Read today a statement by R. Sheldrake that Darwin thought of nature as dead, i.e., that even his concept of “natural selection” was merely a figure of speech, that his understanding of the entire process of evolution was strictly mechanistic (though Darwin couldn’t quite reconcile himself with the idea).
What’s significant to me here is that he thought that nature was strictly mechanistic. Perhaps this kind of thinking was an immediate fallout of Newtonian theology, of the universe in which the cosmogonic clockmaker wound it all up to tick on till demiurge-knows-when, until when all heaven-bound Kantians will finally know the answer to the possibility of synthetic a priori propositions.
I wrote an earlier blog about Steampunk as metaphor for materialism (mechanistic paradigm(s)) in general, and indeed, Frankenstein is its main avatar. Note the proliferation of Zombie flicks, lately (circa 2011, g.c., c.e.). Frankenstein is a Zombie of sorts, and indeed, it all fits like a necrophilic glove, because if nature, i.e., the cosmos, is dead and everything is utterly material and mechanical, then there is no difference between a fucking Zombie and human being. But there’s more to that reflection, a cosmic whisper, that yes, that is where materialism will take you, and servomechanical cybernetics provides no argument to the contrary. There is a difference between strictly mechanistic principles and biotic beings. Ask your heart and not your academic brain, because you know it already, tacitly.
Here are some other aspects of the fallout. Consider the mechanistic theology of dialectical materialism, and the eventual Butterfly-wing impact of its lifeless field of morphic causation. Another one: consider the idea of Being, a la M. Heidegger. Granted he was starting where Aristotle (and his predecessors Parmenides et al.) left off with respect to the (at-first Husserlian) pursuit of metaphysics, but do recall that Aristotle too provided the Augustinian foundations for the orderly, geocentric universe that provided occidental paradigms with a mechanical framework. Einstein couldn’t shake it off either (“god doesn’t play dice”). But back to Heidegger’s concept of Being. It was perfect that the seminal philosopher of Nazi Germany pondered Being as such with such a preponderant, conspicuous absence of Life. W. Kauffmann correctly designated him a "false prophet." As his acolyte R. Bultmann stripped mythology of all its form-critical superfluity (by way of his Entmythologisierung programme) to get to its so-called Kerygma---that semiotic extrapolation that is the foundation of all Western Ethics hitherto since zippo-B.C.---megalomaniac phenomenologist Heidegger warned contemporaneous theologians to keep their pencil-pushing hands off his non-theological metaphysics; but no, it also happened with P. Tillich, the systematic theologian par excellence, who just couldn’t resist it either. From his three-part series came spinoffs of the “christian atheism” movement and so on (T.J.J. Altizer, H. Cox, et al.). Tillich’s eventual conclusion was that god didn’t exist, because it was a concept in reference to that which was “beyond essence and existence.”
Indeed, Nietzsche’s prophet was correct, god had died. More so, the cosmic life force had paradigmatically died. Everything had become Frankensteinian, and it’s ironic that it all stems from ideologies founded on artificial theologies of order and theogonic clockmaking, i.e., materialism. In this Procrustean paradigm, the world is a lifeless, non-conscious, Steampunk junkheap. But don’t go clutchin’ onto no creationist and book-religious straws again, because there’s no turning back, because everything hitherto had led to the Steampunk paradigm (of which creationism and book-religion are part). As some guy said in the past, you can’t patch old wineskins with new leather.