Tuesday, September 23, 2014

539: Scientism...

“In 1959 C.P. Snow published a book titled The Two Cultures. On the one hand, there were the literary intellectuals; on the other, the scientists. 

He noted with incredulity that during the 1930s the literary intellectuals, while no one was looking, took to referring to themselves as "the intellectuals," as though there were no others. 

This new definition by the "men of letters" excluded scientists such as the astronomer Edwin Hubble, the mathematician John von Neumann, the cyberneticist Norbert Wiener, and the physicists Albert Einstein, Niels Bohr, and Werner Heisenberg. “ (John Brockman, Edge.org)

I have been put on this track because of the subject of my previous lecture: the apparent believe, that science means only “natural sciences”.

Gemma already remarked, that literature can not be science. True, but al kinds of empirical research on the works of specific writer, for instance, can be.

We can ask questions about his use of syntax and semantics, how his novels relate to the history of his time, what kind of metaphors does he use and so on.

Unwittingly we got involved in a debate, that shows to be very topical. One of the most recent contribution came from Steven Pinker in August 2013.

His general idea is that the humanities are in a deplorable state at the universities in the US and that they should adopt more empirical scientific methods, in stead of condescendingly rejecting this, mumbling “yuk…filthy scientism”.

The term “scientism” is anything but clear, more of a boo-word than a label for any coherent doctrine. Sometimes it is equated with lunatic positions, such as that “science is all that matters” or that “scientists should be entrusted to solve all problems.” Sometimes it is clarified with adjectives like “simplistic,” “naïve,” and “vulgar.” (SP)

Scientism is the view that only scientific claims are meaningful. It is often widely abused as a term to refer to science and attitudes associated with science, and its primary use these days is a pejorative.

Scientism is a topic of major contention in the philosophy of science and philosophy in general. While often used as a term of abuse, 

it is also used in a descriptive sense to refer to any philosophy that treats science as the only means of acquiring knowledge .

For this reason, scientism is often associated with logical positivism, which attempted to do away with metaphysics entirely.

Logical positivism is a school of philosophy that emerged out of the Vienna Circle in the early 20th century. Its proponents emphasize materialism, empiricism, philosophical naturalism and the scientific method as the highest pursuits of rational thought. 

The most famous principle of logical positivism is that any statement that is not inherently verifiable is meaningless and can be safely ignored. 

The funny paradox here is, that since this statement is itself inherently unverifiable, logical positivism tells us that logical positivism can be safely ignored.

Those of you who know me, may recognize the familiar terms like materialism, empiricism, philosophical naturalism and the scientific method, as parts of my philosophical frame of mind.

And the title of this project “Why Science is Right” doesn’t that smell seriously of scientism inclinations too? Maybe so…..

The non-pejorative, and therefore boring, sense of the term denotes the "methods and attitudes typical of or attributed to the natural scientist."

These methods consist of empirical observations, experiments, tests, but how can you apply these to god or any other deity, for instance.

Maybe this project will teach you and me how much a supporter we are of scientism or not, or somewhat….

Thank you …. ^_^

The Discussion

[13:19] argus Portal: Thank you
[13:19] Lizzy Pleides: Thank you!
[13:20] argus Portal: I have a question:
[13:20] argus Portal: [13:16] herman Bergson: The most famous principle of logical positivism is that any statement that is not inherently verifiable is meaningless and can be safely ignored. 

