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Thu Mar 22, 2012, 08:33 PM

The scientific meta-narrative

Many of the questions I have been asked to address deal with the difference between the thought behind science and the thought behind religion. The following is an attempt to look at the way we come at this matter from different perspectives. To put down science because it does not use the methodology of religion is fallacious. So is the converse. Religion does not use the methodology of science. But that does not disallow it.

One of the compelling lessons to be learned from the post-modernists is that no system or perspective, which claims to explain everything, is legitimate. These “meta-narratives” always leave segments of society believing that they have all the answers to everything. Historically, when religion in general or a single religion in particular, assumes total control of knowledge and authority, civilization not only grinds to a halt but also regresses. Meta-narratives are always incomplete and flawed. Religion, however, is not the only culprit. The common meta-narrative of our age is “scientism.” The laws of nature as we know them are not only incomplete, but are also circumscribed by conjecture. However, to assume that science or the scientific method is the final reality eliminating from all discourse any other value, purpose or way to understand life, is the era’s basic meta-narrative. And that is where our culture currently finds itself.

How did we come to this societal conclusion? To understand the problem we need to go back to the 17th century and Rene Descartes. While still a dedicated Christian, with a profound faith in God, Descartes began to see that the control of life by the religious establishment and its thought processes stifled all other ways to understand reality. He studied mathematics, physics and what he called “the great book of the world.” Eventually he concluded that the only reality was the processes of the mind—indeed the mind was the totality of both meaning and being. He concluded that he was no more and no less than what he thought. “I think, therefore I am.” Only those things the human mind can deduce from an observation of the natural world have any legitimacy. Thus the burgeoning discipline called science became “scientism”—the meta-narrative that dominates us today. While Descartes contribution to the intellectual world has rarely been excelled, the most direct result of his work has been the trading of one meta-narrative for another. Now, “science is my shepherd, I shall not want.” So rationality means, ‘scientific absolutism,’ and to say that some person or discipline is not rational and therefore cannot legitimately enter any intellectual conversation, is to buy the absolute nature of the Cartesian model.

While religion must incorporate the Cartesian synthesis, it does not assert that it is the only reality. We are not just what our minds produce. There is purpose, beauty, meaning, values and the mystery that exist beyond scientism. These realities are not opposed to the scientific model, but only stand along side it as a way to understand the meaning of life.

One of Descartes’ most profound observations was that everything that cannot be proved—rationally and scientifically—should be doubted. When someone says, “I have facts and all you have is faith,” he/she has taken Descartes' doubt model as the whole truth. This is compared to the Socratic model which says that doubt is always the beginning of wisdom. In education one proceeds either from the deductive reasoning of Descartes or the inductive reasoning of the Greeks. The point is that each must exist beside the other as partners. Neither can be a meta-narrative, which explains everything. Faith in that which cannot be rationally proved, has its own legitimacy.

The other great challenge to the Cartesian rationalism is empiricism, (John Locke as the prime example) which holds that all knowledge is derived from experience. One believes in love, for instance, not because of a rational perspective, but because one has experienced it. God is not an entity to be proved, but an experience to be delighted in. Compassion is not good because it bends to the laws of nature but because one simply had been the object of compassion offered by another. Science also relies on an empirical analysis, but is not totally captured by it. There is room for those things which are never rationally produced even by the greatest minds. Beauty is not a provable reality. Beauty is validated only by experience.

Perhaps our culture is so totally caught up in the Cartesian synthesis we find it impossible to realize that this just appears to be our total reality. It is so much part of us we cannot even realize its ubiquitous reality. Ask a fish what water is, and it will say, “What’s water?”

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Arrow 104 replies Author Time Post
Reply The scientific meta-narrative (Original post)
Thats my opinion Mar 2012 OP
Odin2005 Mar 2012 #1
2ndAmForComputers Mar 2012 #4
Jim__ Mar 2012 #28
2ndAmForComputers Mar 2012 #58
Goblinmonger Mar 2012 #6
Thats my opinion Mar 2012 #67
LeftishBrit Mar 2012 #71
Thats my opinion Mar 2012 #73
LeftishBrit Mar 2012 #75
Jim__ Mar 2012 #2
Thats my opinion Mar 2012 #3
tama Mar 2012 #38
patrice Mar 2012 #5
AlbertCat Mar 2012 #81
patrice Mar 2012 #82
trotsky Mar 2012 #7
Thats my opinion Mar 2012 #14
2ndAmForComputers Mar 2012 #16
rug Mar 2012 #37
trotsky Mar 2012 #41
rug Mar 2012 #42
trotsky Mar 2012 #46
rug Mar 2012 #48
trotsky Mar 2012 #49
bongbong Mar 2012 #55
trotsky Mar 2012 #56
Thats my opinion Mar 2012 #64
trotsky Mar 2012 #40
Thats my opinion Mar 2012 #74
trotsky Mar 2012 #39
tama Mar 2012 #51
Leontius Mar 2012 #8
skepticscott Mar 2012 #10
Leontius Mar 2012 #13
2ndAmForComputers Mar 2012 #17
skepticscott Mar 2012 #33
skepticscott Mar 2012 #9
Thats my opinion Mar 2012 #15
skepticscott Mar 2012 #29
Speck Tater Mar 2012 #11
skepticscott Mar 2012 #12
Speck Tater Mar 2012 #66
skepticscott Mar 2012 #79
2ndAmForComputers Mar 2012 #18
Humanist_Activist Mar 2012 #25
tama Mar 2012 #43
Humanist_Activist Mar 2012 #101
tama Mar 2012 #103
trotsky Mar 2012 #44
Speck Tater Mar 2012 #65
trotsky Mar 2012 #70
longship Mar 2012 #19
2ndAmForComputers Mar 2012 #22
longship Mar 2012 #23
tama Mar 2012 #50
longship Mar 2012 #52
tama Mar 2012 #59
AlbertCat Mar 2012 #84
tama Mar 2012 #86
Jim__ Mar 2012 #27
skepticscott Mar 2012 #30
Jim__ Mar 2012 #35
skepticscott Mar 2012 #89
Jim__ Mar 2012 #91
skepticscott Mar 2012 #92
Jim__ Mar 2012 #93
longship Mar 2012 #31
Jim__ Mar 2012 #34
Joseph8th Mar 2012 #61
Jim__ Mar 2012 #63
Joseph8th Mar 2012 #104
tama Mar 2012 #47
Humanist_Activist Mar 2012 #95
tama Mar 2012 #96
Humanist_Activist Mar 2012 #100
tama Mar 2012 #102
AlbertCat Mar 2012 #83
absyntheminded Mar 2012 #20
Brettongarcia Mar 2012 #21
Thats my opinion Mar 2012 #76
Humanist_Activist Mar 2012 #24
Humanist_Activist Mar 2012 #26
skepticscott Mar 2012 #32
mr blur Mar 2012 #36
muriel_volestrangler Mar 2012 #45
bongbong Mar 2012 #53
rrneck Mar 2012 #68
LeftishBrit Mar 2012 #54
2ndAmForComputers Mar 2012 #60
Silent3 Mar 2012 #69
Jim__ Mar 2012 #72
LeftishBrit Mar 2012 #77
Jim__ Mar 2012 #78
tama Mar 2012 #87
Joseph8th Mar 2012 #57
Silent3 Mar 2012 #62
tama Mar 2012 #90
AlbertCat Mar 2012 #80
Leontius Mar 2012 #85
Thats my opinion Mar 2012 #88
FarCenter Mar 2012 #94
tama Mar 2012 #97
FarCenter Mar 2012 #98
tama Mar 2012 #99

Response to Thats my opinion (Original post)

Thu Mar 22, 2012, 08:44 PM

1. Ooh, postodernist mumbo-jumbo!

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Response to Odin2005 (Reply #1)

Thu Mar 22, 2012, 09:14 PM

4. That is a correct assessment. Buy this book:

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Response to 2ndAmForComputers (Reply #4)

Fri Mar 23, 2012, 05:18 AM

28. See post #27.

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Response to Jim__ (Reply #28)

Fri Mar 23, 2012, 11:24 AM

58. How can I not love this book?

It pisses off all the right people.

