To Karl Marx, change presents as the history of class struggle. According to Empedocles, change was the outcome of the incessant struggle between the forces of Love and Strife. Love unites the elements together to become all things. On the other hand, Strife brings about the dissolution of the one back into the many. The elements become unmingled, naturally attracted to their like. Division and morselisation intensifies.
Whatever it may be, the class struggle has been settled and it now appears Strife is everywhere and gaining the upper hand every day. Voracious corporate CEO’s, bankers, and money merchants are no longer constrained by social consciousness. Free to gouge, they turn on their cringing critics, accusing them of a politics of envy. Apparently, the change now is dictated by the forces of greed and envy. Marx’s class struggle has become a fight between Greed and Envy. All of this takes place in the fractured milieu of rampant, unrestrained, deregulated, Strife.
However, our principle concern is not the Strife that is rampant in our society, but the Strife that is ravaging unchallenged in our educational institutions and particularly in the sciences and mathematics. The historic critics of science and things at large, the Humanities, have disintegrated into enclaves of irrelevance. As like attracts like, scholars run to shelter to form their own hermetic communities on their chosen island of increasingly fractured speciality. Some still nostalgically ruminate over long lost causes. Others attempt to find inspiration in nihilistic Post-Modernist world views. For the rest, there may be meagre pickings at the bottom of the barrel. There must be at least one unsaid word yet to say about someone who once said something somewhat interesting about something or other. Surely.
Meanwhile, blinded by the success of technological revolutions, the sciences march on victorious as each island of specialisation breaks up into even more islands of specialisation creating the greatest oceanic world of knowledge ever known. A consensus develops that all is well. This is all there is. This half-world is the world. There is no other view but this one. This is it.
We pause for a moment to offer our thoughts of condolence to our brilliant and best young minds that are at this very moment being ushered into the half world of present day science, there to be trained to think with half a brain. Cloistered from the distractions of the real world, these young minds are being moulded to provide an army of intellectual technicians trained in the karate of abstract thought. This is the era of the abstraction technician. Abstraction brings together like with like. In the process, the abstraction becomes increasingly stripped of specificity. The supreme abstraction is the vacuous, the vacuosity of Everything. As like attracts like, this is surely leading to Strife.
Strife plays a major role in the traditional left side sciences. For example, axiomatic mathematics has for its very vocation, the creation of Strife. This is because such mathematics is fundamentally based on abstract generalisations, the lumping together of like with like. The advancement of mathematics thus follows a similar trajectory to the all the other left side sciences. It explodes into a myriad of every increasingly specialised islets of specialisation.
Work notes for forthcoming book