18 May 2023

Energy — a matter of interpretation

Progressive activists, scientists, politicians, &c. are all urging that 'we' humans face the challenges of transitioning to a circular global economy that covers its energy requirements in a sustainable way. One speaks of leaving a carbon energy economy behind in favour of renewable sources of energy. What remains a fixed concern in these scenarios is energy sufficient to support the energy requirements of the species homo sapiens to survive on this planet whilst maintaining (as far as possible) 'our way of life', its standard of material comfort and alleviating poverty. This is about as deep as this way of (positivist-empiricist) thinking goes — a way of thinking that has ravaged the Western mind for centuries, rendering it unable to adequately understand today's world.

For the modern scientific way of thinking, energy is something physical that 'really' exists in nature and can be harnessed for human ends. It is firmly convinced that physics, with its foundational concept of energy, is the foundational science, and even has its various versions of the law of conservation of energy, an immutable law of nature.

If it is pointed out, as I am about to do, that ἐνέργεια is the key, mediating concept in Aristotle's ontology of efficient, productive movement and that it means literally the 'at-work-ness' of a power or potential (δύναμις) toward an end (τέλος), the response will be that that's a very interesting tit-bit from the history of ideas, but has no relevance for today's scientific worldview in which old Aristotelean concepts have been superseded and left behind to gather dust in the dander of history. 'We', it is asserted, have advanced far beyond that, even as far as quantum physics. 'We' need not concern ourselves with an ontology of movement, whatever that is supposed to mean.

If, however, Aristotle's concept of ἐνέργεια was coined by him to phenomenologically interpret movement AS efficient productive movement, where this AS is the hermeneutic AS that sits in the ontological difference between beings and their interpretation AS beings, then it becomes apparent that energy is not simply something physical to be found in nature, but is an idea we humans employ to interpret a certain kind of movement. (Modern science is unaware that its material basis, its thoroughly materialist way of thinking, is itself an idea.)

If not all kinds of movement can be forced into the form (idea) of efficient, productive movement, then the concept of energy, when totalized, as it is today as the foundational concept of all science, only serves us humans to misinterpret movement and so befuddle ourselves. What if — through this misinterpretation of movement by (mis)employing the concept of physical energy — we are on a fateful wild goose chase in 'our' valiant attempt to make the transition from fossil fuels as the main source of energy for living 'our' lives to renewable sources of energy? What if we were under a misconception by assuming that we were living our lives?

What if we were today challenged to think much deeper, to reinterpret phenomena of movement (such as i) mutually estimative interplay, ii) the movement of the mind, iii) the accumulative movement of thingified value as capital) with hitherto neglected or as yet uncoined concepts that come closer to capturing the phenomena in question? In other words, what if these kinds of non-physical movement were outside the reach of a concept of energy? What if we faced the challenge of confronting modern science's (that is, our own) wilful hermeneutic blindness and its resultant arrogant 'energetic' dogmatism? And what if today's progressive mass media were vehicles of propaganda for science to indoctrinate us with delusions, whilst kidding themselves that they were honestly enlightening us?

Further reading: Movement and Time in the Cyberworld

Social Ontology of Whoness 

On Human Temporality (forthcoming)

1 comment:

  1. thanks for this interpretation of matter.
    and energy.
    "what if?"
    yes. what if...?