Countering Scientism

Scientism is the understanding that science is the only valid form of knowledge . It's an ideology and permeates real scientific circles. When thinkers whose understanding is colored by this ideology their defense of science against valid ordinary critique is ideological and programmed, We can always spot this kind of thinking immediately because they inevitably see any valid criticism as an attack upon the very notion of science, This tendency to think of science as some fragile sacred truth that dare not be questioned is emblematic of ideological reverence,  An example bof this attitude is found in the essay by Marcel Kuntz is at the Laboratoire de Physiologie Cellulaire Végétale, CNRS/Université Joseph Fourier/CEA/INRA in Grenoble, The essay entitled "The Postmodern assault on Science"[1]

Kuntz tells us "Postmodernist thought is being used to attack the scientific worldview and undermine scientific truths; a disturbing trend that has gone unnoticed by a majority of scientists.[2] Postmodernism undermines all truth. Kuntz wants to privilege his view as THE TRUTH! You Know I believe in truth but I don't believe science is the one and only truth,

The scientific method has been the guiding principle for investigating natural phenomena, but postmodernist thought is starting to threaten the foundations of the scientific approach. The rational, scientific view of the world has been painstakingly built over millennia to guarantee that research can have access to objective reality: the world, for science, contains real objects and is governed by physical laws that existed before our knowledge of these objects and laws. Science attempts to describe the world independently of belief by seeking universal truths, on the basis of observation, measurement and experimentation. [3] I agree with several aspects of this view point, I think science is the chief means of understanding the naturalistic workings of the world and that it does supply a less subjective means of understanding the regularities of the law-like framework of the universe's behavior. Yet when we frame it as "objective," even though it can be called that in a relative way, we set up the validity of the Postmodern critique, it is this very swaggering claim to the one and only truth that postmodernists are reacting against. The claim that science gives us access to "objective reality" is a metaphysical claim that is guaranteed to open up not objectivity but philosophical critique, The statement about universal truth is a dead giveaway. God's love is a universal truth, There might be a realm of the forms where Universal truths are housed for all we know. This clam impinges upon all metaphysical claims and thus is itself a metaphysical assumption. That makes it fair game for philosophy.

The postmodernist school of thought arose to question these assumptions, postulating that claims about the existence of a real world—the knowledge of which is attainable as an objective truth—have only been relevant in Western civilization since the Enlightenment. In recent decades, the movement has begun to question the validity of claims of scientific truth, whether on the basis of their belonging to larger cultural frames or through heavy criticism of the scientific method. [4] Postmodernism did not arise solely to question the assumptions of science and objective evidence, That's an unfair generalization. That's the hallmark of his whole attack because it fails to distinguish between levels of postmodern thought, it lumps all philosophical critique of science into the same pile as the most extreme Postmoderns. 

When he gets specific the first one he goes after is Thomas Kuhn. Kuhn is probably the most famous and the most legitimately accepted and admired thinker to be labeled "Postmodern." If we must label him for my money I would label him Postmodern light,

Thomas Samuel Kuhn (1922–1996) is one of the most influential philosophers of science of the twentieth century, perhaps the most influential. His 1962 book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions is one of the most cited academic books of all time. Kuhn's contribution to the philosophy of science marked not only a break with several key positivist doctrines, but also inaugurated a new style of philosophy of science that brought it closer to the history of science. His account of the development of science held that science enjoys periods of stable growth punctuated by revisionary revolutions. To this thesis, Kuhn added the controversial ‘incommensurability thesis’, that theories from differing periods suffer from certain deep kinds of failure of comparability.[5] "The concept of paradigm shift proposed by Thomas Kuhn in his famous book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962;),[6] has also given weight to the critics of science and of its pretension to understand reality. If science is not a gradual process of accumulation of knowledge, but rather subject to sudden “revolutions” that overwhelm outdated theories, they argue, how can one trust scientific knowledge?" (from Kuntz, Op cit)

Who are they? Who are these faceless critics of science who are out to steal reality? He imagines this rival group of knowledge preachers with their own metanarrative to sell. That Is ideology pure and simple. It's saying my metanarrative is true not yours. 

