• Nop
    You've mistaken my position, and that of the Logical Positivists for that matter. The claim, that this bulk of philosophical statements are meaningless, is not made on the grounds of having looked for some meaningful statements and found none. Were it made on those grounds you could justifiably say "well you haven't looked here, or you haven't understood the meaning here" and make the claim that we should read Nietzsche (or do so again, but more charitably). But that's not the argument that's being made. The argument is that philosophy, simply by virtue of it's means of investigation, cannot say anything meaningful in that way.

    It is exactly the same argument. Logicial Positivsm accuses philosophical works of being meaningless, on the grounds that it doesn't meet the verification principle. Thus, Logicial Positivsm assumes criteria regarding meaning, and subsequently simply employs it. Everything that doesn't meet the verification principle, is meaningless.

    You are doing the same. You assume criteria regarding meaning, and reject Nietzsche on the grounds that he doesn't meet your criteria (and to make things worse, all this without actually reading him). It is closed-minded. You have decided in advance what you assume to be meaningful, and subsequently only employ that assumption. The closed-mindedness of Logicial Positivsm is exactly the same as your Scientism.

    As I said to Agustino, you do not need to know anything about the pronouncements of ballroom dancing judges to know that it doesn't have anything meaningful to say about ethics.

    Do you honestly think comparing the capacity of ballroom dancing judges to say something meaningful regarding ethics, with philosophy, the discipline that has invented contemplation on ethics, is a useful comparison?

    So Logical Positivists (or rather their descendants) are making the claim that the methods of philosophical investigation are such that in most contexts it can yield no meaningful statements. You feel quite at liberty to dismiss that proposition in derogatory terms despite that fact that you admit to not having read any of the arguments which support it, and yet you demand that anyone making the proposition not only read all the arguments against it, but all the results of the investigations which took place under the presumption that the proposition is false

    Couple of points here:
    (1) Not sure why you attribute this to me, but I have not said I did not read any of the arguments which support Logical Positivism. To be precise, I have invested time into Carnap and Schlick, so we could go into their arguments supporting Logical Positivism if you like.
    (2) Nietzsche did not presume that Logical Positivism is false. Logical Positivism emerged around 1920. Nietzsche died in 1900.
    (3) I am not assuming Logical Positivism is false, I understand that it is false. One of the key principles of Logical Positivsm was the analytic/synthetic gap. If you read ¨Two Dogmas of Empiricism¨ by Quine, you see that the distinction is untenable.

    And I am sorry to say, but the fact you are not aware that since Quine, Logical Positivism is untenable, only shows how you have a big opinion on something you have invested little time in. Its what you read and learn in any first year bachelor of philosophy.

    If the claim is that a text must only be meaningful to someone, in order to be taken seriously,

    Philosophy is a academic discipline. Which text must be taken seriously is not only decided by the individual (i.e. you want to take Harry Potter seriously), you are also bound to the language game (in a Wittgensteinian sense) of the discipline. You presume there are only two kinds of critera: subjective and objective. I want to introduce Wittgenstein here, but I am afraid you are unaware of how, at least in acadamic philosophy, Wittgenstein replaced the subjective objective distinction when it comes to meaning, and that I will become trapped in explaining Wittgenstein and its current hold on philosophy to you.
  • steppo25
    "Scientism" is a derogatory label of the "scientific method"
    Either means that the Scientist can track their physical Statement WORLD3 back to the physical world WORLD1 which is the causal agency AT the creation of WORLD3 which is all that is perceivably manmade in this respect, which is mostly the written word, the statement.
    The Scientist REJECTS any attributation of "causal agency" to the "world-of-thoughts" WORLD2 which is nothing else than the properties of matter.

    The properties of matter are mere illusions. It is only KANT who akknowledged, that "space" and "time" are illusions - unfortunately he did NOT akknowledge that "space" (volume OF matter that is) and "time" (age of matter FROM a change that is) are nothing else than properties of matter, together with a lot more other properties of matter, like mass and energy. I am the author of the listing which summarizes the properties of matter in 4 lines. Nobody will find this listing ANYWHERE.

    WORLD2 = mere inside-brain effects-, perception-hoods, thoughts-, awareness-, consciousness-, Knowledge-, concepts-, descriptions-, properties- = subjective truths- = opinions-, epiphaenomena- = illusions-,
    ON-, OF-, obtained/acquired FROM-, ABOUT-
    outside-brain causal agency aka Facts; the physical; object[IVE Template outside the brain], matter, the cosmos.

