Blish & Spengler On The End Science

Blish & Spengler On The End Science

The National Association of Scholars is hosting a webinar this Friday, 3 PM EST: Is Science Broken? featuring Yours Truly. Free, but you have to register.

We were introduced to James Blish (writing as William Atheling Jr) by a friend of ours, Johann Kurtz. In particular, Blish’s article “Probapossible prolegomena to ideareal history” (scihub link) concerning why there will never be a science fiction masterpiece.

His (1979) argument was, more or less, that we are as Spengler said, in the Winter of Western civilization. So not only will there be no science fiction masterpiece, there will no more masterpieces period, including scientific ones. What’s nice about Blish’s argument is his dense, compact summary of Spengler. Please do read the article for precise definitions of culture etc. if you are not already familiar with Spengler’s usage.

Blish says the era in which we begin to fade away will be characterized by these general trends:

In such a period, politics becomes an arena of competing generals and plutocrats, under a dummy ruler chosen for low intelligence and complete moral plasticity, who amuses himself and keeps the masses distracted from their troubles with bread, circuses, and brushfire wars. (This is the time of all times when a culture should unite–and the time when such a thing has become impossible.)

I trust this needs no fleshing out.

Blish continues:

Technology flourishes (the late Romans were first-class engineers) but science disintegrates into a welter of competing, grandiosely trivial hypotheses which supersede each other almost weekly and veer more and more markedly toward the occult.

Among the masses there arises a ‘second religiousness’ in which nobody actually believes; an attempt is made to buttress this by syncretism, the wrenching out of context of religious forms from other cultures, such as the Indian, without the faintest hope of knowing what they mean. This process, leads inevitably toward a revival of the occult, and here science and religion overlap, to the benefit of neither.

Economic inequity, instability and wretchedness become endemic on a hitherto unprecedented scale; the highest buildings ever erected by the Classical culture were the tenements of the imperial Roman slums, crammed to bursting point with freed and runaway slaves, bankrupts, and deposed petty kings and other political refugees. The group name we give all this, being linearists by nature, is Progress.

Well, and so it all is.

I have seen (but cannot now rediscover) somebody claim that the very nature of science’s Publish or Perish guarantees and increasing stream of nonsense. Just think how many papers say “Our novel approach…”

Our engineering innovations are mainly soft and in code, but they are many, plain, and continuing. Take the platform on which you are reading these fine words. “AI” is included here: fake pictures improve apace, and AI’s uses soar, including, alas, clever propaganda. This is all fine engineering, but not science.

Large buildings? We hear talk of “fifteen minute” cities, into which bugman by the billions will be herded and stopped from travelling too far, lest they abuse their “carbon footprint.” Bugmen will be fed bug rations delivered pre-cooked. More engineering! Perhaps when they reach Social Credit Level 80 on their instructional soft pornographic punch-a-transphobic-Nazi video games they will be awarded a portion of real meat.

The religious impulse cannot be eradicated. Though transcendent Christianity, to large extent, can. Its replacement religions of LGBTQWERTY++ and “climate change” are obvious, and even to large extent the same, reaching full unity in “ecosexuals“, people who, in their spiritual goal of becoming One With Nature, masturbate into holes in trees. I do not jest. If you’re walking in the woods and hear shouts of “Syncretism me, baby!”, get out.

Perhaps the only item which might seem odd is Blish’s prediction about the growing occult nature of science. But that quickly becomes obvious when you say “Some women have penises” or “multiverse”. Or, the mother of them all, “Denier!”

Occult means hidden, after all, beyond its association with magic. What’s hidden is cause. Spengler’s observation was that Faustian (i.e. Western) man’s was abandoning of form and (ultimate) cause in science and replacing by such horrors as probability and statistics. Boy, howdy, was he right about that. He saw what was coming a Century ago when “statistics” was only a bare nascent “field.”

Cause is, indeed, in trouble. What is that causes a man to turn into a woman? No one says. No one can say. No one dares look.

“My mask protects you.” What else could masks be but black magic?

What causes, in the Many Worlds kind of multiverse, each new universe in the many worlds to get each measurement? No one says. No one is even curious. The problem is swept away and assigned the name of “probability,” as Spengler predicted.

Do notice that neither Blish nor Spengler claims there will be no new science. Both, if alive, would say its best days are over, the intellectual civilization’s ideas milked dry. Science, they would say, isn’t coming back (as has been noticed). Spengler in particular says not in our lifetime. Is he right?

This brief review will not be satisfying or convince, so we will return to Spengler and science soon.

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  1. Hagfish Bagpipe

    ”…we are as Spengler said, in the Winter of Western civilization.”

    Winter, too, has its charms. And after Winter… Spring!

  2. I do worry about the children though. Not all this child trafficking stuff we’re all meant to be outraged about at the moment, I mean all the adolescents and young adults who idolize Elon Musk. That think humans are going to colonize Mars and that they’ll live forever thanks to improvements in medical technology like mRNA “vaccines” that can cure cancer. What will they feel when they’re in their dotage and look back at their foolish younger selves who drank the Kool-aid, having sacrified the life they could have lived as a human being for the fantasies swirling in the black mirror of their smartphone screen. If they survive the vax induced cardiovascular events that is. I blame the parents.

  3. Hagfish Bagpipe

    “Spengler” would make a dandy dog’s name. Or a parrot’s — Rawwk! We are Doomed! Rawwk!

  4. Marianne

    This is sad on two levels at least. I’m forced to consider that if I am living at this particular time in history for a specific reason, then it is merely to observe and possibly (probably) contribute to the destruction and then to wonder and pray that my children and grandchildren can survive with their very souls intact. Regardless of the times, that is the ultimate test and goal. God help us all to see the truth in that.

  5. John B()


    Chauncey Gardner couldn’t have said it better

  6. emilio gonzales

    When they finally admit space is fake, earth is flat, heaven truly is up and hell down, the stars are smaller than earth and the sun is not a star and even it is smaller than earth, then we can have real science again. Science that contradicts the Bible is just monkeys flinging poo at God, and only those who believe in its Satanic lies are monkeys because none of the rest of us came from monkeys.

  7. Civilizations (and cultures) progress by not using (offering) the known (familiar) anymore; it doesn’t matter that the previous was invented only last night at the aperitif on the terrace, etc. Examples: Walkman, Herald, camps for women and children of hunters. Every prediction of this development is connected with knowledge of the previous — not with anything in the future.

  8. Gunther Heinz

    Spengler is the original “angry old man waiting for his bowl of soup” mentioned in that Seinfeld episode where George saves the whale …

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