Pensée aléatoire

Je ne savais pas vraiment si j’étais encore sain. J’étais debout devant un bâtiment inconnu, entouré d’autres personnes dont je n’arrivais pas à me distinguer. Pourquoi ? Car ils étaient tous vêtus comme moi. Tout était à l’avenant. J’avais peur que mon individualité disparaisse sans trace, que je sois une partie inséparable d’un organisme géant, comme les reins ou les poumons dans le corps humain. Je me sentais comme une abeille qui faisait partie d’une ruche géante, et ensemble on essaimait des terrains nouveaux. Je ne savais pas où ça allait finir. Au final je suis resté debout devant ce bâtiment inoubliable, et je demeurais guetteur.

The Brexit Mayhem

The Brexit process is in shambles. The British parliament is unable to decide on the future of the realm. Most of the distinguished Members of Parliament are horrified by the prospect of a no-deal Brexit due to the sheer disruption it would pose to business and the possibility of an unprecedented recession.

Theresa’s May deal, however, is shunned even more that it has been rejected three times. The deal itself cannot really be called a “solution”, since it merely “postpones” the effort to resolve one of the most complicated questions in the Brexit process: the Irish border.

From a legal perspective, a no-deal Brexit would transform the Ulster-Ireland border into an external border of the European Union. This implies that customs check would have to be performed, since imported goods have to comply with national regulations, and the EU also needs to ensure that this border would not become a backdoor for third country goods to enter its territory. For businesses, this would entail loads of paperwork that would incur additional cost, while for the purpose of security, it is feared that this new alignment would not be in line with the Good Friday Agreement and would reignite the sparks of The Troubles between nationalists and unionists in Ireland.

Meanwhile, Brexiters have been spewing more and more jargon as a possible solution for Brexit, such as “Norway++”, “Canada++”, or even “WTO option” and “managed no-deal”. Perhaps soon they would come up with “Liechtenstein++”, and still it would not be palatable for most of Members of Parliament, since EFTA Members have freedom of movement arrangements with the EU, and there is a tremendous reluctance in Britain to accept this while the EU is insisting that Britain is not allowed to “pick and choose”.

The “WTO option” itself was never an option from the beginning, since the United Kingdom is the founding Member of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) since 1948 and subsequently the WTO since 1995. WTO rules are also not an “alternative” to the European Single Market; it merely serves as a baseline for countries to further liberalize trade, which is demonstrated by the fact that the GATT and the General Agreement on General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) contain exceptions for free trade agreements (FTA).

What is even more worrying from the Brexit discourse is the fact that trade in services is barely discussed, despite the fact that the UK’s economy is reliant on this sector. The GATS is much less liberal than the GATT in the sense that the only services sectors that would be liberalized are those that are explicitly included by Member States, and even when a sector is liberalized, not all modes of transmissions will be subject to it (particularly mode 4, “presence of a natural person”, which would invoke the specter of immigration).

Therefore, it is not surprising that the Brexit process has led to a mayhem. During the campaign for the referendum in 2016, most of these difficult questions were barely considered, and Leave campaigners are more focused on jargon such as “£350 million a week for the National Health Service” or “taking back control”. The stern warning of academics was dismissed with the statement that Britons “have had enough of experts” or that it constitutes part of “Project Fear”. All the difficulties concerning trade were also grossly underestimated with the proud declaration by Liam Fox that a trade deal with the EU would be “one of the easiest in human history”.

This is what happens when jargon and chauvinistic sentiment are prioritized over rational policy considerations, and for the past few weeks, polls have consistently shown a majority for remain. Had the campaign in 2016 been focused on policy discussion instead of jargon, Britain would not have ended up in this mess.

Another important lesson from Brexit is that one should not rely on the form of misrepresentation or even deceptions that was used by the Leave campaign in 2016, since at the end, the winner will have to fulfill what they have promised to maintain their legitimacy and legacy, and jargon are simply insufficient for this purpose. The Leave campaign never offered a rational policy choice and were only reiterating meaningless sentences such as “leave means leave”. It is therefore not surprising that the Parliament is still unable to decide what “leave” actually means.

 

Penilaian singkat buku Madilog karya Tan Malaka

Tan Malaka menulis buku madilog dengan maksud untuk menjadikannya sebagai cara berpikir para proletar di Indonesia. Madilog merupakan singkatan dari “materialisme, dialektika, dan logika.” Namun, tampaknya istilah madilog dalam konteks ini lebih tepat diuraikan menjadi “materialisme, dialektika, dan ideologi”, karena buku ini, walaupun terkesan epistemologis, ternyata bersifat ideologis dan menyalahgunakan ranah epistemologi untuk menjustifikasinya.

