KARL JASPERS FORUM
TA 106 (Müller)
Commentary 38 (to C37 Chumakin)
FURTHERING COMMON GROUNDS
by Maurice McCarthy
18 May 2009, posted 23 May 2009
Comments offered in empathy with Chumakin's sentiment in C37<2> :
"I deeply believe that the people who I do not agree with (whose views I found flawed) did not mean to make any mistakes. I highly respect and appreciate their effort. It is their sincere desire to better things that motivates me to type down my account of what is not quite to the point in their train of thought. In this sense I see us – those whom I criticize and myself – to be part of one team that wants to change this world for better."
The statement " arguing about science cannot be scientific by definition " C37<4> can be put in a syllogism :
All true science investigates material objects.
Science itself is not a material object.
Therefore scientific methods cannot rightly be used to investigate science.
Since Richard Dawkins appears to agree with the major premise then it is difficult to see him disagreeing with this.
Chumakin categorises objects into two kinds C37<14>
a) those that possess consciousness, will power plus their derivatives, and
b) those that do not.
Those that do not are material objects. The science of material objects is very successful so the philosophic question arises, "Why are the scientific methods so successful here?" I should like to suggest that the reason is that objects without consciousness etc. are rightly investigated by methods which withdraw the observer, experimenter or scientist from themselves in order to leave the object as it is in itself. Withdrawing or abstracting the observer leaves the object as it is in itself. This establishes a qualitative similarity between the method and the object. Successful knowledge is grounded on qualitative likeness or kinship. Just as the laws of material phenomena fall outside the phenomena themselves so too the observer falls outside the method of material science. The law is identical to the ideal case - a phenomenon outside the particularly observed experiment. This externality legitimates logic, the mental process of external connection. The scientist in designing and reporting experiments seeks to eliminate the inessential factors and leave the laws in the clear perception of an ideal case, so far as possible.
On this philosophic model, if we are to have successful sciences of those objects which do possess consciousness then the methods need to include the observer or subjectivity. It would be quite silly to investigate my own mind as if I were not present or the society I live in as if I were not really there. This would leave out something quite essential and destroy the kinship of method and object mentioned above. In short, can we legitimately extend the meaning of science to include objects which do possess consciousness and develop suitable methods. (This sentiment is expressed in C37<17> "we have not developed scientific patterns to approach human-related disciplines yet. ") This is precisely what constructivism is all about.
There arises another problem. How do we re-unite sciences with different objects and methods into a satisfactory over-arching world view ? The question comes to a head in the puzzle which originated the Karl Jaspers Forum. What is the relation between the mind and the brain?
It has only been possible to speak of the correlation between the mind and the brain since 1862 when the first observations were made by Broca. He demonstrated that experience shapes the brain and not vice versa. To my knowledge no experiment since has ever altered this conclusion. "Use it or lose it!" Neural firings are strengthened and weakened by experience. Given a normal healthy brain by the parents subjectivity shapes and forms it. The evolutionary shaping of the brain is a history of collective experience. This begs for an inner understanding of evolution to compliment Dawkins external understanding.
The only point where I disagree with Chumakin is that knowing and ontology should be kept separate. They are coherent as distinct objects only in material science.
e-mail <moss (at) mythic-beasts.com>