I don't believe he has read Kuhn, Here are a couple of red flags. First, Kuhn does not say there's a sudden change, Revolutions don't have to be sudden. The metaphor there is political not temporal. In fact Kuhn's theory states that the shift happens when the paradigm can no longer absorb anomalies that can can a long time for the anomalies to pileup. He says that for an individual researcher it can come as a sudden realization but it's not coming overnight in terms of what's going in the field as a whole. When Kuhn says it's not a gradual accumulation of knowledge, he doesn't mean these questions haven't been floating around for a long time, but that scientific knowledge is not cumulative. It's not a long slow piling up of facts until we find truth. Scientific knowledge can come in an instant; he's talking about regular scientific knowledge. Another red flag his rhetorical question how can one trust scientific knowledge? That is his take on Kuhn. Kuhn himself does not say that. Kuhn never goes after science. He is not a science baser. He's not trying to foster doubt about science.

"If, as according to Kuhn, scientific revolutions are also political upheavals in scientific policy, it is easy to understand why Kuhn's theory has attracted so much attention in a period that calls into question the established political order in the Western world." [7] So here wants to make postmodernism some kind of communist-like threat to peace and civilized order, That strikes me as red Baiting, Is that a bad thing? Questioning the political order?

I find that extremely simplistic, lacking in any specificity that makes it applicable to Kuhn, Kuhn is very specific about how defense of a paradigm is like a topological battle. That is why he calls it the scientific revolutions because defense of the old paradigm is like a political regime defending against a revolution,

Then he starts talking about the strong programme as tough Kuhn is in that movement, He was not. The strong programme is the extreme end of postmodernism that does seek to overturn all truth and all science and fits the stereotype, It was largely based in Edinburgh with thinkers like David Bloor. [8] Then he slides into talking about the ‘strong programme' in such as way as to convey the impression that it; related to Kuhn, He also milables and thus castigates other thinkers such as Ian Hacking,

Several deconstructionist thinkers, such as Bruno Latour and Ian Hacking, have rejected the idea that the concepts of science can be derived from a direct interaction with natural phenomena independently of the social environment in which we think about them. The central goal of science, defining what is true and what is false, becomes meaningless they argue, as its objectivity is reduced to ‘claims' that are simply the expression of one culture—one community—among many. Thus, all systems of thought are different “constructs” of reality and all additionally have political connotations and agendas.[9]

He starts out here Identified Hacking as a deconstructionist. Hacking is certainly not a decon. Hacking says he's a Cambridge analytic philosopher. [10] He has been lauded for his scholarship. I am a big fan of his. He is clearly a major historian of sicced.[11] If he can be labeled in the postmodern vein it would be as a Faulcaultian not a Derridan, That's very different, [12] Faucult had no ax to grind against science.

The generalizations in implacable and them vs us mentality against what should be considered a valid academic quest for knowledge is indicative of the ideological basis of geneticist thinking, That gives credence to the postmodern critic of the meta narrative,

Sources

all sources acceded 5/2/17

[1] Marcel Kuntz,"The Postmodern assault on Science" EMBO Rep v.13(10); (Oct)2012URL https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3463968/

Kuntz is at the Laboratoire de Physiologie Cellulaire Végétale, CNRS/Université Joseph Fourier/CEA/INRA in Grenoble,

[2] Ibid.
[3] Ibid.
[4] Ibid.

[5] Alexander Bird,, "Thomas Kuhn", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2013 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), First published Fri Aug 13, 2004; substantive revision Thu Aug 11, 2011 URL = .

[6] Thomas Kuhn,

[7] Kuntz op cit

[8] David Bloor, "The strengths of the strong programme." Scientific rationality: The sociological turn (Springer Netherlands, 1984) pp. 75-94.

[9]Kuntz, Op cit

[10] Ian Hacking quoted in "Who Are you? The Biosocial Being Ian Hacking Ioan Davies memorioal lecture, (4/14/17) held at university of Troomnto, URL: http://www.yorku.ca/ioantalk/lecture2011.htm

[11]Karen Grandy, "Ian Hacking". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2016-06-10.

[12]Thomas P. Kasulis, Robert C. Neville, John Edwin Smith The Recovery of Philosophy in America: Essays in Honor of John Edwin Smith

Comments

Anonymous said…
Joe: Kuntz wants to privilege his view as THE TRUTH!

Kuntz never actually says that in his article. And without that, your argument is just you raging against a straw man of your own devising.

This has been pointed out to you before, but why let reality intrude?

Pix
Kuntz never actually says that in his article. And without that, your argument is just you raging against a straw man of your own devising.

It's pretty obvious, because he writes of his own endeavor in such aggrandizing terms, Science is absolute and it needs him to save it. His condemnation of postmodernism is hysterical and unqualified.


This has been pointed out to you before, but why let reality intrude?

and you are still wrong about it. That is not the kind of thing one says one is doing. It's an attitude you can seen it in the writing. Hey Shakespeare doesn't say he's using metaphor but come on is it really nothing? Sound and fury must be about something.
Anonymous said…
He NEVER says it.