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Response to Odin2005 (Reply #1)

Thu Mar 22, 2012, 09:21 PM

6. I just don't know

if he thought pomo would be a good answer or if he is purposefully stirring the pot.

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Response to Odin2005 (Reply #1)

Fri Mar 23, 2012, 12:30 PM

67. The original post was not really about post-modernism---

which is obviously a far easier target than what I was really talking about. i also have serious arguments with the pms. i find Derrida et. al. opaque. For the purposes of this conversation all I did with the pms was to substantiate an issue which comes much earlier than they. Is there one system which explains everything, and outside that system there can be no reason or truth?

Nor is what I said an attack on science--but on the notion that scientific rationality alone holds the deposit of all meaning. I stated that science and the Cartesian model are both valid and important. I could not write a single word without them. I take advantage of all that science has produced, and am thankful for it. My point was that it does not exhaust ALL value.

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Response to Thats my opinion (Reply #67)

Fri Mar 23, 2012, 01:42 PM

71. But very few people are saying that 'one system explains everything'

What I find rather offensive about such arguments is that they seem to imply that all atheists/ scientists/ scientific atheists, etc. are arrogant, and are claiming to 'explain everything'. This is not so. People who do not find that religion provides an explanation for them, are not necessarily saying that science 'explains everything'. The implication is that somehow people choose not to accept religion out of some sort of fanaticism equivalent to religious fanaticism. Of course, some atheists may be fanatical about some non-religious ideology, or may even be fanatical anti-theists, but they do not generally reject religion in the first place as a result of arrogance or fanaticism. They reject religion because they cannot believe that it's true. In my own case, and that of a number of atheists whom I know, it is much more a matter of finding the claims of different religions, and sometimes even different writings in the same religion, very contradictory and conflicting, and not finding any more convincing than the others - rather than thinking that 'science (or anything else) is my shepherd; I shall not want'. I don't feel proud, or ashamed, of not believing that religion is true; I just don't believe in it. And I cannot force myself to believe in something that I don't believe.

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Response to LeftishBrit (Reply #71)

Fri Mar 23, 2012, 04:43 PM

73. Of course you are correct.

I did not impugn all atheists" as those who claim the capacity to explain everything through their non-belief. There are many atheists I know--and in this forum--whose views are exactly as you describe yours.
There are other atheists, however--some in this forum--whose scientific preoccupation leads them to believe that everything can be explained by scientific rationality.

Your position, even if I disagree, is thoughtful and respected.

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Response to Thats my opinion (Reply #73)

Fri Mar 23, 2012, 04:57 PM

75. To be truthful, I haven't noticed anyone in the forum who does.

I have noticed people in the forum who have a rather more blanket condemnation of religion than I do. But that is not as far as I can seem because of their 'scientific preoccupation', but because they have been much more constantly exposed than I have to religious-right attitudes and behaviour.

Most of my direct experience has been with either secular people, or religious leftists, or apolitical religious people. Most of the right-wingers I've known have not been ultra-religious, if you don't count the worship of Maggie Thatcher as a religion. In 2010, for the first and I HOPE the last time in my life, I directly experienced religious-right 'pro-lifers' smearing our comparatively progressive MP and getting him defeated by a right-winger. The fact that I started posting on this forum in 2010, despite having been on DU since 2004, is not a coincidence. People who have such political experiences in their backyard, not once but continually, are inevitably going to have a more jaundiced view of religion as a whole than I do. It has nothing to do with 'worshipping science' or 'worshipping anything else' except the need to be free from right-wing fanatics, and associating them with religion, because the right-wing fanatics have associated themselves with religion!

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Response to Thats my opinion (Original post)

Thu Mar 22, 2012, 08:53 PM

2. My understanding of Descartes' thought is a little different from the way you present it.

When you say:

... Eventually he concluded that the only reality was the processes of the mind—indeed the mind was the totality of both meaning and being. He concluded that he was no more and no less than what he thought. “I think, therefore I am.” Only those things the human mind can deduce from an observation of the natural world have any legitimacy. ...


My understanding is that Descartes doubted everything, including data from sensation. His I think, therefor I am was his conclusion of trying to understand what he knew for certain; and the only thing he could be certain of is that he did think; and therefore he did exist as a thinking entity. From there he used his faith in a loving God to conclude that he such a God would not deceive his senses. The legacy of Descartes that I am most familiar with is the legacy of dualism, the duality of the material world and the spiritual world. I am not denying what you say, but I do question that it is Descartes' thinking that led to the current materialistic view of the world, except that when his dualistic model was rejected, the materialistic side of his idea is what we were left with.

I agree with what you say about a fish not knowing it's wet. I'm not really sure how we can get past that. I'm not sure that rejection of any single meta-narrative gets us there. Like Derrida said, there is nothing outside the text. So, we may be trapped inside our stories, no matter what stories we are telling.


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Response to Jim__ (Reply #2)

Thu Mar 22, 2012, 09:08 PM

3. I find your response helfpful, and it clarifies my representation of Descartes

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Response to Jim__ (Reply #2)

Fri Mar 23, 2012, 07:17 AM

38. Cartesian skepticism

 

Good post. I'd just like to add that it's been noted that also the 1st person "Ego" of "ergo sum" can very well be doubted, but what methodological skepticism cannot deny is that doubting happens (when in doubt).

We may also retell and vary our stories, each era has new look on it's history, and as Wheeler's delayed choice experiment shows, quantum histories are not fixed but affected by observer participation.

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Response to Thats my opinion (Original post)

Thu Mar 22, 2012, 09:14 PM

5. I think it's kind of interesting how appx. 14,999,600 years of something that might be referred to

as knowledge, or perhaps proto-knowledge, is held as 0 ever since the formulization of rational empiricism, appx. 400 years ago.

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Response to patrice (Reply #5)

Fri Mar 23, 2012, 05:55 PM

81. is held as 0 ever since the formulization of rational empiricism, appx. 400 years ago.

Nonsense.

We often cite we are rediscovering many things the Greeks found out before the Dark Ages, when rational empiricism might be punishable by death because it was held as 0.

It's superstition and revelation sans evidence that is held as 0. The Greeks knew the earth was round and we still believe that.

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Response to AlbertCat (Reply #81)

Fri Mar 23, 2012, 06:05 PM

82. Okay, so make that appx. 14,997,200 years of something that was regarded as valuable

prior to the Greeks, or whatever other earlier marker you want to set to indicate the beginning of "knowledge", which is assumed to be directly equal, 1:1, with something referred to as understanding, and prior to which there was 0 of whatever you want to call that commodity.

