state?

    The Chinese revolt against Buddhism took many forms. At first it was an attempt to replace it by some native imitation of the imported institution. The native religion of Taoism, which rose in the centuries after the gradual invasion of Buddhism, was a revival of the old Sinitic religion of the people under the influence of the impact of Buddhist ideas and practices. First unconsciously, and then fully consciously, Taoism undertook to kill its foreign rival imitating every feature of it. It invented a founder by superimposing this popular Sinitic religion on Laotze who was then elevated to the position of a supreme god. A Taoist trinity was modeled after the Buddhist. A Taoist canon was gradually but consciously forged after the model of the Buddhist sutras. Heavens and hells were taken over from the Indian religion, and given Chinese names, and they were presided over by Chinese gods deified from the historical heroes of the race. Orders of priests and priestesses were formed in imitation of the Buddhist monasteries and nunneries.

    Then they began to persecute the foreign religion of Buddhism. Several great and nation-wide persecutions took place in 446, in 574, in 845, and in 955. In each case, the motive was clearly one of a nationalistic attack on an alien faith.

    In the meantime, the Chinese Buddhists themselves had started their revolt against Buddhism. They could not long swallow the whole output of the wonderful ingenuity of Indian metaphysical obscurantism and religious imagination. They began to simplify it to two essential elements: meditation and insight. Then they began to see that even meditation was not quite necessary. So they threw overboard all that complicated machinery of meditation, beginning with breath-control and ending in the attainment of supreme stages of quietude and the mastery of supernatural powers. Soon they began to preach that all the ritualism and verbalism, and all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, all the sutras and charms and spells were useless and must be discarded. The Buddhahood is within you; the law is within you; and salvation is within you. And salvation must be sought through the ripe awakening of one’s own understanding, through intellectual enlightenment, for which no external assistance could avail, and which must be the result of the individual’s patient seeking and traveling and coming into contact with the best minds of the age. This was the meaning of the development of Dhyana or Ch’an or Zen Buddhism in China.[2]

    Then the Chinese Confucianist scholars arose in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, and dealt the fatal blow to this already much-battered Buddhist religion. The Confucianists began to understand the religion of Buddhism as simplified by the Zennists, and they proceeded to reinterpret the classical literature of Confucianism in the light of what they had learned from the medieval religions. To their delight and surprise, they could find afl the problems of the Zen schools in the philosophers of the classical period. There was the ideal of the perfection of the individual through intellectual training. But the perfection of the individual was never an end in itself, nor was it merely for the sake of individual salvation in which the Chinese philosophers were never interested. The perfection of the individual was only the necessary step for the ordering of the family, the state, and the world. The whole aim must be the improvement of society. The ideal was to be a social one.

    All this they found in a little book of post-Confucian origin, called the Great Learning, a booklet of 1,700 words, which had been a part of the Li Ki [“The Book of Rites”] and had attracted very little attention from the scholars for hundreds of years until the Sung scholars began to dig it out of its long oblivion. From this little book, the neo-Confucian philosophers slowly built up a secular philosophy .which became the orthodox moral and social teaching for more than seven centuries. The new philosophy appealed to the humanist tradition of the Chinese, and began to have the sanction of the government and the public. After this philosophy had attained official recognition and was taught in all Chinese schools, the medieval religions began to fade away and die out without another persecution. The best minds of the nation no longer patronized their teachings, and even the Zen schools no longer produced first-rate leaders. Their vitality had been sapped away by the vogue of the more humane and social and more intelligible native systems of thought. The revolt of China against the religion of India had succeeded. The development of critical and scientific scholarship from the seventeenth century down has tended to make the new Confucianist thought drift still farther and farther away from the influence of the medieval religions. The new intellectual life, which was characterized by the development of the humanistic and historical studies, was a continuation of the tendency traceable back to the early days of the Chinese revolt against Buddhism. But, with the contact of the various religious sects of Christianity, there began in the last decades of the nineteenth century a new movement to give China a native religion. It was thought by some leaders of the reforms that probably at least one of China’s weaknesses was the lack of a national religion which could uplift the morals of the people and unite the feelings and sentiments of the whole nation. The outstanding leader of this line of thought was K’ang Yu-wei, the reformer of 1898, and the religion he proposed to establish as the national religion of China was Confucianism. He wrote and preached in favor of this political establishment of Confucianism. He initiated the practice of dating Chinese history from the birth of Confucius (551 B.C.), after the fashion in the West of dating history in terms of the Christian era.