Memang di satu sisi buku Madilog mampu memberikan pengenalan terhadap logika dengan baik. Namun tidak tentang sains. Misalnya, Malaka menulis bahwa di Mars pasti ada tumbuhan. Mungkin bisa dipahami karena pada masa itu sulit untuk mencari literatur tentang sains. Namun, paling tidak bila ia melek sains, maka sudah sepatutnya ia mengetahui sifat dasar seorang ilmuwan dan tidak menggunakan kata “pasti”, tetapi “mungkin” bila belum terbukti secara pasti. Yang paling disayangkan di sini adalah motif ideologis Tan Malaka yang membuatnya menyalahgunakan sejarah dan sains (yang bersifat epistemologis serta bebas nilai). Berikut adalah dua kritik utama saya terhadap tulisan Tan Malaka di Madilog:

1. Dialektika adalah tesis bertemu dengan antitesis menjadi sintesis. Marxis mengklaim bahwa proses ini juga berlangsung dalam dunia materialis dan tidak hanya dalam tataran ide saja seperti yang dikatakan oleh Hegel. Tan Malaka bahkan mengatakan bahwa materialisme dialektis adalah hukum alam yang berlaku dalam semua peristiwa di seluruh alam semesta, dari sejarah India sampai hidrogen dan helium. Satu hal yang perlu ditekankan adalah bahwa tesis dan antitesis menunjukkan hitam dan putih, dua hal yang saling berlawanan atau dikotomi. Tan Malaka gagal mempertimbangkan hal ini dan malah melakukan cocologi terhadap materialisme dialektis. Misalnya, Tan Malaka mengatakan Hinduisme di India bertemu dengan antitesis Buddhisme dan Jainisme menjadi sintesis. Bagaimana bisa Hinduisme dan Buddhisme dipertemukan layaknya hitam dan putih? Bukankah masing-masing agama punya karakteristik unik tersendiri? Bukankah masing-masing agama bahkan memiliki kesamaan, seperti misalnya pengurangan nafsu duniawi? Bagaimana bisa dipandang dikotomis layaknya materi dan antimateri?

Hal ini menunjukkan salah satu masalah dalam klaim bahwa materialisme dialektis adalah hukum alam. Sebagai ilustrasi lain, atom hidrogen dan oksigen bila bertemu menjadi H20. Dari sudut pandang materialisme dialektis, hidrogen akan dilihat sebagai tesis, oksigen sebagai antitesis, dan H20 sebagai sintesis. Namun, hidrogen bukan lawan dari oksigen layaknya jahat adalah lawan dari baik! Hal yang sama dengan NaCl. Natrium bukan lawan dikotomis dari klorida!

Maka dari itu, perlu diingat bahwa alam semesta sendiri tidak bersifat dikotomis, tetapi terdiri dari kontinum. Misalnya, dalam kasus aborsi, ahli hukum menuntut agar ilmuwan mampu membuat kategori dikotomis antara hidup dan tak hidup dan menentukan batas antara keduanya. Dalam sains, hal ini tak bisa dilakukan, karena dari pembuahan sampai kelahiran semuanya ada dalam kontinum. Tan Malaka padahal sudah mengetahui keberadaan kontinum ini, seperti pemaparan singkatnya tentang batas antar spesies. Tetapi karena motif ideologisnya, ia melupakan hal ini dan malah melakukan cocologi antara sains dan sejarah dengan materialisme dialektis, yang membawa kita ke poin selanjutnya.

2. Tan Malaka menyalahgunakan sains dan sejarah untuk menjustifikasi ideologi Marxisnya. Misalnya, ia mengatakan Negation der Negation – hidrogen dihapuskan oleh helium, salah satu contoh materialisme dialektis. Hal ini adalah abuse of science, karena dalam sains, hidrogen tidak dihapuskan oleh helium. Kenyataannya, reaksi proton-proton dalam matahari menambahkan jumlah proton dalam hidrogen sehingga menjadi helium, sehingga tidak ada yang disebut “penghapusan” di sini. Perlu ditekankan juga bahwa hukum alam tidak mempreskripsikan sekadar tesis + antitesis = sintesis, tetapi bervariasi, dari e=mc^2 sampai hukum bahwa bila air mencapai suhu 100 derajat celcius akan berubah menjadi uap.

