On Methodology and the Regime of Truth -1-

I am able to draw many comparisons between the Sumerian clergy – the inventors of this logic – and the scientific mentality of our day. My belief is that both represent the same civilisation.

Abdullah ÖCALAN

A- An Introduction to the Problematic of Methodology and Truth

Method, as a concept, refers to the shortest possible path, habit or conscious approach utilised in arriving at a predetermined target, or targets. A method is found, if and when a path is deemed to be the most shortcut route in satisfying the predetermined target. The method is successful when it has been tried and is judged to be fruitful. It is vital for those concerned that this process of approval be a long and rigorous one.

When we try and comprehend the depths of history, we see that the first method utilised in understanding mentalities and phenomena is the mythological approach. Mythology, in the narrow sense, is a method; a method in decoding reality. Behind mythology is an understanding of the universe. Mythology’s tendency in taking nature to be a live organism full of spirits is today taken to be somewhat childish. However, when we consider modern science’s current condition we can see that this tendency – and the method deployed – is not as off the mark as previously thought. On the contrary, methods that have thought of nature as lifeless, inanimate and lacking in dynamism are comparatively devoid of meaning.

In connection to life, the mythological approach is definitely environmentally friendly, distant from fatalism and determinism, and is consequently open to freedom. This seemingly naturalist understanding of life had, in its time, ardently accompanied communities into the era of the major religions. Mythologies containing sacredness, legends and epics were the Neolithic era’s fundamental mentality of life. The apparent contradiction between myths and the objective world, however, does not mean that meaningful analyses cannot be construed. It is by all means possible to make substantial commentaries on myths, packed with coherent meaning. In fact, without such commentaries only a limited conception of history can be achieved. Mythology, as a fundamental method, is a vital apparatus in the conceiving of human groupings that have – for the longest period of time – made use of mythical explanation. The scientific method – which is attentively presented as the opposite of the mythological method – has been proven to have occupied itself with the construction of its very own myths.

Preceding religions draped in dogma, and their scientific continuatives claiming to work on universally absolute laws, have seamlessly attempted to discredit the mythological method. It is time for this to be reversed, and thus the mythological method’s eminence be restored. Mythologies, as relatives of utopic thought, are an indispensable form of humankind’s spectrum of meaning and mentality. To exclude utopia and mythology from the human mind is like confiscating water from the body. It should be further understood that, the riches of the human mind – the aggregation of all animate minds – cannot be reduced to a mere mathematically literate analytical organism. This is incongruent with life itself. Just as millions of animate minds are unknowable to mathematics, their aggregation, the human mind, cannot be condemned to mere numeric. Moreover, the very invention of mathematics by the Sumerians was for the calculation of surplus products on the surge at the time. In our day, human logic has almost completely been reduced to function like a calculator. So then, how are we supposed to apprehend the minds of millions of living organisms, the movements of sub-atomic particles or immeasurable astronomic phenomena? It is abundantly clear that mathematics does not contain the ability to make sense of both the universe’s micro and macro domains. At the very least, we must remain susceptible to new methods of meaning so that we do not preliminarily drown ourselves in dogmas.

Animate intuitions cannot be underestimated. All things animate are encoded in these intuitions. It cannot be said that these intuitions are independent of the universe’s micro and macro domains. Instead, what seems closer to the truth is that these intuitions are a fundamental feature of the universe. It is for this reason that the mythological method cannot be deemed worthless in attempts to comprehend the universe. The mythological method may be as valuable, if not more valuable, as the scientific method in contributing to an understanding of the universe.

The transition from the mythological approach to the dogmatic religious approach is a significant phase. This transition is closely linked to the fact that it occupies the mental arena that partnered the hierarchical transition of society. Exploitative and hierarchical social relations require unquestionable dogmas. The ascertaining of dogmas with taboo values such as sacredness, God’s word or immunity are in correlation with the purpose of hiding and/or justifying the hierarchical and exploitative organisation of society and the class interests of the elite strata. Where there is a rigid set of absolute judgements, there is no doubt extensive exploitation and tyranny.

