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Integral World: Exploring Theories of Everything
An independent forum for a critical discussion of the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber
Rolf Sattler, PhD, FLS, FRSC, is emeritus professor of McGill University in Montreal, Canada. His specialty was plant morphology: the development and evolution of plant form. Besides plant biology and general biology, he taught courses in the history and philosophy of biology. Furthermore, he explored the relation between science and spirituality. In this connection, he taught a course at Naropa Institute in Modern Biology and Zen and participated in several symposia on Science and Consciousness. He published nearly 100 research papers and several books including Biophilosophy: Analytic and Holistic Perspectives (1986), an e-book Wilber's AQAL Map and Beyond (2008), and on his website Healing Thinking and Being and Wholeness, Fragmentation, and the Unnamable: Holism, Materialism, and Mysticism - A Mandala. His most recent book is Science and Beyond: Toward Greater Sanity through Science, Philosophy Art, and Spirituality (www.RolfSattler.com). He can be reached through the contact link on his website www.beyondwilber.ca
Science and the COVID-19 Pandemic
There is also a need for epiviral medicine in which, besides the physical level, emotions, thoughts, and spirituality become relevant.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic much reference has been made to science. But what exactly is meant by science has been rarely spelled out. Questionable assumptions have often been taken for granted. In most discussions—if there were discussions—it has been assumed that science must be and only can be mechanistic materialist science. Hence all scientific solutions must be at the physical level. Furthermore, materialist science has been even further restricted by the assumption that a virus can cause a disease. But a virus by itself cannot cause anything. A virus interacts with its environment, its host, the organism in its environment. In this interaction the virus is a factor and the host and its environment are other factors. To elucidate what happens after viral infection, one has to consider all of these factors. Only then can we hope to understand why some people become sick, why some even die, whereas others show only mild symptoms or none at all. If the virus were the cause that determines sickness or death, all infected people should get sick or die, which clearly is not the case.
The distinction between cause and factor is not only of academic interest, but may be a matter of life or death. If the virus is considered the cause of the disease, then all the focus is on the virus, not on the host and its environment. If, however, the virus is only a factor, then all the other relevant factors have to be considered, namely people in their environment, which enlarges the scope immensely because it includes physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual dimensions. All of these dimensions may play a role in the prevention of the disease and its treatment, and most of them have been largely ignored because, according to the official narrative, the virus, SARS-CoV-2, was considered the cause of the disease COVID-19. The whole strategy in the fight of the pandemic was based on this unrealistic assumption, and the consequences have been disastrous: enormous suffering, much sickness, mortality, and economic ruin.
Let us now consider the alternative: holistic science. It deals with all factors relevant to COVID-19, including physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual dimensions of people, plus their environment. At the physical level, integrative medicine had effective protocols to prevent and treat COVID-19, most of which were ignored and suppressed (see Sattler 2021). Why bother, if we know - so it has been argued - that the virus is the cause that determined the disease. Furthermore, we were told that these protocols are not proven. Of course not, because nothing has been and ever will be proven in science. Science is open-ended. Hence, there is no final word in science. What today may appear to be proof, may be overturned tomorrow, next month, or next year. We cannot know the future. We cannot know whether future observations and experiments will confirm what appears to be proven today. Thus, neither conventional, nor alternative, nor integrative medicine can claim to have proven protocols for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19. They have only evidence. Unfortunately, the evidence for effective protocols of integrative medicine was discounted by the World Health Organization (WHO), the powerful elite of the conservative medical establishment and most governments. The result was much infection, sickness, and death that could have been prevented to a great extent (see Sattler 2021).
In addition to the physical level of people, emotional, mental, and spiritual dimensions have to be included in holistic science, medicine, and healthcare. Epigenetic medicine has shown that emotions, thoughts, and spirituality may influence gene activity, the expression of genes. There is also a need for epiviral medicine in which, besides the physical level, emotions, thoughts, and spirituality become relevant to the prevention and treatment of diseases such as COVID-19. Negative emotions, thoughts, and lack of spiritual wellbeing can diminish resistance to the virus and render the cure more difficult. For example, it is known that fear and loneliness can be detrimental in this respect. In any case, these interconnections need to be further investigated, instead of being suppressed by an elite and community of materialist scientists who dogmatically claim that science is restricted to the physical level.
It is often repeated that science is based on evidence, which is correct. But, to a great extent, science is also based on power in addition to evidence. Thus, to a great extent, scientific knowledge is “power knowledge” (Michel Foucault). Powerful individuals, organizations, and communities select the evidence that supports their view and, being powerful, suppress contradictory evidence. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the official narrative has been supported and enforced by powerful chief medical officers together with the powerful pharmaceutical industry, governments, and the World Health Organization. Contradictory evidence provided by less powerful scientists and medical experts has been ignored and even suppressed and censored. This is not science at its best.
Much more detail and a long list of references supporting the views expressed in this article is given in my recently published book: Sattler, R. 2021. Science and Beyond: Toward Greater Sanity through Science, Philosophy, Art, and Spirituality. Available as ebook and paperback (see www.RolfSattler.com). In this book I also deal with other misconceptions about science and show how they may prevent us from seeing what is beyond science.