Philosophy for an `age of death': The critique of science and technology in Heidegger and Nishitani

By Steven Heine
Philosophy East & West, volume 40
no.2 (April 1990)
(c) by University of Hawaii Press

p. 175 I. THE QUESTION OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY A. Convergence or Criticism? Responding to what Tanabe Hajime has called the current "age of death, "(1) Martin Heidegger and Nishitani Keiji present an ontological critique of the origins and deficiencies of science and technology. They analyze and attempt to overcome the apparent global hegemony and potentially catastrophic destructiveness of the scientific era. Heidegger and Nishitani charge that science and technology represent a derivative or objectifying development of primordial truth that partially expresses yet inevitably conceals its source. Both thinkers insist that modern science be transformed or appropriately recovered by the disclosure of an ontology. that is nonsubstantive and nonobjectifiable in revealing holistic, contextual events consisting of interrelated, functional components rather than particularized, independent entities. The ontology must also be nonconceptualizable and nondifferentiable by encompassing the conventional oppositions of man and nature, subject and object, and life and death. In an examination and evaluation of the philosophical criticism of science and technology offered by Heidegger and Nishitani, it is helpful to situate their views in relation to the convergence or parallelist thesis, which represents a radically different approach to the dialogue between science and philosophy or religious thought. The parallelist standpoint argues that there is a profound and fundamental convergence of seemingly disparate fields of science and religion. Many of the conceptual developments of twentieth-century science have replaced the conventional mechanistic and materialistic Newtonian-Cartesian model with a dynamic and holistic understanding of reality. These new approaches include the Bohr-Heisenberg quantum physics principles of complementarity and uncertainty; Bell's theorem of instantaneous change in widely separated systems; Prigogine's theory of dissipative structures; the Bohm-Pribham postulation of a holographic macro/microcosm; Lovelock's Gaia hypothesis; and the "butterfly effect" in the science of Chaos. Furthermore, recent interpretations of scientific methodology, such as the uncertainty principle, Godel's theorem of incomplete systems, Kuhn's analysis of paradigm shifts, and Polanyi's emphasis on the personal role of the knower in science, stress the essential function of consciousness in scientific investigations. The combined impact of these conceptual and methodological developments, according to the convergence view, is to overcome many of the traditional barriers concerning subjectivity and objectivity that have separated p. 176 science and religion. Previously, science was seen as striving for objective, universal, and predictable knowledge independent of the subject, while the goal of religion was considered subjective, personal, and variable experience unbound by objectivity. The convergence thesis, however, argues that science necessarily contains a subjective component. That is reflected in what John Wheeler calls "the participatory universe"(2) or the notion that reality is not something external, "out there,'' but an underlying unity simultaneously involving observer and observed, and mind and matter. Because of such a breakthrough, the structure and function of consciousness as much as of the material world can be examined with reference to the principles of quantum physics.(3) The convergence theorists find significant resonances and parallels between the holistic paradigm of the participatory universe (and other models) and the doctrines of traditional mysticism and Eastern thought as well as contemporary process theology and phenomenology. Renee Weber, for example, argues that the paradigm shift in modern physics is radical and paradoxical in that "the more nearly physics approaches the twenty-first century, the closer it seems to get to the cosmology of the remote past. Thus, the scientific discoveries of our own time are moving us toward ideas indistinguishable from those held by the sages and seers of India and Greece."(4) In a similar vein, Karl Pribham asserts that the new approaches of science (holography in particular): ... represent the first instance since the time of Galileo that a scientific discovery, in and of itself, has led to a closer relationship with man's spiritual nature. In the past, science has been seen as something entirely separate from the spiritual nature of man, which has been taken care of by the esoteric traditions--of religion, not science. Now, with a paradigm shift in our understanding, scientists are face-to-face with the same traditions that have motivated the peoples of the East and have influenced Western philosophy as well."(5) In marked contrast to the convergence view stands the ontological critique by Heidegger and Nishitani. The problems generated by scientific investigation and technological application cannot be separated for either thinker from the issues of nihilism and subjectivity in relation to temporality and nothingness as keys to understanding the inauthenticity of modern times. Yet the question of how science has arisen so recently in the history of civilization, but spread so rapidly and irresistibly to engulf the entire world, seems to have a special significance and hermeneutic priority for several reasons. First, science is an overriding philosophical issue in that it is considered not merely one factor, but the central problematic of the current era. Heidegger and Nishitani seem to agree with the latter's Kyoto-school senior colleague, Tanabe, who maintains that society now endures "an age of death" due to some of the devastating effects of technological advances. p. 177 In an age of death, according to Tanabe, dying is no longer just the unavoidable and imminent possibility of the impossibility of the self, but rather the constant and all-pervasive threat of self-created destruction.(6) Thus, the very fabric and structure of existence appears altered whereby death is not an inherent part of the process and growth of living beings, but an unregulated man-made intervention which may deplete or destroy the forms of life. As Jonathan Schell observes, "Seen as a planetary event, the rising tide of human mastery over nature has brought a categorical increase in the power of death on earth."(7) In such a light, Heidegger identifies technology as the essential and decisive factor underlying all other dilemmas and conflicts. It constitutes a profound and "supreme danger." he says, in these "needy times" to which "everywhere we remain unfree and chained...whether we passionately affirm or deny it."(8) Nishitani stresses that because science has "painted the true portrait of the world as a desert uninhabitable by living beings" by its affirming lifeless matter or death. "the problem of religion [which affirms life] and science is the most fundamental problem facing contemporary man."