TABLE OF CONTENTS
TITTLE PAGE … … … … … … i
CERTIFICATION … … … … … … iii
DEDICATION … … … … … … iv
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT … … … … v
TABLE OF CONTENT … … … … … vii
GENERAL INTRODUCTION … … … … … x
Purpose of Study … … … … … … xii
Scope of Study … … … … … …
Method of Study … … … … … … xiii
Division of Work … … … … … … xiii
A Short Biography of Denis Alexander… … xiv
SCIENCE IN THE SEVENTIES … … … 1
1.1 Genes, Sex and Society … … … … 3
1.2 Chemistry of the Brain … … … … 7
1.3 How brave the new world? … … … 12
MECHANISM AND MEANING … … 16
2.1 Determinism and Free will … … … 22
Man: A Human Being or A Naked Ape? … 28
3.0 THE GOD THAT FAILED … … … 33
3.1 The illusion of a future. … … … … 35
3.2 The Origin
of Religion … … … … … … 39
Flight from Reason … … … … 41
4.0 BACK TO SQUARE ONE … … … 45
4.1 The Surge of Models? … … … … 46
The Problematic of the Idea of Man in the Box … 48
The True Radical … … … … 50
The Real Humanity … … … … … 54
5.0 Critical Evaluation … … … … 57
Conclusion … … … … … 61
BIBLIOGRAPHY … … … … … 64
world is fascinated by so many scientific achievements. Today, almost
everything falls under the spell of scientific and technological advancements.
And philosophy, which is concerned with the ultimate basis of reality, is not
also free from glorifying the activities of science.
and technology have become household names in almost every nook and cranny of
our global world. Astronomical discoveries are possible due to what science and
technology can offer to man. Transportation and communication are brought to
their fastest and simplest level as a result of scientific and technological
advancements. There is a boost in equipment for the improvement of human
health. All these scientific and technological advancements are geared towards
making life easier for man.
given this glorification of science and technology, there still remains a
lacuna in human life. In the midst of all these scientific and technological
advancements, one can still notice an element of fear and anxiety in human
life. In spite of all the glories of science, mankind is turning away from it.
What can we say is the reason for this man’s reaction that was noticed during
the past twenty years? The result of current researches as well as the
applications of science in modern warfare poses a threat to man’s security of
life. It is becoming obvious that science is not fulfilling the role that it
should be playing. It has claimed to be a god and is somehow devouring
humanity. As a result of this, man is constantly losing his humanity in the
very technological society.
still, the very rationalism that underlies the rubrics of science is under
attack. There seems to be a flight from rational to non-rational way of
thinking. Often, it seems man’s reason should be denied in order to re-instate
his humanity as in ways of mystical experience.
can there be an answer to this problem? Can it be really taken that man’s
reason has created some powers that are beyond his control? If man has realized
the inherent malaise of science, what ways can be followed in resolving the
problems? It is obvious that man created these problems. And so its resolution
must as well come from man. In battling with these problems, Alexander Denis
proposed two outstanding answers. He based his answers on ethics and
metaphysics. In other words, since man is endowed with freedom and morality,
the general good of man should be considered in every human endeavour.
Secondly, man’s recognition of the ‘Being of beings’ and his complete
submission to this being from whom other beings take their origin is quite
this long essay is primarily concerned with highlighting the implications of
these answers for the main purpose of bringing man back to the real “state of
Purpose of Study
This research work is aimed at pursuing a
thought-pattern that will argue for the credibility of Science and Technology
on the one hand and its malaise on the other hand. It will criticize to the
core the many assumptions of Science as panacea to man’s quest for meaning. It
is hoped that such analysis will be a catalyst that will raise our
self-consciousness towards attaining the ultimate end.
Scope of Study
does not however pledge to give out all the claims of science in human
existence. It will only articulate the rectitude and turpitude of science as
well as the need for man’s absolute resort to the eternal and infinite being,
in the light of the writings of Alexander Denis.
