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FRIENDSOFWISDOM  May 2006

FRIENDSOFWISDOM May 2006

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Subject:

Re: Science and Wisdom-Inquiry - ANOTHER BRIEF RESPONSE

From:

Alan Rayner <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Group concerned that academia should seek and promote wisdom <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Fri, 26 May 2006 13:04:24 +0100

Content-Type:

text/plain

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Parts/Attachments

text/plain (192 lines)

> Dear Karl, Cherryl and all,
>
> Just to say, my feeling is that Capra, Wilber and the like are 'on the
> way' to 'inclusional enquiry', but may not be 'there', primarily due to
> conscious or unconscious adherence to Euclidean framing (which applies
> even to fractal geometry) and consequent non-inclusion of 'space'
> ('no-thingness') in their re-presentations of dynamically bounded natural
> flow-form. I think this non-inclusion relates also to what Karl is saying
> here about technological fixation.
>
> Hope this helps.
>
>
> Best
>
> Alan
>
>
>
>
> --On 25 May 2006 22:21 +0100 Karl Rogers <[log in to unmask]>
> wrote:
>
>>
>> Dear Cherryl,
>> Please, please feel free to ask whatever questions you need to. Honesty
>> is the basis for all genuine philosophy. If you think that the Emperor is
>> naked, then say so.
>> Even though your comments about the distinction between science as a
>> methodology and technology as its product were directed towards Nick
>> Maxwell, I would like to respond to them, if I may.
>> Traditional philosophers of science adopt the view that theory precedes
>> and anticipates experiment in the form of hypotheses, conjectures, or
>> predictions. Experiments are simply designed to test them. Science is
>> assumed to be a logical methodology based on observation that provides us
>> with a rational understanding of Nature. Modern technologies simply
>> embody that understanding as “applied science”. Technology is taken to be
>> the logical consequence of the application of scientific knowledge and
>> rational thought to human problems and purposes in the material world.
>> According to the traditional view, technology has no role in shaping
>> scientific knowledge, the conception of rationality, or human
>> intentionality. It is assumed that rational thought and logic transcend
>> the material world and that the primary relationships between the human
>> mind and the world are those of cognition, manipulation, and control.
>> Traditional philosophers of science assume that technology enhances and
>> extends the powers of the human mind and senses without changing or
>> directing either. It is taken to be self-evident that the construction of
>> theories is a purely intellectual affair for which the technology of
>> experimentation does not have any constitutive, substantive role. The
>> experimental apparatus and methodology are supposed to be ontologically
>> and epistemologically neutral. Hence, technology is ignored as being
>> irrelevant for the epistemology of science, as something that, at most,
>> is a matter for applied ethics.
>> However, since the 1960s (and earlier, if the work of writers such as
>> Karl Marx, Gaston Bachelard, Ortega Y Gasset, Lewis Mumford, and Martin
>> Heidegger are included), the traditional philosophy of science has been
>> heavily criticised for its neglect of the centrality of technology to the
>> human condition and the production of knowledge. In contemporary
>> philosophical and sociological studies of science and technology,
>> considerable attention has been paid to the centrality of technology to
>> human existence and knowledge to the extent that an “alternative
>> tradition” has become fashionable. On this view, the experimental
>> “natural” sciences, such as physics, chemistry, and genetics, are seen as
>> forms of “applied technology”. Many historians of science and technology
>> have also argued that technology preceded and led the scientific
>> revolution and that modern science is “applied technology” (to a lesser
>> or greater degree). It has become widely accepted that modern science is
>> technoscience that can only be understood in relation to its uses within
>> the culture in which it is emergent.
>> My view is that, in order to understand the conceptual possibility of
>> modern sciences, such as experimental physics, we need to historically
>> trace back their origin that permitted their current manifestation as
>> simultaneously modern technosciences and natural sciences. What
>> presuppositions about natural phenomena permitted the use of technologies
>> to understand the natural world? This is a question of the metaphysics
>> that underlies the whole legitimacy of the technological disclosure of
>> natural mechanisms. My argument is that the metaphysics of mechanical
>> realism provided the operational precepts that made the epistemological
>> use of technology to disclose natural mechanisms and laws conceptually
>> possible and legitimate. This metaphysics occurred during the fifteenth
>> and sixteenth centuries and, in fact, made the scientific revolution,
>> experimental physics, and modern technology conceptually possible.
>> The precepts of mechanical realism allowed the mathematical description
>> of the motions of the six simple machines (the wedge, the lever, the
>> balance, the inclined plane, the screw, and the wheel) to be taken as
>> descriptions of the fundamental natural motions. The reification of
>> mathematics, as something objectively, eternally, and universally true,
>> in the context of the Renaissance developments of the Medieval science of