    But he belonged to a school of classical scholarship which believed that a large portion of the classics, the portion that was originally written in the so-called “ancient script,” was a forgery made in the Han dynasty. He tried to prove, with copious evidences, and with audacity and critical methodology, that these texts were forged by a clever scholar, of the beginning of the Christian era, by name Liu Hsin, who fabricated them as a moral support to the usurper-emperor Wang Mang. His arguments were quite convincing to many scholars, and this new critical school has a large following even to this day. But his ardent advocacy of a political establishment of Confucianism as a state religion was received with little or no enthusiasm. Even his great disciple, Liang Ch’i-ch’ao, was opposed to it. The explanation was quite simple. The few classics he had tried to dethrone were the most readable and the most influential of all the classics. If they were to be condemned as forgeries, very little would be left of Confucianism. The remaining texts were difficult to understand and contained little moral teaching. The new interpretations which K’ang’s school had tried to read into them were quite as abstruse as the texts themselves. To establish Confucianism after such a radical expurgation would be as ridiculous as to see Hamlet with the Prince of Denmark left out.

    As late as 1915 and 1916, K’ang Yu-wei and his followers tried to influence Yuan Shih-kai and the Constitutional Convention to incorporate a clause in the new Constitution of the Republic, establishing the teaching of the Confucian school as the basic system of moral education in China. Under the influence of Yuan Shih-kai, this clause was accepted by the framers of the draft Constitution. But the new leaders of the intellectual class, notably Ts’ai Yuen-p’ei, Wu Chih-hui, and Ch’en Tu-shiu, fought hard against its adoption in the final text of the Constitution. The words of Mr. Ch’en Tu-shiu are worth quoting as indicating the new temper of the age. He said: “All religions are useless as instruments of government and education. They are to be classed with the other discarded idols of a past age. Even if we may concede that a religion may be needed by an uneducated people, are we justified in disregarding all the teachings of the other religions? We shall be guilty of encroaching upon the religious liberty of the people, if the other religions are ignored and Confucianism alone is constitutionally recognized.” And he went on to show that Confucianism was the very system of thought which had justified and rationalized the political institution of despotic rule throughout all these centuries, and which must go with the final disappearance of the unlimited monarchy. “The morals taught by Confucius and his school, belonged to the age of feudalism, and are mostly unsuited to an age of democracy.” The anti-Confucianists won their fight in the end. Mr. Yuan Shih-kai, who supported this Confu-cianist establishment, tried to make himself an emperor, and failed. Mr. K’ang Yu-wei, who led this movement, took part in the abortive movement in 1917 to restore the Manchu Monarchy with the aid of a reactionary general. The restoration lasted 12 days and then failed completely. These political intrigues greatly discredited the new Confucianist movement, which, as the radical thinkers had predicted, was proved to be in league with the reactionary and monarchist movements.

    It is interesting to note that the leaders of anti-religious thought in the first decade of the Republic were largely men of mature age and old scholarship. Ts’ai Yuen-p’ei and Wu Chih-hui were both outstanding figures of the older generation. Ts’ai was a Hanlin, that is, a member of the old literary Academy, and was then Chancellor of the National Peking University. In 1917 he gave a public lecture in which he frankly expressed his conviction that the religions of the world were obstacles to human progress and that the Chinese mentality was not favorable to religious attitudes. He proposed a peculiar substitute for religion. He thought that religion was essentially a product of the instinctive love for beauty and sublimity, and that it might be replaced by a universal education in aesthetics, a training which should lead men to love the beautiful and the sublime in human conduct as well as in nature.

