The ‘pragmatist’ line taken by Daoists, Nietzsche and existential phenomenologists such as Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty, is the best one to take in order to dispel the pretensions of ‘absolutism’. The main objection, for example, to the ‘scientistic’ claim that physics describes the world as it is in itself is that, to recall James’s remark, you ‘can’t weed out’ the human contribution. That is, the scientific image of the world, like any other, is indelibly shaped by our interests, practices and prejudices. There is no reason at all to think that creatures with very different purposes and concerns would arrive at the scientific image, and no reason at all to accuse such creatures of getting the world wrong – a point that both Chuang Tzu and Nietzsche make when comparing human and animal perspectives.
Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews David E Cooper.