Re: MD What makes an idea dangerous?

Date: Tue Oct 28 2003 - 01:31:39 GMT

  • Next message: MATTHEW PAUL KUNDERT: "Re: MD What makes an idea dangerous?"


    Anthony said:
    Moreover, I think the argument of Pirsig's in the specific section of LILA (in Chapter 24) that Matt is referring to here, is more subtle than he is suggesting. Pirsig is not just stating that the moral question of scientists being honest with each other is a scientific question. Rather, Pirsig is revealing the dilemma of scientists concerning the scientific status (or otherwise) of morals because if morals are outside the remit of science then this is an acknowledgement that there is part of the world that science can not comprehend though essential if such issues as the faking of scientific data are of any concern. In other words, scientists can't have it both ways.

    I accept that Pirsig is trying to pin philosophically naive scientists in a needless dilemma, one that can be escaped. Its the same thing that Pirsig wriggled free of in ZMM. However, that's not my problem. My problem is the way in which Pirsig treats the (dis)solution. Instead of saying that science should stick to lumps and rocks, and other areas of inquiry, like morals, should be left to their own devices, Pirsig tries to co-opt the language of science, tries to get everything to fit under the moniker of "scientific inquiry". I think this leads to some unneeded problems and interpretations. The one interpretation I've tried to suggest that lends itself is what I've called the Kantian reading of Pirsig, for which I've found various people taking part in at various times. You reach a Kantian reading by following this line of thought: if everything is "scientific inquiry," that means that everything should be able to fit under the "scientific method". If there is a "
    scientific method" that can arbitrate all problems, then there is one method that can be used to discover the truth. Therefore, we should use this one method in tracking truth.

    If all "scientific method" pans out to be for Pirsig is, say, his three tests of truth, then I don't see anything specific to it to call it "scientific". It appears to be the same general thing that every person does in everyday normal life. I don't see how it adds any precision, as Pirsig seems to think.

    Matt said previously:
    Pragmatists don't think Galileo and Newton were doing anything all that different from what Plato, Aristotle, and Ptolemy did. The only difference was that Galileo and Newton came up with and used a better and more useful vocabulary than their predecessors did.

    Anthony said:
    I don't think this assertion is completely accurate. The essential difference between Ancient Greek science and the science of the Renaissance is in the methodology used.

    Accuracy is out of point in this case. Kuhnian philosophers of science like Feyerabend and Mary Hesse aren't out to be accurate, they are out to redescribe what is thought to be accurate. Accuracy assumes an established reference point with which we can refer and check, like Galileo's birthday.

    Kuhn and his followers are in the business of suggesting a different way of looking at things. To say that there was a switch in methodology between Ancient Greek science and Renaissance science begs the crucial question because Kuhnian philosophers can't make heads or tails of what science's special method is. What you did is offer a re-redescription. Its as out of point as is a philosopher pointing out to Pirsig that "inorganic static patterns of value" is an inaccurate description of rocks.


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