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The Fantastic and the Logical: Reflections on Science, Politics, and Art The dilemma confronting us at present demands careful and close examination leading (one hopes) to accurate diagnoses of problems, their sources and causes. A tall order, to be sure, and one to which I address myself with some trepidation, hoping more to be able to suggest rather than prescribe ways out of our dilemma. What I want to show is that while we may be (and undoubtedly are) the immediate agents of our own distress, our dilemma has been compounded by the fact that those potentially fatal flaws in our own nature are the result of an incomplete or as yet uncompleted process of evolution and development; that we must include both our flawed and uncompleted nature in our considerations , difficult though that may be; and that we can only hope for amelioration of our distress by ever-increasing acts of self-awareness and, therefore, responsibility . This is true, I believe, even if it turns out that amelioration lies in some remote future where self-transformation has finally achieved a measure of reality-or, at the very worst, that amelioration is ultimately not possible because we lack sufficient self-knowledge and capacity to effect such transformation . I believe it is, in the immediate present at least, possible to begin by tracing out basic errors in preferred thought patterns and basic misreadings of the nature of man himself, particularly as these misreadings relate to the possible limits of his relation to his physical environment, his expectations and uses of consciousness and perception, and his purposes and functions in the cosmic scheme of things. A useful metaphor here is T. S. Kuhn's paradigm in crisis, i.e., the process by which science transforms itself from one state of mind to another, a process which amounts to a revolution or reconstruction of goals and methods. Since we need no less than a revolution in our approach to human existence, it will be helpful to consider Kuhn's notions to see to what extent they can help us measure the nature of our own existential crisis. The transition from a paradigm in crisis to a new one from which a new tradition of normal science can emerge is far from a cumulative process, one achieved by an articulation or extension of the old paradigm. Rather it is a reconstruction of the field from new fundamentals, a reconstruction that changes some of the field's most elementary theoretical general199 200 THE AESTHETICS OF SURVIVAL izations as well as many of its paradigm methods and applications.... When the transition is complete, the profession will have changed its view of the field, its methods, and its goals. (The Structure of Scientific Revolutions [Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1970], pp. 84-85) The reasons for paradigm change which are of primary importance, both in the story Kuhn is telling of how science transforms itself and matures and in my metaphor, are essentially rooted in the concept of anomaly. An anomalous situation arises when "new and unsuspected phenomena" emerge to confront the normal process of research for the scientist, or the normal process of conducting his economic, political, and cultural affairs for man in general. Anomaly, then, emerges in the form of internal contradictions of the governing paradigm, contradictions which build up internal pressure and eventually demand change and transformation. But anomaly is not a bloodless, cerebral matter. It demands its price. For the scientist it creates growing crisis at the heart of his view of science. As Kuhn remarks: The emergence of new theories is generally preceded by a period of pronounced professional insecurity. As one might expect, that insecurity is generated by the persistent failure of the puzzles of normal science to come out as they should. Failure of existing rules is the prelude to a search for new ones. (Pp. 67-68) For man it creates growing crisis in all departments of existence. The anomalies which threaten life itself, and which have grown before our very eyes to gigantic proportions, are well known. We need only think of the energy crisis, the ecological crisis, the economic crisis, or the inner-city crisis to realize how mired in hopeless confusion and potential and real suffering American society is at this very moment, and to recognize that these interrelated crises flow from a paradigm or paradigms which no longer fit the needs of people or contemporary conditions. Kuhn's remark, "failure of existing rules is the...


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