>> mechanics, allowed experimental physics to be metaphysically operational
>> as a technological mode of disclosure of natural mechanisms and
>> technology to be represented as being consequence of the logical
>> utilisation of natural mechanisms in material practices. This provided
>> the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries with both a methodological and an
>> ontological foundation for the mechanical and experimental natural
>> philosophies of Galileo, Descartes, Bacon, Gassendi, Newton, Boyle,
>> Hobbes, et al. This methodological and ontological foundation was central
>> to the methodology, intelligibility, and subsequent researches of
>> experimental physicists, such as thermodynamics, electromagnetism,
>> quantum mechanics, etc.
>> The problem with your distinction between science as methodology and
>> technology as its product (even though it is a ‘natural’ and ‘reasonable’
>> distinction from the modern perspective) is that it does not pay close
>> attention to what the scientific methodology actually is and how
>> experimental science is done in practice. Two essential components of the
>> scientific methodology are measurement and manipulation. Only those
>> aspects of natural phenomena that are measurable and can be manipulated
>> can be taken to be part of an observation and a test of theory within a
>> controlled experiment. Theories must be capable of deducing quantifiable
>> predictions about what can be measured and manipulated in an experiment.
>> Thus, both theory and observation are methodologically limited by the
>> available technologies of measurement and manipulation. The actual
>> content of scientific knowledge is determined by the interpretation of
>> machine performances, in accordance with theories that are constrained by
>> expectations about what can be measured and manipulated. Hence, at any
>> stage in the history of science, the content of scientific research is
>> constrained by the available technologies, and the history of science is
>> congruent with the history of technological innovation. Furthermore,
>> given that testability is a crucial aspect of experimental work, the
>> truth-status of any theoretical hypothesis is itself deferred until it
>> provides terms and representations that can be implemented in the
>> technological innovation of new possibilities of measurement and
>> manipulation. The truth-status of all scientific theories is perpetually
>> deferred to the future possibilities of technological innovation. Hence,
>> the content of scientific methodology is constrained by both the history
>> of technology and the future directions of technological innovation, and,
>> therefore the distinction between ‘science as methodology’ and
>> ‘technology as product’ is imaginary.
>> If you are interested, please take a look at the first chapter of On the
>> Metaphysics of Experimental Physics  (free at
>> http://www.palgrave.com/products/Catalogue.aspx?is=1403945284 )  In this
>> chapter, I provide a more detailed argument about why the philosophy of
>> technology is essential for the philosophy of science. I also think that
>> you would enjoy reading if, if you were so inclined.
>> best regards,
>> Karl.
>>
>>
>> Cherryl Martin <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>>
>>
>> Dear Nick, Karl, Alan, Harvey et al,
>>
>> I feel like a small child daring to speak to the Emperor by commenting on
>> the current erudite discussion and asking some very simple questions.
>> Excuse me if I appear naïve or misguided. I am genuinely seeking answers
>> - not challenging anyone or trying to show off my knowledge.
>>
>> My points are:
>>
>> 1. To Alan: Thank you for your excellent communications gratefully
>> received. I have not commented earlier, thereby contributing to the
>> deafening silence, because I felt I had nothing to add as I am in
>> complete agreement, having visited your website and read your articles. I
>> think you are talking about a concept I have had difficulty putting a
>> name to - one I have called 'Seeing the One' or 'One Pointedness'-
>> gleaned from ancient wisdom literature and religion.
>>
>> I have attached a file containing an article by Ken Wilber who speaks of
>> Integral Spirituality. Are you and he talking on the same lines?
>>
>> 2. To Nick: Am I wrong in thinking that science is a methodology and
>> technology is the output of that methodology - created using our energies
>> combined with our knowledge and skills? As I have reasoned, technology is
>> therefore the tangible creation of science - merely a tool for life, just
>> as knowledge is a tool - both being the products of our life experiences
>> that have gradually become more refined and sophisticated as our
>> knowledge and experience has increased over the millennia - starting with
>> our cave ancestors? Does systems thinking throw any light on the
>> interaction between the tangible and the intangible? The means and the
>> ends?
>>
>> 3: To Harvey: Are you describing self-organising systems? (Ilya
>> Prigogine)
>>
>> 4: To All: I have found the books by Fritjof Capra very helpful in my
>> attempts to understand all of these complex phenomena. The one I
>> recommend to this group is 'Uncommon Wisdom' 'Conversations with
>> Remarkable People'. The Turning Point and The Web of Life are also good,
>> as of course if his most popular book, 'The Tao of Physics'. They
>> document his thinking over a number of years - generally before the
>> concepts gained popular acceptance.
>>
>> I look forward to your responses.
>>
>> Many thanks
>>
>> Cherryl
>>
>>
>>
>>

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