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Response to Thats my opinion (Original post)

Thu Mar 22, 2012, 09:22 PM

7. Actually, if you ask a fish what water is, it won't answer.

Last edited Fri Mar 23, 2012, 07:44 AM - Edit history (1)

Because it's a friggin' fish. IT CAN'T TALK.

All of this is just po-mo nonsense and science bashing, the sole purpose of which is to give just enough wiggle room to let one feel justified in believing what they want in the face of incontrovertible counter-evidence.

Of course there's the darker side of po-mo, that no one wants to acknowledge: What if one doesn't like that science says there is no significant genetic difference between the races? They can go right on believing the white race is superior because God said so. After all, their viewpoint is just as valid as that horrible "scientific absolutism." (By the way, if one can spit when one says that, all the better.)

If one doesn't like the "scientism" meta-narrative limited viewpoint, then one should quit using one's computer and any other device that science says will work. Because what the hell do those closed-minded, limited-thinking scientists know? Better yet, unplug the computer from the wall and make it work with beauty, or love, or compassion. Show those stupid scientists what's what!

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Response to trotsky (Reply #7)

Thu Mar 22, 2012, 10:46 PM

14. the "You's you refer to in par 2 is not me. Who are these you s?

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Response to Thats my opinion (Reply #14)

Thu Mar 22, 2012, 10:53 PM

16. He's not calling you a racist, and you know it.

Your command of the English language is enough to be familiar with that use of the word "you."

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Response to 2ndAmForComputers (Reply #16)

Fri Mar 23, 2012, 07:05 AM

37. No, he's insinuating it as a disruptive diversion.

"You go right on believing the white race is superior because God said so."

That's pretty clear. Unless of course he's speaking to an imaginary second person.

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Response to rug (Reply #37)

Fri Mar 23, 2012, 07:26 AM

41. I see your mind-reading skills are as poor as ever, rug.

Nice to continue to be a target for your demonization, though. I must be doing something right!

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Response to trotsky (Reply #41)

Fri Mar 23, 2012, 07:28 AM

42. My reading skills are as good as ever, trotsky.

That's a bullshit post.

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Response to rug (Reply #42)

Fri Mar 23, 2012, 07:41 AM

46. No, I'm afraid they're not.

And you are wrong.

But since I don't want to have you or anyone else continue to smear and attack me in order to derail the discussion, I'm going to change it to make it even more clear.

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Response to trotsky (Reply #46)

Fri Mar 23, 2012, 07:48 AM

48. Good edit. And that one word is the difference between a discussion and a personal attack.

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Response to rug (Reply #48)

Fri Mar 23, 2012, 08:09 AM

49. Except there was no personal attack.

But your continuing insinuation is itself one. So knock it off.

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Response to trotsky (Reply #49)

Fri Mar 23, 2012, 10:30 AM

55. Meta-meta humor

 

In a long thread about meta-this and meta-that, and pomo, you have ....

a fellow with screenname "trotsky" arguing with a fellow with an icon of Marx.

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Response to bongbong (Reply #55)

Fri Mar 23, 2012, 10:42 AM

56. Yeah, I get that a lot.

Doesn't really register with me because my username has nothing to do with the historical Trotsky.

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Response to trotsky (Reply #46)

Fri Mar 23, 2012, 11:58 AM

64. Thanks for the change nt

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Response to 2ndAmForComputers (Reply #16)

Fri Mar 23, 2012, 07:24 AM

40. Problem is, when they're caught and trapped in an argument...

they'll reach for anything they can to get out. I've seen this movie way too many times.

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Response to trotsky (Reply #40)

Fri Mar 23, 2012, 04:45 PM

74. Who is this "they"?

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Response to Thats my opinion (Reply #14)

Fri Mar 23, 2012, 07:23 AM

39. "You" in the hypothetical sense.

Carry on.

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Response to trotsky (Reply #7)

Fri Mar 23, 2012, 08:27 AM

51. Not all scientists

 

are "closed-minded, limited-thinking" but there can be those too.

Not all scientists subscribe to scientism, many are very critical of it as are also philosophers of science and skeptics:

Science can stand on its own feet and does not need any help from rationalists, secular humanists, Marxists and similar religious movements; and ... non-scientific cultures, procedures and assumptions can also stand on their own feet and should be allowed to do so ... Science must be protected from ideologies; and societies, especially democratic societies, must be protected from science... In a democracy scientific institutions, research programmes, and suggestions must therefore be subjected to public control, there must be a separation of state and science just as there is a separation between state and religious institutions, and science should be taught as one view among many and not as the one and only road to truth and reality.
- Feyerabend


Michael Shermer, founder of The Skeptics Society, draws a parallel between scientism and traditional religious movements, pointing to the cult of personality that develops around some scientists in the public eye.

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Response to Thats my opinion (Original post)

Thu Mar 22, 2012, 09:31 PM

8. My guess is that there will be five more rejections of your ideas

with the same or quite similar line of reasoning or objection. I think this shows that when you remove half the foundation of a method to understand the universe what you're left with is quite unsteady and easily toppled by the next wind of knowledge, the next best thing going.

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Response to Leontius (Reply #8)

Thu Mar 22, 2012, 09:37 PM

10. Your logic is dazzling

especially coming from someone sending his message solely though the benefit of that "unsteady" stuff that we're left with.

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Response to skepticscott (Reply #10)

Thu Mar 22, 2012, 10:29 PM

13. And whoosh went my point, sorry you don't get it try looking up next time.

I am glad to see that your objections to the OP at least shows independent thinking.

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Response to Leontius (Reply #13)

Thu Mar 22, 2012, 10:55 PM

17. It's easy not to get a point when it's gibberish.

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Response to Leontius (Reply #13)

Fri Mar 23, 2012, 06:02 AM

33. Your "point" went flush, not whoosh.

But I won't waste any more time trying to enlighten you.

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Response to Thats my opinion (Original post)

Thu Mar 22, 2012, 09:34 PM

9. You start badly and get worse

"To put down science because it does not use the methodology of religion is fallacious"

What does that even mean? Religion HAS no "methodology", so who but a moron would put science down for not following it? And no, the fact that religion does not use the methodology of science does not "disallow it" (who ever claimed it did?), but when religion makes truth claims about the physical world that conflict with well-supported facts, and offers nothing but "faith" in return, it fails. Miserably.

"One of Descartes’ most profound observations was that everything that cannot be proved—rationally and scientifically—should be doubted."

Could you possibly be any more wrong? Assuming that Descarte actually said that, and that you didn't just make it up, it is anything but profound. Nothing is "proven" rationally and scientifically. ALL knowledge is provisional and subject to re-evaluation, given sufficient evidence to do so.

The rest is about the same but not worth the trouble to demolish.

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Response to skepticscott (Reply #9)

Thu Mar 22, 2012, 10:48 PM

15. Just for the heck of it, try reading Rene nt

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Response to Thats my opinion (Reply #15)

Fri Mar 23, 2012, 05:50 AM

29. That's it? That's all you can muster?

No substance, no real response, not even a grasp that my criticism was mainly directed at your evaluation and fawning praise of a statement that you attributed to Descartes. No doubt if your friend "Rene" were posting here, you'd be giving him "Good Post" awards pretty frequently.

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Response to Thats my opinion (Original post)

Thu Mar 22, 2012, 10:02 PM

11. I notice all the true believers in scientism have shown up to trumpet THEIR dogma. nt

 

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Response to Speck Tater (Reply #11)

Thu Mar 22, 2012, 10:13 PM

12. The "true believers" are those

who have invented the dogma that a philosophical position they disparagingly call "scientism" is actually held by anyone (here or elsewhere).