    WORLD2 is comprised of
    1)ALL sensations, emotions, values, necessities, purposes, wills
    2)ALL numbers, constants, parameters in the language of mathematics and physics,
    mass, distance, area, space, time, velocity, acceleration, force, pressure, power, energy, temperature
    3)ALL laws, of legislature, of logic, of morality, of physics
    4)ALL those and ONLY those G-Ds we DO [mean to] know, like YHWH, J(the)C and Allah.

    Scientific method: Accepts that you cannot demonstrate a causal agency of ANY of the Elements of WORLD2 as listed above.

    Religious method: Claims that at least certain Elements of WORLD2 -
    A)be entities in independent existence outside the brain rather than fabricated inside the brain
    B)be causal agencies
  • Pseudonym
    Thus, Logicial Positivsm assumes criteria regarding meaning, and subsequently simply employs it. Everything that doesn't meet the verification principle, is meaningless.Nop

    Why do you accuse Logical Positivism of 'assuming' criteria regarding meaning. I think positivists over the years have written a quite some length detailing the exact argument as to why they consider that meaning is only present in verifiable statements. They haven't just 'assumed' it.

    You assume criteria regarding meaning, and reject Nietzsche on the grounds that he doesn't meet your criteriaNop

    As above, I haven't just 'assumed' it, I've asserted it with some arguments outlined here, but mostly off the back of the work done by modern positivists, none of whom you seem to have even heard of (let alone read) but all of whose conclusions you seem nonetheless willing to dismiss, not only as wrong, but as so wrong as to be deserving of derision.

    Let me be clear so we don't keep going round in circles.

    Positivists argue (by substantial logical argument) that we do not need to know the content of a philosophical work in order to determine its meaningfulness, we only need to know the methods by which it has been derived.

    You (and philosophers like you, I'm not sure if there's a collective term) argue, with equally substantial logical (or otherwise persuasive) arguments that one cannot tell the meaningfulness of a philosophical work by its method alone, one must analyse its content.

    Two different positions, both supported by logical (or otherwise persuasive) arguments, both supported by a wide base of epistemic peers.

    I'm persuaded by the first position, you are persuaded by the second. The difference, which I am struggling in this thread to understand, is that you don't just disagree with the first position, you treat it (and those who agree with it) with derision. Why?

    Do you honestly think comparing the capacity of ballroom dancing judges to say something meaningful regarding ethics, with philosophy, the discipline that has invented contemplation on ethics, is a useful comparison?Nop

    Yes, otherwise I wouldn't have made the point. You are begging the question by already presuming a position on ethics (that it is not naturally occuring) and that philosophy has generated that position (as opposed to simply reporting it). Without those presumptions you would have to demonstrate that philosophy has actually contributed to the normative function of ethics before you can raise you own personal incredulity to the level of actual evidence.

    The people on this forum are so arrogant when it comes to repeating the received wisdom of popular philosophy as if it were fact and then presuming anyone who disagrees with popular opinion must be ignorant, it beggars belief for a group of people supposedly striving for open-mindedness. Have you read Michael Friedman, JJ Smart, Crispin Wright, David Wiggins, Pete Unger... All of whom disagree to varying degrees with Quine's conclusion that you think was so irrefutable. It may well be what you learn at bachelor level, try reading about what you learn at doctoral level, you'll find it's rarely that simple.
  • Demiurgos
    Although this discussion has moved on quite a bit, I’ll try to attempt a few answers to the initial questions. I am not a philosopher, so you’ll have to bear with me using a more colloquial than technical language, and some of this may sound obvious or has already implicitly been said, but here goes.

    First, I’ll rephrase the questions as following: Why is scientism used as a pejorative term, what metaphysical position is this pejorative term aimed at and what reasonable arguments can be made against this metaphysical position?

    Why is ‘scientism’ used as a pejorative term?

    First, scientism is used as a pejorative term because it was coined as such. It started out as a criticism of someone else’s metaphysical position, not describing someone’s own. Second, from a psychological point of view it is not surprising that a metaphysical position that is asserted by some of its proponents in a way to fundamentally challenge and exclude any other metaphysical position can be perceived as a provocation and cause an emotional response. So can these other metaphysical positions, this alone should not be enough to justify the use of a pejorative term.