After the mythological era, the religious era constitutes the second longest timeframe of human history. It could be paralleled with written history, or just before or just after. What needs to be contextualised is why religious dogma was a requirement. It is fairly explicit that this approach was a purposefully adopted method. The aim of life and the path to reality, as promoted by religious methodology, can only be fulfilled through the appropriation of – and consequently to live by – the sacred word of an external holiness, existing beyond societal and worldly realms. To avert from the sacred word would result in drudgery and slavery while alive, and then burning in hell in the afterlife. This is the era in which masked gods were constructed. It is easily construable that this constructed god was a synonym for the despot of the time, practicing command and relentless exploitation over society. The extravagant masking of these gods is closely linked to the efforts of distortion applied to the human mind. The very fact that the first despots claimed to be god-kings seems to efficiently prove this point. The subsequent application of the despot’s word as legislation, and the presentation of these words as absolute truths is a widespread feature deployed throughout history. As suppression and exploitation deepened, the dogmatic religious method was made to become the dominant path taken by the human mind; to be more precise, it was to be a constructed social reality. The people’s compliance to the god masked despots’ suffocating enslaving rule was ensured through the application of this method.

The most important aspect of the religious method as a mental habit was its ability to justify the acceptance of enslavement by the masses and to install a rigid fatalism in the mass psyche. Great barbarous wars motivated by deeper exploitation were made possible as a result of this method: To live by the sacred word, in abeyance to god’s command! Without a doubt, this method ensures a major convenience for the administrating elite. Simply put, a herd-shepherd dialectic was formed. Slavery was to be presented as a necessary stage of social development; or a static, inanimate understanding of nature was to make it possible to freeze social reality in order to maintain the status quo. A very passive and objectified understanding of nature and society, coupled with a ruling strata presented as the divine creator of all things was forcibly shown to be the dialectic of life. It will not be an exaggeration to say that this was the mentality and method used in governing the people of the middle ages and in antiquity. 

The dogmatic method’s most erroneous aspect is rather than the adoption of an animate, self-evolving view of nature, it forcibly insisted on a passive, objectified view of nature in need of a peremptory to determine its future. The most important impact this then has on society is a natural acceptance of its very pacification and an Internalisation of a herd-like administration. This excessively subjective ancient method was to peak in the Middle Ages. The objective world was taken to be incomprehensible, thus deemed non-existent. The world was reduced to a mere temporary station, where eternal and perpetual ideals were the only acceptable way of life. Those who had a good grasp of the existing dogmas and clichés were recognised as scholars and rewarded with the highest titles. This anti-mythological mode of thought has subsequently shaped the course of history, and therefore, is primarily responsible for the currently captive and bridled way of life.

A positive aspect of the religious method is its impact on the development of ethics in society. At this stage, and under the influence of this method, the notions of good and bad have come under significant scrutiny and as a result have been inflexibly categorised in accordance with absolute judgements. The fundamental perception behind this method is its realisation of the flexibility of the human mind, and therefore, its openness to remoulding. This characteristic of the mind, as opposed to other living organisms, is the fundamental basis of ethical development.

Without an application of ethics, socialisation or administration is out of the question. An ethical method is indispensible for the becoming of, and the administration of society. Without dwelling into the pros and cons of ethics, the indispensability of this development for societal comprehension must be clarified. Undoubtedly, ethics is a metaphysical phenomenon, but this in no way makes ethics non-existent or any less significant. We will not be exaggerating too much by saying that metaphysical ethics has the upper hand on the ethics of the mythological period. To think of human sociality without ethics, is enough to bring about the end of the human species along with its ecological environment, just as the dinosaurs did by not leaving themselves a single weed to chew on. Indeed it is due to an ethical demolition that environmental problems have come to such a disastrous threshold.

The dogmatic method is not only evident in the major religions; this method weighs heavily in on classical Greek thought too. The dialectical method, not to mention an objective approach, is seriously lacking in Greek classical thought. The supremacy of Aristotle’s and Plato’s idealism had become a strong foundation for religious dogmatism in the Middle Ages. Plato’s recognition as the greatest philosopher of idealism, or even its creator, had made him a favourite of the prophetical tradition.