Method of Study
sake of clarity and tenacity of purpose, this work will be mainly analytical
The work is
divided into five chapters. Apart from the general introduction, the first
chapter portrays the glorified place of science and technology in human
society. Chapters two and three examine the evident limitations of science.
Chapter four dwells on man’s inevitable search for meaning. Finally, we shall
evaluate the entire work in chapter five.
BRIEF PROFILE OF DENIS ALEXANDER
Denis Alexander is a Botswana by
birth and holds a degree in Economics and Accountancy. His working career spans
over the last twenty years. In his early years, he gained experience in the
accountancy/finance areas. He was involved in and has been exposed to
multi-national operations as he worked for the oil giant (Shell) for twelve
years. During this period, he was responsible for having moved the management
operations of the company from South Africa to Botswana. He was equally exposed
to refinery economics when he worked in the Netherlands for Shell for just over
In 1993, he made a career change and joined the Botswana
Medical Aid Society (Bomaid) as their chief executive officer. Currently, he is
the president of Bomaid, the largest medical health insurance programme in
Botswana.He has contributed in other areas like general health within the
country (Botswana) as well as having sometimes been a lonely voice for the
EXISTENTIALIST CRITIQUE OF KARL MARX
through the ages, there have been various interpretations of the nature of man.
Some thinkers view man purely as a materials element without any substantive
value. On the contrary, other thinkers place as the ultimate, the substantive
value not the material.
the 18th century, Karl Marx in his materialist philosophy reduced
everything to matter. He saw man and his consciousness as a development of a
highly organized matter. The essence of man for him was matter. Man became a
determined entity. As matter of fact, the way Marx exposed his views on the
economy buttresses this fact.
this trend arose the existentialist philosophical system who sought to fill a
vacuum created in man by Marx. Consequently, it sees man not existential entity
whose nature it is to possess freedom, choice and responsibility.
our main concern here is that is devoid of freedom. To see man as matter alone
is a partial view. More still, there is no place for morality in Marx’s
materialism. The implication of Marx’s materialism for the modern man is
enormous. It endangers the modern man because he often embark on destroying the
human person just for economic advantage. In addition, it presents a
the major goal of this study is to look critically at Karl Marx’s materialism
and its implications on the society. It will also try to establish the
relevance of freedom and choice as existentialist virtues which is opposed to
THE DOCTRINE OF COMMON GOOD IN THOMAS
Great progress in the political and
economic development of our age from the pre-historic era tends to retardation
due to man’s egoism. The state being an edifice with its organic parts of
individuals living in families associations and some intermediate groups should
be a perfect society endowed with common good where man can best establish and
realize his self along with others.
However, the reverse has become the
case with a cankerworm of geocentricism reflecting a radical increase in
individualism whereby the society is now regarded as contractual than natural,
and its ends declared to be determined by self interest rather than by divine
ordination thus, relegating our society to an ordinary class oriented state
ruined with injustice, marginalization, oppression, class struggle,
selfishness, corruption and so on. The obvious result is a destabilization of
the perfect nature of the state and its social order.
with the present sad situation of the system, the prevailing conception that
political office is an opportunity to enrich oneself with adverse effects of
socio-political and economic decay is a reason behind this.
our major task in the study is to analyze critically Thomas Aquinas argument
that the common good is an end of any state. Our objective then is to point out
some useful contributions of Aquinas on common good; not totally as he has
formulated, but with suggestion on how best the common good will be realized in
JOHN DEWEY’S SCIENTIFIC
NATURALISM (A CRITICAL ANALYSIS)
the world today should be fascinated by the recent scientific inputs and
outputs is reasonable enough, at least, not many doubt the fact that ascendance
of science as the most tested trajectory of perception is both historical and
most deserved. The way science has been taken in recent times makes this
impression more glaring. Today, the world is almost couching all her endeavours
in the garb of science.