what means "inherently verifiable" exactly ? Excludes this the current unknowingness ?
[13:20] Ciska Riverstone: thank you herman
[13:20] herman Bergson: It means that the proposition must be such that you can empirically verify it
[13:20] Bejiita Imako: ah
[13:20] argus Portal: i see
[13:21] herman Bergson: Bertrand Russell developed for instance the idea of sense-data
[13:21] Ciska Riverstone: how do you do that with theoretical math?
[13:21] argus Portal: so all theoretical things (quantum physics as example) are excluded by the positivists ?
[13:22] herman Bergson: That is the difference between the empirical and non empirical sciences....the division Hempel made
[13:22] herman Bergson: No no....
[13:22] herman Bergson: Mathematics for instance has no intrinsic relation with the empirical reality
[13:23] Ciska Riverstone: yes
[13:23] herman Bergson: so it is a science in itself using only logic as its method
[13:23] Bejiita Imako: MAth is natures language so it is true by all means
[13:23] Bejiita Imako: dont need to verify that
[13:23] Ciska Riverstone: thats a difficult catch Bejiita
[13:23] herman Bergson: That is a big statement Bejiita.....
[13:23] Bejiita Imako: true
[13:23] herman Bergson: But you may have Pythagoras at your side here :-))
[13:24] herman Bergson: But it is a metaphysical statement....
[13:24] argus Portal: Mathematic has open questions. As example: Are there endless prim-numbers
[13:24] Ciska Riverstone: i just read something about the mathematical god proof of goedel
[13:24] herman Bergson: oh yes and paradoxes
[13:24] herman Bergson: That sounds really odd Ciska :-))
[13:25] Bejiita Imako: but for ex math enables computers to do everything with just numbers, and cern can calculate stuff and in i think almost all cases find they are true when they try them in an accelerator or similar thing
[13:25] Lizzy Pleides: Math is true as long as you don't miscalculate
[13:25] herman Bergson: Yes Bejiita...math works.....:-)
[13:25] Ciska Riverstone: it does - spiegel did put it up so you could reckon it yourself ;)
[13:25] Bejiita Imako: but indeed math is special
[13:25] herman Bergson: But it doesn’t tell us that reality therefor is mathematical by nature
[13:26] Bejiita Imako: color, shape, sound ect can all be described by formulas
[13:26] argus Portal: yes
[13:26] Bejiita Imako: and fractals which are everywhere in nature is an example of iterative math
[13:26] herman Bergson: yes but emotions and feelings and ideas and thoughts can not
[13:27] herman Bergson: Neither can beauty or art
[13:27] Lizzy Pleides: not sure about that
[13:27] argus Portal: why not ? At least this are functions in the brain. Almost like data in an comptuer-program
[13:27] Bejiita Imako: indeed that is harder, but that is i think only because it doesnt reach outside of your body and can be measured directly
[13:28] argus Portal: not yet
[13:28] Bejiita Imako: no one can feel what you feel, its all inside of you
[13:28] Bejiita Imako: and thus hard to apply math on i guess
[13:28] Lizzy Pleides: but inside of you its logic Bejiita
[13:28] herman Bergson: Quantifying the mind still doesn’t tell you that the mind is math
[13:28] argus Portal: yes
[13:28] Bejiita Imako: that too
[13:28] Bejiita Imako: hmm now it start getting veeeery complicated here
[13:28] Bejiita Imako: lol
[13:28] argus Portal: :-)
[13:28] herman Bergson: Let me give you an example....
[13:29] herman Bergson: Economics is regarded as a social science....
[13:29] herman Bergson: but there has developed a brach named econometrics....
[13:29] herman Bergson: Kind of mathematical economic theory....
[13:30] herman Bergson: And like in other cases, with this mathematics they build models.....which claim to apply to reality
[13:30] herman Bergson: For instance for risk calculation....
[13:30] herman Bergson: and we have seen the result....one big crisis
[13:31] herman Bergson: not a single socalled model had predicted it....
[13:31] herman Bergson: Then there are models of environmental changes....global warming effects etc...
[13:31] herman Bergson: They did the test....
[13:32] herman Bergson: they took a lizard population from a cool island to a warm island...
[13:32] herman Bergson: according to the models the population would eventually die....
[13:32] herman Bergson: the opposite happened.....it adapted to the new temperature easily
[13:33] herman Bergson: all examples of calculations....the believe that math works
[13:33] herman Bergson: I think that we hardly know why it works ...or that we overestimate it
[13:33] argus Portal: for me this is not an anti-proof for mathematic. Maybe there are just too much unknown parameters