    In 1923 there arose in the Chinese periodicals a long controversy over the relationship between science and the outlook on life. The post-war pessimism of Europe had by that time made itself felt in Chinese circles through the writings of Mr. Liang Ch’i-ch’ao and his friends, who were telling the country that science had proved itself bankrupt as the new savior of mankind, and that the solution of the riddle of life could not be found through the channels of science. The defenders of science hastened to reply to these attacks, and the controversy lasted more than a year. When a part of the controversial literature was collected, it amounted to over 250,000 words. With the exception of a few conservative scholars trained in German philosophy through the Japanese schools, the majority of those who took part in this debate were on the side of science which they held to be capable of dealing with all problems of human life and conduct.

    The most significant event of this controversy was a long essay of 70,000 words by the veteran thinker Mr. Wu Chih-hui. It had this title: “A New Conception of the Universe and of Life, Based upon a New Belief.” In this essay the old scholar unreservedly accepted the mechanistic conception of the universe, and built up a philosophy of life which, in his own words, “ruled out the term ‘God’ and banished the soul or the spirit.” He defined man as the animal with two hands and a big brain which enable him to make tools. This tool-making animal has been able to create a wonderful civilization merely through the accumulation of tools with which he subdues nature and betters his own living. The greatest achievement of man is science together with all its applications which greatly multiply the power of man to do work and to produce things for his enjoyment and betterment. Mr. Wu holds that the moral life of mankind has greatly improved with the advancement of science and technology; and that man has never achieved a moral life anywhere or at any other time in history which can be proved to be higher than that of the age of science and its machines.

    He maintains that no religion, but science alone, will be needed to make mankind even better and more moral. He tries to prove that all the moral sentiments expressed in the old religious systems and moral philosophies were merely empty words without the ability or the tools to realize them in actual life. It is science alone which has given man not only the new sympathy, but the new capability to do good which the mendicant saints of medieval times could never possess. Man must therefore rely upon himself, and himself alone, in his ceaseless endeavor to increase his tools, to extend his knowledge and power to the utmost, and thereby to make himself more and more moral by being in possession of greater power to solve the perplexities and difficulties of life. “I firmly believe that men of this age are far superior to those of any previous age; and I believe that men of the coming ages will be even better than ourselves. And I firmly believe that the more material progress is achieved, the more goods will be produced, the more needs will be met, and the more easily will man be in a position to solve all the most perplexing problems of the world.”

    Mr. Wu Chih-hui is now sixty-eight years old. In him we see the intellectualistic and rationalistic philosophy of life, which is not merely the result of scientific influence from the West, but is the happy combination of that influence with the whole naturalistic and rationalistic tradition of the Chinese people. It is that combination which makes us feel completely at home in this world; and it is that which has led some of us better to appreciate the intellectual and moral significance inherent in Western civilization which the Western philosopher, because of the tremendous weight of a religious tradition, has not always been willing to recognize. [3]

    [1] Hu Shih, “Religion and Philosophy in Chinese History,” in A Symposium on Chinese Culture (ed. Mrs. Sophia Chen Zen), Shanghai, 1931.

    [2] Hu Shih, “Development of Zen Buddhism in China,” in Chinese Social and Political Science Review, January, 1931.

    [3] Cf. Hu Shih, “My Credo and Its Evolution,” in Living Philosophies, New York, 1931.

    The last 4 paragraphs would seem to support Black Phoenix’s view that, science is the new religion of modern China.

  4. Black Pheonix
    May 31st, 2013 at 08:16 | #4

    What I mean by the “Vatican of Democracy”?