modern philosophy progressed in scientific garbs, it developed with science, a
naturalistic character. By 18th century, philosophers (through
science) began to subscribe to a mode of though, which found no meaning in
metaphysics. George Santayana, Bertrand Russell, and many logical positivist of
the Vienna circle could be remembered in this estimation. From their
denigration of the metaphysical subject matter, the impression was gathered
that science has finally assuaged the yearnings of the modern man. and the man
John Dewey, forms a significant part of this clique.
every arsenal at his reach, he configured into philosophy a scientific method
with which he hoped to reconcile the metaphysical dualism inherent in the
philosophical system. He thereby rendered science and its methods inevitably
and absolutely potent for all philosophical, moral and human problems.
it is unfortunate that with over four centuries down in the scientific mud, the
modern man has not discovered order amidst his incessant moral, philosophical
and environmental crises. Infact, it has become a central question of
philosophical concern whether or not modern science can chew all that it has
taken into bite.
concern I this study is to argue for the credibility of science on the one
hand, and the vindication of metaphysics from it most recent repudiation, on
the other hand. Taking Dewey’s system as a focal point, this work will
criticize every argument for scientific absolutism inorder to dispose science
to reality in an open manner.
In The Seventies
a reasonable analysis is made of the whole periods in the history of science,
the fact that science brought much innovation to mankind cannot be denied.
Throughout the history of science, one could see attempts by scientists to
exhaust all that are practicable as far as our world of reality is concerned.
But these achievements of science have not been without problems.
Denis sees the problem as a turning point in those advancements of science. He
traced back the foundation of scientific evolution and its social impact to the
late 19th and early 20th centuries. For instance, in the
year 1905, Einstein came up with his theory that mass could be converted into
energy. Within the camp of the scientists, some doubts were raised as to the
possibility of this theory. But 40 years later, his theory was confirmed when
Hiroshima and Nagasaki were destroyed by atomic bomb.
the 1950s, scientists were bent on constructing nuclear weapons. Weapons of war
became more sophisticated with an increasing hope that no one would be foolish
enough to use them adversely. But unfortunately, as hopes were rising towards
what science could offer as good, there was a corresponding increase in
disillusionment. At this point, one stands to ask where mankind was going in
the 1970s. This boils down to the fact that one-fifth of the world’s political
manpower was (and is still) employed for military purposes. As this was
foreseen as something more deadly than life giving, some moves were made to the
imminent excesses. Many countries engaged in the formation of groups to arouse
social and moral conscience among scientists, one of which was the British
society for social responsibility in science. All these groups were put up
because of the fact that a single misuse of science anywhere is likely to
attract its own heavy repercussions. The extent to which these groups in
different countries could go was immediately seen. They could not achieve much,
and the reason was quite obvious: a country tries to out do the other in the
production of weapons, at least for defence purposes. This situation leads to a
kind of dominos effect. Alexander demonstrates this with the production of
If one country is
going to attack the other with biological weapons, one needs to know how to
defend oneself. And to defend oneself, one needs to know how the weapons work.
And to know how they work, one equally needs to make them. Since the individual
has known how to make them, even if he does not stock pile them, he can always
make move if he wanted to.
kind of situation leads to a deep struggle for superiority and a vicious circle
happening in the production of biological weapons was present in other areas
such as in the science of molecular biology. By the 1970s,according to his
analysis the chances of begetting life artificially were no longer deemed
Sex and Society
are strings of chemicals that help create the proteins that make up the body”. Genes are
composed of chromosomes, which are responsible for our different
characteristics. But these characteristics are summed up in the DNA,
deoxyribonucleic acid, which is the sum total of the genetic make up of every
DNA is very stable such that “mutations” occurring in
the germ cells will be passed on to the children. It has been found that some
genetic defects are linked with chromosomes that determine sex. For instance
colour blindness, webbed toes and muscular dystrophy are caused by chromosomes
related to sex chromosomes.