(9) Conversely, science for Heidegger and Nishitani is a potentially self-surpassing issue. Both thinkers suggest that the ideological encounter with science as the extreme limit of manipulative and distorted ontology may paradoxically lead, through a radical reversal based on meditative thought, to the recovery of a genuine and regenerating experiential philosophy surpassing the deficiencies of metaphysics. Technology challenges us to overcome it by rediscovering the very primordial ground it veils. As Heidegger suggests, it is precisely within the danger of technology that the possibility of a "saving grace" emerges out of a new disclosure of Being. Nishitani argues that the conflict between the approaches of life (religion) and death (science) points to the need for the experience of the Zen realization of absolute nothingness (or what Zen tradition calls the "Great Death" of self-abandonment) beyond these oppositions. B. Philosophy for an `Age of Death' Science for Heidegger and Nishitani is thus an eminently concrete and actual concern, a factual as well as factical or ontological matter that demands the vigilant attentiveness of thought to confront its paramount challenge. Like Tanabe, who cites the threat of nuclear holocaust as the inspiration for his "philosophy of death," Heidegger and Nishitani seem to be responding to a variety of environmental and social dilemmas caused by technology. Both thinkers, however, insist that they do not attempt to offer conventional spiritual, moral, or ecological remedies for specific issues. Rather, they focus almost exclusively on the question of uncovering the ontological foundations of the seemingly limitless destructive capacity of technology which is manifested in innumerable particular problems. p. 178 It is, therefore, only on the basis of genuine factical disclosure that the factual problems can be understood, analyzed, and resolved. Heidegger emphasizes that "the essence of technology is by no means anything technological. Thus we shall never experience our relationship to the essence of technology so long as we merely conceive and push forward the technological, put up with it, or evade it."(10) Nishitani makes almost the identical assertion in regard to science: "The essence of science is not `scientific.' The essence of science is something to be brought into question in the same realm where the essence of man becomes a question to man himself."(11) Thus the question of science and technology can only be resolved through a disclosure of the nonsubstantive essence of reality. Similarly, both thinkers maintain that although the power and conflicts generated by technology have surfaced only in recent times, they are not "modern" in a chronological or linear, historical perspective. The roots of science and technology are deeply embedded within the origins of the Western metaphysical and theological traditions. The very way that Western thought has been founded and developed on the basis of substantive and objectifying ontology has inevitably and unavoidably led to the technolo gical domination and exploitation of the world. Overcoming technology thus requires what Heidegger calls the "step back" to the long-concealed source of modern conflicts. The currently perceived consequences are resolved by working through the presuppositions that lie hidden within the ontological framework of the problem. In many ways, the approaches of Heidegger and Nishitani are overlapping. Both thinkers, for example, identify Nietzsche's analysis of the various shades of nihilism as the critical philosophical turn which, in trying to point beyond the entanglements of the Western tradition, reveals its problematic roots. Their views are also somewhat complementary. Heidegger's leading question is the meaning of Being itself and its unfolding destiny. In that regard, he makes an important hermeneutic distinction between science and technology. Although Heidegger often uses the terms interchangeably, he argues that technology understood in the early Greek sense of techne is not an actual consequence of science, as conventionally assumed, but ontologically precedes and gives rise to science as a particular mode of the revealing of Being which simultaneously conceals this source.(12) Nishitani's primary question is, "What is Religion?" (the title of his major work), (13) which he attempts to clarify by contrasting the teleological world view of traditional religion with the mechanistic one of science. Thus, Heidegger's method is predominantly phenomenological in relation to ontology, by focusing on the process of the revealing/concealing of Being. Nishitani's concern is existential, in viewing science as springing from a particular mode of human intentionality implicit in the Christian view of subjectivity. Yet, the standpoints of Heidegger and Nishitani are also in conflict. Nishi- p. 179 tani claims to have achieved from the Zen perspective a more thoroughgoing and comprehensive resolution of the question of science and technology that Heidegger, by his own admission, has left unclear and unanswerable. Both thinkers maintain that the problem must be solved from within its Western source. Nishitani proposes to introduce Zen Buddhism not as an outsider's perspective. but as the paradigmatic and quintessential philosophical/religious view of the ontological structure and existential fulfillmen t of human existence. Because Heidegger and Nishitani apparently influenced one another, this comparison is an unusual example of East-West thought unbound by some of the typical historical and intentional gaps that often separate representative thinkers. Yet it is because of their personal and ideological affinity that the views of Heidegger and Nishitani should be evaluated not in isolation, but in the context of an encounter with the theorists of the convergence view, whose claims seem to represent a significant philosophical response and challenge. Despite their discussions of science, Heidegger and Nishitani do not deal directly with the conceptual developments of modern physics, which, according to the convergence theorists, do express the kind of nonsubstantive and nonobjectifying holistic ontology that Heidegger and Nishitani espouse. Aside from a few pointed references by Heidegger to the writings of Max Planck and Werner Heisenberg, neither thinker confronts the paradigms of science beyond the long-surpassed Newtonian mechanics. Should the con vergence view prove accurate, the ontological critique of science by Heidegger and Nishitani would be undermined, if not altogether refuted. On the other hand, their criticism of the arising and effects of technology may constitute a vital corrective to some of the apparently naive assertions of the convergence theorists. This article will first reconstruct and compare the approaches of Heidegger and Nishitani to what Tanabe has called the "age of death,'' and then evaluate their critique in light of the convergence view with regard to the relation between subjectivity and objectivity in science and philosophy of religion. The concluding section will offer some suggestions for developing an "ethics of uncertainty" on the basis of this comparison. II. THE CRITIQUE BY HEIDEGGER AND NISHITANI A. Heidegger's Analysis of Technology and Being The aim of Heidegger's analysis of the origin of technology is to show how the scientific objectification and manipulation of entities in-the-world takes place on the primordially nonsubstantive and nonconceptualizable domain of Being. Originally, Heidegger argues in Being and Time, the world is not an object to be met and used, but the nonobjectifiable and nondifferentiated transcendental condition for the interaction of man and things. "Transcendence does not consist in objectifying," he writes, "but is presupposed by it."