New Metaphysical Foundations of Modern Science

New Metaphysical Foundations of Modern Science

edited by Willis Harman with Jane Clark
Institute of Noetic Sciences, 1994; hardcover.

In a recent article in Shambhala Sun, Willis Harman declared that the key question of our time is one of meaning: What is the central purpose of technologically advanced societies when it no longer makes sense for it to be economic production?

"The seeds of worldwide conflict lie in the enormous and growing disparity between the world's rich and poor peoples." Harman wrote, adding that, "the industrial era paradigm contains no rationale or incentive for more equitable distribution of the earth's resources."

For more than twenty years, Harman has been among the foremost spokesmen for a new metaphysic for modern science. In his new book, New Metaphysical Foundations of Modern Science, Harman collects fourteen essays by various contributors offering perspectives for the nineties on issues previously raised by E. A. Burtt in his seminal book The Metaphysical Foundations of Modern Science seventy years earlier.

In suggesting a need for new ontological and epistemological assumptions underlying modern science, Harman and his colleagues do not suggest any kind of closure on what the new assumptions should be. But they do identify principal categories, including a shift away from a fragmented and mechanical conception of the world toward a holistic and organic conception; a shift away from a concern with objectivity toward a concern with subjectivity, including the role of perception and cognition in the process of scientific inquiry; a deep sense of wholeness, of oneness, of everything being part of a universe; and a sense of the validity of deep intuition as one of the ways in which we contact the greater reality.

Harman says that a "respiritualization of society appears to be taking place, but one more experiential and non-institutionalized, less fundamentalist and sacerdotal, than most of the historically familiar forms of religion."

Contributors to this book include scientists , philosophers, and psychologists, among them aerospace engineer Robert Jahn, biologist George Wald, physicist Arthur Zajonc, anthropologist Charles Laughlin, philosopher Lynn Hankinson Nelson, psychobiologist Roger Sperry, and professor of Indian studies and law Vine Deloria, Jr.


Spring 1996