Re: MD What makes an idea dangerous?

Date: Wed Oct 29 2003 - 01:30:33 GMT

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


    David said:
    Where Pirsig talks about doing science with respect to aspects of reality that science does not nornmally discuss, he is certainly not swinging in an objectivist direction, he is altering what we usually consider the confines of science to be. Your interpretation implies a SOM outlook because it is assuming that science has some special type of entity to study, i.e. objects. Pirsig wants a science that studies patterns of quality, and this could be done about atoms or metals or behaviour or social structures, and this would then connect human and natural science as having a common methodology.

    I don't know that Pirsig isn't trying to swing in an objectivist direction. I honestly don't want to take a stance yet. Be that as it may, my main suggestion is that Pirsig _can_ be read as an objectivist, _and_ that this interpretation is periodically favored by respondents here.

    I am not assuming that science has a special type of entity to study. It is a practical view to think that whenever we've tried to make the study of literature "scientific," nothing interesting or improved has popped out.

    As for Pirsig's stretching of science, I follow that that is what he's trying to do. However, the pragmatist thinks that this either swings you into objectivism or makes "science" the same as "inquiry". Hence:

    Matt said before:
    "Kuhnian philosophers can't make heads or tails of what science's special method is."

    "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"."

    You say these two statements contradict each other, but they both come out of the same pragmatist vein. Pragmatists don't think a special method was discovered by Galileo and Newton and Descartes and Bacon and Gassendi and all the rest that sets apart "science" from other areas of inquiry. That being the case, when pragmatists read people wanting to make all areas of inquiry become scientific, they read that as either the desire for this thing called objectivity (for which pragmatists would attack) or as making "science" the same as "inquiry". Because if there isn't anything methodologically _special_ about science that sets it apart from other areas of inquiry, why all the concern about making things scientific? Pragmatists say that we use whatever works for whatever our purpose is. Pragmatists think of "science" as being differentiated from "humanities" by its specific practices and its specific subject material. To say that science has certain specific methods is fi
    ne, its just when we think that this "method" is special in some way that pragmatists find problematic.

    So, when you say, "what is so special about rocks and lumps that science only has something useful to say about these aspects of our experience" I only go, "There is nothing special about rocks. There is also nothing special about science. Pairing the two together gets good results. Pairing science with humans has produced less good results. Pairing science with literature has produced nothing." That's it, there's nothing special about any of this and so we pragmatists don't know why Pirsig is trying to hard to get us to see that morality should be part of science. It seems the wrong rhetorical direction to go.


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