... a disproportionate share of engineers seems to have a mindset that inclines them to entertain the quintessential right-wing features of “monism” – ‘why argue when there is one best solution’..."
How is one to take a statement like that? Here is a defintion of monism:
"Monism is the metaphysical or theological view that all is one, that there are no fundamental divisions, and that a unified set of laws underlie all of nature."
Monism versus dualism/pluralism showed up in discussions of mind versus matter, consciousness versus brain, material versus spirit. And there are a number of other definitions and meanings but mostly arising out of religions (Pantheistic, the Abrahamic faiths, Hinduism, Buddhism, etc. - you know, "God is all and all is God" sort of thing.)
Notice how none of that fits with "quintessential right-wing features of 'monism.'"
I'm not fully up to date on all of the tiny details of the various left-wing, academic, perseverations about the right-wing. Marotta will have to bring us up to date on what the quinttessential right-wing features of monism are.
We know that those of us, like Ayn Rand, look quickly to the context as we attempt to grasp the meaning of a statement. Just as we know that an engineer would look at the design of bridge within the context of material properties, expected stresses, the normal laws of physics, chemistry, metallurgy, and so forth. Is that a 'monistic' context? Is that seen as an example of "quintessential right-wing features of “monism”? What would a 'dualistic' approach be? Are there 'quintessential left-wing features of monism... or of dualism'?
Next Marotta gives us a quick philosophical tour of the history of uncertainty: "Immanuel Kant ... hallmarked as ... the beginning of the age of doubt. ...[that] new truths eclipse previous beliefs ... [is] offered as proof that nothing can be certain. The academic purveyors of doubt moved us from workable knowledge to paralyzing ignorance. That skepticism goes back 2500 years to the ancient Greeks. They began rightly questioning the assumptions of their social context but could not stop, quickly doubting even the possibility of knowledge."
And then he says, "So, it is cogent that Ayn Rand admitted proudly to 'questioning the cultural tradition of 2500 years.'" Well, what is he saying here? That Rand should not have been so bold, that she shouldn't have exhibited such certainty? Or is he saying that she swept away those old philosophical doubts of man's ability to acquire workable knowledge - rightly declaring that the philosophers of the past that he mentioned were wrong?
If it is that latter intention, then why mention them in this context where he is damning engineers for their 'monistic' insistence on finding one best solution?
If it is the former, than this is a very convoluted way to attack Rand's epistemology. (Which is what I suspect that he, or his subconcious, is trying to do - to say that we can't be certain of anything.)
(Try to keep this whole thing in context... if that's possible. It started as an assertion that engineers are more likely to become terrorists than other professions - according to this study he likes. And then he goes from there to a kind of attack on aspects of Rand's epistemology, and as you'll see in the following paragraphs, an attack on Objectivism as being much too prone to being held as a fanatic, fundamentalist religion. I'm thinking of it as a cross between a philosophical mystery and stream of consciousness.)
The fact remains that without a penetrating investigation of principles and essentials, Ayn Rand's Objectivism too easily appears to give full evidence of the same fanaticism as fundamentalist religion: assurance of knowledge; and a desire to have everyone else in the world conform to that. It is clearly documented these past 50+ years that this allows Objectivism to serve the purpose of religion for many followers, adherents, and admirers.
We all know that there are True Believers of the Eric Hoffer stripe that arise out of any handy ideology - particularly if it is on the fringe of the culture of those individuals. It is a psychological occurrence where a need is met by adopting some ideology like a kind of neurotic shield and sword. We also know that there are fewer such believers to be found in Objectivism than other ideologies if for no other reason than it is so explicitly based upon reason and so explicitly set against faith. When Marotta trots out the allegations of "clearly documented ...50+ years [of the use of] Objectivism to serve the purpose of religion for many followers, adherents, and admirers" I don't buy it. I think that Marotta has a desire to stay attached to floating abstractions, and loose thinking, and if others point out the failures of logic, then they are being Objectivist fanatics, or right-wingers, and can only see things 'monistically' - unlike his ability to see all the nuances, subtleties, and 'dualities' less gifted people are blind to.
Marotta lists "assurance of knowledge and a desire to have everyone else in the world conform to that" as his key characteristics of fanatic fundamentalist religion. Hey, I want everyone in the world to understand and achieve higher levels of self-esteem - which I'm assured would be good for all, but that isn't a fanatic fundamentalist religious belief.
And again, how does "right-wing" get into this? When writing and thinking is as fuzzy as this one has a hard time worrying out meanings. We all know of those who cling to a "best" solution in the absence of confidence, because they feel insecure and try to make up for it with false confidence. But I think that the heart of the statement Marotta quoted is to condemn those who bring any certainty to the solution their mind finds. And it attaches a negative connotation to certainty and to engineers. Certainty can be a product of good engineering practices.
I think this is psychology not politics, not philosophy, and not sociology. I suspect that it was all born as a kind of subconsious attack by those who revel in using their minds to feel superior to those who they see as mundane intellectual plodders stuck in a world where they only see logical connections for evidenced reality, unlike themselves who are able to float about on unteathered abstractions where they make up reality out of clever words.
Edit Note: It appears that Marotta deleted the post I was replying to. It wasn't a duplicate (as you can see from my quotes). Oh well, I had fun writing this.
(Edited by Steve Wolfer on 7/17, 9:37pm)