(14) The fundamentally unbifurcated state of Being-in-the-world is initially p. 180 breached, however. by the circumspective concern of Dasein's involvement with equipment, which is based on a specific kind of forgetting the self for the sake of manipulating something. Therefore. the decisive factor in the historical development of physics is neither the observation of facts nor the application of mathematical principles in determining natural processes, but "the way in which Nature herself is mathematically projected."(15) Although Heidegger's approach in Being and Time is somewhat neutral and descriptive, he at least raises the implication that science tends to overshadow the transcendence from which it arises, and thus veils the true meaning of Being through a fixation with beings that are present-at-hand. In his later writings, including the essays included in The Question Concerning Technology, Heidegger's criticism of science becomes more direct and forceful. Yet he now maintains that the "prior project" of man's understanding of nature is not based on human intentionality or willfulness, but derives from a particular historical mode of the revelatory interaction of Being and man resulting in an untruth that conceals but remains a part of truth. Thus, Heidegger rejects an instrumental view of technology as a humanly created means to achieving a certain end. The origin and essence of technology, he argues. lies in certain deeply rooted tendencies of the Western metaphysical tradition which have been completed and fulfilled in modern times by a representational thinking that causes what he terms the network of Enframing (Gestell). Enframing sets up and challenges nature to yield a kind of energy that can be stored and transmitted separately from its source. Although technology has reached this culminative form just recently, it is the outcome of the initial fateful decision concerning the Greek view of techne which determined the course of the onto-theological tradition. In its initial usage, techne signified knowledge, not as the accumulation of information through observation, but the active accomplishment or manifesting realization that brings forth the illuminative power (physis) of an entity.(16) The genuine meaning of techne is closer to art (fine art and handicraft as well as philosophical reflection) than science or technology because it neither passively investigates nor deliberately disrupts beings. but allows them to reside nonobjectively in their true nonsubstantive attunement to Being. At an early stage in Greek thought, according to Heidegger's interpretation, the original meaning of techne was transmuted to the sense of an opposition to the world order (dike) that seeks to master and eventually control and dominate it. This first turn at the dawn of thinking inevitably led to the modern development of Cartesian subjectivity and Nietzschean nihilism characterized by representational thinking that holds up (or re-presents) the world as an image before oneself conceived as the subject in opposition to the object. Representational thinking is two times separated from genuine illumination. Its inevitable consequence is Enframing, which sees nature only as a reservoir of energy at man's disposal. p. 181 Heidegger illustrates the difference between techne and Enframing by contrasting the traditional windmill or waterwheel and the modern hydroelectric plant.(17) Although each seeks to harness the energy of nature to serve human ends, the former remain dependent on and illuminative of nature much as a work of art. The wheel transfers the natural motion of the river. Each wheel is designed in a way uniquely suited to the particular site, allowing the ground and water to remain part of an unsullied landscape The power plant, illustrating Enframing, unlocks and stores up physical energies transformed from the river that are then deposited in another location unrelated to the source. All such plants are built with a uniformity that may be harmful to the natural supply, reflecting a fixation with preserving the quantity of released material rather than a concern for the quality of human participation in nature. Thus, Heidegger suggests that the devastating power of atomic weaponry only brings to light what has already happened since the onset of representational thinking: the destruction of the essential nature of thinghood.(18) Since technology as Enframing is not the result of man's will, one can neither simply wish it away nor escape from it. The era of Enframing must be painfully endured as a fateful domain that may subside on its own, just as one gets over pain and grief. Heidegger indicates that the only possible relief from the danger is to leave oneself open--through meditative thinking, or poetic releasem ent (Gelassenheit) to the primordial call of Being--to respond to a more fruitful and authentic disclosure that will restore the original aesthetic and nonsubstantive meaning of techne. Because any indication of the form the revelation will take or of the way to prepare for it lies within concealment, man must be resigned to a spontaneous anticipating of its advent in a resolute though subdued manner. B. Nishitani's Analysis of Science and Religion Nishitani seeks to discover the essential nature of religion by establishing a philosophical encounter between the teleological view of traditional religion and the mechanistic view of science. This project is undertaken in light of the ontologically nonobjectifiable and epistemologically nonconceptualizable "groundless ground" of the Zen experience of absolute nothingness.(19) Nishitani argues that of all thought systems in the world Zen constitutes a self-surpassing or excelsior (kojo) religio-philosophical standpoint which constantly rises above partiality or particularity, including its own rootedness in traditional Mahaayaana Buddhist doctrine, to assume a universal and transcendental perspective.