Science as an absolute faith, technology as the queen of the world, and a vaccine as the baptism of a new religion. On the other hand, the removal of any religious, humanitarian, political, civil, historical and cultural reference. How do we call this era that began with the global dominance of the United States of America and the Soviet Union? The era of scientism. Science becomes an ideology, myth and technology modify the world, nature and humanity, becoming an instrument of poetic control and a means of universal profit. The capitalist system and Soviet communism found a common but competitive point in the boundless expansion of science and technology, in the service of power and “progress”.
The world famous biologist, geneticist, spoke about scientism in the early 1970s. was called Giuseppe Sermonti, born in 1925, died five years ago. This air of aged swordsman, little d’Artagnan, little cardinal Richelieu, Sermonti rebelled against the dogmas of evolution, scientific progress, and technocratic determinism and published a book that antagonized the ideological and scientific dome. shoot it The twilight of scientism And he appeared in 1971 in the successful and combative series Rusconi directed by Alfredo Cattappiani. The theme of his book is the theme of our day: setting limits to science, restoring the dignity of research and not just technical application; Challenge its claim to include the whole universe and all knowledge within its boundaries. Sermonti attacked the “absolute scholars”, the “clerical scholars”, recognizing that he died as a reactionary. Since then, he has mentioned the dangerous and “ill-fated” projects to genetically modify humans. He was already dealing with pollution and the environment, denouncing specialization and the dangers of war against nature and reality, which could have produced incomparable biological and spiritual damage. He pointed to the dependence of science through technology on industry, medicine and production. She referred to her foundation myths in three symbolic figures: Narcissus the vain, the arrogant Titan, and the demonic Faust. The myths of progress have erased every myth, every symbol and every ritual from human life and predicted the emergence of a new totalitarian tyranny. He called for a return to frugality and simplicity as well as a shelter from the consumer society.
Another of his followers, Adam’s Apple and Newton’s Apple, in which Sermonti dealt with the relationship between myth and science, between metaphysics and physics. It has always appeared in the Rusconi series, along with other titles that wage war against the dark sciences (the title of a pamphlet by philosopher and scientist Jan Josipovici “Adopted in Cairo by a Sufi Cult”). Sermonti entered into a critical critique of evolution. Do not forget his book, Dopo l’evovolsionismo, which he wrote with paleontologist Roberto Fondi against the dogmatic fanaticism of the neo-Darwinists, who do not recognize any other horizon or hypothesis beyond their own. According to Sermonti, everything for the theory of evolution is shaped by chance, by degrees, and by “opportunism”. It is a theory that transcends biology, “has an explanation for everything” and reduces everything to an evolutionary and eclectic scheme; It is applied in social, psychological, artistic, political, social and historical fields. From science becomes scientism.
After thirty years of research as a scientist and geneticist, after studying microbes and guiding the Rivista di Biologia, Sermonti turned his interests beyond the purely scientific field. Other works followed, such as Scientific Spirit, which Lindau recently published and published: From Science Without a Soul to the Tao of Biology, From the Joys of Biology to the Alchemy of Fairy Tales, presented by Giulio Giurilo and Elimir Zola. Sermonti opened science to other spiritual universes: comparison with soul and anima mundi, with alchemy and the sacred sciences. He endorsed the sacred and symbolic origin of many scientific and technical discoveries, which were only later used for practical and utilitarian purposes, thinking back to science which today is “the first religion to claim conversion by boasting of its own benefits rather than its own truth”. According to Sermonti, we should not look for the mechanism but the order that pervades things. Nothing is by accident, Sermonti argues, and that the scientist’s task is not to dispel the mysteries and wonders of nature, but to develop them. Traditional knowledge, readings from poets and writers, scholars of the sacred, symbols and archetypes, alternate in Sermonti with scholarly references.
I met Sermonti on several occasions, and he sent me his books with friendly dedications, and I went to see him when he decided to leave Rome for a retreat in Calcata. Then I remember him with his brother Rutilio, to whom he dedicated Biology Tao, a passionate campaigner and historian of fascism, and about whom he wrote a huge work with Pino Rauti. His other, more famous brother was the writer and scholar of Dante Vittorio Sermonti, who thought differently from and about Rutilio. Giuseppe recounted the many adventures that happened to him when a healthy cordon was raised against him by scientists, evolutionists and Marxists. He also told me (and wrote about it later in Delights of Biology) that Guido Ceronetti left his collaboration with L’Espresso after his review of a work by Sermonti was banned.
The scientism that Sermonti denounced more than half a century ago is still in vogue, albeit under a different name. In fact, it is more valid today than yesterday, in a scientific-technical form, between artificial intelligence, algorithms, and genetic manipulation; We test it every day. The epidemic itself was a group exercise, a rehearsal. It is comforting to know that there have been, and still are, scientists who do not reduce the whole to a part, the world to a fanatical ideology, life to a random, random tangle of particles, which we can change at will. But they recognize the form, order and meaning of life, its limits and its sacred secret. Sermonte, the biologist who wrote poetry about the universe.
Fact – June 24, 2023
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