    It is simply an organized monopoly claiming authority on Democracy and political superiority in general.

    I do not mean any specific country, but a mindset that claims such superiority, by assumptions and generalizations, and instituting a propaganda to spread such a claim while refusing to accept fundamental questions or challenges.

    At the center of the Vatican of Democracy, is of course, US, which does not officially claim its superiority, but nevertheless implies so by propaganda, informal or otherwise.

    Similarity of this Vatican of Democracy to the old Vatican state is clear.

    The old Vatican state rose out of the ashes of the Western Roman Empire, while usurping the formal Roman Imperial authority by its own claim to a different kind of divine authority, and holding the formal territories of the Western Roman Empire via a more loosely based identity concept of “Christian-dom”.

    Similarly, the new Vatican of Democracy rose out of the ashes of European Empires that fought destructive WWI and WWII, while holding the formal territories of the European empires via more loosely based identity concept of “Western Democracy”.

    *As history showed, the old Vatican state’s authority began to wane, as it was inevitably entangled by its alliances with the various European Kingdoms, and it was pulled and pushed into various regional conflicts, until eventually, local European Kingdoms agitated to break loose from Vatican control in the Protestant Reformation.

    Similarly, the Vatican of Democracy now is unmistakably entangled in its own alliance to extend its control by various “crusades” imbued with religious undertones, and it struggles with conflicting interests of its various alliances.

    Religion, unfortunately, is not far from the core of the Vatican of Democracy, where it is continued to propagandize the implication and the parallel of morality of Christianity to the laws and systems of the Western Democracies, (thus staking its claim of superiority, not merely upon “freedom”, but “God-given Freedoms”.)

    Such irrationally based claim of superiority naturally brings about irrational debates that degenerate the political process.

    There are various and vastly different Christian sects, who all interpret their own version of “God-given freedom” differently.

    Which in the end means, “God-given freedom” is subject to MAJORITY rule over Minority objections, and subject to the whims of time and fashion, (which by itself challenges the fundamental infallibility of “God-given freedom”, if they are subject to change over time).

    Vatican inquisitions are no more.

    But there are new ridiculous laws based upon purely moralities of religious factions.

    That alone tells me that there should be SOME science in politics.

  5. Black Pheonix
    May 31st, 2013 at 08:56 | #5


    Thanks for posting this.

    I think it is another misconception that some how it was only the recent Communist Regime in China that pushed the “anti-Religion” scientific technological reforms, (because the Communists were anti-religion generally).

    The above posted article supports the notion that Chinese intellectual traditions simply treated religion differently, and in the modern era, began to become more rational and scientific.

    In other words, in Chinese traditions, it is possible to alter one’s religious experiences and assumptions, while continue to expand one’s rational and scientific developments.

    I draw an analogy to Sir Isaac Newton, who through his own theories of physics, began to “secretly” write journals challenging the Christian assumption of the notion of the “Holy Trinity”. Newton had to hide these writings, because if known, he would have been prosecuted for challenging a fundamental religious doctrine, even back in Protestant England.

    Newton’s challenge for this religious assumption of the “Holy Trinity” was indeed based upon his own work in Physics. It simply made NO rational sense to Newton that somehow there could be 3 Gods, when Christians also say there is ONLY 1 God.

    Newton in his own challenge, altered his own religious assumptions, but very few others are willing to go that far.

    In that respect, Newton was an agnostic for challenging church doctrines.

    In Chinese tradition, Newton would have been perfectly happy and allowed to do so.

    In large part, perhaps because in Chinese tradition, religion is less organized, less public, and more private experiences, where rituals are minimal, only designed to heighten people’s own INNER religious experiences, and leaving interpretations mostly to one’s own experiences.

    Even in time ancient, it was not uncommon for a Taoist Monk to visit and stay at a Buddhist Temple (or vice versa) to gain religious teachings and experiences. Ordinary Chinese could without any difficulties, visit many different temples, recite and pray in different rituals.