[13:33] Bejiita Imako: maybe cause a formula is absolute and not flexible
[13:33] Lizzy Pleides: they miscalculated because they couldn't count in all influences on economy i guess
[13:34] herman Bergson: yes...could be....
[13:34] herman Bergson: which poses the question..is everything quantifyable, which math presupposes
[13:34] Bejiita Imako: math is based on a known formula just like code in a compute program, if something unexcpected happend the computer will not know how to cope with it
[13:35] argus Portal: an interesting question could be: Is there an real chaos ? This could mean, that it is impossible, to know some day all parameters
[13:35] Bejiita Imako: since its not in the code
[13:35] Bejiita Imako: same with a formula for something
[13:35] Bejiita Imako: something
[13:35] Bejiita Imako: non flexible
[13:35] Bejiita Imako: hard defined
[13:36] herman Bergson: If we now say that eventually everything can be descripted by and calculated by math we are the ultimate scientism supporters :-))
[13:36] Bejiita Imako: hehe
[13:36] herman Bergson: Is there a real chaos? Isn’t the question itself not a paradox?
[13:37] argus Portal: I meant: Is there really a chaos
[13:37] herman Bergson: If very thing was chaos we never would be able to see it
[13:37] argus Portal: exist this ? Or is all in the universe at least "logical"
[13:38] herman Bergson: Only Mr. Spock would believe that Argus :-))
[13:38] argus Portal: hehe
[13:38] Bejiita Imako: well nature goes toward un order for ex if you swipe some previously ordered things away they will always end up in a mess, not another ordered pattern
[13:39] Bejiita Imako: simply because there are billions of possible posistions an object can take
[13:39] argus Portal: yes
[13:39] Bejiita Imako: and that i d call chaos
[13:39] Lizzy Pleides: maybe its a chaos because we don't understand it
[13:40] Ciska Riverstone: i sometimes think it might be chaos because our language is too limited yet
[13:40] herman Bergson: Hello Moon :-)
[13:40] Moon Fargis: greetings
[13:40] Bejiita Imako: maybee possible to calculate but then we need to apply a calculation for every single of those object based on applied force , direction of it, air resistance ect
[13:40] Moon Fargis: greetings
[13:40] argus Portal: hi
[13:40] Bejiita Imako: hi Moon
[13:40] Lizzy Pleides: hi Moon
[13:40] Ciska Riverstone: hi moon
[13:41] herman Bergson: Well at least you see what position science has in our culture....
[13:41] herman Bergson: is all solvable by science...?
[13:41] herman Bergson: If not...where are the limitations?
[13:41] herman Bergson: Why are there such limitations?
[13:41] Moon Fargis: Unlimited+unlimited = ?
[13:42] argus Portal: The question is: is there a sort of "iontertial system" as a simplification in an "closed area" ? In such a area mathematic will work.
[13:42] argus Portal: Its like an little malestrom in the ocean
[13:43] argus Portal: *maelstrom
[13:43] herman Bergson: Yes Argus....in closed systems math may work due to its axiomatic structure...
[13:43] Ciska Riverstone: but how much has that to do with our reality?
[13:43] argus Portal: so maybe we are in a chaos. but there are little insulas of stability
[13:43] herman Bergson: indeed Ciska....
[13:43] Bejiita Imako: ah
[13:43] Ciska Riverstone: well or we create them argus
[13:43] argus Portal: *isles
[13:44] Ciska Riverstone: those insulas
[13:44] Ciska Riverstone: ;)
[13:44] argus Portal: i have still my problems with english ;-)
[13:44] herman Bergson: In fact we do by applying math to them...
[13:45] Ciska Riverstone: yes - math is a classic with that
[13:45] herman Bergson: insulas are islands ...np :-)
[13:45] argus Portal: ok :-)
[13:45] Ciska Riverstone: so in a mathematical system they really might be able to proof a god
[13:45] Ciska Riverstone: but does it have anything to do with our reality?
[13:45] herman Bergson: Impossible....
[13:45] argus Portal: a lot, ciska
[13:45] Ciska Riverstone: math works with assumptions
[13:46] Ciska Riverstone: they must just be defined
[13:46] herman Bergson: Mathematics is the abstract product of our mind
[13:46] Ciska Riverstone: it is yes
[13:46] Bejiita Imako: i guess so
[13:46] herman Bergson: ok....gods are too :-)
[13:46] argus Portal: indeed
[13:46] Ciska Riverstone: yes
[13:46] argus Portal: :-)
[13:46] Ciska Riverstone: ;)
[13:46] Bejiita Imako: its not a physical thing or law
[13:46] Ciska Riverstone: so thats something those two have in commen
[13:46] herman Bergson: unless you say that you have empirical data for their existence
[13:48] herman Bergson: and as long as it is a product of our mind only it has no real existence outside the mind
[13:48] herman Bergson: no mind...no god
[13:48] argus Portal: yes !
