My last post, “Valid Sources of Knowledge,” to my surprise, generated some very good discussions. Fellow SoF contributer James Croft has offered some well-reasoned and thought-provoking retorts to my positions. It seems to me that the discussion is bearing the fruits of this shared endeavor – we are not only describing our various states of formation, but we are also, perhaps, opening ourselves up to mutual transformation and formational understanding. So, I thought, it might be interesting to continue our discussion more out-in-the-open and, perhaps, involve others in the back-and-forth. So, what I’ve written below starts mid-conversation. It is my latest response to his – all of which you can read under the comments of the original post. James was not the only person to post interesting comments, so I’d encourage you to look at the others, as well. Mostly, though, I hope this dialogue will continue and even broaden! So please join in…
James – Thanks for yet another provocative and reasoned response… I DO think we are making progress!
I agree with most of what you are saying. I am, perhaps, using the word ‘science’ in a stricter, more etymological manner continuing its Greek and Latin meaning, which distinguishes ‘science’ from ‘intelligence’ – the former pertaining to the realm of perceptions, measurements, and deductions; the latter pertaining to the realm of conjecture, induction, and cognition. You seem to be taking the term more in its everyday connotation, as “what scientists do.” I, though, think that scientists engage in many activities, as you described – some of which fall under the traditional domain of what has for millennia been called ‘science’ and some of which fall under the traditional domain of what has for millennia been called ‘philosophy’. So, to borrow your curiously authoritative prose, I think it is simply false to say “this is simply false.” (!) Inasmuch as scientists engage in the construction of theories, hypotheses, inductive reasoning, and creation of explanations (as I, of course, agree that they do!), this is not science but philosophy. Inasmuch as scientists engage in the observation, measurement, deductive reasoning, and the testing of hypotheses, this is not philosophy but science. Many/most scientists must do both of these activities. As you write – “we have to imagine a model of what the world MIGHT be like, and go out to test it” – to this I say, “Indeed! The former is the creative, constructive, meaning-making endeavor called ‘philosophy’ and the latter is the rigorously empirical endeavor called ‘science’.” We need both – but we also need to be careful in our descriptions of these two activities. That was my basic argument in the original post distinguishing the first three pramāṇas (valid sources of knowledge). The example you give of Newton’s theories would seem to support my position.
As to your last paragraph (responding to my first post – “A theological perspective on (a)theism in formation”), God-talk (theo-logy) is not simply the use and construction of “metaphorical expressions” (though theologians certainly use and construct metaphors). Rather, it is more than this. Theology is the use and construction of symbols and “symbolic expressions.”
Your analogy of the Loch Ness monster seems to quite miss the mark. I’m not quite sure why you are introducing a discussion of belief and ontology into this particular discussion. It would be fun, sometime, to deconstruct the analogy, but such a deconstruction would prove digressive, I think.
In any event, I am enjoying the back-and-forth! Thanks for playing 🙂 I hope others join in, too!