    In sum, Chinese tradition of religions is non-uniform, non-doctrinal, non-rigid, and intensively private.

    This allows Chinese to receive new ideas, such as rationalism and Science, very readily.

    I should note, Chinese were not “anti-science”. While science did not spread rapidly in China (as say compared to Japan), that is largely due to economic and policy reasons.

    China never saw the kind of anti-Scientist religious inquisitions witnessed in Europe, where (as Newton feared), if one writes something wrong, one may easily face Ex-Communication or worse (see Galileo).

  6. June 1st, 2013 at 05:52 | #6

    Like qirong29, I too was a little confused by this post. However, I also was just as confused by qirong29’s comment.

    I will address my confusion with this post first, and if I have time, address qirong29’s comment in a subsequent comment.

    First, I don’t think there is a scientific and rational way to politics. I mean, there might be, for certain people and at certain times, but no in general.

    Problem is this: politics is about satisfying human needs and wants, which are not necessarily rational. In fact, if you judge by people’s individual needs and wants, they often appear irrational. Even if they were not, you still need to find a way to translate individual preferences into group preferences – when there is no daylight on what is really “best for the group.”

    Suppose we really have all the information of people’s needs and wants, is there an accepted way of aggregating that to say this is what the people want? As we have discussed on the problems with democracy on this blog before, voting per se doesn’t fix the problem

    Second problem, we don’t have enough information to translate a “people’s will” into the right policies. The problem is because everything comes with costs and benefits, risks and opportunities. Should I build that dam? That factory? What’s the risk and benefit, really, of implementing this new technology (say fracking)…. Better think global warming … Is there really an answer on exactly what we should do – balancing all the competing needs, distributive issues, effects of this cut on overall climate change?

    How often does science really prescribe what we need to do? Rarely I say. More often, it is simply the political forces hijakcing the words of science – as another rhetorical and political tool – to further a position

    Please note here that I am not a global warming denier. But I ask: if science really is an endeavor to understand the world through repeatable testable experiments, how can climate science as we understand it be a science? It’s a step to understanding the world using scientific tools, but are the conclusions drawn a science? No – it’s more like economics…. We may gain insights, but we are nowhere near science …

    We can move it toward being more scientific and rational – by talking more openly about the political process, instead of hiding behind ideologies (e.g. submitting to the Vatican of democracy). Yes.

    we can move it further to being scientific and rational by being more open to measuring the effect of policies. Yes, too.

    But neither makes things scientific or rational. In fact, it may move less than you think.

    For example, let’s say I am against the Vatican of democracy and argue that freedom of speech is per se not necessarily good. It’s an improvement if I don’t get shouted down for being stupid. True.

    But just because I am not shouted down doesn’t mean things better. We are now all open minded about restricting certain speech activities and now next argue about whether a specific freedom is good or bad. Say what’s the costs and benefits of allowing Nazis to march through town in a Jewish town? Or what’s the pros and cons of allowing child porn on the internet? But then we go back into politics again, referring most likely to heuristics and experiences and ideologies to make arguments of costs and benefits. So we are back to square one.

    Measuring tools also have limits. Let say you support fracking on a mass scale and I don’t. I present measurements on how fracking endangers ground water. You present measurements on how fracking reduces air pollution. Assuming these are the only issues (there are actually a lot more, touching upon not just environemnt, but also national security issues). Then what? As you know, in mass tort, when you prove causation of whether such injuries are caused by this or that drug or that facilitiy, you can never be sure. You come up with a risk analysis. Then you have a battle of experts. And then you throw it to the jury, and hope they get it right.

    Same thing here – except that things (being political) are much more charged. Can science always settle the question? Or is there always wiggle room to have some doubt? You may say, well there is this problem with your study. It’s not with the most current technology. It’s not in a large enough scale. So on and so on. I can fight back with technical complaints of my own. We can get into a long technological debate. We can have a huge battle of experts.