What is the "dogma" of "scientism"? Recognizing that science has a demonstrated track record of being more successful at what it tries to do (understand and explain the physical world) than anything else we have? Please.

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Response to skepticscott (Reply #12)

Fri Mar 23, 2012, 12:05 PM

66. See post #65 and answer the question. nt

 

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Response to Speck Tater (Reply #66)

Fri Mar 23, 2012, 05:38 PM

79. You and others have been told some of the evidence

that would start to convince me that there are actually a lot of individuals and groups out there professing to what you call "scientism", and been asked to provide that evidence. You can't. You can' even provide evidence of ONE, let alone any number worth caring about. Instead you respond like you have here.

Cutting and pasting the definition of what people mean when they use the term "scientism" is a far cry from showing that anyone actually adheres to that worldview, just as describing a unicorn and drawing a picture of one is a far cry from showing that they actually exist.

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Response to Speck Tater (Reply #11)

Thu Mar 22, 2012, 10:57 PM

18. Page 187 of the Handbook of Dishonest Rhetoric.

"Make your opponent's argument look bad by attaching the suffix -ism to them."

Transparent.

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Response to Speck Tater (Reply #11)

Fri Mar 23, 2012, 02:43 AM

25. What the fuck is scientism? No seriously, this shit is literal nonsense. n/t

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Response to Humanist_Activist (Reply #25)

Fri Mar 23, 2012, 07:29 AM

43. Wikepedia:

 

"Scientism is a belief in the universal applicability of the scientific method and approach, and the view that empirical science constitutes the most authoritative worldview or most valuable part of human learning to the exclusion of other viewpoints. The term frequently implies a critique of the more extreme expressions of logical positivism and has been used by social scientists such as Friedrich Hayek, philosophers of science such as Karl Popper, and philosophers such as Hilary Putnam to describe the dogmatic endorsement of scientific methodology and the reduction of all knowledge to only that which is measurable.

Scientism may refer to science applied "in excess." The term scientism can apply in either of two equally pejorative senses:

To indicate the improper usage of science or scientific claims. This usage applies equally in contexts where science might not apply, such as when the topic is perceived to be beyond the scope of scientific inquiry, and in contexts where there is insufficient empirical evidence to justify a scientific conclusion. It includes an excessive deference to claims made by scientists or an uncritical eagerness to accept any result described as scientific. In this case, the term is a counterargument to appeals to scientific authority.
To refer to "the belief that the methods of natural science, or the categories and things recognized in natural science, form the only proper elements in any philosophical or other inquiry," or that "science, and only science, describes the world as it is in itself, independent of perspective" with a concomitant "elimination of the psychological dimensions of experience."

The term is also used to highlight the possible dangers of lapses towards excessive reductionism in all fields of human knowledge.

For sociologists in the tradition of Max Weber, such as Jürgen Habermas, the concept of scientism relates significantly to the philosophy of positivism, but also to the cultural rationalization of the modern West."

Instead of claiming that you are a supporter of or believer in scientism, I would like to ask where your world view agrees with scientism and where it differs?

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Response to tama (Reply #43)

Sat Mar 24, 2012, 08:01 PM

101. So basically its a perjorative used mostly by those ignorant in how science works...

to criticize those who utilize science. Very enlightening.

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Response to Humanist_Activist (Reply #101)

Sat Mar 24, 2012, 08:57 PM

103. Don't be ashamed

 

of your ignorance. That would be an obstacle of learning.

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Response to Speck Tater (Reply #11)

Fri Mar 23, 2012, 07:31 AM

44. And I notice all those who can't dispute those "true believers'" objections...

have shown up to fling insults, as usual.

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Response to trotsky (Reply #44)

Fri Mar 23, 2012, 12:02 PM

65. Just one question...

 

If the fellow looks at you and if you ask him whoever it is you're debating, "What would change your mind on that angle?" If they can't answer that, I mean that's a very telling question right there, and Martin Gardner came with that idea and I thank him for that. I've used that many, many times since. And if they can't answer that question or if they say, "Oh nothing would change my mind, then you won a great point."

-- James Randi

So tell me, What would change your mind on this subject?

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Response to Speck Tater (Reply #65)

Fri Mar 23, 2012, 01:40 PM

70. Being able to state the subject is a great start.

Po-mo, by its very nature, can only obfuscate. Because that's what it was invented to do.

If you can state clearly what the OP is trying to say - other than "science is SOOOO lame, dude" - please do so.

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Response to Thats my opinion (Original post)

Thu Mar 22, 2012, 11:40 PM

19. "no system or perspective, which claims to explain everything, is legitimate"



A bit of a straw man here.

More post-modernistic clap trap. Nothing to see here folks, move on.

Maybe the OP ought to visit the Postmodernism Generator. The best debunking of PoMo is Transgressing the Boundaries: towards a transformative hermeneutics of quantum gravity by Alan D. Sokol, which is a particularly delicious word salad of, as Richard Dawkins called it, postmodern metatwaddle. Sokol, a physicist, deliberately constructed the paper to be total rubbish and actually got it published in a so-called peer-reviewed journal, Social Text.

As was reported by Gary Kamiya:

Anyone who has spent time wading through the pious, obscurantist, jargon-filled cant that now passes for 'advanced' thought in the humanities knew it was bound to happen sooner or later: some clever academic, armed with the not-so-secret passwords ('hermeneutics', 'transgressive', 'Lacanian', 'hegemony', to name a few) would write a complete bogus paper, submit it to an au courant journal, and have it accepted...


That's your basic postmodernism.

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Response to longship (Reply #19)

Fri Mar 23, 2012, 01:22 AM

22. See post 4.

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Response to 2ndAmForComputers (Reply #22)

Fri Mar 23, 2012, 01:53 AM

23. I saw that

Thanks. I thought that the OP needed some additional take down. IMHO, the post is utter rubbish, intellectually bankrupt.

Show me a postmodernist flying in an airplane and I'll show you a hypocrite.

I despise those guys, and arguing with them is like arguing with a Jehovah Witness. It's like the two are speaking two different languages. One of my best friend's daughter is graduating from Columbia University this spring. She majored in anthropology, but everything that comes out of her mouth is postmodernist claptrap, nothing of which makes any sense. It's just word salad.

I'm shocked that a school which is allegedly prestigious would bilk a student for the huge tuition for four years and basically teach them to be obscurantist know nothings. It's shocking.

The worst is that this rubbish is prevalent in the education schools as well. Our poor children who have to suffer with that.

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Response to longship (Reply #23)

Fri Mar 23, 2012, 08:11 AM

50. Highly emotional attitude

 

and raises the question where does so strongly negative emotional response come from.

Two different languages - you have your own academic backgound which has constructed your views and opinions and beliefs and language, your niece has different social conditioning in the social institution called 'Academic world'.

You cherish your own social conditioning and despice that of your niece - and other "post-modernists" who don't believe as you do with same emotional conviction and express themselves differently.

One of the most interesting American "anthropological" movies is "Dancing with wolves" with a scene where Kevin Costner character after "going native" refuses to speak English to the soldiers who captivate and beat him.

