Science always returns to philosophy

RESEARCH

Rainer Enskat gives the power of judgment back its meaning - with recourse to Rousseau

 

The Socratic beginnings of the Enlightenment, despite their continuation by Plato, were unable to bring a stable and fruitful tradition into being in favor of these efforts. People's need for enlightenment is constantly looking for food to justify the hope that efforts to enlightenment can be made accessible to a fruitful and methodically controlled discipline - a hope that has been effectively spurred on by scientific enthusiasm. "People are unhappy because they fail to understand nature," wrote d’Holbach. This misfortune has been sought to reduce with the help of scientific research since the initiatory scientific impulses from Diderot and d'Alembert's Encyclopédie. Due to a profound change in shape in the course of the industrial revolution, these efforts have led to a permanent technical revolution in our practical world as well as to an institutional, economic and personal favoring of engineering transformations of research results from physics, chemistry and biology. The scientistic model of enlightenment, however, is not called into question in such a noticeable way as by the practical ambivalences that people get when they try to implement this model as energetically, one-sidedly and purposefully as its inherent potential for enlightenment would justify.

 

The Halle philosopher Rainer Enskat shows in his book

 

Enskat, Rainer: Conditions of the Enlightenment. Philosophical inquiries into a task of judgment. 687 S., Ln., € 69.—, 2008, Velbrück, Weilerswist

 

the birth defects of this scientistic model of education. They have their origin in the blindness with which this model is beaten in its foundations. The scientistic models of enlightenment suffer from a common birth defect: they trust scientific research methods, hypotheses and results to discoveries which, for fundamental reasons, can neither be achieved nor intended in this context - practical insights into what happens in a concrete historical situation legal, utilitarian, political or moral reasons to do or not to do right and important is and what is not.

 

Anyone who introduces an intervention technique into the practical world of life and uses it here in order to bring about useful or even charitable changes in state must already have a good measure of practical prudence, caution and consideration with regard to the practical weighting of the conditional circumstances, of which the causal and thus the practical scope of the respective intervention technique also depends. For Enskat, circumspection, caution and consideration are the three cardinal cognitive virtues of a competence that goes by the old name of judgment.

 

Can the social sciences be trusted to have a competence for enlightenment under these conditions? After all, hardly a generation has passed since the social sciences began to play the leading role of the Enlightenment, because certain methods and results of their work were believed to have an emancipatory function. For Enskat it is no coincidence that the most important sociological contributions on this topic are now based on the pattern of medical diagnosis. But the social science statements that are actually considered for diagnoses have to do without the most important functional element, which they would also stamp practical diagnoses in analogy to medical diagnoses: normative-practical terms. It therefore throws a revealing light on the emancipatory model of the enlightenment of the social sciences that the power of judgment only appears occasionally and in a fleeting and marginal role - the practical power of judgment does not appear at all. For Enskat, the lack of a corresponding conception of practical judgment proves to be the decisive handicap on the way to a well-founded conception of the Enlightenment. Because the cognitive touchstone of all enlightenment is the accuracy and sustainability of practical assessments and diagnoses. Only through them can an individual person see through and grasp in the now and here of their individual situation all practically relevant circumstances and the need for action provoked by them in such a way that they do justice to this situation in terms of utility as well as legality, morality or politics can. In the classical language of the 18th century, this goal of the Enlightenment is called maturity.

 

There are changing scientific groups that have so far been believed to be suitable for a leading role in the Enlightenment.

At the moment there is a growing tendency in ever larger circles to suggest this guiding function to the life sciences. It is true that every model of enlightenment reacts to a concrete historical situation. It draws attention to the fact that the historical situation to which it reacts necessitates a revision of judgments in two respects: a revision of what is worth knowing and a revision of what is practically important. Under these conditions, every science seems to be a potential science of enlightenment. Because every science can get into a historical situation in which people, for practical reasons, are dependent on having knowledge that can only be developed by this very specific science. But even in such a situation, even in the best case scenario, a science does not go beyond a vicarious agent, as it is opened up to it above all by the advisory function. But whether a science is trusted to develop something worth knowing depends on people's judgments about what is practically important, necessary or useful in a specific historical individual situation of their life and thus also what is worth knowing and what is not. Even the most sophisticated science cannot do away with these practical assessments. On the contrary: they in particular have the most pronounced awareness that they, together with the authorities seeking advice, are dependent on criteria of what is worth knowing. For Enskat, enlightenment includes the relentless endeavor to clarify the criteria with the help of which one can assess in a controllable manner what is worth knowing and what is not for practical reasons. Enlightenment is therefore at all times in spite of Science needed.

 

The most profound witness and diagnostician of the creeping revolution that a scientist model of enlightenment went through from the beginning was Rousseau. At the end of the same decade that began with the Encyclopédie begins to appear, he shares his ironic diagnosis: In the midst of as much light as the enlightenment through science is spreading, we are struck with blindness. In Rousseau's considerations, the practical relevance of scientific information that circulates in public is exclusively linked to its practical usefulness. The educational relevance of information therefore does not depend on whether it has been developed by science, but on whether it is practically relevant. Enskat agrees with Rousseau that any educational model that neglects the chronic practical need for human education must admit its own inadequacy. The science-based enlightenment model is the prototype of such an enlightenment model. In the shadow of this model, Rousseau therefore worries about the impending atrophy of practical and political judgment. He is therefore gradually creating a model of a mature judgment capable of accurately assessing what science as a whole is worth, what is useful to know, what is important to know, and what is worthy of research, as well as one in acquiring one such judgment-oriented didactics. The political judgment matures z. B. only to the extent that it learns to adapt the normative aspects, criteria and rules that are appropriate to the structure of a republican polity in a highly differentiated manner to the different and changing situations of the citizens. Rousseau identifies three different types of risks that one must be prepared for in the shadow of a rigorously practiced scientistic model of education:

 

¢ The assessment competence of the vast majority of citizens remains chronically helpless behind the level of assessment problems that give up scientific and technical information.

