BETTER PHILOSOPHY FINDS FLOOD MITIGATION
Psychology and sociology at first were regarded as unscientific because they lacked the methodology of the physical sciences, which had developed from Descartes philosophy of separate control of mind and body.
Behavioural studies attempted to experiment, control variables, sample reproducibly, be objective, control observation, hide observers, isolate subjects, hypothesise, falsify, blind and double-blind tests. Their investigations tried to omit circumstantial evidence and inference. The investigations were devoid of human value, without meaning of existence, beyond physical and biological processes.
Heidegger tried to replace the Cartesian straightjacket of behavioural research. He allowed any number of human or physical entities or behaviours. His analysis considered intentions and meanings, looking behind scenes for potential present-at-hand, or ready-to-hand, for the analyst to enumerate. His analysis made explicit the purpose of the inquiry, its provenance, trajectory, mood, ambiguities, articulation and projected future.
Heidegger’s philosophy exposed the precepts unstated in Cartesian analysis, nor evident in evolutionary analysis. Heidegger’s approach was post-structural and derivative, like the philosophies of Sartre, Foucault, Derrida, Debord and other post modernists. They looked behind the scenes for what was causing the action.
Phenomenology’s dasein (being there) focusses on values of situations, individuals and behaviours that have potential for the interests of the analyst. Its values are different from the economic values of the marketplace and are unlike the survival values suggested by evolution.
Phenomenology omits, from consideration in dasein, presences of disutility and low potential. Discrimination which omits the young, old, weak, ill, disabled, disaffected or politically divergent, because they cannot be useful, is reprehensible, tantamount to prejudice. Clearly phenomenology should not exclude, from any moral certitude, the interests of people who are disadvantaged. Disadvantaged people have rights and entitlements.
Phenomenology can be used for evil, or for good, or sometimes for both. If phenomenology’s focus is only on the healthy conforming part of dasein, the analyst’s duty to consider the rest of dasein within humanity, for caring, is derelict.
Descartes’ cogito is selective too, but his criterion of value was the observer’s ego. His analyses can neglect disadvantaged people equally, rejecting them from disinterest or prejudice, without obligation to explain. The post-structuralists want selection and bias acknowledged and explained. Heidegger’s bias was more transparent than Descartes’, a limitation.
Heidegger’s bias invites criticism when selection of subjects for their potential would dismiss other types as useless or unworthy of attention. Racial, genealogical and eugenic prejudices could be inferred. Those deemed without potential could object and seek reinstatement. This process is normal in sports and other competitions, but seldom in education. Heidegger’s philosophy can be applied in political, economic and social contexts. Where potential is selected by competition, without equal rights, application of Heidegger’s philosophy can be controversial.
Phenomenology’s gaze was screened, like polaroid sunglasses that cut out the glare, from useless things. The Being acknowledged had value to the proponent, ready-to-hand. The value could be positive or negative, for example being flooded was negative. Dasein was a lived experience of the observer, not as in Descartes’ method, a stylised interaction between an egotistical subject and an unthinking object. This would be screened out. Dasein in my view implies that the lived experience is sustainable and the experience is part of a humane life.
Phenomenology can identify not only potential for improvement but can find shortfalls in provision to be remedied. Being flooded could have the lived experience of dislocation, trauma and even death. It can reveal destruction by the flood of potential for well-being. It can be compared with other hardships for rational allocation of aid to victims and re-evaluation of capital works.
For example, public assistance to victims of cancer, Covid and bushfires can be compared with flooding. Daseins for disaster mitigation projects can have public funding arbitrated.
My coming novel Riverside Being applies phenomenology to control of the Brisbane River.
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