Eli kun puhun sinulle suomea, toista kieltä jota et ymmärrä, onko jo siinä tarpeeksi syytä suuttua ja halveksia? Vain koska et ymmärrä ja käsitä - sitäkään että ymmärtäminen ja käsittäminen eivät ole välttämättä samanalisia kokemuksia kuin newtonilainen 'understanding'?

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Response to tama (Reply #50)

Fri Mar 23, 2012, 09:11 AM

52. Finnish descent?

I don't read or speak the language but my mother was bilingual. The best I can do is recognize it.


Yes, it is an emotive issue for me. I confess to that. To me, science education is crucial for public understanding of many important topics. I get worked up when people, like the postmodernists, mischaracterize science (which they do).

BTW, what does the Finnish say?

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Response to longship (Reply #52)

Fri Mar 23, 2012, 11:36 AM

59. I'm Finnish

 

The Finnish was a test based on you despising your niece because she speaks "other language".

Translation:
"So when I speak to you Finnish, other language you don't comprehed, is that allready reason enough to get mad and despise? Only because you don't ymmärrä ("comprehend") and käsitä ("grasp") that comprehending and grasping are not necessarily beneath same* experience as newtonian understanding*.

Translators comments:
*"samanalisia" translated as 'beneath same', was a typo or freudian lapse of "samanlaisia", ie. 'similar'
**Head getting hit by apple while standing under the tree of knowledge

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Response to tama (Reply #50)

Fri Mar 23, 2012, 06:15 PM

84. One of the most interesting American "anthropological" movies is "Dancing with wolves"

Oh Puleez!

That lame piece of crap? As "The New Yorker" put it "Costner has feathers in his hair and in his head." They call it "Plays with Camera".

There is nothing "anthropological" much less interesting about that fantasy film.

Lame!

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Response to AlbertCat (Reply #84)

Fri Mar 23, 2012, 06:32 PM

86. Anthropological

 

as in what it tells about the American culture that produced it. Not about indians and others that haven't stop speaking to you, even when it is just to your deaf ears.

Movie showing culture that hates itself so deeply that it wants to "go native" and stop communicating to it's self-abusive self in language of self-abuse. Would say Zizek the movie-psychoanalyser if he dared to analyse 'Dancing with Wolves'...

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Response to longship (Reply #19)

Fri Mar 23, 2012, 05:17 AM

27. Sokal's paper can be compared with the Bogdanov papers published in refereed Physics Journals.

If Sokal's paper is strong evidence that post-modernism is clap-trap, what does the Bogdanov Affair say about Physics and Mathematics.

Sokal's paper was published in a non-peer reviewed magazine.

The Bogdanovs published 5 papers, by all reports, pure gibberish, in refereed physics journals. Not only that, one of the them was awarded a doctorate in Physics for the "work", and the other a doctorate in mathematics.

Some discussion of their "work" from wikipedia (excerpted from the earlier link):

Participants in the discussions were particularly unconvinced by a statement in the "Topological origin of inertia" paper that "whatever the orientation, the plane of oscillation of Foucault's pendulum is necessarily aligned with the initial singularity marking the origin of physical space." In addition, the paper claimed, the Foucault pendulum experiment "cannot be explained satisfactorily in either classical or relativistic mechanics". The physicists commenting on Usenet found these claims and subsequent attempts at their explanation peculiar, since the trajectory of a Foucault pendulum—a standard museum piece—is accurately predicted by classical mechanics. The Bogdanovs explained that these claims would only be clear in the context of topological field theory. Baez and Russell Blackadar attempted to determine the meaning of the "plane of oscillation" statement; after the Bogdanovs issued some elaborations, Baez concluded that it was a complicated way of rephrasing the following:

Since the big bang happened everywhere, no matter which way a pendulum swings, the plane in which it swings can be said to "intersect the big bang".


However, Baez pointed out, this statement does not in fact concern the Big Bang, and is entirely equivalent to the following:

No matter which way a pendulum swings, there is some point on the plane in which it swings.


Yet this rephrasing is itself equivalent to the statement

Any plane contains a point.


So, if the publication of Sokal's paper in a non-peer reviewed magazine shows all of post modernism to be clap-trap, what does the publication of 5 different papers by the Bogdanovs in peer-reviewed physics journals say about physics? And what does their being awarded doctorates in Physics and Mathematics say about those disciplines?

Do we use the same criteria to judge both cases?

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Response to Jim__ (Reply #27)

Fri Mar 23, 2012, 05:58 AM

30. That's a particularly thoughtless, not to mention richly ironic

question, coming from someone sending his message on a computer, over the Internet.

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Response to skepticscott (Reply #30)

Fri Mar 23, 2012, 06:13 AM

35. You mean publication of a ridiculous paper doesn't serve to undermine an entire field?

What insight!

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Response to Jim__ (Reply #35)

Fri Mar 23, 2012, 07:10 PM

89. If that field has a long and documented history

of success at understanding and explaining the things it studies, not to mention a strong self-correction mechanism, no....it doesn't. The "field" that Sokal hoaxed has no such record and in fact is based on obscurantist BS with no connection to reality or rationality.

Now are you getting it? Did you really think your response was such a zinger?

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Response to skepticscott (Reply #89)

Fri Mar 23, 2012, 08:23 PM

91. A zinger? I realize that evidence will not have any effect on your belief system.

However, I will explicitly state what the evidence has already demonstrated.

The problem with Sokal's paper and the Bogdanovs papers is the same. Sokal submitted a jargon-filled physics paper that he knew would confuse the people he was giving it to. Because they could not fully understand everything that was in the paper, they let it through without forcing Sokal to make the changes they had requested. However, Sokal's paper was published in a non-refereed magazine.

The Bogdanovs did the same thing with their physics papers. The papers crossed boundaries in different areas of physics where there were few people who could understand their jargon-filled papers. Read the history of the Bogdanovs. They're con artists. They used jargon to con PhDs out of Mathematics and Physics departments - the same method that Sokal used to get his paper published in a magazine.

So, no, my previous post was not meant as a zinger. It pointed to a simple, rather obvious, fact: the publication of a single paper in any field does not tell you a lot about that field.

You can deny that both of these events reflect the same problem in different fields - and you can even try to deny that the awarding of PhDs is less serious than the publication of a single paper - but the real problem that these events demonstrated is that jargon that is incomprehensible outside of a very small group of initiates is a serious problem across multiple academic fields.

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Response to Jim__ (Reply #91)

Fri Mar 23, 2012, 10:08 PM

92. Unfortunately for you, the problem is NOT the same

in different fields, for the reasons that I stated quite clearly in my previous post. Po-mo is nothing BUT obscurantist, nonsensical jargon. If physics and mathematics were the same, we wouldn't be chatting, now would we?

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Response to skepticscott (Reply #92)

Sat Mar 24, 2012, 05:48 AM

93. You're making my point.

Stated as simply as possible: the publication of a single bad paper does not invalidate a field of study.

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Response to Jim__ (Reply #27)

Fri Mar 23, 2012, 05:58 AM

31. Sokol was a deliberate hoax

By all appearances Bogdanovs were just incompetent. The peer review process isn't perfect, and yes Social Text has editors who should have seen Sokol's paper as for what it was. Unlike with Bogdanovs, where at least some reviewers recommended not to publish. The peer review process also includes comments after publishing. Not perfect, but things sort themselves out eventually.

And another thing, physics is still real; postmodernism is still bunkem.

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Response to longship (Reply #31)

Fri Mar 23, 2012, 06:05 AM

34. The Bogdanov's were awarded doctorates in Mathematics and Physics.

Sokal's paper was published in a non-refereed magazine.