You putting words in his mouth, then battling a straw man. Rationalise that however you want.

Pix
I didn't say he says it, I said the attitude is there in the writing you have not answered that, you created a false issue because you have nothing to say.


you have issue with the real ideas of my essay.
BK said…
I certainly believe that the post-modern attack on the concept of truth has to eventually interfere with the philosophical underpinnings of science.
Anonymous said…
BK: I certainly believe that the post-modern attack on the concept of truth has to eventually interfere with the philosophical underpinnings of science.

So then you agree Kuntz!

That is exactly the point Kuntz is making in the article Joe is railing against. This is the abstract from his paper:

Postmodernist thought is being used to attack the scientific worldview and undermine scientific truths; a disturbing trend that has gone unnoticed by a majority of scientists.

Of course, Joe is ignoring what the paper actually says, and pretending Kuntz is saying science is the only truth, but Kuntz neither says nor implies that.

Pix
BK said...
I certainly believe that the post-modern attack on the concept of truth has to eventually interfere with the philosophical underpinnings of science.

In some cases it does. Bu PM is very diverse. To speak of "the attack" is kind of paranoid.
BK: I certainly believe that the post-modern attack on the concept of truth has to eventually interfere with the philosophical underpinnings of science.

So then you agree Kuntz!

That is exactly the point Kuntz is making in the article Joe is railing against. This is the abstract from his paper:

Postmodernist thought is being used to attack the scientific worldview and undermine scientific truths; a disturbing trend that has gone unnoticed by a majority of scientists.

Of course, Joe is ignoring what the paper actually says, and pretending Kuntz is saying science is the only truth, but Kuntz neither says nor implies that.

I am not ignoring it i am just tired of it. I've read a thousand pap0ersilke it, This is what I did in my PhD work,

People like tis are not just for science they are for science controlling all knowledge. They construe attacks on scientisim as attacks on science.
Anonymous said…
Joe: In some cases it does. Bu PM is very diverse. To speak of "the attack" is kind of paranoid.

And your baseless tirade against scientism is not?

You should take a look in the mirror, Joe.

Joe: I am not ignoring it i am just tired of it. I've read a thousand pap0ersilke it, This is what I did in my PhD work,

You did your Ph.D. on how post-modernism is weakening science? Did you present that as a bad thing or a good thing?

Joe: People like tis are not just for science they are for science controlling all knowledge. They construe attacks on scientisim as attacks on science.

But you cannot find any evidence of that, can you? So you have to pretend Kuntz is saying something he is not. And the end result is that end up looking paranoid.

It is interesting to read Kuntz's paper to see how these things should be done. Unlike you, he does not make up evidence. He does not put words in his opponents mouth. But then, he is fighting a real enemy, nit a straw man. Perhaps you could learn from him.

Pix
BK said…
I don't believe it to be paranoid to call it an attack. I believe there is an attack on the idea of truth. It plays out all around us, and science is not immune from those who claim there is no truth any more than religion or politics.
I don't believe it to be paranoid to call it an attack. I believe there is an attack on the idea of truth. It plays out all around us, and science is not immune from those who claim there is no truth any more than religion or politics.

Yes but zeal for the truth can also lead to illusory versions of the truth. If we make the wrong assumptions we can be led astray out of an passion for the cause. It's better to be judicious in accusing various movements. There are those who abandon truth among the PM's but there are also sincere people who are aware of alternate outlooks.
BK said…
Joe writes, "Yes but zeal for the truth can also lead to illusory versions of the truth. If we make the wrong assumptions we can be led astray out of an passion for the cause."

That's a different issue. Of course we need to be careful to determine what is true from what is not. Yes, we can certainly jump to unwarranted conclusions in a zeal for "our" truth. But that's different from saying that truth is relative or subjective. Some truths may be relative or subjective, but the attack comes from those who deny any absolutes or who try to deny absolute truth because they don't like the consequences of that truth. That's what I oppose.
Joe: In some cases it does. Bu PM is very diverse. To speak of "the attack" is kind of paranoid.

And your baseless tirade against scientism is not?

Clearly it's not baseless. you are a sceintismist so you don't it alarming you are not sensitive to it.

You should take a look in the mirror, Joe.

I am not into sciemtism

Joe: I am not ignoring it i am just tired of it. I've read a thousand pap0ersilke it, This is what I did in my PhD work,

You did your Ph.D. on how post-modernism is weakening science? Did you present that as a bad thing or a good thing?