1969,the first fertilization of the human ovum which was carried out under
laboratory conditions was made. Earlier before this date (1969), human ovary
was not accessible and so studies concerning human conception could not yield any
positive result. But, this breakthrough has taught man that artificial
fertilization of the human ovary is hundred percent possible. As years go by,
more discoveries were made. Alexander Denis made allusion to the new discovery
about human blastocyst in 1974.He noted the report that “human blastocysts had
been grown artificially in the laboratory and re-implanted into women, with
subsequent birth of apparently normal several children”.
doubt, there was some social impact accruing from these discoveries. It became
obvious that infertility and other related problems can be stopped. A wife with
blocked oviduct or a husband with ineffective sperm can get an aid.
There was equally a way of determining sex
chromosome. In this case, the sperm containing the Y chromosome is identified
as male chromosome while the sperm containing X chromosome is identified as
female chromosome. Hence Alexander averred that “sex could be determined by
separating sperm containing the Y (male) chromosome from those containing the X
He also noted the discovery made by a group of German scientists, that sperm
could be made concentrated 85%. This concentration he said, makes the Y sperm
to swim more strongly.
In the past centuries, man submitted to the dictum
that children are gifts from God and that their (or children’s) absence is an
expression of God’s wrath. It was taken that the sex of one’s children is
determined by the mind of God such that one was made to be grateful for what he
gets even if it is a girl again (may be for the fourth time). The case of
infertility was then seen as the actualisation of God’s will on man. But in
this era, not only that infertility has a total cure; man can now choose to
have more males than females in as much as he adroitly follows the rubrics of
science concerning the modernised form of reproduction.
still, the developments in science have also led to the discovery of genetic
abnormalities. It is true that under normal circumstances, chromosomal
donations during the period of human conception do not go beyond or below the
usual 23 chromosome pairs from either parent. But sometimes the unusual may
happen such that the chromosomal donations may not keep to the usual 23 pairs.
According to R.F. Biehler “The unusual number of chromosome may either be 23+24
making an overall number of 47 instead of the usual 46.At other times it may be
23+22 making a combinatory total of only 45 instead of the usual 46.”
explained that there is bound to be a genetic abnormality when either of these
situations occur. The type of abnormality that occurs in this situation is
Down’s syndrome. He explained that Down’s syndrome occurs when the cell is
produced by 47 (i.e.23+24) chromosomes.
The missing of a sex chromosome or the addition
of an extra sex chromosome may lead to a type of genetic abnormality called
Turner’s syndrome. This abnormality occurs when a sperm with a missing sex
chromosome fertilizes a normal egg or an egg with a missing an X-carrying sperm
fertilizes X chromosome. Biehler explained that this lack of a second X
chromosome may cause stunted growth in the female child and will eventually
lead to a blockage of breast development and menstrual flow in the female child
in the midst of these genetic discoveries, mankind should not submit to
geneticists as those who have the final answer about gene and sex. Sometimes,
their projections can really cause more harm than good. In his book, “The
Technological Society”, Jacques Ellul argued, “If the choice as to what type of human is
desirable be left to those who are making the choice possible –the geneticists,
then the doom of humanity must crop up”. Under what I may call the magic wand of
biology, man is now gradually becoming quite different from what he was. He is
changing into a new and paradoxical animal. The very ‘Homo sapiens’ has now
become a ‘Homo biologicus’ who attains the level of fertilizing his female at a
long distance like the molusks or like the Kangaroo that develops outside his mother’s
molecular biologists had much questions to respond to in regard to the
manipulation of living things and human beings. The effects of science and
technology were also beginning to draw attentions and questions; for instance,
population density was much with a corresponding increase in pollution, deaths
from war and other social ills were in the steady progression: these situations
made the enthusiastic applications of biological discoveries to everyday life
to fall down drastically. However, the advancements in science does not only
revolve around gene and sex, it equally encompasses the human brain.
of the Brain
human brain can be described as two handfuls of tissue, which weighs a little
more than 1.2kg with colour and pulp-like substance responsible for man’s
feeling, speaking, seeing, smelling, remembering, engaging in sexual union and
other activities that characterises the daily human life.