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Response to Jim__ (Reply #34)

Fri Mar 23, 2012, 11:41 AM

61. Bogdanov's had PhD's, but...

 

... math and physics are difficult subjects. It's not uncommon to find (especially in pure math) several ways to look at the same problem. Because difficult math is complicated, it might not be immediately apparent that a simple, well-known solution already exists. The simplistic example would be some ridiculous complex-valued equation involving a bunch of trig functions and exp functions with imaginary exponents. Using trig identities and Euler's ID, we can easily imagine this could be reduced to a simple solution in however-many variables. The not-so simplistic example would be Garrett's ironically-named "Exceptionally Simple Theory of Everything" which requires an advanced degree in both math and physics to evaluate, and garnered a lot of attention when it hit the journals, but turned out to be more or less a gigantic coincidence. In the simple example it's easy for any mathy person to evaluate whether or not some crackpot's string of sin^2(x)'s and e^iy's is really the ultimate solution to Schrodinger's eq (or whatever). But in the nuanced example, even PhD's can get it wrong. The difference is in the level of peer education needed to evaluate each theory.

Even when they did publish Garrett's ToE, it was with the caveat that the peer review jury was hung, so they published in part for feedback from the physics community and mathers with the chops needed.

I think mathematicians and physicists might have a chip on our shoulder's about philosophers weighing in on the implications of theorems and theories (especially when the jury is still out) when they haven't endured the coursework needed to evaluate the math. When they have done so, I for one find it interesting to think about what certain theorems and theories "mean" vis-a-vis "reality" by various definitions. That I think is the critical difference between woo and not-woo when it comes to philosophy of science and math. Bertrand Russell is awesome, but Numerology is not.

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Response to Joseph8th (Reply #61)

Fri Mar 23, 2012, 11:57 AM

63. John Baez is a mathematical physicist and a professor of mathematics.

John Baez did a lot of the heavy lifting on exposing the Bogdanovs. From the wikipedia article:

... For example, John C. Baez stated that the Bogdanov papers are "a mishmash of superficially plausible sentences containing the right buzzwords in approximately the right order. There is no logic or cohesion in what they write." ...


The Bogdanovs were awarded their PhDs based on this "work".


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Response to Jim__ (Reply #63)

Mon Mar 26, 2012, 01:00 PM

104. Like I said...

 

... stuff happens. Doesn't mean we start taking every crackpot seriously, though. Rather, we try to strengthen the peer review process. We go the OTHER way, in other words.

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Response to longship (Reply #19)

Fri Mar 23, 2012, 07:45 AM

47. Sokal affair

 

Trust and confidence and freedom of expression are generally considered good values; and willfull deception of trust and confidence a sin against those values.

As for the content of the paper, according to post-modern approach to text it should be evaluated not by judging it on the grounds of personal deception but purely by what it says.

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Response to tama (Reply #47)

Sat Mar 24, 2012, 02:05 PM

95. So in post-modernism, if I say my paper is good, its good by default?

Even if its complete nonsense after that?

Everytime I hear a post-modernist speak, its just buzzword after buzzword, with no substance. Post-modernism is similar to homeopathy in this regard, just bullshit.

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Response to Humanist_Activist (Reply #95)

Sat Mar 24, 2012, 04:28 PM

96. No nt

 

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Response to tama (Reply #96)

Sat Mar 24, 2012, 07:57 PM

100. If that were true, then tell us by what standards its claims are tested by. n/t

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Response to Humanist_Activist (Reply #100)

Sat Mar 24, 2012, 08:55 PM

102. I don't know

 

what claims you refer to, please specify.

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Response to longship (Reply #19)

Fri Mar 23, 2012, 06:10 PM

83. "no system or perspective, which claims to explain everything, is legitimate"

The only ones of those I know of are religions.

Science certainly doesn't fall into such a category.

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Response to Thats my opinion (Original post)


Response to Thats my opinion (Original post)

Fri Mar 23, 2012, 01:17 AM

21. "I think"; therefore thinking, the phenomenological field, is valid: from Descartes to Phenomenology

Oddly enough, there is something in Descartes that does not embrace only logic. That is? If we are our consciousness, our minds, our thoughts? And among our thoughts are emotions, feelings? Then ... after all, our feelings have a kind of reality, and are indeed part of us.

Granted, Descartes favored those thoughts particularly, that were rational. But in the History of Philosophy after Descartes, came not only the kind of heightened rationality you describe. But also Existentialism and Phenomeonology; the emphasis on our mental or phenomenal field, our thoughts and perceptions. Including some rather emotional, feelie-touchie - even religious - varities of Phenomenology. Pope John Paul II studied phenomenology rather closely, among others.

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Response to Brettongarcia (Reply #21)

Fri Mar 23, 2012, 04:59 PM

76. Of course.

Descartes never closed the door on other ways to perceive reality. He was exploring a yet uncharted land--so he could say what he did and still be a thoroughgoing theist.

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Response to Thats my opinion (Original post)

Fri Mar 23, 2012, 02:39 AM

24. What dafuq did I just read?

Uh, umm, OK, seriously, after reading this, I seriously can't think of a response, its like so much is wrong with this post, I don't know where to begin?

Post-Modernism, scientism, etc. whatisthisIdonteven....

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Response to Thats my opinion (Original post)

Fri Mar 23, 2012, 02:45 AM

26. Do us all a favor, and no longer talk about science, I do mean at all...

indeed do not use the any word that begins with "scien", because you are just going to mess it up. Its rather obvious you have no idea what science or the scientific method are, nor do you care.

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Response to Humanist_Activist (Reply #26)

Fri Mar 23, 2012, 06:00 AM

32. ooooohhhh...but he knows all about

the evil "scientism". And of course everyone who is a scienTIST must be practicing scienTISM.

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Response to Thats my opinion (Original post)

Fri Mar 23, 2012, 07:03 AM

36. These are some of the Great Insights that we should be waiting for?

"Scientism"?

Please...

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Response to Thats my opinion (Original post)

Fri Mar 23, 2012, 07:35 AM

45. And yet Descartes ended up saying you needed knowledge of God to have absolute knowledge

Recall that in the First Meditation Descartes supposed that an evil demon was deceiving him. So as long as this supposition remains in place, there is no hope of gaining any absolutely certain knowledge. But he was able to demonstrate God’s existence from intuitively grasped premises, thereby providing, a glimmer of hope of extricating himself from the evil demon scenario. The next step is to demonstrate that God cannot be a deceiver. At the beginning of the Fourth Meditation, Descartes claims that the will to deceive is “undoubtedly evidence of malice or weakness” so as to be an imperfection. But, since God has all perfections and no imperfections, it follows that God cannot be a deceiver. For to conceive of God with the will to deceive would be to conceive him to be both having no imperfections and having one imperfection, which is impossible; it would be like trying to conceive of a mountain without a valley. This conclusion, in addition to God’s existence, provides the absolutely certain foundation Descartes was seeking from the outset of the Meditations. It is absolutely certain because both conclusions (namely that God exists and that God cannot be a deceiver) have themselves been demonstrated from immediately grasped and absolutely certain intuitive truths.