(20) In the modern era, which demands an exchange between religions to meet the challenge of science, the ideological flexibility and independence of Zen make it not just another religion, but the paradigmatic experience of existential rebirth to one's primordial nature or the Formless Self of absolute nothingness that allows the dialogical process to take place. p. 182 The aim and purpose of religion, according to Nishitani, has become questionable because of the antireligious standpoint of science. which views religion as obsolete and dysfunctional. Yet, the early twentieth-century optimism concerning science, which at first threatened to replace traditional religion as an explanation of the origin and meaning of the world, has since the advent of the nuclear age proven false or misguided. Religion, which may have initially responded by condemning or ignoring science a nd then reluctantly accepted it as an alternative point of view, has begun to face an even deeper challenge: overcoming the inadequacies and potential devastation that science and technology cause. Once challenged, however, traditional religion cannot reclaim its position of moral superiority without undergoing a thoroughly penetrating and transformative self-analysis of its own foundations and relation to science. The central problem confronting traditional religion is due to the uncertainty and inconsistency of Christianity pertaining to science. Nishitani argues that Christianity is responsible for the arising of science without being able to offer a solution to the dangers science creates because it does not understand its own ontological ground, and cannot do so without an existential transformation to absolute nothingness. The mechanistic world view of science asserts the lifelessness of the cosmos and thus a preoccupation with death, in contrast to the religious affirmation of life, soul, and spirit. Yet the foundations of science are based on a particular view of self and reality which is paradoxically rooted in the Christian ideology with which science conficts. That is, science arose because of a fundamental contradiction within Christianity that advocates salvation through the total dependence of man upon God and divine will, thereby suppressing genuine self-realization. and yet--because of the emphasis on such a reliance--does not allow for full freedom from egocentricity. This leads to a sense of restlessness and unfulfillment in the individual subject, creating an underlying shortsightedness of self-interest that continues to haunt both religion and science as an overvaluation of objectivity, or a manipulation and exploitation of the world seen as a collection of objectifiable entities. This tendency arises from, vet negates, the heart of Christian faith. Thus, science and religion are a reflection of relative or partial nothingness, or can be seen as fundamentally nihilistic in the Nietzschean sense. Nishitani, however, criticizes both Nietzsche's doctrine of the will to power and Sartre's atheistic humanism as expressions of inauthentic subjectivity which do not surpass relative nothingness. The overcoming of the tension between subject and object requires a breakthrough to a realization of the essential nondifferentiation of self and other, man and nature, consciousness and world that casts off nihilistic willfulness, Nishitani attempts to apply the Zen perspective of absolute nothingness to an overcoming of the ideological limitations in the scientific world view. He examines several noted Zen koan or philosophical riddles concerning the mythical eschatology of the great fire, which is symbol- p. 183 ically analogous to the imminent possibility of the cosmic conflagration that science and technology can wreak.(21) In the first koan (originally from the Keitei-dentoroku), a disciple asks the teacher, "When the great fire flares up and the cosmos is destroyed, I wonder, will 'it' perish or will 'it' not perish?" The teacher replies, "It will perish." According to Nishitani, this response suggests that the "it" refers to the inner dimension of self-realization rather than the external universe, thereby giving an existential interpretation to the myth whereby the scientific and/or apocalyptic possibility is understood as the existential actuality of the here-and-now encounter with nothingness. In a similar koan, the teacher responds to the question,''How is it at the time of the all-consuming fire?" by saying, "An unspeakably awesome cold." The paradoxical reply, Nishitani argues, indicates that the standpoint of absolute nothingness may serve as a basis for the unification of the two contradictory elements of teleology and mechanism, objectivity and personal investigation, so that they interpenetrate each other as "a wooden man sings and a stone woman dances." Although Nishitani does not offer a specific illustration of a Zen-oriented technology, he stresses that the reconciliation of science and religion requires an existential transformation whose necessary ethical corollary is the bodhisattva's selfless compassion based on the interdependence of self and other by virtue of absolute nothingness. III. COMPARISON AND EVALUATION A. Heidegger and Nishitani Heidegger and Nishitani seem to concur in identifying the reasons that science and technology are inherently deficient, but diverge somewhat in their proposals for overcoming the "age of death." The central agreement concerning the roots of the problematic is their analysis of the relation between the scientific investigation and manipulation of existence and the essence or primordial basis of reality. According to both thinkers, the nonsubstantive and nonobjectifiable nature of reality was overlooked in the initial stages of the history of Western philosophy and religion by the onto-theological tendency to objectification. They agree that Nietzschean nihilism and Sartrean atheism are symptoms of, rather than a release from, the entanglements of inauthentic thought. Thus science, for all its apparent hegemony, stands precariously as an untruth or derivative development that at once rests on but has severed itself from the truth or primordial standpoint. Science is cut off from the essence and riddled with contradictions so that it is incapable of either making assertions about or questioning the foundations of its own development. Because science not only fails to know its own basis, but tends to make the false claim that it alone does comprehend the structure of reality, it causes man's separation from his essential nature. In this light, Heidegger reinterprets Heisen- p. 184 berg's lament that, in the current era, "for the first time in the course of history modern man on this earth now confronts himself alone...."(22) According to Heidegger the real contradiction of the contemporary human situation reflects a deeper problem. While man, distanced from nature by his objectification of it through technology, seems to encounter only his own will and desires, "In truth, however, precisely nowhere does man today any longer encounter himself, i.e., his essence."(23) In attempting to show that science is not an enterprise independent of metaphysical and theological commitments, both thinkers argue that science must step beyond itself or be transformed by a transcendent experience either through Heidegger's acquiescent thinking or Nishitani's realization of absolute nothingness. Man cannot expect and should not seek to master science since that would not constitute an authentic choice, but only a reaction to an inauthentic decision that had been made long ago in the very existence of science. At the same time, since science is an untruth related to truth as the concealment of the presence of Being in Heidegger, or as the expression of relative nothingness in Nishitani, man cannot simply hide or run away from science. In order to transform or surpass science, man must see through its basic claim of providing objectivity as a distorted reflection of objectification by disclosing the nonsubstantive ground without creating another subtle form or obstruction. The central disagreement between Heidegger and Nishitani concerns the process for initiating and fulfilling this transformation. For Heidegger, release from Enframing will only come through a new disclosure of Being itself, whose occurrence cannot be predicted. Nishitani, on the other hand, maintains that overcoming science necessarily involves a complete and radical existential metanoesis. From Nishitani's perspective, Heideggerian acquiescent thinking may appear an overly reluctant or partially attained authentic subjective experience of absolute nothingness in which "the center is everywhere," and each individual is "making oneself into a nothingness in the service of all things."