PM is not weakening science. Scientism is. It's tirni scioemceimto polotocs.

Joe: People like tis are not just for science they are for science controlling all knowledge. They construe attacks on scientisim as attacks on science.

But you cannot find any evidence of that, can you? So you have to pretend Kuntz is saying something he is not. And the end result is that end up looking paranoid.

Are you nuts? you just did it.



It is interesting to read Kuntz's paper to see how these things should be done. Unlike you, he does not make up evidence. He does not put words in his opponents mouth. But then, he is fighting a real enemy, nit a straw man. Perhaps you could learn from him.


I will admit that he is more open mimed thank you are. It is extremely stupid to think no one out there is making extreme unfair statements about science being the only valid form of knowledge. Atheists say it all the time
Anonymous said…
BK: I don't believe it to be paranoid to call it an attack. I believe there is an attack on the idea of truth. It plays out all around us, and science is not immune from those who claim there is no truth any more than religion or politics.

I agree with you.

I think Joe is saying something else altogether; I disagree with that.

Pix
Anonymous said…
Joe: I will admit that he is more open mimed thank you are. It is extremely stupid to think no one out there is making extreme unfair statements about science being the only valid form of knowledge. Atheists say it all the time

That may or may not be true. However, the fact remains that the article you cite to support that claims fails to do so. Kuntz does not espouse scientism.

Given you argument is founded on his article, your argument fails.

Pix

Colin Blakemore (Neuroscience, Oxford) writes an article entitled, "Science is Just One Gene Away from Defeating Religion." He sees religion and science as opponents in a chess match. One wonders, is it only a chess match and not a war that engage science and religion? Thus advances in science are automatically viewed by Blakemore's camp as a detraction from religion. He intimates this when he says that the discoveries of Watson and Crick were a defeat for religion because previously life was a mystery that implied spiritual magic.i He wants to see religion as some long ago thing that science is beating. He says, “Charles Darwin's theory of evolution was certainly a vital move in that chess game - if not checkmate. In an interview for God and the Scientists, Richard Dawkins declares: ‘Darwin removed the main argument for God's existence.’"ii Why should any success of science be an automatic defeat for religion? Religion is not about understanding how the physical world works, yet he tells us:

Quote
Science has rampaged over the landscape of divine explanation, provoking denial or surrender from the church. Christian leaders, even the Catholic church, have reluctantly accommodated the discoveries of scientists, with the odd burning at the stake and excommunication along the way… The process of Christian accommodation is a bit like the fate of field mice confronted by a combine harvester, continuously retreating into the shrinking patch of uncut wheat. Ten days ago, on Darwin's birthday, Richard Dawkins, Archbishop of Atheism, and Richard Harries, former Bishop of Oxford, conducted a public conversation in the Oxford University Museum, where Bishop Sam Wilberforce and Darwin's champion, Thomas Henry Huxley, had debated Darwin's ideas in 1860. ...Inevitably, Richard H claimed for religion a territory that science can never invade, a totally safe sanctuary for Christian field mice. Science is brilliant at questions that start "how", but religion is the only approach to questions that start "why". Throughout history, human beings have asked those difficult "why" closed quote



E.O. Wilson’s Consilience: The unity of Knowledge, is a perfect example of what I’m talking about in terms of mistaking one’s ideological goals for science. Wilson is one of the major thinkers in science in this century and at the end of the last century. Consilience is perhaps his Magnum Opus. In this work Wilson shows us his path and his ambitions that mark out exactly the syndrome I’m talking about. Even the subtitle is a frank admission that he’s reducing all forms of knowledge to one. He points out that in his childhood he loved the classification system of ants. He was very attracted to the study of ants. He read about the classification system of Carolus Linnacus, as a boy and was greatly impressed. Then a bit latter he discovered evolution. He writes about that auspicious moment: “Then I discovered evolution. Suddenly--that is not too strong a word—I saw the world in a whole new way…” an insight that he describes as an “epiphany.”i He gives us a key to understanding his fascination. He says that the brilliance of Ernst Mayr’s 1942 Systematics and the Origin of the Species, “by giving a theoretical structure to natural history, it vastly expanded the Linnaean enterprise. A tumbler fell somewhere in my mind and a door opened to a new world.”ii That is a wonderful description of that process whereby new vistas dawn in the mind and one suddenly realizes “a whole new world lies before me with this…” such was my own feeling when I first discovered Bruce Wiltshire’s book Metaphsyics,iii or when I read William Faulkner for the first time (Light in August). Both were in my sophomore year of high school. Nor is there anything wrong with evolution or Darwin and gaining a larger perspective on science and the world through reading Darwin. Yet it does seem as though he just doesn’t want to stop classifying all of reality until he’s classified everything his way. This is so because he argues for putting everyone under one label, science is the only form of knowledge.
He says:
quote Wildon
The enhancement, growing steadily more sophisticated, has dominated scientific thought ever since. In modern physics its focus has been the unification of all the forces of nature—electro weak, strong and gravitation—the hoped for consolidation of theory so tight as to turn the science into a “perfect” system of thought which by the sheer weight of evidence and logic is made resistant to revision. But the spell of enchantment extends to other fields as well, and in the minds of a few it reaches beyond into the social sciences, and still further as I will explain latter, to touch the humanities.iv