    What metaphysical position is this pejorative term aimed at?

    It has been argued here that the metaphysical position in question is that scientific method is the only possible way of reaching certainty. One argumentation that has been made for it, as far as I understand it, is that all metaphysical positions are accidental, but one happens to coincide with objective reality. For evolutionary reasons, someone was bound to accidentally come up with a metaphysical position coinciding with objective reality, and someone is bound to accidentally adopt it. This metaphysical position could probably be called physicalist, so there would be no need to use the term scientism in either a pejorative or defiant way.
    However, as far as I can see the use of the term scientism is often not aimed at a particular metaphysical position itself but rather at statements and conclusions based on it, as well as supposed motivations for adopting it. So the point in question isn’t whether any metaphysical position is more valuable or factually true than another. While the criticism does often seem to be partly caused by an emotional response, as the use of a pejorative indicates, that does not necessarily mean it is unjustified.
    So I would propose that both the reason for the use of a pejorative, and the difference between scientism and, for example, physicalism, is that the former designates a metaphysical position and the latter designates invalid conclusions or rationalizations reached through holding this metaphysical position. To answer the question in the thread title, scientism is not a particular metaphysical position but a particular set of actions based on a particular metaphysical position.

    What reasonable arguments can be made against this metaphysical position?

    The arguments I am aware of either criticize statements and conclusions based on it from a methodological point of view, or motivations for adopting it from a psychological point of view.

    From a methodological point of view, the line dividing physicalism from scientism would be crossed once the metaphysical position interferes with scientific convention. I here postulate scientific convention to be right from a functional point of view because it has shown to lead to fairly accurate predictions and consistent results within its field. For example, scientific convention proposes X cannot be proved or disproved by scientific methods, period. Physicalism proposes X cannot be proved or disproved by scientific methods, therefore it does not exist. It is however not the metaphysical position that is scientism here, but the refusal to suspend it in favour of scientific practice, just as any theist would need to suspend his metaphysical position in favour of scientific practice.
    A common criticism against scientism is that it declares whole areas of empirical experience as illusory and whole areas of knowledge as irrelevant on the grounds that they cannot be proved or disproved by scientific methods. It is a nice twist that it thereby also declares its own metaphysical position to be illusory or irrelevant on the same grounds, which either accidentally or intentionally makes it unassailable. This may be one reason why physicalism is prone to scientism, as it assumes either that metaphysical positions do not influence the results of scientific experiment and are therefore irrelevant, or that since its own metaphysical position accidentally coincides with objective reality it therefore does not interfere, so in either case it does not need to be scrutinized.
    While a metaphysical position does not change the scientific facts, it might determine what scientific facts are found and how they are interpreted by influencing the formulation of the theory, the choice of method, the set-up of the experiment, the interpretation of the data and so on. But even supposing all scientific facts can be found regardless of or unaffected by the assumed metaphysical position, then it does not follow why any metaphysical position should be given up, either scientism, or for example theism. As long as everybody sticks to scientific method, a diversity of metaphysical positions might only get the job done sooner, which in turn would confirm the practical usefulness of metaphysical positions other than physicalism.

    From a psychological point of view, it would depend on how important a belief in the validity of science is to the structure of an individual’s personality. The line dividing science from scientism would be crossed once a refutation of the universal and exclusive validity of science is perceived as a threat to one’s own psychical integrity. In this case it would serve the function of an ersatz religion. It turns the fundamental uncertainties shown by science – that we cannot fully trust our senses, that we cannot fully control our actions – into metaphysical certainties – that we cannot trust our senses at all, that we cannot control our actions at all, except through scientific method. Paradoxically, uncertainty and reserving judgment are the very virtues of scientific method.
    That certainty might be a psychological need could be explained on biological terms, for example that it is necessary to survival to be certain a given plant is edible. To presume scientism is adopted as an ersatz religion does not contradict its own assumption that the adoption of metaphysical positions is accidental and biologically determined. If the motivation for adopting scientism is a psychological need for certainty or inability to tolerate uncertainty, then maybe this explains why it is associated with materialist metaphysical positions. In practice, theist scientists seem to be more comfortable in keeping science and belief separate than atheist scientists. Maybe this is because, supposing metaphysical certainty is a psychological need, then religion satisfies this need for religious scientists, while atheist scientists expect science to satisfy it.
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