(24) B. Encounter with Convergence Theorists In order to clarify the distinction between Heidegger and Nishitani on the matter of personal realization, as well as to interpret the general significance of their critique of science, it is necessary to draw them into a philosophical encounter with the convergence theorists on the issue of subjectivity and objectivity. The basic opposition seems clear. Heidegger and Nishitani view science skeptically and pessimistically as a process of inherent objectification culminating in the destructiveness of the "age of death" of modern technology. The convergence view, however, sees science as breaking through objectification to an involvement in the participatory universe, which recaptures the essence of wisdom embodied in many of the mystical and philosophical traditions. Which of these approaches represents a more accurate and p. 185 meaningful assessment of modern science? Is the convergence theory a naive affirmation of superficial parallels, or does it ironically fulfill Heidegger's prophecy of the redemptive turn of thought beyond the entanglements of the current era? On the other hand, do Heidegger and Nishitani overlook the holistic paradigms in post-Einstein physics that surpass the Newtonian mechanics on which their criticism is largely focused? Or, do they expose an underlying philosophical deficiency in the convergence view? An important similarity between Hiedegger-Nishitani and the convergence theorists concerns the role of objectivity in science. According to both schools of thought, the conventional understanding of science as objective, or neutral and independent of subjectivity, is a dubious and self-deceptive misconception that no longer applies. Heidegger and Nishitani attempt to demonstrate the onto-theological commitments underlying science and technology, which are never free of subjective assumptions and projections. The participatory paradigm of modern physics expresses a different interpretation of the new understanding of objectivity. For example, Heisenberg, whose principle of uncertainty was perhaps the initial interpretation of the fundamental connection of subject and object in scientific investigation, sees science as overcoming objectification: "Science no longer confronts nature as an objective observer, but sees itself as an actor in the interplay between man and nature....In other words, method and object can no longer be separated. The scientific world view has ceased to be a scientific view in the true sense of the Word."(25) Fritjof Capra further asserts, "This means that the classical ideal of an objective description is no longer valid."(26) Yet the two camps evaluate the phenomenon of nonobjectivity from opposite perspectives. The convergence theorists maintain that science is establishing a holistic and nonsubstantive paradigm. Heidegger and Nishitani stress that the lack of objectivity reveals an underlying and inevitable process of objectification of substantive entities. The key to understanding the divergent interpretations of objectivity is the question of the role of subjectivity. Both camps agree that science is not strictly objective because it contains a fundamental and indispensable subjective component. Yet, as the disparity between Heidegger and Nishitani on existential realization indicates, there are various aspects and levels of subjectivity that must be clearly distinguished in relation to objectivity. What does subjectivity mean in the participatory universe of the convergence view, and does it correspond to what either Heidegger or Nishitani suggest by the concept? In Physics as Metaphor, Roger S. Jones presents the following analysis of the role of subjectivity in his philosophical account of modern physics, which seems representative of the convergence theory: By subjectivity, I am not referring to the effects on scientific thought of the individual tastes, preferences, and prejudices of scientists, which change with time, are influenced by peer pressures, and figure prominently in the formation of scientific paradigms. Rather, I mean the basic role that mind and the p. 186 self play at some unfathomable level in the workings of the universe. Subjectivity in science has both a personal and impersonal aspect, and fundamentally I mean it to refer to the dependence of the physical world on consciousness. Mind and matter are not separate and distinct, but form an organic whole in my view. To distinguish a subjective from an objective viewpoint is ultimately illusory.(27) Jones's passage highlights two levels of subjectivity in modern science: the personal and the impersonal. The first, or personal subjectivity, is the role of particular commitments that determine the formation and shifting of scientific paradigms. Jones neither dismisses nor denies the existence of this level, but discounts its importance in looking for what is considered a more significant and fundamental dimension. Heidegger and Nishitani, however, would stress that this personal aspect represents an in- authentic subjectivity, which is the basis of the decisions made individually and epochally that lead to the destructiveness of technology. Jones's tendency to overlook this level is telling because it reflects an unwillingness to come to terms with the basic deficiency in the development of science. The second aspect of impersonal subjectivity is the interdependence of the object, nature, or matter and the subject, mind, or self--or the indispensable involvement of the subject in the holistic perceptional field. Heidegger and Nishitani would probably concur on the importance of the inseparability of subject and object, but insist that science cannot understand the true meaning of this level so long as it is falsely distinguished from the level of inauthentic subjectivity. If the subject is truly interconnected with the object in the most essential and "unfathomable'' way, then subjectivity necessarily involves a personal or collective decision making that reflects particular preferences and judgments. Jones's suggestion that there is an impersonal, or impartial and value-free, level of subjectivity tends to recreate the ontological deficiency of the earlier scientific paradigm that he and other convergence theorists are criticizing. The main point from the Heidegger-Nishitani perspective, in contrast to the convergence view, is the existence of a third level of transpersonal or self-authenticating