This means that God cannot be the cause of human error, since he did not create humans with a faculty for generating them, nor could God create some being, like an evil demon, who is bent on deception. Rather, humans are the cause of their own errors when they do not use their faculty of judgment correctly. Second, God’s non-deceiving nature also serves to guarantee the truth of all clear and distinct ideas. So God would be a deceiver, if there were a clear and distinct idea that was false, since the mind cannot help but believe them to be true. Hence, clear and distinct ideas must be true on pain of contradiction. This also implies that knowledge of God’s existence is required for having any absolutely certain knowledge. Accordingly, atheists, who are ignorant of God’s existence, cannot have absolutely certain knowledge of any kind, including scientific knowledge.

http://www.iep.utm.edu/descarte/#SH6a


I recognize that it would be impossible for me to exist with the kind of nature I have — that is, having within me the idea of God — were it not the case that God really existed. By ‘God’ I mean the very being the idea of whom is within me, that is, the possessor of all the perfections which I cannot grasp, but can somehow reach in my thought, who is subject to no defects whatsoever. It is clear enough from this that he cannot be a deceiver, since it is manifest by the natural light that all fraud and deception depend on some defect. (Med. 3, AT 7:51f)
...
I have perceived that God exists, and at the same time I have understood that everything else depends on him, and that he is no deceiver; and I have drawn the conclusion that everything which I clearly and distinctly perceive is of necessity true. … what objections can now be raised? That the way I am made makes me prone to frequent error? But I now know that I am incapable of error in those cases where my understanding is transparently clear. … And now it is possible for me to achieve full and certain knowledge of countless matters, both concerning God himself and other things whose nature is intellectual, and also concerning the whole of that corporeal nature which is the subject-matter of pure mathematics. (Med. 5, AT 70-71)

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/descartes-epistemology/#6.1


Descartes believed he had 'rationally proved' the existence of God, not from any observation at all, but because he had the idea of a perfect God, and non-existence would be an imperfection, and so God must exist.

I really don't think you can trace 'scientism' back to Descartes.

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Response to Thats my opinion (Original post)

Fri Mar 23, 2012, 10:21 AM

53. Lots of mumbo-jumbo

 

But the truth is pretty simple!

Science is the reasoning side of the brain expressing itself; and explains, or attempts to explain, reality. It is a product of both internal (referring to the brain) and external reality.

Religion/spiritualism is (part of) the emotional side of the brain expressing itself; and gives succor to our emotional needs. It is an *INTERNAL* construct only.

OK, where's my literary agent so I can flesh this out into a book & sell it?

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Response to bongbong (Reply #53)

Fri Mar 23, 2012, 12:37 PM

68. You'll have to pick a side first if you want the book to sell.

Even handedness won't work. You have to select a target market and shamelessly pander to them by telling them exactly what they want to hear. If you do that, they will fling money at you by the boxcar load. But this business of actually trying to understand the human condition in all its complexity just creates a momentary existential dilemma in people and they can't stand that.

Build them a nice comfortable clubhouse with air conditioning and an open bar and people will flock there to buy your book. Build a forum open to the sky where everyone is welcome and you will be there alone.

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Response to Thats my opinion (Original post)

Fri Mar 23, 2012, 10:23 AM

54. To be honest, I find post-modern theory much more off-putting than I find religion.

There have been times when I wished I had a religious faith, but there has never been a time when I wished I was a post-modernist!

Ironically, that is one of the few things I share with the Christian Right. But for very different reasons. They hate post-modernism, because it opposes the idea of absolute, unchangeable moral standards. Which is one of the few things I like about it!

Why do I dislike post-modernism so much? Partly because it misrepresents science and scientists. There are very few scientists who think that science 'explains everything'. In fact, most scientists emphasize that most things are not yet explained, if they ever will be. Very few people think that 'science is my shepherd, I shall not want'. It is very clear to most of us that we do, and shall, 'want' for the foreseeable future. Scientific discoveries may, especially if applied ethically, improve the world and people's lives, but they do not cure everything, nor are they ever likely to. Indeed, the reason why atheists like me do occasionally wish for religious faith is precisely that it might give the comfort of a 'purpose' for the world, and a guiding power to be our 'shepherd'. People who look for evidence may find no evidence for a God, and quite a lot against one, and thus may decide 'scientifically' against religion - but that does not mean that they worship science instead of religion. And it should be noted that, while the proportion of atheists among scientists is doubtless higher than in the general population, there are quite a few scientists who do also have a religion.

Most scientists are looking to explain very specific phenomena; they are not seeking an 'ultimate cause' . To many scientists - and non-scientists - the concept of an ultimate cause is simply irrelevant. This is perhaps part of the problem: people often assume that those who reject the ultimate causality of God are replacing God with some other ultimate causality. Often, we aren't: we may think there is no ultimate cause, or multiple ultimate causes for different phenomena, or we may simply not look at life in that way.

Note: a lot of my dislike of postmodernism probably comes from a particular individual: a student who used to constantly pester my colleagues and myself about why we were choosing to study psychology as a science; and claim that we were doing so only because it was 'the Zeitgeist' and that science was 'just another religion'. Probably a very nice person, but grrr! By contrast, no religious person has seriously ideologically challenged my decisions about what to work on, or how.

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Response to LeftishBrit (Reply #54)

Fri Mar 23, 2012, 11:38 AM

60. Great post. You nail it.

Believers are just wrong about some facts. It's human and understandable to be wrong.

Pomos, on the other hand, are meta-wrong. They invented a whole new level of wrong to be in.

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Response to 2ndAmForComputers (Reply #60)

Fri Mar 23, 2012, 01:11 PM

69. "Meta-wrong"

Damn. I'll have to remember that for future use.

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Response to LeftishBrit (Reply #54)

Fri Mar 23, 2012, 02:27 PM

72. Can you cite a postmodern source that claims science claims to explain everything?

I'm taking that as the implication of the beginning of the third paragraph in your post:

Why do I dislike post-modernism so much? Partly because it misrepresents science and scientists. There are very few scientists who think that science 'explains everything'. ...


That may not be what you intend to imply, but if it isn't, I don't see anything else in the paragraph that supports this beginning.

If I google the phrase, science explains everything, I find lots of sites that state that this is a claim of modernism that is refuted by postmodernism, but none of these are sites that hold a postmodernist view.

Since you mentioned Derrida, and I know he did not make such a claim I googled him specifically. I did find an article on Derrida and science. A brief excerpt:


In my remarks on "Derrida and Speculative Realism," one of you left a wonderful comment addressing my remark that Derrida "lacks any significant engagement with science," pointing out that I should have mentioned the work on François Jacob, as well as consider the Origin of Geometry, which are areas in which Derrida dabbles or dips into science--alongside Leroi-Gourhan, who I mention in the post. My response was what follows. In short, I agreed, but I also thought it was important to try and think the relationship between Derrida and science very precisely. But before I get into that first and foremost one has to, as my commentator emphasized, immediately disqualify any notion that Derrida is outright hostile to science. There's just nothing in the record to suggest that. The Sokals of the world might want to show something intrinsic lies between postmodernists and science, but Derrida isn't simply a postmodernist (and not only because he explicitly says he isn't), and such accounts don't prove much anyway in the first place, other than that there is a complex relationship between the humanities, the structures we call postmodern and which characterize our cultural moment, and science, which I think is best comprehended sociologically--not in self-aggrandizing, staged "events," by which we really mean, "media events" (and in the popular, pejorative, and even now wholly conservative sense of "media"), whose only deplorable function is to stir up anti-intellectualism (of which there is much too much already in the United States).