Malaka juga menyalahgunakan peristiwa sejarah. Ini penting bagi Malaka karena bila sejarah dapat dicocok-cocokan dengan materialisme dialektis, ia dapat mengklaim bahwa sejarah ini maju karena materialisme dialektis, dan salah satu bentuknya adalah kapitalis bertemu dengan antitesisnya proletar untuk mencapai sintesisnya komunisme. Akan tetapi sejarah juga ditentukan oleh banyak sekali faktor yang saling berinteraksi dan kompleks, sehingga tidak mudah bagi kita untuk membuat prediksi sejarah. Misalnya, dalam pembentukan negara, menurut Jared Diamond dalam bukunya Gun, Germs, and Steel ada banyak sekali faktor yang bermain, seperti lingkungan, keberadaan hasil tani yang berlimpah, keberadaan hewan ternak, iklim, letak, dll. Faktor ini saling berinteraksi sehingga negara besar muncul di Mesir, Mesopotamia, dan Cina, tetapi tidak di Australia. Hal ini (singkatnya) diakibatkan oleh fakta bahwa di tiga daerah pertama iklim dan lingkungannya mendukung produksi pertanian dan peternakan yang memungkinkan sebagian orang untuk tidak ikut mencari makan dan berspesialisasi dalam hal lain, sementara di Australia tidak. Sejarah peradaban-peradaban dunia bergerak bukan karena adanya satu faktor yang menjadi tesis bertemu dengan lawan dikotomisnya untuk menjadi sintesis. Tidak sesederhana itu.

Maka dari itu, sangat disayangkan bahwa Tan Malaka berusaha menyesatkan Indonesia dengan karangan bahwa materialisme dialektis adalah hukum alam. Paling tidak ia patut diapresiasi karena berusaha mencerahkan bangsa dari hal-hal yang berbau takhayul dengan sains dan logika. Namun, bagi yang ingin membaca buku ini untuk mendapat pengenalan logika dan sains, saya menyarankan buku lain yang jauh lebih bagus dan bebas nilai, seperti buku-buku Carl Sagan.

The Case against the Fallacious Notion of Bucaillism

The bipolarization between science and religion has been drawn since the resurgence of scientific tradition centuries ago. With the zeal of inquiry and skepticism, science has revealed unimaginable facts that contradict credulous and conservative establishments, including scripture-based facts. As a result, science is regularly seen as the antithesis of religion that can undermine its credibility. For instance, Charles Darwin’s idea on natural selection is regarded as blasphemous, since it is entirely incompatible with the story of creation in Abrahamic religions. The inquisition of Galileo Galilei by the church also demonstrates the occurring bipolarization. Thus, in response, various efforts to reconcile the two fields have been launched, from the demarcation of science and religion such as the renowned non-overlapping magisteria (NOMA) advocated by Stephen Jay Gould to the notorious idea which claims that the scriptures such as the bible or the Quran miraculously contains modern scientific facts such as embryology, cosmology, and mathematics. This latter claim, which is often dubbed as “bucaillism”, is nonetheless problematic. It involves several logically fallacies, and it omits essential facts in order to draw a parallel between the scripture and science. Moreover, most decisively, science is falsifiable and may change everyday, and when a theory which is matched to a verse has been refuted, the verse will be refuted as well, and therefore the scripture will lose its credibility. Furthermore, by accepting the truth of modern science and trying to match a verse with a fact, the bucaillist indirectly discredited what they desire to justify. As a result, bucaillism is fallacious and should be avoided in the discourse of science and religion.

The first case against the bucaillistic approach is that it alters the genuine meaning of a scripture. For instance, it was argued that the term “mawaaqi’u l-nujuum” in Quran 56: 75-76 refers to the concept of black hole, as it allegedly means “the place where the stars fall.” However, this claim is rhetorical nonsense. The term mawaaqi’u l-nujuum is a general term in Arabic which means “constellation”, and the synonym of the verb waqi’a, which is saqat’a, has exactly the same meaning. Another example is the claim by Zakir Naik that the word “nur” means “reflected light”, and since Quran 33:46 mentions that the Moon is a muneer or a body emitting nur, Quran has miraculously and accurately enshrined the fact that the Moon reflects the light from the Sun and does not emanate its own light. Again, this is another misapprehension, as the word nur only means light and does not imply “reflected.” This implies that the bucaillistic interpretation creates a novel meaning which is contrary to the exact implication of the verse, and this is a misapprehended retrospective approach. Therefore, the approach should not be exercised in intellectual discussion on science and religion.