subjectivity. This dimension of existential fulfillment based on the complete realization of nonsubstantive and nonobjectifying ontology is not mentioned in Jones's passage, and, with few exceptions (such as David Bohm's philosophy of the implicate order),(28) it remains unconsidered by the convergence theorists. Although Heidegger and Nis hitani acknowledge the second level of subjectivity, or interconnectedness, they consider it secondary to and dependent on the first and third levels of inauthenticity and authenticity, respectively. For Heidegger-Nishitani, it is the possibility of authenticity which exposes the deficiency of inauthentic decisions, and allows for the transformation required to resolve the "age of death." Without an awareness of inauthenticity, authenticity can never be achieved. Conversely, unless p. 187 there is an understanding of the need for and meaning of illumination, deficiency will be left unanalyzed. Nishitani appears clearer, or at least more emphatic, than Heidegger on the question of authentic subjective attainment. Whereas Heidegger counsels awaiting a new disclosure of Being, Nishitani stresses complete existential realization of absolute nothingness. Thus, the philosophical encounter with the convergence view indicates that the focus of the Heidegger-Nishitani criticism seems to shift from the theory of science to the practice of using technology, or from the question of ontological paradigms to ethical behavior. That is, it appears that Heidegger and Nishitani--although this is not directly acknowledged by them--are more concerned with uncovering the causes and effects of the ill-fated decisions underlying the applications of science than in debating the conceptual models of the new physics, Many of the leading modern scientists have also expressed concern for the problematics created by technology. For example, Heisenberg's discussion of the "consciousness of the danger of our situation"(29) is a direct influence on Heidegger's attitude toward science. Enistein, Bohr, and Oppenheimer,(30) among others, are well known for their warnings about the damaging impact and abuses of nuclear and other technologies. Capra succinctly highlights this danger: "[ The parallel between physics and mysticism] shows that the results of modern physics have opened up two very different paths to scientists to pursue. They may lead us--to put it in extreme terms--to the Buddha or to the Bomb, and it is up to each scientist to decide which path to take."(31) On what basis can such a decision between the Buddha and the Bomb be made? According to Heisenberg, "Even if technology and science could be employed merely as a means to an end, the outcome depends upon whether the goals for whose attainment they are to be used are good ones. But the decision upon goals cannot be made within science and technology; it is made, if we are not to go wholly astray, at a point where our vision is directed upon the whole of man and the whole of reality, not merely on a small s egment of this."(32) Heisenberg's concession that the fundamental decisions about the use of technology must be made not from within science, but only through a holistic or transpersonal subjective vision--encompassing "the whole of man and the whole of reality"--seems to verify the thrust of the Heidegger-Nishitani criticism of scientific authenticity.(33) But the question can be raised: How convincing are Heidegger and Nishitani on the purpose and function of ethics in science? Both thinkers show that science lacks the attainment of authenticity as well as an awareness of its own inherent inauthenticity. Science cannot understand or direct itself because it fails to have a basis in existential fulfillment, and therefore approaches issues from a particularizing and objectifying rather than truly holistic standpoint. Yet neither Heidegger nor Nishitani propo se a concrete ethics to guide the actual decision makers--scientists themselves--in the type of personal trans- p. 188 formation necessary to deal with specific ecological and social issues both caused by and confronting technology. Heidegger consistently refuses throughout his career to develop an ethics.(34) But his insistence on resolving the ontological question before approaching ethical concerns may be a self-contradictory avoidance of the underlying meaning of subjectivity. Thus, his discussion of the contrast of the windmill and the power plant risks the charge of naive or unrealistic romanticism. Although Nishitani is somewhat clearer on the importance of authenticity in his evocation of the compassionate bodhisattva model, he does not translate this ideal into the formation of a contemporary ethical code, or provide concrete examples (unlike Heidegger) of how a Zen-oriented technology would function. Furthermore, neither thinker acknowledges the productive or liberating consequences of science and technology. Without a sensitivity to the actual benefits of science, their criticism may appear one-sided and partial. C. Conclusions: An "Ethics of Uncertainty" The encounter above clarifies the significance of the difference between Heidegger and Nishitani concerning subjective realization. Nishitani's uncompromising stress on existential transformation seems crucial to the effectiveness of the overall critique of science. The convergence view of the participatory universe embracing the unity of observer and observed challenges and tends to undermine the Heidegger-Nishitani ontological criticism. It may even appear that Heidegger and Nishitani overlook or are unaware of the nonobjectifying paradigms of modern science. On a deeper level, however, the more persuasive criticism of science they offer is based on the fundamental and all-pervasive role of personal decision, or the choice between authentic and inauthentic subjectivity. This, in turn, seems to point to the priority of ethics over ontology, although that area of philosophical inquiry is not clearly developed by either thinker. While it may be unfair to the projects of Heidegger and Nishitani to expect an ethics in the conventional sense, it is incumbent on them to provide a "trans-ethical" perspective that at once goes beyond the factual level to the nonsubstantive essence of reality and returns to the concrete and specific historical world of decision where the hegemony of technology holds sway. Since Heidegger and Nishitani do not offer an ethics, it may be necessary to turn to science itself for some ideas for developing an ethical theory in accord with the nonobjectifying paradigm. The fundamental principles of the "participatory universe"--the quantum principles of uncertainty and complementarity in the Bohr-Heisenberg Copenhagen school--could he cited in this regard. Such an approach would not violate the intentions of these philosophical scientists, who stressed the far-reaching implications and applications of their notions extending beyond the realm of the atomic laboratory. Bohr, who argued that "so-called `atomic phenomenona'...differ in no way p. 189 qua phenomena from any other phenomena, "(35) reflected on applying complementarity to the areas of biology, psychology, and epistemology, and articulated his theory in logical, experiential, and even natural terms in the hope of unveiling a grand "unity of knowledge."