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

From: Alexanian, Moorad <>
Date: Tue Dec 02 2008 - 12:16:24 EST

I consider the whole of reality to be made up of three sets, the physical, the nonphysical, and the supernatural. There are different kinds of knowledge with subject matter limited to one of these sets or a combination of them. The creation of different kinds of knowledge is a division of labor that has resulted from the finite human mind trying to make sense of the whole of reality. I define science as the study of the physical aspect of Nature. This is to make it clear what is the subject matter of science when using the term "science," for instance, or any of the other disciplines for that matter. For instance, man is a physical/nonphysical/supernatural being and so science alone cannot give a complete picture of what truly a man is. A scientific description of man gives an incomplete picture of what man is. Note that our conception of the whole of reality is based on "sensations, perceptions, and memories," as indicated by Schrödinger. Therefore, in the final analysis!
 , all knowledge is based on unique, historical events and in science; one generalizes some of them into laws of Nature.




From: on behalf of Gregory Arago
Sent: Mon 12/1/2008 5:02 AM
To: ASA; Murray Hogg
Subject: Re: Polanyi on science (was Re: [asa] C.S. Lewis on ID) - Moorad's perceptions

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.


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Received on Tue Dec 2 12:16:54 2008

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