Another problem that besets bucaillism is that it involves subjective validation, a cognitive bias in which a person perceives two distinct objects to be related for their personal belief. From the example of nur dan mawaaqi’u l-nujuum, it is apparent that the bucaillists manipulate the genuine meaning of the word in order to harmonize the unrelated Quran and astronomy for their personal belief that the Quran is a scientific miracle. Another case is on the effort to draw parallelism between the Hadith and the concept of a perfect number in mathematics. Bucaillists argue that when the numbers in the verse “Prophet David slept half night and awoke 1/3 of it then slept 1/6 of it….” are added, the result is one, and this is purportedly a flagrant demonstration of Prophet Muhammad’s control of the perfect number concept. This verse, however, is entirely disparate from mathematics. The Scottish philosopher David Hume drew a distinction between is and ought. The quote from a Hadith is an ought, as it explains the prophet’s sunnah that is best to be exercised by Muslims. The concept of a perfect number, on the contrary, explains a mathematical fact and does not instruct Muslim to perform something. Despite the clear difference, bucaillists still try to create a connection between the contrasting Hadith and mathematics, and this is an erroneous subjective validation. As bucaillism is highly influenced by subjective validation, it should not be applied in intellectual discourse.

Bucaillism, furthermore, is a clear manifestation of Texas sharpshooter fallacy, a fallacy in which one tries to focus on the similarities, ignores the differences, and as a result reaches an inaccurate conclusion. Still, from the example of a perfect number, the sentence is actually not finished. There is still an attached clause which instructs to “fast one day” and “iftar for one more day.” The bucallists have to omit this dependent clause in order to draw a parallel, as if the numbers from the clause are added the result will be three and not one, and the conjecture that the Hadith contains the concept of perfect number will be false. Since most bucallistic approach involves this type of fallacy, it should be avoided.

Parvez Hoodbhoy further criticizes the approach for its failure to explain why modern science has to be discovered elsewhere. In 9 March 2012, the Indonesian newspaper Republika published an article which maintained that the concept of general relativity has been explained by the Quran centuries before Albert Einstein formulated it. Several verses which mention “one day for Allah is one thousand year on Earth” were quoted in order to justify this view.  However, it seems unseemly that the general relativity must wait for centuries before it can be applied both in principle and in practice. If the Quran has divulged the fact, then the Islamic civilization should be able to at least discover quantum mechanics or reject Newtonian physics which regard time as absolute. Nonetheless, this never happens. The same question can be applied to the bucallistic approach on the big bang and black holes. Since the world has to wait centuries before these modern scientific concepts are truly discerned, the Quran can not be declared to understand these concepts, and hence bucaillism is erroneous and should not be embraced in intellectual discourse.

The most decisive argument that will deter fundamentalists from exercising this approach is the fact that science must be falsifiable, that it must be able to be criticized and updated with a more accurate understanding. This means that science is dynamic and will always change over time, as demonstrated in the whole scientific history. For instance, in the past the theory of steady state was accepted. Since Hubble has demonstrated that the universe is expanding, this theory is currently discredited, while the big bang is widely acknowledged. However, in the future, there might be a chance that the big bang will be derogated by a more accurate theory. As bucaillists have erroneously maintained that the Quran has explained the concept of big bang, when this theory is debunked, the Quran will also be mistaken, and ergo it will lose its credibility. Since bucaillism may jeopardize a scripture’s integrity, it should not be intellectually implemented.

A further implication is that bucaillists indirectly subordinate religion below science. Suppose the big bang theory is refuted, and a new theory named the big bong is accepted as its replacement. The bucaillists will have to abandon its old parallelism with the big bang and draw a new one with the big bong. Subsequently, the big bong is discredited and another theory named the small bang is embraced by scientists. The old parallelism must again be discarded and a new one must be established. As a result, religion will tend to follow science’s direction, and this is an implied recognition of the superiority of science. Thus, bucaillism will jeopardize religion itself and therefore should be abandoned.

In conclusion, bucaillism should be disregarded from any intellectual discourse, as it is logically fallacious, and it jeopardizes the scripture’s credibility and integrity. As Nomanul Haq of Penn State University has stated, bucaillism is the sign of a “deep, deep inferiority complex” caused by colonialism and deja vu of Islamic golden age. In order to restore its old glory, what the Islamic civilization should do is not to draw a fake correlation between the scripture and science in order to invoke an illusory transcendent satisfaction. What should be done is to restore the old zeal of scientific curiosity, such as adopted by Abdus Salam, and create a breakthrough in science which will increase the glory and the well-being of Islamic civilization itself.