    And even if all the technological debates can be resolved done (it’s hard, in the policy space, look for example at the nuclear energy debates, seems never ending), then we have to get into the political weighing of the costs and benefits. This drags us back again to heuristics, personal experiences, world view, preferences, ideologies – i.e. politics.

    In the end, as long as peoples’ preferences are not rational, and as long as we don’t have a scientifically agreed way to aggregate individual preferences into a “people’s preference” – and as long as there are knowledge gaps in science and technology on how to translate preferences into politics – I don’t see how we can have a scientific or rational approach to politics.

    We can move toward that direction. But when push come to shove, politics is politics, science is science. People can use science to push forward a political agenda, but I don’t think science or rationality itself can define, dictate, or impose political solutions.

  7. perspectivehere
    June 1st, 2013 at 15:56 | #7

    I too had some trouble understanding Black Phoenix’s argument. In an effort to make the points clearer, I have taken the liberty of restating the argument in numbered paragraphs. This will make it easier to discuss each of his points, by referring to each of the numbered paragraphs. There are several important points he makes and they are worthwhile to discuss individually. I hope this clarifies more than it confuses:

    1. The Scientific Revolution challenged LONG held assumptions (irrational ideas based often on superstition, religion, or spiritualism). In Europe, the greatest impact from the Scientific Revolution was that it forced examination of principles and ideas against rational arguments and evidence, repeatedly using the scientific method.

    2. This Revolution extended first in the physical sciences, then into other areas of human activities. Even religions became “testable” as “social science”. Enlightenment and Liberal politics became part of that Revolution. Great political philosophers of the West were often also great scientists, such as Benjamin Franklin and Voltaire.

    3. But the Scientific Revolution in the West may have come to halt. The West’s Scientific Revolution peaked sometime in the 19th Century. After that, politics of Imperialism established a stubborn set of Nationalistic and Religious assumptions that carries on today. It is now considered treason for science to question these self-righteous proclamations, which are merely assumptions, of the West.

    4. The Scientific Revolution has stopped at the doorstep of “Democracy”. “Democracy” is not to be challenged, despite the horrors of the French Revolution and the lesser discussed horrors of American history. Even The Scientific Revolution cannot question Democracy. The Scientific Revolution is confined to the realm of JUST science.

    [In the Western Democracies, although Scientific Revolution principles of rational inquiry have fully penetrated the realm of scientific activity, it has not extended into the realm of political thinking and practice. It does not questioning the assumptions of Western Democracy, particularly the assumption that Freedom is such a fundamental right that it is treated as sacred. This is despite evidence such as the horrors of the French Revolution and American History.]

    5. That faith in Democracy is most irrational.

    6. This irrational faith can be seen in the attention given to interpreting the words of the “Founding Fathers” in the United States. These were fallable human beings. Yet why do US politicians and lawyers spend so much effort to interpret the “Original Intent” of these imperfect people? It is a ridiculous ritual akin to divination. Does it still matter to those holding to them what the “Original Intent” were?? Or are they merely making up omens and rituals to rationalize the irrational?

    7. The Western Democracies insist that “Freedom” is somehow a sacred “Right”. However, few ever bother to rationally test the true meaning of “Freedom” and “RIGHTS”.

    [The Western Democracies have raised up and promoted the idea of “Freedom is a sacred Right” as an unquestioned article of faith which is rarely examined by rational inquiry.]

    8. Because the Scientific Revolution is only confined to the scientific sphere, many kinds of irrational, untestable assumptions such as religions and superficial moralities rise up again. Politics in Western Democracies has become stagnant, fundamentally superstitious and running on the faith of “what worked before, should work forever.”