human brain indeed contains about ten thousand million nerve cells. Thus, in
comparing the computers to human brain, Denis Alexander avowed that “the
biggest computers ever built manage less than a hundred units unlike the human
brain that contains ten thousand million cells”.
brain research was the major preoccupation of Neuro-physiologists, those who
are primarily concerned with the electrical activities of the brain. In 1974,
Sir John Eccles of Buffalo University used a microelectrode less than a
thousandth of millimetres in diameter to explore the electrical behaviour of
individual neurons in living cat brains. However, in not more than ten years of
this discovery, it was also discovered that “if the electrical activity of
individual neurons varies so much, it is also likely that their chemistry
varies as well”.
Thus, among the complex task of biochemistry in the early seventies, was to
find out the disparities in chemistry between the ten thousand million nerves
contained in the brain.
has been a tremendous increase in our knowledge of the structure and chemistry
of the brain. Our detailed knowledge of the brain chemistry makes it inevitable
that new and more sophisticated drugs are produced to exert certain effects on
man’s behaviour. The implantation of electrodes in the brain, which was
initiated by Dr. Hess in 1928, now serves as a routine procedure. This is a
situation where a hole is made in the skull of the animal or man, and a fine
metal planted in specific areas of the brain. Through these electrodes,
simultaneous electrical recording can be done while the animal or person moves
freely to wherever (it) he chooses. Even the cerebral areas related to pain,
pleasure, eating, sexual gratification and learning have all been detected
through this medium. It was equally ascertained that electrodes could be used
not just for picking up electrical activities alone but also to stimulate
specific regions of the brain.
delving into the interpretive cortex of the brain, it is nice to highlight some
diffuse pathways in the human brain. There is what is known as the cholinergic
pathways, which regulate attention, learning and memory function. In other
words, a projection from the nucleus basalis of Meynert
provides the cholinergic input to the cerebral
cortex. The medial septum in turn provides cholinergic innervations of the
Dopamine pathways also regulate movement, cognition, learning and memory
function. Hence, a projection from the substantia nigra provides dopamine input
to the neostriatum. Then the ventral segmental area supplies dopamine for the
cerebral cortex and the limbic system. These activities of the brain are not
unconnected with its plasticity. According to Malcolm Jeeves “the most
characteristic features of the brain is its plasticity”. The absence
of this plastic nature of the brain will result to inability of the human brain
(man) to learn or memorize something. Man’s response or adaptation to his world
and its changing circumstances will be impossible.
Serotonin pathways play important roles in mental health. So it is discovered
that projections from the brainstem raphe nuclei innervate a wide variety of
brain regions. Therefore, Serotonin is implicated in the etiology of depression
and hallucinogenic agents such as LSD, and mescaline equally plays their role.
to professor Giles Brindley of the Institute of psychiatry in London,
“Electrodes are being planted in human brains for very different purposes”. He
explained that a wide range of wires could be planted in the back of the brain,
which receives signal from the eyes. He also noted that photo-electric cell
devices can be used to convert light waves into electrical impulses which has
the feasibility of giving blind people the ability to recognize objects and
possibly to read. Enumerating various researchers on the brain will not be
complete without some theories on memory. This has been a fascinating thing
about the human brain. How do we store information and then recall it in years
later? Infact, how do we remember? According to Prof. Penfield, “memory is an
area of the brain called interpretive cortex”. From
experiments made, he opined that man has the potential to recall any past
experiences. He went on to say that any theory of memory must provide for the
storage of a directional, sequential series of events complete with sound,
vision and colour. However, this assertion has led to many theories about the
memory though we shall not be delving into them now. From the researches made
so far, it has also been discovered that the vital region of the brain called
hippocampus, is responsible for short-term and long-term memory
is quite evident that some big steps have been made in brain research but we
are not going into details so as to focus on the scope of our study.