He’s taking the notion of science organizing our understanding of reality to the point of redefining knowledge and subsuming the understanding of other fields. The term consilience is defined by Webster’s as “the linking together of principles from different disciplines especially when forming a comprehensive theory.” There’s not necessarily anything wrong with a comprehensive theory. Yet is does seem subsuming of other fields and thus probably doesn’t consider other viewpoints very well. Wilson is not an atheist. He speaks of his view of all embracing scientific view freeing him from the confines of Christian fundamentalism, but having been passionately religious in his youth, he turns to the metaphor or symbol of Ionian thought in science as the new way for those seeking redemption from purposelessness. He also speaks of the wonderful feeling of the taste of unification in metaphysics; clearly exceeding the domain of science as studying the workings of the natural world. He doesn’t see himself as anti-religious but as offering a way for those who see more than religious traditions allow.v
Anonymous said…
Your blog post starts: "Scientism is the understanding that science is the only valid form of knowledge."

Question: Why do none of the people you quote or articles to you cite make that claim?

Answer: Because it is a straw man (or at most, is a view limited to nobodies on the internet)

Pix
Your blog post starts: "Scientism is the understanding that science is the only valid form of knowledge."

Question: Why do none of the people you quote or articles to you cite make that claim?

Answer: Because it is a straw man (or at most, is a view limited to nobodies on the internet)

Pix

they do essentially. E.W. Wilson proposes that we unite all fieilds of study under science,,
Just to prove I did not make up scientism a quote by a PR man for The American Academy for the Advancement of Science"


DISTINGUISHING SCIENCE FROM SCIENTISM
So if science is distinct from scientism, what is it? Science is an activity that seeks to explore the natural world using well-established, clearly-delineated methods. Given the complexity of the universe, from the very big to very small, from inorganic to organic, there is a vast array of scientific disciplines, each with its own specific techniques. The number of different specializations is constantly increasing, leading to more questions and areas of exploration than ever before. Science expands our understanding, rather than limiting it.

Scientism, on the other hand, is a speculative worldview about the ultimate reality of the universe and its meaning. Despite the fact that there are millions of species on our planet, scientism focuses an inordinate amount of its attention on human behavior and beliefs. Rather than working within carefully constructed boundaries and methodologies established by researchers, it broadly generalizes entire fields of academic expertise and dismisses many of them as inferior. With scientism, you will regularly hear explanations that rely on words like “merely”, “only”, “simply”, or “nothing more than”. Scientism restricts human inquiry.

It is one thing to celebrate science for its achievements and remarkable ability to explain a wide variety of phenomena in the natural world. But to claim there is nothing knowable outside the scope of science would be similar to a successful fisherman saying that whatever he can’t catch in his nets does not exist (15)L:Once you accept that science is the only source of human knowledge, you have adopted a philosophical position (scientism) that cannot be verified, or falsified, by science itself. It is, in a word, unscientific.

Thomas Burnett is the assistant director of public engagement at the John Templeton Foundation. As a science writer, Thomas has also worked for The National Academy of Sciences and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He has degrees in philosophy and the history of science from Rice University and University of California, Berkeley.
Anonymous said…
Joe: they do essentially. E.W. Wilson proposes that we unite all fieilds of study under science,,

But that would not make science the only valid form of knowledge.

Joe: Just to prove I did not make up scientism a quote by a PR man for The American Academy for the Advancement of Science"

No one said you did make it up. But hey, throw another straw man on there!

Pix
Joe: they do essentially. E.W. Wilson proposes that we unite all fieilds of study under science,,

But that would not make science the only valid form of knowledge.

that means he must thin it already is

Joe: Just to prove I did not make up scientism a quote by a PR man for The American Academy for the Advancement of Science"

Px No one said you did make it up. But hey, throw another straw man on there!

you have not answered anything

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