(36) Both he and Heisenberg were sensitive to the epistemological and linguistic issues involved in perceiving and articulating the structure of reality. Yet neither scientist delved significantly into the area of ethics. Pressing their views in that direction is a demanding task outside the scope of this article. The following comment is a preliminary suggestion in considering the kind of ethical stance that might resolve the issues raised by Heidegger and Nishitani. The main argument of Heidegger-Nishitani is that science represents a false objectification based on inauthentic subjectivity without being aware of its deficiencies. Thus the first step in overcoming this drawback would be for science to acknowledge and accept its flaws. This could be achieved by extending the principle of uncertainty. In an ethical context, uncertainty would not only represent the specific sense of indeterminacy and inaccuracy calculating the motion of subatomic particles. Rather, it implies a general understanding of the fundamental shortcoming or shortsightedness of science which cannot fully determine the consequences (output, by-products, side effects, and so forth) of the technological inventions its theories engender. That is, science does not lead to destructive effects because scientists themselves are immorally intentioned, and to say that science is amoral begs the question of who bears responsibility for the effects of technology. Even to speak of inauthenticity at the root of science falls short of explaining the possibility for positively and productively transforming technology. An ethical reorientation of the principle of uncertainty provides the ontological ground for coming to grips with the meaning of apparent scientific amorality or inauthenticity. It indicates that the destructiveness of science lies in its inability fully to foresee or determine the outcome of its investigations in that the objects observed are constantly affected and altered by the procedure of observation. The participation of the subjective observer in the universe necessarily involves the unpredictability of their interaction. Science should not expect to act upon the world and nature freely and without consequence because the supposedly objective order it handles through technology has already been disturbed and perhaps even violated by the manipulative grasp of its investigations. Since science is uncertain about the reactions its methods tend to cause, it must recognize and acknowledge this inherent limitation--that "uncertainty and confusion lie near the very core"(37) -- to eliminate the arrogance and avarice typical of the inauthenticity Heidegger and Nishitani decry. By accepting the conditions giving rise to its deficiency, science can adopt an outlook that seeks to overcome shortsightedness. The key to this effort is the principle of complementarity. From the ethical standpoint, complementarity is no longer only a description of the interaction of the "parti- p. 190 cle" and "wave" models of the atom, but a comprehensive vantage point that surveys and surpasses the maze of seeming contradictions which comprise the participatory universe. Warren Weaver has extended the Copenhagen view by maintaining: "The idea of the valid use of two contradictory viewpoints is by no means restricted to physics As Bohr emphasized, there are numerous pairs of contradictory concepts (love and hate, for example, practical and ideal; intuitive and logical) that, when held jointly and used appropriately, give us a more complete and satisfying description than can be achieved otherwise."(38) An ethical reorientation of complementarity allows science to oversee and synthesize all oppositions, such as pragmatism and idealism, utility and beauty, teleology and mechanism, prior to making a decision concerning technological application. The relation between uncertainty and complementarity in this light is simultaneously to restrict and liberate scientific methodology. Science is restricted, or is forced to acknowledge its innate restrictions, in accepting the uncertainty of the consequences of its endeavors. Yet it is liberated by complementary thinking from the partiality of representational horizons so that it can set its sights on maximizing its actual productivity while minimizing the potential for destructiveness due to oversight, neglect, unpredictability, or shortsightedness. The uncertainty at the core of science is ironically a source of strength in providing a built-in criterion of checks and balances, point and counterpoint, inspiring and yet criticizing the creative tension of the investigative procedure. An ethics of uncertainty would fulfill Heidegger's vision that "the saving is, in the midst of the world of the graspable, already there ungraspable."(39) It would also help complete Nishitani's paradoxical idea of "hearing a wooden man sing and seeing a stone woman dance." Therefore, the importance of the Heidegger-Nishitani existential/ethical -- rather than purely ontological -- criticism can be explained by the following hypothesis. Suppose the convergence view is correct and that Heidegger and Nishitani are unable to perceive its merit. Does this alone dissolve or refute their critique? Not necessarily, because the criticism is directed toward the destructive tendencies of technology, and not merely at the conceptual models of science. Has the capacity for destructiveness lessened with the development of the convergence view based on the participatory model? Experience seems to indicate the opposite; the more science has moved toward a holistic paradigm in the twentieth century, the greater the possibility for devastation caused by the "age of death,"(40) largely because science has not self-reflectively or self-critically heeded the ethical implications in its own principles. This suggests that the deficiency remaining in science points to a dimension beyond, yet underlying, science--that is. the question of authentic subjectivity or trans-ethical choice--which science itself has uncovered. Heidegger and Nishitani may be correct in their aim of exposing and criticizing the p. 191 deficiency and inauthenticity of science and technology. But their method of focusing on ontology seems to fall short of fulfilling the goal of establishing a cogent philosophical and practical corrective for the false objectification in these endeavors. Therefore, the encounter between the convergence theorists and Heidegger-Nishitani highlights the need for an ethics derived from and faithful to both the structure of the participatory universe and the existential involvement of authentic subjectivity. An ethics of uncertainty could support Oppenheimer's admonition: "We [scientists], like all men, are among those who bring a little light to the vast unending darkness of man's life and world. For us as for all men, change and eternity, specialization and unity, instru- ment and final purpose, community and individual man alone, com- plementary each to the other, both require and define our bonds and our freedom."(41) NOTES 1. Hajime Tanabe, "Momenti Mori," Philosophical Studies of Japan 1 (1959): 1-12. 