[13:48] argus Portal: fully agree
[13:48] herman Bergson: That is what people like Dawkins say
[13:49] argus Portal: i appreciate Richard Dawkins
[13:49] Bejiita Imako: ah
[13:49] Bejiita Imako:
[13:49] herman Bergson: yes and then he get "accused" of scientism :-))
[13:50] argus Portal: he is "fighting" a lot :-)
[13:50] herman Bergson: He makes a lot of noise indeed ^_^
[13:51] herman Bergson: But I wonder what the future of religions is....
[13:52] herman Bergson: When you fight it they accuse you of scientism ...:-)
[13:52] Moon Fargis: aslong there are pieces of truths, people will make a religion out of it, so we wont run out of them
[13:52] herman Bergson: what are pieces of truth, Moon?
[13:52] Ciska Riverstone: you need to have an alternative for what it does to the real world and that is structuring
[13:53] herman Bergson: They would reply...science structures the world, Ciska
[13:53] Ciska Riverstone: it does not
[13:53] argus Portal: it does, i think
[13:53] Ciska Riverstone: because it is not able to structure society
[13:53] Moon Fargis: herman:: are you happy ?
[13:53] argus Portal: ??
[13:53] herman Bergson smiles
[13:53] argus Portal: Ciska, dont understand what you mean
[13:53] herman Bergson: Yes I am Moon
[13:54] Moon Fargis: awesome! just , try not to make it force to be always that way
[13:54] Moon Fargis: happiness comes and go
[13:54] herman Bergson: What is the problem with that.....rain comes and goes too
[13:55] Lizzy Pleides: this summer it didn't go here
[13:55] argus Portal: lol
[13:55] Moon Fargis: no problem at all with that, its wonderful if you are happy, its a awesome truth. People tend to cling on it thougm striving always to be happy, always sunshine
[13:55] herman Bergson: awww...poor Lizzy.....
[13:55] Bejiita Imako:
[13:55] Bejiita Imako: been really hot summer indeed
[13:55] Lizzy Pleides: giggle*
[13:56] herman Bergson: No no Moon.....clinging to happiness means just clinging to some material  or earthly thing or state
[13:56] herman Bergson: That isn’t happiness
[13:56] Moon Fargis: indeed herman
[13:56] herman Bergson: So I am not happy in THAT sense....I am just happy :-)
[13:57] Moon Fargis: and thats true happiness, that your truth
[13:57] herman Bergson: not a scientific one, but a personal one, yes.....
[13:57] Lizzy Pleides: more kind of contenteness then?
[13:57] herman Bergson: call it that, Lizzy, yes
[13:57] argus Portal: inner contenteness
[13:58] herman Bergson: the state of a pond, when no one has thrown a stone in the water
[13:58] argus Portal: yes
[13:58] argus Portal: great picture
[13:58] Bejiita Imako: aaa ye
[13:58] Bejiita Imako: s
[13:58] herman Bergson: But eventually the ripples wil fade out again....and I'll be as happy as I was
[13:59] argus Portal: This is, how i define happiness
[13:59] herman Bergson: yes...such it is to me
[14:00] herman Bergson: Well..I hope that you all end this class today in happiness :-)
[14:00] Bejiita Imako: YAY! (yay!)
[14:00] Ciska Riverstone: hahah
[14:00] Bejiita Imako:
[14:00] herman Bergson: So, thank you all again for your participation....
[14:00] Moon Fargis: indeeD:) on calm waters a lotus blooms best ;)
[14:00] herman Bergson: Class dismissed ^_^
[14:00] Bejiita Imako: my default state is happy i guess
[14:00] Bejiita Imako:
[14:00] Ciska Riverstone: thanx herman
[14:00] herman Bergson: Every human being has such a default state, Bejiita....:-)
[14:01] Moon Fargis: thank you herman too bad i logged in just a few minutes ago
[14:01] argus Portal: Thank you, Herman
[14:01] Bejiita Imako: nice class Herman
[14:01] herman Bergson: You are always welcome, Moon
[14:01] Bejiita Imako:
[14:01] Lizzy Pleides: thank you all and have a good night!
[14:01] Moon Fargis: now lets have some tea and cookies
[14:01] Ciska Riverstone: sleep well Lizzy
[14:01] argus Portal: Good night, Lizzy
[14:01] herman Bergson: Bye Lizzy :-))
[14:02] Moon Fargis: this place looks nice didn’t know you had classes her till today
[14:02] GreenTea(Matcha): Mmmhh... enjoy the best green tea Moon Fargis
[14:02] herman Bergson: I have classes since 2007 Moon....
[14:03] herman Bergson: this was lecture 539 :-))
[14:03] Moon Fargis: ohboy
[14:03] Moon Fargis: thats quiet a time...
[14:03] Ciska Riverstone: well i never told you moon?
[14:03] Bejiita Imako: ok cu soon again all
[14:03] Ciska Riverstone: cannot imagine
[14:03] Moon Fargis: haha no :D
[14:03] Ciska Riverstone: take care bejiita
[14:03] Ciska Riverstone: i think i did
[14:03] Moon Fargis: bye
[14:03] Ciska Riverstone: last year
[14:03] argus Portal: Bye Bejiita
[14:03] Moon Fargis: hmm

[14:03] herman Bergson: Be well Bejiita

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