    9. Only WESTERN Democracies have the authority to determine what is or is not “Democratic.” They act like a “Vatican” of Democracy with a monopoly of authority on Democratic matters. The Western Democracies are portrayed as the “Holy Land” of Democracy. This is because only Western Democracies are sufficiently “enlightened” with the sacred, unquestionable truth. This “Vatican of Democracy” is a monopoly that refuses to tolerate challenges to its authority.

    10. This is just like the Vatican right before the time the Scientific Revolution challenged the Vatican’s authority/correctness on important beliefs, such as “Earth is at the Center of the Universe.” History has scientifically proven that such refusal, stubborn as it may be, won’t stop the Revolution by Science.

    11. Science, through HISTORY, has already shown the irrationalities of irresponsibility and follies in Western Democracies.

    12. I do not say that other systems are necessarily better, but it is Folly and Superstition to hold Western Democracies as immune to challenges of their assumptions.

    13. At heart of this situation, understandably, is the human sensitivity to what each of us consider to be deeply personal beliefs. We human beings do not like the notion of have to question and doubt every assumption we live with. It does not make us very happy to be surrounded by doubt.

    14. OTHER parts of the World are continuing down the Scientific Revolution path. Particularly China, is carrying on the rationalist tradition of the Scientific Revolution to continue to change traditional institutions of human conditions, particularly in Politics. Science will challenge the assumptions of politics, Democracy, the West, and everything else.

  8. perspectivehere
    June 2nd, 2013 at 07:41 | #8

    In Paragraph #6 above, Black Phoenix compares the American practice of interpreting the US “Founding Fathers” Original Intent with religious divination rituals.

    This comparison sounds far-fetched.

    Yet, eminent Harvard Law School Professor of Jurisprudence Duncan Kennedy made the same comparison in this essay: American Constitutionalism as Civil Religion”.

    There is a broad consensus among social theorists that American society is held together by the American Civil Religion as its glue.

    Lee Marsden of the University of East Anglia writes about how the American Civil Religion plays out in foreign policy, in this essay, For God’s Sake: Civil Religion and US Foreign Policy

    “Through civil religion Americans have a sense of unity that informs expectations beyond their shores. There is a deeply held conviction that the United States has a divine entitlement to lead the world that informs the rhetoric of successive presidents. During the final days of the Bush presidency there was much discussion about change and continuity in US foreign policy after his departure (see Lynch and Singh, 2008) such arguments operate under a false premise that change and continuity are in opposition to one another and that debates over structure, agency and contingency are all important in determining whether or not US foreign policy is unilateral or multilateral, isolationist or internationalist. I suggest that US foreign policy, because of its foundational myths underpinned by civil religion, seeks to maintain global hegemony by any means necessary. Commanders-in-Chief will use hard power, soft power or smart power depending on which is more effective in maintaining hegemony. When, as in the case of the Bush presidency, unilateralism and hard power cease being effective an incoming president, such as Obama, will use multilateralism and combinations of soft, smart and hard power to achieve the same objectives of US power maximisation and the universalisation of its values.


    Obama as a committed Christian has actively sought out religious figures to bring into the policy making arena through regular conference calls and meetings. While the Christian Right, favoured by Bush, have been supplemented by more liberal and mainstream Christians and those of other faiths, including Jews, Muslims and Hindus. Just as his predecessor reached out to American Muslims, in spite of opposition from his core support within the evangelical community in the Republican party, so Obama will bring other faiths into the political realm amalgamating their diverse theological views into a palatable civil religion for domestic and international consumption. Although it is unwise to make predictions, it is not too brave to suggest that Obama will continue to wage wars for freedom and US national interests though clearly these will never be for ‘selfish’ interests but for the betterment of those people warred against and warred on behalf of. Obama will preside over an American hegemony that changes as the differing pulls of structure and agency take their toll but global hegemon it will remain throughout his tenure.

    The United States despite economic turmoil, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and rapidly changing demographics is situated as the sole super power, commanding the global commons (cf. Posen, 2003), and still by some margin the world’s greatest military, economic and ideological power. I have suggested that this position of supremacy has been attained by America’s vision of itself as world leader that has its origins and sustenance in foundational myths of manifest destiny, exceptionalism, and being an innocent nation.