2. John Archibald Wheeler, "Bohr, Einstein, and the Strange Lesson of the Quantum," in Mind in Nature, ed. Richard Q. Elvee (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1982), p. 18. 3. For a quantum analysis of consciousness, see: Kenneth R. Pelletier, Toward a Science of Consciousness (New York: Delacourte Press, 1978); and Ronald S. Valle, "Relativistic Quantum Psychology," in The Metaphors of Consciousness, ed. Ronald S. Valle and Rolf von Eckartsberg (New York and London: Plenum Press, 1981), pp. 419-436. 4. Renee Weber, "Reflections on David Bohm's Holomovement," in The Metaphors of Consciousness, pp. 138-139. 5. Karl Pribham, "The Holographic Hypothesis of Brain Function: The Meeting, of Minds," in Ancient Wisdom and Modern Science, ed. Stanislav Graf, MD (Albany: SUNY Press, 1984), p. 167. 6. In Philosophy as Metanoetics (trans. Valdo Viglielmo and James W. Heisig (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986)), Tanabe resolves the historical dilemma in terms of radical other-power religious experience of the absolute mediation of metanoetics or repentance (zangedo). 7. Jonathan Schell, The Fate of the Earth (New York: Avon, 1982), p. 111. 8. Martin Heidegger, The Question Concerning Technology, trans. William Lovitt (New York: Harper and Row, 1977) , p. 4. In the translator's introduction (p. xxxii), Lovitt remarks: "Heidegger sees every aspect of contemporary life, not only machine technology and science but also art, religion and culture... as exhibiting clear marks of the ruling essence of technology that holds sway as the dominion of man as self-conscious, representing subject." 9. Keiji Nishitani, Religion and Nothingness, trans. Jan Van Bragt (Berkeley: University of California Press. 1982). p. 46. 10. Heidegger. The Question Concerning Technology, p. 4. 11. Nishitani, "Science and Zen," in The Buddha Eye: An Anthology of the Kyoto School, ed. Frederick Franck (New York: Crossroad, 1982), p. 118. 12. Heidegger makes this distinction in the essay, "The Question Concerning Technology." In other essays, including "Science and Reflection." however, he seems to use the terms science and technology interchangeably. 13. The Japanese title of Religion and Nothingness (see note 5) is Shuukyo to wa nanika (What is Religion? ) . The translator changed the title apparently to highlight the philosophy of absolute nothingness in the thought of Nishitani consistent with other exponents of the Kyoto-school of modern Japanese philosophy. p. 192 14. Heidegger, Being and Time, trans. John Macquarrie and Edward Robinson (New York: Harper and Row, 1962), p. 415. 15. Ibid., pp. 413-414. 16. See Heidegger, An Introduction to Mctaphysics. trans. Ralph Mannheim (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1959). 17. See Carl Mitcham. "What is the Philosophy of Technology? " in International Philosophical Quarterly 25, no. 1. 73-89. 18. Ibid..p.8l. 19. For a discussion of the influence of the philosophy of Nishida Kitaro and the doctrine of absolute nothingness on the development of Nishitani's thought, see Zettai mu to kami--Nishida- Tanabe tetsugaku no dento to Kiristokyo. ed. Jan Van Bragt (Tokyo: Shunjuusha, 1981). See also my "Postwar Issues in Japanese Buddhism," in Movements and Issues in World Religions, ed. Charles W. Fu and Gerhard Spiegler (Westport. Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1989), vol. 2, pp. 245-276. 20. See especially Nishitani's piece, "Bukkyo ni okeru `kojo' no tachiba," Zettai mu to kami, pp. 150-194. 21. Nishitani, "Science and Zen," pp. 135ff. 22. Werner Heisenberg, The Physicist's Conception of Nature, trans. Arnold J. Pomerans (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1958), p. 23. 23. Heidegger, The Question Concerning Technology. p. 27. 24. Nishitani, Religion and Nothingness. p. 285. 25. Heisenberg, The Question Concerning Technology, p. 29. 26. Fritjof Capra, The Tao of Phpsics (New York: Harper and Row, 1975), p. 57. 27. Roger S. Jones, Physics as Metaphor (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1983), p. 10. For a fuller explanation and sociological critique of the convergence or parallelist view, see Sol Restive, The Social Relations of Physics, Mysticism, and Mathematics (Dordrecht/Boston/ Lancaster: D. Reidel Publishing Co., 1983). 28. For example, in his philosophical and psychological interpretation of Bohm's thought, Renee Weber stresses that "this question [of `holocosmic ethics'] is the only one that matters to Bohm, because the purification produced by self-transformation reverberates throughout the holocosmic field." See Weber, "Reflections." pp. 138-139. 29. Heisenberg, The Question Concerning Technology. pp. 29ff. 30. For example, J. Robert Oppenheimer is said to have remarked in 1947, after the nuclear attack on Japan, "In some sort of crude sense which no vulgarity, no humor, no over-statement can quite extinguish, the physicists have known sin; and this is a knowledge which they cannot lose" (quoted in John Major, The Oppenheimer Hearing (London: B. T. Batsford Ltd., 1971), p. 107). 31. Capra. The Tao of Physics, "Preface to the Second Edition." p. xvii. 32. Heisenberg. Across the Frontiers. trans. Peter Heath (New York: Harper and Row, 1974), pp. 217-218. 33. In a similarly critical context, Max Wartofsky argues that the paradox: of scientific advancement and destructiveness can only be overcome by the rational, or socially liberating, imperative of responsibility for human welfare. See Wartofsky. "Is Science Rational?" in Science, Technology and Freedom (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co.. 1974), pp. 202-209. 34. For Heidegger's unwillingness to be drawn into a discussion of the ethical implications of authenticity and inauthenticity in favor of the priority of the ontological question, see: Being and Time, especially p. 211; and "Letter on Humanism." in Basic Writings. ed. David Farell Krell (New York: Harper and Row, 1977). pp. 234ff. 35. Henry J. Folse, The Philosophy of` Niels Bohr (Amsterdam: North Holland, 1985), p. 204. 36. See Ruth Moore, Niels Bohr (New York: Knopf, 1966), pp. 406-413. Moore cites as one of Bohr's favorite examples in illustrating complementarity his observation of Mt. Fuji, which appeared cloudy and mist-covered one evening, concealing its peak, and clear in the glistening snow the next morning. According to Bohr, the "two mountains" did not simply equal one. 37. Warren Weaver, "The Religion of a Scientist." in Religions of America. ed. Leo Rosten (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1975), p..303. p. 193 38. Weaver, ibid., p. 301. 39. Carl Friedrich von Weizsacker, "Heidegger and Natural Science." in Heidegger Memorial Lectures, ed. Werner Marx (Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press, 1982), p. 98. 40. To cite some of the numerous examples: acid rain, ozone depletion, the "greenhouse effect, '' ocean pollution, nuclear and chemical waste disposal, and toxic pesticides. For an analysis of issues and possible solutions based on a holistic model, see Gaia: An Atlas of Planer Management, ed. Norman Myers (Garden City, New York: Anchor, 1984). 41. Robert J. Oppenheimer, Science and the Common Understanding (London: Oxford University Press, 1952), p. 112.