The prophetic traditions of the three major religions are well stabilised constituent versions of the dogmatic method. In Buddha, Zoroaster, Confucius and Socrates ethics peaks. Especially in the philosophy of Zoroaster, the duality of good and bad is mirrored by the duality of light and dark. On behalf of humanity, these wise men have introduced higher levels of morality.

The ‘scientific method’ has played a significant role in capitalism becoming a world system. In this approach, led by Descartes, Roger Bacon and Francis Bacon, a clear cut distinction between subject and object is carefully made. In the dogmatic method of the Middle Ages there was not much room for a distinction between subject and object.

The Renaissance led rise of Western Europe, through the Reformation in Christianity and the Enlightenment in philosophy, had opened a new era under the imagery of subjectivity and objectivity. The subjectivity of humanity and the objectivity of the world become the two main factors of life. The dogmatic method, the word of God, along with ethics critically loses significance. To be more precise, the covered kings and the masked gods of the old are replaced by the naked kings and the unmasked gods of the new. The capitalistic mode of exploitation is the main motivator of this transition. The increasing exploitation fuelled by the drive of profit requires the transformation of societal perception through a restructuring of the dimensions of thought. This requirement and necessity is the driving force behind the new ‘scientific method’. Humanity and nature is facing a new era of deepened exploitation and abuse. The societal conscience that was unwilling to accept such abuse was about to undergo reconstruction in parallel with the newly formed dimensions of thought. It is for this reason that ‘method’, as the fundamental route to righteousness, was about to gain a significant functionality. It is well documented that Descartes, in order for a deep transformation, dwells into a major illness of scepticism and eventually seeks asylum in the judgement “I think, therefore I am”. It is also well known that Roger and Francis Bacon work really hard on ‘objectivism’. Descartes opens the door to the individual’s ability to think independently, while the Bacons clear the path for the individual to dispose of the ‘object’ as he wishes.

The concept of ‘objectivism’ in the scientific method is in need of profound reanalysis. Excluding analytic thought, the objectification of the animate and inanimate world, including the human body, plays a significant role in the capitalist exploitation and domination of society and nature. Without the deepening and justification of the segregation between subject and object, the mental transformation required as a basis of modern thought could not have been achieved.

While analytic thought is justified as the subject, object is the material element on which all sorts of speculative efforts can be made upon; in other words, represents ‘objectivity’. Great struggles have been given for the sake of this distinction. The struggle between the church and science should not be seen as one of righteousness. The underlying current is a major social struggle. In a sense, on the one side you have the morally sensitive old society, as opposed to the new naked capitalism wishing to rid itself of the ethical burden on its shoulders. In all honesty, The church and science are not the main units of this quarrel either. More generally, it is a quarrel between the historically consistent social values that hinder exploitation and deem it to be sin, against the new capitalist project wishing to remove the ethical bonds of society in order to make it susceptible to exploitation and tyranny. The ‘objective approach’ is the key concept of this project.

Under the ‘objective’ conceptualisation of ‘analytical thought’ no value is free from going under the surgical knife. It is not only human labour, but all animate and inanimate organisms that can be proprietary, and therefore, disposable to the full extent. They can be subjected to all sorts of research and examination and then, accordingly exploited. Apart from distinguished subjects, everything can be mechanised, and so mercilessly exploited and dictated upon. The subjectification of the individual as opposed to the objectified community, citizenship and the nation-state – in other words the unmasked gods – are ‘new inventions’ that are able to create havoc and make life unbearable through the organisation of genocides and the destruction of the environment. The old ‘Leviathan’ has become rabid; it seems as if there is not a single object it is unwilling to suppress or break into pieces. It should be well understood that to perceive of the objective approach as an innocent concept of the scientific method does not only lead to credulous digressions, but also to great disasters and even bigger massacres then that of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages. It must be clearly stated that the objective approach is in no way an innocent scientific term.

