Re: [asa] Fw: Message to Jennifer M. Granholm, Governor of Michigan

From: Gregory Arago <gregoryarago@yahoo.ca>
Date: Mon Apr 07 2008 - 03:28:37 EDT

This bait and switch is not helpful, especially coming from a biologist. Is this yet another case of biological science-centrism?
   
  Stephen turned my question to George back at me: "In what spheres do you oppose mutation, Gregory??? In none, is my guess! (Or, if you actually do, then you won't say it out loud.)"
   
  Let me openly answer, saying it out loud. Yes, I oppose the grammar 'mutation' in all human-social sciences. Certainly, there are many who oppose it; it doesn't make much sense in human-social thought. Most dictionaries and encyclopedias specify immediately, that mutation is a biological, genetic conceptualisation, e.g. in Wiki, the first words are "In biology, mutation..." Likely, 'mutation' is not a helpful metaphor in theology or philosophy either.
   
  I spoke of 'evolutionary philosophy,' which clearly does exist (perhaps subsumed by 'process philosophy'). I'm not sure what 'mutational philosophy' Stephen Matheson is speaking about, but perhaps he would enlighten us.
   
  The hardest point to tolerate, though it is done because of the spirit of this list, is the parallel Stephen draws between TE/EC and 'sociology-is-a-real-science.' To him, obviously TE/EC is 'scientific' whereas he seems to doubt if sociology is a science! Sure, this discussion can be had, but it needn't be. ASA's invitation to scholars includes many disciplines that Stephen personally doesn't think count as 'science,' or, at least, not 'science' as it is understood by him, as a 'practising biologist.' This is indeed a poke at legitimacy, glided over in the spirit of open dialogue. A biologist, just as a psychologist, economist, or culturologist is entitled to his or her opinion, however wrong or in the minority they may be.

  Yes, Stephen, I am challenging the biological science-centrism as a sociologist of science, but this should not be taken as an affront to you. It is your discipline (not you personally) which has too strong a sense of legitimacy and value in our age, partly due to the 'advances' made in the 20th century (and the claim to 'own' evolutionary thinking). However, as you well know if you've read history and philosophy of science, all disciplines have rises and falls in societal relevance. Remember the 'space race' and its effects on 'science' in your country?
   
  Gregory

  
Stephen Matheson <smatheso@calvin.edu> wrote:
  If genetic mutation is equivalent with just 'mutation,' then why bother adding the term 'genetic'? The phrase 'everybody knows' is just window-dressing - it has no meaning when spoken in that way. A person can easily be opposed to mutation in one sphere, while supporting it in another. Do you accept this?

In what spheres do you oppose mutation, Gregory??? In none, is my guess! (Or, if you actually do, then you won't say it out loud.)

If so, then a logical conclusion is to blame some of the misunderstanding on those who are not willing to add the term 'genetic' to 'mutation' when they are really speaking only about biologically 'mutating' things, and not about social, cultural or economic things. For all I know, some at ASA have expressed recognition of the importance of being clear linguistically and not pretending that mutation = genetic mutation, that is, to the exclusion of all other types of mutation. If one means specifically 'genetic mutation,' then he or she should say 'genetic mutation' and not ASSUME that is what is meant (with one's insulated, predisposed dialogue partners) by simply saying 'mutation'!

What's wrong, Gregory with forgetting about (better: rejecting) 'mutational philosophy'? If you are not able or willing to answer this, then your strong sociology-is-a-real-science view has little or no ground to stand on, there may be actually no balance at all in your perspective on how science, philosophy and religion are inter-related. It may be that your philosophy has become eventually tainted by accepting the 'power' of sociological thought on other areas of the contemporary academy.

Matheson

>>> Gregory Arago 04/05/08 6:28 PM >>>
If biological evolution is equivalent with just 'evolution,' then why bother adding the term 'biological'? The phrase 'everybody knows' (bolded below) is just window-dressing - it has no meaning when spoken in that way. A person can easily be opposed to evolution in one sphere, while supporting it in another. Do you accept this?

In what spheres do you oppose evolution, George??? In none, is my guess! (Or, if you actually do, then you won't say it out loud.)

If so, then a logical conclusion is to blame some of the misunderstanding on those who are not willing to add the term 'biological' to 'evolution' when they are really speaking only about biologically 'evolving' things, and not about social, cultural or economic things. Some at ASA have expressed recognition of the importance of being clear linguistically and not pretending that evolution = biological evolution, that is, to the exclusion of all other types of evolution. If one means specifically 'biological evolution,' then he or she should say 'biological evolution' and not ASSUME that is what is meant (with one's insulated, predisposed dialogue partners) by simply saying 'evolution'!

What's wrong, George with forgetting about (better: rejecting) 'evolutionary philosophy'? If you are not able or willing to answer this, then your strong TE/EC view has little or no ground to stand on, there may be actually no balance at all in your perspective on how science, philosophy and religion are inter-related. It may be that your philosophy has become eventually tainted by accepting the 'power' of biological thought on other areas of the contemporary academy.

Arago

       
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Received on Mon Apr 7 03:30:52 2008

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