Scientism - Nothing But a Childish Insult?

by cofty 147 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • slimboyfat

    And you shut down dialogue by ignoring relevant responses and questions, instead simply labelling people liars, ignorant and insincere, scattergun fashion, in place of actual responses on substance. My (reasonably stated) question above conspicuously awaits a response, while you're busy lambasting others.

  • cofty

    You are the only person on the forum whose questions I ignore. I find my life to happier by not engaging with you.

  • slimboyfat

    Oh you don't ignore me you insult me at every opportunity. (Like when you appeared on my thread simply to call it "science fiction" and add nothing of substance) So it's not as if you don't post to me, you simply fail to engage on anything of substance.

    It's clear the reason you don't answer my reasonably expressed posts and questions is simply because you have not got any good response to give.

    On this thread you asked if there was any way of arriving at knowledge except scientific method. I explained that there was in the clearest terms possible with examples (such as history) which you ignored. On this thread you have alternated bizarrely between saying you are unaware of any real knowledge outside science (and could anyone point it out) and insisting that you accept other kinds of knowledge and anyone who says otherwise is misrepresenting you. So which is it? I doesn't look like you even know your own mind on the subject. Which is apparently no barrier to you lambasting others for their more thoughtful contributions on the subject.

  • Xanthippe
    I explained that there was in the clearest terms possible with examples (such as history)

    Actually SBF history is examined using primary sources. A primary source is anything that is extant from the period whether it be an official document, a personal letter, household accounts, a building or even a painting. These are examined and a theory of what happened in that period is developed which does follow the scientific method.

    Of course experimentation cannot be carried out to confirm the theory but as new evidence come to light, as new primary sources are found the theory is adjusted. Secondary sources also add adjustments. These are historical accounts written about the period and may have been created not long after the events.

  • slimboyfat

    Are you arguing that history is a science? I think this is a minority view among historians.

    And I think you yourself point to at least one of the reasons why history is not a science. History only happens once. We cannot rerun history and change certain conditions to determine causes. (Would there have been a Holocaust without Hitler? For example, is not testable using scientific method)

    Historical reasoning is based on deduction on the basis of available sources. Whereas scientific method is inductive and relies on changing conditions and repeated observation.

    You argue that new evidence can come along and change the historical perception. That is certainly true and there is some similarity to scientific method and falsifiability here. But it does not make history a science. Because we are not running experiments or establishing general rules from specific examples. (It becomes complicated here because some historians do try to establish general rules such as "what conditions cause a revolution" and so on, but this is stepping outside history into social theory. History is about establishing the particular in a given situation including causes and effects, rather than discovering general rules)

    History has a different way of approaching and establishing knowledge from the sciences. That doesn't make it in any sense less "knowledge" than science.

    Hence my conclusion that there is knowledge outside science and that history is a good example.

  • slimboyfat

    Another obvious difference between science and history is that there are clearly different expectations about what kinds of answers can be acheieved.

    In science for example a question such as "which substance conducts electricity better"'can be tested and solved.

    In history typical questions such as "what caused the French Revolution" are asked and answered continuously. Participants in such debates can't expect their solutions to be the final word on the matter, even if they reasonably think their solution is the best available. There is endless nuance, revision, complexity and uncertainty.

    Because history is not a science but it is a form of knowledge.

  • Xanthippe
    History only happens once. We cannot rerun history and change certain conditions to determine causes

    Paleontology and archaeology are sciences.

    In science for example a question such as "which substance conducts electricity better"'can be tested and solved.

    Until a better conductor is discovered or invented. Super conductors for example.

  • slimboyfat

    Post-processual archaeologists would disagree archaeology is a science, and others bedside. But I thought we were talking about history?

    And of course new, other, things can be discovered in science. But on the question what conducts electricity better plastic or copper the answer will not change. You can't say the same for: what caused the collapse of the Soviet Union? It's a different kind of knowledge with different methods and different kind of results. But no less knowledge.

    I should confess I have dozens of books on historical theory on my shelf and I've read most of them. Even the most empirical of current scholars like Richard Evans would not claim history is a science. Maybe in the old days positivists like Marwick and conservatives like Elton might have claimed history is a science I would need to go back and check. Probably Marwick, if anyone. I do tend to focus on postmodern history, but I've read Evans and Marwick too.

    I am interested to know if you have actually read any contemporary academic work on history that categorises history as a "science". I would be surprised, but I could certainly have missed something!

  • LoveUniHateExams

    The logical conclusion of scientism is what can't be submitted to scientific method can't exist at all - no.

    Scientists admit that God can exist.

    There is no evidence for his existence, so we don't know for sure.

    People who say 'God exists' are simply giving their opinion or belief.

    That's all the weight we should attach to that statement.

    Just because it's possible for God to exist doesn't mean he actually exists. To go from 'can exist' to 'does exist', we need evidence.

  • slimboyfat

    For example one of the most popular introductions to history for undergraduates is John Tosh. If you can access a copy of The Pursuit of History he explains the difference between history and science in a chapter called "The Limits of Historical Knowledge" (Page 185: pages differ in the 6 different editions of the book).

    Tosh explains: "although history and the natural sciences may converge in some of their fundamental methodological assumptions, important differences remain." He alaborates and explains many differences in the pages that follow, including greater role for imagination, empathy, impossibility of consensus, uniqueness of hisrical events, and much more.

    "The rigid segregation of fact and value demanded by the positivists is unworkable in history. In this sense, historical knowledge is not, and cannot be, 'objective' (that is, empirically derived in its entirety from the object of the enquiry). This does not mean, as sceptics might suppose, that it is therefore arbitrary or illusory. But it does follow that the assumptions and attitudes of historians themselves have to be carefully assessed before we can come to any conclusion about the real status of historical knowledge." (Page 188-189 in 5th edition of The Pursuit of History by John Tosh)

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