Re: Polanyi on science (was Re: [asa] C.S. Lewis on ID) - Moorad's perceptions

From: Gregory Arago <>
Date: Mon Dec 01 2008 - 05:02:01 EST

In response to Moorad, Murray wrote:
"Frankly, you['re] simply trying to uncritically privilege certain kinds of empirical observation (the reading of outputs on instruments) over against other types of empirical observation (seeing the color yellow).

What's really problematic, however, is to ask what you're actually trying to assert about our use of language.
If 'yellow' just refers to what's in my head, then so too claims about everything else we encounter and speak of. And note that the key concept here is 'we' - the problem with theories of the sort you're proposing is that they ignore that the language by which I ascribe properties to objects is EXACTLY the same tool by which I discuss my experiences of objects with others in order to determine whether or not my experience IS objective or subjective."
G.A.: Let me agree wholeheartedly with the importance of the concept/percept 'we' in this discussion. The 'observer' or proposer of a theory is not a disembodied, impersonal entity, but rather a flesh-and-blood breathing person. The priviledging of a certain type of 'empirical observation' (e.g. naturalistic or materialistic) over other types might also be what is behind Moorad's persistent distinction between 'operational science' and 'historical science' to the exclusion of the important distinction(s) between natural sciences and human-social sciences. I'd be glad for Moorad to start a thread discussing precisely how he approaches these topics, because his seems to be a curious mix of Anglo-Saxon-North American and German-Eastern European points of view.
It seems that Moorad doesn't consider human-social sciences to be 'sciences' properly speaking, simply because they involve a historical and a reflexive (i.e. self-referential) dimension which operational or natural sciences oftentimes do not. Murray is pointing out that Moorad's view of 'what science is' is rather limited in scope and that it contains a bias perhaps unexpected by Moorad to consider. I concur with this assessment.
For example, Merv writes: "Can we then toy with the idea that it's the language arts majors, the linguists, etc. who may have as much claim on attempts at objectivity as any of the geekiest white coats standing in front of their digitized readouts?   
The English professor Marshall McLuhan has much to say to physicists such as Moorad to improve their understanding of communication, culture and technology, aside from instruments and experiments and colours.
The subject-object, subjective-objective dichotomy or dualism is playing heavily in this discussion so far, but needn't dominate it as there are other ways to consider the topic as well. Descartes and I would have a grand conversation, and there are ways that he has been superseded, though Moorad's language doesn't yet appear to recognize this.

--- On Mon, 12/1/08, Murray Hogg <> wrote:

Let me say, at this point, that I don't think you could have picked a WORSE
example upon which to build your case. Rather than arguing that the concepts
"yellow", "blue", "red" are subjective and measurement of EM frequency using instruments objective, you would have been
better arguing a parallel case for concept pairs such as "hot - cold",
"bright - dark", "loud - quiet". In such instances you would
have stood a far better chance of making your point as people often disagree
whether a room is "hot" or "cold" even if they agree that it
is 25 deg.C. __________________________________________________________________ Yahoo! Canada Toolbar: Search from anywhere on the web, and bookmark your favourite sites. Download it now at

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Received on Mon Dec 1 05:02:47 2008

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