I also quickly checked Lyotard's Ther Postmodern Condition and while he does discuss science - for instance, section 7 The Pragmatics of Scientific Knowledge - I can't find anything like him claiming that science claims to explain everything. Lyotard's book is mostly concerned with meta-narratives. In The Pragmatics of Scientific Knowledge his main concern seems to be relating the language of science to an external narrative of science.

Anyway, I was curious about which postmodernists make this claim.

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Response to Jim__ (Reply #72)

Fri Mar 23, 2012, 05:01 PM

77. I am not an expert on post-modernism; but the post-modernists whom I know personally have been

inclined to make the claim. (And it was certainly implied in the OP.)

It may well be that the people whom I've known (mostly students or laypeople with an interest in the subject, rather than professional philosophers) have seriously misrepresented post-modern theories; but certainly this is what some of them have implied, and sometimes stated in so many words, when talking to me.

ETA: And on DU in the past, I have observed some posters - not in this forum- stating that people who support evidence-based medicine in general, and vaccinations in particular, are 'worshippers at the altar of reductionist science'.

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Response to LeftishBrit (Reply #77)

Fri Mar 23, 2012, 05:10 PM

78. It is implied in the OP - but in post #67, the OP says he doesn't agree with postmodernism.

I know that many people believe that postmodernism makes this claim. In the books I've read, I don't see it - although I do see claims that these book do say/imply this. Many people have disagreements with reductionist science - I'm not sure they are all postmodernists.

I was actually curious as to whether you had a reference - I would have read it to see what they have to say. Anyway, thanks for the response.

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Response to Jim__ (Reply #72)

Fri Mar 23, 2012, 06:39 PM

87. So, as "science explains everything"

 

is the claim of scientism, and there seem to be at least some pseudoskeptic atheists who so claim and believe, then those must be the real post-modernists?

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Response to Thats my opinion (Original post)

Fri Mar 23, 2012, 10:55 AM

57. I think John Locke...

 

... should be leapfrogged. I think the greatest challenge to Cartesian rationalism emanates from the brainpan of David Hume, not John Locke. This is especially true vis-a-vis religion as belief-in-miracles. The reason I say this is Locke's epistemology is underdeveloped (even by his own estimation), whereas Hume's is foundational to the sort of empiricism that many modern atheists default to. (In my case, at least.)

For instance, the OP writes, "Faith in that which cannot be rationally proved, has its own legitimacy." Locke's efforts focused on taking these apart and looking for the limits of knowledge in the presumed nature of things. Hume took the less strictly empirical approach and argued that when our knowledge is empirically limited, we shouldn't slip into metaphysics, so to speak. Rather we should default to our own senses, experience, common sense, and a sort of forensic science. The classic example, of course, was the miracles depicted in the Bible (and by natural extension, god itself).

In other words: in the absence of empirical evidence that anyone can walk on water, we should default to common experience rather than the testimony of long-dead witnesses or elaborate metaphysical speculations. In this sense, Hume's epistemology is more complete than Locke's: when an idea (like beauty or god) doesn't have any empirical basis of fact, we may safely drop it into an 'unfounded' category to be either revisited on new data, or left to languish. It's essentially a convenient way of dispatching topics that are outside the limits of knowledge, and don't have any compelling real-life implications.

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Response to Thats my opinion (Original post)

Fri Mar 23, 2012, 11:47 AM

62. "believing that they have all the answers to everything"

You're utterly incapable of escaping this straw man, aren't you? I don't think you're maliciously using this straw man, I think that you're somehow constitutionally incapable of seeing that skeptical DOUBT is not the same thing as a claim of COMPLETE KNOWLEDGE -- things which should be clearly different to anyone not so deeply in love with this particular straw man.

The only thing I claim to know is that my doubts are, or should be, your doubts as well. I deny that your mystical claims or anyone else's have some great special significance that frees them from the ordinary bounds of evidence and reason.

God is not an entity to be proved, but an experience to be delighted in.

That's just moving the goalposts, or ducking the question of the source of said "experience". If all your God is is the feeling you get thinking about God... sure, I can believe that this rather unimpressive and non-extraordinary God exists. But I suspect that you'd shift the meaning of God to something much deeper and more profound when scrutiny is taken away.

If you don't make that shift, plenty of other believers will do it for you, and they won't consider your God their God at all.

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Response to Silent3 (Reply #62)

Fri Mar 23, 2012, 07:19 PM

90. What you claim

 

is very interesting and no doubt your honest belief: "The only thing I claim to know is that my doubts are, or should be, your doubts as well. I deny that your mystical claims or anyone else's have some great special significance that frees them from the ordinary bounds of evidence and reason."

That knowledge you claim is in expressis verbis a projection - as is also the whole "Theory of Mind" of which it is a subprojection. And that is perfectly OK, while not forgetting that Theory of Mind can also be doubted (which probably would lead to solipsism instead of projecting "inner" experience to others).

"Ordinary bounds" and "freedom" from them are more problematic expressions, I'm not sure what they mean exactly, but objectivism can certainly be doubted and done so without falling into subjectivism.

The source of "mystical" experience can be questioned and theorized and speculated, but also the need or oblication to do so can be doubted. As should be the wisdom of confusing the question and theory and speculation with the experience. And no, there is no need to think about God - or anything else - to have an experience but rather to cease from thinking, but can't really claim so either. I can just say that experiences happen, no cause needs to be supposed, and some people lable those experiences with word "God" and various other interpretations.

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Response to Thats my opinion (Original post)

Fri Mar 23, 2012, 05:47 PM

80. God is not an entity to be proved, but an experience to be delighted in.

Here we go again.... redefining god.

So an experience we should delight in created the universe?

Just more absurd word salad. God is clearly an entity and not an experience in all major religions.

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Response to AlbertCat (Reply #80)

Fri Mar 23, 2012, 06:17 PM

85. I don't think he was trying to redefine God but hopefuly he will explain

what he meant more fully

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Response to AlbertCat (Reply #80)

Fri Mar 23, 2012, 07:04 PM

88. God is an entity?

That's fine as long as you don't mean by entity, "a being" like all other beings. But
God is an entity we encounter by experience, not by logic or by any rational process.

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Response to Thats my opinion (Original post)

Sat Mar 24, 2012, 11:08 AM

94. God does not interact with the universe, and there is no life after death

There is no scientific evidence that god affects the outcome of any physical phenomena on earth. You can pray all you want in Las Vegas, but it will not change the odds. Praying for good weather or good health is ineffectual. Parapsychology came up empty.

There is no scientific evidence that any aspect of the mind persists following death. The mind is a phenomena that is entirely dependent on the electrochemical processes in the brain. Spiritualism also came up empty.

These results set a boundary on the content of religion. Religion is free to believe in any non-contradictory theory of god or human existence.

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Response to FarCenter (Reply #94)

Sat Mar 24, 2012, 04:32 PM

97. You made several statements.

 

Could you now please prove them.

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Response to tama (Reply #97)

Sat Mar 24, 2012, 06:12 PM

98. Conversely

Can you prove that prayer and supplication to a cosmic being has any affect on any physical system?

Can you prove that any aspect of the human mind persists after death?

It is religions that make unsubstantiated claims, not science.

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Response to FarCenter (Reply #98)

Sat Mar 24, 2012, 07:39 PM

99. I haven't made claims.

 

You have made claims, and according to the rules of your game the burden of proof is on you. Could you now please prove your statements.

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