    This mythology has a religious dimension that has been able to adapt with modernity, indeed some would argue shape modernity, to combine capitalism, democracy and a civil religion that is able to embrace all faiths across America, whilst enabling Christians, and those of other faiths, to believe that presidential speeches are directed just to them and that US foreign policy represents their religious convictions. This has been played out across the foreign assistance field, the exporting of democracy and capitalism, in the military, and through a mantra from successive presidents that appeals to America’s higher self, its sense of mission and purpose, its imperative to share what God has bestowed on them to the rest of a waiting world.

    This driving sense of having to convert the world to freedom, liberty, democracy, human rights and capitalism is vividly illustrated in the speeches of both George Bush and Barack Obama, which consist of shared narratives reflecting back what Americans have come to believe of themselves in their better moments. What Americans believe about themselves has come to reflect what they have achieved in the world. It is a global hegemon using its vast power to attempt to bring about the kind of world it wishes itself to be. Barack Obama’s presidency builds on the civil religion tradition of his predecessors, the foundational myths continue to inspire and galvanise the American people to justify and support US foreign policy actions in seeking to maintain and advance national interests and US power. Obama is using, and will continue to use, a religious narrative to frame his actions and religious actors to deliver US foreign policy objectives, whether through persuasion and co-option or coercion and military force. Rather than religion and foreign policy being confined to the Bush era, religion has always played a part in US foreign policy and under an Obama presidency that relationship will only grow stronger.”

  9. Black Pheonix
    June 2nd, 2013 at 09:38 | #9


    I appreciate Perspectivehere’s explanation of my position, and I make some additional points of clarity here:

    The important aspect of “Scientific Revolution” is not just the Science part, but also the Revolution part.

    Thomas Kuhn in his 1960’s book of “Structure of Scientific Revolution” characterized the Scientific Revolution as “paradigm shift” in the fundamental way people think/considered ideas and facts.

    Thus, Scientific Revolution is in its core, about challenging basic assumptions, in a scientific manner, not necessarily about whether existing scientific tools or processes can address the problems.

    For example, Newton had to invent a new math of calculus in order to prove his law of motion (particularly in planetary motion).

    Before him and calculus, there was simply no math in existence that could have done the same. But it didn’t stop scientific revolution (in Newton and other scientists) from challenging long held (erroneous) misconceptions about motion.

    Similarly, I would argue, Politics as currently exists, cannot be easily addressed by existing scientific processes.

    But that’s precisely WHY it needs a Scientific Revolution to challenge its assumptions.

    New concepts and processes of science may need to be invented to view and deal with politics and government.

    But the key important aspect, again, is NOT to simply accept that somehow politics is different. That assumption has stopped the Scientific Revolution in the West, but it should not stop it in other parts of the world.

    And it won’t.

  10. N.M.Cheung
    June 2nd, 2013 at 09:49 | #10

    An excellent opening debate on the question of science versus democracy/Vatican. Some may disagree on the mix of science and politics, but what is politics but organization of human relations and activities, itself a part of social science. For science depends on evidence and practice, and by this definition U.S. democracy is failing miserably. One does not have to see the absurdity of Scalia’s original interpretation of Constitution to dismiss it ( For to suggest it’s perfect and unchanging is to deny science.) . Or the undemocratic nature of the U.S. system, whether the California’s 2 senate seats versus Wyoming’s 2 seats with population ratio difference of close to 100:1. The impossibility to amend the constitution as it is presently stated. It is violating the definition of majority rule. Or Fukuyama’s the end of history, the liberal democrats view of statist unchanging superiority of U.S. system. The failure of the Vatican of democracy can also be seen from the close to half of U.S. population is anti-science and believe earth is 5,000 years old. The list is endless.

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