 

¢ With the complexity of scientific work, not only does the complexity of its truthfulness grow, but also that of its susceptibility to errors. A politically institutionalized enlightenment through science spreads through the unrestricted social proliferation of information about research results inevitably more and more risks of error in a society that is no less helplessly exposed to these risks of error than to the findings of scientific work.

 

¢ The practical and political power of judgment of all citizens is neglected at the price of their regression to the extent that they seek to acquire their clarification through the acquisition of scientific and technical information.

 

By definition, the cognitive competence of the layperson lacks the methodological, technical and theoretical authenticity core of expert competence. For this reason alone, even the most informed layman remains chronically separated from the know-how of the expert by an impenetrable "veil of ignorance". He understands neither the methods and the techniques with which one can bring about the discoveries and the other knowledge about which he is to be enlightened, nor does he understand the methods and the techniques of justification with the help of which such Sentences documenting discoveries and findings are to be incorporated into the system of already proven scientific sentences. In the shadow of the encyclopedic model of reconnaissance, even the most informed layperson is chronically dependent on a competent guide who can show him the ways, techniques and methods with the help of which one can find a truth that has already been discovered at any time.

 

Kant processed Rousseau's diagnoses and warnings under other aspects. He convincingly draws attention to the fact that a scientific method of investigation which leads to error also does so in practice. The more varied, careful and thorough the trials of such methods are, the more legitimately one can rely on their potential for success in practice. Such tests are therefore all the more important, the more urgent it is to reduce the risk of practical failures. According to Enskat, Kant supplements Rousseau's more rigid, more product-oriented utilitarianism of scientific research results in favor of a more far-sighted utilitarianism of risk prophylaxis through continuous tests of truth-finding techniques and methods of scientific research. At the same time, Kant's comparatively liberal methodological utilitarianism of science is still a fruit of his examination of the teachings - perhaps better: conversions - that he gained through his study of Rousseau Emile has learned: Rousseau woke Kant from his scientistic slumber.

 

For Enskat, through the rediscovery of the power of judgment in dealing with the encyclopedic model of enlightenment, Rousseau gained an insight, the scope of which can hardly be overestimated. And no one else has warned as urgently as Rousseau of the risks of cognitively overwhelming citizens through the communicative confrontation with information about scientific work. Rousseau has pointed out that a truly encyclopedic Enlightenment through science fails because of the statistical distribution of talent in a society and that one is true scientific Education of laypeople fails because of the impossibility of transferring the personal, methodological-technical-theoretical know-how of a scientific expert to other people through information media.

 

In any case, the audience deals in its own way with the practical blindness of the scientistic model of enlightenment: it is simply compensated for. Every addressee of scientific information asks spontaneously in the light of their own level of education and in the light of their own wishes, worries, hopes and fears, in short: in the light of their own life situation and their own experience, about the technical fertility and the practical relevance and scope, which bring the scientific information received by him for him. But at the same time they overwhelm the epistemic judgment of every layperson, even at a comparatively modest level of complications.

 

Rousseau has shown that the power of judgment is the only cognitive authority that could make the apparently so clear-cut, categorical gap between the authentic and second-hand knowledgeable, between people in need of enlightenment and enlightened people completely disappear, if all people both in their epistemic as well as their practical form with the same level of maturity. If the scientist model of enlightenment does not want to surrender itself in the face of this cognitive utopia, then only the path is open to it, which Diderot pointed out early on with a pointed hint: it must overcome the need of its practical blindness through the virtue of the "enlightened art" of able researcher, scholar and scientist with whom it is possible to differentiate between truth and falsehood, truth and probability, probability and unbelievable as well as certainty and doubtfulness in the increasingly demanding research fields with enlightened epistemic judgment. In return, it is concern about the endangered efficiency of practical and political judgment that worries Rousseau in his historical situation.

 

The program of an enlightenment of the power of judgment personalizes the possibilities and the tasks of the enlightenment to an unsurpassable degree. Because the aim is not only to optimize the accuracy with which the individual person judges what is useful or useless, good or bad and worth knowing or not in individual situations. In the same context, the accuracy of the judgment should be optimized even with a view to the task of assessing the format of one's own need for clarification in such situations. The power of judgment of the individual person turns out to be both the most important medium and the most important instance of enlightenment. With all of this, there is no other way to train judgment than through its incessant and immediate confrontation with the cognitive and practical challenges posed by the ever-changing situations of human life.

 

Kant made Rousseau's rediscovery of judgment his own once and for all and made it fruitful in two directions. On the one hand, the power of judgment for him is “a special talent ...: a natural gift to make preliminary judgments ... where the truth would like to be found ”. "What does it depend on? (asks the power of judgment) ”, and Kant explains this characteristic by identifying the power of judgment with the“ talent of choosing what is right in a certain case ”: Whoever is gifted with this talent“ knows…. to hit the crux of the matter (because there is only one) that matters ”. On the other hand, Kant constantly endeavors to systematically elaborate the scope of Rousseau's rediscovery of the power of judgment. In particular, he takes seriously the borderline problem formulated by Rousseau, up to which point I can rely on the power of judgment - the problem of the origin of the “critical business”, the problem with the publication of a Criticism of theJudgment Finds its inner and outer conclusion: only to the extent that the power of judgment benefits from a hidden critical “art in the depths of the human soul” does the chance of it arrive at enlightened epistemic, practical and aesthetic assessments of what it is about increases Now and here a situation matters