People like to make lists of the good things humanity's been getting up to. But they always jabber exclusively about natural-science: hard tech. This is probably because physical apparatus is louder, and life-saving in an obvious way. So: some quiet (Heideggerian) technology that was also massive:
This doctrine, "Logicism", or "Fregeanism-with-respect-to-the-foundations-of-maths" was a highly impressive attempt to make the world make sense. It consists in the two linked theses:
I suppose logicism matters because we live in a world where the most (academically, politically, rhetorically) credible analyses are the ones that cloak themselves in formal algebra. It's a paradigm where even fatuous formalization is preferred to other methods. We are reassured by the difficult and symbolic; it tastes of rigour even where it is unrigorous. The logical positivists were still invested in the idea long after Russell's Principia Mathematica, logicism's finest hour, went south.
The Incompleteness Theorem's power is that it's an intuitionist's rebuttal of logicism using logicists' own methodology: if the Theorem is true, no finitary system can ever cover everything that arithmetic does (or seems to do).
"...the human mind is not capable of formulating all of its mathematical intuitions."
At least insofar as:
- his scientistic socialism;
- his labour theory of value;
- his use of the theory of falling rate of profit;
- his collapse of theory to praxis;
- his segregation of humanity into either bourg or prole;
- his underestimation of the power of nationalism;
- and especially as far as his secular theology, the inevitable World Revolution goes.
Despite what it looked like from where he was, there probably aren't "fatal structural contradictions in the economic dynamics of capitalism". Welfare capitalism has (despite recent appearances) smoothened some of it out. Before the C20th (and depositor insurance in particular), there was a banking panic of 2008's scale every twenty years. (Note that this isn't an endorsement of the "Great Moderation" presentist nonsense: just that capitalism's structure isn't obviously essentially volatile.)
Marx was right; Capitalism does limit us in all sorts of ways. But not near so much as his followers have sadly tended to.
1945 & 1961: Evil is banal.
i.e. that 'Good' people are capable of horrific things too.
(Winners: the Nuremberg courts, Arendt, Asch, Milgram, Hofling, Zimbardo, Bandura)
The result sometimes gets reported as "democracy sux!", but the actual conclusion should be something like: "a voting mechanism defined for all possible preference orders cannot simultaneously comply with all four of these desirable conditions."
i.e. Although we have thought up lots of ways to decide together, flaws and "manipulability" are endemic to social choice. Others have shown up the limits to our science and our reason with regards to all "interpersonal comparisons of utility" - but there is conditional hope for a partial fix.
Principle #1: Anonymity (or, "Non-dictatorship")
The social welfare function should account for the wishes of multiple voters. It cannot simply mimic the preferences of a single voter.
Principle #3: Independence of irrelevant alternatives (IIA)
The social preference between x and y should depend only on the individual preferences between x and y (Pairwise Independence). More generally, changes in individuals' rankings of irrelevant alternatives (ones outside a certain subset) should have no impact on the societal ranking of the subset.
Principle #4: Unanimity
1956: Capitalism is not natural.
Highly artificial conditions are required for a market to arise, and work is involved in keeping the bastard thing from spoiling when it does.
Let's be generous to the marketeers; let's grant them even the Efficient Markets Hypothesis. Problem is, once you depart one tiny little jot from the ideal Platonic "perfectly competitive" market, all bets are off. Lipsey and Lancaster showed, - sixty bloody years ago! - that in every actual economy, and almost every physically possible economy, satisfying lots of the criteria for efficiency will not necessarily improve efficiency. It logically requires that you catch em all. This is why, irl, perfectly rational, expert free-market advice is so often counter-productive;
(Winners: Lipsey and Lancaster, Nash, Dixit, the neo-Darwinists)
- ...To ethnic minorities (many! Thinkers from West: Fanon, duBois, Césaire, Douglass, Arendt, hooks, Spivak)
- ...To sexual minorities (fabulous LGBT activism; no monolith occurs)
- ...To the poor (Fabians, Marx)
- ...and in fact everyone; itself (MARX, Weber, Debord, Habermas, Barthes, Foucault, Chomsky, Deleuze-Guattari, Derrida, Zizek)
Running counter to the suggested "efficiency wage" effect and our generally bottom-line-crazed culture, another psychology bit: "overjustification".
perennial: Existing society is endangering itself (and much, much more).
("Winners" - people who realized we were losing -
the Sierra Club,
special thanks to: Science
The issue of what the fuck the mind is might have looked easy at the start of the century, but it lingers, and by no means just because of ideology and self-service. Functionalism and property physicalism were only recently born, though they grow quickly and evenly. But the issue is hardly solved, nor is it clear that cognitive science will breakthrough (for it may be chiselling at the wrong wall).
(Winners: Semon, Ryle, McCullough and Pitts, Turing, Chomsky, Newell and Simon, Putnam, Fodor, Dawkins, Dennett
And now the section that explains why this kind of award doesn't happen:
Individuals are sometimes allowed achievements; for entire fields we tend to speak instead of "developments", a neutral term which does not invite applause.(This wiki page is excellent in tracing the agonies of the topic.)
Further, the humanities and half of the social sciences deal with values: entities which get called "arbitrary" from objectivist positions (which miss the fucken point) and of which it's never possible to speak of with finality.
2. Under a very broad definition of "Marxist",the movement's themes are very much alive; the "Critical Theory" approach (straight outta Frankfurt) can be thought of as cultural neo-Marxism.
3. Not even the world faiths contest this one, I think.
4. Workarounds in "social choice theory" and "public choice theory" have been suggested, so that partial success is usually assured. (e.g. difference between resolute and nonresolute situations)
5. All that is true does not glitter: there aren't many serious pure libertarians anymore (even Nozick was made to bite bullets). Those that come close to the doctrine are roundly mocked even by other frothing types.
6. There's danger here; feminism, always attacked and denigrated, has come to be seen as "finished" by too many. Some overenthusiastic people declared Obama's coronation to be "the end of race politics" in America. The animal rights thing rolls on, neither revolutionizing nor stagnating.
7. Unorthodox, without much replication. Yet.
8. The meat of the concern has long reached 99% consensus, but at the fringes there is considerable distortion and pressing questions...
Mind you, disagreement is endemic in the natural sciences too. But they're orders of magnitude better at enforcing method, and thus a PR image of conformist progress.