On Sat, Jan 12, 2013 at 12:11 PM, Bruno Marchal <marc...@ulb.ac.be> wrote:
> On 11 Jan 2013, at 21:47, meekerdb wrote:
> On 1/11/2013 10:31 AM, Bruno Marchal wrote:
> What are its tenets that you believe on faith?
> That there is something different from me.
> But you have evidence for that - if you can figure out what is meant by
> I think you need faith to make data into evidence.
> That would vitiate the concept of evidence. I'd say you only need a
> theory to make data into evidence which can count for or against the theory.
> But for making data into evidence, you need to have faith in some theory,
> even if the data will refute some other theory. It might be unconscious
> theory used in the brain, and so it might be (and certainly is in most
> case) an unconscious faith (which is close to my suggestion for
> consciousness, following Helmholtz theory of perception).
> There is always implicit theories, and we always need to bet on a reality
> behind them, to be able to make interpretations.
A large part of this is not always conscious and taken for granted, which
by default puts the theorist into a mystical situation. A point at which,
after say her or his child will have bombarded them with a chain of "why
questions?" about the nature of their work, at which there will be some
unverified statement "because I have to make a living, because I love what
I do, because of the advancement of knowledge, because I have to survive".
It's not totally unconscious, and as with religion, there are paradigm
shifts, differing schools of thought etc. so to pass off progress in techne
or understanding as purely "scientific in the disinterested sense", is a
flaw. Mystic nomads came up with hunting tools despite their deities, and I
guess many would say precisely because of their faith in deities. That a
21st century scientist tends to use "working hypothesis", "theory" or some
variation thereof does not place him above the mystic. The very act of
stating: "well, this differs from theism" is the oldest mystical trick in
the book: my religion is more awesome than yours because...
In one sense, this distinction between science and theology is more
deceptive than mysticism: where a mystic will wear her or his current
unjustifiable belief on a shirt, some scientists will not avow to
themselves that they have some. I do not care if certain scientists do this
out of vanity, to place themselves above mystics and crazies in their
internal narratives about their relationship to the world. Fine, we all
need a bit of vain hero-narrative for motivation. I do care, when this
internal negation of a scientist's theology is so literal and fanatic, that
they start asking things like: "How many can we fit into a gas chamber? How
can we extract fossil fuels from even deeper deposits at the lowest cost?
How do people react to electrocution?" - at the mercy of political forces,
ideologies of markets etc. for example.
For now I stick with Bruno Latour's notion that "we were never moderns" and
that when we "reasonably" take the correct fork in the road after reading
the direction sign, some alien observer will state: "the metallic panel
obviously exerts a force on the entity believing some propositions, same
situation essentially as when we visited last time and they were still
nomadic mystics taking cues from shamanic forces and betting on game, that
they now apprehend with digital technology on wall street. Deities morphed
into "incorporated corporations" and enshrined entities in law, the market,
political systems, and other gurus. All of this stuff still seems very
dreamy and subconscious, still war driven, like last time we visited. They
don't seem like fun just yet."
This is why I avoid strong forms of distinction between scientists and
mystics, and will give both of them benefit of the doubt if they are not
------ "No Walter, you're not wrong! You're just an... ahole" - Jeff
Bridges in some movie :)
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