Until the ‘scientific method’ itself is not perceived as a tool for the classified division of society, the dysfunctional and bankrupt state of sociology cannot be explained. I must openly state that, the ‘objective scientific method’ is also the underlying reason behind the bankruptcy of the onetime assertive ‘scientific socialism’.

The fact that scientific socialism’s – and all its derivatives – constructed long term social systems were all abolished from within, and the rapidity of the transformation from state capitalism to private capitalism, both grew out of the systemic adoption of the ‘scientific method’ and the notion of ‘objectification’. Otherwise, no one can doubt for a single second the integrity of those who struggled for socialism with great belief and effort.

Scientific structures that attribute a central role to the subject-object distinction are very passionate for their own independence. So much so that they claim to be over and above society’s values. Maybe the greatest deviation in the name of science is hidden in this claim. it may be right to say that that the integration and unification of science and the system of rule in the capitalist era, is incomparable to that of any other previous era. From its methodology to its contents, the world of science is the system’s biggest constructive power, its protective force and its justifier. The scientific method of the capitalist era – and all sciences deriving from it – is the actual provider and pathfinder of the profitable machine along with great wars, crises, suffering, starvation, unemployment, environmental meltdown and population instabilities that come with it. The saying “knowledge is power” is none other than a proud confession of this truth.

Maybe some will say “what is wrong with this?” These types of judgements, draped in innocence, are nothing other than the system’s outspoken natural defence mechanism.

If in our day capitalist modernity is crying out with signs of unsustainability from every parameter of the system, the biggest responsible party for this is the ‘scientific method’ it relies upon. Therefore, it is of vital importance for a criticism of the system to initially be developed against the method the system is founded upon and the ‘scientific disciplines’ deriving from it. A fundamental weakness of all criticisms of the system, including the socialist criticism, is that they too have adopted the very method used in the creation and sustenance of the system. An anti-system movement aiming to criticise a social reality that has been founded upon a specific method, no matter how hard it is criticised using the same method, will eventually be faced with the same fate. It is well known that a used road will always pass through the same villages and towns. This has been the fate of all anti-system movements, including scientific socialism.

I pay specific attention in taking the societal character of the subject-object distinction to be a central concept of my evaluations. This is because these innocent looking concepts are the ontological reasons behind the unsustainability of modernity. Contrary to popular belief, these are not nominal concepts, and they also have nothing to do with scientific development. They possess fixed misconceptions on the understandings of nature and subjectivity, no less than that of the dogmatic method of the Middle Ages. The frank distinction between subjectivity and objectivity has suffocated the ability to comprehend the meaning of life and has taken human life into a more backward state than that of the Middle Ages. The dogmatic method’s efforts in suffocating and depriving human life of freedom, has been taken over by capitalist modernity’s efforts in smashing social life to pieces on intellectual grounds provided by the distinction of subjectivity and objectivity. A deep segregation is being constructed in all areas of life. As a result of the crystallisation of the whole applied by the so called ‘scientific disciplines’, the biggest value lost is the integral and indivisible entirety of societal time and space. There is no bigger tragedy than the exclusion of time and space from societal life, hence the ‘jamming of life’ experienced in our day. We are faced with the worst of fates. Societal cancer is not an allegoric approach; it is a most meaningful systems analysis.

I am not proposing a new method. This however, does not mean I am proposing to get rid of methodology. I am well aware of human tendencies, not to mention the animate and inanimate nature’s accordance to certain laws and methodical movements. I highly value means and methods. But I am also aware of the fact, and therefore must clearly state, that the insistence on deterministic aspects of methods and laws have greatly hindered developments and denied freedoms. I do not believe in the existence of a lawless universe lacking in method. However, I also do not believe that the universe is based on a mathematic equation as the mechanism of Descartes seems to suggest. I have deep suspicions regarding mathematic logic and nomothetic laws. I am able to draw many comparisons between the Sumerian clergy – the inventors of this logic – and the scientific mentality of our day. My belief is that both represent the same civilisation.