Vaccination passport: on agnosticism and the no-good-feeling

Vaccination passport: on agnosticism and the no-good-feeling


Mieke Mosmuller

05-02-2021 3 comments Print!

In the World Economic Forum (WEF) Davos 2021 document on the vaccination passport, one specific word stands out: agnostic. The vaccination passport will be a document that gives data of the person in question in an agnostic way. In the theory of knowledge and philosophy, agnosticism is that you cannot achieve true knowledge, that with the process of knowing you do not have the possibility of reaching reality. Agnosticism is playing an increasing role in science and the background of this development can be found in the 16th and 17th centuries with Francis Bacon. Where the idea of evidence-based science plays an important role in ensuring objectivity, if it becomes extreme we risk losing the human being. Medical science needs another side. It manifests itself, for example, when the human being’s intuition and ability to think translate into the no-good-feeling.Watch video on YouTube

Mieke Mosmuller

It is not human subjectivity, individuality, commitment, intuition, the ability of humans to think, but data data data. Last time I spoke about the vaccination passport as it is coming up and in the article about it that I found during the discussions in Davos - they were not held in Davos, but in that context - I came across a word in that article that had quite an effect on me. That is the word agnostic. The article says that if such a vaccination passport were to be introduced, and other data than that relating to the vaccination could, of course, also be stored on it, then it would be a document that would provide information about the person concerned in an agnostic way. Now, the word agnostic is very well known in the epistemology and philosophy, and it actually means that you cannot reach knowledge, that you do not have the possibility to really approach reality with the process of knowledge. And that has, that principle of agnosticism plays an increasing role in science. So today I wanted to make a philosophical excursion as a background for this whole process that we are in at the moment.

The theory of science actually goes back to Francis Bacon in the 16th /17th century and he declared human thought to be a purely subjective event. The human being has thoughts and those thoughts are favourite thoughts. He calls them idols. A nice variant on idea, when you think of idea you think of an objective concept, even broader than that, but an idol yes, the favourite event is very strong in that. They are thoughts you like to think. And that is why human thinking is not suitable for science, so actually as a human thinker you must learn to simply shut up, be quiet, think nothing, nothing. Just observe and you then become a so-called empiricist, someone who makes all knowing rest on that which is observed objectively, everything else must be excluded. And so you come to a form of science that is highly developed in our time, evidence-based science. This is a direct child of Francis Bacon. And it is also the principle that you collect data from observation and that from those details you arrive at the concepts. Aristotle was also an empiricist, he also wanted to start from observation, but he had general basic concepts at his disposal from which he had the possibility, he thought, to understand the details of observation. That is the principle of deduction, and there has been a writer in the past who has turned his protagonist into a real deductionist, someone who arrives at his conclusions by deduction. The author is Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his main character is the famous Sherlock Holmes. So if you want to learn about deduction, you could read or watch some of that. Not so Francis Bacon, who wants to come from the other side and work only from the data. That problem of the knowing process in the human being, we find it back again in another way in a later philosopher, 18th/19th century, that is Immanuel Kant, who finally, after thorough investigation, comes to the conclusion that the human being has his images, but that the big question is what these images actually have to do with reality. And he comes to the conclusion that the human being cannot penetrate to the thing itself, to the reality of the thing, with his capacity to know. So in our past we have two points where the cognitive faculty of the human being is questioned. And you cannot say that these two men are to blame for the fact that we have now entered an agnostic phase of science, because what these thinkers put forward is, as it were, in the air. They reflect what is going on, but it does not take away from the fact that these are important pillars for the agnostic character of science and that this is precisely what has increasingly become an ideal. It is not human subjectivity, individuality, commitment, intuition, the ability of humans to think, but data data data, testing testing testing. Everything from the outside, nothing from the inside. When you then read that in the end, such a vaccination passport is even the ideal, because then the person who receives the information, a customs official, a border official, does not have to deploy his own subjectivity to judge, but is simply informed completely agnostic about the status of the person. And when you consider that, then you can say that in the society that we are heading towards, the human being with his abilities is actually eliminated and that is the ideal, data data data, the more the better. The calculating model will eventually filter out all false positives and negatives and what is left is the result that is completely agnostic. Now, this is by no means something that works everywhere, because when you talk to doctors, they talk about a generally accepted diagnostic principle that is not based on data data data data at all and that is called the 'bad feeling', which is actually recognised as something that makes sense. You can hardly have it any vaguer than that, a bad feeling. That means that a doctor, based on experience, based on intuition, regardless of all the data, can have the impression at a certain moment: there's something wrong here, this patient is in danger and then all the data might be fine and then the patient comes to the hospital and turns out to have a hidden heart attack. And so a doctor is still allowed, I would say, to be gnostic, not agnostic. But the ideal of science lies in the agnostic: follow your protocols, do that as meticulously as possible and you will come to a conclusion and eventually you can actually hand that over to a device, to a computer, which will probably do that much better than you because you cannot oversee it all and the computer cannot either. But it can calculate it, it can calculate the chance that there is a danger or that there is not a danger. That is the road we are on and we are confronted with it every day. When we read about the steps that the leaders of the governments take based on the advice of all possible advisory bodies, this council, that commission, that team, all these bodies that strive for an agnostic principle, but of course are not able to do so yet, there is still a whole chunk of subjectivity in between and we really shouldn't want that to disappear, because that is exactly what the human being is and through this whole subjectivity weaves the true intuition and that makes the human being something very special. There is a poem by Goethe, in which he poetically expresses this in a few pen sketches and he then says - I will not read it out loud but I will give the meaning - he then says that the human being is noble, helpful and good and that this distinguishes the human being from all other beings that we know. And when we deepen ourselves in the possibly present higher beings than the human being, then we must try to imagine them and then we imagine them in such a way that they are even more noble, more helpful, even better than the human being can achieve. Nature is entirely agnostic, nature is in that respect a phenomenon which is the same for all men. The sun irradiates the skull of the criminal and the saint alike, but the human being rises above that nature because the human being has the capacity to discern. Man can distinguish between good and evil, can distinguish in all possible other phenomena that occur, such as for example 'not-good-feelings'. Goethe then actually calls upon the human being to imagine how these higher beings are even more noble, more helpful, even better than the human being and how the human being should actually spend his life to come close to these proposed higher beings. So not remaining noble, helpful and good as it is, but striving for higher moral values in existence. Then science too can come to a higher level and can even be brought to a moral level. But for this we should not want to eliminate the being that carries this very talent, this distinctive talent as a possibility, as a skill. We must not want to eliminate the human being; we must seek and cultivate the exact, the precise, the loving, the intelligent, the committed, the individual, the noble human being within ourselves. That is what the leadership of a country should want to encourage, not an agnosticism that eliminates all that is arbitrary, but all that is noble, all that is helpful, all that is good. 

Vaccination passport: on agnosticism and the no-good-feeling by Mieke Mosmuller

Give your comment please

  • From Tommy @
    Very well put....thank you. :)
  • From @
    Heel goed Mieke.
    'De wereld is groter dan data - Ethiek in tijden van dataïsme'
    Essay van Miriam Rasch
    (De Groene Amsterdammer, 13 mei 2020)
  • From @
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