many ways the ethical issues raised by such researches and experiments are
similar to those that come from our acclaimed potential to control our own
heredity. Just as the genetic content of our cells may be manipulated in the
laboratory, in the same way, some specific information will (if not already
experimented) be fed into human brains at birth.
we can exert enormous power over the mind by the use of drugs and even more by
the use of electrodes. And one can attest to it that “never before has man held
such power in his hands. And never before has there been such a temptation to
1.3 How brave the new world
Alexander Denis, by 1970, matters were coming to its zenith. The richer
countries were becoming over-extended. Most of them were becoming
over-populated, over industrialized and over-reliant upon cheap imported raw
materials. Resources were either becoming less plentiful or were being
deliberately withheld by the producing countries, all in the interest of
twentieth century has seen the most rapid technological development in human
history. As such, people who were born before powered flight saw men walk on
the moon. Within five decades, medicine has moved from leeches and cupping to
organ transplant. Thus, if the main feature of a god were his power, it might
seem that man was more like a god than ever before. “It is man who with his
inclination to science and technology has travelled to the space. It is this
same man who fits people with new hearts, keeps them alive in machines and even
changes their minds or their sex. Mankind has even gone to the realm of trying
to produce himself artificially (cloning). There is no doubt that man has
benefited much from his own effort of research to gain the potential for
healing the minds and bodies of the sick ones”.
amidst all this, Alexander believes that one of the outstanding characteristics
of this present generation is a U-turn from science. It is no more a hidden
fact that the prospect of technical innovation has now become almost a threat
to humanity. In his book “chance and Necessity”, Jacques Monod spoke of
the apparent frustration, which has brought about the rejection of science and
a resultant shift to religion as the only moral approach.
hope of our filling and ruling the earth is turning sour as it is realized, and
the prospective future seems nightmarish. Another effect of the new human
situation is that our environment, and the forces which shape our lives, become
more and more man-made. Even our basic thoughts about our situation and
ourselves are continuously geared towards anthropocentricism. Looking at those
countries of the world where science and technology already developed, one
notices a total feeling of disillusionment. What can we say is the cause?
obvious reason is that the glorified science and technology with the peripheral
standard of living has not curbed the evil that is rampant in our society.
Alexander, in giving credence to the views of M. L. Smith, avows that
“collectively we are much more like two-year-olds in a petrol store with a box
of matches than we are like gods or even responsible adults”. We really
call it a new world. But how brave is the new world? One can admit the fact
that the acutest social and technical problems facing mankind today come not
from the so-called under-development’ but from ‘over-development’. This is why
the various applications of modern science will continue to constitute mayhem
to peace and human life.
the face of all these, some proponents of science would still hold it as being
neutral. For them, man’s discoveries are neutral, what varies is their application,
which involves moral choice. Such views maintained that “when a man discovered
fire, he could either warm himself with it or go out to burn the surrounding
villages with it. Iron when discovered, could either be used to make
cooking-pots or be beaten into spears for killing people. At the same time,
drugs may be used to heal the sick minds or to break it. Nuclear power as well
may be used to warm a house or set a nation ablaze”
if we should take it in another sense, one can prove it that science is never
neutral. Scientific research is only empirical and cannot be said to be wholly
rational or objective. Every human activity involves value judgment. Since
science is a human activity, it should not be left out. In other words, decisions
have to be made concerning projects that are worth undertaking and hypotheses
must be evaluated as well.
paradox of modern science is such that while it gives man a god-like power, it
also appears to reduce man to a rather confusing animal in a confusing world.
Is man just a mere Heideggerian Dasein who is thrown into existence? Can man be
only a bundle of conditioned reflexes predetermined by his genes, chemistry and
environment? But science as a god seemed to have reduced its (man) worshippers
Obviously, the value of man surpasses whatever
science and technology can offer. Therefore, mechanisms, which underlie the
application of science, should not be completely upheld at the expense of
meaning through which human life excels.